I'm writing to you today to report my first impressions upon taking delivery of my new VTA pre-amp.
As building the amp proved beyond my capability, I had our friend Roy Mottram build it for me. Maybe I should take some pictures of the insides -- it is a clean and tidy, professional job, to be sure.
Was it the design, or was it the care he took to twist all possible internal wiring that makes this pre amp so quiet, compared with my Transcendent GG pre amp? Maybe Roy will see my post and take my invitation to set modesty aside in offering his thoughts.
The amp is quiet. I can hear the GG hiss from my listening position, when no music is playing. Not the VTA.
Solid build, no hiss! We're off to a great start.
But enough of what's good about what I don't hear, what is it I DO hear?
As I mentioned to Roy, in an earlier email, one of my favorite comparison pieces is Ricky Lee Jones' Easy Money. Ultra High Fidelity magazine recommends this piece for just this comparison. There's great vocals, prominent upright acoustic bass, guitar, tinkly precussive things like tambourines or whatever -- lots' of complex stuff for you to judge what sounds more or less realistic.
Right off the bat the sound with the VTA is just "fuller" compared against the Transcendent. (played at the same volume).
There's more detail in the sound -- a sense that there's more to it, more there than what I was hearing before. You know the cliche..."I was hearing things I didn't hear before..." Well, I'm not sure if that's exactly right. But more to what I was hearing.
More dynamic variation, too. So, all together, along with other attributes I haven't even noticed yet I'm sure, I found the sound more engaging.
My son, himself a musician, chimed in with noting there was more separation between the instruments playing.
So, fuller, more natural, more detailed sound, a better sense of soundstage, or perhaps "image" contributing to more engaging, more enjoyable musical performance.
I haven't actually added up the total costs of each for a comparison, but I think the cost was pretty comparable. Especially if excluding the cost of the phono board option which I got --the Transcendent doesn't have an on-board phono stage.
I'll probably continue to do some more A/B comparisons, just for the fun of trying to make careful note of how they differ. But in terms of value for money, I'd say it's not even a close call. This will surely prove self defeating to say this, should I seek to sell my Transcendent here on the forum's For Sale section, but I would really be surprised if anyone hearing these two pre amps would opt for the Transcendent.
I've really enjoyed my TS pre amp, and have no complaint against it at all, but side by side with the VTA, I would opt for the VTA, even if double the cost. Even triple the cost.
So, those are my initial impressions.
Hopefully I'll have more to follow.