New from VTL

At a show in which far too many of the rooms on my beat—rooms showing new amps or preamps in the $2500–$15,000 range, new cables, or new power products or accessories—sounded hard, harsh, and hi-fi, VTL's new S-200 Stereo Signature amplifier ($10,000) and TL6.5 Series II Signature line preamplifier ($13,000) stood out for their welcoming warmth, relaxed flow, and unfailing musicality. The S-200 is a fully balanced stereo amp with a class-A/B output stage that is said to remain in class-A up to 70 watts. In development for close to six years, it arrives equipped with VTL's familiar auto-biasing and fault sensor.

As explained by Bea Lam and Luke Manley, the new preamp benefits from circuitry trickled down from the TL7.5 Series III line preamplifier. Equipped with a new power supply and shock mounting on its gain tubes, this zero global feedback device, paired with the S-200, Rockport Technologies' new Atria loudspeakers ($21,500/pair), a dCS Puccini and U-Clock ($24,498), Spiral Groove SG-2 turntable with Centroid arm ($21,000), and Nordost cabling produced sound that actually made me happy to be at CES.

Unauditioned was a product at the lower edge of my assigned price range, the new TP2.5 Series II phono preamplifier ($2500). If only it retailed for a penny more...