Iconic Audio Brand Quad has been making valve amplifiers since the forties, and its first mono valve amplifier set the audio standards of the day that saw it receive one of the highest accolades of the time when it was adopted by the BBC for its outstanding sound quality. The audio landscape has evolved considerably in the company's 80-plus year history since it first started out, but has continued with its valve-based audio expertise to this day and the VA-One joins the PA-One headphone preamp in the current One Series line of valve-based components, fusing Quad's considerable tube know-how with modern digital technology and facilities inside one of the smallest integrated amplifiers.
With a footprint measuring just 180 x 330mm, the VA-One is a remarkably compact stereo valve amplifier that boasts seven valves in all. The preamp section incorporates an ECC83 high-impedance triode, feeding an ECC82 twin triode driver and phase splitter stage. The output stage uses two EL84 pentodes per channel in push-pull configuration, delivering a claimed 2x 15W. As well as an RCA-phono input to connect analogue sources like a CD player or a turntable (when used with a suitable phono stage), the VA-One is fitted with a 24-bit/192kHz DAC that's utilised by the optical, coaxial and USB digital inputs as well as wireless Bluetooth connectivity (with aptX support) from compatible smartphone, tablet and computer music sources.
Billed as classic hi-fi for modern music lovers, the VA-One amp claims to achieve a sonic performance that's akin to classic valve amplification without unwanted colouration thanks to the highly specified output design.
Build quality is said to be impeccable both inside and out, with internal components carefully selected to ensure the VA-One maintains the company’s traditional dictum of “The closest approach to the original sound”, while external styling is classically Quad, finished in Lancaster grey. The amp’s front panel sports what is touted as a smooth-acting volume control incorporating a motorised potentiometer, allowing precise adjustment via the supplied remote control, together with a high-quality headphone output and controls for input selection and Bluetooth pairing. The VA-One is available to buy now for £1,300 and you can find out more about it here.
Want the latest issue of Hi-Fi Choice? Use our magazine locator link to find your nearest stockist!