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VMV D2R Stereo DAC Review

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 14 6.3%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 55 24.8%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 122 55.0%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 31 14.0%

  • Total voters
    222

voodooless

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- Why is fixed mode limited to 4VRMS and variable mode 5VRMS? This seems a strange choice not to have independent 4V/5V mode and fixed/variable mode (like Topping).
There are some good reasons why they chose this:
- 4V is industry (semi) standard
- 2dB of headroom can be used to reduce inter-sample overs, and the performance impact is negligible otherwise

Now is this "pure"... who knows.. what is "pure"? Like I said, it doesn't matter, it gives 4V and we know the performance, what more do you need to know? The car analogy is really silly. There are literally thousands of design decisions made in the design process, and you're not told about any of them. It's like criticizing the car company because they didn't tell you what exact parameters are used in the fuel injection system when you put the thing in sports mode.
- DAC is in PRE mode and he can't put it in fixed mode - didn't find the option in the menu and the manual doesn't give instructions on how to change modes.
Sure, I agree the manual is limited and can be improved in this regard. But getting to the menu is very simple: press the volume control, navigate to the menu item you want, press again to enter the item, etc... Should be straightforward.
 
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Shanicky

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Reading this it seems there are two problems:
- DAC is in PRE mode and he can't put it in fixed mode - didn't find the option in the menu and the manual doesn't give instructions on how to change modes.
- Why is fixed mode limited to 4VRMS and variable mode 5VRMS? This seems a strange choice not to have independent 4V/5V mode and fixed/variable mode (like Topping).

I think his issue isn't with the performance of the DAC, just with the unclear interface / menu options.
Yes, my question is why there is a vague option for 5v/4v here. The menu is quite simple, anyone can use it, but there's no setting for 4v/5v (yes, just like a topping). From my understanding of the Fixed 4v mode, there shouldn't be any volume indication on the page. Instead, it should display something like 'DAC mode' or 'Fixed' rather than a volume level (even if it's -0.0, which looks very strange).
 

Shanicky

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Additionally, I believe as a consumer, I have every right to point out the product's flaws (even if it's just an issue with the manual). Knowing obvious defects but forcing oneself or others to accept them is a clear act of gaslighting.
 

voodooless

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You called my behavior silly, which is really quite impolite.
I call the argument silly, not your behaviour. They are two distinct things.

Yes, my question is why there is a vague option for 5v/4v here. The menu is quite simple, anyone can use it, but there's no setting for 4v/5v (yes, just like a topping). From my understanding of the Fixed 4v mode, there shouldn't be any volume indication on the page. Instead, it should display something like 'DAC mode' or 'Fixed' rather than a volume level (even if it's -0.0, which looks very strange).
Thanks for the clarification. I already eluded to why that may be, so read back. There indeed is no setting for 4 V or 5.x V. If you set it to fixed output mode, you'll get 4V output, otherwise, you'll get whatever you set the volume to, up to the 5.x V maximum.

So the fixed mode still displays a volume number if you turn the knob, while the unit's actual volume doesn't change? That indeed sounds like a curious design choice if that is the case.

Additionally, I believe as a consumer, I have every right to point out the product's flaws (even if it's just an issue with the manual). Knowing obvious defects but forcing oneself or others to accept them is a clear act of gaslighting.
I fully agree, and nobody is forcing you to do anything. But let's first establish if it is indeed a flaw and what the nature of the flaw is. So far, we haven't done a very good job at that.
 
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Shanicky

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I call the argument silly, not your behaviour. They are two distinct things.


Thanks for the clarification. I already eluded to why that may be, so read back. There indeed is no setting for 4 V or 5.x V. If you set it to fixed output mode, you'll get 4V output, otherwise, you'll get whatever you set the volume to, up to the 5.x V maximum.

So the fixed mode still displays a volume number if you turn the knob, while the unit's actual volume doesn't change? That indeed sounds like a curious design choice if that is the case.


I fully agree, and nobody is forcing you to do anything. But let's first establish if it is indeed a flaw and what the nature of the flaw is. So far, we haven't done a very good job at that.
Let me clarify. The Fixed mode simply locks the volume so that it doesn't change when you're turning the knob. Therefore, you can switch to the PRE mode, adjust it to -2db, and then switch back to FIXED. This will lock your output volume at -2db. If it's -10db, then it locks it at -10db. So, now I believe they don't actually have a true bypass volume control mode. The manual's mention of a 4v output is probably a mistake (perhaps from a previous model that wasn't updated).

