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NEW Vali Schiit AMP!!!

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by lff, Oct 9, 2013.
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  1. BournePerfect
    The amount of failed reading comprehension in this thread, coupled with misdirected malice at somebody's honest opinion-is astounding. Even for a Schiit thread. Even the Fiio and O2 crowds are enjoying the popcorn I bet.
     
    That said, I'm withholding most of my opinions on the Vali until it reaches the recommended...calm down kids...burn in time. I am enjoying it thus far with my DP-1/HD800-and it's offering a nice alternative sound to the DP-1's built in headamp, which I love, and feel gets unwarranted flak. :wink:
     
    -Daniel
     
  2. ethan7000
    Well for me I'm skeptical because I listened to a $13,000 DAC in a store (through more expensive speakers) and just wasn't very impressed. Also skeptical because DACs in the $100 range already have specs beyond human hearing (like the actual DAC chip being used). So I think it's things going on in the electronics besides just the digital to analog conversion. I've owned and heard the difference between a Xonar DGX and a Xonar DX and it was significant. But I've never had a Bifrost to A/B with. I'd like to try it someday.
     
  3. CEE TEE Contributor
    It is better to plug everything into the Vali before turning it on and I try to let it settle a bit beforehand. If you have any persistent ringing during operation, simply turn it off for a little bit and turn it back on. Even if the amp does not completely cool down, this really helps. Was also surprised by the amount of microphonics at first, but will manage it because $120 is killer for this little amp.
     
    Right now I have the PWD (FW 243) feeding the Vali and it sounds superb- with a very nice tonal balance and presentation. The Vali handles the top end beautifully with HD800 (modded). The bit of air lets you know it is there but is not overly grainy or too strident. Nice and smooth all the way up to that "bit of air" in the treble. My sibilance test tracks are right on the edge but fine. (Hard to pull off this kind of balance even if I am sitting there rolling tubes in much more expensive amps.)  Speed/tight instrument separation would probably be the easiest thing to try and criticize about this amp if you like a very fast/dry/analytical presentation. The amp has some slight sweetness on decay...but hits the detail mark nicely for me too.
     
    Though less bass/bass kick than the Zana, the Zana is a bit "splashier" up top as well...Vali is slightly smoother in the treble. So the Vali is a touch more forgiving than the Zana (little "aggressive" in the treble at times) and BA (because of the resolution) but without seeming like it is lacking too much in resolution.  Although not quite as rich/expansive as the Zana or as resolving/fast as the BA, the Vali is wonderfully "wet/rich", expansive, and extended. With electronic music there is definitely plenty of impact and resolution without any digititus. Will have to compare "headstage" presentation against the Magni later, the Vali was going up against two EC amps known for their expansive headstages and it held up incredibly well. I really enjoy this little amp and recommend it. Amazing stuff.
     
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  4. purrin
    Perhaps 50% may have been an exaggeration. Maybe 63%. You guys have to remember that at this point in the hobby, where I've pretty much owned, heard, and measured everything in terms of amps and headphones, I'm much more into DACs now. I've had a chance to own or borrow for extended periods up to two dozen DACs and related gizmos (there's probably a lot more I've forgotten about and or just didn't want to say anything because it sucked so badly) ranging in price from $99 to $10,000.

    In actuality, the differences between DACs is small. Extremely small to the uninitiated. But DACs are a make or break thing for me. I'm in-between "uber" amps right now having sold my ECBA and returned the DIY T2 (originally on 99 year lease). While I truly did almost pee in my pants and exclaimed "Holy Schiit, it's better than the Lyr" (referring to the Lyr with boring sounding stock tubes) upon my first listen, I came to appreciate the Vali even more because it was the amp currently in the house which let me discern the individual qualities of the DACs I had on hand including: 2x $2k+ DACs, an DIY NOS DAC, a bluetooth DAC, a cheapy combo DAC, Gungnir, and in their specific configurations: coax, USB, USB/i2s converters, custom power supplies, etc. The fact that the Vali was semi-portable was plus since most of these DACs along with their setups are scattered about the house.
     
    Is the Vali the last word and what I would prefer to use for my DAC evaluations (which are always ongoing)? No. But it serves a purpose while I am waiting for my uber amp. And even after the uber amp is delivered, I know I'll have something cheap that kicks well above its weight class as a bedside rig.
     
    And by the way, very little gear I've heard "kicks well above its weight class". That term is way overused and should be applied to or only occur no more than once a year on average. I certainly haven't found a DAC which I would give that moniker, although the Bifrost uber may be a candidate (I have not evaluated it enough to feel comfortable saying that.) In terms of headphones, practically everything is a rip-off, although I applaud the efforts of Mr. Speakers and HiFiMan. In terms of other amps, maybe the ECS7 gets the nod for "kicks well above its weight class."
     
    trellus, BleaK, OJNeg and 2 others like this.
  5. tdockweiler
     
    So are you saying the Vali is 99.9% transparent to your ears? [​IMG] That's what it sounds like. I wanted to be the first but couldn't do it. People already think i'm nutty enough sometimes. I love it when I can connect lots of random junk to my amps and hear all the differences easily. When I had the E9 I couldn't even tell the difference between the HRT MSII and ODAC. Not even kidding! On my other amp it's stupid easy and I don't have golden ears.
     
