Violectric V200: The German Solid State

violectric_v200_03

Time sure does fly… I reviewed the V100 in November of last year and I absolutely loved it. The V200’s little brother turned out to be an awesome amp and that made lots of readers wonder how Violectric’s top of the line product would perform and so I promised to add a comparison between both amps. In the meantime 7 months and a couple seasons have passed before we got a hold of the V200. Don’t forget to go read the V100 review first to get the general picture of Violectric.

All the Violectric amps are still made by hand in Germany and with a typical German quality control. Combined with the fact that Violectric (being a smaller company) amongst other reasons can’t afford to buy huge stocks of components makes it tough for them to keep up with the increasing demand of V200s from all over the world. Orthodynamic headphones have been getting more popular lately and with the release of the Hifiman HE-400 at $399, the orthodynamic technology suddenly was available for a much bigger crowd. The HE-400 doesn’t really need amp like the Violectric to shine but my point is it seems the popularity of the Violectric lineup follows the same increasing popularity of the orthodynamics (and of course quality products make a name for themselves).

Anyway, I didn’t want to insist too much so I just waited till when Violectric had a unit available for us, in return I could keep the V100 till the V200 would arrive and in that time the V100 has been the amp I have been using most for my listening sessions. So anyway, apologies if it took a long time to get this review online (especially to Spencer who has been dying to read it!)

Differences between the V100 and the V200

Like the V100, the Violectric V200 also is an A/B Class amplifier with the exact same build quality and looks. (V100 weighs 1.7kg & V200 weighs 1.8kg, both mesure W 170 x H 49 x D226 mm). It has the same classy feet and identical double Neutrik plugs in front. If it wasn’t for the difference in the volume pot, which I will explain right below this paragraph, and the V100/V200 logo I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. On the back, again the same balanced- and unbalanced inputs and pre gain jumpers.

A difference to the older units is the use of a new volume control since November 2011. The older versions used a normal ALPS RK27 volume pot while the new amplifiers come with a special made ALPS pot, slightly bigger and with a less slick grip, which shows best in the pictures (see bottom of article). This is what Violectric said about the volume control: “The volume control was changed to a 41 detent from Alps which is only made on demand. We like the detent feeling whilst turning because it has something to do with precision and eases repositioning to a specific level. Also the 41 detent matches the layout on the frontpanel. Every two steps a mark is hit. Please note that this is NOT a stepped volume control but still analog with infinite resolution. The new knob is an original Violectric design and manufactured only for us. It is solid aluminium as before but sightly bigger (25 to 23,5 mm) and higher (20 to 16 mm) thus using more material. It is glas blasted and the anodising quality is much better as it was before”.

In the beginning I preferred the “non-stepped” version of the V100 in my posession, because the dial was so smooth and easy to turn but now that I’ve been using the updated, “stepped” volume control for several weeks I have to say I find it even easier to use, I guess I’ve just become a fan of  this special made pot.  Don’t get me wrong because the popular volume pot Violectric used before, the ALPS RK27, is excellent too. (Violectric also confirmed other parts might change during time, to improve quality or because of stock related & availability reasons)

On the inside you get “better” components and 8 transistors per channel instead of 4 like with the V100. Two small signal BC546/BC556 and the power transistors 2SA1606/2SC4159, all driven by a non-inverting NE5534 op-amp. Like in our version of the V100 we did not ask for the supplementary USB DAC. As the overview in the picture gallery shows, the V200 has more power as the V100 except at 16 and 600Ohm. At 32 and 50Ohm, the V200 delivers respectively 0.3 and 0.5W more as the V100 does. The V100 was already quite powerful but the V200 has all the power you need (I didn’t try with a HE-6 but from what I read they can do the job).

The increase in power really is audible with the LCD-2, the HE-500 and even the easy to drive HE-400 (which I like more and more with the V200!). The amp lifts them all up to an even higher level as with the V100. In contradiction to the V100 I never used the first +6db gain setting on the V200, meaning you get 8db gain (2.5 factor) standard and a very big range on the volume control. (Personally I never went past 12 o’clock).

Sound Impressions

When I first connected the V200 straight out of the box I did not like it as much as the V100, it just didn’t sound as good and the bass was rather weak. I then stopped listening and let the amp burn in for 15-20 hours and in that time it changed quite a lot (or did my mind?). When I came back to the V200 the amp had opened up and the sound was simply awesome. While the sound signature is comparable to the V100 there are some significant differences. The V100 is the more neutral sounding amplifier of the two, that’s the biggest difference for me between the two. Detail retrieval on the V100 is already very good but the V200 does it even better. It is more precise and very dynamic, powerful sounding with good body and with great tonal balance.  It is even more balanced and its positioning is incredible. On top of that the sound is never harsh and is always smooth and musical.

