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Violectric HPA V281 - Vorsprung durch Balanced

Discussion in 'Headphone Amps (full-size)' started by fegefeuer, Feb 12, 2014.
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  1. watchdog507
    Great! Super detailed with crisp treble effortless midrange and bass
  2. JeffMann
    My present audio system is as follows-: PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport => Matrix Sabre-X Pro DAC => Violectric V281 headphone amplifier => HE1000 headphone (via a balanced XLR cable).

    I am thinking of upgrading my HE1000 to a Susvara headphone model and I am wondering whether the V281 has enough power to effortlessly drive that more insensitive headphone. Also, what would be the best setting? I presently have my Matrix X-Sabre Pro DAC volume control set at -18db and my V281 set at zero gain and that allows me to have the volume control at ~12 o-clock. If I use the more insensitive Susvara headphone, should I set the DAC volume control to zero or should I set the V281's pre-gain setting to +12db - presuming that I want to optimize the sound quality?

    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
  3. zhgutov
    I think it is good to set your DAC to "DAC" mode with the maximum output level, which is 4.5 V RMS or ~15 dBu via XLR, according to specification.
    In this case you should get the perfect match with Susvara @ 0 dB pre-gain. @ostewart has written the review with V281 and Susvara. We can ask him about the impressions.
    ostewart likes this.
  4. Pharmaboy
    V281 update: just rewired my desktop system to test a feature of the V281 that's been discussed here -- its ability (or maybe not so able) to drive the L+R RCA outputs at the same time as the L+R 3-pin XLR outputs. This is how it's wired as of this morning:
    1. RCA L+R outputs from the DAC (Audio GD NOS 19) connected to RCA L+R inputs on V281
    2. RCA L+R outputs from V281 connected to inputs of subwoofer (SVS SB-1000 w/crossover set to 80Hz)
    3. 3-pin XLR L+R outputs from the V281 connected to the L/R inputs of the monitors (Zenpro modded Yamaha HS7s)

    I know going into this experiment that the sub vs monitors balancing may be out of whack (ie, their respective volume levels). We'll see how far off it is (if at all) when I crank the system later today. The other way the balancing may be out of whack is that the HS7s are now run full-range (before they were getting line level signal from the crossover >80Hz). Full-range sound out of the HS7s + regular subwoofer output may put a "hump" in the bass below 80Hz. Or not: the HS7s are described as losing volume below ~80 Hz, with the falloff per octave in the manner of any ported design.

    There is one theoretical benefit of this rewiring scheme that I may already be hearing--fewer electronics in the chain. Before today, I obtained a balanced signal for the HS7s by running the RCA L+R outputs through a single ended-to-balanced converter (Aphex 124A, well regarded by music studio types). I believe that converter sounds pretty good to begin with--I wired the HS7s direct from its balanced outputs once & got the best sound I've yet heard from them--but now that the Aphex 124A is out of the chain, the HS7s' sound may improve a little. Listening to classical music low-volume now; definitely hearing that midrange clarity & details these monitors are known for.

    (more to follow)
    zek4u likes this.
  5. denwenz
    I would like to purchase a V281. I will be using the amp with sennheiser hd-800 headphones. I am still undecided about whether to purchase the amp with the standard volume control or the $589 option of the relay with remote control. My only concern is if I will be able to hear sonic differences with the upgraded option-would appreciate any feedback folks have about the sonic differences between the upgraded volume control and the standard one-thanks
  6. Ekul61
    through all my research to upgrade my Asgard 2 paired with the sennnhieser 800S. It always comes back to the 281 or 280.
    The Asgard 2 is a very cold amp. I definitely need more warmth.
    Sorry but I have too ask 1 more time as $2g on a amp is a big decision ..
    Can I achieve substantial warmth upgrade of my Asgard (inexpensive solid state) with the purchase of the 281?
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
  7. LCMusicLover
    I wouldn't call my v280 'warm', more like neutral. I haven't heard the Asgard, but from reviews, I'm surprised to see you describe it as 'cold'. Every review or impression I read calls it 'neutral/warmish', or 'warm'. Mind you, I love my Violectric, but... that's a lot of coin to spend if it doesn't improve the sound of your rig. I wonder if the cold you're hearing is coming from a different part of your chain.

