She's everything you need - The new Quad Vena Integrated amplifier.
The new Vena integrated amplifier is both completely modern and affordable, yet pure Quad. We were lucky enough to have a pre-production version of the Vena arrive on our doorstep recently and we have to say, it's the highlight of our year. The NuForce DDA-100 provided a completely new standard for purist and affordable digital amplification last year (and is still the amplifier to beat at it's price level). The Quad takes everything we love about NuForce and makes it even better, with more inputs, both digital and analogue, extremely capable wireless via inbuilt BlueTooth and a sound that is at once more detailed and richer than the class leading DDA-100.
Vena really is everything you need in an amplifier. The days of needing a brutally large box are over. The Vena is compact - no bigger than it has to be with modern construction techniques but is reassuringly solid and powerful. It's power efficient so there are no large exposed heatsinks. There is a wonderful tactile quality to the operation of the Vena - the volume control generously proportioned, and smooth as it rotates. Sources are individually selected via a row of discrete soft touch buttons. If you know of Quads history, the aesthetics of the Vena go right back to some of their very early designs - but it's no retro throwback, being far better finished and appointed. The front panel's USB slot is completely 2014 and from the moment you plug your iPhone or iPod in you'll understand exactly what the Vena is all about. You can also stream music to Vena from any Bluetooth device. And Quad Vena is designed with the innovative AptX codec for CD quality audio over wireless transmission.
We first connected Carolyn's iPhone wirelessly with BlueTooth at home we were captivated to the point of spending most of our evening in awe of what the Vena was doing with what some may tell you is a less than high end source and means of transmission. It's that good. Even now, we'd suggest you first try a Vena this way - it's all about easy and there is a wonderful freedom in just having your music source in your hand, but enjoying full rich room filling sound. The next evening I was out late and came home to find Carolyn tucked in bed with her iPhone on the table and Nick Cave's new album drifting through the house. Vena and Nick Cave - who needs John?
Male insecurity aside, once we started to do more with the Vena, the more capable it proved to be. As we've pointed out - the direct connection of your iDevice is even better sounding and has the advantage of charging at the same time. There is another USB connection on the back for computers - there won't be any constraints with storage and hence file size with your laptop or desktop and so the potential quality of this input make it the one to use if at all possible. Both digital optical and coaxial inputs allow connection of other digital sources such as Airport Express, game consoles, CD and BluRay players.
Unlike the DDA-100, the Vena is also analogue capable with two line inputs. For turntables, you'll still require a phono stage, but with the proliferation of over performing affordable models from the likes of Well Tempered, Dynavector and Cambridge, this is hardly an issue - in fact any serious analogue enthusiast is always going to end up with an outboard unit anyway - there are plenty of solid design reasons for this and there really is no reason to do otherwise. And of course with any other conventional source - radio tuner, CD player etc, it's straight in.
Analogue is a word that's going to be tossed around a lot when it comes to reviews of the Vena - the sound is most definitely warm and rich from all sources and its a given that it does the trick of sounding bigger and more powerful that the stats suggest. What's hard to transmit in words is the involvement and rightness that characterizes the Vena. For anyone who has owned a Quad amplifier of any vintage, this will be hardly be a surprise. But there are things going on with the Vena that make it rather better than any of the older designs - it is a completely modern amp and while older Quads might have gained their listenability by presenting an almost softened version of the truth, the Vena lets detail shine through and has improved dynamics. It produces continual surprises as it unwinds recordings that might have previously sounded a bit muffled or confused. And yes - it is warm rather than clinical. But it does this by filling in the gaps making other amplifiers sound just a bit empty and flat.
Inside the Vena the design is relatively conventional but rigorously executed. The internal DAC section is as good if not better than that of any standalone design of similar cost to the entire amplifier. It accepts two optical, one coaxial digital, USB, BlueTooth and a frontal USB port dedicated to Apple devices. The DAC feeds into the integrated amplifier which draws its power from a large toroidal transformer. There are pre-out sockets to allow the connection of larger power amplifiers such as the Quad Elite QSP or Stereo Power Amps for enhanced performance. Or small models such as the NuForce Icon for running secondary speakers in other rooms. To further add to the comprehensive list of connections, you'll also find digital outputs - both coaxial and optical.
Your speaker choices. The new Vena is a great little value for money amplifier and so the first instinct will be to match it with similarly priced and regarded speakers - the new Monitor Audio Silver One would be an obvious choice. Our experience suggests you can really benefit from going further. A larger speaker such as the floor standing Monitor Audio Silver Six have higher efficiency than the One so actually produce more music for the same amount of power - not to mention better bass and midrange.
If you really want to hear what the Vena is capable of we should be having a conversation that includes Italian Sonus faber speakers - with the entry level Venere 1.5 model at just under $2500 for the pair, this is by no means an unreasonable consideration. Our first listen to the Vena was actually with the new Olympica 1s - it's a measure of how good the Vena is that we were completely captivated by the result - the Olympicas may be more than seven times more than than the Vena in cost, but the combination is something special in every regard - the Vena delivered the music and the Olympicas reproduced every note with a finesse we've never heard before that this level.
Our enthusiasm for the new Quad Vena amplifier has been tested by the delay in availability. While we've known of the Vena since early in the year, and had plenty of time with the first sample unit, it's only just been officially launched and while we've got a couple especially air-shipped, the full order arrives in about two more weeks - our understanding is that the full launch has been delayed by the commissioning of the new Quad factory. Yet over this time, we've been more and more impressed by the abilities of the newest Quad. Every time we pull one in, it immediately sounds at least as good, if not better than we remembered. Sher really is everything you need.
Quad products stand alone in the Hi-Fi world - renowned for their longevity; quality of build; and consistently high standard of performance. Since 1936, Quad has been at the very cutting edge of high-end audio winning acclaim and respect for our products around the world.
Quad’s award winning service department regularly maintains products over 50 years in age; Products which still bring their owners immeasurable pleasure. Their build quality, and reputation for service is unequalled in the world of consumer electronics. In all Quad's product development, they are proud of ensuring the philosophy of their founder, Peter Walker, remains consistent - to produce '...the closest approach to the original sound.'
Quad products are designed with the single aim of reproducing recorded music as accurately as possible. Simplicity of use and elegance of design are purely consequential to the application of sensible engineering principles. Quad have never sought to design statement pieces or style icons, yet almost every Quad product has become regarded as such.
If you make a significant purchase from us you’ll receive a special gift and we’ll donate to WWF–NZ. We appreciate you have chosen to purchase from us and by doing so you are helping us help nature.
We’ve chosen WWF because they are a large organisation who can make a difference. They have a broad program while focusing on the areas that are of greatest concern and there is excellent research behind the work they do. We’ll then be helping the earth and it’s creatures survive making the world a better place to live. As a customer of Totally Wired you will be instrumental in achieving this worthy goal.
Totally Wired Limited
The Terrace Houses
217 Stuart Street
NZ Toll Free