VAC 452 iQ review in Stereophile

An extremely enthusiastic subjective review by Michael Fremer - the kind of review that makes people say "I want them!" - followed by a measurement sections showing disappointing very poor measurements of signal to noise ratio by John Atkinson. Should we conclude that poor SNR improves sound quality? ;) The recent review of the new Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems Momentum HD line preamplifier also shows a similar behavior - much improved sonics compared to the previous version, but extremely poor measurements of signal to noise ratio, much worst than the ones of the previous model.
 

Comments

adyc

VIP/Donor
Jan 6, 2013
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I have had these speakers for years and never heard any metallical coloration. Don’t even know what it is.

get great transparency to musical performance, electrostatic clarity in the midrange, but better on the extremes... near horn dynamics... just pure joy

They do need a room with a lot of absorptive and reflective surfaces. If the room is not up to par, it’s bad news... a lot of guys use SMT wings to delay the waves that come from alll over and help with imaging ...

amp-wise, if someone doesn’t use MBL amps because of Ss allergies, cost, or something else, the consensus best is symphonic line kraft, which is the least ss sounding amp ever...may be used with a tube preamp, which is a great thing to many.., the others amps sound soft and can’t get the melon to sound right.. most amps sound like a pussy....and I’ve lifted a lot of amps before , screwed over my back, cut my hands... just knocked off the toe nail on the big toe... hurts like a b!tch, ouch!!!

like everything else , it’s about personal preference in this hobby. Things move you or don’t.
Add VAC to the list. I had VAC to drive MBL 101 before. I have said many times before. VAC 450 drives 101 better than 9011. Much more dynamics and musical. Problem is that tubes keep blowing.
 

Lagonda

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Feb 4, 2014
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Add VAC to the list. I had VAC to drive MBL 101 before. I have said many times before. VAC 450 drives 101 better than 9011. Much more dynamics and musical. Problem is that tubes keep blowing.
That is the ultimate in dynamics’s ! ;)
 

morricab

Well-Known Member
Apr 25, 2014
4,389
998
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Switzerland
Add VAC to the list. I had VAC to drive MBL 101 before. I have said many times before. VAC 450 drives 101 better than 9011. Much more dynamics and musical. Problem is that tubes keep blowing.
Interesting, as I have stated earlier, I have only heard them with MBL amps and would not be satisfied with that ultimately. Did you blow so many tubes? I have owned many tube amps and while tubes go bad (crackle, hiss etc.) I have never had one blow up or fail suddenly and take out a section of the amp...maybe I have been lucky. Or did you mean something similar to what I am describing?
 

adyc

VIP/Donor
Jan 6, 2013
505
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Interesting, as I have stated earlier, I have only heard them with MBL amps and would not be satisfied with that ultimately. Did you blow so many tubes? I have owned many tube amps and while tubes go bad (crackle, hiss etc.) I have never had one blow up or fail suddenly and take out a section of the amp...maybe I have been lucky. Or did you mean something similar to what I am describing?
VAC has some protection system. When the tube fails, the fault signal will lit up. A new KT88 tube will only last two months. However, I gave up as I’m tired of keep changing tubes. But VAC 450 sounds damn good.
 
May 30, 2010
16,756
1,591
720
Portugal
Halcro is all but gone, those mentioned are going strong. The market is speaking. Those mentioned all have changed voicing. So I think the adaptiive capabilities of these companies has surely had something to do with their continuing success.
FYI Halcro has a new owner and is making a comeback with new designs ,I for one will be interested in giving them an audition.
 

JackD201

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
11,644
621
660
Manila, Philippines
FYI Halcro has a new owner and is making a comeback with new designs ,I for one will be interested in giving them an audition.
XV-1 pointed that out thanks.
 
Likes: XV-1
Jul 25, 2017
16
4
18
Paris
Only in inappropriate systems or rooms. That characteristic sheen is really horrible, but once we managed to get rid of it they sound magnificent. I once was trying amplifiers with the 101b with the help of a friend and, for example, at that time in my room a Krell sounded metallic, but a french amplifier that was not very expensive sounded sweet and full bodied with plenty of presence. Apologies I can't remember the brand.
I must say that I never listened to a decent show demo of them - the best I listened was in an acquaintance room completely paneled with natural wood.

