Wadia & V-DAC First Impressions

crusaderlord

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Apr 29, 2008
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I have enjoyed reading some recent reviews of DAC listening from new owners so with my new kit installed last night i thought i would give some early impressions.

Has taken me a few months to get to a decision but i finally replaced my recently sold Arcam rdock with a Wadia 170i and MF V-Dac set up. I did not get to do any shop demo's but bought both with 30 day money back guarantees so i could try at home after a lot of forum research etc. I do have a good idea of the sound i like from my Arcams. Deciding on which DAC and Dock to buy has been tough but eventually the reasoning went :-

V-Dac - i never had or used a DAC before and i didnt want to spend a fortune so went with generally recommended value for money plus i wanted something i could tuck out of sight. V-Dac seemed to fit the bill here and whilst the Dacmagic claims the awards i am pretty taken with this little box. Also in terms of presentation comparison to the Arcam CD it seems a really good match.

Wadia - a straight fight between the Onkyo and Wadia for the digital feed. i could have taken either but ultimately felt the Wadia looks and feels more expensive and a better match for my brushed black Arcams. the final decision really went with the versatility of using the wadia with s-video or component connections to the tv (rarely used but does have its i-player moments)

First impressions - well you have that moment when you hold your breath and hope that the expense was all worth it (over the Arcam dock). I did love that little dock but the lack of charging ability and new model coming i took a good opportunity to sell.

The wadia and v-dac gladly met expections and i was immediately impressed listening to radio paradise with a more expensive soundstage and a more real / open / airy presentation. It really was a noticeable improvement - whew.

It feels a lot closer to the standard set by my cd player. i have not done any direct a/b comparisons and i feel my cd has the edge but we are comparing a cd with streamed music at lower bit rates. The fact that it is even close is very pleasing indeed. I am sure when components run in some as well it will be fantastic.

Clearly in buying the wadia i have invested more heavily in the dock rather than the dac. i cant speak for is the Onkyo better value etc as i havent heard it but despite the price the wadia for me looks a better fit to my existing hifi and feels right. i was happy with the quality of the package including leads, cables, dock inserts etc - all very good i thought.

So i will add to this post after a weekend listening but if you are thinking is a dock / dac upgrade worthwhile then i would vote a definite 'yes' with the quality of my amp etc it has made a big difference and no longer will i be feeling that i-touch use or internet streaming is a let down v my cd's. All that said i will still always buy my favourite music on cd just because i like the package of playing and reading the notes and lyrics etc.

I can now say i am very happy with my set up, i chose internet streaming as my investment alternative to buying a good Arcam tuner and with spotify and radio paradise on tap i can access a lot of music now with minimal loss of enjoyment on sound. All good news.
 

jaxwired

Well-known member
Feb 7, 2009
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Great review! Thanks for taking the time to share with us. I've toyed with the idea of getting a Wadia many times. I will probably do it eventually. BTW, you have a typo in your sig line.
 

idc

Well-known member
Jan 2, 2008
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Another thumbs up from me for the review. How have you connected the Wadia to the V-DAC? What bit rate are the files on your ipod?
 

crusaderlord

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Apr 29, 2008
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first off i have amended by signature thank you for spotting that.

the connection from the wadia to v-dac is a new QED Signature 75 which i got for £35 and seemed like a good deal.

my i-touch is not really my primary music storage source - i still use my cd player a lot. but it does contain about 100 songs where i dont have the album but wanted to buy 1 or 2 tracks - these are various in quality from apple lossless down to 256. i dont put my cd's onto i-touch to be honest.

mostly i use the i-touch to stream music which for radio paradise sounds really good (128 bit stream i think but the quality surprisingly seems better than many of my stored tracks) and spotify which i believe is 320 bit. also i-player is excellent quality too. i tend to stick to these as the better options for streaming.

i tried some last.fm tonight which always sounded very flat before and even this had a marked improvement. what is becoming clear though is that the output quality is dependent upon where you stream from which for me is a sign of a good set up as you can hear the difference.
 

crusaderlord

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Apr 29, 2008
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a sunday listen has confirmed my first impressions of how good the wadia and v-dac actually are

my itouch has hardly any tracks that i have on cd - this is deliberate to be honest as i like having a separate store of songs on the itouch which are not available to me on cd and mostly i use for streaming off the internet

anyway i did have an interpol album on cd and itouch which on the itouch is 320 bit. so a direct comparison was very pleasing in that the wadia / v-dac was only a touch shy of matching the cd player which did admittedly have a a little more focus but actually the sound and detail right through from treble to bass was very similar indeed.

this is great news for me - i love my cd player which did originally retail at £1400 (but i got mine new for under half that) and with the wadia stacking up well it means whatever i listen to i get a very similar sound presented so no disappointment at all.

with my old Arcam rdock the interpol album always sounded much flatter than with my cd player. so overall a big success and ok the wadia isnt cheap at all for a dock and adding in the v-dac doesnt get far off what i paid for the cd player but then if it sounds as good as it does to me then its money well spent in my opinion.

i wanted something i didnt always feel i needed to upgrade again. if i had bought the Onkyo dock i would always have wanted to try the wadia to be honest when i had saved up again.
 

Sliced Bread

Well-known member
Jul 28, 2010
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Sounds very good crusaderlord. Sorry for the questions, but is the tonal balance of the v-dac and the Arcam similar?
Just curious as I'm planning on going down the Squeezbox route and possibly adding a DAC. I've considered the DacMagic, but I have a CA CD player, which I love, however with the Onkyo amp it is probably a touch harsh in the treble. If the V-Dac can counter this then that would be great
emotion-1.gif
Plus, as you've said it is so small it can be tucked away somewhere.
 

crusaderlord

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Apr 29, 2008
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the tonal balance is very similar indeed - one of the reasons i chanced the v-dac is that i imagined it as a closer match to the Arcam CD than say the Dacmagic.

the result is surprisingly close in fact

one problem i have now is the only thing i can think of that needs upgrading is my listening chair :)
 

crusaderlord

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Apr 29, 2008
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some interesting commentary in December WHF - first a test on digital sources as reviewed by readers (laptop / onkyo dock / cd)

then finally a direct comment as well on the wadia v onkyo where the onkyo is decribed as 'broadly comparable' sound quality to the wadia

ok no much to go on - but probably good on both sides really in that if you bought the onkyo you can be pleased with the value for money comparison but also if you wanted the better sounding one and funds allowed then the extra spend on the wadia wasnt wasted

i am very pleased with the wadia - further listening showed my cd player still wins out in detail (just) but against my older analogue dock this new set up is far and away much better - even my more compressed files and internet streaming do actually sound very good now
 

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