VTL Cooks Up Some 450s

VTL's Luke Manley was glowing with some tube warmth himself. "These are the Autobias 450 monoblock amplifiers ($13,500/pair). They have an auto bias circuit, fault monitoring, regulated screen power supply, fully balanced input drivers with their own power supplies, and trickle-current on mute—which keeps you from 'poisoning' your cathode." This last feature prevents you from stressing your tubes on mute and power up, without subjecting them to the stress of hard off and on—"which is a very nice feature. This is a thoroughly modern tube amp."

They looked good, with windows up front so you can watch your tubes glow, and they sounded great driving a pair pf Wilson Sophia IIs ($14,000/pair). The slam we expected, the delicacy of the string overtones and shimmering cymbals were welcome bonuses.