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Hey Everybody, if you're here for the direct comparison it starts below the picture.  If you're here for the full investigative story, read on.

 

 

Like most of us I’ve always wanted to hear gear from the big, expensive, manufacturers.  Krell, Gryphon, Mark Levinson, Jeff Rowland, Dartzeel, etc, etc.  So when Terry texted me a week ago saying he had a Vitus in the car I was, of course, interested.  (He left out the fact that it was on loan from another SNA’er, because that gave the text more impact).  Naturally, a GTG was needed to sus out the capabilities of this Vitus RI101.  There is more to the background of this story but I don’t feel that part is mine to tell, my part is my listening impressions and the details surrounding them, and there’s a pretty fair story (and amount of typing) involved just in that.

 

Terry and I talked, and we missed a weekend because of other commitments so Terry got to have a fair bit of listening under his belt and he was a bit under-impressed.  His comments to me were along the lines of “it has a really clear presentation and the mid range detail is just out of this world but it doesn’t have any bass”.  After hearing this I my curiosity was piqued so I hit the net to read up on this Vitus.  And I found something significant (or at least it turned out to be) in that the input impedance of the RI101 was a bit low, only 16,000 Ohms.  This in itself doesn’t mean that much, some high end gear has only 10,000 Ohms, and integrated amps in general vary greatly in their input impedance but the most common I’ve seen is 47,000 Ohms so I’ve grabbed onto that figure as my preferred default.  If an amp doesn’t have 47K Ohms as it’s input impedance I tend to wonder why.

 

Anyway, Terry was running the Vitus with his Droplet cd player in use as a DAC, the output impedance of the Droplet is one of those unpublished unknowns.  I tend to think it would be pretty low because it has a very nice sounding built in preamp stage but that is really just supposition, it might be nice and low and it might not be so there is no easy way of knowing if there is or isn’t an impedance mismatch here… unless you count the missing bass as an indication and that seemed possible so I  voiced my concerns to Terry.  It took me a while but I reasoned myself along to checking the output impedance of the Vitus cd player from the same product line, I figured this might tell me something.  The out put impedance of that cd player is  25 milli-Ohms, or, 0.025 of an Ohm, the lowest impedance I have yet seen.  It makes even the output impedance of the legendary ME25 look unimpressive. 

 

So, since Terry owns a Burson Buffer (specifically produced to correct impedance issues like we suspected we had) I suggested he install it in between the Droplet and the Vitus.

He did, and claimed it made quite a difference, the Vitus was now sounding very nice.  Good news, I said, so when are we having this GTG?  (hint, hint…).

 

And we did get around to having this GTG, which is why I’m currently typing up my experiences from yesterday on Terry’s patio while I wait for the big guy to enter the land of the living.

 

So, as I said above, Terry had the Vitus running his Vienna Acoustics Beethoven Grand SE floorstanders being fed from the Consonance Droplet cd player (used as a DAC from his Antipodes) via his Burson Buffer.  And in this system it sounded pretty impressive.  Lots of detail on display but it wasn’t hard to listen to, you could hear obvious glare on some recordings and yet that glare didn’t have any teeth to it so it didn’t actually get to cause listening fatigue.  Very, very clean mid range and nice tight bass.  In fact, very tight bass with tons of bass control on display.  I will say it sounded a touch hard on some tracks but we fixed most of this by changing out the interconnects between the Buffer and the Vitus so I suspect much of (what was a fairly small issue to begin with) that hardness was due to the initial IC’s in use.  With a pair of Aurealis Dragon IC’s (unbalanced) from the droplet to the Burson Buffer and a pair of Audioquest Alphas from the Buffer to the Vitus the Vitus was doing very well.  I thought it was a little bit “blatant/matter of factual” with some vocals but that was really clutching at straws, this was a very nice sound. 

 

The big, sorry I mean big, plus of the Vitus sound is its clarity and detail without harshness, you can hear details in the playing of instruments which are playing behind other instruments.  If you’re a detail fanatic then this is the amp for you.

