Vincent SP-331 Power Amp Review

Discussion in 'Power Amps' started by purr1n, Feb 5, 2017.

  1. Big D Design

    Big D Design I've got stereo junk in my trunk.

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    I could try the SE outputs again.

    But if you heard the difference in sound and soundstage with balanced output you would go WTF? After reading what Atomicbomb said about the Rolls MB15b raising the noise floor and not having proper caps...... I might also want to try to run my cable that is XLR to RCA into the Vincent from the Freya output. The Vincent has protection. I know that because this morning I learned that there has to be a sequence of system turn on, or the Vincent with go into protect mode. I talked to my cable guy Mike Morrow about this and he said that you will lose a lot of advantages of the balanced and lose at 4db of gain or more. Losing that gain is fine because I want that so the subs will match the Vincent. Thanks guys. I know this has been somewhat of an enigma. But the bottom line (this is what I'm experiencing) is that the balanced out of the Freya is way better than the SE outputs. If this was not true (which it could all be in my head, but I know it's not) things would be easier. Still love that NuPrime though. The timbre was spot on. But it was far and away inferior to a good Class A amp for resolution, soundstage and transparency. Now I play with another amp which needs it's veil lifted. I'll get there. At least today with the Freya XLR output I found an amp that produces something to work with.
     
  2. atomicbob

    atomicbob dScope Yoda

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    It is not usually a good idea to send balanced +4 dBu to unbalanced -10 dBV without an appropriate balanced to unbalanced level translator. Without the translator you might short circuit one side of the balanced output, which may be benign if the engineers have designed for such an inappropriate connection. You also have the level differences with which to contend. +4 dBu driving -10 dBV may overdrive the input of the single ended stage causing unpleasant auditory issues (gain staging is important.) Transformers are usually a very safe way to accomplish this without introducing noise from active stages. Jensen (Radial Engineering) is at the top of the transformer chain. Whirlwind is not shabby. Ebtech approaches the lower end, usually for pub Sound Reinforcement duty.

    This may be an unpopular thought but I am going to suggest that introducing the Rolls mb15b active stage to accomplish balanced to unbalanced translation introduces greater auditory degradation than simply using single ended unbalanced output from Freya directly to the Vincent SP331.
     
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  3. Scott Kramer

    Scott Kramer Friend

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    I believe it, just a surprising difference... this SE - SE vs BAL - converter - SE

    In that scenario I'd think SE - SE would be best.

    If it was SE - SE vs BAL - BAL I'd not even question it!

    Cool stuff!
     
  4. Big D Design

    Big D Design I've got stereo junk in my trunk.

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    Ok. I'm going to grab my beer and take a sip and put the SE connection back to the Vincent and see what gives. I will let you guys know what happens. Until then. I'm going to listen to one song 1st as a bassline to give me some kind of sense of where it's going.
     
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  5. Big D Design

    Big D Design I've got stereo junk in my trunk.

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    So here are my results......

    Hooked up the SE inputs out of the Freya to the Vincent. The sound is similar. Soundstage is better than before. Want to put Vincent back into box now. Seems like I am wasting my time with this amp. There is a veil that is worse with the SE outputs. Not that it is much, but it is there. There is still a veil with the balanced outputs of the Freya also, it just doesn't seem like it can be fixed. With the SE outputs, all I want to do is give up.

    Tomorrow I'm going to hook back up the NuPrime STA-9. I'm going to try to hook it up 2 ways, balanced and unbalanced and see what that brings to the table. Also I want to see if the sound is without the veil that the Vincent has brought to my ESLs. These are great speakers, but they need nothing but the best. Or you will get hit with all the crap your equipment has to offer. Very revealing.

    Be back tomorrow with my thoughts and results of going back to the Class D NuPrime STA-9. I could get a second one and run mono with these and maybe get something that would satisfy. I am hell bent on not spending another $3k or more on a good used amp. Already spent close to $7k. Enough is enough. I had great realism and timbre with the NuPrime. Just not the soundstage and the last bit of transparency of a good Class A amp. I am will to give up these things for proper timbre of voice and instruments. Without that..... I feel like I have wasted my money.
     
  6. Big D Design

    Big D Design I've got stereo junk in my trunk.

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    @atomicbomb
    Thanks for the heads up. I appreciate your time spent explaining what could happen. As I said in the post above, I'm ready to throw in the towel with the Vincent amp. The clarity is just not up to snuff with what I already have. Seems like a lost cause. Got the amp for cheap. Will be able to sell it for what I got it for.
     
