Violectric V280 vs Headamp GS-X mini [comparison]

I want to have a thread to record my thoughts on these two beasts. I initially ordered the Drop V280 and when it was delayed indefinitely I just gave up and placed an order for the GS-X mini.

I have had the mini for about 2 weeks now and the v280 for a day.

Initial impressions of the GS-X Mini: Ive had the chance to listen to this amp with Aeon2 Closed, Focal Clear, and Audeze LCD-X. This brings really nice punch to all of these headphones, but I am most impressed with the Aeon2 with this setup. The space it creates is incredible. The delivery of highs is unoffensive and feels accurate. The bottom end is well controlled, some would refer to texture here but it just seems to have a grip on the drivers.

Fit and finish:
This thing is amazing on my desk. I ordered it in satin red, as I have a thing for red and black. Its look is really something else, industrial but balanced with practicality. The switches have a really nice solid feel, though some have some post-travel that is a bit weird if im honest. The knob feels good, a bit rough. Some praise this for being very smooth, but my standards for tactility are really high, I find it adequate. It has a nice even resistance and the size makes it clear exactly what it’s impact will be. This knob makes things LOUDER!

The power LED is white, understated, and perfectly dim/bright. The 6mm headphone output is smooth and the easiest to insert Ive ever used, very nice. The balanced output is also nice and easy to insert but feels somewhat less secure than the v280’s thonky xlr. Having gain, pre-amp, and input switches on the front make this thing astoundingly useful. I have studio monitors on my desk that are now fed by this and having that switch is incredibly useful. Being able to switch inputs is freeing as well. The gain switch sets this ahead of the V280 as having to deal with dip switches isnt something anyone wants to do.

Sound:
The detail production on this is akin (in a limited way) to the THX789. Wait wait wait. Dont imagine in any way that the 789 holds a candle to this amp, just that the detail is incredible. Unlike the 789, every bit of the detail is unoffensive, it’s alive, but not invasive (think smooth). It handles rendering detail like an OLED display. It’s very black background makes the detail pop just that bit more than any other amp Ive heard. With the clears this sounds accurate. With the LCD-X this sounds like the first time you saw 4k TV up close. The first time you used a camera that boasts over 30 megapixels. The Aeon2 to be honest arent as capable at rendering detail as the other headphones, but thats not really a problem. Theyre at their upper limit with this amp, but it sounds incredible as you know you’re getting the absolute most out of them.

Initial impressions of the V280: Not even 24 hours into having this thing. Its a long boy for sure. Finding room for it on my desk was not simple. Its 12" deep and that extra inch and a half over the GS_X is a lot to contend with. It is NOT stackable.

Fit and finish:
The depth I touched on. But other than that dimension, this is a relatively small amp. Its not much taller than the GS-X or the Bifrost2. The face has a very distinct layout with the two 6mm outputs flanking the xlr. The XLR output is the star here as it seems almost as if it’s lubricated, but locks securely in place. Very nice secure feeling.

The knob. This fucking knob kills me. Its apparently the same ALPS RK27 as in the mini, but it’s tactile. Its got distinct clicks. I was concerned at first I wouldnt have granularity. But with the dip switches on the back I have it tuned where I have tons of granular control with an incredible (very german) tactile feedback on each click. This is like a fine ZF gearbox. It has exactly the type of smoothness with positiv feedback that a user needs to know exactly whats happening. If it sounds like I’m impressed over something stupid, please realize, the ONLY interaction you have with an amplifier is with it’s switches, output ports, and the primary #1 most used interaction is the volume knob. This is how you do it. Best knob ever. Ok, enough of that.

It has a nice power switch on the front which sits just above the violet colored power LED. Just bright enough to show it on in a bright room, but doesnt distract at all in a dark room directly under my monitor. I am pleased.