 

I personally wasn’t convinced it was a match for the Heschl HAL 350 overall, but I will admit it was certainly on a similar level.

 

Next I suggested we try balanced IC’s direct from the droplet (the Buffer is unbalanced only so it had to sit this out) just to see what that would sound like.  So we did, again the IC’s were Aurealis Dragons, just the balanced versions.  Well, that was a definite step up, it was almost like a buzzing that I hadn’t known was there had been removed, everything improved by about 10% (which is big!) and this was without the buffer helping the impedance matching along.  Obviously balanced is the way to go with the Vitus, having changed over you couldn’t have convinced either myself or Terry to change back to unbalanced, no way, no how!

 

As we were moving our way through this listening session Terry made the comment that the fellow that had leant him this Vitus was going to use it with an Oppo 205 as a source.  We were both a bit curious at that, the Oppo’s have a very good name but Vitus gear is at least a few levels above most offerings out there.  And what about the impedance issue?  Would that raise it’s ugly head again?

So, in an effort to fully investigate a potential synergy issue, Terry brought in his Oppo and we swapped it in in place of the Droplet.

 

Our results were initially mixed.  Running via unbalanced ICs and using the coax input on the Oppo the sound quality was a definite step down, changing over to balanced interconnects improved things (as we thought it would going on past performance) but the big improvement came from changing over to the usb input on the Oppo.  This is probably going to surprise some people out there (and obviously not others, specifically Oppo lovers) but the Vitus actually sounded better, clearer, more detailed, and much cleaner, using the Oppo’s usb input than it did using the Droplet via (with coax as the only option on the Droplet).  The magic of usb strikes again.

 

IMG_1263.thumb.JPG.6014b7b8a526242a3aa08bd89b69b3a2.JPG

 

OK, so now that all that is out of the way, how did the Vitus RI-101 sound?  Bloody beautiful!

That sound is so clean, so clear, so much detail is on display and it does not hurt the ear.  It does sound a little stark on some tracks and I think that is because it does not sound warm.  So lot’s of honesty and clarity but it’s a bit lacking in the sexy/breathy/romance area.  I suspect it would be better paired with speakers that are a little warmer and/or of softer character than the VA BG SE’s.  Terry suggested Sonance Fabers (Hey Gary, what are you up to next weekend, feel like lugging those Olympica’s of yours several suburbs?) and I suspect he’s on the right track there.

However, the bass control is out of this world.  It is tight and powerful, Tight and Powerful and also TIGHT AND POWERFUL.  Again, a touch hard at times but honestly who cares about that?  Phenomenal bass control. 

 

After swapping out the Vitus and swapping in the Heschl HAL-350 (using its internal DAC, yeah I know, but it’s as direct a comparison as we could manage at the time) I was surprised to find that the Vitus actually beat out the Heschl in bass control.  If you’d asked me before lunch time yesterday I would have said that not only has nothing beat the Heschl in bass control but I firmly believe that nothing ever will so colour me shocked!

We had to let the Heschl warm up, and it did do a little better after an hour or so but no, still loses out to the Vitus on the bass.  But not on the vocals.  The Heschl is a little warmer than the Vitus and has more air and breath (not a lot more mind you, it’s only really noticeable when you compare the two, in isolation I would have said that the Heschl sounds pretty damn neutral but compared to the Vitus that means a little air, and a little more warmth and those two characters add up to more natural vocals and a more pleasant overall voicing.  So while the Vitus definitely gives you more detail you get a slightly more “musically satisfying” performance from the Heschl. 

 

Very impressive Mr Vitus, very impressive indeed!  If I had far more money than I do I would have one of these RI-101’s and I would use if for when my mood turned toward drum heavy tracks. 

 

More to come, the Technical Brain should be warm by now. 

 

 

 

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Thanks Cafad, I really enjoyed reading that. 

