Violectric HPA V281 - Vorsprung durch Balanced
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Tsukuyomi

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If you don't have powered speakers or a power amp i don't see why you need the V281 (well except if you want the remote or the stepped attenuator).
The V280 is of course balanced and exactly the same amp as the V281 but just a little more powerful due to larger transformers.
https://www.thomann.de/gb/violectric_hpa_v280_black.htm
Can't you buy from USA?
I could be inporting from the u.s. would add extra fees. Id wanna avoid that.

I think the v280 would be better since i wont be using them for speakers. I'd be using it exclusively with my rme adi 2 dac and with headphones.
 
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Ratephi

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Anybody who owns (or has owned) both the V281 and the Benchmark HPA4 and who could share some impressions? I'd be extremely interested. :)
 
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Drewligarchy

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Anybody who owns (or has owned) both the V281 and the Benchmark HPA4 and who could share some impressions? I'd be extremely interested. :)
Interesting you mention this. I have a V281 for years and just bought an HPA4 a couple weeks ago with the 30 day trial.

I am listening to the V281 as we speak, and I sent back the HPA4 this morning. Source is Chord Dave / M Scaler. I use LCD 4 and Abyss TC (though I also have a Formula S for my Abyss).

The HPA4 is a great amp, however in the quality that's most important to me - it beats the HPA4: smoothness. This contributes a lot to musicality. I found the HPA4 slightly dry.

When I compare the Dave out to the Violectric out it retains the smoothness of Dave/Mscaler. It's slightly darker, whereas the HPA4 is not. But the HPA4 is drier. As a result the V281 sounds much more musical to me.

The Dave out is more neutral AND smooth AND transparent. The V281 gives up a little on the neutrality (slight) and transparency. The HPA4 gives up a little on smoothness but not neutrality or transparency.

Demoing the HPA4 has given me a new appreciation for how much I like the V281 - especially with my LCD4. It's really a great amp: powerful, musical, and just ever so slightly south of neutral.
 
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Ratephi

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Appreciate your feedback, very much aligned with my expectations. I see you won the Formula S too (which is the other alternative I am looking at). Do I understand correctly that the Formual S is your amplification of choice with the TC? The TC is my main headphone and I'm trying to figure out what the best option among V281 (which I currently own), the HPA4, Dave and Formula S could be. Where does the amplification of the Dave fall short, in your view?
 
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Ratephi

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Interesting you mention this. I have a V281 for years and just bought an HPA4 a couple weeks ago with the 30 day trial.

I am listening to the V281 as we speak, and I sent back the HPA4 this morning. Source is Chord Dave / M Scaler. I use LCD 4 and Abyss TC (though I also have a Formula S for my Abyss).

The HPA4 is a great amp, however in the quality that's most important to me - it beats the HPA4: smoothness. This contributes a lot to musicality. I found the HPA4 slightly dry.

When I compare the Dave out to the Violectric out it retains the smoothness of Dave/Mscaler. It's slightly darker, whereas the HPA4 is not. But the HPA4 is drier. As a result the V281 sounds much more musical to me.

The Dave out is more neutral AND smooth AND transparent. The V281 gives up a little on the neutrality (slight) and transparency. The HPA4 gives up a little on smoothness but not neutrality or transparency.

Demoing the HPA4 has given me a new appreciation for how much I like the V281 - especially with my LCD4. It's really a great amp: powerful, musical, and just ever so slightly south of neutral.

Appreciate your feedback, very much aligned with my expectations. I see you won the Formula S too (which is the other alternative I am looking at). Do I understand correctly that the Formual S is your amplification of choice with the TC? The TC is my main headphone and I'm trying to figure out what the best option among V281 (which I currently own), the HPA4, Dave and Formula S could be. Where does the amplification of the Dave fall short, in your view?
 
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Drewligarchy

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I really like the TC out of Dave and Formula S. They are different. Dave is scary transparent and smooth. Formula S really improves the bass and depth of the sound stage (and it's not subtle), while adding an ever so slight even harmonic tilt to the sound. It all depends on what you'd like.

You really can't go wrong with Formula S and TC, but I'd demo first.
 
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Ratephi

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I really like the TC out of Dave and Formula S. They are different. Dave is scary transparent and smooth. Formula S really improves the bass and depth of the sound stage (and it's not subtle), while adding an ever so slight even harmonic tilt to the sound. It all depends on what you'd like.

You really can't go wrong with Formula S and TC, but I'd demo first.