The V200 has deeper bass extension and the bass overall is a bit tighter and punchier as with the V100, adding a little bit more detail too. The lower tones are great: the black background is awesome. When listening to Leonard Cohen you can hear the timbre and the tremble in his voice when he begins to talk/sing. I have had a lot of goose bump moments with the V200 listening to a whole lot of artists.

The mid section is smooth, warm and laid back but not overly warm, it’s a very balanced amp but it isn’t as neutral sounding as the V100 and does make you think of the tube sound even more, of course that depends on your definition of neutral. The treble on the V200 like everything else is smooth too, it’s never harsh and at the same time it is slightly rolled off. Its bass is further extended as the treble, something I can appreciate.

Overall, in conclusion, the amplifier to my ears isn’t the most neutral sounding one on the planet, it is more on the warmer side of the spectrum and it really does sound tube like, more so as the V100 does. Soundstage wise the V200, like it’s little brother, isn’t the widest and it is clear that the focus wasn’t on this during development. Don’t get me wrong, soundstage really  is good enough and the depth of it does make up for it. In exchange you get this wonderful package that will make you enjoy your music like never before.

Headphone Pairings

The Hifiman HE-500, which I said to be good but not great with the V100 is simply awesome with the V200. As we know they are a little bit more difficult to drive as the Audez’e ortho and I think it’s the first time I really got the full potential out of them, thanks to the extra power. The LCD-2 which already was incredible with the V100 is even better with the V200, the bass is very present, mids are the best and like the HE-500 I have never heard them this good before. It’s no wonder that everyone on the World Wide Web is raving about this combination. As I mentioned in the first Violectric review, the amplifier had no problem at all with any of the headphones used. The Sennheiser HD650 sounds very good with this amp although I still prefer it with a real tube amp like the Crack or the LaFigaro 339.

The V200 is the better version of the V100, and that one already was excellent. This one adds power, bass and overall detail and smoothness, but at the same time making it a little less neutral as the V100. I love the Violectric sound and they’re both very good amps and I could perfectly live with any of these two as my solid state amp. If I could choose and wasn’t on a budget I would go for the V200 for sure, it just is the best of both. If you want to get the best out of your hard to drive headphones, the Violectric models should definitely be on your short list, they are worth every single bit. The V200 is available from Violectric.de directly or from one of their distributers. Official price is €850 for Europeans and €714.29 worldwide (no VAT). Violectric is also working on a balanced headphone out unit…

 

Gear used for review: V100, V200, 339, HE-400, HE-500, LCD-2, HD650, T70, NFB-3, E10, Norse cables

 

violectric_v200_03 violectric_v200_02 violectric_v200_01

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Lieven is living in Europe and is a full time Headfonia writer and the leader of the gang. Coming from a musical family he's always been interested in good sound. Unlike his family members the only musical instruments he plays are amps and DACs. He loves playing with old tubes and discovering new products while staying faithful to the good old Sennheiser HD650. Taking pictures is a real challenge but seeing happy readers in the end is what it's all about for him.

  • http://twitter.com/SpencerMChan Spencer Chan

    LOL! Thanks for the shout-out! I ended up buying the V200 before the review; first purchase without a proper Headfonia review, but Lieven was awesome enough to talk thru it with me! =D

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Nice! I still have yet to listen to either Vios.

    • Cola Bear

      It would be great to read your comments on the V200. I have looked at that unit myself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.mattoaly Kevin Kuk

    Nice L !! can’t wait for the next Headfonia review… The 339 Pls…

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Yea you gotta bug Lieven about that one. ;)

      • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

        Only have to do the pictures of the 339

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Julian-Junishev/1525337896 Julian Junishev

    I own V200 and I can describe it with one word – music. When litening to it I just forget about all boxes, wires and cans between me and music. It’s not warm but like live music, it’s musical. :)

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Thanks for sharing, Julian. Good to see people enjoying the Vio.

  • http://www.facebook.com/claude.cabaj Claude Cabaj

    Damn, another glowing review for Violectric, It’s getting harder and harder to suppress my upgrade bug. Anyway, I was wondering if you had a chance to hear the V90 or Lake People’s amplifier line (G103 and G109), and hear how they fare compared to the V100/200.

