Quad Vena II Integrated Amplifier with DAC

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" I bought this a year ago, so I've got over the excitement of first impressions, run it in and hopefully arrived at a balanced opinion. It replaced an old AudioAnalogue Puccini SE which had a comfortable, tube-like sound with something more articulate (especially in the bass) and generally cleaner. The timbres of instruments and voices is truthfully conveyed. This focus, and more detailed bass information, probably makes for the improved "soundstage". So far only the deepest and silliest Jah Wobble bass drum thumps have shown it short of power, feeding a pair of classic Quad 11Ls. (And that might indeed be a shortcoming of the speaker, though it was never apparent with the Puccini SE.) The DAC is fast and well balanced. I've not found any huge differences between the digital inputs. Though on close examination they sound very slightly different, that could just as easily be attributed to cable and output differences. Optical works best from my MacBook Pro. Overall, I have found this a very easy amplifer to live with. It is not "spectacular" yet fills my large room easily and remains truthful to the timbres and dynamics it is asked to reproduce. It's a good buy.."
- Richard - 5 Stars
" With a comprehensive specification that moves Quad's most compact integrated amplifier on and enough weight to bring any type of music to life so thrillingly, the Vena II continues to show that it really is something a little extra special."
- Hi-Fi Choice - 5 Stars
" Quad's new Vena II is a wonderfully easy to us all-in-one amplifier that offers superb sound quality. Offering a performance up with the best is strikes me as the quintessence of high fidelity - a great sound at a great price. Utterly superb!"
- Hi-Fi World - 5 Stars
Stock code: QUADVENA


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    Product Information

    Building on the strengths of its predecessor, the Vena II is an exceptionally neat and convenient way to bring true high-fidelity sound to the varied nature of modern music collections – from vinyl and CD to digital streaming and hi-res files – via all manner of playback devices.

    Smart aesthetics are important to today’s music lovers.
    The Vena II’s small footprint (compared to many amps in its class) allows flexible positioning and ensures the amp slips tidily into a range of environments. The amp‘s dapper design is enhanced by a choice of four finishes: Quad’s classic Lancaster Grey is the standard option, while three premium finishes – Sapele Mahogany, Gloss Black and Gloss White – wrap the Vena II’s aluminium housing in veneered or lacquered wood.

    Technically Excellent
    Though technically excellent, Sabre32 Reference DAC chips can be challenging to implement effectively. If the circuitry that surrounds them it is not of a sufficient standard, the resulting sound can seem a little cold and hard; treat them right, however, and the level of musical expression that these chips dig from the digital signal is captivating. One such critical element is the post-DAC active filter; Quad’s design team has paid great attention to this circuit, using op-amps that were specifically chosen for their synergy with the ES9018K2M.

    In terms of hi-res file compatibility, the original Vena maxed out at 24-bit/192kHz PCM via USB. The Vena II stretches this to 32-bit/384kHz, alongside DSD (up to DSD256). This ensures the amp is fully equipped to make the most of today’s hi-res music formats, as well as future advances in ultra-high-definition digital sound.

    Significant Improvements
    The Class AB power amp section now has an upgraded power supply, a new 200VA toroidal transformer lying at its heart. This is followed by 2x15000uF reservoir capacity (30000uF in total), helping the amp to maintain firm control of the music whilst enabling excellent dynamic range.

    Vinyl lovers will appreciate the addition of a phono stage for moving magnet cartridges – a high-quality, low-noise, JFET-based circuit with precise RIAA equalisation – adding to the Vena II’s already formidable format flexibility.

    Headphone users are also better catered for. The original Vena included a headphone output, but this was connected to the amp’s main output stage rather than to a specialised headphone amp circuit. The Vena II incorporates a dedicated headphone amp with current-feedback circuitry, its gain bandwidth and high slew rate delivering a more dynamic, detailed and engaging performance with all manner of headphone types.

    Simplicity is key to the Vena II’s outward design. Quad’s design team selected Bluetooth wireless streaming, with support for the aptX codec, to ensure easy pairing with all manner of smartphones, tablets, PCs and Macs – expertly implemented to deliver an adroit balance of quality and convenience. The Vena II feels like a traditional hi-fi amplifier, with its uncomplicated front-mounted controls and simple remote, yet its specification is state-of-the-art.

    Copious cable connections enhance the amp’s flexibility. Inputs for digital sources comprise asynchronous USB and three S/PDIF sockets (one coaxial and two optical), while digital outputs are provided in optical and coaxial flavours. Analogue signals are catered for by three stereo RCA inputs – two line-level plus the new MM phono input for turntables – while pre-out sockets permit the addition of an external power amplifier.

    Preamplifier Specifications

    Analogue Inputs 2x line-level RCA / 1x MM phono
    Analogue Outputs 1 x RCA (pre-out)
    Analogue Input sensitivity 450mV (line-level) / 4.1mV (MM phono)
    Analogue Input impedance 10kΩ (line-level); 47kΩ / 100pF (MM phono)
    Frequency Response 20Hz-20kHz (+/- 0.5dB)
    Total Harmonic Distorion (THD) < 0.002%
    Signal-to-Noise > 110dB (A-weighted)

    Power Amplifier Specifications

    Frequency Response 20Hz-20kHz (+/- 0.5dB)
    Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) < 0.005% (30W, 8Ω)
    Signal-to-Noise > 108dB (A-weighted)

    Digital Section Specification

    DAC Chip ESS Sabre32 ES9018K2M
    Digital Inputs 2x optical; 1x coaxial; 1x USB Type A; aptX Bluetooth
    Max Sampling Frequency – USB 384kHz PCM; DSD256
    Max Sampling Frequency – Optical/Coaxial 192kHz PCM
    Digital Outputs 1x coaxial; 1x optical

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