The sound of Vitus (or more’ lack of sound’ perhaps) and it’s very high level of performance is very well documented around the internet and the flagship amps have been chosen for some of the most expensive systems ever created but what perhaps is less well known is just how value packed the entry level Reference range is. Although its the entry tier of products it’s anything but ‘entry’ in performance and indeed, begins where many other manufacturers flagship equipment ends.
Consider that in my first few years with Vitus I have had many customers switching to a reference system at a cash neutral deal after part exchanging their existing system. This means that the Reference equipment outperformed rival products which would originally cost around twice the money. Vitus have crammed much of the Signature technology into this class and they’ve been mighty generous with the asking prices in the process; you would be well advised to ignore the retail pricing when trying to gauge how it might stack up against its peers.
Moving onto the pieces themselves, although there is a Reference preamp and its an excellent unit, we tend to focus on the RI-100 integrated amp. If customers truly want even higher performance that the RI-100 then we point them toward the Signature SIA integrated (rather than the pre + power amp) in the next range up.
As for digital sources, the RCD-101 and RD-100 Dacs are very similar in sonic performance but of course one has a transport (as well a suite of digital inputs) and the other an inbuilt preamp. This means that the RCD-101 naturally pairs up with the RI-100 integrated amp and the RD-100 Dac/Pre pairs with the RS-100 power amplifier. It’s worth bearing in mind that the RS-100 is almost identical to the RI-100 Integrated but has slightly bigger/better bass and in lieu of a linestage has had that money spent on a few more choice components inside. Overall the RS-100 power amp is perhaps another 5-10% better in performance over the RI Integrated so if you don’t spin CD’s, the RD-100/RS-100 combination is the way to go. I have many customers running this system and its an enormously satisfying solution with a true highend sound. Don’t overlook the phono stage in the Reference range, its also a wonderful unit and a worthy solid state alternative to the mighty Allnic H3000.
Vitus Reference is often enough for many customers and a big jump up from whatever they owned before. Although it’s the bottom rung of the ladder, the Reference level has a purity, transparency and lack of distortion which is rarely experienced outside systems with telephone number pricetags.
In many instances though, customers have high part exchange value which pushes them into Signature class level. Either that or they just come to me with a bigger budget or from a pre-existing background of other highend and expensive gear or simply want to “buy once and buy for life”.
Moving to the Signature series one encounters a level of performance rarely encountered outside very elaborate rival systems witnesed at Hifi shows or other Highend dealers. The sound builds upon the reference range with increased levels of transparency, finer microdynamics, greater intimacy, presence and dimension and overall a delivery that is so uncontrived, so natural and free from artifice or any sense of electronic equipment being present.
The SIA-025 and SCD-025 are arguably the stars of the show; the little integrated has the most incredibly organic and open presentation and the SCD cdp/dac a level of musicality and fluidity that one simply does not associate with the digital medium. In revised mk2 format, the SCD has also just taken a fairly big sonic leap since it was described in mk1 guise by Chris Thomas as the ‘best single box digital player in the world’, and is now even more tactile and intimate than before.
Moving forward beyond the SIA-025 integrated opens up a few different pathways. For some the bigger more powerful SS-101 integrated is a worthy consideration despite the fact that its possibly showing its age a little now. The SL-102 preamp with any combination of power amps, whether that be the stereo SS-102 or newly released SS-025 or either of the Monoblock designs is another popular route.
Users of the Masterpiece Dac (see below) also have the option of fitting that with a very cost effective inbuilt linestage and bypassing the SL-102 all together, running the MP-D201 straight into a power amp. This has proven a very popular route, saving a huge amount of money on the preamp section and instead placing those funds into the DAC and Amplifier. SCD owners looking to jump into a Signature pre and power often opt for this pathway, upgrading the SCD to an MP-D201 at the same time with the money saved from not having to buy a preamp.