The QUAD Vena
QUAD is a venerable manufacturer in the world of hi-fi and one with a long-time respected reputation, which is why we were naturally so excited to carry and sell their products as an official dealer. Thanks to QUAD, we’ve expanded in the reaches for simplicity and affordability in a world of hi-fi that is ever-reaching toward the sky. It is safe to say many dedicated people deep in the world of hi-fi have taken the time to step up their game despite the pandemic at hand, which could also be said for a good part of the industry in the last decade or so. QUAD is no exception.
For 6 solid years, QUAD has been developing some solutions for those seeking compact integrated stereo amplifiers, and delivering effectively on the matter. With the release of the Vena integrated amp in 2014, QUAD made a statement. The Vena– while at first glance seemingly not too compact– is a serious amplifier that can deliver concise, yet laid back power at 45 watts per channel. Matched best with the S-2’s, the Vena comes to be quite the classy little amp. With a brand indicative design on a quality case, the Vena does not only sound great; it looks the part as well.
These well-rounded integrated amplifiers deliver a straightforward, flat, accurate sound, maybe even to the extent of sharpening up recordings which we remember as warmer, fuzzier ones. The bass is tight and concise– and through the clean 45 watts per channel the Vena puts out considerable power– with nice sound staging and impressive dynamic range. QUAD has a series of vacuum tube-driven amplifiers which– much like this one– contain QUAD’s AptX bluetooth stage. The PA One, as well as the VA One, and VA One+. This bluetooth stage obviously lacks in clear dynamics and finesse much like one would expect from bluetooth as opposed to a wired connection, but it is able to deliver in a much more elegant way than any other bluetooth speaker or bluetooth stage on a lower end amp.
With Aux 1 and 2, optical 1 and 2, as well as coax and USB, the Vena series provides a very reasonable range in connectivity and utility. This makes the Vena series perfect for PC headphone amps, or dedicated integrated amps for smaller or studio spaces.
The Vena II
QUAD had no intention in dismissing the success and need for the Vena and products much like it, since it has sustained growing popularity in the market. However, in moving forward, upgrading and bringing more utility all at the same time, the idea of a phono stage came to fruition. Giving the Vena II the edge of a phono stage makes it a significantly all-around user friendly amp, like the cherry on top of the already fabulous Vena.
The Cirrus Logic DAC chip that was used in the original Vena has been replaced in favor of an ES9018K2M from the Sabre32 Reference family. This enables the Vena II to benefit from ESS Technology’s 32-bit HyperStream architecture and should deliver ultra-low noise audio with a high dynamic range. One important component in the digital circuitry is the post-DAC active filter. Quad’s design team has dedicated a great deal of attention to this part of the circuit, using op-amps that were specifically chosen for the way they work with the ES9018K2M.
The Vena’s aesthetics may hark back to the classic days of analog hi-fi, but this little amp has most of the options you need in the digital era. Perhaps more than ever, today’s audio consumers really care about the aesthetics of the equipment they’re buying. The Vena II’s small footprint enables the unit to be slotted in almost anywhere around the home without overwhelming a room.
Like the original model, the new amp uses a Class AB power amp. The Vena II now is now powered by an upgraded 200VA toroidal transformer. This is followed by twin 15000uF of reservoir capacity (30000uF in total), helping the amp to keep a firm grip on the music as well as delivering a great dynamic range.
Vinyl lovers will appreciate the addition of a phono stage for moving magnet cartridges. The phono stage is a high-quality, low-noise, JFET-based circuit with precise RIAA equalization. Headphone users haven’t been forgotten either. The Vena II now has a dedicated headphone amp for a more dynamic, detailed and engaging sound whatever type of headphone is plugged in.
The preamp section of the Vena II has also been kept as simple as possible to ensure signal purity. The line input signals are routed to a precision analog volume stage controlled by a motorized ALPS potentiometer. A lot of effort has reportedly gone into the physical layout of the Vena II’s circuitry, protecting the sensitive preamp section from any possible noise interference.
QUAD’s Sound and Footprint
These amplifiers excel at their dedicated purpose, as has come to be expected from QUAD. Beside serving as excellent personal computer amps, they deliver wonderfully in the matter of clear, clean audio. And they do so while staying as flat as possible. Ideal for smaller rooms and studio spaces, the Venas I and II fill space with ease. The new DAC in the Vena II puts out a more cohesive and full sound, better quality and a more defined high end since they already perform so well in the low end department.
QUAD has taken the opportunity to manufacture some compact amplifiers that will compete very closely against other similar integrated components for years to come. With a sleek, understated design, an exceptional focus on precise and clean circuitry, and a signature sound, the QUAD Vena I and II are some ferocious little integrated amps.
QUAD S-2 Bookshelf Speakers
The Vena amplifiers were designed with a certain pair of outstanding matching bookshelf speakers in mind. Sporting a new ribbon treble unit aligned, through sophisticated crossover networks, to QUAD’s advanced bass-midrange drivers, the S-2 bookshelf speakers deliver all the nuances and passion of the original performance. Jointly with the S-2’s, the Venas (especially the Vena II) are fearsome systems. A generously-delivering understated system capable of filling small to medium studio spaces with impressive precision? Quite the feat to conquer and one QUAD has had no problems tackling for years.
“The ribbon tweeter in the S-2 is the same as in the S-1,” said Jon Derda, of Quad’s US distributor, MoFi Distribution, in an e-mail. “The Z-series tweeter is the same overall design, but has a larger surface area for an even smoother integration between the midbass and HF drivers.”
For a fiery combination of engineered clarity and concise balanced sound, the Vena Series amplifiers deliver indiscriminately. In their most appropriate smaller spaces, the Venas I and II prove versatile with a smooth high-end edge which is not to go unnoticed.
QUAD’s NEW Compact Amplifiers
QUAD is unwilling to rest on this cause, adapting to the hi-fi and home audio world as it constantly evolves. Out comes the Vena II Play. The Play takes the Vena II and alters the specification by adding UPnP streaming in the form of DTS Play-Fi support. This means you still have a coaxial, optical and USB digital inputs – the latter supporting 24/384PCM and DSD 256 – partnered with a pair of RCA line inputs and that moving magnet phono stage. In the end, you’ve still got yourself a QUality Amplifier Domesticated, with a sleek IR remote to match. Though if you’re looking for amplification, Quad makes it clear the Vena II is one of the best buys around.
The QUAD PA One+
In an ever-growing market of dedicated headphone amps, QUAD does not let down either. Here is an article on their most recent compact headphone amp.
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