Cables were also very important - the old Straightwire Virtuoso SS was my choice at that time.
Ampliton ?
 

Skanda

Active Member
May 3, 2020
88
118
33
I have had these speakers for years and never heard any metallical coloration. Don’t even know what it is.

get great transparency to musical performance, electrostatic clarity in the midrange, but better on the extremes... near horn dynamics... just pure joy

They do need a room with a lot of absorptive and reflective surfaces. If the room is not up to par, it’s bad news... a lot of guys use SMT wings to delay the waves that come from alll over and help with imaging ...

amp-wise, if someone doesn’t use MBL amps because of Ss allergies, cost, or something else, the consensus best is symphonic line kraft, which is the least ss sounding amp ever...may be used with a tube preamp, which is a great thing to many.., the others amps sound soft and can’t get the melon to sound right.. most amps sound like a pussy....and I’ve lifted a lot of amps before , screwed over my back, cut my hands... just knocked off the toe nail on the big toe... hurts like a b!tch, ouch!!!

like everything else , it’s about personal preference in this hobby. Things move you or don’t.
caesar, i recently purchased and installed an sl kraft 300mk3 stereo. completely agree with your comments - a very underrated/unkown amp that has a tone that can put most of the big $ amps to shame. granted this isn't cheap either haha. i have heard the mbl 101emk2 on the class d mbl electronics: great sound but I couldn't help but think that the kraft would synergize very well with the 101. do you think 1 kraft is sufficient for a medium-to-small room?

i should also add that my magicos have never sounded more natural and at ease than with the krafts. they love the power and it helps them open up.

for anyone who has not heard the krafts: imagine an 845 tube amp that pumps out 500watts...it's really something worth seeking out for a demo.
 

knghifi

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2014
140
11
223
VAC has some protection system. When the tube fails, the fault signal will lit up. A new KT88 tube will only last two months. However, I gave up as I’m tired of keep changing tubes. But VAC 450 sounds damn good.
If you still have the VAC, try KT150. It's a more durable, reliable and neutral tube. I know a VAC 450 owner prefers KT150 in his monos.
 

Kingrex

Well-Known Member
Feb 4, 2019
246
132
50
I was hoping this thread would be more about VAC amps. It pretty much started out and stayed a solid state versus tube thread. I was hoping people would talk trickle down and how the statement affects the Signature line. Mike with audioshark seems pretty smitten over the Signature. Of course hes a dealer but I wonder how good it is. Has anyone brought one home and compared it to the Phi line.
 

awsmone

Well-Known Member
Apr 7, 2014
1,385
239
285
Canberra Australia
I heard phi 200 mono version on my CLX and that was the best amp I have heard on my CLX, I wish I had bought them , but thought price for an old amp was a bit much at the time , these ran kt88 and 6sn7 if memory serves me correct

i found the timbre very realistic and they weren’t harsh as many solid state I tried were just my 2 cents, they were also very well built
 
Likes: bonzo75

awsmone

Well-Known Member
Apr 7, 2014
1,385
239
285
Canberra Australia
Add VAC to the list. I had VAC to drive MBL 101 before. I have said many times before. VAC 450 drives 101 better than 9011. Much more dynamics and musical. Problem is that tubes keep blowing.
the amp I heard on mbl 101 which impressed me were the TAD monos with some glorious and expensive Spanish cables whose name escapes me
was an all Tad electronics and was great sound
 
Likes: sujay

caesar

Well-Known Member
May 31, 2010
3,444
213
498
Add VAC to the list. I had VAC to drive MBL 101 before. I have said many times before. VAC 450 drives 101 better than 9011. Much more dynamics and musical. Problem is that tubes keep blowing.
Yes, that would be awesome. Another tube one that would be amazing to try would be some Atma-sphere OTLs
 

caesar

Well-Known Member
May 31, 2010
3,444
213
498
I was hoping this thread would be more about VAC amps. It pretty much started out and stayed a solid state versus tube thread. I was hoping people would talk trickle down and how the statement affects the Signature line. Mike with audioshark seems pretty smitten over the Signature. Of course hes a dealer but I wonder how good it is. Has anyone brought one home and compared it to the Phi line.
That would be cool, indeed. The reality, however, is that VAC is very expensive. There is not a large amount of owners, and many of the ones that exist don't necessarily hang out on audio forums. But, yeah, would love to hear that also
 

caesar

Well-Known Member
May 31, 2010
3,444
213
498
caesar, i recently purchased and installed an sl kraft 300mk3 stereo. completely agree with your comments - a very underrated/unkown amp that has a tone that can put most of the big $ amps to shame. granted this isn't cheap either haha. i have heard the mbl 101emk2 on the class d mbl electronics: great sound but I couldn't help but think that the kraft would synergize very well with the 101. do you think 1 kraft is sufficient for a medium-to-small room?