To share findings with your fellow inmates and in such a detailed manner is a very generous gesture, thank you 🙏 

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Here Here- or is it hear hear, excellent write up and as a Vitus tragic I am glad to read the results, I will be interested to see how the TB compares to the RI 101, I must admit to get a little twinge or as James May puts it a fuzzy feeling when that Total Brain Integrated was listed yesterday in the classifieds. Out of interest you mention the Vitus CD player which model did you run and did you try that with it on board dac if applicable- or was that a typo and you were talking about the droplet impedance. Keep up the great work and thanks for the review.

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Very nice review @Cafad, Totally agree with all you have said thus far. Full disclosure , I have the 101 with the internal DAC and was not aware of the impedance issues so thanks for bringing that up, Will take care when pairing other stuff, but not an issue thus far. 

 

Interestingly in my setup with the original Duntech princesses (and significant (maybe too much) room treatment ) I am generally looking to reduce warmth with any changes. So horses for courses, system synergy etc.

 

Choice of cables will also push it one way or the other of course as well as speaker setup and so on and so on.

 

Another thing to try if possible is run the Dac output from the Heschl and compare with Heschl that way, might be a bit more of a direct comparison. Am definitely interested in hearing the Heschl at some point.

 

You havent mentioned soudstage and depth, if you have any thoughts am interested.

 

Great stuff, keep up the good work!!

 

 

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Hey guys, just a quick post to reply to a few of the above posts.  When I mentioned checking the output impedance of the Vitus cd player I meant I looked it up on their website, we don't have one on hand.  Also this Vitus amp does not have the internal DAC installed so we are forced to wonder as to how it would sound with it's intended DAC.  

 

No spinning of discs, Terry is all Antipodes now.  We still can, and I might get the chance to later tonight, but for ease of use the Antipodes is pretty good.

 

I didn't try out the Heschl with the Oppo or the Droplet on DAC duty.  We've tried the Droplet in the past and found the internal DAC in the Heschl to be a significant step up in sound quality and also the analogue input on the Heschl has an input impedance of only 5,000 Ohms so we would have to try with and without the Burson Buffer again.  With the Vitus we were trying out something new so we went above and beyond but since I already own the Heschl (and know it pretty well) I'm not that concerned about trying different inputs.

 

More to come later... stay tuned.

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2 minutes ago, Cafad said:

I didn't try out the Heschl with the Oppo or the Droplet on DAC duty.  We've tried the Droplet in the past and found the internal DAC in the Heschl to be a significant step up in sound quality and also the analogue input on the Heschl has an input impedance of only 5,000 Ohms so we would have to try with and without the Burson Buffer again.  With the Vitus we were trying out something new so we went above and beyond but since I already own the Heschl (and know it pretty well) I'm not that concerned about trying different inputs.

 

was suggesting to use the output of Heschl (the better dac) if you can,  into the Vitus as the  question remains for me is the difference between the Heschl and Vitus due to the dacs or the amps? and then use it for the TB also so all 3 have the same/similar front end.

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10 minutes ago, Cafad said:

No can do I'm afraid, there is no output for the DAC from the Heschl.  It's internal use only.

Ahh, fair enough. Minimalist thing isnt it!!

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7 hours ago, Eagleeyes said:

Here Here- or is it hear hear, excellent write up and as a Vitus tragic I am glad to read the results, I will be interested to see how the TB compares to the RI 101, I must admit to get a little twinge or as James May puts it a fuzzy feeling when that Total Brain Integrated was listed yesterday in the classifieds. Out of interest you mention the Vitus CD player which model did you run and did you try that with it on board dac if applicable- or was that a typo and you were talking about the droplet impedance. Keep up the great work and thanks for the review.

Has it been removed from sale?

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Hi Guys

Just a couple of observations regarding your opinions of the overall tonality of Vitus amps and Vienna Acoustics speakers.

