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Building on the strengths of its predecessor, the Quad Vena II is an exceptionally neat and convenient way to bring true high-fidelity sound to the varied nature of modern music collections – from vinyl and CD to digital streaming and hi-res files – via all manner of playback devices.
The Quad Vena II’s small footprint (compared to many amps in its class) allows flexible positioning and ensures the amp slips tidily into a range of environments. 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.
Simplicity is key to the Vena II’s outward design. Quad’s design team selected Bluetooth wireless streaming, with support for the aptX codec, to ensure easy pairing with all manner of smartphones, tablets, PCs and Macs – expertly implemented to deliver an adroit balance of quality and convenience. The Vena II feels like a traditional hi-fi amplifier, with its uncomplicated front-mounted controls and simple remote, yet its specification is state-of-the-art.
Copious cable connections enhance the amp’s flexibility. Inputs for digital sources comprise asynchronous USB and three S/PDIF sockets (one coaxial and two optical), while digital outputs are provided in optical and coaxial flavours. Analogue signals are catered for by three stereo RCA inputs – two line-level plus the new MM phono input for turntables – while pre-out sockets permit the addition of an external power amplifier.
Analogue Inputs 2x line-level RCA / 1x MM phono
Analogue Outputs 1 x RCA (pre-out)
Analogue Input sensitivity 450mV (line-level) / 4.1mV (MM phono)
Analogue Input impedance 10kΩ (line-level); 47kΩ / 100pF (MM phono)
Frequency Response 20Hz-20kHz (+/- 0.5dB)
Total Harmonic Distorion (THD) < 0.002%
Signal-to-Noise > 110dB (A-weighted)
Power Amplifier Section
Power Output 2x 45W RMS (8Ω) / 2x 65W RMS (4Ω)
Frequency Response 20Hz-20kHz (+/- 0.5dB)
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) < 0.005% (30W, 8Ω)
Signal-to-Noise > 108dB (A-weighted)
DAC Chip ESS Sabre32 ES9018K2M
Digital Inputs 2x optical; 1x coaxial; 1x USB Type A; aptX Bluetooth
Max Sampling Frequency – USB 384kHz PCM; DSD256
Max Sampling Frequency – Optical/Coaxial 192kHz PCM
Digital Outputs 1x coaxial; 1x optical
Dimensions (W x H x D) 313mm x 93.5mm x 302mm
Weight (Metal) 6.1kg