World Premiere Review!
Almost every month I see Vincent Audio within the Audio Advisor catalog sent to my mailbox. But of course there are other retailers that sell Vincent audio components. Just to name two, you can check out Upscale Audio and of course Amazon too. The Audio Advisor is certainly not the only U.S. distributor for Vincent Audio, yet they do move quite a bit of German audio products. The Vincent Audio trade mark was registered in 1995 by the parent company Sintron Vertriebs GmbH (Germany). Although the SP-332 stereo solid-state amplifier as reviewed here is the latest iteration of the Vincent Hybrid amplifier line, it was in fact preceded by two earlier versions. First was the SP-331, and later the SP-331MK amplifiers.
Up front stabilization of the B+ voltage is handled by a 6N15 tube. Inside the SP-332 are two 6N16 tubes working in a differential push-pull design within the input stage. The new Vincent SP-332 stereo amplifier is intended as an enhancement of the company's SP-331MK. It was upgraded by providing both balanced XLR inputs and unbalanced / single-ended RCA inputs, both are selected via a rear panel switch.
The SP-332 also has dual speaker outputs, which can be individually selected on or off using one of the illuminated front panel push button switches. Actually the two push button switches are designated as, speakers, A and B. The A switch controls the top set of speaker binding posts and just under those are the B speaker binding posts. This enables a switch to two different sets of speakers or you can bi-wire one set of speakers. (Caution: Do not try to externally strap the A and B pairs of speaker connections together!)
The most striking added feature is a pair of illuminated front panel VU meters. The new SP-332 includes Left and right channel VU (Volume Units) output meters. The meters have a selectable colored back-lighting scheme that simultaneously changes the color of the LEDs A and B speaker selection push buttons. You have the option to switch between red, blue, green, or white. Back lighting is selected using a sliding switch on the back panel. (I really like this feature) The amplifier is available in two finishes, anodized all black or black with an aluminum colored front panel, with a suggested retail price of $2199.
Plug It In
And by doing so, adding even more time I found that the SP-332 slowly got better. Initially I would have said the treble portion of music seems to dominate. But with some time invested the treble assumed a more logical balance and integrated better with the midrange. However the bass seems like it's holding back a bit. In addition the performance space between my speakers gradually began to come into focus. And in the process small details assumed a more defined space. I was better able to pick out and locate individual events on the stereo stage. Not only that, the stage gained greater dimension in width and depth. This impression remained as I played a variety of reference music.
Now understand I do have all the Doors songs on various media but the album art grabbed me. Having never seen this Doors cover before, the first thing I did was vacuum wash the disk before I spun it up. As I listened, was confronted by old man time because the studio mix sounded dated. There was a touch of that old left channel panning mix that is separated from the right channel. Center stage partially separated from either channel but with Jim Morrison firmly in the center. Now this recording is far from 'audiophile quality', but still it tells a tale.
Mainly This: Listening to the distribution of the music energy as presented by the SP-332 stereo amplifier. It seems to predominate in the midrange and treble. Understand in my 12' by 20' foot listening space I am not into deep bass. Now you could add proportionately more bass presence/energy by turning up the volume. But to do it you have to increase the volume beyond polite apartment listening. Years ago I had AR 2AX speakers and I had that same symptom. No it's not my speakers! I have used more than a dozen different amplifiers with these speakers; the last one generated only 30 Wpc.
The 150 Wpc SP-322 should not have any low frequency anemia. I will play a wonderful Clarity Cable compilation Demo disc given to me at the CES in Las Vegas. First track is a really great recording of Peggy Lee singing her signature song Fever. The very first note is a deep drum whack, following that and setting the tempo is a resonant plucked bass line. This acoustic bass line continues throughout the piece and provides the musical foundation to Peggy's vocal artistry. The bass reproduction should be warm wooden and organic, nothing added nothing lost. Those very same natural/organic qualities will place Peggy Lee about eight feet in front of me alive and breathing. Unfortunately, once again there are deep bass details and overtones that are missing.
Even though running a frequency sweep is totally system dependent and not exactly a laboratory standard test, I did learn something. The SP-332 can and does reproduce low bass frequencies so why are they less evident? The defining answer turned out to be that the amplifier still needed more time to burn in! I found this out in December and drove 380 miles to Gettysburg Pennsylvania to visit relatives. I left the system on playing a blue tooth Pandora music channel. Three days later returning to find a very warm to the touch SP332 amplifier. Even with Pandora still playing background music at low volume, I could hear that the amplifier had undergone an evolutionary improvement! The music sounded smoother, more refined. I was hearing a much better, integrated response, and additionally a slight high frequency edginess was gone. If you were to plot a frequency response graph now, what you would see would be a far more flat and linear graph especially at bass frequencies. At softer listening levels the bass is now more proportionate relative to the mid and treble these are sometimes called the presence frequencies.
Let's double check and play that Peggy Lee CD once again. "Never know how much I miss you, never know how much I care". Peggy I do care, this is so much better. Now we have a three part Trio, Drum, Bass, and Piano to back up the vocalist. Peggy Lee is front and center and finally it is all there with nothing added and nothing missing. Consider that the Vincent SP-322 amplifier is priced at less than half of that 30 Wpc amplifier I mentioned earlier that retails for $4895. Obviously amplifier power cannot be the only determining factor, there is far more to consider.
Remember to enjoy the music, and from me Semper Hi-Fi.
Reference Amplification: Sanders ESL Magtech power Amplifier, Prima Luna Prologue Integrated Amplifier.
Speaker Cables: Kimber Kable 12TC @ 11ft. And a Kimber Kable 8TC 18" jumper to tweeter speaker.
Interconnect Cables: Monster Reference four pairs, two 0.5 meter, 1 meter and 1.5 meter, Nordost Red Dawn, Music Hall1 meter Phono cable. Chord Silver Siren 1 meter, Homemade Teflon RCA 1 meter, Autobahn 0.5 meter digital .
Power Conditioning: Wire World 10 gauge IEC line cord, Power Cords: Kaplan Cables 12 gauge IEC, Islatrol Industrial 20 Amp AC line conditioner, Richard Gray 20 amp Sub Station, Alpha Core Balanced Transformer Power Supply, and Audio Power PE-1 power enhancer.