Sound:
Its warm. I have heard some people describe the GS-X as slightly warm. By comparison, I can see the other side of that (GS-X is analytical). Theres not the same sense of a totally black background on this amp. but thats ok. This thing is “fun”. Its got a really engaging sound. It seems capable of rendering detail when it’s called upon, but thats not really the point of the Violectric I think. So far Ive only been able to listen to the focal Clear on this amp as my Aeons are back with Dan Clark, and the LCD-X are getting returned because my neck is not up to the task. Ill have more listening notes as I get to spend more time with this amp.

Overall Both of these amps have impressive build quality, and incredible sound. I look forward to updating and continuing this comparison.

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Honestly… I’ve been very interested and waiting to hear your thoughts of the two.

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Totally agree on the Vio volume pot…don’t know that it’s the same one, but the tactile stops on the V200 are great as well. Looking forward to seeing more impressions as you get more listening time!

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They claim to both be the same alps piece, but I’m not sure it’s true

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I have the Dact pot on my mini. Even more curious now.

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Just some general observations from passive listening on the two amps today and some from yesterday.

The v280 has a softness to it, a smoothness to the sound. I think I mentioned that the background doesn’t appear as silent, this is nice in some scenarios. It is “laid back”. It’s enjoyable, and easy to listen to.

The mini has an intensity to the sound. I like this. It’s authoritative. It’s clean, but not sterile. So fun, but accurate at the same time.

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It is nice to have options. I love my Violectric AND my LP. Two different flavours of great. Choice is awesome!

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I went into this half expecting to not be able to tell the difference. The difference between my 789 and the CTH was a lot smaller than this difference.

Choice is nice :laughing:

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It took me weeks to realize just how good the Violectric amp is. It didn’t blow me away at first, but I am more impressed with it every passing week.

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Im curious what your experience is and what about it you find most impressive.

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At first I thought the LP sounded more open/brighter and that the Violectric was not sounding as full. But the more I went back forth, the more I liked the Violectric. Also, it sounds really bassy with my Grado GH2’s and Senn HD660’s, when the music calls for it. That is no small feat. And two headphone outputs is Awesome for comparing headphones instantly. The pre-gain features means it works with just about ANY headphone.

My division right now is:
LP for balanced/Inefficient headphones.
Violectric V220 for SE/Efficient headphones, or even IEM’s.

Not sure if the V280 sounds exactly like the V220. :grinning:, but I would guess there is certainly a house sound.

Part of me wonders if a V280 wouldn’t replace the V220 AND the LP.

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Something I’m noticing about the v280 is that it doesn’t run anywhere near as hot as the mini.

And the mini has vents!!

I’m pretty sure they’re both pure class a. German efficiency?

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Depends more how much power, how the heat is sinked, and how much airflow.
Class A designs are at best 25% efficient and generally closer to 5-10%, so you’ll draw from the wall 10-20x the power the amp is providing at a particular impedance, and what’s not making sound louder is ending up as heat.

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My V220 barely even gets warm.

I’m not a fan of the heat that gets kicked off of the mini but I’ve been told it’s not as bad as a tube amp at least. For the sound though… SO GOOD. Have you noticed bass response is significantly better with high gain over low gain?

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I’ve only run it on low gain. Until about 15 mins ago when the Diana’s showed up. They fit… weird, feels like they only make contact above my ear.

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So after you get some quality time with the Diana ear pads… flip ear pads upside down to:

  1. feel the temple pressure people complain about
  2. hear bass so clear that only non-corporal entities can make otherwise as clear as they can.

I see this is a common issue. Maybe the DMs pads will help.

They do have an excellent sound btw. Holding back on making any kind of judgements until I have more time. The bass does remind me of the copious and tight bass of the LCD-X, so that’s a very promising sign

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Part of me still wishes I had the V2 instead of the Phi… but I got one hell of a deal on the phi so… that happened. Keep us all posted! It’ll take at least a week to notice the differences between amps. Enjoy the discovery process and don’t rush anything!

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I will say immediately the power from the mini is extraordinary. I’m not going to flip the dip switches on the v280 just yet to make an apples to apples comparison. But on high gain it’s a beast. These headphones soak up power like nothing I’ve seen

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