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      I haven’t sorry, but a few guys on Head-fi have (did I just say that?)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Windsor-McGilvray/728850109 Windsor McGilvray

    Thanks, Lieven –
    Did you try the V200 with the HD 800? :)

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      I don’t have the HD800 Windsor, I’m not a big fan of it’s sound. Sorry

  • Cola Bear

    I have the same quibble for all the dual-output amps I have seen so far: that is, I would like a separate volume control for each output. My wife and I like to listen to music together but use different headphones. It would allow us to listen at different preferred volume levels. I am surely not the only one with this desired functionality. I understand what it would entail to do properly but it is nonetheless a desired feature. Has anyone seen an amp with dual controls?

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      Or get 2 amps? Haven’t seen the dual controls yet as far as I can remember

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Cola,
      Your concern is valid. However the problem with implementing dual volume control is that usually the volume control is located right on the input signal path, right before the signal reaches the amplifier circuitry. With dual volume control not only do you have to split the signal parallel, but you also need to have two separate amplifier circuitry to handle the signal from there. That translates to almost double the space, power supply requirement, and parts cost.

      Some amps have low and high gain output jacks, and while that’s not as flexible as having two volume controls, it’s the only way to do dual output within a reasonable cost, I think.

  • spkrs01

    I have the V200 along with the V800. Simply fantastic!!!

    What is hardly mentioned about the V200 is that it is an extremely revealing and resolving amp and scales up tremendously with cable selection. I am running 15k+ worth of cables, i/c and power, around these two units and I have got them sounding, to my ears, stunning on the LCD-2 and the HE500 themselves on silver/gold hybrid cables.

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      My reply seems to have disappeared. Impressive setup! The V200 do is revealing, I’m sorry it wasn’t really specified in the review. I do suggest everyone reads the V100 review too, that will give you a better and more complete view of the V200

  • Pingback: Den store hodetelefontråden - Side 222

  • http://twitter.com/avl06 avl06

    Hi there, two questions – what do you think of the V200 with the T1? And what DAC would you pair it with? Have you heard the Violectric V800 DAC? Actually, that’s three questions :)

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      Hi, tough questions as I don’t have a T1, only a T70. so I have no clue about that or the Dac to pair it with. I haven’t listened to the V800 Dac yet, but it’s on the agenda. I’ve read nothing but good of it

      • http://twitter.com/avl06 avl06

        OK thanks. Re the HD650, what gain setting do you recommend using?

        • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

          0 or even -6. certainly no extra gain

          • http://twitter.com/SpencerMChan Spencer Chan

            +1 for zero, I found I had troubles controlling the volume at anything beyond zero… But for me -6 was not enough.

            • spkrs01

              I have been setting the pre-gain that allows the volume pot to be used at it’s sweet spot which is between 12-3 o’clock.

              The gain is at max on the V800 internally. When using XLR cables I had both the -6 and -12 switched on simultaneously, whilst with an RCA cable I am on Flat or -6 depending on Headphones
              At the same time I have ground lifted everything that can be internally on both the V200/V800 and also lifted the low pass filter on the volume pot.

  • Earfonia

    Excellent and Concise review!
    Did you have a chance to try their plug-in DAC (USB Input Option) ?
    Does it worth the money? The USB input option looks handy when we need 1 box setup. Thanks!

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      thank you! Both tested models were without the USB Dac, so I can’t judge its quality. It does look handy, but from what I’ve read most V200 users do have an external DAC.

  • Sung-Joon Kim

    Would you mind commenting the difference between V200 and Beta22?

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      I Haven’t listened to the B22 yet, sorry

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Sorry Lieven who has the Violectric amps have no access to a Beta22. I have no access to the Violectric amps.

  • Aravind Kumar

    Hi mike…great review there…
    Can you comment how it compares with the apex arete(without the volcano)…also have you tried the lake people G109/103…

    • Trent_D

      I believe L wrote this one.

      • Aravind Kumar

        oh sorry..my bad…i would like to direct the same query to Lieven

        • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

          yes, sorry, can’t help here

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Yes, Lieven did this review, while I did the Apex review. So I guess it’s hard to make the comparison.

  • Brian Werner

    Mike do you know of any feedback on the $150 24/96 DAC add on for the Violectric? I’ve been looking at the Burson 160DS but also like the Violectric model. I am just curious how the DAC stacks up.

