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VTL ST-85
17 Reviews
rating  4.82 of 5
MSRP  1750.00
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Reviews 1 - 5 (17 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Tripping Billy a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: October 12, 2008

Bottom Line:   
This is the second ST85 I've owned. Had such a great experience the first time (all except parting with it), that it was a no-brainer when one came up on the boards.

West accurate, detailed and warm. Does a great job with jazz, blues, accoustic and will rock with the best of them.

The EL34s are readily available for replacements/upgrades and the unit is easy to bias and remains that way -- very little drift or tweaking required over time. Cage is easy to remove for cleaing/retubing. Fusing easily accessible and connections good quality on both RCA ins and speaker outs. Solidly built - weighs ton and you could probably cook over it -- not a for use in an enclosed rack -- needs to breathe.

Had mine looked at for modding - they aren't common so not a lot of people have worked on them. Apparently they can do some upgrading, but what's they are built with is pretty much top quality so you can spend the money, but the improvement may be marginal.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2000

Price Paid:    $1100.00

Purchased At:   web



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Cedric Rougier a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: August 14, 2007

Bottom Line:   
I recently borrowed a VTL-IT85 (2003) to try it with my Kef 104.2 speakers & Rega jupiter CD player ( + Monster Cables Z1 speaker cables & Empirical Holographic pure Crystal interconnects). I had previously been using all kinds of solid state amplification (integrated & combos like Luxman, Marantz, B&O, Yamaha, ... some expensive and reputable Class A). Although I was expecting to hear a difference, I thought it would be small enough to be a matter of personal preference. WOWWWWWWWW!!!!!.....WOW! None of the solid state gear I used sounded magical and alive like the VTL; so much warmer, detailed, yet non fatiguing! the difference is absolutly stunning, I bought it with no hesitation and would pay full price for it anytime. Thanks to Echo Audio (Portland OR) for always being so nice & helpful.

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   2003

Price Paid:    $1450.00

Purchased At:   Echo Audio (Portland



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by FETless a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: June 9, 2007

Bottom Line:   
I am using one of these amps in my system as a loaner while VTL builds an ST-150 for me. I am absolutley shocked at this little amp. It sounds incredible, and doesn't break a sweat running my 805s speakers, never shows signs of caving-in on even the most demanding pasasages. Quite honestly, this amp is causing me to question whether the 150 is really necessary! It is excellent!

The only reason I am going for the 150 is for future growth potential, and to keep the nasty upgrade bug away for a while. Otherwise most people should not need more than this amp with the right speaker combination.

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   2000

Purchased At:   Natural Sound



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by noam a AudioPhile

Date Reviewed: April 23, 2007

Bottom Line:   
I own the VTL ST-80 which is the identical amp as the newer ST-85. The only difference being cosmetic, another reviewer pointed this out. Let me tell you something, as a recording engineer and having access to multiple thousand dollar items, I love this amp. I have had it for nearly 10 years, it has NEVER given me any problems. I have repaired and sold Krell equipment that crapped out on me after three years! And it cost much more. But that is not the issue, this amp must be used with accurate speakers to show you what it is worth ( Magnepan, Thiel, Martin Logan, etc.) Accurate speakers need warmer sounding amps period. This amp produces a phenominal weight to the lower midrange and upper bass that is beautifully tailored and never boomy or bloated. The midrange is pure liquid gold. I come home to this amp, and trust me, I wouldn't keep it around this long if I heard a deficiency in any way. I continue to go into high end shops looking for the latest and greatest thing that I have read about and I always leave laughing with the same conclusion: Audio magazines sell readers to advertisers, do you get what I'm saying? Audio magazines like Stereophile make all their money off of advertising dollars generated by manufacturers of audio equipment. Therefor there is a need by magazines to continue to engage its readership with the idea that technology is rapidly changing at such a pace that you need to constantly upgrade, upgrade, upgrade. I bought a sonic impact digital amp and ended up throwing it out, great detail, don't get me wrong, but just listen for half an hour and tell me you don't have a headache! Honostly, this is what an amp needs to do, you have to be able to listen to it for two or more hours at a reasonable volume and want to continue listening! That is what the St-80 provides, friends of mine come over and are constantly amazed at the soundstage produced by this amp. One reviewer wrote that this amp didn't have bass like his solid state amp, well sure, but my Krell FPB 200 did NOT have the VTL's midrange. The ST-80 was actually given highest remarks for having excellent and controlled bass reproduction and I agree.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   AudioPhile

Product model year:   1998

Price Paid:    $1350.00



Overall Rating:4
Value Rating:5
Submitted by SteveS a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: February 16, 2007

Bottom Line:   
I bought this to try an all valve set up partnering it with a Croft Epoch Elite valve pre. I listen to mainly vinyl through a Linn LP12, Lingo, Hadcock tonearm and Cartridge Man Musicmaker III.

The ST85 struggles with deep bass. With Primal Scream in their 'house' moments it lacks the power and control of a good transistor amp with my Monitor Audio Studio 20's.

For the rest if you've only heard trannies you're in for a shock. It's like going from watching a black and white TV to a technicolor widescreen. Everything sounds real and 3 dimensional. If Neil Young is playing he's in the room with you and a guitar. Led Zep assaults you like a live concert.

I don't know if the ST85 is the best tube amp at this price but living with it you warm to it and don't feel the urge to upgrade because it looks great and sounds great!

One small point, when I got it I emailed VTL about 5 or 6 times and got no reply. They have a good reputation for customer service so maybe the Uk emails didn't get through. It was a bit disappointing though.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Price Paid:    $1000.00

Purchased At:   Brighton England




Reviews 1 - 5 (17 Reviews Total) | Next 15

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