Having played with many Vitus amps and a couple of VA models at home, including Beethoven Baby Grands, I've found that neither brand is lacking in warmth. 

I'd go so far as to say that warmth is one of the stronger points of VA speakers. Although Sonus Faber is known for this quality, you may be disappointed if you're expecting Olympicas to have more of it. What they will have is a bit more top end detail, whereas the VAs are MORE forgiving. New SF is not quite the same as old SF.

Any tendency to hardness in this environment will be coming from another source, although the Vitus may appear so because it has less euphonic colouration than most other amps. It's all relative, of course, so against a Boulder that's as close to neutral as I've ever heard, the Vitus may appear MORE "romantic".

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Hey George, well I'm no expert on the other VA models but I can say that the Baby Grands are not the same creature as the Concert Grands.  The Baby grands are easier to drive and tighter in the bass but with a much smaller presence and are more forgiving of amplification.  The Concert Grands are more demanding and while they will sound quite decent with many amps they will only sound fantastic with amplifiers that are truly exceptional.  The SF comment was just that, a comment.  I've heard the TB on a pair of Olympicas and it sounded very nice so I would like to hear the Vitus on the same speakers because I think they would work together (assuming the Vitus still had the Oppo as its source, if not then anything could happen).

And as for the Vitus amps sounding warm, well all I can say is this one didn't, although when we tried the TB fed from the Oppo the sound was even brighter and a bit on the thin side so the source is certainly not supplying it with any assistance in the warmth department.

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OK, this thread so far has been short on pics so let me just deal with that before anyone goes into audio porn withdrawals and then we can get back down to business.

 

All three contestants together.

IMG_1262.thumb.JPG.2b2c9725572c5bff6942636d2684a3a2.JPG

 

And the TB on its own.

IMG_1267.thumb.JPG.07f567aa6f899741caa89e7463c4bcba.JPG

 

As I mentioned in brief above the TB was not a good match with the Oppo's DAC, the sound (while not terrible) was not anywhere near the level of the Vitus.  The sound was a bit thin and sort of uncertain, as if the personalities of the Oppo and the TB were trying to do different things at the same time and not supporting each other, it certainly couldn't work its mid-range and top end magic.  Having heard the TB several times before in Terry's system I knew it was not sounding anywhere near its best so we changed back to using the Droplet as a DAC.  Even then the TB wasn't sounding as good as I recall it sounding, almost as if it took much longer to warm up than it should, or perhaps the Droplet needed the warm up time.  I can say that it took more than 2.5 hours for the combo to sound its best, before that it was an amp that, while it could match the other two in the area of bass control and high range extension it did not have the power to back those up or deliver a performance with as much presence as the other amps.  

Still an very nice listen after that warm up period but after the sheer awesome presence and authority that both the Vitus and the Heschl delivered (and delivered without any signs of stress, as if they could do this all day and then well into the night without the need for rest) the TB did come across as a bit of a little brother.  

 

Actually, that isn't really giving the TB its due, when I say it came across as a little brother it didn't sound like it was only 100 watts to the 300-odd that the other two amps had on tap.  More like it was 160 to 180, it is an exceptional amp but it still just couldn't impress on the same scale as Vitus or the Heschl.

 

I really wanted to bring in Simon's Zeus for a run too, but we ran short on time as Terry had some other audio tragics-drop by to say hello.  So we listened to the TB for a while (this was as it was starting to sound like its old self again so they heard it at its best) and then swapped over to the Vitus, as it is the amp of the moment.

 

So, my take aways from this experience are:

1.  Just because it's an expensive amp doesn't mean it will sound good with your other gear (although to be honest having owned both Halcro and the TB I had already had this drilled into me).

2.  Synergy is a funny creature, I would not have thought of trying the Oppo as a DAC myself, (a $2.5K media player as a source for a $22.5K amplifier!  That's just crazy talk.) and if we hadn't tried that combination our opinions of the Vitus would not have been the same.  