    I believe you have HD-800. That could be where the of coldness you're hearing is coming from. You might add some warmth with copper cables. I picked up some copper cables for my Utopia, which seems to have taken a bit of brightness out vs stock cables. Subtle but noticeable to my ears. Although the after market cables are balanced, and the stock are SE, so that;'s very likely a bigger source of the difference.

    Just my 2 cents worth (and probably over-priced at that).
  8. Pharmaboy
    I've never heard the Asgard, so can't contrast V281 to that...

    I have the V281 & am totally familiar with it; have heard w/multiple headphones on it, including a couple very good ones; also used it extensively as a preamp. Like many, I would call the V281 "slightly warm," but exactly why that is may interest you:
    • Some amps and headphones tilt towards a sound that's "clinical," "accurate," "revealing," and yes--bright or cold--so when you run into one that does not to that at all, like the V281, it can sound warm by comparison
    • But the other reasons are that the V281 has world class bass, top to bottom of the bass spectrum. It also has world class dynamics. And since great dynamics in an amp are often felt most strongly in the bass/lower midrange, these qualities tend to strongly anchor the whole tonality/"voicing" of the V281.
      • Actually, the V281 also has really fine treble, but nobody would describe it as "airy" or "delicate" when it's shaking your head.
    • The treble also exhibits pretty special dynamics. But the effect of a level/not-elevated, and dynamic treble usually isn't brightness or coldness--it sounds to me like a pleasing, soft-to-loud sonic impact that parallels what's happening in the lower ranges.

    That's how I hear it (YMMV). But consider this: when you go to see the symphony orchestra or any unamplified ensemble of instruments in a well-designed acoustic space, you'll feel, as well as hear, the impact of bass & lower midrange--and treble doesn't sound cold or bright, just loud or soft. So the V281 nicely mirrors how music sounds/behaves IRL (IMO).
  9. watchdog507
    As a V281 owner for almost a year with a Remote and Stepped Volume, I'll concur up to a point. I find the V281 to be very detailed and comprehensive in presentation. I don't find it warm. I find my Woo WA5-LE to be warm. What you will get is the old adage "garbage in and garbage out" If you have a poor recording you will be unimpressed with the music. It's very faithful to the quality of the content. If you have control over the source you should be OK. I still think that the V281 is one of the relative bargains in the headphone world. When you look at price/performance.
    phase0 likes this.
  10. Ekul61
    Thx above. I have the 800S model.
  11. zhgutov
    Can not agree with that statement. Probably this depends on the DAC too.
    In my case it sounds pretty well with low quality recordings.
    You can hear the bads, no masking or added "silky" layer here, but they are not in the front of everything.

    I can not agree with that too. It depends on the recording. If it has such qualities, you will perceive it.
  12. watchdog507
    This highlights the beauty of our hobby. Each pair of ears is different. To get to the posters codicil regarding DAC's. I use great DAC's with strong resolution. A Mytek Brooklyn or a PS Audio Directstream with Bridge II and a PS Audio memory player. I don't find the V281 to add a prominent layer of anything to the music. There have been many times where I skip a track because it just doesn't sound right to me. This isn't amp dependant. I skip the same track when they are played through my WA5.
  13. zhgutov
    This is probably different thing than what I mean.
    Well, it is hard to explain. It's easier to show an example.
    Let's take a low quality recordings from youtube (AAC 128 kbps 44.1 kHz with 15 kHz filter, or even worse).
    1. This sounds good in my case, but it is awful in terms of sound quality:

    2. This has better sound quality, but is overcompressed near the end:

    The first case is what I mean, the second is probably what you mean.
    Is it so?

    Oops, is there any way not to transform links to "media" automatically? :)
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2017
  14. watchdog507
    I think that we were addressing two different sound quality issues. If the recording is in a "lossy" format nothing will help it. You can't recover what is missing. However I was referring to poor sound engineering. Or just bad decisions by a sound engineer or a producer. Where the DAC presents it to the amp. It still sounds terrible. In this instance, the V281 just amplifies something that sounds like crap. The other issue that is addressed by some amps is the "smoothing" of a harsh presentation. I think that DAC design nowadays has taken a lot of the fatigue out of the music. If you have a fatiguing source the V281 will still amplify it faithfully.
    zhgutov likes this.
  15. zhgutov
    Well, I don't know any equipment, which is able to fix this automatically. Does anyone know?
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