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Musical Fidelity V-DAC II Measurement and Review

amirm

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#1
This is a review of the Musical Fidelity V-DAC II including measurements. Member Ron Party was kind enough to l0an this to me. This is an older DAC, dating back to 2012 or so and retailed for $379. It comes with an external power supply which looks to be a linear one.

As usual, my first measurement is J-Test signal at 48 Khz sampling and 24 bits. Here is the outcome as compared to iFi iDSD which is a much newer DAC at similar price point:

J-test.png


As we see there, the noise floor of Musical Fidelity V-DAC II is lower than iFi iDSD even though its output is higher (i.e. has a better signal to noise ratio). Just eyeballing it, it seems to have 5 to 6 db advantage over iFi.

Given the linear power supply, its output is free of mains related harmonics. So overall, a very nice showing here.

I have also shown the performance of V-DAC using both its USB input and S/PDIF. S/PDIF was generated from my USB port using an Audiophilleo USB to S/PDIF converters. As we see, performance is the same putting to bed to the notion that "USB is a computer interface and hence noisier." It is not.

Next let's compare harmonic distortion at 7 Khz with 0dbFS signal:

7Khz vs ifi.png


Let's now compare that to Behringer UMC-204 HD which retails for just $80:

7Khz vs Behringner.png


As we saw before, Behringer UMC204 HD remains king of low distortion, beating the V-DAC in second harmonic distortion level.

Behringer however puts out less output than the V-DAC II so in this regard, V-DAC II is superior (and if you compensate for the level difference the distortion difference shrinks too).

Conclusions:
Despite its age, the Musical Fidelity V-DAC II beats the much newer iFi iDAC2 in both jitter and harmonic distortion. It has the added advantage of including a S/PDIF input.

Compared to Behringer, it has higher distortion but also higher output level. Seeing how it can be picked up used at a few dollars more than Behringer, it makes for another good budget DAC.
 
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dallasjustice

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#2
I believe the vdac's USB is I synchronous, not asynchronous. This may explain why USB jitter is the same as spdif.

I used to own one. I always thought it sounded great.
 
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Thomas savage

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#3
So this Musical Fidelity V-DAC II looks pretty good. What about the mains noise? That Looks better than I would expect given it was likely shipped with a cheap little PSU . The Musical Fidelity V-DAC II is probably easy to get cheap second hand too.. what a great discovery :)
 

amirm

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#4

amirm

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So this Musical Fidelity V-DAC II looks pretty good. What about the mains noise? That Looks better than I would expect given it was likely shipped with a cheap little PSU . The Musical Fidelity V-DAC II is probably easy to get cheap second hand too.. what a great discovery :)
It uses a wall-wart but it is a linear supply! Hence the reason it is free of mains related noise that exists in switching supplies.

That is what other companies should be using really as these products don't need that much power. This one runs at 12 volt at just half an amp so 6 watts. Easily within what you can get in a small wall-wart.
 

watchnerd

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#6
I like the fact that the case is barely above DIY. No wasted money.

FYI here is the board



Looks like a TI Burr Brown DAC of some kind. None of the fancy audiophool multibit R2R crap, or uber modern ESSPro chips.

And here is some nutter who 'upgraded' the caps.

 

amirm

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#7
Wonder what that DIP IC is doing in the midst of otherwise modern surface mount components.

On the cap, maybe the output is capacitor coupled? I should do a frequency response sweep to see if it rolls off the lows any.
 

Don Hills

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#8
Wonder what that DIP IC is doing in the midst of otherwise modern surface mount components. ...
It's a PIC microcontroller. It's probably socketed so they could supply a firmware upgrade by shipping the chip.
The smaller socketed chip is an EEPROM, probably same rationale. Cheaper than including the circuitry and code to do it "over the wire".
 

BE718

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#10
I like the fact that the case is barely above DIY. No wasted money.

FYI here is the board



Looks like a TI Burr Brown DAC of some kind. None of the fancy audiophool multibit R2R crap, or uber modern ESSPro chips.

And here is some nutter who 'upgraded' the caps.

I like the Blutac (yellow) on the crystal to damp vibration :) No femtoclock crap

Also the wires on and the replacement caps are now probably picking up all sorts of radiated RF from the digital sections :)

I love audio DIY
 

Blumlein 88

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#11
I like the Blutac (yellow) on the crystal to damp vibration :) No femtoclock crap

Also the wires on and the replacement caps are now probably picking up all sorts of radiated RF from the digital sections :)

I love audio DIY
That pickup just gives it more air and space and more there.
 

DonH56

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#12
Having designed a lot of multi-bit R2R and unary/binary architecture DACs (most hi-res conventional DACs actually use unary cells for the MSBs, going to R2R for the lower bits) I can say that are not all foolish. For one thing, no rising noise curve. They do have their own issues like switching glitches and such, natch.

That aside, what is the DAC chip? Just curious; I could not read it in the picture.
 

amirm

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#13

DonH56

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#14
Thanks Amir. An interesting DAC design I had forgotten about; a hybrid conventional and delta-sigma architecture that also uses an averaging scheme to minimize linearity errors from cell mismatch. I think it combines some schemes discussed in the old data converter book by Rudy van de Plassche among others. Not saying BB got them from Rudy or the book, just that there are similar averaging schemes in there. I had a few friends at BB but have not been in contact with them in ages.
 
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#17
Makes me interested how the V 90 would perform. I read it's supposed to be V II's successor.
 

Jinjuku

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#18
Need to find a version of the UMC204HD that has the same noise floor and analog performance with a bit more output.
 
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