Violectric HPA V281 - Vorsprung durch Balanced
Jun 21, 2015 at 7:00 AM Post #1,456 of 5,032

plakat

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 30, 2012
Posts
3,550
Likes
1,179
Location
Vienna/Austria
Very nice review indeed, @project86 . I own the relay-based version as well, don't use it very often nowadays as the DAC2 fulfills all my needs after selling the Abyss (once the reason to get a V281 actually). Reading your review I had to switch it on, using my T1 I had converted to balanced. Indeed  wonderful amp (never use the builtin DAC due to driver problems under OS X). I did not remember it getting so warm though...
 
Violectric recently switched to a different USB receiver. Now I'm considering getting the updated V850 DAC or a new DAC board for the V281. Should now work with CoreAudio if I understood that correctly.
 
Jun 21, 2015 at 10:27 AM Post #1,457 of 5,032

project86

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 21, 2007
Posts
7,310
Likes
2,762
  I read John's review yesterday.  I'm normally not a huge fan of subjective-only reviews, but this one struck a chord.  We all like to see comments and reviews on things we have spent quite a bit of money on that present a positive spin on the product.  It's human nature - we don't want to feel like we made a serious mistake.
This review, of course, was very positive and having had my 281 for several months, I found myself talking to myself while reading the review - saying things like "Of course, well that should be obvious, it does do that well, etc".
It seems that quite a few people like amps that color the sound and John made a statement to that issue and I couldn't agree more - yeah, it has it's novelty, but you want your amp to give you an accurate, neutral and transparent presentation of the music and that's just what the 281 does.  I don't want an active tone control for an amp.
I agree with what John said about the Mjolnir also.  I have one and it's a excellent amp, but not the 281.
 
It seems to handle everything well.  I don't listen to iems, but I have low impedance, high sensitivity phones, high impedance phones and low sensitivity planars (LCD-3s and HE-560s).  It just makes them all sound great.  I've fallen hard for my 281 and HE-560s.  The 281 places them ahead of the LCD-3s (pre-fazor model).  If I had to give most everything I had up, I'd be keeping the 281 and the 560s.
 
John your review characterizes all the things I've been thinking to myself these past few months.  Perhaps with your review at Innerfidelity, word will get out about this wonderful amp.  More people will have a chance to hear what has become my end-of-the-trail amp.
Thanks for a solid look at the 281 and not pulling any punches with regard to more expensive offerings - I found that refreshing.

 
 
 
Thanks for the kind words - I like to hear that my impressions match that of other experienced listeners. It doesn't always work that way since we all hear differently, but it's nice when it does happen.
 
 
The V281 simply is a great amp. When reviewers are buying it for themselves that usually means alot. I bought my V281 before I published my review on HFN and it has been my reference amp since.

For the moment I am really loving it with the HE-1000 in balanced mode. But the beauty of the V281 is that is works great with all headphones

 
 
Agreed!
 
 
  Very nice review indeed, @project86 . I own the relay-based version as well, don't use it very often nowadays as the DAC2 fulfills all my needs after selling the Abyss (once the reason to get a V281 actually). Reading your review I had to switch it on, using my T1 I had converted to balanced. Indeed  wonderful amp (never use the builtin DAC due to driver problems under OS X). I did not remember it getting so warm though...
 
Violectric recently switched to a different USB receiver. Now I'm considering getting the updated V850 DAC or a new DAC board for the V281. Should now work with CoreAudio if I understood that correctly.

 
 
Yours gets really warm? Mine stays what I'd call "moderate" where I can feel a temperature increase, but it's not at all what you might think of as "hot". 
 
If I recall correctly, Violectric is switching to XMOS for the new USB implementations. Which is great news imho. 
 
Jun 21, 2015 at 1:07 PM Post #1,458 of 5,032

plakat

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 30, 2012
Posts
3,550
Likes
1,179
Location
Vienna/Austria
  Yours gets really warm? Mine stays what I'd call "moderate" where I can feel a temperature increase, but it's not at all what you might think of as "hot". 
 
If I recall correctly, Violectric is switching to XMOS for the new USB implementations. Which is great news imho. 

 
I have to add that for some time I had an A4-sized paper catalogue plus an ipad on top of it, before I remembered that it tends to get warm. When I took that off the V281 was much warmer than I expected and did not really cool down for the rest of my listening session. I know it gets warm, moderate may be a good term for the amount of heat. Yesterday it was almost hot on top. It did not activate any protection circuit (and as far as I remember there is a thermal protection).
 
Today I let it run for some time (2h or something) without anything on top and its just as warm as I remember it getting during use. So I think everything is fine as long as its not covered with anything.
 
Ad USB: I did not remember the specific chipset, but XMOS sounded familiar. Plus I found a post by Fried that the USB interface of the new V850 is based on that chipset. And as far as I know that should work with CoreAudio without installing a driver. I hope they'll offer boards for the V281 as well.
 
