UPDATE: Vorzüge have now released PURE II+, which betters PURE II in a few key areas. It costs 50$ more. And, I have written about it here at ohm, and here at Headfonia.
No matter how amazing Vorzüge’s previous PURE was, today’s PURE II completely blows it away. The violence is almost illicit. As long as your requirements are explicitly portable, the PURE II may be the best-sounding headphone amplifier at any price. It’s that good.
Gain: -1dB, 8dB or 15dB
Silver Solder with Gold Compound using Mundorf™ Silver-Gold solder.
Gold Plated PCB
Top Grade Metal Film Resistor
The Right Metallic Capacitors
Battery: Lithium-ion 2100mAh
Made in SINGAPORE/GERMANY
Vorzüge VorzAMPure II 595$ USD
ohmage & porridge: haptics
PUREII offers much the same experience as the original PURE. Its guts are stuffed into the same tight, pocketable chassis, the only difference being that that chassis comes now in black or whiteish. All the necessary audio ins and outs are still easily accessible from the front panel. The first difference is the installation of a micro-USB charging port. Gone is mini-USB. This should elicit praises from Android users who probably have forests of micro-USB cables at home. The second difference is the addition of a new three-step gain switch. It is the single best upgrade to the VorzAMP line. The reason is that its various gain levels allow PURE II to fit the needs of pretty much any portable headphone out there. Even the most sensitive of earphones can be driven at reasonable volume levels whilst attaining perfect left/right balance. There isn’t much bad to report. Yes, the front panel is cramped, and yes- OH, yes… that lamp. That damn, damn lamp. Far too bright, far too obnoxious. Will audiophiles have to wait for the PURE III in order to enjoy our Vorz amps at their bedsides?
Vorzüge: ALO Audio’s Rx MKIII-B+ has got bedside ergonomics down pat. The only other thing that has me scratching my head is the gain switch. It is too easy to switch into high gain from low gain.
ohmage & porridge: kitsch and quality
All the parts that made me coo about the original PURE are still there. Mounting hardware is countersunk. The chassis is light but strong. A single screwdriver can open the entire amp. That last item points directly to Vorzüge’s German design engine, which obviously, is thorough.
Under the bonnet, components and layout are a thing of beauty. Audio in and out ports are encased in metal sheaths. This amp will look great even AFTER you’ve committed the worst acts of wear and tear to soil it. The coating has changed to one less prone to pick up prints and goo, so go ahead and give it the finger. Suffice it to say that the PURE II’s machining is perfect- well nearly so.
Vorzüge have cut costs in a couple of areas. First, the volume pot lost its engraved position marker. Instead, it makes do with a thin - and easily marked - line of paint. Secondly, where there were two bolts in the volume pot, there is now only one. I can dig that. What I still don’t dig is the overly bright lamp, nor the rattle rattle the PURE II makes when shaken.
Glaringly bright though its lamp may be, the PURE II sounds fantastically smooth and rich. As per previous VorzAMP’s, noise is flawlessly excised. Even the most sensitive of earphones will fail to elicit more than the barest of background whispers. That low noise floor is coupled to an excellent gain stage that is able to attain perfect left/right balance at comfortable listening levels- something hitherto Vorz amps failed to do.
PURE II outperforms its forebears by a good margin. In fact, it far surpasses the measurable output quality of just about anything out there. Even the iBasso’s DX100 line out, which became my sterling benchmark in 2012, can’t keep up with the unloaded signal the PURE II is capable of reproducing. The PURE II will never, ever, bottleneck your portable system. Even when strapped to earphones that drop to insanely impedance levels, it retains dynamic range, noise levels, and IMD that are off the charts. Irrespective of the headphone, that never changes. Stereo separation, alone, drops just below -80dB when driving the formidable Earsonics SM2. For reference, the ALO Audio Rx MKIII-B+ drops below -70dB driving the same earphones. This blithe disregard for whatever is plugged into its output makes the PURE II one of if not the best portable IEM amp on the planet.
Where it struggles is with delivering insanely strong signals at insane volumes to headphones with stiff voltage/current requirements like the Audeze LCD-3, the Hifiman HE-6, and their ilk. Comfortable listening levels are attained easily, but at dangerous listening levels, grain, sizzle, and more, douse the PURE II’s otherwise perfect image.
Despite measuring far better than any headphone amplifier I have tested to date, the PURE II manages to sound good. Really good. Subtle is its aroma, and mature its flavour. PURE II spits out lush, musical sound. Mostly it disappears, silently taking the heat from your player and pumping it back out through its own outputs. Vocals and guitars are inviting, low end presence is felt, and highs melt. It is music the way music wants to be heard: free of aberration, free of pulls at all stops.
Its extremely low noise floor entices excites its details from music. Mids spread far and wide, and are supported by equally detailed, equally spacious highs and lows. Instrument separation is über-keen. The full effect is that you sink into the music, possibly like you never have before.
The gotcha to all of this is that you need to be listening to IEMs, portable headphones, or high-Ω, low-current phones like the DT880, which the PURE II easily runs to aberration-free levels at all gain settings. I’m most comfortable with the combo at low gain at a pot setting of about 65%.
If toughly ten hours of playback time is enough for you, in truth, I can recommend no portable headphone amp for your IEMs and portable headphones above Vorzüge’s PURE II. It is a thing of special beauty. The few haptic concerns I have with it are not enough to dissuade my conclusion that Vorzüge have reinvented the hi-end portable headphone amp.
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