Schiit Vali 2+ Review and Measurements

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by purr1n, Nov 11, 2020.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Measures x1000 times worse than Magni 3+. Sounds cool, where do I sign up?

    vali2+.jpg

    Going to keep this short, but will take questions. Before we being, please familiarize yourself with this comparo: https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/three-affordable-tube-hybrid-headamps-–-garage1217-project-horizon-compared.9697/

    Note: impressions are with ther provided GE 6BZ7 tube unless otherwise indicated. The MOTU Ultralike mk4 was used as the source.

    The Vali 2+ is different from the Vali 2 in these respects.
    • More present highs - less dark
    • More lively, more resolving, more engaging similar to the Vali 1 (in retrospect, Vali 2 was a step and a half forward, but a step back).
    • I think the Vali 1 still has a small edge in immediacy, but the Vali 1 also has some issues with the super tube microphonics and highish distortion which is audible, but in a pattern that indicates euphonic distortion.
    The question is whether one should upgrade if one has a Vali 2? It depends. If you got your system set up and optimized for the Vali 2, then it's probably best to stick with Vali 2. The 2+ is an improvement, but the improvements are incremental, and the tonal balance change from dark / laid-back to more neutral may ruin existing synergies. If you got a Vali 1, and can deal with its idiosyncrasies, and are happy - I don't see the Vali 2+ as necessarily an improvement.

    From a "technicality" point of view, I feel the Vali 2+ now matches the MCTH (give and take), but with the Vali 2+, we have more even tonal signature. The Garage 1217 Project Horizon is still in play, but it's all together a different sound more like a mini Eddie Current Zana Deux with a MOSFET for output instead of those Russian radar tubes that ran at 400 degrees and burned off the skin on owners' forearms.

    Low and high-gain sound slightly different. Low gain is better controlled and less edgy in the highs. High gain opens up the stage, breaths a bit better, but can be edgy. With low Z planars, like LCD-X, HE5XX, Deva, Verum, low gain seems to sounds best. High gain sounds plodding and mushy. Zout isn't all that different between low and high, with high Zout still being less than 2-ohms - it is what it is.

    I'm not going to wax poetic on the Vali 2+. However, I do think it would be fun to take measurements using different tubes. Why not? Folks rolled all sorts in tubes in the Vali 2s of old, including rare exotic tubes that cost x4 the amp.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2020
  2. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    Although it’s more even tonally (less dark) and more lively, does it still have some inherent tube warmth and bloom, esp in the mids? Does it sound more “powerful” and/or is the bass tighter/punchier than Vali 2? Or the same (somewhat soft/rounded)? Specifically wondering with HD650.
     
  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Yeah, still have some tube warmth and bloom, or perhaps it's some capacitor warmth. What's noteworthy is lower Z on both low and high Z settings (0.4-ohms and 1.8-ohms) respectively.

    I would not say that it sounds more powerful or punchy. That aspect is the same. The transients are somewhat less rounded than Vali 2, the effect is more in the highs than the lows. Lows transients and articulation improvement is marginal. Tube rolling with Vali 2+ so far seems to yield more discernable differences. With Vali 2, it really didn't seem to matter that much.
     
  4. rlow

    rlow A happy woofer

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    I wonder if some of the edginess in the highs on high gain will ease up a bit with some more use of the unit and tube...
     
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  5. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    For those who heard an early prototype at one of our secret pirate meets (@penguins), the production version is a touch less bright. I felt the prototype sounded on the bright side, despite destroying the other higher priced prototype amp in technicalities, which necessitated a complete redesign of that because a higher priced amp shouldn't be allowed to sound worse.

    Running WE396A on a adapter and not having an issue with high-gain with HD650s. I will typically use Alanis Unplugged or various Eva Cassidy recordings to assess this. These recordings can be spitty, edgy, or sibilant at times. They should be a bit, but shouldn't be over the edge.

    Keep in mind that I'm using the MOTU Ultralite mk4 as the source.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2020
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  6. penguins

    penguins Friend, formerly known as fp627

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    IT'S FINALLY HERE!!

    Anyways, now that more budget/value friendly tube amps are out, how would you say this compares to SW51/+, Bachelor, or other popular non-poop <$300 tube amps (aside from MCTH)? FWIW I'm pretty sure I'm getting this already - this is more of a leading question for other SBAF members.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2020
  7. likearake

    likearake Acquaintance

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    What's the noise floor like? My Vali 1 is pretty noisy even with sensitive full size headphones like Grados (once the ringing dies down).
     
  8. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    WE396A #1 on a adapter
    DSC00285.JPG

    Tube Test Results:
    7% Emissions 10% GM
    0% Emissions 10% GM
    (pretty much a trashed tube - but hey, at least the gain is the same on both triodes)

    1kHz -3dBU (~0.550Vrms) into 300-ohms
    upload_2020-11-11_19-23-5.png

    1kHz -3dBU (~0.550Vrms) into 32-ohms
    upload_2020-11-11_19-24-37.png
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2020
  9. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    WE396A #2 on a adapter

    Tube Test Results:

    85 Emissions 98 GM
    82 Emissions 96 GM
    (Too good for this amp for a rare WE396A. I'd rather sell this to an ECAF or EC STJ owner.)

