Valve Amplification Company Signature SE preamplifier Specifications

Sidebar 1: Specifications

Signature Mk IIa Tubed line-stage preamplifier. Tube complement: two 12AU7, two 8416, one each 7308, 6922, E88CC, ECC88, 6DJ8 (or 12DJ8 twin triodes). Inputs: 3 pairs RCA line input; 2 pairs balanced/RCA, selectable; 1 pair tape monitor (RCA); 1 pair cinema bypass (RCA); optional, 1 MM, 1 MC (or additional line input if optional phono stage not fitted). Outputs: 2 pairs single-ended (RCA), 2 pairs balanced (XLR, EIA studio standard, pin 2 hot), 1 pair tape (RCA). Gain: 12dB. Absolute phase: correct from all inputs to all outputs. Frequency response: flat over audioband; –3dB bandwidth, 5Hz–210kHz. THD: <0.009% at 1kHz, 1V RMS. Maximum output: >8V RMS. Output impedance: <150 ohms, 20Hz–20kHz. Maximum input: infinite signal (attenuation precedes gain circuitry). Recommended output load: >300 ohms.
Optional Tubed Phono Stage: Tube complement: six 12AX7. Gain: 44dB MM, 64dB MC. Frequency response: RIAA standard, ±0.2dB (20Hz–20kHz); –3dB bandwidth, 10Hz–80kHz. Channel separation: >80dB at 1kHz. Maximum input: >130mV at 1kHz, MM; >13mV, MC. MC load impedance: selectable, 470, 300, 250, 200, 150, 100 ohms. MM load impedance: selectable, 47k, 30k, 25k, 15k, 10k ohms. Overload: 117mV at 1kHz = 8V RMS output; 460mV at 10kHz. Residual noise: <3mV at output (S/N ratio >69dB).
Dimensions: 17.8" (457mm) W by 5.5" (140mm) H by 14.4" (368mm) D (not including knobs and connectors). Power supply: 17.8" (457mm) W by 4.3" (109mm) H by 14.4" (368mm) D (not including connectors). Shipping weight with phono stage: 61 lbs (27.7kg).
Finishes: Black or Silver.
Serial number of unit reviewed: 1433101.
Prices: $19,500, line stage only; $26,000 with phono stage. Approximate number of dealers: 8.
Manufacturer: Valve Amplification Company, 1911 North East Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34234. Tel: (941) 952-9695. Web:

Valve Amplification Company
1911 North East Avenue
Sarasota, FL 34234
(941) 952-9695

Allen Fant's picture

Where is RR going?

John Atkinson's picture
Bob Reina died at the end of March. See This was the last review he wrote.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

TNtransplant's picture

Hi John - maybe this has been litigated in the past, but this one is fresh in my mind after seeing Kevin Hayes reply in the latest print issue.

Personally feel that Manufacturer comments should be appended to the online versions of reviews, especially if the reply is more substantive than a general 'thank you' and makes a valid point about the review itself.

I realize this may take extra effort, and perhaps providing comments and follow-ups might not be feasible for archival postings, but in my mind would certainly represent journalistic best practice.

John Atkinson's picture
TNtransplant wrote:
Personally feel that Manufacturer comments should be appended to the online versions of reviews...

It's now included in this Web reprint of the VAC review.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

TNtransplant's picture

I have no connection whatsoever to VAC but had read the review as well as comment and felt appropriate.

I'm in the midst of considering some upgrades to my system and in re-reading back issue reviews have realized that many of the most informative are from Robert Reina. His voice will be missed.

volvic's picture

Read this review several times knowing it was RR's last. In fact went back to past issues to re-read his older reviews. So long Robert J. Reina your Stereophile subscribers and Hi-Fi community miss you.

brian_pdx's picture

1) You mention the "pass through" for video on the VAC. How exactly would that be hooked up? If you wanted could you hook up HDMI connectors and if so how? For those of us who would like a 2 channel system in a place where video would be handy even if it isn't surround sound. 2) Speakers, as you know better than I, perform differently with different preamp/amp combinations. The difference is even more with tubes vs. transistors. Or so they say. Some "experts" say you should not use electrostats or planars with tubed equipment. True or not true? I now this is a challenge but recommending types of speakers rather than brands or models you would use with these reviewed products would be helpful to your readers. Thank you.

BruceH's picture

The level of after sales service from VAC is abysmal, I have been trying for months to get information from VAC regarding a replacement transformer for my VAC Auricle Pre. I have tried contacting them directly and through the local import agent and in all cases I have been totally ignored.
Too many boutique manufacturers fail to deliver on after sales service - if you sell a Rolls Royce product then you should have Rolls Royce service, unfortunately VAC deliver No Service which makes my VAC Auricle pre just a piece of land fill

VAC's picture

Dear Bruce:

Ironically, this message was called to our attention just one day after your parts were dispatched via FedEx. We strive to provide excellent service for our products, and to answer within 24 working hours the several hundred e-mails we receive daily. In reviewing the communication trail with you, we see several times where replies were sent but which did not seem to get through to you, as sometimes happens due to spam filters and so forth. Communications with our importer in New Zealand worked more smoothly, and we are grateful for his assistance.

The VAC Auricle, the last of which was produced around 11 years ago (yours was exported to Australia in 2005), was our entry level preamplifier, priced under $2,500 US, and a delightful component, well worth repairing and using for decades to come. Yours is the only known case of a failed power transformer, as you have diagnosed it, and that part was not available. To serve you rather than abandon you, it was necessary to fabricate a new transformer assembly (two transformers, mu metal shielding can, etc.), and regrettably that took some time. These were dispatched via FedEx on 25 March, along with a few other parts that we think should be replaced as a preventative measure to ensure that you do not experience further problems.

We apologize for the time this took to achieve, the evident glitches in e-mails, and the frustration you have felt. There are more than 10,000 VAC manufactured audio components in the world, and we actively support them all, with the sole exception of the 23.1 CD transport of 1994 due to the unavailability of the laser assembly. Hopefully you will not require service again, but, if you do, will we do our best to improve on this experience.

Best regards,
Kevin Hayes, President, VAC