Jun 22, 2015 at 11:24 AM Post #1,459 of 5,032

rawrster

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Oct 22, 2008
Posts
10,566
Likes
206
Nice review as usual.
 
I as struggling with choosing the V281 or Taurus amps a few months ago. I chose the latter since it is much easier to find it at a discount either from the used market or a dealer display unit. I live in NYC and there are a lot of dealers in Manhattan and I do not know of any that stocks Violectric but the big ones stock Auralic. I am unable to find that with the V281 since Violectric is not very popular and my guess is that they have not sold as many units as the Taurus. 
 
It does seem the V281 is much more versatile. You can add the option of a dac or the volume control along with the different gains levels which I can't do. If I had a large variety of headphones from easy to difficult to drive the choice may have been extremely difficult since the Taurus although cheaper does not give me the options that a V281 has. 
 
I wish I had the money to purchase both but I went with the more economical one. 
 
Jun 23, 2015 at 10:13 AM Post #1,460 of 5,032

MP1968

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 10, 2013
Posts
241
Likes
20
In an earlier post John noted that the Taurus is a little more energetic, while the V281 is a little more muscular and warm, so perhaps he's already more or less answered the question I'm about to pose.  
 
I have some new LCD3Fs (burned in now), and my amp is an EF6.  Upstream it's a Naim DAC V1 and a laptop.  
 
So far I've been a little underwhelmed by the LCD3s.  Generally I like their signature, but in my current set up they're sounding a bit 'flabby' (best word I can find).  Not really very dynamic, a bit flat, a bit veiled, lacking in energy. But I do appreciate their warmth and musicality. 
 
I currently also have HD800s and K812s.  I appreciate that the LCD3 isn't going to have the same precision / definition that the HD800s have, but I do miss some of the details and crispness.  
 
My understanding is that the EF6 is considered a warmer SS amp.  Hence would a more transparent one improve things?  Here I'm thinking of the Taurus or the V281.  Which of the two is more likely to address the issues I have?
 
Here in the UK the Taurus can be bought new for £1500, while the V281 is slightly cheaper at £1250.  
 
Any thoughts appreciated.  
 
Jun 24, 2015 at 11:49 AM Post #1,461 of 5,032

ellevoid

Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 26, 2008
Posts
72
Likes
11
  In an earlier post John noted that the Taurus is a little more energetic, while the V281 is a little more muscular and warm, so perhaps he's already more or less answered the question I'm about to pose.  
 
I have some new LCD3Fs (burned in now), and my amp is an EF6.  Upstream it's a Naim DAC V1 and a laptop.  
 
So far I've been a little underwhelmed by the LCD3s.  Generally I like their signature, but in my current set up they're sounding a bit 'flabby' (best word I can find).  Not really very dynamic, a bit flat, a bit veiled, lacking in energy. But I do appreciate their warmth and musicality. 
 
I currently also have HD800s and K812s.  I appreciate that the LCD3 isn't going to have the same precision / definition that the HD800s have, but I do miss some of the details and crispness.  
 
My understanding is that the EF6 is considered a warmer SS amp.  Hence would a more transparent one improve things?  Here I'm thinking of the Taurus or the V281.  Which of the two is more likely to address the issues I have?
 
Here in the UK the Taurus can be bought new for £1500, while the V281 is slightly cheaper at £1250.  
 
Any thoughts appreciated.  


I don't understand what is your issue but Taurus MK2 has a brighter / leaner sound compare to V281.
 
Jun 27, 2015 at 9:14 AM Post #1,462 of 5,032

khollister

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
May 13, 2003
Posts
179
Likes
12
I'm very confused after reading this thread - I was set to get a Taurus Mk II, but now I'm torn between it and the V281. My current cans are older HD650's and Oppo PM-3's (purchased primarily to use with my Pono), but I am planning on picking up one or more of PM-1, HD800 or possible LCD-X (concerned about wearability long term). The V281 is probably the clear answer for HD800's, but I'm worried about how it would match the 650's or the PM-1's.

My source is a Sony HAP-1zES and present interconnects are Cardas Golden Cross. The amp I'm presently using with the Senn's is a Woo WA-2, which I feel is a bit too thick and dark with the tubes I have for the 650's.

I love the build quality and comfort of the PM-3's and I'm quite pleasantly surprised at the sound quality of them with the Pono. I want to go with the PM-1's due to build, price and comfort but realize they are not the ultimate in neutrality or clarity. I have nowhere to audition any of this stuff where I live, and the frustrating part is the only amp I have (the WA-2), is not suitable for the lower impedance ortho's. I need to pick an amp to even audition cans, but the cans might influence the amp. Of course it is quite possible I could tweak either amp to better match whatever cans I get via cable selection, so maybe I'm over thinking this.

My only hard constraints are solid state, both balanced and single-ended and end-game sound quality.