    1kHz -3dBU (~0.550Vrms) into 300-ohms
    upload_2020-11-11_19-49-56.png

    1kHz -3dBU (~0.550Vrms) into 32-ohms
    upload_2020-11-11_19-48-46.png
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2020
  10. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Stock 6BZ7
    DSC00286.JPG

    Tube Test Results:

    126 Emissions 123 GM
    86 Emissions 105 GM

    1kHz -3dBU (~0.550Vrms) into 300-ohms
    upload_2020-11-11_19-56-54.png

    1kHz -3dBU (~0.550Vrms) into 32-ohms
    upload_2020-11-11_19-57-39.png
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2020
  11. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Telefunken 6DJ8 (one of the holy grail unobtanium)
    DSC00287.JPG

    Tube Test Results:

    88 Emissions 88 GM
    93 Emissions 87 GM
    (suck me, very good numbers for such a rare beauty)


    1kHz -3dBU (~0.550Vrms) into 300-ohms
    upload_2020-11-11_20-14-34.png

    1kHz -3dBU (~0.550Vrms) into 32-ohms
    upload_2020-11-11_20-13-35.png
     
  12. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    I'll do the tubes in batches of 3 or 4 so I don't kill myself. Here are some subjective comments:

    Stock 6BZ7: dull, kind of boring - hey, it's free and it's decent
    WE396A on an adapter: my favorite, most robust sounding of this batch, GL finding one
    Telefunken: nice even and delicate, brighter than WE396A, which doesn't suite my preference for running at high gain

    SW51+ > Vali 2+ > Bachelor. I wasn't a big fan of the Bachelor in the short time I had it. I think @ChaChaRealSmooth has one?

    Vali 1 noise floor sucks.

    With Grado HF-3 I'm able to get the volume knob 1/2-2/3 way to maxxed before I am able to hear noise on the Vali 2+ on high gain. It should be noted that on high-gain, the usable range on the volume knob is at most 1.5 hours on the clock. On low gain, maybe 3. And this is for someone who doesn't mind loud!

    BTW, no noise on ultrasensitive Campfire Audio IEMs either. However, very limited usable volume range, unless I back off the output levels on the Motu.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2020
  13. zerodeefex

    zerodeefex Grumpiest admin

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    IMG_20201112_160538.jpg

    Looks like I finally have a use for these guys.
     
  14. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    that one on the right is too new production to be any good. ;)
     
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  15. Dan7655

    Dan7655 Rando

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    Do you have any insight into how this compares to the Lyr 3? On paper, the Vali 2+ has less noise and similar distortion levels. The Vali 2+ also has enough power for most headphones. In your opinion Does it still make sense to buy the Lyr 3 if the Vali 2+ has enough power?
     
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  16. daniellistens

    daniellistens Rando

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    I’m kinda curious if it is a poor man’s Lyr3.

    I bought a pair of Mr Speakers Aeon, and never bought an amplifier. Used my Chord Mojo with them with limited success. I don’t know, maybe these headphones never clicked for me. I know they had mixed reviews. I have heard them with proper amplifiers... and wow.

    Could the Vali2+ be a solution? I’ve been told to get a Lyr...but I’m broke.

    The photos show the Dan Clark Ether2... promising?

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2020
  17. Elmer Danilovich

    Elmer Danilovich MShenay trying to pretend to be an old man

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    I'll say this as much as I love Vali 1 and I still have one, I don't feel it handle's Low Z Planars... or really any planar's all that well. I liked OG Vali 2 for it's better power on those cans sounds like the Vali 2+ is what I always wanted from OG Vali 2, happy it's finally here.
     
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  18. señorhifi

    señorhifi Rando

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    I would be curious to know how it sounds compared to the Magni 3+ (with stock tube)? There's a lot of folks who seeing the Shiit store and the pricing, will debate whether or not to buy the Vali over the Magni.
     
  19. Lyander

    Lyander Too sensitive for SBAF

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    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.o...ompendium-guide-to-schiit-amps-headamps.3058/
    +
    https://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/magni-3-released.5093/page-3#post-163160

    Plus you can extrapolate info on Vali 2 vs Vali 2+ in this thread, plus the one comparing the Vali 2 to the Massdrop/Cavalli Tube Hybrid and the Garage1217 Project Horizon linked above. Not very straightforward, granted, but given how much of all this is kinda preferences at the end of the day that could be to its benefit.
     
  20. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Lyr 3 doesn't have the low noise of the Vali 2+. I'm actually kind of impressed that Vali 2+ pulled off working with Grados and CFA IEMs. However, Lyr 3 is in another class of amp with its output stage (which was the basis for the Aegir power amp). There are tonal and timbre differences: Lyr 3 is more robust and heftier sounding, with amazing microdynamics and expressiveness that the Vali 2+ doesn't quite have.

    Depends on preferences. Lyr 3 is slightly more laid-back and full bodied than the Vali 2+. However with Mojo which is a neutral sounding DAC, it would be a fine combination. I know someone else with Mojo and Lyr 3 combo, and the report using modded Fostex T50RP is that this was a significant upgrade from Magni 3+. FWIW, Vali 2+ is in the game league as the Magni 3+, but with a tube.

    Again, about the same league. I think Magni 3+ is a bit more cohesive throughout the audio band. The Vali 2+ isn't as clear in the lows as Magni 3+, but toward the highs, it becomes so. I think the main difference is that Vali 2+ will offer that slight tube bloom and euphonic distortion that Magni 3+ won't have. This is can be both good and bad. TBH, if I had I to choose one, it would be difficult because it would be a matter of mood.
     
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