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The amp‘s dapper design is enhanced by a choice of four finishes: Quad’s classic Lancaster Grey is the standard option, while three premium finishes – Sapele Mahogany, Gloss Black and Gloss White – wrap the Vena II’s aluminium housing in veneered or lacquered wood.
Though technically excellent, Sabre32 Reference DAC chips can be challenging to implement effectively.
If the circuitry that surrounds them it is not of a sufficient standard, the resulting sound can seem a little cold and hard; treat them right, however, and the level of musical expression that these chips dig from the digital signal is captivating.
One such critical element is the post-DAC active filter; Quad’s design team has paid great attention to this circuit, using op-amps that were specifically chosen for their synergy with the ES9018K2M.
In terms of hi-res file compatibility, the original Vena maxed out at 24-bit/192kHz PCM via USB. The Vena II stretches this to 32-bit/384kHz, alongside DSD (up to DSD256). This ensures the amp is fully equipped to make the most of today’s hi-res music formats, as well as future advances in ultra-high-definition digital sound.
The Class AB power amp section now has an upgraded power supply, a new 200VA toroidal transformer lying at its heart.
This is followed by 2x15000uF reservoir capacity (30000uF in total), helping the amp to maintain firm control of the music whilst enabling excellent dynamic range.
Vinyl lovers will appreciate the addition of a phono stage for moving magnet cartridges – a high-quality, low-noise, JFET-based circuit with precise RIAA equalisation – adding to the Vena II’s already formidable format flexibility.
Headphone users are also better catered for. The original Vena included a headphone output, but this was connected to the amp’s main output stage rather than to a specialised headphone amp circuit.
The Vena II incorporates a dedicated headphone amp with current-feedback circuitry, its gain bandwidth and high slew rate delivering a more dynamic, detailed and engaging performance with all manner of headphone types.