As noted in the summary, this unit was loaned me by Musica Acoustics. Dimitri, thank you. It goes for roughly 768$ and you can find out all about it here: SounDroid Valoq - Musica Acoustics.
NOTE: a grounding issue forced me to plug in an extra empty parallel cable in order to test unloaded signals. While it should be safe to assume that the results below are accurate in assessing general signal stability, they should not be used as reference to describe Valoq's actual performance.
If you read my Valoq user summary, you will note that I’m not a fan of using Valoq. Valoq is kludgy. It is ugly. It screws the gapless pooch and pops way too much when the mains are switched on or off. Finally it’s got an annoying grounding problem.
The final point above caused me no end of troubles in obtaining the RMAA scores below.
But when all the hatches are battened, Valoq sounds great. Its OPA627Au op-amp set is nearly noiseless, and the Muses set returns a small amount of noise about even with an iPhone 5. Its bass is well rounded, and stage elements are deep and wonderfully three-dimensional.
Measurably, it performs worse than a number of other top-flight players, but apart from THD and IMD, the difference between it and its competitors is small. Musica Acoustics supplied me with the BB OPA627Au and Muses 8820 op-amps. The latter measure closer to other high-end players. Funnily enough, and for whatever it is worth, I prefer Venturecraft’s branded BB op-amp chips.
While under the load of an Earsonics SM2, the AK380’s THD numbers multiply by 22.000x. Insane. Graded on a ratio against its maximum volume, Valoq suffers much less. Of course, Valoq outputs less voltage into a pair of earphones than does the AK380. Its output is between an iPhone 6 and AK380, which is, in my opinion, about perfect for a portable device.
Valoq is a bitch to use, but - ground issues aside - it sounds great. But it’s just not for people like me.
NOTE I: I’ve misplaced my Audio Technica ES7 headphones. Apologies.
NOTE II: My DT880 is hard-wired so I can’t test it balanced.
The following Rightmark Audio Analyzer tests were conducted through this equipment.
Source: Venturecraft Valoq
ADC: Lynx Studio HILO LT-TB
Computer: 2012 27" iMac
Cables: 1,5m Hosa Pro 3,5mm stereo to dual 3-pin XLR (around 8$); and/or bespoke y-split 2,5 TRRS to dual 3-pin XLR made by Musashi Sound Technology.
NL - no load
SM2 - Earsonics SM2
DT880 - Beyerdynamic DT880/600
OPA627Au - 24-bit all loads results @+6dBV - headphone output
Muses 8802 - 24-bit all loads results @+6dBV - headphone output
Valoq sounds good. It's got problems: both hardware (grounding issues), and software/design. If you can live with the problems, its marginally rich sound is soothing and addictive may be the peas for your pod.