VTL's TP-2.5i Series II Phono Preamplifier

The Vacuum Tube Logic room was difficult for me…and I am not sure why. Luke Manley was, as always, the most convivial and informative host. I visited his room three times, collecting photos and data, and every time Luke was smiling his big Luke-smile: "Herb, how can I help you?" He handed me a list of all the products and their prices: That small gesture always makes my life happier and easier. The room was well-lit—and yet I failed to get good pictures.

But the sound? Ahhhh! Music reproduction was world-class/top-shelf, with just the right touches of pepper and sunshine to keep it from being too cool or analytical. Luke played both digital and analog, and every track was note-perfect. So what then was my problem? I'd say shyness and free-floating Mr. McGoo-ism caused me to make one bad photo after another, making me so distracted as to lose focus while listening to music. But I didn't have to listen hard to know: VTL's demo system had it going on.

I am a fan of Wilson Audio's smaller loudspeakers—especially the Sabrina—but I had never experienced the Yvette. The Yvette was highly descriptive and spoke with Wilsonesque authority and seemed perfectly matched with the VTL S-400 Series II Reference Stereo Amplifier ($33,500) and the two-chassis TL-7.5 Series III Reference Line Preamplifier ($25,000). But, but…I was assigned to cover "regular-priced amplification," defined as: "Any amplifier product priced under $20,000."

If you must know, the real reason I kept returning to the VTL room was to compare VTL's TP-2.5i Series II phono preamplifier ($3750) to their TP-6.5 Signature phono preamp ($15,000 with silver MC step-up transformer). Luke played LPs on a Brinkmann Balance turntable ($27,490 with a 12.1" arm), with a RoNt power supply ($4190) and a Lyra Etna MC cartridge ($8995). I kept trying to find that big sonic canyon that should separate two products that are priced this far apart. And that was the difficult part.

The bottom line is: VTL's TP-2.5i Series II appears to offer a lot a phono reproduction quality at an extremely low price.

deckeda's picture

By that measure, does buying a $60 Shure M35X qualify as "income?"

I realize you were comparing it to something even costlier, but that hyperbole thing ... it'll kill us all one day. :)

Anton's picture

It's been an amazing year...amazing what we have normalized in our social conversations.

It's leaked into our hobby.

Less than 20,000 dollars is now a 'normal priced' amplifier.

15,000 dollar components are "middle tier."

A 3,750 dollar phono preamp is "extremely low price."

Try getting through one month's Analog Corner without a lecture promoting 500+ dollar new pressings of LP's. (Is it only obvious to me?)

Has anyone patented "Stockholm Syndrome Fidelity" gear yet?

anomaly7's picture

Too funny. But probably real.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

I have no quarrel with discussions of the new normal. Yes, the situation is appalling. Bu the truth is that, given the number of people we had available for our CES coverage, amp/preamp and loudspeaker categories were divided in two. The dividing line was not meant to signify anything more than above and below a certain price point.

Anton's picture

I would not have wanted your schedule for the show!

As a reader, I understand the demand for reportage of what was displayed, and people want as complete a picture as possible. 'Pop a pic and run' is too stressful for enjoyment, though, and I like it when my correspondent has time to sip some beverage and enjoy a given room.

So, as an idiosyncratic reader, I wish you had been afforded the time to see what was interesting to you and spend some time digesting the sound and giving us interesting insights.

It's a tightrope, I realize.

Anyway, some of those room treatments look fabulous, and I think one positive in all this is that more manufacturers are paying attention to their sound.

Thanks for the coverage.