Review: Violectric V850 – The Improved Successor

DSD

Some will already have noticed that the V800 and V850 don’t “do” DSD and for some this might be a deal breaker. For my personal listening I hardly ever use DSD files but I do have several DSD albums to test DSD capable DACs. I myself don’t need a DAC that is DSD capable but I can understand why one would say a modern DAC should be able to do DSD. Fried has his own take on the whole DSD thing:

 “DSD came up in the middle of the 90ties in the professional world. Why? I guess because there had to be something new … There definitely is no practical reason to go for DSD and therefore this format is dead since a long time in the recording industry. The biggest disadvantage of DSD (there are many more) is it can´t be edited. So, if there is a real DSD recording it is converted to PCM before it enters the mixing console or the editing suite. After the necessary steps are made it is converted back into DSD. Does this really make sense? And to make a DSD file out of a PCM file is as senseful as upsampling a CD because of the sound. Well, the above is my personal opinion but there is also a practical one: We have learned that a DSD data stream can´t be modified and so it is not possible to attenuate such signals in the digital domain. As we have implemented the volume control on the digital side there is no way to process DSD data”.

Love it or hate it but I doubt you’ll be seeing DSD on Violectric’s units anytime soon and I’m perfectly fine with that.

Violectric V850 2

Topology (by Violectric)

If you’re not familiar with or don’t care about the tech side, feel free to skip to the next chapter.

The digital signal is first routed to the re-sampling circuitry where virtually all incoming jitter is eliminated. Then up to 4 times up-sampling can be selected from the front panel. This process can be completely disabled or set to “best” operation which means that all incoming digital signals will be normalized to 96 kHz. We have found this to be the optimal frequency to achieve the best audio quality when re-sampling lower bit rate data. A digital output is also provided which mirrors either the active input signal or the digital signal that has been processed by the re-sampler. Our design features a 32 bit double mono converter architecture which consists of two 32 bit (PCM1795) converters for each channel. This serves to enhance the dynamic range and minimize distortion.

The analog output circuitry is fully balanced from the D/A converters to the analog outputs. This is very similar to the circuitry design we used in the DAC V800 but, with further refinement in the output stage. The maximum balanced analog output level may be set internally to +24 / +18 / +15 / +12 / or +6 dB to ensure a perfect match with your other equipment. The unbalanced analog outputs will always be 9 dB lower compared to the balanced output setting. The volume control is again all digital just like we used in the DAC V800.There is no scratching, no channel imbalance, and no reduced crosstalk which can be the case with an analog volume implementation. This is why we prefer digital all the way through our design. Yes, there is some reduced resolution when lowering the volume. However since we first up-sample the input to 32 bits we have at least 8 bits with no definitive content. This gives us 8 x 6 = 48 dB of gain reduction available to lower the output volume and prevents any degradation of the original digital signal.

Violectric V850 6

Resampling / Upsampling + Features

The V850, like the V800, offers resampling/upsampling and you of course can only sample up till you’ve reached the chips’ limits (1x, 2x, 4x). The LEDs indicate if the resampling function is activated or not. When using the “BEST” setting, the digital input word will be recombined and forwarded to the D/A converter at a sample rate of 96 kHz, a rate at which most contemporary converters perform best according to Violectric. After installation of Violectric’s drivers a Violectric “mini app” will show you what bitrate the DAC is receiving. To know what bitrate the Violectric V850 is receiving without looking at that you can always check it by trying the upsample feature. 88.2 will be possible to upsample twice and 192 only once of course. Personally I’ve always set the upsampling to “Best” as this is what Violectric recommends. I do find there is an audible difference when using the upsample function, so just let your ears decide what they like most.

Here’s the V850’s full list of features:

– 4 digital inputs switchable:
– transformer balanced via XLR (AES 3/11), 24/192
– coaxial via Cinch (S/P-DIF, AES-3id), 24/192
– optical via TOS Link, 24/192
– USB input, X-mos based, 24/192
– coaxial digital output including digital volume control
– resampling/upsampling with selectable modes: x1, x2, x4 and “BEST”
– Low jitter clock (< 1pS) with low noise supply
– LED displays for active input, Lock, Mute/Error, resampling status
– Double-mono architecture with 2 D/A converters per channel
– 32 Bit delta-sigma DACs with outstanding 120 dB dynamic range and -112 dB THD
– perfect analog output stages to not affect the maximum dynamic and minimum THD-N
– Analog output level adjustable in the digital domain with 32 bit accuracy
– Optional remote control for motorized volume control, input selection, resampling action
– Additionally the max. analog level is internally adjustable in 5 steps
– Analog signal treating including phase-reverse and sharp/soft filter roll-off
– Analog outputs electronically balanced via XLR and unbalanced via Cinch
– oversized toroidal transformer
– extensive internal power conditioning with low-ESR capacitors

A full list of Tech Specs can be found on the V850 webpage here.

Sound and more on the last Page HERE

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

17 Comments

  • Reply March 17, 2016

    Clarence

    Very nice review, l’m very interested in this combo, how do you compare this to hugo which l have and looking for an upgrade. And the hugo tt is on my upgrade list. Did you audition the hugo tt before and how do you compare them.

    • Reply March 18, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      Thank you, the TT still hasn’t made it to me. Ever since Chord changed Marketing guys, it’s been really quiet at their end…

      You mean you want to get the V281+V850 to replace the Hugo? You’ll love it!

