Virtue Audio Nirvana IC & Speedfreak digital IC


Have had these for 2 mos now and am very satisfied. Outstanding choice for budget-minded audiophiles. These replaced Audioquest Black Mamba II and Better Cables Silver Serpent IC’s, and Cardas High Speed Digital Coaxial IC.

Customer service with Virtue Audio is very personal and responsive, as they are a small operation. There was a minor issue with the PayPal link from their website, but this was resolved quickly. Also, due to Virtue’s small size, turnaround time from order to shipping is a few days longer than other online retailers, but their quality makes it worth the wait.

NIRVANA IC’s
Rich midrange, sweet, glare-free highs, and wide and deep soundstaging.
- Compared to Audioquest Black Mamba II: Nirvana had more palpable, richer midrange--vocals were realistic and superb on Nirvanas. Nirvana highs were also sweeter without being rolled off or less detailed. Highs and upper mids were more pronounced on Mambas, leading to more glare and listening fatigue, especially with vocals. Bass was warmer on Nirvanas, a little tighter with Black Mambas. Both went respectably deep. Nirvanas had superior soundstage and imaging; soundstage extended deeper and wider than Mambas, beyond walls of listening room, and imaging was more precise on Nirvanas. Acoustically recorded music like choral and power symphonic pieces (e.g., Verdi Requiem and Mahler) were holographic and explosive on Nirvanas; they made my speakers and walls disappear, and brought the concert hall into my room.
- Compared to Better Cables Silver Serpent: Nirvanas stomped them. Silver Serpents were smooth but veiled and closed in compared to Nirvanas. All the qualities mentioned above catapulted the Nirvanas to another level above the Silver Serpents. Difference between Nirvanas and Silver Serpents was greater than that between Nirvanas and Black Mambas.

SPEED FREAK DIGITAL COAXIAL IC:
Speed Freak was smoother and richer than the Cardas, with less glare in upper mids and highs. Otherwise, the Cardas was pretty close to the Speed Freak in bass, soundstaging, and imaging. Overall, the price ($49) and glare-free quality of Virtue Audio Speed Freak recommend it highly.

Associated equipment:
PS Audio PCA-2 preamp
Bryston 4B ST amp
Sony NS999ES universal player as transport and SACD source
Centrance DACminiCX DAC
Wyred4Sound Remedy Reclocker
Musical Fidelity X-10 v3 tube buffer
Audioquest Bedrock biwire speaker cables
Mirage OMD 15 speakers
Hsu Research VTF2 mk3 subwoofer
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