Interesting. As far as bass is concerned, I would expect the V281 to have an edge over the Formula S. Is that not the case in your experience? Have you fed the combo V281 and Dave into the TC?
 
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jlbrach

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I had the 281 and loved it but now have the formula s/ powerman combo....I find the combo to have a blacker background and wider soundstage....
 
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Drewligarchy

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Yes.
Interesting. As far as bass is concerned, I would expect the V281 to have an edge over the Formula S. Is that not the case in your experience? Have you fed the combo V281 and Dave into the TC?
Yeah - I understand why you would think that. I think quantity is about even but Formula S has better quality. It's tighter and has better texture.

I agree that Formula S is better for the TC specifically. I go back and forth with the LCD 4, but I think I lean toward the v281.
 
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Much to my chagrin I’ve had too much else going recently on to reply to this in a timely fashion, but here is my long overdue write-up on these two amps:
Firstly, the THX 789 definitely lives up to its specs. In fact when I first got it and plugged in my Utopias I actually had a moment of wondering if I still needed the V281! The THX has lots of power, clarity, spaciousness, and a linear, uncolored sound. I find the Utopia to be a great pairing because it shares a lot of those characteristics with the amp. I currently use the THX 789 as the amp in my “B” rig so obviously, I will not be replacing my V281 with it, but in terms of quality sound reproduction the two amps are not so far apart as you’d imagine based on the vast price differential between the two (and I have the relay volume control V281 model.) The V281 has more grip on the music if that makes sense, just that little extra oomph and palbable feeling to the notes that I really like in this amp. I found the Massdrop THX amp to have a little more brightness that sometimes gave it an edge in clarity over the V281 with some recordings but other times became a bit grating to me and meant I had to turn my music down or switch amps in the middle of listening sessions. So there can be a listener fatigue factor that I don’t ever get with the Violectric amp.

The V281 is also more versatile in terms of headphone pairings for my money. Despite its impressive power specs I found the THX a bit too polite when paired with my more demanding headphones, like the HE6se and the LCD-4. That said, it is more than capable of handling those beasts and it is nice to have a gain knob on the front to make adjustments, it’s just that the V281 added some real juice to the dynamic swings that I feel are the strength of those headphones while the THX was a bit more of neutral observer. I haven’t given the THX AAA 789 much of a run out with my HD800S or Eikon headphones since they see almost exclusive use with my tube amp nowadays, but I do enjoy listening to my Sony MDR-Z1R’s on it. So you can see that for such a cheap amp the THX AAA scales well with totl headphones, but is still bested in my opinion by the V281’s flexibile, supple sound signature.

In terms of other features besides sound the V281 shows its quality (and price) pretty quickly. It’s build quality is such that I imagine you could drop it from a moving vehicle and have it still work, while the THX 789 would probably explode all over the pavement (though it is well-built). The pre-amp functionality of the V281 is very well implemented and a big plus, the volume knob and power button have a much more quality feel, there’s a 5 year warranty, remote, etc etc. Given the fully upgraded V281 costs about 9 times as much as the THX AAA 789, it damn well better wipe the floor with the cheaper amp on those factors! So from that perspective you get what you pay for, but if we’re just talking about sound... the THX holds its own. Now if anyone has heard the Benchmark HPA4 ($3000 msrp) w/THX AAA technology and can compare it to the V281 I’d love to know what you think.
I totally agree with everything you said. I also have the thx 789 and the violectric 281 to power my moded hifiman He-6 4 screws.
The difference between the two is not significant. I think the hpa 281 offers more body to the sound ,the bass is more precise and tight and it sounds darker overall. Where as the thx 789 sounds a bit thin and bright in comparison. I also noticed that is more neutral than V281.
I think the THX 789 is a killer for the money.
P_20200207_090439.jpg
 

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Fegefeuer

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Nice 4 screw. Why did you keep the SMC connectors though?
 
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MariusValentin

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I didn't had the patience to do it at the time. But yes when I look back I should've done it. Not big deal
I also glued the sandwich where the extra 2 screws are missing .It will be nearly impossible to take the drivers out without breaking them
 
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paul30d

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Hi

I recently bought a v281. Very happy with it. I have one basic question regarding the volume. Should I return the volume knob to the zero setting before turning on the unit? I suspect not, given that the manual says "On power-up and power-down, the outputs are cut from the amplifier circuitry by relay".

I just want to be sure. Having set the jumpers, I would prefer just to leave the volume knob at my preferred listening level when powering down and powering up. Anyone heard of any problems with this (headphones will stay connected to the unit as well)?

Cheers, Paul
 
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