Well it’s happened. Frankly I was not expecting it, and certainly not with a pair of solid-state monoblocks made in China and pitched at not a lot more than a bargain-bin price point. But there you go.
What’s happened was a recalibration, an overturning of prejudices, a recognition that contrary to the usual pattern in audio, the law of diminishing returns doesn’t always apply. What caused this epiphany is a combination of products that doesn’t just provide a sonic return fairly reflected its RRP, but one that delivers more than it has a right to for the money.
If I dub the Vincent SA-94 preamplifier and SP-995 monoblocks a sonic bargain, then that should accurately set expectations for what follows. I liked them very much. In fact having lived with them for the best part of a month I was sorry to see them go. It would be useful to have them stick around – rather in the manner of a strong neighbour who’s always there to help on those occasions when you need a lift with something weighty, or in the case of the Vincents drive a difficult speaker load. But there you go. We can’t buy everything and a consolation of reviewing is that at least one gets to try some interesting stuff from time to time.
Vincent is owned by German audio company Sintron GmbH. Sintron managing director Uwe Bartel has built an impressive brand by pairing German design with Chinese manufacture. Sadly, Vincent declined to answer my direct questions about the design philosophy and component choices used in the amps, but that doesn’t detract from the gosh-darn-honest, get-what-you-pay-for deal offered to buyers of these products. For all I know, others in the family may be even better. I am grateful to Kyri K. Christofi at vincentshop.co.uk, the exclusive Vincent dealer in the UK, who loaned me the review combo.
So, what do we have here? The SA-94 is a truly dual-mono active preamplifier that switches six sources. Cased in solid black anodised aluminium it has a front panel that enables selection of source, and control of volume and mute. On the back is a pair of XLR inputs and five pairs of RCAs. A remote controller additionally allows gain and channel balance to be adjusted.
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