Once a niche product, DACs are now on the rise thanks to the prevalence of computer-based music streaming, and the Musical Fidelity V-DAC II enters the market at a competitive price level.
Connections are housed on either end of the V-DAC II: RCA analogue output to the amplifier on one side, and digital inputs on the other. There’s a toggle switch to choose between the optical and coaxial inputs, and the type-B USB input that connects to your computer. The asynchronous USB design plays files up to 24-bit/192kHz, too.
Musical Fidelity V-DAC II review: sound quality
The V-DAC II’s sound is rich and weighty, with smooth dynamic shifts. Play the soundtrack to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and Howard Shore’s grand compositions shift from loud to quiet and back again with real finesse.
There’s also a clear and detailed midrange performance, with Norah Jones’s vocals sounding appropriately delicate. As you climb up the sampling rate to The Grateful Dead’s Box of Rain in 24-bit/96kHz, detail definition and clarity inevitably increases as well.
The smoothness factor extends to the edges of notes, however, which sound a touch too rounded-off for our liking. Class leaders at this level are more definite in the way notes start and stop.
Musical Fidelity V-DAC II review: also consider
The Arcam rDAC, one of the Musical Fidelity’s main rivals, is more adept at delivering songs with agility and precise timing along with expressive detail. In comparison, the V-DAC II sounds just a bit too relaxed and comfortable: Oasis’s Wonderwall could do with a touch more bite and faster rhythms.
That said, the V-DAC II is an enjoyable listen. For outright quality, you’ll have to search elsewhere (and spend a bit more), but the V-DAC II is well worth an audition.