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Schiit Vali 2+ Review (Tube Headphone Amp)

pseudoid

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Thanks Amir.
What I hear you saying is that this is a shiity Shiit-show (no disrespect to MikeShinoda).
Would there be much (any?) improvement to the performance of Vali2 by cleaning up (noise performance) the 24and 6Vdc power rails?
I came across this unanswered post (circa 2020/04) in ASR by Cafofo and not certain if it relates to your findings.
 

solderdude

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When looking at measurements from SBAF it is clear that the used tube determines how much hum there is.
Marv measured it with several tubes.

Could be the heater being AC fed and heater/cathode construction, could be plate surface (picking up hum), could be the anode current.
 

DeepSpaceus

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Not sure what Headphones is Samir using when he says that nothing plays in low gain on the Vali 2 but I have played my HifiMan Arya planars through a Vali 2 in low gain at only 11 o'clock gain and I loved the sound. Sure, it is not the most detailed or supper clean sound but for contrast I also had the "best measuring" Topping A90 for about six months and hated its compressed flat lifeless sound. I sold the A90 but kept the Vali 2. Of course, I replaced the A90 with a Burson Soloist 3XP so I can have a more dynamic and realistic sound that leaves the great measuring Toppings in the dust. Like it says in the start of the Vali 2 description on the Schiit site "Measurements, Shmeashurments". Measurements only show part of the story.
OK, I have my helmet on now so you measurements cult members can start lobbing grenades.
 

Rottmannash

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Not sure what Headphones is Samir using when he says that nothing plays in low gain on the Vali 2 but I have played my HifiMan Arya planars through a Vali 2 in low gain at only 11 o'clock gain and I loved the sound. Sure, it is not the most detailed or supper clean sound but for contrast I also had the "best measuring" Topping A90 for about six months and hated its compressed flat lifeless sound. I sold the A90 but kept the Vali 2. Of course, I replaced the A90 with a Burson Soloist 3XP so I can have a more dynamic and realistic sound that leaves the great measuring Toppings in the dust. Like it says in the start of the Vali 2 description on the Schiit site "Measurements, Shmeashurments". Measurements only show part of the story.
OK, I have my helmet on now so you measurements cult members can start lobbing grenades.
I'd pay money to see if you could pass a blind test between the A90, the Schitt amp and the Burson.
 

carlosmante

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If humans were universally rational beings tube gear would have probably died long time ago, same with vinyl.
Don't worry about other people elections. let them be Free.
Worrying about other people elections has nothing of "rational" and very much of Neurotic.
 
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ElNino

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JWAmerica

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Schiit internal AP measurements look much better. @amirm could it be a bad power supply or something else broken with this particular unit causing the 60Hz and harmonics noise?

https://www.schiit.com/public/upload/PDF/Schiit APx555 Vali2 Plus.pdf
Why is that always one of the first questions asked when a sample reviews poorly? Many want Amir to measure pairs of speakers using the same logic. I'd rather turn the proposition on its head. How many faulty units could one reviewer likely encounter? If the odds are significant, the manufacturer has serious quality control issues.
 

DeepSpaceus

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I'd pay money to see if you could pass a blind test between the A90, the Schitt amp and the Burson.
Trust me, I'm 100% sure that I can tell the difference (did plenty of A/B listening with a Little Bear switch box), but since you and I know that we will never actually meet and do the test you have no way of knowing whether you or I are correct, ergo you can safely continue holding your beliefs.
 
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amirm

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Not sure what Headphones is Samir using when he says that nothing plays in low gain on the Vali 2 but I have played my HifiMan Arya planars through a Vali 2 in low gain at only 11 o'clock gain and I loved the sound. Sure, it is not the most detailed or supper clean sound but for contrast I also had the "best measuring" Topping A90 for about six months and hated its compressed flat lifeless sound. I sold the A90 but kept the Vali 2. Of course, I replaced the A90 with a Burson Soloist 3XP so I can have a more dynamic and realistic sound that leaves the great measuring Toppings in the dust. Like it says in the start of the Vali 2 description on the Schiit site "Measurements, Shmeashurments". Measurements only show part of the story.
OK, I have my helmet on now so you measurements cult members can start lobbing grenades.
??? I didn't say nothing played in low gain mode. Everything plays but it is so anemic for the headphones I threw at it. Your headphone may be more sensitive or you may be listening at much lower level. When I am testing by ear, I push amplifiers so that I can represent wider set of users than those that have sensitive headphones.

