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Vinius Audio

Manufacturer: VINIUS AUDIO
Price (in Poland): 30 000 PLN

ul. Pomorska 13
80-333 Gdańsk | POLSKA



Provided for the test by VINIUS AUDIO


translation Ewa Muszczynko
images Wojciech Pacuła

No 216

May 1, 2022


VINIUS AUDIO is a company founded in 2019 by Mr. ZDZISŁAW MACIEJ EJSMONT. It is a specialized manufacturer focused on designing and building passive transformer-based preamplifiers. We ARE FIRST to be testing their latest and most expensive model: TVC-05 SPECIAL EDITION.

he TVC-05 SPECIAL EDITION is a passive preamplifier from VINIUS AUDIO. There are no active elements in its signal path, but only passive signal attenuation elements. In this case, these are transformers, hence the "High Performance Magnetic Volume Control" slogan in the company logo. The Special Edition version of the device tested by us is extremely minimalistic – it has one RCA input, one RCA output and a volume knob. It requires no power supply and has no remote control.

The Vinius audio brand was set up three years ago and was founded, quoting its head and designer, "to produce audio equipment of the highest quality". The brand is owned and manufactured by Proyze. It is a one-man company, dealing with specialist design and production of audio devices. It belongs to Mr. ZDZISŁAW EJSMONT, who is also the owner of the Vinius audio brand. As he declares, its only goal is to provide audiophiles with the best possible "volume control".

It is, of course, a component that is called an 'attenuator' in technology. However, since this word has a bad connotation in the audio industry, the company uses the above term, i.e. "volume control". As Mr. Ejsmont wrote in an email, this is because: "our whole philosophy is to get away from attenuating anything":

Attenuation always takes something away. And we try to take away or lose as little as possible from sound. So, we call our device a volume control. It transforms signal without attenuating it. We try not to add anything to signal and only lose as little of it as possible.

This, however, does not change the fact that the TVC-05 Special Edition acts as an attenuator in the given system. It is a technically and linguistically correct term. The online edition of the PWN Polish Language Dictionary gives four definitions of the word, depending on the context in which it appears. The one we are interested in is at the very bottom of the list, at number 4:

tłumikattenuator 4. «an instrument which makes it possible to reduce the volume and change tone color in a musical instrument», accessed: 6.04.2022.

It is not a precise definition, because it is not an "instrument" but an "electronic component", but so be it. Let us add that in audio another term is used much more often than attenautor, i.e. potentiometer, and in English we talk about volume control, which is referred to by the Polish manufacturer. Be that as it may, all these terms refer to the same thing: a passive electrical component designed to reduce voltage

It is most often simply an element of changing resistance. In practice, it is usually in the form of a rotary potentiometer on which the volume knob is mounted. Potentiometers differ in their quality of workmanship, lifetime and precision of the left and right channels, and thus in price. In audiophile equipment, we usually find potentiometers made by the Japanese company Alps, both with black or malachite body models.

The best devices feature much more sophisticated components, such as the ones manufactured by the Japanese company TKD (Tokyo Ko-On Denko). Such a potentiometer could be found in the previous version of the OCTAVE JUBILEE preamp. Let us add that potentiometers are also used in analog mixing consoles, both rotary and linear ones – the latter are called faders.

Another way to change voltage is to use discrete regulation. In this solution, two resistors, one in series and the other one in parallel, are selected using a mechanical or relay switch. Such a regulator (and a Polish one!) can be found in the Monica Mk3 model, the latest preamplifier from the Swedish company ENGSTRÖM, nota bene equipped with feet from Franc Audio Accessories – also from Poland.

A variation of this type of attenuators are circuits in which the resistors and the switching transistors are housed in an integrated circuit chip. They are digitally controlled, but they are analog circuits. This is in contrast to digital control that most DACs have. Some manufacturers offer them, while others block this feature. And, finally, there is a group of companies, the most sophisticated ones, which create their own algorithms based on digital processing or use their own analog attenuators working in the current mode. An example of the former is the British dCS, while of the latter – Japanese ACCUPHASE.


EACH OF THE SOLUTIONS has its advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, some manufacturers reach for yet another technique, based on transformers. This is how my Ayon Audio Spheris III preamplifier is made, with a vacuum tube on the input, followed by transformers with taps for subsequent positions of the volume knob, switched by reed switches.