Thoughts?

Keith
 
Jun 27, 2015 at 4:27 PM Post #1,463 of 5,032

Viper2005

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jul 29, 2009
Posts
591
Likes
258
Location
Canada
I'm very confused after reading this thread - I was set to get a Taurus Mk II, but now I'm torn between it and the V281. My current cans are older HD650's and Oppo PM-3's (purchased primarily to use with my Pono), but I am planning on picking up one or more of PM-1, HD800 or possible LCD-X (concerned about wearability long term). The V281 is probably the clear answer for HD800's, but I'm worried about how it would match the 650's or the PM-1's.

My source is a Sony HAP-1zES and present interconnects are Cardas Golden Cross. The amp I'm presently using with the Senn's is a Woo WA-2, which I feel is a bit too thick and dark with the tubes I have for the 650's.

I love the build quality and comfort of the PM-3's and I'm quite pleasantly surprised at the sound quality of them with the Pono. I want to go with the PM-1's due to build, price and comfort but realize they are not the ultimate in neutrality or clarity. I have nowhere to audition any of this stuff where I live, and the frustrating part is the only amp I have (the WA-2), is not suitable for the lower impedance ortho's. I need to pick an amp to even audition cans, but the cans might influence the amp. Of course it is quite possible I could tweak either amp to better match whatever cans I get via cable selection, so maybe I'm over thinking this.

My only hard constraints are solid state, both balanced and single-ended and end-game sound quality.

Thoughts?

Keith


I find the balanced output of the V281 quite neutral with just a touch of warmth. It is only slightly richer sounding compared to my Ragnarok.
Now, the SE output of the v281 I find quite a bit warmer than the balanced output, almost as warm as my previous v200. So that is the true benefit of the v281, you get two different sounds compared to which type of output you use.
Personally I used the SE out with my HD800s and the Balanced out with my Audeze. And it makes both headphones sound great!
You may need to swap out the Cardas cable though, as I find the cross cables to add quite a bit of warmth and high frequency attenuation to the sound.
 
Jun 28, 2015 at 1:21 AM Post #1,465 of 5,032

Xenophon

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 15, 2013
Posts
986
Likes
86
I find the balanced output of the V281 quite neutral with just a touch of warmth. It is only slightly richer sounding compared to my Ragnarok.
Now, the SE output of the v281 I find quite a bit warmer than the balanced output, almost as warm as my previous v200. So that is the true benefit of the v281, you get two different sounds compared to which type of output you use.
Personally I used the SE out with my HD800s and the Balanced out with my Audeze. And it makes both headphones sound great!
You may need to swap out the Cardas cable though, as I find the cross cables to add quite a bit of warmth and high frequency attenuation to the sound.

Don't own a V281 but I'm not so sure that the part highlighted above is actually a good thing.  Not a cable believer.  The one thing I can tell you, owning a V200 and having tried the Taurus Mk2 (apples and oranges, I agree) is that the Taurus strikes me as more neutral, 'airy' and fast.  All a matter of taste with the cans you own.  Personally I prefer the Taurus (to my V200, to be clear).  It's a bit like the Conductor vs a V800/V200 stack.  Some will prefer one, others the other.  Owning the Vio gear (which I like, don't get me wrong) and for my tastes I think I probably should've gotten the Conductor at the time.
 
Jun 28, 2015 at 12:37 PM Post #1,466 of 5,032

khollister

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
May 13, 2003
Posts
179
Likes
12
Well, I just ordered a V281 to take advantage of the currency discount - hope I don't regret not going with the Taurus. I prefer the McIntosh house sound to say Spectral or Bryston, so I figure I will be happier with the Violectric.
 
Jun 29, 2015 at 5:52 AM Post #1,469 of 5,032

khollister

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
May 13, 2003
Posts
179
Likes
12
Wow - ordered it yesterday (Sunday) and got an email at 5:47 this morning (Monday) with a tracking number! Does Arthur ever sleep?
 
Jun 29, 2015 at 8:18 AM Post #1,470 of 5,032

galacticsoap

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 29, 2012
Posts
221
Likes
88
Hey Guys,
 
Slightly left of field question re: the V281. 
 
I've got my system chain is:
 
Aurender N100 > MSB Analog DAC + MSB Analog Powerbase > V281 > Abyss balanced via 4 PIN XLR
 
I listen to a fair bit of electronica on this rig. I recently picked up a Subpac that I've been using at work and I'm thinking of bringing it home to use in my main system:
 
http://thesubpac.com/order/subpac-s1/
 
The question I was hoping you guys could answer is if I were to connect the the Subpac to the V281 via one of the Vio's single ended outputs and ran the Abyss via the Balanced 4 pin XLR would I be damaging any thing in my system (extremely important) or in the Subpac (not as important but preferably would like no damage here as well).
 
Cheers,
GS
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top