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Linestage + integrated stereo amplifier (power amplifier)
Vitus Audio SL-102+SS-101

Price in Poland: 102 000 + 111 800 zł

Manufacturer: AVA Group A/B

Contact: AVA Group A/S
Sandgaardsvej 31, DK-7400 Herning | CVR# 29 80 08 04
phone.: +45 9626 8046 (Mon - Fri)
fax: +45 9626 8045 (08:30 - 16:30 GMT +1)


Polish distributor: RCM

Country of origin: Denmark

Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Pictures: Vitus Audio, Wojciech Pacuła

Dust hasn't settled yet after a review of Vitus extremely expensive (though not the most expensive) SP-102 phonostage, and I am already presented with opportunity to review two other products from same line: SL-101 stereo linestage and power amplifier SS-102. The latter is not a „pure” power amp as there is a volume control (attenuator), which allows one to use this amp directly with whatever sound source. It offers two inputs – RCA and XLR.
It's not the first device of this type – let me remind you my review of Leben CS-660P.
In my opinion a popular distinction between power amp with volume control and integrated power amp is more of a customary, it depends on what functionality would be recognized as primary. Of course some might claim that integrated amps have a higher input sensitivity, which makes it easier to drive them for low output signal sources, also that its input impedance can be lower as there is a buffer in the input stage, but if we check facts there are many integrated amplifiers with low input sensitivity, and there are many power amps with a high one. But what you call a power amp integrated with a passive preamplifier? Two choices – integrated amplifier or power amplifier with volume control as this particular one is called by its manufacturer. If you choose different approach and start looking at the number of inputs – than it gets easier. If there is more than one input it becomes very likely it's an integrated amp. But again – it is just conventional. So I'm going with „integrated amplifier” convention and that's it. That's what SS-101 is for me.

There are also „undisputed” integrated amplifiers in Vitus Audio range, with the least expensive one – RI-100 – costing 32 400 pln. There are also two CD Players coming from this manufacturer – an „integrated” (meaning one-box) SCD-010 at 68 000 pln and a two-box design: CD transport + DAC - MP-T 201 + MP-D 201, at 64 800 pln and 98 400 pln. As a Distributor underlines SCD has nothing to do with SACD, it's just a symbol of Signature line. The whole Vitus range is divided into three lines: Reference, Signature and Masterpiece. Most Danish amplifiers operate in class A but with an an option of switching to AB. SS-101, available since 2007 is no exception. It offers 50W in class A (which in theory sounds at best a moderate value, but practice proved otherwise) at 8 Ω, and 100 W in AB class (at 8 Ω). Let me just remind you that my own Luxman M-800A offered 60 W in class A (at 8 Ω), and beyond that it entered AB class. SS-101 weights 85 kg, which is exactly the same value as the one of my new reference power amplifier - Soulution 710. SL-102 preamplifier is much smaller, but its build quality is equally perfect. Oh yes, I haven't mentioned that before – build quality of Vitus products is simply perfect, period. But I thought it wasn't necessary as you could have concluded it from SP-102 phonostage review. SL-102 linestage seems to have exactly the same chassis and in my eyes it looks identical. Except for the back panel, of course. SL-102 is quite a new device in Vitus range as it was presented in 2010. It is fully balanced device with three inputs and two outputs. There are two XLR input accompanied by RCA ones, same goes for outputs. Important notice – signal, when delivered via line input, is converted to a true balanced one before it is processed any further. Same process happens in power amplifier. Linestage weights 24 kg.

To date we tested:

  • phonostage SP-102, review HERE


Recordings used in the test (a selection):

