A new owner’s odyssey with the Vincent Audio SP331MK power amplifier

My customer picked up his new SP331MK last Saturday. The SP331MK is a 150 watts per channel power amplifier “Editors’ Choice Award” 2012 – The Absolute Sound Magazine, retailing at $2399. He is using a Vincent Audio SA-T1 tube preamplifier.

Over a period of five hours the next day he sent me four emails describing his evolving experience. It’s an intimate view into one person’s process in tuning his system. I think it highlights the effects of break-in, power cables, and tube rolling so I am sharing the emails with you.

5:36 PM

OK… this amp is strange. Now it’s sounding darker. I did read where it takes about 40-50 hours of run in… I’ve got less than 15 hours. I can also tell you this, the more resolution an amp can give, the more it will tell you what a bad recording is. This is a stange amp to say the least. The Rotel was a brighter sounding amp but not as good with bass. This amp has a nice sound to it…puts meat on the music, but the highs are changing… first they where nice now not so nice or as bright as the Rotel. But we will see… let it get 50 hours of run in. After that period, I may get some other cables and power cords… but I do like it so far.

5:38 PM

I’ve gone back to the Vincent power cord and its not as dark as the Pangea power cord. The amp was neutral out of the box, but now its a little on the darker side of thing. But since I removed the Pangea, its a lot better. One thing I’ve notice, these $99 A+ I have are going to have to go. I think they are out classed by this amp.

The amp seems to bring the highs but its the little subtle nuances that are kinda lacking…but I did notice they sort of left when I put in the Mullard tubes in to the preamp a few months ago. I may go back to the Gold Lines to see what they are like. Right now I am listening to some Vinyl and boy it sure sounds great! I have not really being playing that much… I have only about 16 hours on it so far and I do like what I hear. But I really think the warmth of the Vincent and the Warmth of the Mullards may be a tad to much… giving the sp-331MK more darkness than needed.

5:49 PM

OK… I have changed the tubes back to the Gold Lion and all my fears are gone! The Mullard in the preamp and the warm tubes in the Sp-331MK was a tad to much. I don’t have as much richness to the tone as before like with the Mullards but my highs are back! With the Rotel amp the Mullards worked against the Rotels highs masking the highs abit making it more neutral, but the Gold Line is not as warm as Mullards but more neutral. The Gold Lions are not as loud as the Mullards and dont have the stage as the Mullards so it may be a matter of me tube rolling to find the right tube, but as of now I have what I am back on track. The mids with the Mullards and the SP-331MK were a bit too much, but now they are right. I will be on the hunt to find the right tube some time down the road after total run in but now its about enjoyment.

10:24 PM

Wylie… got about 20 hours on it now and the amp has opened up. My vinyl collection has never sounded like this. This thing is incredible. I mean it’s sounding really great! I would say its neither dark, nor is it bright. Its more neutral in my opinion. The resolution is really great!

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