HAVING the proprietor of a high-end hi-fi firm in the home is like bringing residence a Michelin chef out of your favorite restaurant to observe the way during which you eat his takeaway meals. Denmark’s Vitus Audio CEO and founder Hans Ole Vitus and his spouse Britta Mogensen have been on the town just lately – I used to be lucky sufficient not solely to interview him in my man cave but in addition take a street journey together with his group to take heed to some Vitus set-ups in Malaysia.
Vitus is the genius behind the design topology and Mogensen is blessed with a pair of golden ears, and collectively, they make an impeccable workforce. I typically heard them discussing the deserves and pitfalls as they evaluated sound throughout listening periods.
I used to be innately interested by how he voices his amplifiers, having listened to them with with Marten and Sonus Faber audio system.
“I voice them to have the highs and mids of tubes, with solid state-like control for the lows,” he revealed.
“It’s principally making one thing that doesn’t work, work. I despatched the design schematics of my first module to among the best op amp designers who used to work for Analogue Units and Burr Brown (earlier than they have been acquired by Texas Devices), and he stated that it measured rather well however that it wouldn’t work after studying the design schematics from me. It took me eight years (1995 to 2003) to good it. It’s a mixture of getting a bandwidth of two.5MHz and 0 international suggestions. Suggestions introduces a little bit of part error into the circuit. As soon as amplified, the difficulty turns into greater.
“My objective is to have it as real as possible with as a lot decision as possible. Real equals as near the unique as possible.
“I play my devices in my storage and document them for instant playback for a direct one-on-one comparability. Individuals are chasing the last word fact however with out understanding what the last word fact is. For some, reside music is sort of a stay live performance in a stadium however you’re truly listening to the PA system enjoying again. Go to the streets and take heed to musicians enjoying acoustic devices to get a really intimate and direct comparability.
“We don’t need this energy bass. We would like larger decision within the low frequencies. We would like extra management with the bass extension. I’m a drummer, once you take heed to Lodge California, at first, you hear growth, growth, growth then he goes growth, growth, booooouum each second time when he releases his hand from the pores and skin. You possibly can actually hear it and it’s so apparent… this is likely one of the issues I take heed to, to gauge the low frequency decision.
“I all the time need to enhance the sound, make every thing higher if I can. Plus ease of use, and communication between our merchandise. They have to be simpler to service and have an extended life.
“We take our time with our equipment. We don’t want to play the usual marketing game. There is so much of quid pro quo in the product review scene. It sounds a bit arrogant but we want our products to speak for themselves ,and depend less on reviews but more on reputation.”
What was the primary amplifier you designed?
“The SM-100, the first real signature product. Actually, the first two products were called The Statement. The first two products were a battery driven phono stage and a line stage. Changes in EU lead-free regulations on usage of batteries made them impossible to ship, hence I had to redesign them. After redesigning the power supply, they became the RP-100 and RL-100.”
Does he design all of the amplifiers himself, I ask?
“We have a team of engineers. The output stage is a stable design that I have perfected over the years. My main focus is on the analogue side. Particularly on all the small signal modules where I really do all the work. Also the power supply on the current products is mainly me. We are growing the team to work on other product areas so that I can go back and focus on the modules as that’s where the main sound difference comes from.”
One of many issues that bought me about Vitus amplifiers is that I get the complete spectrum with my Sonus Faber Extrema at low quantity, particularly the bass weight. I’ve had comparable experiences with different Vitus set-ups, with a pair of Marten Coltrane three and Coltrane Supreme 2.
“What’s the science behind that as the Extrema is known to be difficult to drive?” I requested.
“It’s the current! That’s the main reason why we use EI core and UI core transformers instead of toroidal transformers where the voltage can drop up to 12% to 15% per rail between the open loop to close loop and if you are using a split rail, then it is x2. We use EI cores for our Reference series and everything else is UI. This is purely because of size and price. Comparing toroidal transformers to UI core is like comparing Class D to Class A. They are huge, inefficient and really expensive. Of course, you can get cheap ones but the specs aren’t there.”
He went on to elaborate: “That signifies that in case you drop 25% on the voltage, it impacts the facility that the amplifier can ship. With our UI core, one of many issues we actually need is to minimise the voltage drop which we’ve got measured to be solely round 1.5% and our provide voltage is extraordinarily secure throughout the load and it simply doesn’t hand over.
“When you have a speaker (Extrema or Supreme 2) like that, even at low volume, with low frequencies, it’s difficult to drive and it wants more current hence voltage will drop with lesser transformer designs but our UI core stays stable. In the beginning, a lot of people were saying that our amps didn’t have very good control on the lower frequencies and were a little bit over-exaggerated but that’s because many speakers were designed using amplifiers that were using ‘not so good’ transformers. So when you start pushing them, it becomes thin as they aren’t able to maintain the power at lower frequencies; manufacturers were voicing their speakers to compensate for that. This is the main reason behind your favourable listening experience at low volume with our amplifiers.”
Oil in paper capacitors are considerably ingrained in my soul as a former tube junkie and I needed to ask if Vitus truly makes use of them in his candy sounding amplifiers.
“Not anymore,” he stated and went to elucidate.