  • Stereo Sound Reference Record. Jazz&Vocal, Stereo Sound, SSRR4, SACD/CD.
  • Stereo Sound Reference Record. Popular Selection, Stereo Sound, SSRR5, SACD/CD.
  • Abraxas 99, Metal Mind Productions, MM CD 0102, CD.
  • Brian Eno, Craft On A Milk Sea, Warp Records, FLAC 24/44,1.
  • Carol Sloane, Hush-A-Bye, Sinatra Society of Japan/Muzak, XQAM-1031, CD.
  • Chet Baker, Chet Baker Sings and Plays, Pacific Jazz/EMI Music Japan, TOCJ-90028, HQCD.
  • Clifford Brown and Max Roach, Study In Brown, EmArcy/Universal Music Japan, UCJU-9072, 180 g LP (mono).
  • Deep Purple, Perfect Stranger, Polygram Records/Polydor K.K. Japan, 25MM 0401, LP.
  • Ella Fitzgerald, The Cole Porter Song Book, Verve, 537 257-2, Verve Master Edition CD.
  • Frank Sinatra, The Voice, Columbia/Speakers Corner, CL 743, Quiex SV-P, 180 g LP (mono).
  • Frédéric Chopin, The Complete Nocturnes, piano: Gergely Bogányi, Stockfisch, SFR 357.4051.2, 2 x SACD/CD;
  • J. S. Bach, Sonatas & Partitas for Solo Violin, Pavlo Beznosiuk, Linn Records, CKD 366, SACD/HDCD.
  • Jim Hall Trio, Blues On The Rocks, Gambit Records, 69207, CD.
  • Jim Hall, Concierto, CTI/Mobile Fidelity, UDSACD 2012, SACD/CD.
  • King Crimson, In The Wake of Poseidon, 21st Century Complete Edition, Universal Music Japan, UICE-9052, HDCD.
  • Laurie Anderson, Homeland, Nonesuch, 524055-2, CD+DVD;
  • Roxy Music, Flesh+Blood, Virgin, 847439, HDCD.
  • Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto, Getz/Gilberto, Verve/Lasting Impression Music, LIM K2HD 036, K2HD; recenzja
  • Suzanne Vega, Close-Up. Vol 1, Love Songs, Amanuensis Productions/Cooking Vinyl, COOKCD521, CD.

Japan versions of CD, SHM-CD, XQCD, SHM-SACD etc. you can find HERE .

Sound of Vitus amp paired with Ayon preamplifier reminded me of some very good analogue system with a turntable. I mean dense, deep sound, very communicative. This particular communicativeness consists in picking these sound elements that deliver emotional load of played tune.
It is an emotional presentation. Timbre emphasis is located at the lower midrange, which means lower than in my Luxman M-800A, Accuphase A-65 (both operating in class A), but also lower than in Soulution 710, Reimyo KAT-777 or Ancient Audio Silver Grand Mono. Yup, quite a list… I would say that the timbre offered by Danish amp is most similar to what I know from listening to devices of companies like Kondo, Jadis, or recently tested for „Audio” a Mastersound Compact 854 amplifier. I'm not comparing level of performance but I'm simply trying to explain what kind of timbre you might expect as this is the element of presentation that influences our perception mostly.

And the performance is excellent. It's the same level as Soulution, Reimyo and Ancient Audio – all others fall way behind. You might find such statement strange at the very beginning of a review but I want you to read this text while realizing that it is a top high-end I'm writing about here. So whatever pros or cons I describe should be perceived while taking into consideration the top level performance, the best of the best of contemporary amplification regardless technique behind it (solid-state or tube).

As already mentioned sound is very dense which was nicely presented while playing Pianoia I by Toshiaki Matsumoto, with a piano as lead instrument ([w:] Stereo Sound Reference Record. Nobu’s Popular Selection). The key strike was slightly rounded and „thicken” so to speak but the focus was on sustain. That's the effect we know mostly from tube amplifiers. We get something almost tangible materializing in front of us but the whole presentation isn't push forward towards listener. You can easily achieve „tangible” presentation by putting some emphasis on midrange but it's not how Vitus achieved that here. It's dense, „meaningful” presentation shown with proper perspective. Vitus makes sure that every key strike has its weight, its meaning.

I haven't mentioned it yet bit it's kind of obvious – this way of midrange presentation results in a quite a huge sound. When you hear it there is no doubt that it's a very powerful amp playing. I'll come back to that later but even when listening to a recordings of some small bands with few instrument you can easily tell that there is still a big power headroom that should be sufficient even for most current hungry loudspeakers. Here this obvious headroom results in a very smooth sound, with great „black” background. This is an element that I usually notice only after thorough analyze of the sound when I find this kind of smoothness, „confidence” in it. When I started to listen to Vitus right after session with very fast Soulution 710 I thought for a moment that it slowed the sound down significantly. But even though Vitus sound is bit slower the Soulution's it is not really about the speed but about a different strategy of sound presentation, its interpretation. Danish amp never seems to hurry things up but not because it is „slow” but because there is plenty of time and it will always manage to deliver on time. It doesn't really matter what king of music you listen to. For me the best indicator was the piece opening Chet Baker's Chet Baker Sings and Plays, from 1955, played by four musicians. With Vitus they played with ease, very smoothly and I had an impression that they enjoyed it. With Soulution I could hear that musicians were still young people, although already very good musicians, but performance was not that smooth, it seemed that they still have their best years ahead of them.
Which presentation was the true one? I have no idea, I wasn't there 55 years ago when they recorded this session. I could use my experience with this recording from different listening sessions but that would be still my version not the objective truth. I think it's fair to say that Vitus offers well controlled, relaxed sound. It smooths the sound gently, presents big vocals without bringing them closer to the listener. It never hurries things up but it also doesn't slow them down even if you might get such impression sometimes. And there is plenty of power headroom.