The tested TVC-05 SPECIAL EDITION preamplifier is very similar to it, except that it is a "passive preamplifier". This is a contradictory statement, yet it works out. The point is that a "preamplifier" (i.e., the element that amplifies the signal "beforehand") suggests an active element in the signal path, while the word "passive" says there is no such element. The tested device is a rare case of a circuit based on transformers and without an active element. A few companies offer such devices, but the best known one is MUSIC FIRST AUDIO.

The Polish manufacturer Vinius audio followed a similar path. It might seem that each such subsequent product will be a copy, because of what we have there: an input, a transformer with a switch and an output. However, that is not the case. That's because, precisely due to a lack of passive (or rather any) components in the circuit, except for many meters of winding wire, such products are extremely transparent to change. What matters in transformer preamps is how the transformers are made, the internal wiring, the input and output jacks, the chassis, the feet. In short, everything. And each of these elements affects sound.

The attenuator in the TVC-05 SE is based on the concept of TVC (Transformer Volume Control), i.e. a classic transformer, with primary and secondary windings. On the market, you can also find a variation of the transformer attenuator called AVC (Autoformer Volume Control), in which there is only one winding. The advantage of the TVC version is galvanic separation of the windings, and thus no ground connection between the signal source and amplifier. It has its disadvantages, of course, such as higher resonances, including a strong peak usually occurring just outside the audible bandwidth, and weaker bass response.

Transformers for Vinius audio devices are made in-house. They are large, robust EI-shaped transformers wound with copper wire. They have extended leads that lead to a mechanical switch. From the input, signal is carried by Sulek audio cables. One could even say that this is a joint project of these two companies, because in addition to the cabling, also the selection of input sockets, excellent copper elements from CMC (CHARMING MUSIC CONDUCTOR, the CMC-805-CU-R model), as well as "tuning" of the device is done by this partner.


| A few simple words with…

Owner, designer

AS A BRAND, VINIUS AUDIO WAS ESTABLISHED in 2019 and, in a way, it dwells on the ideas of the Audioroby audiophile club from three Polish cities: Gdańsk, Gdynia and Sopot, the central figure of which was JERZY SAROTA. The activities of the club focused on the phenomenon of element directivity. Generally, the idea was that each element has its own direction of signal flow, better or worse for the sound.

That's thousands of hours spent listening to various electrical components and more. These resulted in knowledge necessary to create devices that are simply unbeatable. The right effect came from a restrictive approach to directionality. All Vinius audio products are created this way. Every part, even the smallest screw, not to mention housing elements, is selected and arranged in the right direction in the device.

The TVC Vinius audio preamplifier is offered in different versions. It is a passive volume control that uses the principle of magnetic induction. The idea was to eliminate resistive elements from the signal path, ones that degrade sound. The TVC adjusts not by attenuating, but by changing the ratio between primary and secondary windings in a transformer.

For this purpose, we use transformers of our own design that are also manufactured by us. They are made according to the principle of directionality. Large cores provide the appropriate energy. Such regulation does not deprive music of nuances the existence of which, using standard methods of regulation, we could not even think of. We are talking about aura, air, space and depth of the music stage. The realism of the experience has been pushed to a cosmic level.

The TVC-05 version tested in "High Fidelity" is equipped with new, larger transformers with the height of 105 mm, while the previous versions had the height of 102 mm. This gives us even more inductance and an even better experience. The Special Edition version is an extremely purist unit designed for people who value a natural sound image above all else. By offering only one input and output, we have reduced the elements that can degrade musical material to a minimum. It is known that reproduced sound will never be identical to the sound that was recorded. However, we are constantly trying to push this boundary.

Inductance measurements taken for this device don't make much sense because they are different for each frequency and for each of the 24 taps. Electrical values must be maintained, of course, but the devil is in the details which are not measurable and do not necessarily coincide with the general theory. The only way out is through experience and testing. We create our devices like the old masters who used their hearing to make musical instruments. The TVC-05 is not an autotransformer. It has, like all our TVCs, primary and secondary windings, so we also achieve ground separation.

Compared to similar TVC devices, the TVC-05 is superior primarily in terms of transformer size. In general, they are tiny and cannot provide all the things that are mentioned above. As for resistance devices, ladders, or digital relay-based devices, there is nothing to talk about. ZME


THE TESTED PREAMPLIFIER is quite large, at least when you consider the fact that it has no power supply or amplification circuitry. It owes that to large transformers wound in-house. As the designer says, everything in its construction has been considered and listened to, from components of the chassis to the screws holding its bottom and top. The chassis is made of bent steel sheets, to which thin plywood with high gloss varnish is glued at the front and back.

