V-DAC- Why All The Hype? It’s Just A Black Box…
Jul 18, 2009 at 2:41 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 15


Headphoneus Supremus
Aug 15, 2006
Miami, FL
Well, in case you thought this was a negative thread on the V-DAC, well my friends, it’s a very positive one…

Took delivery of one about two months ago. Finally got around to do some serious listening with it, so wanted to share a few thoughts.

At the moment, there is a wide variety of DACs out there and the selection is going to increase, given the present trend. The selections are plenty- USB, Coax, Optical, BNC inputs etc…and various output flavors also….IMO- bring em’ on, the more the merrier, so you can tailor and implement them in your particular/unique application.

I remember almost three years ago when I joined this wonderful and wallet draining community
, that the options were very limited in reference to DACs. There were some, no doubt, but selection was nowhere near where it is today. I still have my Entech NC, purchased in 2006 for $39.99 and still going strong…

Now, the V-DAC.

IMO, Musical Fidelity is not known for “blinging” their gear. Basically a box with components inside. The V-DAC is no exception. A black box with white lettering, inputs and output. Bottom line is the sound...

What good is a cosmetically appealing piece of gear, if it does not deliver? (Just making a point, it’s not that bad aesthetically, it grows on you)…

Remember, take what is said with a grain of salt, pepper, garlic..etc. Everyone’s gear differs, music preferences are different and so on….So, I’ll try to make it as concise as possible with the gear used.

Grabbed some gear and laid it out for these thoughts….Excuse the towel, but if I scratch the dining room table, wifey will make other uses of the gear, and it won’t be comfortable.




Gear Used

CD players (Marantz CD5001, Sony CE335)

Laptop- Acer 4530 w/ optical, Acer 5520 w/ optical…

Audioengine A5 speakers (setup #1- Acer 5520 (optical) --V-DAC--RCA to mini directly into the A5s and (setup #2- Acer 5520 (optical)--V-DAC--Woo Audio WA2 (pre-amp out)--A5s.

Headphones used- Beyer DT880 (250 ohm), Grado RS2 (32 ohm), Ultrasone HFI-680 (recabled by Scott, S2 Audio)(75 ohm).
Headphone amps used- SS- K.I.C.A.S (non-caliente), Tube Hybrid- MF X-CanV3 (Siemens 6DJ8s), Tube- Singlepower PPX3 Slam (Tung Sol 5687 x2, RCA 6SN7GT x1)

Music (15 songs)…Genres I listen to- House/Trance, Rock, Hip-Hop, Freestyle.

House / Trance

1) Proff- My Personal Summer (Anjunabeats Vol. 6)

2) Fragma- Toca’s Miracle (Richard Durand Remix) (M.O.S. Clubber’s
Guide To 2008 (Germany)

3) M6- Amazon Dawn (AVB ASOT 2008)…


1) Dream Theater- Metropolis Part I (Images And Words)
2) Rush- Tom Sawyer, YYZ (Live) (Different Stages)
3) The Cure- Lullaby (Disintegration)
4) Metallica- Master Of Puppets (Master Of Puppets)


1) TKA- One Way Love
2) TKA- Scars Of Love
3) Joyce Simms- (You Are My) All In All (Original 12” Mix)


1) 2 Pac- Can U Get Away (Me Against The World)
2) Biggie- Big Poppa (Ready To Die)
3) Trick Daddy (ft. Twista & Lil’ Jon)- Let’s Go
4) Marques Houston (ft. Chingy, Nate Dogg & I-20)- I Like That

First thing I noticed with the V-DAC was the gain. Had to lower the volume a bit with each amp. No degradation of sound, just higher volume. My initial thought of the V-DAC was- “bring it on” so to speak. Up front and asking for more. Not bright, just keeping everything balanced (low, mids, highs)…Extension is there without clouding any of the other frequencies. Clarity is maintained, while the bass kicks. Don’t get me wrong, I love bass, when it’s called for, but not at the expense of losing mids or clouding highs. The V-DAC does this quite well. Gives it to you as a total package, while at the same time, you can decipher the frequencies and not be bothered with tooooo much of anything. Very balanced indeed.

I love reference songs- we all have them and test gear with it. Metropolis has a lot going on at various stages of the song and the V-DAC keeps up with it. These reference songs I chose, have nice basslines with vocals, that tend to sound one dimensional sometimes (too much vocals or too much bass), the V-DAC does not fall into that category, just letting the music flow as it was intended to be.

Proff- My Personal Summer starts off with nice bass and mid beats that sometimes tend to sound too sterile while clouding the keyboards in the backround. When the bass kicks again after two minutes, it is pure and just well, perfect…..Extended, tight, clear and not boomy, while maintaining that oomph, that brings a smile to your face. The big test for me was Lullaby….I know the intro is nice, but let’s see what you got when that awesome bassline kicks. Are you going to cloud up Rob’s voice while maintaining the beat? Well, it does it flawlessly….not clouding the vocals while retaining that bassline the song is known for…..tight bassline in the backround while Rob does his gloominess….Love the imaging, soundstage, clarity, extension while retaining the essence of the music……

TKA (I know old school), but when it hits, it just hits….Again, clarity and deep extended bass while retaining vocals. Nothing overpowering, just tight….