  7. HitmanFluffy

    HitmanFluffy Hoping to see real genitals someday! - Friend

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    Honestly speaking, until you upgrade your source, I really don't think distinguishing clarity at this level will be that effective.
     
  8. Gaspasser

    Gaspasser Flatulence Maestro

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    I had the privilege of getting the Vincent SP-331 on the loaner program. Thanks to the Marv, Sphinxvc and anyone else involved with the loaner program! The amp is everything that Marv said in his review and I really liked it a lot. It is heavy and built like a tank. I used it with Saga, Elac B6s and old Paradigm Phantoms. The amp does everything well, especially rhythm, pace and impact. Horns and drums were reproduced viscerally. The Saga and Vincent sounded better with the Saga in active tube mode.

    I think the only weak aspect to the amp is the soundstage. On both pairs of speakers the soundstage was very deep but not very wide this detracted from certain live recordings that I know well. As Marv mentioned, but I was hoping wouldn't be an issue by now was that the amp needs to be powered on for a good hour or more to sound good.

    If Vidar wasn't coming out soon, I would buy the Vincent immediately. I sincerely hope the Vidar is in the same ballpark as the Vincent, if so it will be a fantastic value proposition!
     
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  9. Big D Design

    Big D Design I've got stereo junk in my trunk.

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    @Gaspasser
    Glad to see someone get a good combination setup with the Vincent. It is a very good looking amp, and it is very powerful. Just didn't work for me. Neither did the Mark Levinson No.23 amp. Same Veil. I'm currently using Krell amplifiers. Just love them. Have 2 now. They seem to meld with my Martin Logan speakers like they were meant to be together. Glad you like the Vincent. I wanted to so much, and I got it for a steal price as well.
     
  10. JoshMorr

    JoshMorr Friend

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    I'm next on this loaner tour and an going to continue the praise for the amp. I put the amp through some vigorous testing with favorite tests tracks and newer RSD arrivals.

    Listening chain is Classic 1 / Gumby -> Freya -> Power Amp -> B&W C9. Comparing the Vincent to a DIY Pass Labs F5 Turbo. Expectation bias disclaimer - I am a huge fan of the F5 Turbo that I acquired from @MrTie , I think it sounds just about perfect for my current tastes.

    The Vincent amp certainly looks and feels the part of a high end power amp, big, heavy, well built, power button on the front (huge oversight on most power amps IMO). Fits on a standard rack perfectly, quality heavy duty connectors on the back side.

    First thing I noticed when I swapped from the F5 to the Vincent was a reduction in detail and a bit of veil. Thinking that was a bit off, I realized that I was in tube gain mode and switching to the JFET buffer cleared things some. Too much of a good thing with tube gain pre and hybrid tube amp. I think transparent solid state pre amps would love to be paired with this amp.

    The Vincent was a tiny bit laid back compared to the F5, but felt very natural and easy going. Didn't sweat when I cranked things up. As previously stated the stage wasn't quite up to snuff from what I was used to lacked the depth and height I have become accustomed to. Bloom was a bit stronger on the Vincent, but that fits my preferences and helped me melt into my listening chair while playing my favorite Flaming Lips and Miles Davis albums. When I moved onto more records with more fine detail (Bill Evans Live at Village Vanguard) I noticed that the Vincent didn't quite pass them along as smoothly, a bit of veil when compared to the sharper F5. This review is coming across as I didn't like the Vincent a lot, which isn't true, I think its a great amp, I can see this fitting many tastes, mine are just for a sharper sounding amp.

    I feel like there are many ways to build a system, and while I chose for as neutral and resolving of a amp as possible and add some color in at the pre amp section, the other school of thought would be to have a very neutral source up through the pre amp and add coloration in at the amp stage, such as the Vincent. F5 w/ tube pre stage vs. Vincent and Jfet pre stage was a fun comparison. If anything this loaner convinced me I am on the right path and think the DIY Pass Labs amps are a tremendous value, but this Vincent isn't far behind. This amp paired with either a Saga or another transparent pre would be a killer deal and provide many hours of enjoyment.
     
