What A Difference The Source Makes
As a fan of VTL electronics, I was quite eager to hear their new autobias, 400W MB-450 tube monoblocks ($13,500/pair) and TL-6.5 preamp ($8500) paired with hardly broken-in, not exactly the same as the final product prototypes of the Thiel CS3.7. While the sound was fabulously fast, tight, and full-ranged on Patricia Barber’s new CD, Mythologies, the highs were crackling sharp to the point of irritation. Wondering what was up, I took my photo of Thiel’s Ken Dawkins and bid a hasty, but hardly final, retreat.
By the time I returned to the room after the Show closed, VTL’s Luke Manley had managed to borrow a new Marantz SA-7S1 SACD player to replace the pain-inflicting source component I had heard. Quelle difference! VTL electronics seem to possess the kind of enviable neutrality that will not mask shortcomings in associated components. Now, thanks to an open and 5000% (!) more natural treble, I was able to turn the volume up enough to let the drums pound without inflicting lasting damage to the eardrums. Quite promising, I must say. Here’s hoping that can Ken can find a replacement for his original source component to use on Saturday and Sunday. I look forward to hearing the VTL/Thiel pairing again in a bigger space when all is ready and in order.