Musical Fidelity V-Link with Rega DAC REVIEW

This is MAINLY a review of the Musical Fidelity V-Link which converts the USB from my Mac Mini to a coax and enables Hi-Res playback through the Rega DAC.

The unit is small, perhaps twice the size of a pack of cigarettes and finished in black. The newer version of the unit is silver BTW and sells for closer to 200.00. The version 1 I'm using has been on sale for an amazing 99.00! Connections takes all of a few minutes. The unit is powered by the USB connection and it also has power and signal lights, both of which are too bright. In fact I don't think I've ever seen indicator lights so bright on any equipment!

The unit is connected via Cardas HD cable, resting on home made dense latex sponge feet just like the Rega DAC is.

(As a side note my friend and I used the V-Link previously when comparing the EE Minimax Plus Dac and Rega DAC. He has sold the Minimax and bought a Rega DAC to replace it. I should point out that he's a turntable lover and finds the Rega leans in that direction.)

The Mac Mini is software tweaked and loaded with memory. Pure Music was used. The best news I can give anyone is that the V-Link sounded utterly transparent overall. Nothing was lost and a few things gained. This may be credited to the V-Link or the Rega's spdif connection, but bass was tighter and soundstage depth also improved. The soundstage advantage was subtle, but the improvement in bass was quite easy to hear. It still took very careful listening to spot any difference with the V-link. Hi Res files sounded great, though I have not listened in depth enough to make any comments regarding comparison to 16 bit counterparts. Dubious of the hi res advantage I was more worried about losing something with the converter and am pleased that it's quite the opposite.

The bottom line....
The Mac Mini is my new serious source. With the Rega DAC and V-Link I'm getting more realism than I have ever heard from my system with CD players. My friend, who's system is vastly larger, is now using the Rega/Mac combo as well. He has abandoned some pretty good players, including the ARC. Still, it's VERY important to remember that everything we've tried, including my el-cheapo Oppo player ALL sounded excellent. It's down to what we call "micro-differences." The V-Link is a wonderful addition to my system and the fact that it's also a bargain isn't so bad either!

Happy New year!

Thanks Rob. Can you explain why you use USB rather than SPDF out of the Mac Mini?


So far as I understand, the only way to get hi res via the Rega DAC is with the converter. The USB on the Rega is only 16 bit, so the USB out from the Mac, through the V-Link to the Rega DAC was the best route.

I am so pleased with the sound of the Mac/Rega that I'm done with that end of the system and now focused on having my Merlin TSM-MXr speakers upgraded to Masters and tweaking other parts of my system.

Happy new year!

Thanks for your review. Do you have the 2011 Mac Mini? Have you tried the optical ouput of the Mac Mini? My understanding is the 2011 Mac Mini optical oputput is capable of 24/196.

Thanks, Dale
I do have the latest Mac Mini, but I was told that it's optical was not the best way to go. I admit that I never tried it...guilty!

I was also under the impression that the Rega DAC did best with SPDIF.

Sorry...meant SPDIF coax instead of optical.

I'm using the optical spdif out on my laptop into the Rega. There's a noticeable improvement in the mids compared with going directly USB. In the latter instance, I felt the highs and lows were extended but the mids were left behind. I've thought about getting a vlink but I'm not sure it will add anything at this point except for the extra cable.
Thanks for your response. Just bought the Rega DAC, next the Mac Mini. Will probably start out using the optical and see how it goes. I intend to use this optical cable: Wireworld Supernova 6 Glass Toslink Digital Cable. It comes with a mini toslink end.

I also have a Rega DAC, which I have only used for CD playback thus far. I just purchased a refurbished macbook, however, and am interested in the V-Link. I have a few basic technical questions. Do you just need one coaxial spdif cable, connecting from the converter to the DAC, or do you also need a usb cable FROM the computer and TO the converter? Or does the V-link connect directly to the computer USB port?

Secondly, what are some good cables that FIT with this particular set-up?
Hi robbob, nice review.
Although you should investigate 2 things..
It seems universal that the optical out of the "new" Mac mini is the way to go... If older definitely use the USB.
The optical out of the v-link will give you better sound than the coax. The reps even say so.
Maybe a follow up review?
Have fun!
The optical out of the v-link will give you better sound than the coax.

Martin Colloms in his review in HiFi Critic found out that the TosLink digital out has less jitter. So it makes sense.
Hello, I am now embarking on conversion to a computer-based system. Like many, I am going to use a Mac (specifically an older Macbook, circa 2007, but eventually will put it all on a Mac Mini) feeding into a Rega DAC. I'm in the process of uploading everything to Apple Lossless.

Can someone please explain the purpose of the Musical Fidelity V-Link? I was planning to connect the Mac directly to the Rega via optical port with the Wireworld Supernova 6. Why are many people inserting this intermediary step of the V-Link? I've read the threads, but I think I'm missing something fundamental.
Wow-I just saw the orinal post, and it was like I wrote it myself. I have a MacMini (not the latest), Rega Dac, Vlink, Pure Music - even down to the Cardas USB cable!

There is no doubt in mind that the Vlink addition to the USB chain was a huge improvement. Not only are clicks and hesitations completely gone, but the the sound has cleaned up dramatically.

I am using coax from the Vlink, but previous posts will make me listen to optical a little closer.

My only question is whether or not the Vlink II is any better, which is capable of 192?
I just put all my cd's on an HP laptop and connected a V-Link II to it (usb) which is connected to a Benchmark DAC-1 (original) via fiber optic. I haven't tried to do any side by side comparisons but it seems to be noticeably more detailed. I was previously using a Sony DVP 7700 as a transport. Maybe it has cleaned up some jitter or RF noise? Who knows, but it really sounds good. The V-Link II is only 24/96 though. You have to get the V-Link 192 to get 24/192. I'm using an Audible Illusions S120A amp, Audible Illusions L-1 pre-amp, Polk LSI-15 speakers, and plane jane cables/connectors.

V-Link I and V-Link II are exactly the same. The only difference is a new box. They are both limited to 24/96.

To be able to play 24/192 files, you need a V-Link 192, which is another model (or better still - Audiophilleo 2 @ $579).
I've connected my my mac to my DAC Rega Io via the V-Link 2 USB-SPDIF converter, but nothing happens: the light on the DAC blinks as if there was no signal (connections are fine, sound output set to V-Link).
Does anybody understand why?
Jondemenge -
Using a similar set up with Mac Air. 1st gen V-Link to V-DAC via TosLink. MBA
to V-Link via Kimber USB. 3 "preferences" to check: System utility
"sound"; Midi Audio & any playback software you are running. In my
case, BitPerfect. Make sure V-Link is identified as output device in all. Maybe
this will help.
And it worked! Just changed Format to 44100Hz in Output format in Audio Midi Set up. Thanks for putting an end to 2 days of frustration...
Jon - glad that worked.
What connection are you using from your V-Link to the Rega DAC? Recently purchased a genuine glass fiber TOSLINK cable from "Unique Products" . You can find it on Amazon. Price was only $26 and they were very prompt with shipping. Got the tip on this glass TOSLINK from another thread, elsewhere on A'gon. Further up in the thread here, TOSLINK out from V-link is reported to be better than coax. which I had been using. For $26 it might be worth trying.