Quad launch the Quad Vena - Wireless Bluetooth DAC headphone and integrated amp - press release

Review - Quad Vena

Quad Vena

Quad launch the Quad Vena - Wireless Bluetooth DAC headphone and integrated amp - press release
T he £599.95 Quad Vena is a compact integrated amplifier and headphone amp sporting a wide range of digital and analogue inputs, plus superior-quality wireless streaming over Bluetooth with aptX support. Just 313mm wide, the diminutive Vena updates the familiar Quad aesthetic, yet remains distinctly ‘Quad’. A neat row of source-selection buttons and a large, smooth-acting volume control adorn its fascia – smartly proportioned and elegantly functional.

Beneath the hood lies thoroughbred Quad engineering. Vena’s built-in DAC (Digital-to-Analogue Converter) incorporates the same high-performance 24-bit/192kHz chipset used in the company’s flagship Platinum CD player and, as one expects of Quad, the Class AB power amp section sports exemplary design and implementation, delivering richer musicality than similarly priced Class D amplifiers can muster. A high quality headphone source is also built in, accessed via a front-mounted socket.

Simplicity is key to Vena’s design. Quad’s engineers selected Bluetooth wireless transmission to ensure compatibility with the widest possible range of devices, and pairing the amp with smartphones, tablets, PCs and Macs is easy. Vena feels like a traditional hi-fi amplifier, with its uncomplicated front-mounted controls and neat remote, yet its specification is state-of-the-art.

Copious cable connections enhance the amp’s flexibility. Inputs for digital source components comprise two optical and one coaxial, plus two asynchronous USB DAC sockets: one Type A, the other Type B. The latter is the type most commonly used for connecting PCs/Macs to audio devices like Vena; the former allows Apple iDevices to be docked, charged and played via a cable connection. Digital outputs are also provided, in optical and coaxial flavours. Analogue signals are catered for by two stereo RCA inputs, while pre-out sockets permit the addition of an external power amp. In terms of Bluetooth, support for the aptX codec ensures the best possible audio quality when streaming from suitably equipped devices.

The Quad Vena’s sound is richly musical, delivering an effortless, wide-bandwidth performance with free-breathing dynamics. Above all, it lets the music do the talking, imposing little of its own character to ensure the listener hears what the artist intended. It’s all about fidelity to the source – this has always been Quad’s way of doing things, and it’s the reason Quad products are still revered worldwide some eight decades after the company was founded. Quad’s traditional slogan – ‘the closest approach to the original sound’ – still holds true in everything the company makes.

Smart aesthetics and neat design are important to today’s music lovers. Vena’s small footprint (compared to many amps in its class) allows flexible positioning and ensures the amp slips neatly into a range of environments. The Quad Vena is finished in Quad’s classic ‘Lancaster Grey’ as standard, augmenting the metalwork’s smoothly curved edges to create an elegantly understated appearance.

For those with more exotic tastes, three premium finish options will launch later this year – piano black, piano white and real rosewood – ensuring Vena complements any domestic setting.

Vena is an exceptionally neat and convenient way to bring true high-fidelity sound to today’s digital music collections and myriad playback devices – from smartphones, tablets, PCs and Macs to traditional hi-fi separates.

It’s available from mid-August in the standard Lancaster Grey finish, at an RRP of £599.95. The
three premium finish options will launch towards the end of 2014 and add £100 to the price tag.

Specifications – Quad Vena

■ Preamplifier Section

• Analogue input sensitivity 450mV
• Analogue input impedance 10kΩ (unbalanced)
• Output voltage 2.3V (max)
• Output impedance 470Ω
• Analogue inputs 2 x RCA (Aux 1, Aux 2)
• Analogue outputs 1 x RCA (pre-out)

■ Power Amplifier Section

• Power output 2 x 45W RMS (8Ω)
• Gain 32dB
• Frequency response -0.5dB (20Hz-20kHz, ref.1kHz)
• Total harmonic distortion (THD) <0.009% (10W, 1kHz)
• Signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) ≥108dB (A-weighted, ref.45W)

■ Digital Section

• DAC Cirrus Logic CS4398
• Sampling frequency 44.1 – 192kHz
• Bluetooth Includes aptX codec support
• Digital inputs 2 x optical, 1 x coaxial, 1 x USB B-type, 1 x USB A-type (Apple iDevice dock)
• Digital output 1 x coaxial, 1 x optical

Of all the British high-end hi-fi brands, Quad boasts the longest and most distinguished history. The company has been at the cutting edge of audio since 1936, continually pushing back the boundaries of performance with technologies both new and established. In 1953, the Quad II valve amplifier was launched, setting new standards for audio amplification, and three years later Quad invented the first full-range electrostatic speaker – later known as the legendary quad ESL 57.Throughout the ensuing years, Quad products have continued to win worldwide acclaim, building a reputation for excellence that bears comparison with the most distinguished brands in any field. Quad has been part of the International Audio Group (IAG) since 1998, following its acquisition from the Verity Group (alongside Wharfedale). The company’s design and technical support teams and much-admired servicing department continue to be based in Cambridgeshire, England, supported by key personnel who have worked with Quad for decades. IAG’s exceptional resources and unrivalled audio manufacturing facilities ensure that Quad’s current range boasts many award-winning products, including the latest generation of ESL electrostatic speakers, class-leading valve amplifiers, dynamic ‘box’ speakers and a range of solid-state audio electronics that fuse high-end performance with innovative connectivity. 78 years after its formation, Quad continues to be driven by the philosophy of its founder, Peter Walker, to produce “the closest approach to the original sound”.

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