Reading this text so far you might have get an impression that amplifier designed by Hans-Ole Vitus delivers warm sound. But it's not true. It could be suggested by how this device presents lower midrange as it is very strong, dense, energetic. It reminded me presentation of Harbeth loudspeaker - Monitor 30 for example. If you had a chance to listen to those than you know what I'm talking about. If you listen to low pitched voice, taken by a very close microphone than there is a lot of energy, heat even – that's what happened when I listened to Suzanne Vega. Vitus does it even with so linear and open sounding loudspeakers as Avalon Transcendent. It doesn't „close” the sound, nor slows it down, but still the low midrange is more energetic than the rest of the range.
There is another reason why the sound is not warm – it's top end is not rolled-off, limited or rounded. Comparing it to presentation of Reimyo KAT-777 and Soulution 710 I could tell that there is bit less treble in Vitus sound. It's like the focus was just below top end. This is quite a subtle difference but obvious if you listen to all these amps long enough. Everything below that is shown in a similar way – strong, vibrant. There is a slight (comparing to Soulution) emphasis on „s” and „f”, but on the other hand Reimyo emphasizes bit more the upper midrange which Vitus doesn't do.
The way of presentation of upper midrange and treble brings to mind one more amplifier, namely Accuphase P-7100. No doubts Vitus offers better resolution and it is more powerful (yes!!!) and more dynamic amplifier. But that part of audible range I refer to is similar – at the beginning it might seem bit rounded, maybe sweet. But here thanks to excellent resolution, all details are delivered without homogenization, but rather with some edge polishing.

I was wondering how this amplifier would deal with bass range. Its huge size could have suggested that it dealt with bass with ease like Krell did. Just forget about what “technical data” says – 50 W that Vitus provides is something totally different than e.g. Music Hall' s a15.2 75 W. Can you feel the difference between these two amps? Here we have 50 W and 85 kg weight, and there 75 W with 8,5 kg…
In my (subjective) opinion Vitus delivers same amount of bass as Soulution does – simply as much as needed, and it is never separated from the rest of the music – it is always an integral part of it. It's character is bit different though. I would say that bass character is a continuation of lower midrange – it's a dense, rich sound. Decay of sounds in Laurie Anderson Homeland was with Danish amp really beautiful – probably bit longer sustained than with Soulution. That created an impression of a bigger event. On the other hand Swiss amplifier was able to differentiate sound better, to show subtleties more clearly. The control of both amplifiers over this part of range was (for me) perfect as I couldn't point out any weaknesses, and whats more I never heard any amplifier controlling bass range better than these two.

The quality of bass doesn't come only from very deep extension, but also, and maybe most of all, from great coherence of this whole range, of its richness. Because that's how a well reproduced bass should sound like – with all harmonics, without any phase problems and so on. This is why Chet Baker sounded so good, and later also Ella Fitzgerald on Cole Porter Song Book. I must say that all recordings with vocal, and I listened to lot of them, sounded very good. I think because of this combination of dense midrange and extended, well controlled bass.

As I declared before it was important to me to confront Vitus and Soulution amplifiers, as they come with similar price and the potential Customers might chose between these two fabulous devices. In order to do that I had to replace Soulution 710 in my own system with SS-101 and use it together with Ayon Audio Polaris III preamplifier. I did same thing when I tested Reimyo KAT-777. But the second step of such test must be using also same manufacturer's preamplifier as only it creates a system as particular designer mentioned it to be. It's all about synergy after all, and this is to be expected from one manufacturer's system.
In a good system individual devices complement each other – together they can offer more than any of them separately. It's not about fixing weaknesses of other devices, it's not about taking over. With inexpensive devises it might happen – then individual devices could fix other devices problems. When it comes to hi-end weakness requiring fixing are unacceptable. If there is any real weakness it excludes particular device from high-end. Sure even on high-end level you might want to adjust the sound according to personal preferences – that's OK, but it is something different.
Vitus set does just that – SL-102 preamplifier delivers big, dense sound which complements SS-101 very well. Danish preamplifier reminded me more of CAT-777 Mk II Reimyo than of my own Polaris III, even though the last two devices are based on tubes and Vitus in an exemplary solid-state device. I think there was even more resemblance between SL-102 and the legendary Convergent Audio Technology SL1 Legend. Sound is quite similar but, surprisingly, Vitus delivers slightly warmer sound than CAT and much warmer than my Ayon. Such kind of presentation make human voices sound very natural (referring to their timbre and volume). Vitus with Polaris did it already quite well but only now I finally got vocals presented in a way that usually planar loudspeakers like Magnepan, or some horns like Avantgarde Acoustic deliver. And one thing is sure - Avalon Transcendent that I use now surely are not a warm sounding ones.