    I think people forgot here that Purrin is using a $12,000 headphone and not a Q701. That's pretty important.
     
    On my Q701 and HD-650 the difference between my DACs is so slight. When I tried the T90 it magically became an even bigger difference but still not that large.
     
  6. NinjaHamster
    Oh God.  Those "Kalamazoo" customs and exchange rates will get you every time ... in all fairness, it is usually the cost of shipping to a fantasy destination which does it ...
     
  7. purrin
     
    Neither would I with the E9. Even with my most resolvlng DAC fed though an E9, I wouldn't be able to hear a difference. The E9 a piece of junk using the most horrid chip amp ever made for headphones: the TPA6120. I have aptly described it as the "sucks all life and soul from music" chip (Can someone who speaks German make one of those fancy compound German phrases for me?) All devices with the TPA6120 inside should be labelled on the outside with a sticker: "WARNING: EXTREME FAIL"
     
     
    You just gotta stop t-docking around side-grading among the POS / crappy DACs and amps. The HD-650 is very resolving (much more than most people realize), albeit a bit slow sounding in the bass.
     
     
    "Is the Vali the last word and what I would prefer to use for my DAC evaluations (which are always ongoing)? No. But it serves a purpose while I am waiting for my uber amp."  <--- copied from the very post you quoted me from.
     
  8. painted klown
    To avoid arguing about weather or not the Vali needs Summit-FI DACs in front of it, would it be easier to simply say that it "scales up" well when better electronics are placed in front of it?
     
    Not trying to be a wise guy, just seeing if that is the general consensus with this amp. [​IMG]
     
    To Purrin: Have you had the opportunity to audition either the Emotiva XDA-2 or the Emotiva DC-1? I am about to pull the trigger on the DC-1 (on sale for $499 right now) as a low cost way to have a DAC and a HP amp in one. After that, I plan to get a pair of Senn HD-650, and begin to look seriously at different HP amplifiers.
     
    EDIT: Currently have 3 pairs of easy to drive 'phones (Skullcandy Aviators, Grado SR80i, and Senn HD-598) and no DAC. Using laptop built in sound card, and Rockboxed 30 gb 5th gen ipod video ATM.
     
  9. Soundsgoodtome

    If the Vali sounds great with the hifimediy sabre (async version?), that's a $180 rig rockin.
     
  10. thegunner100

    It's the older non-async version. I don't expect the hifimediy to really do the Vali any justice, but it's worth a try. To me, the line-out on my dx50 sounds better than the hifimediy. 
     
  11. tdockweiler
     
    Yes, I know this and have heard changes in it with every single amp and DAC. I actually think it's more resolving than the Q701, but that's not hard.
    I started with the Asgard 1 back in 2009 I think and felt it was holding it back and upgraded to the Headroom Micro which was way better and even more transparent.
    Unlike most other amps that one sounds equally good with everything. No need for such synergy nonsense.
     
    If my amp is a POS you might as well say that about the Vali too because they sound basically the same (ie Transparent).
    I don't even have a clue how you can be raving about the Vali and not like the O2. It's really bizarre.
     
    BTW for future reference I don't listen to music for 5 hours a day or work in a recording studio. Maybe then I would buy a $500 DAC that's probably 1% better than what I currently have.
    Maybe i'll try the Bifrost and eat my words. My setup is actually overkill for how little I listen to music. Nothing new there.
     
     
     
     

     
  12. purrin
     
    You have to remember that I simply recommended the modestly priced Bifrost-Uber to start! I don't know how it got to Summit-Fi DACs.
     
     
    Curious about the Emotiva stuff myself but haven't been able to get my hands on one. For the DC-1 as a headamp, one thing scares me away: the BUF634 buffer chips.
     
    painted klown likes this.
  13. purrin
     
    The O2 is pretty good from my main PC's mobo USB. It sucks ass (closed in, weak and mushy bass) from my Sony VAIO laptop (where I would more likely be using it from). Not a big fan of USB powered DACs in general. They are severely handicapped. I'm just happy if USB DACs can make sound.
     
    Not bizarre regarding your noted lack of differences between HR Microamp and Vali. It's like letting your grandma drive through the Streets of Willow racetrack down the street. It ain't gonna matter much if she's in an FR-S or Honda Accord.
     
  14. MickeyVee
    Don't want to go too OT but if the Vali can discern the difference between DACs, I'm good with that. With my HD800, I certainly can discern the difference between DACs even when I was using the Lyr.  I'm a big fan of the Bifrost and have regretted selling it for a simpler solution, the WA7.  The huge soundstage became much smaller and while the WA7 DAC is good, the Bifrost is worth the price of admission.  Given that, I'm ordering a new one.
    I'm looking for a good second system and the Vali seems to fit the bill from what I've read so far.  The final judgement will be made after some extensive listening.  I don't buy into hype and carefully consider what I read and who authored it.  It's just good sharing of information and I appreciate the opinions of those that have actually experienced different gear.  This thread was enough to peak my interest in the Vali (also following a few other amp threads) and that's all I expect from Head-Fi.  
    Can't wait to get mine in.. probably in the next day or two.
    Happy listening!
     
    Quote:
     
  15.  
    So, in your estimation, what's the go to dac $350 and under to couple with the Vali? Many of us just don't have 4 or 5 grand or whatever to put into a dac. If the non-crap is above that level, I'm washed out.
     
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