3.  Class A/B amps rule!  :)

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Great review @Cafad, thanks for taking the time. I am very much enjoying my RI-101 with my TAD ME-1s.

 

Funny thing about timing though, is your mention about cables. I actually substituted a pair of Aurealis Dragon silver/copper litz balanced cables into my  system this weekend between my Chord Dave and the Vitus, These cables replaced a pair of balanced silver/copper Aurealis R1 (non-litz). At the same time I replaced a Wireworld Silver Starlight 7 USB cable with a Curious Evolved USB between my Innuos and Chord M Scaler.

 

There was an immediate improvement in clarity between instruments, and in particular bass definition and depth. I could easily follow double bass lines in various music that I hadn't noticed as prominently before. However, it wasn't sharp or etched, just very musical and enjoyable. Unfortunately I didn't test just the Dragons, so I can't say which cable had the most impact, but I can say I feel even happier about my decision to buy the Vitus - the only thing I miss from my Luxman is the VU meters......

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We had a thunderstorm a couple of days ago and I unplugged the RI101 just to be safe and have been a bit busy last couple of days so only plugged it in again tonight. I was immediately reminded of a post a saw on here a while back which mentions the RI-100/101 needs to be connected to power continuously to sound its best and whereas I used to switch off at the plug previously I tried not doing that and perceived an imoprovement so left it connected after that. This time I plugged it in and switched on and i sounded a bit flat from the get go and while improving hasnt opened up as much as normal so would suggest leaving it connected to power when not using. Doesnt have to be on.

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On 23/11/2020 at 12:05 PM, markm1111 said:

the only thing I miss from my Luxman is the VU meters......

Yeah, those things should be mandatory on all amps.  It would just make the world a better place.

 

17 hours ago, frednork said:

We had a thunderstorm a couple of days ago and I unplugged the RI101 just to be safe and have been a bit busy last couple of days so only plugged it in again tonight. I was immediately reminded of a post a saw on here a while back which mentions the RI-100/101 needs to be connected to power continuously to sound its best and whereas I used to switch off at the plug previously I tried not doing that and perceived an imoprovement so left it connected after that. This time I plugged it in and switched on and i sounded a bit flat from the get go and while improving hasnt opened up as much as normal so would suggest leaving it connected to power when not using. Doesnt have to be on.

OK, that's a fairly common situation as I understand it.  Many high end manufacturers recommend leaving their gear on, usually in standby but sometimes fully on.  Keeps them warm to some degree. 

I certainly noticed the warm up time with the TB, less so with the Heschl as it gets there faster and doesn't change as much from cold to warm but it was still there.

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2 hours ago, sir sanders zingmore said:

 

did I say anything about how the amp sounds?

If you are somehow unhappy with the answer, perhaps the fault lies in the question.

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I'm so confused...

 

@Ericcklau asked a question about damping factor, I went and did some research and found very little apart from the one link that was provided.

I made zero comment about whether it was "high' or low".

I made zero comment about how it relates to the sound of the amp.

I did not speculate about subjective sounds versus measurement.

 

Someone asked a question, I found an answer and provided it. I was trying to be helpful, nothing more

 

…I give up...

 

 

 

Edited by sir sanders zingmore
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42 minutes ago, sir sanders zingmore said:

 

?

Trevor, not directed at you, sorry for not being clear. you were quoted as you listed the spec. Others have mentioned they thought the bass on the Vitus was very good so my comment was a general comment on specs and what they correlate with. Definitely no hidden messages here! and as you say, you didnt make any comments re the sound of the Vitus. 

 

Am sure you have heard it enough though as I bought one of the sad bastards' one, the RI100. Bass wise its very similar to the RI101 which I have now. 

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I notice on the article the damping factor is measure as 17 per 1hz, and damping factor mentioned in for example e480 accuphase is measure as 600 @8ohm 50hz.

