Violectric CHRONOS Review
Violectric goes portable
Pros: + Sound quality worthy of the Violectric name
+ Extended and resolving
+ Great bass
+ Open and expansive
+ Compatible with Android, Windows and iOS
+ No mobile interference
+ Three OTG cables included
+ Low power consumption
+ Excellent build quality
+ Made in Germany
Cons: – Not very powerful
– More expensive than the competition
The sample was kindly provided directly from CMA audio free of charge.
The review was first posted in www.hxosplus.gr website and now I am providing an English translation for Headfi.
The price is €199 and you can buy it directly from Violectric.
Coming from Germany, the Violectric brand founded by the legendary Fried Riem, is mostly known for producing high end headphone amplifiers and DACs that are favored amongst the community for the top notch sound and the excellent build quality albeit the high selling prices.
Unusually for their portfolio, recently they have succumbed to the market demands and released the Chronos, a USB DAC/amp dongle that is their first ever portable device.
Chronos is suitable for all mobile phones and other portable devices that are compatible with Windows, Android and iOS operating systems.
In fact the Chronos comes with three adapter cables and more specifically Lightning to Type-C, Micro-USB to Type-C and Type-C to Type-C to cover all types of connection right out of the box.
It is a very small device measuring 44.5x24x10mm and weighing just 17gr, with a USB type C input and a 3.5mm analog output while on one side there are two small buttons to adjust the volume.
The rugged case is milled from a solid piece of aluminum and has a rounded, shiny edge.
The top and bottom cover are made from glass that adds a classy appearance and protects the housing from scratching.
The top cover shows the operating modes in different colors by the means of a “VIOLECTRIC CHRONOS” flashing logo.
White when connected without playing music, green for PCM files and blue for DSD.
Sampling rates supported are up to 384kHz / 32 bit PCM and 256 bit DSD.
Digital to analog conversion and amplification duties are handled by the well-known CS43131 of Cirrus Logic, which is to be found in a dozen similar devices such as iBasso DC03 and DC04.
The power output is rated at 2x30mW / 32Ω with a voltage of 2V.
According to the official specs maximum power consumption is rated at 200mA but in real life scenario is much lower as I didn’t notice any severe battery draining.
It is obvious that the Chronos is only suitable for easy to drive earphones.
During the test I have used various iems like the FiiO FD7 and the DUNU Falcon Pro but it also fared pretty well with some high sensitivity full sized headphones like the Sennheiser HD660S.
It seems to favor high Z – high sensitivity headphones that rely on voltage rather than low Z – high sensitivity that need current.
Connecting the device is pretty simple and it worked perfectly with all operating systems without the need to install drivers, while I did not encounter any problems when playing high resolution files.
The sound is perfectly balanced and linear without tonal shifts while there is a great extension to both extremities of the frequency range.
Chronos sounds clean and crystal clear without being affected by the electromagnetic interference of the mobile antenna and noise floor is pretty low so as not to add hiss to the more sensitive earphones.
Detail retrieval is quite satisfactory for such a type of a device and with a top iem like the FD7, Chronos sounds quite resolving offering a good insight into the recording venue.
Bass is extended, full and dynamic, tight and fast with good control and excellent layering.
Vocals and solo instruments are rendered smoothly with a mostly natural timbre, fine articulation and great cohesion while blending together to reach the listener’s ears.
The sound is smooth without roughness, treble is controlled and absent of brightness while retaining all the necessary sparkle and energy for the music to sound lively.
The overall presentation is pleasant and enjoyable with all kinds of music while Chronos can draw a wide open soundstage with accurate positioning of the performers.
I have tested several similar devices with the CS43131 chip and although the theory dictates that, more or less, all of them should have sounded the same, the Chronos seems to stand out thanks to its richer tone and more analog, musical sound signature.
It is pretty obvious that Violectric’s experience has played its part and the company did not settle for a standard – ready made – solution but spent some time painstakingly tuning the Chronos to squeeze every last drop of performance from the CS43131.
At the end
The Chronos is an excellent sounding USB DAC/amp that may be more expensive than the competition but for a good reason.
It is made in Germany with great build quality, it has a luxurious appearance, comes with a complete set of OTG cables and it stands out for its slightly superior sound performance.
This is a DAC/amp worthy of top tier earphones and it gets highly recommended as long as there are no excessive requirements in terms of power output.
Copyright – Laskis Petros 2021.