VTL Compact 160 monoblock power amplifier Alright—you: up against the wall

Sidebar 1: Alright—you: up against the wall

No, I'm not Daryl Gates. I was just telling the Muse Model 18 active subwoofer that its services weren't going to be needed for this review; I can't very well judge an amp from 75Hz up only, can I?

The playback system included the Well-Tempered Record Player fitted with either an AudioQuest 404i or the Sumiko Blue Point, this taken to an Audio Research SP-14 and "hotrodded" via its rec-out jacks to Aunt Corey's Homemade Buffered Passive Preamp. CDs were played on my modified Philips CD-50.

Interconnects were Straight Wire Maestro, and the Compact 160s were connected to my Spica Angeluses with 1' lengths of VTL cable. A pair of NHT 2.3s was also on hand for comparison, as their bass extension is considerably better than the Spicas, and helpful in evaluating the bass of the VTLs in the absence of the Muse subwoofer. All line-level components and the Well-Tempered Record Player were plugged into an Audio Express NoiseTrapper Plus AC line conditioner.

The VTL amps were supported on my shag carpet by hardcover books; the left amp rested on a copy of Tom Wheeler's American Guitars, the right amp on Dr. Seuss's Horton Hears A Who.—Corey Greenberg