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      There have been some discussions on the built in dac on Head-fi but nothing that special came out. I think the main idea is to get an external dac (in the same price range, like the Violectric 800 dac)

      Personally I didn’t really like Burson’s built in dac, but that’s me

      • Brian Werner

        Yeah I thought it would be a nice 1 box option but you’re right external DAC is a better way to go…. although for me, there is going to have to a be serious influx of cash to do the V200 alone let alone with the V800 as it stands my wallet is dictating that I go with the Lake People G109 rather than the Violectric, but a guy can dream can’t he?

      • Brian Werner

        I’ll get the Lake People G109 and try to source some of those Gold dampening feet… make my own Ffrankenlectric V109

  • http://www.facebook.com/gary.chin.16 Gary Chin

    How do you compare V200 vs Burson 160DS?which ones a better match with audeze LCD-2

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Hi Gary,
      Lieven would be doing that comparison but may still be 1-2 months away. :)

      • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

        I’ll be comparing the V200 to the soloist as soon as my partner in crime (Soundconsult) receives the Soloist

  • http://www.zombie-x.com/ Zombie_X

    The V200 is weak in the bass? If anything is has a slight emphasis on bass.

    IMO burn in does not exist. I’ve not once heard it on any of my current or past gear. So I think it’s more of a myth and psychoacoustics are at work.

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      Please read the review again/correctly. That was never said anywhere.
      Burn in, you can believe whatever you want.

      • http://www.zombie-x.com/ Zombie_X

        Sorry, I did re-read it and I don’t know where I got that from, so my bad man. I do apologize for that.

        Oh and I did say the V200 can be muddy, but only on headphones like the LCD-2 and such. I felt the added bass from the amp didn’t work well with the LCD-2.

        • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

          Accepted ;)

          I don’t really agree on the muddy part, maybe that was with a Rev 2?

          • http://www.zombie-x.com/ Zombie_X

            Hi, I’ve only heard the Rev2 of the LCD-2 and to me it sounded a tad muddy with it. I preferred the LCD-2 on the V181 as the amps more neutral signature seemed to mate with the warm signature of the LCD-2.

  • Pingback: Anonymous

  • zzccc

    Does V200 work well with Beyerdynamic T1? I have heard T1 does well with tubes but I really don’t want to mess with tubes, any thoughts about that?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      That’s going to be hard to answer directly. Lieven did the V200 and I don’t think he has a T1.

      Going from my experience with the T1 and what I read about the V200, I think the two should be a pretty good pairing, but that’s just based on what I read about the V200.

      • Vern

        I’ve never had a chance to listen to the T1, but I can say, as a new owner of the HD800 (and for all those wondering) that the V200 paired with the HD800 is simply astonishing. V200 can definitely tame the treble spike in the HD800, so hopefully that has a direct correlation to how it performs with the T1.

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Thanks Vern. I’ve never auditioned the Vio amps but all the comments, including L’s review makes me want to listen to it very bad.

  • sling5s

    How would you compare the Objective O2 with the Violectric V200?

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      Good one! :D

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      You do know that no amp can compete with the O2 and that all these other $1K amps become obsolete after the O2 was released?

      • sling5s

        I know…I’ve had the O2 and been on the O2 thread on head-fi. Some can be fanatical about it: “its not the O2, it’s your headphone that’s the problem”.
        But I recently got the V200 because I just could not convince myself to like the O2. It just wasn’t musical to my ears. And I didn’t want to go back to the Lyr. Liked the power but it lacked too much detail. Having said all that, I am however enjoying the V200 and wanted hear some comparisons to see what you thought.

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Good buy! I actually haven’t had the chance to audition the Vios. Ugh..

        • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

          The V200 is imo the more musical one. Especially different in the mids and bass section

      • http://twitter.com/egeozcan Ege Özcan

        Is this sarcasm? (I’m just trying to understand). Also what do you think about the V181 with symmetric output*? (http://www.violectric.de/Pages/de/produkte/hpav181.php) Every time I read a review, I get more confused because there are just too many options (which is a good thing but for a beginner like me, it also becomes very confusing =) )

        *I don’t even know what that means

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Sorry yes that was sarcasm.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      You do know that no amp can compete with the O2 and that all these other $1K amps become obsolete after the O2 was released?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      You do know that no amp can compete with the O2 and that all these other $1K amps become obsolete after the O2 was released?

  • Pingback: fsgb80v7cbwe

  • Pingback: lida

  • Pingback: Basshead hodetelefoner Fostex/Audeze/Ultrasone/? (Med spilleliste) - Side 9

  • Raptor Jesus

    Great sounding amp on my HD800’s. That’s a great combination.

