Sound Valves VTP-101i Preamplifiers

VTP-101i

6 line inputs, phono, 2 line out, 2 tape out

User Reviews (13)

Showing 1-10 of 13  
joespride02   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 31, 2005]
Strength:

sound clarity, sheer volume, overall value

Weakness:

only thing i would have liked but not really a weakness is tone controls(thats why they make equalizers though)

well this is my first review i bought this my first piece of tube gear ever and can only say WOW, this thing really puts out the sound , puts my ss pre-amp to shame, the sound is overall much cleaner and the volume is amazeing, i see a couple bad reviews but i dont know why this is one nice piece of gear, im sure there are better pres out there but if you are on a budget and want a nice tube pre to compliment your solid state amps this is a definate canidate

Similar Products Used: no tubes but phase linear, 4000, 2000, onkyo p308, p304, vintage sansui and technics and pioneer
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
chien_shih   AudioPhile [Apr 05, 2003]
Strength:

Liquid mid-range, sound stage, presence, good timber especially with Jazz and vocals.

Weakness:

Does not spend too much on the apperance, kind of ugly looking from outside, but the components and layout are good inside, which is what it counts.

I have tried several preamp with both my custom made power amp, (Clasee 300 and a custom RCA 829B tube amp), I must say this preamp is the best value for the money, I have tried it against a $3000 sold state preamp, I find VTP-101i is infinite more musical, does not have the brittle high plagued with most of the solid state. I actually remove VTP 101-i from my system and move in the solid state, I have to move it back eventually because I find it to be much better in terms of sound stage and presence, I just can not bear to listen to this $3000 solid state preamp )I wouldnt name names here).

Similar Products Used: Acoustat Spectra 22, Classe CA-300, Maginificient 829B power amp, CAL DAC convertor. Proton 440 tuner.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Carolyn Boyles   AudioPhile [Mar 18, 2002]
Strength:

Good build quality. Good sound. Excellent customer service.

Weakness:

None.

An excellent entry level piece of equipment for the tube audiophile. A bargain in my opinion.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Amon   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 14, 2000]
Strength:

Terrific dynamics and detail; incredible value in a sea of overpriced, overrated gear.

Weakness:

Bass a little light; not exactly the Cindy Crawford of preamps.

This is one of those rare sightings in high-end: a product that is a TRUE value (no $3,000 preamps being trumped as "bargains" here). First off, is this the last word in preamp design? No, don't be silly. But, for $799 (dealer direct), the degree of sonics that the 101i offers is pretty stunning. Yes, the bass is a little lean and the cosmetics recall Roseanne more than Cindy, but other than that, this little preamp is pretty hard to fault. Mids are hi's are outstanding (especially when the stock Soveteks are yanked). If you're willing to sacrifice a little refinement and polish for incredible value, the 101i screams for an audition. This is one product that makes you question hefty price tags and fancy face plates.

Similar Products Used: Audible Illusions, Linn, Krell, Conrad Johnson.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Ross A Farnham   an Audio Enthusiast [Feb 21, 1997]

Tubes. glorious tubes! I don't know why everyone doesn't own one of these! I got a NIB sample for around $500 including six replacement Sovtek 12AXWXT tubes. The current list is $699 or $799 w/ chrome faceplate (VTP-101i) for those who go for that sort of thing. Mine is glorious black, and the extra hundred will go toward some Flatline or Tara wire. This unit is rather feature-laden for its' intended use which just goes to show you Can have good sound and convenience. It does lack a headphone jack and a remote but the sound precludes any complaint there! It does have a great MM/MC phono section which as quiet as the (PS Audio) preamp it replaced. Overall gain is selectable via easy to change internal jumpers. There are 6 line inputs, two tape loops, and an EPL section. Mute and mono are included as well as auto muting on start-up (45s). Supplied shorting plugs for unused inputs cut the crosstalk, and help the overall sound a bit. Warmup is about 20 minutes for the best sound, but not absolutely necessary.And the sound is the thing here! The dynamics swing, the mids and highs are sweet but not saccharine, and the surprisingly robust bass make any other sub 2k preamp a non-starter. In fact, this is a great-sounding preamp, tubes or otherwise. Yes the midrange is lush, but not overly so in the traditional tube sense. I use a low-watt/high-current amp on my NEAR 50s--the combination is near-magic some evenings. Many enthusiasts love to tweek, but I tend to leave good things as they are and play music instead of the component-of-the-month games.
No, the transparency is not 5 stars, but what is? Spending more seems to appeal to something beyond the sound vs. dollar equation--law of diminishing returns, and all that. The only real shortcoming is that you cannot leave it on all the time as I do the CD players and amps. The 101 runs Class A--you'd think this was an amp from its' temperature! Though it does run warm, the tubes are conservatively rated for 3k to 10k hours! And, replacements are $5! When's the last time you retubed for $30! While this is no Krell--I've never even heard any Krell!--it is a solid 4 spkrs, IMHO.
Any Washington DC enthusiasts here? I'd like to start an audio club if there is sufficient interest. Please email w/ your thoughts. Good listening!

