Review: Violectric V850 – The Improved Successor

Performance

I mainly used the V850 in combination with the V281 I got last year and the combination is really good as expected. The V800 + V200 combo was also pretty magical but I feel this combination is even better. 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. The two main setups I have downstairs are the V281 + V850 and Stoner’s End Game stack. While Stoner’s End Game Dac is quite good – it does DSD, nicely displays the bit rate it is receiving, and has an extended options menu – I don’t think it sonically can compete with the V850. I like my DACs to be clean, very clear and detailed with a wide and deep sound stage with great layering and separation. If needed or preferred, I’ll add a warmer amp to it to adapt the sound signature.

The V850’s sound stage is pretty wide (yet it isn’t the widest I’ve ever heard) and it is wider than the EGD’s. The V850 sounds more spacious and less concentrated than the balanced EGD. What struck me most is the combination of detail, naturalness and musicality that the V850 delivers. It’s not the kind of DAC that WOW’s you with one or two specific things, it’s a DAC that just always performs on the highest level. That is most noticeable when you after a few weeks replace the V850 with one of the before mentioned DACs. You immediately hear the inferior level of detail, depth, separation and clarity. The V850 in that regard is resolving, transparent and clean and isn’t adding anything to the sound signature itself, it just brings out the best.

Violectric V850 7

Bass sounds precise, tight and fast, the mids are nicely layered and the treble is sparkling but not too much. A lot of people don’t like how the latest top Sabre chips make the treble sound a bit overly sparkling but I kind of do, in that regard I find the V850’s treble – and actually its whole presentation – more on the soft side but it still is lively enough overall (it’s just not the Sabre type of edgy/hyperactive sound). I love how the V850 sounds and disappears in your system. Next Saturday if all goes well, I should have the Resonessence Labs Mirus with me and I after a few weeks will be adding a comparison to it in this review. I have a feeling the Sabre chip will have even more detail and better precision but it might be more on the analytical side where Violectric seemed to have gone for a perfect combination of detail and musicality. We’ll see.

Over the next few weeks I’ll also be publishing my full review on Stoner’s balanced setup but I can tell you already that my preference – not looking at budget – easily goes to the Violectric setup. The EGD does deliver excellent quality for the price it is going for though and the DAC alone only costs $450USD while this V850 cost 3 times as much. Same goes for the V281 that goes for like 5 times the price of the End Game Amp. The Stoner gear performs really well but I personally wouldn’t have called it “End Game”.

The V850, in combination with the End Game Amp in balanced mode, still sounds good but to me the amplifier is holding back the performance of the DAC. The EGA only has a balanced input but I have to say that I hardly noticed any differences between the RCA and XLR connections on the Violectric setup. The V850 will show you the difference between a 256kb MP3 and a 24/96 version of the same song but it won’t make you delete your lesser quality file as it is quite forgiving. The V850 has never given me the impression of sounding harsh, too soft or too sharp. It just makes you enjoy your music with a very good level of sound presented in a very musical, Violectric kind of way.

End Words

The V850 is a higher-end DAC and its price is set at €1.176,47 when you’re outside the EU. Inside the EU we of course get to pay taxes and the price here is €1.400, the optional Motor RC does cost you €210 more. I have enjoyed every bit of the V850 and I feel this DAC has a more than correct price. In exchange you get a very good, musical sound with a good level of detail and depth with a presentation that is hard not to like.

Violectric V850 4

Overall I mostly enjoyed the V850 in combination with the V281 and other solid state amplifiers. The V850 also did well in combination with my smooth OTL amplifiers but the synergy wasn’t as special as with the V281, except for with my Glenn2359 300B amp. I also have a feeling this would have been a perfect DAC for the WA2, which I unfortunately no longer have in my possession.

The original V800 still is available at the date of publication of this review and it in fact is heavily discounted at this time. The V800 goes for €750 Outside the EU and more or less 800 inside the EU. If the new V850 is out of your budget, I would not hesitate and order one of these lovely V800s right away. You won’t regret it. Me, I’m thinking of buying this V850…

 

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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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