Violectric V850 & V280 System Review

Introduction:

Lake People, aka Violectric, is a German company that is owned by Fried Reim. They produce headphone amps, pre-amps, dacs, and analogue units. In general, the units released under the brand of Violectric are more expensive and look more promising. However, the other units produced by using the label of Lake People shouldn’t be underestimated; they look impressive too and are manufactured with high quality materials. Lake People has launched V850 dac as a successor of famous V800 dac and V280 amp as as successor of V181. In addition, V280 can be considered as a different version of V281 amp and it shares the same tech with V200 according to the manufacturer website.

Build and Material Quality:

Both V850 and V280 share the same material with the previous series’ units such as V181 and V800. The material utilized on the front panel is different than the one of the main body. In addition, the legs of the units can be made in either gold or silver color depending on user preference. Needless to say, both colors look quite impressive. I am still using the Violectric V800 and I have been experiencing that Violectric units have a strong and durable build quality.

By looking at the front panel, it can be understood that V800 and V850 share the same sampling technique. However, V850 might have a smoother lighting system on the front panel. The lights can be slightly fatiguing during the night time listening sections. Still, the buttons are well designed and their quality is high enough to provide a long product life. As seen on the front panel, there are some options to change the source and sampling. Personally, I prefer the ‘’Best’’ option on both V850 and V800.

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On the back side of V850, there are USB, AES, coax, and optic inputs as well as digital, balanced and single ended outputs. In order to use USB input and play 32-bit records, a driver that is downloadable from the Violectric website must be installed. In this review, USB and Coax inputs are tested and USB betters Coax in terms of the sound quality.

On the front panel of V280, there are a power button, a high quality ALPS RK27 volume potentiometer, two single ended outputs, and a balanced output. On the back side, V280 has balanced and single ended inputs as well as a gain switch consisting of four power levels.

Please click here for the full specs of V280 amplifier; and here for the full specs of V850 Dac.

 

Violectric V850 Dac Sound:

V850’s low frequency presentation doesn’t overcome the rest of the spectrum. It has a balanced approach and the lows are quite tight. The overall focus slightly leans towards the mid-bass area. It may not be the best in terms of the bass depth, still its performance and technical abilities are impressive. Besides, it provides a good bass room separation; the overall speed and resolution levels are is quite high considering its price range.

The midrange of V850 is located slightly distant. Instruments are clear, well defined, and transparent. Although there is warmth in the midrange, it is balanced and it sounds neither fatiguing nor boring.  In accordance with that warmth, V850 offers a smooth and clean presentation.

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Vocals are well-separated and there is a clean space around them. V850 provides not only detailed and resolved vocals, but also they are emotional and well textured.

The treble notes of V850 are slightly more prominent compared to the rest of the spectrum, but they are neither fatiguing nor piercing. They provide a good detail feeling as well as an impressive extension. V850 can compete with some more expensive DACs in terms of the treble resolution and speed. In addition, the naturalness level is quite high and it is able to create little nuances without being fatiguing. If the record quality is good, it provides the treble notes as true as possible.

The overall stage structure is defined as slightly laid-back. The soundstage of V850 is quite wide and there is an impressive separation, especially in the horizontal line. Its depth might be a bit better, but it should be taken into consideration that the width feel of the stage makes the listener to want more depth. The imaging is quite good and the presentation is easy to follow in accordance with its black and stable background.

 

V280 Amplifier Sound:

V280 has a tight low frequency presentation. Considering its rivals, V280 may not be the best in terms of the depth of the lows, but it has a relatively good performance. The quantity focus leans towards the mid-bass presentation, but it doesn’t overcome the midrange and it provides a high resolution level. In addition, the mid-bass presentation is located slightly distant in the stage.

v280-front

The midrange of V280 has an open tone by a very small margin. It provides a smooth energy as well as a high micro-detail level.  There is a clean and clear space around instruments; the in-depth positioning is excellent. Vocals are slightly distant than the neutral; they sound quite clean and energetic. However, they might have a better tonality and more body.