“Oil caps aren’t actually what they was. The issue with oil is that they dry out with temperature. The standard of oil capacitors has additionally modified as once we used them prior to now, you may hear the oil inside whenever you shake them however these days, you hear nothing and the identical capacitors are a lot lighter in weight as properly. We did a comparability between the previous and new capacitors in the identical amplifier and you may hear the distinction between the previous and new caps. That is for some particular large fundamental capacitor we now have used – not everybody usually.
“For the Masterpiece Phono stage, we use Duelund as the only capacitors in the signal path. I want all my products to sound the same from the first unit to the 8000th unit. We measure everything that we receive from suppliers to make sure that it’s within our specifications which includes them being the same size for PCB mounting. We give a lot of heat to our suppliers.”
With a lot pleasure, he went on to share:
“We do as much surface mounting as we can with SMT machines. It’s very divided amongst manufacturers. Some say chip resistors are really bad for sound and that’s total bullshit. The only real non-inductive resistors that are absolutely non-inductive are chip resistors. Why are non-inductive resistors good? If the resistor is only a resistor, it won’t react to frequency but it does as there is some capacitance and inductance within. If they are inductive and you pass current through, they will induct some noise and that’s not wanted. With a system we have just listened to in Kedah, you said that it’s so quiet and that’s one of the reasons why. Because we go into the details with the resistors.”
How would you describe the change in sound out of your first amplifier to now?
“Not much actually. It just became more refined, better resolution, better control. The overall topology is the same but we have done so much work to make everything better. You know the saying, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.”
You might have additionally modularised your design topology. Inform us extra.
“The place do I start? There are three essential causes. The primary purpose is clearly safety of IP. It’s all moulded in and the primary IP is inside every module.
“The second rationale is to enhance on sound high quality. When the enter stage comprising of smaller elements is sitting on the primary board, it’s higher to solder them on a unique warmth profile and you are able to do that if you modularise.
“Finally, I can do upgrades to the modules, in term of technology, when available. Just plug in. It’s also easier to service. When we were planning the production of the newly launched RI-101 (integrated amplifier), we underestimated the demand for upgrades from (the previous) RI-100. We sold more than 100 units of upgrades within the first two months. Demand is good.”
One of many options that struck me with the Vitus Signature and Masterpiece collection of amplifiers is that they’ve two output modes – Basic and Rock. Sure that there isn’t any EQ chipset inside, I ask what the considering was behind this?
“It’s fascinating as Asia is the primary purpose why we developed the Rock mode.
“The suggestions was that our gear lack pleasure and wanted extra power. They have been evaluating it with many different manufacturers, and as an engineer, I do know the ‘common’ method they design, that makes it sound that means, and for me, that has nothing to do with practical sound. It’s aggressiveness or compression, and so on. This kind of suggestions challenged me and I simply determined to develop the Rock mode.
“Now our amplifiers have the identical, (clients) considering it’s quicker and extra dynamic with higher low-end grip and higher decision. They purchase our amplifiers for Rock mode and in a really brief time, all of them change to Basic mode.’
“This occurred many many occasions in Europe too and other people go ‘Brand XXX is like better’ once they take heed to Basic mode. Once we change to Rock mode, their jaws drop and say ‘now it sounds the same but better with so much control in the low frequencies’. Over a interval to time, all of them went again to the Basic mode. The identical with our clients in Asia as we discover them listening primarily in Basic mode, too.
“It’s not about velocity, whether or not if there’s extra velocity or dynamics. In technical phrases, there’s extra third harmonic distortion so it appears extra thrilling however you get listening fatigue. Our ears don’t like uneven harmonics. Some individuals like tubes as a result of tubes have even harmonic distortion. Listening fatigue to me is enemy primary. I don’t need the system to dictate to me how lengthy I can take heed to it.
“The dual modes were first introduced on the MPS and SM-011. We progressively rolled out across more of our products to give customers more listening flexibility.”
Are you planning to introduce any new options to fashions within the close to future?
“We may introduce new chassis colours. Perhaps a titanium hue accompanied by orange and red as well. White was the previous bespoke colour as you can see in the room here (in Alor Setar, Kedah),” Mogensen stated.
Vitus added: “The SIA-030 (built-in amp) is being finalised and there can be an choice to incorporate a DAC streamer module. It should use a similarly-sized chassis just like the MPM (Masterpiece energy amp) however not as deep. The SIA-025 (mk.II) will stay in manufacturing as an everlasting basic as it is a very good design that we’re pleased with.
“We would like to introduce a 1/2dB per step resolution volume control in the future but the limitation is space.”
Having travelled throughout the globe, is there a definite distinction between clients’ calls for throughout the globe?
“Not so much now compared to five years ago. Back then, in Asia, there was a tendency to play extremely loud but not as much anymore on this trip. It’s completely different. Then in the US, they want this extreme amount of bass that is not controlled at all. It’s different from the subdued Europe that I’m used to. Now, they are all coming closer to a single ideal.”
As for his Malaysian expertise, he smiled and stated: “Plenty of nice techniques, a lot of very good individuals and plenty of nice meals.
“One of many issues that struck me is that there are many near-field set-ups. In Europe, they’ve it just about in a single line about 1.5m from the entrance wall.
“It’s a new and positive experience here for me. With near-field, you get more focus, the sound stage is narrower but is much deeper. You can pinpoint things with higher precision. For my next development system, I will probably use near-field.”