Rush Live----Fans and music in perfect coherence once the first note hits….Drums are everywhere, like Neil is in your head and at the same time the fan’s appreciation is heard just right, along with the drums…

I guess you guys get the point…Very balanced sound, while maintaining the music….

At $299.00, the V-DAC performs above the price, with USB, Coax, Optical inputs, and a small footprint, it’s a winner.

If you have read these boards for any amount of time, you would have noticed the word “synergy”, relating to various components and their ability to work well together while complimenting each other. The V-DAC lets the amp do its job while not overstepping the boundaries, and not doing or trying to do more than it’s supposed to do, while maintaining a musical flow together….
It sounded great with all 3 amps, letting them be what they are. They retained their speed, warmth, and depth.

All three inputs were used. Laptops (ASIO4ALL, KS and WASAPI) FLAC (Foobar & Winamp).

In case anyone is wondering- I currently own eight DACs (ten, counting my portables)(can't seem to let them go). I also have owned the DAC1 (for a short period of time). I have them integrated in my speaker and headphone setups and all get plenty of use. I have not done any head to head comparisons (no time)....Would like to though.....So, I'll try and take them one at a time and write a few thoughts on them....

Remember, just because something is not FOTM (Flavor Of The Month) anymore, it does not mean it's not good anymore. If YOU like it, that's what is important....Enjoy your gear.....

Next up DacMagic....

Jul 18, 2009 at 5:48 AM Post #2 of 15
Very nice review. The V-Dac has been on my radar.
Jul 18, 2009 at 7:57 AM Post #4 of 15

Originally Posted by HeatFan12 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Next up DacMagic....

Nice review. I'm interested in both the V-DAC and the DacMagic so I'm looking forward to that review and your comparison of the two.
Jul 18, 2009 at 2:48 PM Post #8 of 15
Thanks guys....

It is indeed a nice little black box....

I still have a couple days of my mini-vacation left, hopefully will get some time for serious listening with the DacMagic....

Anadin is right on....From quickly switching between the two, nothing is day and night.....Will do the same as I did here for the DacMagic and see what differences surface....

One interesting point I just noticed on the DacMagic while reading the manual, that I overlooked before....From the manual-

"The DacMagic is fitted with two sets of digital inputs which enable the connection of source components. Each input has both S/P DIF and TOSLINK types fitted.
Only one of the two types for each input should be connected at any one time. If both the optical and co-axial outputs have connections made to them (even if only one is attempting to function), neither will work."

Not a deal breaker for me, as at the moment I have optical connected in each one, but good to know.....
Jul 19, 2009 at 7:03 AM Post #9 of 15
nice review. I almost went with the V-Dac, but chose the DacMagic because of the extra digital inputs, balanced outputs, and also the reviews seemed to tilt towards the DacMagic in regards to my music preferences.

I can't wait to read what you have to say about the DacMagic vs. the V-Dac. I'm trying to convince one of my friends to get a V-Dac so I can compare the two.
Jul 19, 2009 at 6:02 PM Post #11 of 15
Nice review.

I'm also in the process of reviewing this DAC, which I think is one of the better ones I've heard for less than $500. I'm hoping that I'll get a chance to hear the DACMagic as well...maybe I'll spring for a used one just to compare the two.

I agree that the output is hot. When paired with my V-CANS amp, I find that I need attenuators to quiet the output a bit.

That said, I feel like it's a nicely balanced source, with lots of air between the instruments, and not overly forward or colored like many DAC's I've heard in this price range. I'd like to hear it with the supposedly up-coming V-PSU...oh well, hopefully it comes soon.
Jul 19, 2009 at 7:33 PM Post #12 of 15
Thanks very much guys.....

@roker- Your friend should definitely jump on it, without any disappointment whatsoever...In reference to your decision on the DacMagic with the extra input/output options- The DacMagic at the time of my purchase was $100.00 more than the V-DAC. IMO and from what I have heard so far from the two, it is a good and solid decision. Having those options is a plus...Is it worth $100.00? If it sounds good- absolutely........
I love the Senn HD650 and have purchased a couple of upgraded cables for them and the HD580....Do I love the sound so much to consider going balanced?....Right now, honestly I need to stop spending $$$
, so I block it out of my thought process....BUT, if I decide in the future, the DM will allow me to do so to get my feet wet.....Versatility is always good as long as it does not take away from the goal---Sound

@elrod-tom- Looking forward to your impressions...."Hot" output was the word that eluded me.....Thanks....Very evident when connected directly to the A5s...

Jul 20, 2009 at 4:36 PM Post #14 of 15

Originally Posted by mrarroyo /img/forum/go_quote.gif
HeatFan12, with all that gear at your disposal you should host a mini-meet!

That would be great, however, very difficult due to work....My average work week is about 70 hours including weekends...I have at least a laptop even away from home, so I can get my head-fi fix......
Aug 31, 2009 at 12:05 AM Post #15 of 15
psu should go straight in the bin!
i bought a "mascot" psu from rs and believe it made a big difference.
plus the stock unit gets very hot. not a good sign IMO.
am now interested in trying other "budget" dacs
ie dacmagic, keces 131, valab 1543, etc

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