Vincent SP-331 Power Amp Review I really don't have much idea what this Vincent company is about. I believe their website is this: http://www.vincent-tac.de/ After perusing their website, I still have no idea what this Vincent company is about. I've heard that they are a Germany company that sends its designs to China to be manufactured. I don't know. For all we know, maybe they are Chinese designs with a German front to earn reputation points. I've also heard the name Sheng Ya associated with Vincent, maybe as an OEM. I don't know. It's all a mystery. They should pay somebody $250 for a quick marketing job. It doesn't need to be that complex of a story. Unboxing videos here: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/vincent-sp-331-power-amplifier-unboxing.3844/ Spoiler: Vincent SP-331 Specifications from Manufacturer Transmission: 10 Hz - 50 kHz +/- 0.5 dB, Power RMS / 8 Ohm: 2x 150 Watt Power RMS / 4 Ohm: 2x 300 Watt Distortion Factor: <0.1% (1 kHz, 1 Watt) Input sensitivity: 1.2 V Signal-to-noise ratio:> 90 dB Input Impedance: 47 kOhm Inputs: 1 x stereo RCA Outputs: 4 x 2 loudspeaker clamps Power supply: 230 V / 50 Hz Color: black / silver Weight: 19 kg Measurements (WxHxD): 430 x 160 x 450 mm Tubes: 2 x 6N16 Well, let's get down to it. The Vincent SP-331 is a hybrid power amp. The input stage uses 6N16 pencil tubes. There appears to be six solid state output devices per channel. We can see the two tiny tubes at the left in the below photo. The tubes appear to have some sort of anti-vibration dampers attached near the bases. The tubes are soldered onto the board and should have a lifetime of 15,000 hours. The dimensions of the SP-331 are quite manageable. Only the faceplate is the standard rack width of 19". The rest of the unit is a few inches less in width, making it easy to slide into a furniture rack. Of course the faceplate won't mount into a real equipment rack, but few of us use pro racks. Below we can see a size comparison to the Crest CA2 Professional power amplifier. Here is a photo of the back. As we can see, the layout is pretty good. I would have preferred to see the power cord further away from the lower L speaker taps, but there is still enough clearance for the use of speaker cables with spade connectors. Input is unbalanced only. Not a big deal. Unbalanced is perfectly fine in a home environment. No need to get obsessive about balanced. The sound quality of the Vincent SP-331 is very good, perhaps exceptional for the price. The Crest CA2 sounds veiled and boring in comparison. I've started a quick comparison of other solid-state amps here: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...-power-amp-adventures.3789/page-2#post-116231 The SP-331 sounded harsh and thin when first turned on. I figured I'd let the tubes warm up. After several hours, the sound warmed up and smoothed out. Subsequent power-ons seem to require about 15-30 minutes for the amp to get up to speed. This amp is going on the loaner program, so I would advise folks to leave the amp on for a few hours before evaluating it because its still fairly new. When the amp is first turned on, there is a blinking red light that turns solid after 30 seconds. This is when the amp will start working. The SP-331 is not quite as good as the Hegel H2 (http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/hegel-h2-power-amp-mini-review.3791/), which I feel is a true TOTL type of amp that meets all competencies, exceeds in quite a few, and ultimately is quite magical in being able to convey musical feeling. The SP-331 lacks the smoothness, microdynamic shading / nuance, bass extension / grunt, and immense soundstage / precision of the H2. Where it tries to make up for it is with the tube bloom / euphonics. The Hegel H2 is bright, so care needs to be taken with other components, especially speakers. The Hegel demands transducers with smooth, maybe even laid back treble. With the Altec 511B horns pictured below, I actually preferred the Vincent SP-331 to the Hegel H2 by a small margin even though the H2 was the "better amp". Sometimes synergy takes precedence. If I had more time, I'd probably try to tweak the horns or use a more syrupy sounding DAC to get more synergy from the H2. The front horns, with their ragged midrange and treble response, work best with tubes or more laid-back sounding solid-state gear anyway. It should be noted that I by far preferred the Hegel H2 with the Fostex FE168 Sigma BLH speakers, which are more laid back and smoother sounding than the front horns below. Also, see here for impressions with Code-X headphone: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...-power-amp-adventures.3789/page-5#post-118173 If I had to nitpick, these things come to mind: Microdynamic shading and nuance. To me, this is the essence of music. The Hegel H2 and the SET tube amplifiers I have do this in spades. I can't complain because the SP-331 is still quite good at this. The Crest CA2 is merely competent, and the Parasound A23 reviewed a few weeks ago was utter incompetent. Even then, the SP-331 brings tube euphony to the table. A small amount of bloom and a sprinkle of harmonic richness. Picking on this probably isn't fair, because only the $5000+ amps I've heard have been able to fully pull this off. It's close. Imaging precision. The imaging is not quite as precise and stable as the H2 or CA2. Instrument localization can be a little diffuse. Switching to the JFET buffer on the Freya preamp didn't really help either. (The upside is that the Freya tube circuit can pull of pin-point imaging with a suitable power amp). Bass extension and low end grunt. Not quite as muscular down low as the Hegel H2. Equivalent to the CA2 though, so really not bad and more a case of high expectations from me. Tube bloom. To me, a tad excessive with the Freya tube circuit (although I must admit that I listen to music with the Freya tube circuit switched in); but too bloomy for movies (this is when I use the JFET buffer on the Freya). Ultimately, this is a matter of taste. I think those with solid-state preamps won't have an issue. In a nutshell, the Vincent SP-331 represents a fantastic value. It meets basic competencies, adds some tube euphonics, and most importantly is quite musically engaging. The sound quality exceeds the typical high-value propositions (higher end Class AB pro amps), but still doesn't quite meet the true high-end monsters, but we do get awfully close to them.