As to measurements being part of the story, no, they were the whole story here. They showed tons of distortion and that is what I heard with my two ears and brain. The difference between us may be that I am a trained listener when it comes to non-linearities as I have shown in countless listening tests. Vast majority of people are not such so no puzzle here that you didn't hear these issues. But they are there and unlike your scenario, I can prove them objectively using measurements.

As to something being wrong with A90, that just ain't so. Your brain was playing games there, not the equipment.
 

Leiker535

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If humans were universally rational beings tube gear would have probably died long time ago, same with vinyl.

Were human universally rational beings there'd be no point in designing higher impedance headphones or insensitive headphones past the 00's. That's not the case, however.

A point could be more easily be made against tubes, as they are often regarded and loved as sources of distortion or even "magic" in more subjectivistic extremes. But they still look good and can provide a difference experience/interaction than just turning on a steely box. I myself have a awful measuring pure tube amp that I still turn on from time to time because I like how it looks, although the sound is indifferent to my L30 on my higher impedance headphones.

This goes even further for vinyl: even though the bestest of vinyl records will sound like digital, this is often not the case with the majority, specially considering old vinyl albums that have no (good) Master counterpart in modernity; and also because the interaction with vinyl, sonical differences aside, is different than just queuing pixel tracks on a streaming program. There are plenty of objectivist minded persons in ASR that still enjoy vinyl for its physicality, remembrance and even sound.

Point is that is little point in being strictly rational about music listening.
 

sarumbear

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Point is that is little point in being strictly rational about music listening.
This is so typical that I’m getting tired of asking why people think this way are bothering with ASR?
 

Leiker535

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This is so typical that I’m getting tired of asking why people think this way are bothering with ASR?

I support ASR and can't hear difference between sources, as I said. Point is that the guy there likes to deal in absolutes (and only a sith deals in absolutes) by claiming that there is "no rational reason for tubes and vinyl". His assertion is partially correct logically, but its just that, an assertion. The problem with that "absolute" is that it is usually inteded to imply a "correct way" of listening (or else why would he put it that way?), while it is plenty possible for one to be an objectivist and still enjoy silliness: measurements are facts and facts don't imply values.

Also, there is the point of vinyl specifically, and although I concur that the hobby of vinyl collecting is irrational (and that that isn't bad inherently), there is yes rational reasons for collecting old albums, considering loudness war and (very) bad remasters on streaming services.
 

nyxnyxnyx

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The philosophy is in keeping with what Schiit has been very upfront about. Which is, they make products with good measurements to keep the objectivists happy and they make products that may not have good measurements but "sound good". Some people like tubes, no matter how they measure. Schiit's product line affords choice.
I agree. I'm not a fan of Schiit in the past due to how they handled some issues and how some of their units have bad QC. But other than that they seem upfront enough about their goals in designing a product, and the CEO (the guy that posts on head-fi) is pretty good at writing interesting stories too.
 

sarumbear

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I support ASR and can't hear difference between sources, as I said. Point is that the guy there likes to deal in absolutes (and only a sith deals in absolutes) by claiming that there is "no rational reason for tubes and vinyl". His assertion is partially correct logically, but its just that, an assertion. The problem with that "absolute" is that it is usually inteded to imply a "correct way" of listening (or else why would he put it that way?), while it is plenty possible for one to be an objectivist and still enjoy silliness: measurements are facts and facts don't imply values.