i should also add that my magicos have never sounded more natural and at ease than with the krafts. they love the power and it helps them open up.

for anyone who has not heard the krafts: imagine an 845 tube amp that pumps out 500watts...it's really something worth seeking out for a demo.
Hi Skanda,

Yes, the folks who have heard Symphonic Line are a lucky bunch, as your description nails it right on the head. And it's hard to imagine a better amplifier on Magicos.

As far as MBL 101s go, I think the 300 would be a an incredible starting point in a medium to small room. I would take them over any of the MBL amps. But I would save also save my schekels for a second KRAFT stereo amp or a pair of monos. (Heck, if funds allow, I would contact Rolf Gemein to build you a Kraft 400; he has a few chases left, I believe, unless you can find some on the used market).

The reason for bi-amping is that I believe that room size - amp relationship is only part of the story. It's not only about playing loud. A bi-amp situation improves dynamics, transparency, separation, and the ease of flow of the music.

Nevertheless, the MBL 101 with a single kraft stereo is pure bliss.
 

Lagonda

VIP/Donor
Feb 4, 2014
1,414
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525
Denmark
Hi Skanda,

Yes, the folks who have heard Symphonic Line are a lucky bunch, as your description nails it right on the head. And it's hard to imagine a better amplifier on Magicos.

As far as MBL 101s go, I think the 300 would be a an incredible starting point in a medium to small room. I would take them over any of the MBL amps. But I would save also save my schekels for a second KRAFT stereo amp or a pair of monos. (Heck, if funds allow, I would contact Rolf Gemein to build you a Kraft 400; he has a few chases left, I believe, unless you can find some on the used market).

The reason for bi-amping is that I believe that room size - amp relationship is only part of the story. It's not only about playing loud. A bi-amp situation improves dynamics, transparency, separation, and the ease of flow of the music.

Nevertheless, the MBL 101 with a single kraft stereo is pure bliss.
Have you owned any of the MBL amps Caesar ? There is a substantial difference as you go up the line. They have the same watts rattling going from 9007 to 9011, but the musical capabilities when driving a difficult speaker are quite different.
 

Skanda

Active Member
May 3, 2020
88
118
33
Hi Skanda,

Yes, the folks who have heard Symphonic Line are a lucky bunch, as your description nails it right on the head. And it's hard to imagine a better amplifier on Magicos.

As far as MBL 101s go, I think the 300 would be a an incredible starting point in a medium to small room. I would take them over any of the MBL amps. But I would save also save my schekels for a second KRAFT stereo amp or a pair of monos. (Heck, if funds allow, I would contact Rolf Gemein to build you a Kraft 400; he has a few chases left, I believe, unless you can find some on the used market).

The reason for bi-amping is that I believe that room size - amp relationship is only part of the story. It's not only about playing loud. A bi-amp situation improves dynamics, transparency, separation, and the ease of flow of the music.

Nevertheless, the MBL 101 with a single kraft stereo is pure bliss.
Excellent to hear, as the mbl 101 is likely my next speaker. Alsyvox tintoretto a close second. I'll give Klaus a call to learn more about the monos. When I first plugged the SL, I was so taken by the power of the sound that my first thought was: "what if i had 2?" :) hahah. never ends.
 

Kingrex

Well-Known Member
Feb 4, 2019
246
132
50
That would be cool, indeed. The reality, however, is that VAC is very expensive. There is not a large amount of owners, and many of the ones that exist don't necessarily hang out on audio forums. But, yeah, would love to hear that also
I thought the Statement stereo were around $14k. Thats less than most gear people are advocating. I bet VAC will sell thousands of them over time. There are a whole lot if Phi200 out there. Those can be had for a steal now.
 

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