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TempoTec Variations V6 ($299ish): A new mid-fi DAP, aspiring for the bigs.

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V6

Intro: Launching soon on Kickstarter, the TempoTec V6 came my way by contact with a well-esteemed colleague in the portable market. Through some communication, and hashing out specific details, the following is a review of the V6. While the unit was provided to me for review, I have no financial gain in the product, and will state my true words. That said, this has started off as a killer offering at this price. And you though DAP’s were dead…

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Specs:

Equipped with AKM’s two latest AK4493SEQ premium chips, the new TempoTec V6 will be launched on Kickstarter soon. The V6 will have an output power of 330mW@32Ω for the 3.5mm port and 610mW@32Ω for the 4.4mm balanced port.

FEATURES

SPECS

Gear Used:

Sivga M200

Dunu Vulkan

BQEYZ Topaz

Song:

Tidal playlist (Jazz, Phish, Jeff Beck, Tommy Emmanuel)

Qobuz playlist (same)

Unboxing:

The boxing of the V6 reminds me of the older FiiO models. The ones, which came in smaller tighter packages, with not much additional space, for it really isn’t needed. I like it. Basic, necessary information adorns the back-sliding cover. Included accessories consist of screen protectors and a very nice USB-C charging cable. That’s it. And that’s all that is needed.

Build/Functions:

As far as I can tell, this is a near-production unit I have in hand. Based upon my observations, I also see nothing, which would externally (or function-wise) prevent this from going into production very soon. Sized similarly to my Shanling M6 Pro, but lighter; the V6 runs Android 8.1. Yes, this is not the latest OS, but to me it is what they do with this that makes for the simplistic system OS. The latest. Greatest OS is not necessarily the best sometimes.

Coming with a green pleather case, the unit looks the part as well. Buttons are easily accessed with the case on and the play/pause, forward/reverse buttons are easily used by the circular pattern. Use is just as good, since we all know what button controls which feature. Operating is straightforward Android as well. With the ability to use Google Play Store, you can download most of your favorite apps and email should you desire. For this review, I download, and used, Tidal or Qobuz only. I even set home screen widgets for each, which allowed my playlists to show. Includes music is through the HiBy Music app, which is just fine for SD card work. No browser is present, but each of the popular ones can be downloaded.

WiFi networks are easily accessed, as is the Bluetooth functionality. I had no issues going between my home 2g and 5g networks. And once connected to my 5g, each time I used the V6 5g would be automatically connected. Running dual AK4493SEQ DAC chips and the Snapdragon 425 CPU, allowed the V6 to operate fairly quickly, but I did note some small lag when accessing functions on both Tidal and Qobuz. 2GB RAM and 16GB ROM are on the smaller size, and this could have had something to do with the functionality as well. That said, music never stuttered, or failed to respond to my commands, once enacted.

The bottom houses the 3.5se and 4.4bal PO and LO jacks exclusively, and the USB-C charging port. This can also be used with an on-the-go cable, allowing for more access to accessories as needed. Both 4.4 ports are balanced, so you can run a completely balanced set up as well. I consider the use of separate ports almost a hearkening back to simpler times, when many DAP’s did this. I do find the need to turn the volume up to 100 on some of my DAP’s, once they enter LO mode a bit of a pain. Thankfully USB-C has taken that out of our hands in many cases, making it automatic. I find no bother either way. With SD card capability up to 1 TB, and the ability to function using the latest Codec’s, the V6 is up with the times. Power is abundant as well, with up to 330mW/32Ω in 3.5mm and 610mW/32Ω in 4.4mm makes the V6 plenty powerful. Gain between low and high is not as differentiated as other DAP’s, but to be frank; I do not mind. Quite often the jump between low and high is like going from 0’ elevation to 15,000’ in a split second. Not always advisable. You can also change channel balance, which works well with many older jazz recordings, since often the highlight instrument was slanted towards one or the other channel.

Another nice feature of the Android OS is something called MSEB, which is a cacophony of sound options ranging from overall temperature of the signature (cool/bright vs warm/dark), bass extension (light to deep), bass texture (fast to thumpy), note thickness (crisp to thick), voice (recessed/crisp to forward/radio edit), female overtones (detoxed to intoxicating), sibilance (soft to crisp), impulse response (slow/musical to fast/hard), and air (soft to crisp). As much as I wanted to alter and change the settings, I left them all at their neutral position. Changing them would have made for a monstrous review, and each user should tailor those aspects for themselves.

Sound

When a DAP first arrives, I quickly check all necessary functions as well as get on my WIFI to download Tidal & Qobuz. I also insert an SD card for local music. Concurrently I check for firmware updates. The V6 had no update but stuttered upon downloading the apps mentioned. A simple restart cleared this, and I have had no issues since. Sound-wise, the V6 lies slightly north of neutral, giving me a nice richness, but not so much that the DAP would be considered to have a warm signature, like Shanling’s. Detail wrought from the music comes across as rich, but with a succinctness to the tonality, which provided good timbre. If I were to line this up with a much more expensive DAP, one that has the same sense of clarity, you would probably be able to sense and hear he difference; but it would be up to you as to whether that extra cost is worth it. Sometimes keeping the OS simple works to the benefit.

Another factor I like in the V6 is the gain factor. Many times, going from low to high gain adds anywhere from 15-20+dB’s. Not so here, as I estimate the change is roughly 6-8dB’s. A nice chance, that also adds a bit of richness to the signature as well. I found using the Topaz from BQEYZ (review forthcoming) almost required the high gain setting, while the Dunu Vulkan (review forthcoming) was quite happy on low gain. The added warmth from high gain really showed through in the lower frequencies, adding very good depth while decay seemed a bit slower; extending the bass appeal slightly longer. This played into the richness factor, without losing the clarity coming from those AK chips. I found the mids also shown better on the Topaz and surprisingly, the Sivga M200 (review forthcoming). A dedicated earbud, with surprisingly good sound, the mids came across as rich and with very good width. This adds to the soundstage nicely, which the V6 has with good abundance. Width slightly outside your head (IEM dependent), good depth and a height, which makes for an almost square representation. As a result, spatial representation of instruments is accurate in the left/right and fore/aft placing. The V6 is coming across with high marks across the board with listening I have enjoyed so far.

As stated earlier, there are a plethora of options with MSEB, which can alter the sounds to your taste, much like an EQ would, but with regard to tone. Warmth, richness, brightness, etc can all be changed to your desired signature; which makes the V6 even more versatile. I will leave that to your own listening but suffice to say that playing with only the Overall Temperature made a difference as the signature became molasses-like with smoothness. Easily brought back to neutral by double tapping the center part of the line you change makes for easy “regression” of your altering. I will say that to change the setting requires you to hit the +/- button one at a time, instead of having a slider like the lines show. This would be much better and allow you to change settings with ease.

Conclusion

With good battery life (even when left on), MSEB to tailor the sound to your needs and the ability to run an SD card up to 1TB with no issues makes for an enticing DAP entry into the mid-fi market. Add in that even though the sound may not be dead neutral for those purists who prefer such a signature, the sound reminds me of an offspring of the Questyle QP2R and Cayin n6ii, such is the sound. Call it the undeveloped child of those brands, and one can hope it grows into a worthy addition. As such right now, though it fits in very, very well at the price target and should immediately be put on your list should you be looking for a mid-fi priced DAP. It really was a treat with which to spend time.

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