Yup, this is a system for those who expect vocalists to materialize in their rooms, to have Wes Montgomery’s, or Jim Hall's guitars to appear in their homes. That's what SL-102 and SS-101 could offer.
As I already mentioned the way SS-101 plays reminded me of a very good analogue system. SL-102 only takes the performance closer to perfection and it takes very, very close. Together these devices deliver huge sound with great tonal balance, amazing dynamics and so called “black background”. It's incredible ability to drive even difficult loads makes you think that declaration of 100W of power for some other high-end devices must be simply wrong.
Preamplifier emphasizes also some other elements that SS-101 “touched” but left unfinished (at least in my opinion some thing could still be done better – basing on my experience and my idea of perfect sound). This seems obvious but still has to be said – there is always something that could be done better – even Vitus admits that offering monoblocks. In my opinion it is mostly about the depth of soundstage. The latter is great, rooms acoustic, ambiance are shown in a very good way, presentation is dense, palpable, but my system is capable of delivering more depth to the stage (and so is the amplifier without preamp). The latter slightly rounds bass too – no doubts that SS-101 alone with Ancient Audio player connected directly was able to better control and differentiate low end, showing more different shade right to the very bottom. Vitus preamplifier strengthens vocals and it is achieved by stronger, more massive bass (comparing to Polaris). And its resolution is bit worse than delivered by CAL or Polaris but – that's where it gets really interesting – not throughout the whole range as the midrange, and especially lower midrange is more dense, more beautiful – like these two things must come together. Polaris seems to deliver bit more ethereal sound – throughout the whole range it differentiates sound better but in the midrange it delivers smaller phantom images. Resolution delivered by Reimyo is not as good as the one of Vitus, but the timbre is very similar. On the other hand CAL has more “round” midrange and treble, but the bass isn't exaggerated.

On this level of performance it's the question of personal choice, preferences. Vitus system belongs to the absolutely best solid-state, and any other ones I've ever listened to. But it also has some distinct character of its own coming mainly from preamplifier. It's build quality is perfect, so owning it we know that we have SOMETHING special in our possession, and not just another “common” device. The design is very likeable because of its simplicity and consequence throughout whole range. It is an interesting and recommendable experience to listen to amplifier solo and than with preamplifier, just to find out which way of presentation suits our expectations better. These two devices are quite different – both have their pros and cons. But owning this amplifier gives you almost perfect base for whole system. SS-101 in „bypass” mode driven by Lektor Air delivered very transparent, open sound, with great resolution but no harshness in treble. Everything sounded exactly as it should have had. Later you can modify this sound with preamplifier of your preference to get bigger, richer, better saturated voices for example. But the differentiations will be bit worse and the soundstage will loose a bit of its depth – so you get some gain but you loose something else.

One more thing – forget about AB class. It is meant only for the most demanding loads. So except for such extremely hard loads, SS-101 will easily drive majority of loudspeakers in most rooms. The sound in class A is simply better – deeper, more liquid, with more involvement. AB class, although also very good, seems to deliver emotions too economically.


SL-102 SL-102 is a successor of SL-101 and was introduced to the market in the middle of 2010. It is an extremely well build one-box device. I mentioned that because there is also a top two-boxes model linestage in Vitus range - MP-L 201 costing 186 000 pln. Lots of solutions, ideas for SL-102 comes from “bigger brother”.
Chassis is made of thick slabs of anodized aluminum (additional colors available as a payable option). Standard colors are silver and black.
Front panel is made of metal except for small piece of black acrylic (or some other plastic) placed right in the middle. There is a display placed under this acrylic piece. There are no knobs, just round push-buttons located (by three) at the both sides of display. On the right size there is volume control (two buttons) and mute, on the left source selector, menu and standby.
The back panel is a real beauty – two rows of sockets – XLR at the bottom and RCA on the top. There are 2 RCA inputs and 3 XLR ones, plus two RCA and XLR outputs and one fixed level RCA (for recording or for headphone amp). Exactly in the middle there is a IEC inlet integrated with main fuse and mechanical on/off switch. As I learned from a manual one of the line inputs might be transformed to MM or MC phonostage module, that's basing on RP-010 stand alone device. It is also possible to change this device to „unity-gain”, bypassing volume control and gain stage which might be useful in home theater system. The main elements inside are power supply, buffer modules, symmetrizing and de-symmetrizing modules, plus gain stages. There five per channel of the latter. But first the signal from input gets to selector based on air-tight relays. Volume control is carried out via a 'ladder' of high-quality resistors that are switched also with relays (21 per channel). As Ole Vitus says, this solution is bit different from “regular” ones – there is a constant resistance (particular resistor) in signals path at all volume levels, and to the value is switched between resistor in parallel circuit. Each step means the change of volume by 1dB, and you can set level between -99 and 18 dB.
Phono input works with interchangeable modules adapting it for particular cartridge. The device is delivered with Module 2 installed, that allows you to chose 100 Ω or 1 kΩ loading. There are four different modules available, each with 16 different settings.
In the front there is a power supply module based on two independent transformers – each for separate channel. There is a large voltage regulator for each section. Device is delivered with a RC-010 remote control, that we know already from SP-102 review. It's quite handy, made of aluminum with a nice display – it works with all Vitus devices.

