V-Can, V-DAC and V-Link compared to the competition (amp-dac combo for Grado RS-2)?
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AVR4000

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I am currently doing research of the area of a headphone amp + dac combo for my MacBook Pro. My previous setups has been Marantz SA 7001 KI + LittleDot I+ and Grado RS-2 or Vincent KHV-1pre with Sennheiser HD600 cans. Now I am living in a different part of the world and the requirements has been changed. I use my Grado RS-2 (with flats) as my main headphone but the MacBook Pro has now replaced everything else and that's why I am looking for a new DAC and headphone amp for the Grados.
 
Yesterday, I went to Park Avenue Audio (I'm in the NYC) and tried the Musical Fidelity V-Can and V-DAC with a very pleasing result. In my stationary setup, I had a Musical Fidelity X-T100 that I selected after careful auditing because of the high quality sound with very good PRaT it offers. The V-Can/V-DAC combo gave me a similar experience of good PRaT and a very decent sound with balanced registers and good clarity. The synergy with the RS-2 was really good and I have to admit that I experienced an improvement of this combo compared to my LD I+/SA 7001 KI setup.
 
The only drawback I experienced is the lack of high resolution USB audio but will take a new audit with the V-Link so I can draw a new conclusion based on upsampling.
 
But before I make any decisions - I am interested in recommendations of alternative setups. My priorities is:
 
1. DAC and amp (separate products are no problem but they are going to be combined).
2. Price: up to 800 dollars (approximately, based on the MF V-Link+Can+DAC).
3. Good synergy with Grados (I have the RS-2 and SR225).
4. Pace, rythm and timing is very important to me. That's why I like the "british sound" when it comes to amps.
 
It's also nice if I can audit the gear before purchasing.
 
I will visit Washington soon, according to the current planning - recommendations of HiFi stores carrying DACs and headphone amps there is very welcome.
 
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helluvapixel

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I was entertaining the V-CAN but the overall impression was that the pot used for volume is far too sensitive and isn't very graduated in resolution so it was too easy to go from quiet to loud with what would seem a small increment on the dial.
 
Could you offer input?
 
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AVR4000

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I didn't experience any volume problems but next time I try (with the V-Link added to the chain) I will see how it behaves.
 
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helluvapixel

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That would be excellent input. It was the one point stopping me from getting it and the V-DAC which looks like a great combo.
 
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AVR4000

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The only thing I can say is that I felt that it was a near buy - but I always has the rule of thumb in my head that it's better to try to look around rather than buying the first option you find. Even if I like Musical Fidelity a lot, I feel that it's better to investigate further before making the final decision.
 
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thegr8brian

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I have the V-LPS phono stage and I am satisfied with it but I can hear a bit of noise if I really crank my amp with it (pretty much past safe listening volumes).  I've heard the V line can really improve from a power supply upgrade.  They sell the V-PSU for $250 or you can pick up one of these which is my plan...
 
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I have the full compliment of V-Cans products (with the exception of the V-LPS...no vinyl rig), and I've been very pleased with them.  I find they are quite nice with lower impedance cans like the Grado HF-2.  The V-Cans IS a little on the hot side, but if one were very concerned one could simply buy some attenuators...and I don't really have an issue with it (though I have known a few folks who have).  I'm not sure why, but I THINK that the V-PSU actually LESSENS the issue, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me but that IS my experience with it.
 
To get everything that one gets for a little more than $600 (that's what my addition comes up with...though if you were to add the V-PSU it gets you into that $800 range rather quickly and then some).  That's the beauty (such as it is) of the inexpensive casing.  The trickiest part IMHO is the match with lower impedance cans, which makes a difference.
 
As an aside, I happen to have an extra V-PSU from an extra set of V-CANS that I was using in a second rig... 

 
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I felt a really balanced sound when I tried the combination. The RS-2 with flats has a pretty balanced sound in my opinion and the Musical Fidelity V-Can/DAC is also balanced to my ears. I have not tried the PSU but perhaps I should audit ut when I evaluate the whole package with the V-Link and then judge if I feel that some kind of PSU-upgrade is motivated or not. I have the impression that the V-PSU is convenient in the way that you have just that unit in the wall and then connect the other devices to it.
 
But I feel a bit sceptical against buying a power supply for $250.
 
Another question is: are there any stores in NYC (beside Park Avenue Audio) that carries DACs/headphone amps?
 
I have visited Lyric HiFi but their headphone amp offering is an Antique Sound Labs model for $600 - pretty limited. I have tried it and I feel that V-Can is a better performer.
 
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Quote:
I have the V-LPS phono stage and I am satisfied with it but I can hear a bit of noise if I really crank my amp with it (pretty much past safe listening volumes).  I've heard the V line can really improve from a power supply upgrade.  They sell the V-PSU for $250 or you can pick up one of these which is my plan...


I have the same phono stage and cannot hear any noise whatsoever. I guess it might depend on noisy electrical supply in your case?
 
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thegr8brian

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Quote:
Quote:


I have the same phono stage and cannot hear any noise whatsoever. I guess it might depend on noisy electrical supply in your case?

Well my meier concerto is totally silent when using my yulong d100 as a source and it is also running off the same outlet.  So while it may be possible that my supply to the wall is not the best, other equipment I have is able to perform silently which is due to their likely more robust powersupply design.  It's possible that my amplifier may have a higher gain than yours thus amplifying the noise floor of the V-LPS.  Have you tried listening to the V-LPS with your amplifier on max volume in a quiet room?  I'll be getting the new power supply in the near future so I will be able to comment on it's effectiveness.  
 
 
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elrod-tom

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Quote:
Well my meier concerto is totally silent when using my yulong d100 as a source and it is also running off the same outlet.  So while it may be possible that my supply to the wall is not the best, other equipment I have is able to perform silently which is due to their likely more robust powersupply design.  It's possible that my amplifier may have a higher gain than yours thus amplifying the noise floor of the V-LPS.  Have you tried listening to the V-LPS with your amplifier on max volume in a quiet room?  I'll be getting the new power supply in the near future so I will be able to comment on it's effectiveness.  
 

Yes. Dead silent. Another possibility is that your V-lps is picking up cartridge hum. With some tt/cart combinations it can happen. Not sure about your particular set-up so it's just an idea. You might want to try the vlps with another tt/cart combination just to check.
 
 
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Quote:
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Yes. Dead silent. Another possibility is that your V-lps is picking up cartridge hum. With some tt/cart combinations it can happen. Not sure about your particular set-up so it's just an idea. You might want to try the vlps with another tt/cart combination just to check.
 


I've actually tried disconnecting the TT entirely so the V-LPS has no input and I still get the same noise.  So as far as I can tell it is the V-LPS.  Like I said though, this is only with the amp turned up loud enough to blow out my ears if a record was actually playing.  
 
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