Thus, to achieve a standard 4v output, you can only set it to -2db and then either not touch the knob or set it to FIXED to lock that volume. There's not much else you can do; that's how it has to be used. The reason I raised this issue is because the default -0db level output (which might be 5v) is too high for my headphone amp. I have to listen at a very low volume. That's why I'm here asking if there's a standard bypass volume for a standard DAC mode. That's the situation.
 

voodooless

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Let me clarify. The Fixed mode simply locks the volume so that it doesn't change when you're turning the knob. Therefore, you can switch to the PRE mode, adjust it to -2db, and then switch back to FIXED. This will lock your output volume at -2db. If it's -10db, then it locks it at -10db. So, now I believe they don't actually have a true bypass volume control mode. The manual's mention of a 4v output is probably a mistake (perhaps from a previous model that wasn't updated).

Thus, to achieve a standard 4v output, you can only set it to -2db and then either not touch the knob or set it to FIXED to lock that volume. There's not much else you can do; that's how it has to be used. The reason I raised this issue is because the default -0db level output (which might be 5v) is too high for my headphone amp. I have to listen at a very low volume. That's why I'm here asking if there's a standard bypass volume for a standard DAC mode. That's the situation.
Ah! That is much more clear, thanks. So does this then also mean that the "fixed" value is actually physically output? Or does it only display the value, and output 4V? From what I can read here, the former may indeed be the case.

And if so, next question is: is this a bug, or a feature? I would say that from a convenience point of view, this is actually quite useful: you can set the fixed output to whatever you want.
 

Shanicky

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Ah! That is much more clear, thanks. So does this then also mean that the "fixed" value is actually physically output? Or does it only display the value, and output 4V? From what I can read here, the former may indeed be the case.

And if so, next question is: is this a bug, or a feature? I would say that from a convenience point of view, this is actually quite useful: you can set the fixed output to whatever you want.
It's the former. Imagine it's essentially a preamp function with a volume lock feature. Indeed, this function can be very convenient in certain situations.
 

voodooless

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So in conclusion, this sounds more like a documentation issue than an obvious defect :)

As for your headphone amp: just use a setting that works best for you.
 
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Adi777

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I really don't understand some people here. Expensive? How often do you change DAC in your audio system? Let me ask another question. Let's assume that this particular DAC will last 3 years, so when we break down the price it comes to 30 euros per month. Indeed, cosmic money...
 

voodooless

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I really don't understand some people here. Expensive? How often do you change DAC in your audio system? Let me ask another question. Let's assume that this particular DAC will last 3 years, so when we break down the price it comes to 30 euros per month. Indeed, cosmic money...
But you can have the same performance for € 5 per month as well…
 

Adi777

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But you can have the same performance for € 5 per month as well…
But I know about this, and performance isn't everything. I'm going to buy a DAC soon, I have no idea which one I'll buy, but I definitely won't be guided only by performance on paper.
 

bogi

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With DAC chip digital volume control one can only attenuate, since processing is performed in fixed point arithmetic. 0dB volume level then means max. output level (no attenuation).
 

S G

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As much as I am impressed with the matching VMV P2 amp, this DAC is underwhelming compared to other offerings from SMSL/VMV.

I really wish SMSL would release a VMV branded version of a DAC with dual ES9039MSPRO chips, similar to SMSL SU-X, but with a more premium build/components of VMV line.
 

Lupin

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I really wish SMSL would release a VMV branded version of a DAC with dual ES9039MSPRO chips, similar to SMSL SU-X, but with a more premium build/components of VMV line.
And what exactly would that achieve besides a higher price?
 

S G

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And what exactly would that achieve besides a higher price?

If you believe reports of SMSL SU-X units failing, hopefully an improved reliability and peace of mind that the product would last.
 

Jimster480

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If you believe reports of SMSL SU-X units failing, hopefully an improved reliability and peace of mind that the product would last.
Imagine buying a High End DAC and having it fail... so the same DAC that is even higher end will somehow work just fine?
I think it has to do with the companies suppliers. SMSL has never been known for the greatest reliability. With that being said; I have some SMSL products which are several years old and work just fine. So YMMV?
 

Lupin

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If you believe reports of SMSL SU-X units failing, hopefully an improved reliability and peace of mind that the product would last.
Still don't see why you would need an even more expensive unit for that. Now days you can get a DAC with the same or better performance with the same or better functionality for less than half the price.
 
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