The top of the chassis has a characteristic texture and is not uniform. Since it is not dampened, it is quite "alive". In the middle of the front panel there is a large knob for volume control. Thanks to its sizable diameter, switching is smooth and effortless. Since there is only one input, there is no input selector and no remote control, either. The whole thing looks really nice and solid.


˻ THE WAY WE LISTENED The TVC-05 Special Edition preamplifier was placed on the top carbon shelf of the Finite Elemente Master Reference Pagode Edition MkII rack, on its own feet. I have already mentioned the top panel – I placed the Verictum X Block passive EMI/RFI filter there to soundproof it a bit. The preamp was connected to the Ayon Audio CD-34 HF Edition SACD player using the Siltech Triple Crown interconnect, and to the Soulution 710 power amplifier using the Acrolink 8N-A2080III EVO interconnect. The tested device was compared to the Ayon Audio Spheris III active tube preamplifier in A/B/A listening, with known A and B.

Albums used in the test | a selection

⸜ ELLA FITZGERALD & LOUIS ARMSTRONG, Ella and Louis, Verve/Lasting Impression Music LIM UHD 045, UltraHD CD (1956/2010).
⸜ DIANA KRALL, This Dream Of You, Verve Records UCCV-1181, SHM-CD (2020).
⸜ DOMINIC MILLER & NEIL STACEY, New Dawn, Naim naimcd066, CD (2002).
⸜ PATRICIA BARBER, Companion, Premonition Records/Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab UDSACD 2023, SACD/CD (1999/2003).
⸜ TSUYOSHI YAMAMOTO TRIO, Blues for Tee, Three Blind Mice/JVC TBM XR 0041, XRCD2 (1975/2000).
⸜ KEITH JARRETT, The Köln Concert, ECM Records/Tower Records PROZ-1087, „ECM SA-CD Hybrid Selection”, SACD/CD (1975/2001).
⸜ SONNY ROLLINS, Way Out Wes, Contemporary Records/JVC VICJ-60088, XRCD (1957/1997).
⸜ U2, Achtung Baby, Island Records/Sound-Pol SPB CD 006, CD (1991).
⸜ NIRVANA, In Utero, Geffen GED 24536, CD (1993).


I AM NOT A FAN OF PASSIVE PREAMPS. My main objection to them is that they take the life out of music. In some bizarre way, they dampen emotions and lower the temperature of recordings. This is interesting, because they are usually better "transmitters" of energy. They miss less detail and usually have better defined dynamics gradation. This set of characteristics virtually screams: "Energy!" In practice, however, this is not the case..

The second problem I encounter with this type of products is the emaciation of sound. They notoriously exaggerate when it comes to selectivity, forgetting about filling the presentation with sounds "in between", sounds that form the tissue of recordings. With these devices, bass is well-controlled and clear but shallow and/or not fleshy enough. For me, playing music with passive preamps is an exercise in patience and self-denial – I do not like lean, selective, emotionless sound.

That is why I listened to the Vinius audio preamplifier with such interest and even emotions (!). There is nothing stereotypically "passive" in its sound. Compared to the Ayon Audio active tube preamplifier, it showed everything I am looking for in music, i.e. the opposite of accusations that I have just directed towards passive devices.

The most interesting aspect for me was how the Polish preamplifier set the tonal balance of recordings. Ayon Audio is a device characterized by extremely high resolution, but also slightly (very slightly) darkened sound, at least if we compare it to such preamplifiers as MARK LEVINSON № 52 or Statement by NAIM AUDIO. As for Octave Jubilee, it sounds warmer and rounder, but does not seem dark, either.

The tested preamplifier performed much closer to the Ayon preamp than other devices. One might, theoretically, expect this – after all, the reference device is also based on a transformer with switchable taps. However, it is not a passive device, and the TVC-05 SPECIAL EDITION is, so it should behave like other devices of this type.

Apparently, however, its designers didn't want to repeat the mistakes of other companies and didn't put ultimate transparency over resolution. And it is resolution that provides fill and "connective tissue" between details. The Polish preamplifier thus sounds extremely deep and saturated. So, ELLA FITZGERALD’s and LOUIS ARMSTRONG’s album, Ella and Louis, remastered by the recently deceased Michael Bishop, Telarc's long-time producer and sound engineer, released in 2010 by Lasting Impression Music, sounded very engaging. There was no emphasis on the higher treble in the vocals, which is usually present, and I had a dense background and saturated timbre.