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  11. Lautreamont

    Lautreamont Rando

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    Just picked up a used Vincent SP-331 at a good price and really like it with KEF LS50s. However I'm not liking the preamp I have and am looking for a good match for the LS50 and SP-331. I'd preferably like a preamp that can handle bass management for 2.1 with a subwoofer. I took my preamp out of the system for now and am temporarily using an iFi iTube2 in preamp mode between my source and the SP-331. It's pretty good but would like to take it up a notch.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
  12. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    What are you looking to do? Get more transparency and less veil? My experience with most sub $1k preamps, if even sub $2k preamps of popular audiophile brands has been less than spectacular. Such is the state of two-channel. Built in sub processor tends to complicate the issue and detract from overall sound quality.

    The SP-331 is already kind of bloomy from the input tubes. Since the input impedance is kind of high at 47k, you may very well try passive.

    I'd get a Saga and route the second set of outputs to a miniDSP, DCX2496, or similar type dbx unit as a sub processor. For a SE preamp, the Saga active stage is very highly regarded here - at any cost. Downside is lack of weight, features, nice switches, and ability to handle balanced lines.

    I already do something very similar for myself with the dcx2496 for processing the lows.
     
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  13. Lautreamont

    Lautreamont Rando

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    Thanks for the suggestions. More transparency is good. The price of the Saga is appealing.

    Would miniDSP 2x4 do the job? https://www.minidsp.com/products/minidsp-in-a-box/minidsp-2x4

    Looks like there are two options REV A (.9 Vrms) and REV B (2 Vrms). Is the UMIK-1 microphone needed to do it right?

    In terms of the connections you mentioned sending second output from the Saga to DSP. Is that preferable sending everything through the DSP as shown here: https://www.minidsp.com/images/appnotes/system-configuration.png
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    The dbx or behringer boxes are a bit more handy to configure because the controls are all in the front of the box. Xover adjust, EQ, routing should be fairly intuitive after perusing the manual. You will need XLR to RCA adapters because this is pro gear.

    The miniDSP 2x4 should also do the job. You will need a mic to take measurements and integrate the sub.

    Alternatively, consider taking the second set of power amp outputs (first output set powering the KEFs) into speaker level inputs of your subwoofer plate amp. And tune xover frequency by ear, which is probably going to much lower in frequency than you might expect.

    Sometimes simpler is better. I find that by doing this, the integration can be better. I take this approach for my second speaker system (6" mains and sub). One last thing to know is that it is almost impossible to correct a room full with EQ when using one sub. Another reason to go simple.
     
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  15. Lautreamont

    Lautreamont Rando

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    Thanks for suggestions. Decided to go with Saga and miniDSP 2x4 HD. Ebay had a 20% off code so I got the HD version at a good price. Saga is backordered so it will be a while until I can get everything in place but will report back on how well these integrate with the SP-331.
     
  16. Telstar

    Telstar Bottom 1% of posters on SBAF

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    With Chinese made amps it's a hit or miss.
     
  17. mav52

    mav52 Rando

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    I owned the Sp331, had it for 5 years paired with a AR LS27 got a great deal on the SP-331 MK, now wow what a difference.
     
  18. gimmeheadroom

    gimmeheadroom Rando

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    I was considering this company but decided not to go with one after all. And I do find it annoying and misleading that they print "Class A" on their amps but it appears they are not Class A except up to 10 watts or something like that when they transition to something else.
     
  19. TwoEars

    TwoEars Friend

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    That's pretty typical though, the majority of "Class A" amps switch into AB mode under high load. If that wasn't the case they'd be drawing their max wattage all the time. I.e. a 600W Class A power amp would be a +600W room heater all the time. Very few people actually want that.

    If you absolutely want a "pure class A amp" they are out there, just be warned that it's going to be a room heater and your power bill won't like it. The industry as a whole has moved towards well implemented class AB and class D. And there are some very, very good class AB amps around.
     
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  20. direstraitsfan98

    direstraitsfan98 D2Girls v2.0

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    I know this isn't exactly in the same price league, but I've been following info of this new amp from this somewhat new company by Kinki Studio for a while now. Amp here: https://www.kinki-studio.com/ex-m1 just a heads up for anyone interested in well made stereo gear that isn't priced to ridiculous bonekrs levels. There's some reviews of it on their website, so far mostly owner reviews on audiogon and such, 6moons gave it some award of some such, don't know if it's valid since they give anything given to them for free a very positive review.

    Looks like it outputs 215w into 8ohms, solid state class AB, appears to me to be excellent build quality, 55lb; priced at $2200USD. They've also got headphones, dacs, and other products in the lineup, like some monoblocks. All made in china, so I thought it would make sense to post about it here.
     

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