While the amp is still breaking in, my initial impressions are:
Vitus amps definitely need to be broken in. This 101 isn’t fully broken in yet, but it sounds 1000% better than when it was first plugged in. IMO, plug a new Vitus in and leave the listening room for three days or so. Then begin listening.
Vitus is Overbuilt:
Vitus = quality. The face plate is a work of industrial art. The detail is excellent! Great design. Ascetically it’s very pleasing.
I’d prefer aluminum sides and a top panel rather than the steel that Vitus provides on this amp (though not aluminum, the WL REIs win this point hands down with their carbon fiber top) - but the aluminum top and sides are present on the Vitus 103 monos.
It’s a massive integrated amp, with a sound to match.
RI-101 Mk II is a Class AB Int Amp:
Like the EMM MTRX2s and our Pass 260.8s, the 101 is a Class AB amp. It is one of the most enjoyable AB amps we’ve ever had in our system. It is surpassing the Pass with ease and is right on the heels of the 85k EMM mono amps. IMO, it even exceeds some Class A amps (i.e my friend’s Pass XA60s ) in its sound presentation. However, it’s no match to something like a Vitus SIA-030 (or better) …
EMM never told us how many Class A watts they ran in their MTRX2s, but it is definitely less than the Pass 260.8s at 34w. The Vitus is 12w per channel in Class A mode. Double this for 4 ohm Magicos.
Magical with Magicos:
We presently have the Vitus connected to Magico M3s with Shunyata Sigma cabling. Vitus and Magico are brother and sister. They come from the same DNA = great design and sound; a “perfect” match. Like Eve was made for Adam, Vitus is made for Magicos. I’m wondering if Vitus would sound good with Von Schweikert’s or Alsyvox speakers, which I’m seriously looking at for our new dedicated room “later.”
The Amazing Sound:
Vitus is tube-like, and very open and musical. Impactful. Stunning. Genuine analogue mastered vinyl sounds true to the source material. I didn’t know it could be, but our digital has improved significantly - its closer than ever to genuine analogue. Our EMM gear enjoys good clean authoritative pure power.
A smooth, non-peaky, overall wonderful presentation. A notable bass slam and definition; a deep impactful detailed bass, that sounds very musical and yet controlled. At times it will make you jump. For an AB amp every aspect of the mids and highs is top drawer. It’s transparent. There’s no over-emphasizing of higher harmonics. There’s no hardening of the attack.
I wasn’t expecting this level of sound in a 20k amp (app 30k with DAC and Streamer). There’s an exquisite flow to the music. The equipment disappears and the music just draws you in note after note and captivates you. I enjoyed the EMM soundstage immensely, but the Vitus surpasses it. A 3D and fleshed-out soundstage. From a spatial perspective it seems to be a more forward presentation. Sometimes the images are cast out in front of the M3s instead of behind them. There’s more separation between the instruments. Female vocals sound ever so real. Spooky real like they rang the doorbell and entered your home. There’s just more, more, more. It’s addictive.
The backgrounds are something very special. They are a pure solid black canvass (silence) upon which the detail on the recordings really shines. While you hear immense detail everything remains very musical. In some respects, it’s more enjoyable than a Boulder 2160 amp I heard at a friend’s home recently - just a more real natural sound. And I mean truly natural. (i.e. Boulder is too analytical for my taste). Pianos and violins are most enjoyable on this Integrated. It’s like each string has been individually miked, yet there’s no loss of the whole melody and impact of the song. So detailed and yet wondrously musical. This amp is a work of musical obsession. The sound is so very satisfying.
The Who’s, “Baba O’Reily,” on the Who’s Next album is stunning. When it began to play I heard the drums snap and it immediately grabbed me; I looked up suddenly. This amp gives an impactful rememberable presentation of this song. On Krall’s, Live in Paris album, “The Look of Love,” is magical. Her voice is heavenly and it feels as if you can literally reach out and touch her piano. The key strokes are just that real. On Eva Cassidy’s, “You Take My Breath Away,” her guitar is so exacting and exciting. The detail is uncanny and so musical. On Nana Mouskouri’s, “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” the beauty of her voice is elevated like I’ve never heard before. Transcendent! And you haven’t heard Chris Botti on trumpet or Lucia Micarelli on violin until you’ve heard them on Vitus.
For an entry level Int., others need to pay close attention to what Vitus is doing. Since an entry level amp sounds this good, what will the Signature 103s monos be like? Those babies are Class A as well - 200w of Class A into our Magicos.
Overall this amp provides a crisp, clean, powerful sound, and gives a tremendous musical satisfying performance. Unless something changes, it’s not a sound I desire to be without.
I’m listening for all the concerns some have expressed on the forums and have yet to confirm any of those in this integrated. However, I have the 101 for two weeks, so I’m confident if they are present “in our system” they will come to the surface.
One thing I have heard is that when drum sticks hit the rim of the drums the sound isn’t as crisp and sharp as with the REIs (love that in the REIs). But this may change with the Vitus with some more break in time.
I haven’t heard the Vitus DAC yet, but understand it is very good and on par with some highly recognized name brand DACs on the market. While that’s not my primary goal in this demo, if I decide to go with a Vitus Masterpiece DAC “later” it would be good to have a listen.
Presently, overall I’m pretty smitten!
More listening to do.
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