It was similar with the voice of DIANA KRALL from the album This Dream Of You. And it is not a vocal that is easy to reproduce, because it features a lot of sibilants. The producers decided not to interfere too much with the "de-esser", i.e. a device that eliminates the "s" sound from a vocal, instead opting for transparency. The Vinius audio preamp did a great job of showing that treatment – if a lack of action can be called treatment – but it did not emphasize the treble. It is because this is a device with exceptionally well maintained tonal balance, especially when it comes to the midrange and treble.

The preamplifier does not present us with as three-dimensional sound images as the Ayon preamp or other top devices of this type. It slightly hides and withdraws events on the listening axis, shown quite close to the listener by the Austrian preamplifier. It does not lose them, however, regardless of the type of music and class of the recording. This is extremely clear sound, mainly in the midrange and treble. At the same time, it has certain specific features because it is not "neutral" or "linear" sound.

Let me remind you that neutrality in itself is a great feature, but striving for it in the real world leads to absolutely unnatural sound – linear, but inconsistent with an inner sense of what music needs and what can be sacrificed. In this case, the point is that the Polish device emphasizes some of the mid bass. This entire range – powerful, full and dense – is not as well controlled as in other top preamps. Participating in a blind test, I would say that this range sounds as if it was coming from a classic tube device.

The result is a fantastically musical sound with amazingly resonant but not overdone treble and strong, warm bottom end. This is exactly the opposite of what we get with most such devices and a slap in the face to those who merely measure and conclude that TCV-type preamps have strong treble resonances and weak bass.

After all, both the acoustic guitar from the track Rush Hour which comes from the album by DOMINIC MILLER and NEIL STACEY titled New Dawn, and the double bass from the second track Use Me from the album Companion by PATRICIA BARBER were powerful, dense and very low indeed, just like the sound of Hammond B-3 organ played by Barber on this track, which had both excellent depth – which is built by low tones – and resonance.

It was from the perspective of rendering high and low sounds that I listened to tracks from two albums released two years after each other: Achtung Baby by U2 (1991) and In Utero by NIRVANA (1993). They showed the things I'm talking about no worse than the previously mentioned sophisticated releases, as there was also a very low synthesizer drop in Love is Blindness by U2 as well as the dense guitar sound of the opening track of Rape Me by Kurt Cobain’s band.

In both cases, the preamplifier perfectly showed the differences in vocals placement – in the first case far away, with strong low reverb, and in the second one – close, almost at arm's length. It also showed that the device is really very resolving and only the range below mid bass is treated more as a whole – it is no longer that selective. This, however, did not prevent the preamp from successfully handling both sound from the aforementioned Barber’s album, and the double bass played with a bow in Black Magic Woman.

| Our albums

Blues for Tee

Three Blind Mice/JVC TBM XR 0041
XRCD2 ⸜ 1975/2000

BORN IN 1948, TSUYOSHI YAMAMOTO is a self-taught Japanese jazz pianist. He began his career in 1967, while still being a student. The year 1974 turned out to be a breakthrough for him, when he became a full-time musician of the MISTY music club in Tokyo. Very soon, on 1 March, in Aoi Studio (Tokyo), he recorded the album Midnight Sugar which was released by the record label Three Blind Mice. He recorded his second major album, Misty (TBM-30), on August 7, and then five more albums throughout the year, both as the leader of a trio or quartet, and as part of the band of another important TBM artist, Isao Suzuki.

Blues for Tee is a CD that complements the album Live at the Misty. The material for it was recorded during a concert that took place on December 25, 1974. The Misty club offers little space, so the musicians were squeezed close together, reminiscent of another legendary performance featured on the Jazz at the Panwshop album. Yoshihiko Kanai of AOI studios was responsible for the recording at the Misty club.

The instruments were miked very closely, but also sparingly. The leading piano received two Neumann U-87 microphones, the double bass – one Electro-Voice RE-20, and the drums – two RE-20s and a Shure SM-58. Voices from the audience were "collected" by three Sony C-37P microphones. The material was recorded on an Ampex AG-440B-4 four-track tape recorder and mixed via an OKI Electric LC-3007 console, onto a Philips Pro-51 stereo tape recorder.

This is a masterfully recorded album and, despite the small size of the club and the closely positioned sparse microphones, the sound is stunning in its openness and carrying capacity. There is no zooming in on the instruments and the dynamics is excellent. The release also contributes to this – the version I would like to recommend to you received mastering at JVC studios and was handled by Tohru Koetsu. This is an XRCD2. Interestingly, the booklet states that this was digital mastering.