Also, there is the point of vinyl specifically, and although I concur that the hobby of vinyl collecting is irrational (and that that isn't bad inherently), there is yes rational reasons for collecting old albums, considering loudness war and (very) bad remasters on streaming services.
If anyone understood this post please explain it to me.
 

nyxnyxnyx

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I support ASR and can't hear difference between sources, as I said. Point is that the guy there likes to deal in absolutes (and only a sith deals in absolutes) by claiming that there is "no rational reason for tubes and vinyl". His assertion is partially correct logically, but its just that, an assertion. The problem with that "absolute" is that it is usually inteded to imply a "correct way" of listening (or else why would he put it that way?), while it is plenty possible for one to be an objectivist and still enjoy silliness: measurements are facts and facts don't imply values.

Also, there is the point of vinyl specifically, and although I concur that the hobby of vinyl collecting is irrational (and that that isn't bad inherently), there is yes rational reasons for collecting old albums, considering loudness war and (very) bad remasters on streaming services.

I think some people enjoy a certain degree of rationality in their hobbies while others don't. Personally, I think it's a hobby, with a strong emphasis on enjoyment so one should just do whatever can make him/her enjoy the most. Besides that, it's also a bit irrational to buy only flawlessly measured products if one cannot hear noticeable differences or any differences, or they simply just don't prefer the sound quality of a top-tier product and instead prefer an above-average one.
 

Leiker535

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If anyone understood this post please explain it to me.

Just because something measures good doesn't mean you should only listen to it. You can appreciate measurements and still enjoy bad stuff, especially considering that even bad measuring stuff isn't unlistenable. My tube amp was reviewed by amir and he himself said the horrifying measures, in that particular case, didn't translate well to the listening experience.

And being an ASR member or supporter doesn't imply that you can't enjoy flawed mediums. The contradiction would be in being a ASR enthusiast while still denying the flaws of tubes, for example, and claiming that you could hear leprechauns in oceans of liquid mids, while refusing to do blind tests with other stuff.
 

sarumbear

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Just because something measures good doesn't mean you should only listen to it. You can appreciate measurements and still enjoy bad stuff, especially considering that even bad measuring stuff isn't unlistenable. My tube amp was reviewed by amir and he himself said the horrifying measures, in that particular case, didn't translate well to the listening experience.

And being an ASR member or supporter doesn't imply that you can't enjoy flawed mediums. The contradiction would be in being a ASR enthusiast while still denying the flaws of tubes, for example, and claiming that you could hear leprechauns in oceans of liquid mids, while refusing to do blind tests with other stuff.
When you put it like that I agree. I personally won't enjoy anything which has inherent but correctable faults but I see your point and agree that some people may see beyond those faults. We are all different.
 

AdamG247

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Thread Notice: This is an official product review thread. Keep your conversation and comments relevant to the reviewed product please. Arguing about audio consumption philosophy and the pros and cons of each belongs in a separate thread.

Please and thank you.
 

DeepSpaceus

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??? I didn't say nothing played in low gain mode. Everything plays but it is so anemic for the headphones I threw at it. Your headphone may be more sensitive or you may be listening at much lower level. When I am testing by ear, I push amplifiers so that I can represent wider set of users than those that have sensitive headphones.

As to measurements being part of the story, no, they were the whole story here. They showed tons of distortion and that is what I heard with my two ears and brain. The difference between us may be that I am a trained listener when it comes to non-linearities as I have shown in countless listening tests. Vast majority of people are not such so no puzzle here that you didn't hear these issues. But they are there and unlike your scenario, I can prove them objectively using measurements.

As to something being wrong with A90, that just ain't so. Your brain was playing games there, not the equipment.
The HiFiMan Arya has a sensitivity of 91.2 dBSPL and 42 ohms of impedance, not sensitive by any standard. If you do the calculation then that translates to almost 2 watts of power required from the amp at 110 dBSPL. Of course, I normally listen at around 70 dB because anything over 80 dB for extended periods of time is not recommended. And at that volume the Arya did not sound "anemic" on the Vali 2 which, by the way, is a subjective term unless you can explain how you measure audio anemia.

Look, I respect the great job you do and it is a great service to all of us, but I believe that science does not have all answers in psychoacoustics. Measurements do tell us much about how a device is going to perform but believing that human hearing perception can be correlated completely to device measurements is like believing that we can measure the exact taste of a Big Mac.
 
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