  • Rūdolfs Putniņš

    I had the V200 on loan for a month or so. I think Lieven nailed it in the review – the signature is a bit bottom heavy, but with a good soundstage. I found the amp to be a bit boring at times with the Paradox and maybe it glossed over some micro details. For music that needed more crunch it made me reach for a brighter amp.

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      Thanks man!

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Yes it’s very soft, warm and bottom heavy. It would not be my preferred amp for T50rp based headphones except maybe Smeggy’s Thunderpants.
      With the Hifimans though it’s perfect.

  • netmask254

    I’m looking for an amp which can drive both T90 & HD650 well (it’s a bit difficult since these headphones are pretty different). Currently I’m connecting them with HP-A8 directly, the T90 already shows pretty high quality but sounds a bit lean/cold to me, while HD650 sounds a bit awkward especially the bass impact is pretty weak.

    I know one great choice may be Bottlehead Crack, but for some special reason it’s too big to fit to my desk :-( Thus I turn to some solid alternative. Will V200 (warm and somewhat like tube) be a good choice for these headphones? Or is there some other choices with the similar price range (e.g. Burson Soloist, but I don’t have a chance to listen to it on local market, also worry about it’s too neutral)? Thanks a lot!

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      The Vio is warmer than the Burson. Both are good. Difficult choice yes. Especially I don’t think the 650 really shines on solid state

  • Martin

    Lieven, me here again. Purchased LCD-2 (late Rev. 2) earlier this week to accompany my HD 650 and 339.

    What do you think about the PanAm compared to the V200?

    Thanks.

    • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

      How are you liking the LCD-2? With what tubes?
      The PanAm has a nice sound but it doesn’t have the body or the bass the V200 has. It might have a bit more detail but I personally am a fan of the V200. I never got to like the PanAm. If you like the 339 sound I doubt you will like the PanAm, the 339 lovers usually like the V200

      • Martin

        The LCD-2 is great based on first impression. Bass notes are wonderfully textured, and pitches are produced much more accurately than on the HD 650. The HD 650 on the other hand takes you in the middle of the venue, which is great in comparison, at the expense of blurred notes at places. I think the two headphones complement each other nicely because of their different presentations.

        My Rev. 2 dips slightly at the sub bass area if judged by the frequency response chart. That being said, I would like to be able to listen the Rev. 1 or earlier Rev. 2 models to see how they compare.

      • Martin

        Does the V200 attenuate the treble, by the way?

        • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

          no not specifically. like was said in the review I think , treble is rounded off

      • Martin

        Got the V200. Very likeable indeed, great second-hand purchase.

        Should I adjust the gain so that I can get full use of the volyme knob?

        • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

          For LCD-2 I found no extra gain to be the best. HE-500: +6
          Better to keep the gain as ow as possible.

          I was listening to the V200 just yesterday. great sounding amplifier!

  • Peter

    Question – I have an Audio GD NFB11 and I want to use that as the DAC. If I get the violectric v200, what cables do I need besides a USB a to b? Sorry I’m new to this. Which cables would I need to connect the v200 to the nfb11? Do I just need an rca or will I need some special cable? The audio gd has a coaxial hole and two dac outs. Is the coaxial needed or do I just use the output? Thanks for the help.

    • Dave Ulrich

      Just a pair of RCA cables to attach the DAC output to the V200’s input.

      • Peter

        Is the internal dac worth it or should I just stick the violectric to my audio gd?

        • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

          Stock V200 does not have a DAC. I would stick to the NFB, the optional V200 dac isn’t that special. I’d place it in the same league as the NFB

          • Peter

            Last questions and I’ll leave you alone. My violectric should come any day now. Any other accessories I need? I believe there’s no reason to get a pre amp and a dac since I have the nfb11. Are there any switches I should be aware of besides the gain switch? If I bought the violectric from the USA store it comes with the USA plugs so I shouldn’t worry? I feel like if I touch something wrong I’ll cause some type of damage to the amp since there are a few functions in the back of the violectric. Thanks

            • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

              nope just connect the RCA cable to the NFB RCA out. Connect to V200 RCA in. I don’t know if the NFB11 has a DAC OUT setting, if not you will need to manually put the volume to almost 100% and control the volume with the V200. Don’t forget to turn down the volume when you want to connect the headphone to the NFB11 again.

              • Peter

                I’m assuming it’s just a male to male rca cable? Can pick it up on amazon or monoprice?

                • http://www.headfonia.com/ L.

                  Yes sure