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
J. Watson   Audiophile [Jan 18, 2002]
Strength:

Tube sound, design, clarity, price

Weakness:

appearance, needs some adjustment with tubes when setting up

If you are looking to get into tubes, Sound Valves is the place to start. I've read some of the other reviews below and it looks like some people have had some trouble with their Sound Valves gear, but I am not one of them. I bought my unit new from Sound Valves after losing out on one on Ebay. I got mine for $550.00 when they sell new for around $800.00. Once I changed out the power cord and put the tubes of my choice in the unit, this pre just sings. Is this pre the end-all solution to pre amps? No. Is it the greatest preamp ever? No. But is it a solid tube gear that produces quality sound? Yes. Sound Valves is the brain-child and extension of former Dyna-kit gear and Hafler designer Harry Klaus and yes, this gear does reflect his previous work. I am imagine that is those who wrote negative reviews below would have returned their units and pointed out what they saw as problem points, that the good people at Sound Valves would have made good on whatever needed to be done. I've had nothing but good experiences with them and simply can't recommend them enough. A great place to start if you are wanting to get into tube audio.

Similar Products Used: Jolida, Carver, Counterpoint
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Henry   Audiophile [Oct 07, 2001]
Strength:

Great sound

Weakness:

None

I have used this preamp for four years now and am constantly impressed with its clarity and depth of sound stage. Music comes out of this thing like it should smooth and real with life and verve.

I have tried it with an assortmant of amps and speakers and it continues to perform flawlessly. This is a great sounding unit with lots of features and excellent build quality.

I have used a lot of equipment over the past years but this is one that always delivers.

Similar Products Used: Audio Research, Conrad Johnson amps and pre amps
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Jim Cook   an Audio Enthusiast [Jan 16, 1999]

The sound valves preamp was my introduction to tubes. These preamps are regularly auctioned at www.ebay.com. I payed $450 and have seen them go for as little as $325. For a "tube trial" you can't beat it. I was expecting a glowing midrange and rolled of highs and lows. NO SO. This is one detailed and dynamic sounding preamp and that sounds much more detailed than my previous solid state preamps (Parasound P/SP-1000, Pioneer SP-99D, and Adcom). I am now sold on tubes and recently bought a tube amp (Audio Research VT-150), there is no going back now. I suspect that I will upgrade someday and get a "better" preamp. Since I will likely sell it for about $400, this is an excellent way to get into tubes. Highly recommended!!! 4.5 stars considering excellent total value.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
Theo   an Audio Enthusiast [Apr 26, 1999]

Positive Feedback hit the nail on the head. Regardless of the number of inputs you seen on the back, the only real input is the direct EPL. I listened to Eric Clapton Unplugged for months, occaisional it had life, late at night, maybe depending on the quality of the AC. Then I switched to one of the usual inputs, and then promptly forgot I did that. I listened for weeks and it had no life. While vacuuming one day I saw what I did and reconnected back to EPL. Yep, the life came back.
The EPL simply bypasses some of the selector switches. This indicates that Sound Valves is aware that the switched degrade the sound. If you haven't tried the EPL input you'll be presently surprised.

It really deserves 3 stars, but since nobody takes a 5 star rating seriously I'll give it 4.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
Marc   Audiophile [May 18, 2001]
Strength:

Good quality parts.

Weakness:

Good quality parts engineered by what looks to be a 2 year old! I have never seen such shoddy workmanship! Solder traces all over the board. Board mounted heat sinks all bent and barely attached. Screws missing. RCA's that look like they were used during the 1960's. Very poor silk screening.

I originally purchased the SV-100 solid state unit which was pretty good. My big mistake was "upgrading" to the VTP-101i - I should have left well enough alone! Sound Valves should be ashamed of themselves for sending me someone else's returned unit - or should I say mad experiment. It looked as though someone decided to go off their Prozac long enough to take out their frustrations on the inside of this unit!! Luckily they went back on the Prozac and returned it to Sound Valves where they promptly re-sold it to me - what humanitarians! I called and told them of my disatisfaction and was informed by the wife of the head honcho that I must be mistaken - the unit that I received was only a "blem" or "second" regarding the silk screen which was supposed to be barely noticeable. I noticed it from 10 feet away!! The electronic integrity was supposed to be perfect!?! Being the good business people they are - they refused to help me with this horrible product - which I donated to the Salavation Army - which is still sitting on the shelf there!!! Evidently poor audiophiles have some sense too! Do yourself a favor and stand clear of Sound Valves products and lack of support, do not go through what I experienced - although they probably are out of business by now - mercifully, but I still se some of their unwanted offspring available on the web. Can I give "0" stars?

Similar Products Used: Anything but this product!
OVERALL
RATING
1
VALUE
RATING
1
Showing 1-10 of 13  

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