With the Violectric HPA V202, the German high-end manufacturer have created an extremely powerful headphone amplifier that has a lot to offer to satisfy high demands for sound quality. Adaptation for low to high-impedance headphones is possible thanks to the seven-stage pre-amplification.
Visually as well as haptically, the 1,878 gram Violectric HPA V202 conveys an impression of high-quality as the housing is made entirely of thick-walled, black anodised aluminium. The simple, appealing design manages to blend pleasingly into hi-fi surroundings.
While the decorative front panel measures 170 x 58 millimetres in width and height, the cabinet has dimensions of 165 millimetres in width, 54 millimetres in height and 227 millimetres in length. If the four feet are added, the enclosure has a height of 65 millimetres.
The features of the Violectric HPA V202
Alongside the Violectric Chronos as a mobile solution, the HPA V202 represents an entry-level model in the Constance-based hi-fi brand’s range of headphone amplifiers. The unit has unbalanced RCA and balanced XLR inputs that are switchable and are located on the rear panel, along with the IEC/CEE socket for the power supply.
You have to do without a line output, as this model is a headphone-only amplifier. However, the dip switches for setting the pre-amplification are also located at the rear and are, therefore, easily accessible. This impeccably manufactured device can be switched on and off via a power button on the front, and the white LED above it signals that it is ready for operation.
In addition, two further LEDs indicate which input has been activated via the toggle switch. Two options are available on the front panel for headphone outputs, which come on with a delay when the unit is switched on: an unbalanced 6.3 mm jack and a balanced 4.4 mm Pentaconn connection. Volume control is also via a solid 38 mm all-aluminium knob and an Alps RK 27 potentiometer with a 41-position detent.
In the Violectric HPA V202, gain is provided by eight transistors per channel, and the discrete circuit design is said to be consistent with established models such as the HPA V200, V280 and V281. According to the manufacturer, the separate signal routing ensures low crosstalk, while the extended frequency response from 5 Hz to 250 kHz (-0.5 dB) should ensure that the audible range is reproduced in as linear a manner as possible. At the same time, the overall gain of the unit is fixed at +8 dB, which can be adjusted to the needs of a headphone via the “pre-gain” switches on the rear panel.
There are seven adjustment options (-18/ -12/ -6/ 0/ +6/ +12/ +18 dB) for additional gain or attenuation. When adjusting, it is recommended that there is a standard playback level set at 12 o’clock in order to achieve optimum control in both directions, depending on the source material.
In practice: for demanding headphone users
The Violectric HPA V202 operates from an internal operating voltage of +/- 25 volts generated by a toroidal transformer power supply and is capable of providing a high output voltage of up to 17.3 Vrms (600 ohms) for high-impedance headphones. For low-impedance models, an output power of up to 3,100 milliwatts (32 ohms) can also be accessed, supporting headphones with impedances between 16 and 600 ohms.
This headphone amplifier has immense reserves and can drive power-hungry magnetostats without hesitation. For example, the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro, the HD 660S by Sennheiser or Hifiman Sundara normally have an optimal control range for listening to music at attenuation of -6 dB.
If sensitive IEMs were used, the control range was shortened. With the Sennheiser IE 100 Pro, when the highest attenuation level of -18 dB was set, this was approximately between the dial positions of 7:30 and 11:30. We noticed that when playback was paused, a hissing noise became perceptible from 11 o’clock onwards, which continued to increase. Although the listening area of an IEM was only slightly affected by this, there was a clear difference with other models from the manufacturer. With a Violectric HPA V222, on the other hand, noise only became noticeable with the IE 100 Pro at a pre-amplification of +18 dB from around the 13:30 position, which was very far outside the usable range.
The sound of the Violectric HPA V202
Compared to a G103-S MKII or G103-P MKII from Lake People, the Constance-based company’s original brand for the professional sector, the Violectric HPA V202 clearly stands out in terms of spatial imaging. When switching between amplifiers, the stage literally slides backwards into the room during live recordings when the HPA V202 takes over. Moreover, classics like David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” (2018 Remaster) or tunes like Everything But The Girl’s recently released single “Nothing Left To Lose” were presented more homogeneously, sounding a bit crisper and with more freshness. Even though the previous models did extremely well and received top marks from us for a reason, the price difference was undoubtedly noticeable.
When compared to the Linear from Lehmann Audio, it was much more difficult to work out differences, which was equally unsurprising. The question was, what can and should a special headphone amplifier in this price range achieve? Ultimately, a reproduction that is as unadulterated, pure and realistic as possible, where the character of a pair of headphones is expressed, and the signature of your favourite device shines in all its glory. And it is precisely this requirement that both devices fulfil in an exemplary fashion. In this respect, the “sound differences” are discreet, and this may be regarded as a quality feature and distinguishes both candidates.
In summary, the sound reproduction of the HPA V202 tends to be a bit brighter than that of the Linear, which has a touch more warmth. This impression was created by The 5th Dimension’s choral singing on “Aquarius / Let The Sunshine In” at the 1969 Harlem Culture Festival, a live recording featured on the soundtrack of the documentary “Summer of Soul”. In addition, jazz singer Halie Loren on “After Dark” from her album of the same name sounded a little lighter and more transparent than in the somewhat more centred and, at the same time, more physical performance that came over the Linear, which conveyed more depth. It’s a similar story with Anne Clark’s poetic spoken word from her current album “Borderland”, which the artist recorded with her bandmate Justin Ciuche on violin and harpist Ulla van Daelen in Northeim, Lower Saxony, at Stockfisch Records.
While the Linear delivers vocal settings for tracks like “Soulthought” with a calm, relaxed, but emphatic pace, the HPA V202 conveys spoken words with a high degree of delicacy without neglecting the affecting interplay of the emotional moods. In purely instrumental pieces such as “Border Train”, the Linear also conveys a somewhat more down-to-earth and solid sound impression. In contrast, with the HPA V202, the instruments are a little freer and airier in the room.
From a sound perspective, the Violectric HPA V202 meets high expectations and fulfils its task perfectly. The available reserves (3,100 mW Pmax at 32 ohms and 17.3 V RMS at 600 ohms) provided by the headphone amplifier are also more than impressive. However, especially sensitive IEMs are not necessarily the speciality of an entry-level model, and for this, the manufacturer from Lake Constance offers more suitable solutions.
- thick-walled, black anodized aluminum housing
- significant power resources
- high voltage output
- preamplification with seven steps (+/- 18 dB)
- two headphone connections: 6.3 mm jack (unbalanced) and 4.4 mm Pentaconn (balanced)
- switchable inputs: RCA (unbalanced) and XLR (balanced)
- delayed switching of headphone outputs after power-on
- not completely noise-free with sensitive IEMs
- no line output (pure headphone amplifier)
- Ear couplingAmplifier
- Weight with cable2.061 g
- Weight without cable1.878 g
What's in the box
- Power cable
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