Sound Quality – Subjective Listening
I haven’t tried the previous VorzAMP Pure and Pure II before, so I have no idea what to expect with this amplifier. I also didn’t expect that this would be a warm amplifier since it’s primarily geared towards the purists. First, I used my Heir Audio 8.A and 3.Ai CIEMs to see how low the noise is at low gain setting. The background was surprisingly very silent at low gain setting and I couldn’t hear any hiss or noise coming out from my CIEMs. This is (almost) the same experience I felt when using the ALO Audio RX. Bumping the gain to mid setting, that’s when the hiss started to surface, specially at high gain. But who would listen at high gain using a pair of IEMs? Not unless you want to damage your ears severely.
Low gain setting alone was very much enough to drive all my IEMs, including the dynamic ones like Campfire Audio’s Lyra. When using headphones, I’d rather bump up to mid gain setting. The VorzAMP Pure II+ can drive easy to drive headphones at low gain, but you will have to turn the volume knob all the way to get a comfortable listening volume. I didn’t like that, so switching to mid gain setting was the more convenient for me. High gain was too much already for my headphones and I’m quite confident that it can easily drive higher impedance headphones without any problem.
I think how the company set the spread between one gain setting to another is just perfect. However, I would prefer the switch to be Low -> Mid -> High, rather than Low -> High -> Mid. But then again, probably one reason why Vorzüge set it that way is because the Low and the Mid are the most commonly used gain setting. It would be easier to flip the switch from top to bottom and vice versa, rather than stopping mid-way.
In terms of sound quality, Vorzüge was serious when they said “being an amplifier that is the dream of the Purist”. It really is. The sound quality is above from what I expected. It was PURE bliss! For me, the overall tonality was somewhat on the bright side, rather on the warmer side like most DAC/AMPs I have tested before. Pairing the VorzAMP Pure II + with warmer headphones, like the B&W P7 or the MH40 from Master & Dynamic, was a very good combination. The synergy was excellent, as if it was complementing one another.
Every detail of the sound was just there, accurate, amplified, brought to life, and it’s definitely not coloured nor distorted in anyway. However, I didn’t like much the combination of a (tad) bright headphone with the PURE II+. For me, it sounds like the headphone just became brighter, probably the treble were emphasized in some way. Not that it didn’t sound good, but it’s just not my cup of tea. An example would be pairing it with the Grado SR225e. For me the SR225e is a neutral headphone that leans towards the bright side. It has a great treble and sound staging. But I felt that it lacks the punch when it comes to bass. I’d rather pair the SR225e with a warmer DAC or Amplifier, like the iFi Micro iDSD or ALO’s The International +, to bring its bass out.
On to the conclusion part…
Price and Availability
The VorzAMP Pure II + (Plus) is now available and can be purchased directly from Vorzuge.com. At the time this article was published, it comes with a retail price of $615. You can choose from Signal Black, like the one reviewed here, or Ivory Pearl. I’m not sure if the Ivory Pearl has a glossy surface, but it does look like a (semi) glossy surface. Vorzüge is also selling a leather pouch for the VorzAMP for $53 USD, just in case you need a leather pouch. You also get 25% discount on all accessories products when you purchase any VorzAMP.
VorzAMP Pure II + Review: Conclusion
I’ve been using the VorzAMP Pure II+ (Plus) for several months before I published this review. I’m really impressed by its sound quality. I don’t really consider myself a Purist; probably I am, probably not. Regardless of that, I love the performance and (specially) the sound quality of this little beast. It’s truly a state of art and sound engineering at its finest. Honestly, I haven’t tested other portable amplifiers from its direct competition. And there are several boutique companies out there who make portable amplifiers as well. So it’s too early for me to fully conclude that the VorzAMP Pure II+ is the best there is. But I’m certain that, based on its sound quality, this is neither an entry level nor a mid-level amplifier. It definitely belongs with the top class and probably one of the best there is.
What’s not to like? Well, there’s none really. Battery life is great, sound quality is fantastic and it’s more what I expected. If I have to nitpick, I guess the volume plastic knob. I’m probably spoiled by aluminium knobs. A glossy black surface would be good option as well, and the price may be a restricting factor for some.
Update: I was informed that the volume knob is actually made of aluminum and its anodized black.
If you are coming from a VorzAMP Pure and would like to upgrade, getting the Pure II+ may be a good investment for you. However, if you already have a PURE II, I’m not sure if it will offer much or something new. I was told that the sound signature and quality between the PURE II and PURE II+ can hardly be noticed or differentiated.
Finally, I find the VorzAMP PURE II+ to be a very capable portable amplifier, whether you’re a headphone guy or an IEM user. If you value the purity of the music and you simply want the best there is, you should definitely consider the PURE II+ on top of your list.