The high frequency of V280 is resolved and fast. The detail level is quite satisfying; while being detailed, V280 doesn’t become fatiguing. For those who have warm sounding amplifiers, the treble notes may be too prominent at the beginning, but V280 would show its quality and performance in time.

v280-back

The stage of V280 is not very wide, but its depth is impressive. It cannot be described as narrow, but there might be a wider stage. Still, V280 eliminates the width problem by using the resolution and speed levels.  On the other hand, the layering is quite good and it puts a black space between the layers which results in a better coherence. The separation is excellent for its price and the focusing is easy enough.

Balanced Output:

Firstly, the balanced output provides more power than the single ended one. It has a more forward presentation, but instruments are more separated and alive. It offers a better sub-section body as well as a better imaging. In brief, the balanced output takes HE1000 to another level.

 

V850-V280 Combo Sound:

This combo provides an impressive depth and layering as well as a quite good imaging, but the width of the stage is not as impressive as the depth due to the stage dimensions of the V280. On the other hand, the combo creates a clear, clean, and black space between instruments.

The system is not super smooth, still it is not piercing while creating details. In this regard, the system can offer both technicality and musicality at the same time. The overall presentation is slightly laid-back and the system has an impressive resolution.  On the other hand, the system can be a little fatiguing with already bright sounding headphones. Lastly, the combo provides a better performance when the balanced output is used.

 

Violectric V850-V800 Comparison:

V800 is V850’s little brother and already got many positive comments. The company seems to add more bass quantity to the new unit considering consumers’ wishes. The quantitative difference of the bass department is not very significant, but V800 owners who want to hear more bass would prefer V850. V850 offers more prominent mid-bass notes as well as a more separated low frequency presentation in accordance with the background.

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V800 already sounds highly resolved, and clean in the midrange. V850 takes its little brother’s performance to the next level by offering a more effortless and airy midrange presentation. The overall midrange performance is close, but there are differences in the details.

V850 has slightly sharper and warmer treble notes, but that sharpness is not piercing. V850 betters V800 in terms of the resolution, separation, and positioning of the high frequency presentation.

V850 provides a more laid-back stage by a small margin; its stage is wider and deeper as well as more airy.

In sum, both V850 and V800 follow the same presentation approach, but V850 is a better dac in terms of the technical aspects. Both are great units, but I would choose V850 over V800, if I am about to get a completely new dac.

 

Violectric V280 ($1280) – Questyle CMA800R ($1499) Comparison:

V280 has a more controlled bass presentation, while CMA800R hits from a slightly closer area. The overall bass quantity is similar, but V850 provides a tighter as well as a more distant bass room and a better layering in accordance with the stage depth. V850 sounds more technical, while CM800R is more emotional.

Both amps provide an impressive midrange presentation and the overall instrument resolution is similar, but CMA800R maintains a better tonality and smoother attacks. V850 has more resolved and sharp vocals, while CMA800R’s vocals are better textured and more emotional. On the other hand, V850 releases more separated and clean vocals in accordance with the background stability and the positioning advantage.

v280-cma

V280 offers a clean and more transparent treble presentation, but it sounds slightly leaner and closer. The detail and resolution levels are similar, while CMA800R sounds smoother by a small margin.

V850 has a deeper stage with a more laid-back presentation, while CMA800R betters Violectric in terms of the stage width. The background of V850 is located more distant, but the overall separation is similar.

Final Words:

There is no doubt that Lake People, aka Violectric, has been releasing impressive units for audiophile community. Both V850 Dac and V280 Amp offer stellar performances and they are worth their prices. These units can be ordered directly from the Lake People website. Both are priced approximately at $1280 each, with the exception of VAT. The V850/V280 combo’s total price is $2560. Please click here for the website of Lake People.

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