Heart and Soul from CDF and VTL

The dudes at Coup de Foudre know great music, and that’s exactly what was playing when I walked into one of their rooms on Saturday afternoon, Tom Waits sounding all damned and heartbroken but still so full of love, and there was nothing I could possibly do but sit down and listen. The soundstage was so deep, the low-level resolution so clear, the overall presentation so effortless, it was as if I was looking into Tom Waits’ old soul.

Seen here is VTL’s new TL-5.5 preamplifier ($8000, with phono stage), its top off to expose the tubes and other inner workings. Luke Manley told me he wanted to incorporate as much technology as possible from his TL-7.5 Reference and TL-6.5 Signature products, while still offering a high value. At around half the price of the TL-6.5, the 5.5 is designed to match VTL’s Signature line and offers all of the TL-6.5’s line-stage functionality while borrowing the JFET/parallel 12AU7 design from VTL’s TP-6.5 phono stage.

We listened with the Clearaudio Ambient Solo turntable (known, in other parts of this wild world, as THE CHAMPION WOOD; $3000) and Avalon Indra loudspeakers ($20,000/pair).