TempoTec Variations V6

dap-tempotec-variations-v6-headfonia-19

Sound performance

For the purpose of this review, I used the Beyerdynamic DT700 Pro X, the  Sennheiser HD800S, and the superb FiiO FD7. All files were streamed from Spotify (in low-res)  and Apple Music (in Hi-Res) or from my own library (Hi-Res).

Overall signature

Clearly, for a first try, the TempoTec Variations V6 vastly outperformed my expectations!

Dynamic is top-notch, layering is sharp and the sound stage pinpoints accurately. The same goes for the sound signature, flat but never dull, thanks to the wide dynamic range, even with hard-to-drive headphones like the Sennheiser HD-800S. Sure, the balanced output gives better results, but even through its single-ended port, the Variations V6 doesn’t fall short in terms of soundstage – not so much in terms of dynamic range though.

Paired with the FiiO FD7, an IEM that I’ve come back to recently, instruments are perfectly defined, transients are fast and the longer I listened to the duo, the more it grew on me. I especially liked how low the bass reached when using the duo, and on The Farewell Courtyard from Feynman, combined with the pan-effects, the player gave a superb performance.

But, for me, the biggest surprise came from the pitch-black background. This player is, to date, the most silent one I ever had the chance to use, giving me some tremendously good sensations at low to moderate volume. Every nuance, every sensation is there, heightened by the dryness of the sound and if I could feel a slight emphasis on the upper highs, a quick change in the MSEB settings sweetened the whole deal.

dap-tempotec-variations-v6-headfonia-12

In fact, like Cowon BBE+ effects, the MSEB settings can quickly become addictive, like adding sugar on a cake: you know it’s too much, but that won’t stop you from enjoying the moment. Thankfully, if you think that you’ve gone too far with the tuning, you can easily set it back to default, and revert to the original settings.

On the same tone, if like me you have a preference for streaming apps, you’ll be happy to know that the TempoTec completely cuts any of Android’s usual sound treatments. That’s especially useful on those kinds of players, where sonic alterations could occur in the process of music streaming. But, nothing like this here, and combined with the fantastic grounding, I was glad to enjoy my usual playlist, in the best possible conditions.

Compared to the Shanling M3X, a player that could be found in the same price range, the Variations V6 took the lead in almost every genre. If the voices sound equally natural, the mid-lows appear more poised and more controlled, and thanks to the massive power reserve, the player exhibits a more cohesive experience, especially when you use big headphones like the Audeze or cans like Meze Empyrean.

Obviously, compared to the iBasso DX320, a player I reviewed during the same time, the TempoTec Variations V6 couldn’t keep up. It’s very good, but going back and forth with the two players, with the same headphone, and the same source (Apple Music) each time, the DX320 seemed more natural, less congested and overall, simply better – but for this price, you do expect the iBasso to sound better.

Still, with the FD7, I think this is one of the best duos you could get in the sub-$800 combo. Not only that, but it’s also one of the best players I had the chance to try in this price range, and above, big kudos!

dap-tempotec-variations-v6-headfonia-11

Tonality

Highs: acute with no roll-off. There is a soft emphasis on mid-highs as you usually get with AKM chips, but for once, I quite liked it. Those sharp tones magnify every detail and thanks to the fast transients, the Variations easily cope with cymbals, hi-hats, and female voices.

Good test track: Bernard’s Song – Veronique Sanson

Mids: a straight line. If the soundstage is wide, it’s also more acute, especially in balanced mode. Voices are clean, ADSR almost perfect and honestly, if compared to a mid-range player like the M11 Plus, it’s hard to spot a real difference here.

Good test track:  Obama – Dombrance

Lows: good power, deep lows. The bass of the V6 doesn’t reach the abyssal levels of high-end players, but paired with the FiiO FD7 I was still deeply impressed by the end result. It’s a tad too dry for my tastes, yet thanks to the noiseless background, the whole system feels perfectly on point.

Good test track: Marketing Director – Fingerspit

dap-tempotec-variations-v6-headfonia-6

Power and noise

The Tempotec Variations V6 is, by far, the most silent player I ever used. It’s so absurdly well grounded that every other player that I praised for their silence before, now appears to be (slightly) hissy. Even the Astell&Kern SE180, my previous reference, was beat hands down by the newcomer – and that’s no small feat!

Power-wise, if the unbalanced port is pretty solid – even in low-gain – I’d strongly suggest sticking to the balanced ones. Not only is the Pentaconn 4.4mm more powerful, but it is also better in terms of volume management, and I was able to easily adjust the output level to find the right settings for my FD7.

In terms of power, the player drove my Audeze LCD-X with ease, as long as I remained in Balanced mode. Even with my old, but mighty, Sennheiser HD800S, the player managed to deliver powerful kicks and solid lows, but I made sure to turn on the high-gain knob – even if the 3.5mm output already works very well.

dap-tempotec-variations-v6-headfonia-7

Conclusion

For a first player, TempoTec achieved something quite remarkable with the Variations V6, delivering a premium device in and out. Sound performances are impressive, battery life is great and, most of all, grounding is simply phenomenal, making this player the best solution for anyone seeking an Android DAP for sensitive IEMs/Headphones.

Sure, the player may look a bit conventional in terms of design, and the UI can be slightly laggy sometimes, but honestly, those are minor inconveniences if you take into account the price – just shy under $400 – which put the TempoTec DAP as my new reference for a sub-$500 player.

So yes, big kudos to the brand, who managed to surprise me, in a very (very) good way!

4.3/5 - (167 votes)
linkedinrssyoutubeinstagram
Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

A nerdy guy with a passion for audio and gadgets, he likes to combine his DAC and his swiss knife. Even after more than 10 years of experience, Nanotechnos still collects all gear he gets, even his first MPMAN MP3 player. He likes spreadsheets, technical specs and all this amazing(ly boring) numbers. But most of all, he loves music: electro, classical, dubstep, Debussy : the daily playlist.

2 Comments

  • Reply September 20, 2022

    Mozphet

    Considering the Kickstarter price of $279, how stupid would one have to be to not order this device?

  • Reply December 21, 2022

    Jesper

    How would rate this compared to the original Hiby R6? Im looking to upgrade

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.