If you can’t use your favourite wired headphones on the go due to the lack of ports on your smartphone, the Violectric Chronos provides a high-quality mobile amplification solution.
It’s annoying when your smartphone is overflowing with your favourite tracks, but your favourite headphones have to stay at home because there is no mini-jack on your phone. This is where Chronos from the high-end manufacturer Violectric comes to the rescue, promising audiophile sound enjoyment wherever and however you happen to be on the move.
Design and appearance
The Violectric Chronos is amazingly small: at just 44.5 x 24 x 10 millimetres and weighing approx. 17 grams, this small amp easily disappears into the pocket of even the tightest trousers and is not obtrusive. In addition, it has a high-quality finish: The aluminium housing is milled from a single piece and has a rounded, shiny edge; the top and bottom are covered with glass. The top side bears the manufacturer’s logo and the product name and glows either in white, green or blue. This depends on whether a successful connection to the end device has been established (white), whether PCM audio is being received (green) or whether DSD audio files are currently being streamed (blue).
Turning the small Chronos over, white font on a red background shows what is being wired.
The controls on the Violectric Chronos have been reduced to the essentials: On the narrow edge, there is only a plus and minus button, which are used to regulate the volume.
In keeping with this extremely minimalist approach, the operation is practically self-explanatory: connect one of the three 15-centimetre OTG cables included package (Lightning to USB-C, Micro-USB to USB-C, USB-C to USB-C) to the end device, plug it into the USB-C socket of the Chronos, connect the headphones to the opposite end of the amp via a mini-jack and you’re ready to go. Smartphones, tablets, PCs and Macs recognise the Chronos straight away without installing any drivers. The prerequisite here is, of course, that the player is USB audio-compatible.
This all worked without problems in our practical test: Androids, iPhones, iPads (also Pro), Macs and Windows PCs all passed high-resolution audio streams through to the Chronos without any problems after connection. On the iMac with its rear connections or on the desktop PC, the 15-centimetre short cable could have done with being a little longer, but a third-party cable will, of course, do the job. Noticeable with the Mac (macOS Catalina, version 10.15.7): If Chronos is selected directly in the player app “Vox” as an output device, its volume buttons do not work. However, this works without problems if the amp is selected in the macOS system settings under “Sound”, but this small discrepancy was the fault of the operating system.
Unfortunately, the manufacturer does not reveal much technical data. What we do know is that the Chronos can play back PCM audio files with up to 32 bits and a 384 kHz sample rate. Of course, it also supports DSD files with a sampling rate of up to 256 bits. According to the manufacturer, the built-in high-end chip has a dynamic range of 130 dB and a THD value of -115 dB. Its frequency response ranges from 20 to 20 kHz, supports headphones with impedances from 16 to 600 ohms and offers an output of 2 x 30 mW on low-impedance headphones. What’s more, the Chronos draws so little power that it puts very little strain on a smartphone’s battery.
The sound of the Violectric Chronos
A direct comparison of the sound was not so easy. Because of the differences in volume between the mini-jack output on the mobile phone and the Violectric Chronos, psychoacoustic phenomena tend to interfere. But if you listen carefully and try to maintain the right levels, you will notice differences: high-resolution sound material seems more open, tidier and more detailed with the Violectric Chronos. However, via the normal mini-jack output on a mobile phone, it seemed a little muffled and more “closed”. A switch to our Spotify playlist reinforced this impression. The Violectric Chronos managed to make the compressed sound material sound more lively and natural. For example, the deep bass drum in the intro of Massive Attack’s “Unfinished Sympathy – 2012 Mix/Master” seemed bigger with the mobile DAC and its decay was also more noticeable than via the integrated mini jack. Outstanding!
So, for whom is a mobile DAC like the Violectric Chronos worthwhile? If you could not use your favourite headphones on the move but wanted to, the Violectric Chronos offers a high-quality solution. And laptop musicians will also enjoy this small but sophisticated one-way audio interface which will enable them to better evaluate their own productions in a high-quality and neutral way.
In any case, it is clear that this mobile high-end headphone amplifier with DAC eliminates an inferior and interference-prone sound component in the audio chain, namely the mini-jack connection. Provided, of course, that your mobile phone still has a normal 3.5-mm output.
If you want to completely do without Bluetooth because of quality concerns, you’re also well advised to buy the Chronos. Whether the purchase of the Violectric Chronos is worthwhile at an RRP of 199 Euros is something that you will have to decide for yourselves.
- Ear couplingAmplifier
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
- Impedance16 - 600 ohms
- Weight without cable17 g
- Cable length15 cm
What's in the box
- Lightning to USB-C
- Micro USB to USB-C
- USB-C to USB-C
Nice review, congrats! Which over ear headphones would you suggest to pair with the Chronos dac? Budget 200/300 E. Thanks!