Smart Devices 2X150VT power amplifier Page 3
Against its grandfather
After a few weeks with the Smart Devices 2X150VT, I replaced it with my stock Hafler DH-200. The DH-200 is still a very decent-sounding amplifier, but it was no match for the 2X150VT, which offered much more. There was no comparison: The DH-200 sounded constricted, threadbare, and cloudy. It sounded soft and dry, while the 2X150VT gave a far more generous impression of musical flow and overall liquidity—particularly in the midrange, where the Hafler sounded parched. Forget that the Smart is based on the Hafler—the 2X150VT might look like a DH-200, but it sure didn't sound like one. And that's good.
Smart Devices is to be forgiven for their hyperbole about the powerful, well-engineered, pleasing-sounding, and reasonably priced 2X150VT. I would have preferred they left those volume pots out of the circuit—they can only obscure inner detail and low-level resolution, in my opinion—but the Smart's strengths aren't really about such qualities anyway.
The 2X150VT is a moderately powerful, warm-sounding, tube-MOSFET amplifier that avoids sounding soft and mushy and certainly doesn't sound bright, hard, and sterile, as some solid-state amps at this price can. The bass was extended and reasonably well-controlled, the mids liquid and harmonically well-developed, and the top sufficiently fast and detailed to prevent sonic boredom. It gave up some transient excitement, spatial information, resolution of inner detail, and air, but avoided altogether any grain, grunge, or hardness. Most important, its presentation held together, creating a whole musical picture. Overall, it was very pleasant and easy to listen to this "soft-focus" amplifier.
If you crave crystalline clarity, razor-sharp transients, and an "exciting" presentation, the Smart Devices 2X150VT probably isn't for you. But if I have to compromise, I'll take sins of omission and pass on "excitement," which usually ends up grinding you down in the long run.
I enjoyed listening to the Smart Devices 2X150VT over an extended period of time. Its overall well-balanced performance meant that its minor shortcomings became evident only in comparisons with far more expensive amplifiers. Mating the 2X150VT with a preamplifier of the opposite sonic persuasion could result in a system with truly outstanding sound. And the price is right.