  • Reply March 23, 2016

    Jann

    Hi.
    If you can could you please compare the Eximus DP1 and the combo V281+V850? I know it was long time ago you listened the DP1 but maybe you remember your experience. It would be interesting to compare the V281+V850 vs Auralic Vega as well. Any thoughts?
    Thank you for reviews.
    Best regards.

    • Reply March 24, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      I can’t remember listening to a DP1, sorry. Thanks!

  • Reply March 27, 2016

    Punit Shetty

    Could you please compare the sound of V850 vs V800 ? Thanks.

    • Reply March 27, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      have you uberhaupt read anything from the article?

      • Reply March 27, 2016

        Punit Shetty

        I’ve read it more than once but couldn’t find any comparison between V850 & V800 regrading Treble, mids, Bass & sound stage ? In case I am missing something can you point me to the part in the review where you have done this comparison ?

  • Reply April 3, 2016

    Nickjan Glas

    Great review, although I am a tad late to react to this one.

    I am (again) going over my stereo/hifi’ish set up and just bought me a nice SA-KI pearl lite player with a soundsheavenly headphone cable for my H6. (the only manufacturer to make a custom one for the H6 I believe).

    As I read this review I noticed the price drop of the V800, which is now closer priced to the Meijer Daccord FF version. I am still short a dedicated DAC in my setup as I probably have to combine multiple analogue outputs to one corda classic input and a dedicated DAC would probably outperform the several mid-end DAC’s in the players etc.

    Now the price of the V800 has come down (+/-850), can the DACCORD (+/-770) with its new FF technology hold its own and also compared to other DAC’s in this price range? Many new models come out and the Daccord is already some years old (before the FF). In this respect I mean quality wise and not sound signature wise, since this can be subjective.

    In my own subjective mind I am quite drawn to the Daccord since I already own the classic FF.

    Thanks in advance for your and maybe others’ insights.

  • Reply October 29, 2016

    Gerald

    Hi Lieven,

    Did you test the Resonessence MIRUS in the meantime?
    What are your impressions compared to the V850?
    Thanks,
    Gerald

    • Reply October 31, 2016

      Lieven

      I did and I returned it without a review. While it was good it for some reason didn’t have the magic for me. The detail was there but for the price it just wasn’t like what I’m used to from Resonessance. Maybe the new unit is better 🙂

      • Reply November 12, 2016

        Gerald

        Hi Lieven,
        Will you test the new MIRUS pro in the near future?
        Please let us know about your impressions.
        Thanks,
        Gerald

  • Reply October 31, 2016

    Gerald

    Will you test the new MIRUS pro in the near future?
    Please let us know about your impressions.
    Thanks,
    Gerald

    • Reply November 12, 2016

      Lieven

      I might, no concrete plans though

  • Reply December 24, 2016

    Sanjeewa Samaranayake

    “Before the V850 arrived I was constantly switching between DACs like the Chord Hugo, Resonessence Labs, ALO CDM, Stoner EGD, Chord Mojo and even DAPs like the AK240 and Fiio X7 which have excellent DAC chips. While I quite like several of those – and especially the Sabre based DACs – the V850 plays in a different league, both in versatility and sound quality”

    Well I have V850/V281 ->HD800 balanced cables all the way. All the gear well passes required burn in periods. I have DSD 128 recording of Pink floyd which I used to test. Listening to track Mother which has wide sound stage and well recorded I can only say Mojo->V281 and V850/V281 have very minimal sound differences which is difficult to identify (even when there was are absolutely no interferences and very concentrated listening). So I do not agree with the above statement where it is made to belive V850 in different league to other DACs including Mojo. I have listen to Hotel California also hi-res and the same effect.

    Needless to say I am disappointed as I went all the way to get V850 relied on above assessment. Reviewers should bring objectivity in some way to their reviews without going overboard.

    • Reply December 26, 2016

      Lieven

      V850 doesn’t even play DSD… so you probably aren’t even using ASIO or another bit perfect transport to the V850. What headphone was used? I still stick to my point that the Mojo is good, yet overrated and I prefer the V850 DAC

    • Reply December 27, 2016

      Marco

      >>> I have DSD 128 recording of Pink floyd which I used to test. Listening to track Mother […]

      Hi SANJEEWA,

      please, can you tell me (us) where you got Pink Floyd recording (any) @DSD128 ? AFAIK only WYWH and TDSOTM were issued as DSD (SACD) and those were @64 anyway; Mother is a track from the Wall so the thing is even more misterious.

      THX for let me know.

      ps: I’m now thinking you’re referring to HD (DSD) vinyl rip… is it so ?

      • Reply February 14, 2017

        sanjeewa samaranayake

        I basically downloaded it from torrent. Yes I play via my Toshiba Z20t running windows 10 with Foorbar. I now have Aries Mini and V850 cannot play the track I mention so I think foorbar did conversion to PCM. If you want it I could upload the album for your to have a look. May be a rip as DSD not the original. Whatever it is the comment about the difference is still remain same. I also play Pink floyd via Tidal and the and sound quality difference is minimal between Mojo and V850.

        As I now have Aries Mini with PS audio LPS connected to V281 via RCA and and Min-> Coax-> V850-> V281 I could stream same track via Mini and change the DAC by presseing Input buttons on V281. There also I can see minimal difference. A tad smaller sound stage, smoothness and higher treble presence in Aries Mini vs V850. Again with HD800 with Balanced cable. Now I believe the difference between well implemented DACs are very minimal be it $500-$3000? and not the difference one is expected to believe by most of reviews which use language incorrectly to describe. Difference other than pairing gains (that is brighter HP with Darker DAC) may be <2-3%

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