Technical data (according to manufacturer):
Type: True balanced Linestage
Inputs: 2 x unbalanced (RCA) | 3 x balanced (XLR)
Outputs: 3 x unbalanced (RCA) | 2 x balanced (XLR)
Noise: <110 dB
THD + N: <0,01%
Power consumption: standby <30 W, operation <40 W
Dimensions (H x W x D): 135 x 435 x 402 mm
Weight: 24 kg

SS-101 is a huge (85 kg) beast. Its front is very similar to the one of preamplifier. Similar black acrylic piece in the middle with display behind it. Even push-buttons are exactly the same – this proves that in fact it is an integrated amplifier. You can bypass volume control via menu but for safety reasons if you unplug the device it volume control will work again.
On the back panel there are two inputs – balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA – same as we saw in the preamplifier. Above them there are speakers binding posts – quite big, made of plastic, but without handy grip that makes it easier to operate them (like in Soulution, or in Reimyo).
Amplifier is really huge, and at the both sides there are massive radiators. After all we are talking 2 x 50 W in class A here. On the other hand, if the memory serve well, Luxman M-800A didn't have that big radiators. Possibly there are less gain stages in Vitus which causes higher temperatures. Radiators are open from sides but closed from the top and bottom – that makes the whole device to look as more compact block. You might say that the whole chassis works as one big radiator and maybe that is why it doesn't get that hot as for example Accuphase A-65, or Luxman M-800A. The bigger “radiation” surface does its job very well.
Inside there are two huge, oversize power transformers („double C” type, similar to those used by French YBA), stacked one upon the other. In monoblocks they use a single transformer but as huge as these to taken together. These should clearly take most credit for enormous weight of the device – rest is the chassis In front of transformers one will find four large capacitor cups, and near the back a vertical PCB with volume control section. Just like in the preamplifier also this one is based on resistor's ladder switch with relays. The devices is fully balanced. Ole Hansen, owner of the company, wrote in the manual that each section is coupled with the next one in a “special” way. Unfortunately he doesn't explain what way that is. Amplifier (same as preamplifier) is delivered with Adromeda power cord, and the same cable was used internally in both devices. I used these cables during this test.

Technical data (according to manufacturer):
Type: stereo balanced integrated power amplifier
Inputs: 1 x line (RCA) | 1 x balanced (XLR)
Outputs: 1 x balanced (XLR)
Internal cabling: Andromeda
Remote control: yes, remote control purchased separately
Output power (switchable): 50 wpc class A | 100 wpc class AB
Frequency response: DC-800 kHz
Noise: <110 dB
THD + N : <0,01%
Input sensitivity: 1,3 V RMS
Input impedance: XLR=600 Ω, RCA=10 kΩ
Power consumption: standby = 2 W, AB class = 50 W, A class = 500 W
Dimensions: (H x W x D): 310 x 435 x 610 mm
Weight: 85 kg

Polish Distributor:

ul. Matejki 4, 40-077 Katowice
tel.: (32) 206-40-16 | (32) 201-40-96
fax: (32) 253-71-88



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  • Phono preamplifier: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC (tested HERE)
  • Cartridges: Air Tight Supreme, tested HERE, Miyajima Laboratory Waza, tested HERE.
  • Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III with Re-generator Power Supply; version II tested HERE)
  • Power amplifier: Tenor Audio 175S, tested HERE and Soulution 710
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  • Loudspeakers: Harpia Acoustics Dobermann (tested HERE)
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  • Interconnect: CD-preamp: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, article HERE), preamp-power amp: Wireworld Platinum Eclipse
  • Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, tested HERE
  • Power cables AC (all equipment): Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
  • Power conditioning: Gigawatt PF-2 Filtering Power Strip (reviewed HERE)
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