Musical Fidelity V-DAC II review

Smooth sound from a versatile DAC Tested at £200

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The V-DAC II is a pleasant listen, but there are other options for outright excitement


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    Smooth presentation

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    Clear and detailed, especially in the midrange

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    Good dynamics


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    A touch more precision and agility would deliver more engaging results

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

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.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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