 

I assume if compare them apple to apple it should be 17 x 50 = 850 for 50hz for vitus ri-100 . I am not sure if it is right or wrong interpretation of these figures.

 

Thank you guys for sharing information.

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I did not wish to steer the thread towards measurements, only to provide an answer the above question.  At its core this thread was a superbly written and informative subjective listening impression from experienced ears.

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1 hour ago, kelossus said:

I did not wish to steer the thread towards measurements, only to provide an answer the above question.  At its core this thread was a superbly written and informative subjective listening impression from experienced ears.

Measurements, (and what they really mean for me) are very relevant to me with regards to the Vitus. The reason is that prior to the Vitus I had a Devialet 200. When you look at the specs on the Devialet it should sound miles ahead of any other amplifier, especially the Vitus. Here are the Devialet specs from their website, this is for the current series but from memory the 200 was the same or at least very close.

 

AUDIO PERFORMANCE MEASURED IN STEREO

0.0005%

THD+NOISE (HARMONIC DISTORTION) AT FULL POWER UNDER 6Ω

0,00025%

THD AT 10W UNDER 6Ω

130 DB

SIGNAL-TO-NOISE RATIO

0.001Ω

OUTPUT IMPEDANCE

AUDIO PERFORMANCE MEASURED IN DUAL-MONO

0.00025%

THD+NOISE (HARMONIC DISTORTION) AT FULL POWER UNDER 6Ω

0,0001%

THD AT 10W UNDER 6Ω

133 DB

SIGNAL-TO-NOISE RATIO

0.001Ω

OUTPUT IMPEDANCE

 

By comparison the Vitus according to the Vitus website is 

RI-101 Specifications Rated Output Power…….........................................2 x 300Wrms in 8 ohm Class AB Frequency Respon..............................................................………....DC to +800KHz Signal to Noise Ratio……………………..……...........................………..……> 100dB THD+ Noise………………………...............………………………....Better than 0,01% Input Sensitivity……...............with volume set @ 0dB / RCA = 1,4V / XLR 0,7V RMS Input Impedance……..…....................………….………...RCA = 22KΩ / XLR = 22KΩ Slew Rate…………………………...................…………………………...…....> 35V/ μs

 

Well, compared to the Devialet the Vitus appears on specs to be a noisy, non transparent, poor bass controlling boat anchor!

 

However when I compared directly there was not one aspect to the Vitus's presentation that I did not prefer to the Devialet (expect for maybe the weight , looks and electricity consumption.  SHould also mention the Devialet 200 was in hindsight a bit underdone for my speakers and I should have used a 400 or more. The other side to that is that at moderate volumes the difference did not change anything. To those that own Devialet and love them this is not a criticism of Devialet. I am sure there are plenty of amplifiers that sound better than the Vitus. What I am trying to say is that the specs all pointed to the Devialet sounding better in every respect however it was not borne out in the end with listening to music.

 

Also not trying to suggest specifications are useless and should be ignored. They just need to be tempered with listening.

 

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2 hours ago, Ericcklau said:

I notice on the article the damping factor is measure as 17 per 1hz, and damping factor mentioned in for example e480 accuphase is measure as 600 @8ohm 50hz.

 

I assume if compare them apple to apple it should be 17 x 50 = 850 for 50hz for vitus ri-100 . I am not sure if it is right or wrong interpretation of these figures.

 

Thank you guys for sharing information.

I can't say I've ever paid the damping factor spec a great deal of notice. 

The input impedance was an issue we could test out by varying sources or adding buffers, both of which we happened to have on hand so that was easy.  In order to get a feel for the damping factor we'd have to be trying out different speakers and choosing those speakers so we had a range of nominal impedances to work with.  Then impedance curves will come into it too.  It would become much more of a complex testing procedure.  More like work, less like fun.

 

Sounds difficult, sounds interesting don't get me wrong but not something to be tried without some forethought and planning.  Maybe, if there happens to be a next time.

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