→ you will find more on XRCD in the article PRAISE OF A (NON)FORMAT: XRCD

HOWEVER, WHAT SEEMS TO BE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO ME is not even how the treble and bass sound here, or what the proportions on the soundstage are, but the fact that the TVC-05 SE sounds remarkably reliable. It has excellent dynamics – but that's what we expect from a passive device. It is not, however, "overblown", but very natural dynamics. The preamplifier perfectly signals changes in the recording, instruments, etc., but it does not emphasize details. Instead, it puts them in their place in the matter of the "presented world", so to speak.

So, there was not a shadow of a doubt as to how different the two concerts and the sound of the two pianos were – the TSUYOSHI YAMAMOTO TRIO album Blues for Tee, recorded in 1974 in the small Misty club for the Three Blind Mice label, mentioned above, and the album entitled The Köln Concert by KEITH JARRET, recorded in the spacious Cologne Opera House and released by the ECM Records label.

The differences between the powerful Steinway piano in the little room on disc one and the small training "baby grand" (or practice) piano on disc two were clear. However, at the same time, both discs had great fluidity and coherence, and both were credible in their tonality, space and a sense of "presence" of both musicians and the audience. Small elements, like the creaking of a chair, coughing, or the clatter of cutlery against plates, were all shown without thought. But you also did not have to think about it or focus on it, because it was just a background for the music, not the "main attraction" of the evening.


WHILE WRITING THE CONCLUSIONS SECTION, I am listening to the beautiful album by SONNY ROLLINS entitled Way Out Wes. It is the one which features a black cowboy on the cover – in 1957, when the recording was made, it was an iconoclastic thing to do, but it was close to clairvoyance. I am listening to the album on an XRCD released in 1997 by JVC. And it is beautiful.

The tested Vinius audio preamp maintains the internal consistency of sound, opens up the treble and deepens the bass, while remaining perfectly dynamic. The device sounds like a high-end tube preamp, but with better resolution and dynamics than most of its counterparts. It is not perfect, which I have already written about, but has its own character. However, it is good character: non-ideality that is "tamed". A great, very nicely made device that I would put in any, even the most expensive audio system.

Technical specifications (according to the manufacturer)

Control: TVC – transformer volume control
24 positions, 2 dB increments
Galvanic ground disconnection
Primary and secondary windings
Amplification: 1
Maximum input voltage level: 2.5 V
Dimensions:  355 x 390 x 118 mm (W x H x D)
Weight: 20 kg


Reference system 2022

1) Loudspeakers: HARBETH M40.1 |REVIEW|
2) Line preamplifier: AYON AUDIO Spheris III Linestage |REVIEW|
3) Super Audio CD Player: AYON AUDIO CD-35 HF Edition No. 01/50 |REVIEW|
4) Stands (loudspeakers): ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom) |ABOUT|
5) Power amplifier: SOULUTION 710
6) Loudspeaker filter: SPEC REAL-SOUND PROCESSOR RSP-AZ9EX (prototype) |REVIEW|
7) Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|


Analog interconnect SACD Player - Line preamplifier: SILTECH Triple Crown (1 m) |ABOUT|
Analog interconnect Line preamplifier - Power amplifier: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RCA-1.0 Absolute-FM (1 m) |REVIEW|
Speaker cable: SILTECH Triple Crown (2.5 m) |ABOUT|

AC Power

Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - SACD Player: SILTECH Triple Crown
Power (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Line preamplifier - ACOUSTIC REVIVE
Power Reference Triple-C (2 m) |REVIEW|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Power amplifier - ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Power Receptacle - Mains Power Distribution Block: ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power Receptacle: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE |REVIEW|
Anti-vibration platform under Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE: Asura QUALITY RECOVERY SYSTEM Level 1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RPC-1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RAS-14 Triple-C |REVIEW|
Passive filter EMI/RFI: VERICTUM Block |REVIEW|


Speaker stands: ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom)
Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|
Anti-vibration platforms: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RAF-48H |ARTICLE|

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Phono preamplifier: Phono cartridges: Tonearm (12"): Reed 3P |REVIEW|

Clamp: PATHE WINGS Titanium PW-Ti 770 | Limited Edition

Record mats:


Headphone amplifier: AYON AUDIO HA-3 |REVIEW|

Headphones: Headphone Cables: Forza AudioWorks NOIR HYBRID HPC