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Vincent Solidline SA-94 stereo preamplifier & SP-995 class A mono amplifiers Review

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Vincent SP-995 in silver

Vincent SP-995 mono block power amplifier

Then we have a pair of SP-995 monoblocks – 100 Watts of solid-state class-A power into eight Ohms, and 200 Watts of A/B into four Ohms. At over 40 lbs each, they immediately impress with their physical presence. Black anodised machined aluminium contrasts with deep heat sinks that run the length of each side. On the back are balanced and RCA inputs, four speaker binding posts and a socket for Vincent’s own system standby control loom. On the front an ON/OFF button, flanked on one side by a class A/AB button and on the other a balanced/RCA selector. A subtle blue LED indicates power on.

The 995s’ speaker connections are, frankly, a pain. My regular speaker cable, in fact all of my interconnects and mains cables) is by English manufacturer Cut Loose. Palladium plated silver ribbon in a semi-air dielectric, it is sheathed in a single braid for most of its length with relatively short separate positive and negative runs to the amp-end bananas. Fine, for my own Audio Note kit and pretty much most else I’ve had here, the free ends were simply too short for the Vincent monoblocks whose positive and negative terminals are some seven inches apart. To get the show on the road I re-terminated and pressed into service some Van Damme studio speaker cable that I had lying around.

I initially used the XLR interconnects provided by Vincent to join the SA-94 to the pair of 995s but then changed for the rest of the audition to Cut Loose silver ribbon RCA interconnects which allowed – as they do with most components from most manufacturers – a very satisfactory uplift in weight, openness, tonality and dynamics.

The first thing that struck me about the Vincent combo on powering it up was the silence, even into my 97dB efficient Audio Note AN-Es. Vincent claims 90dB signal-to-noise (95 for the SA-94) , but that feels conservative to me.

As is to be expected, the Vincents drove the Es without breaking a sweat. Although Audio Note has taken the late Peter Snell’s original design for the E and spun it into multiple permutations at widely different price points, the E, whatever version one chooses, is still at heart a friend of low powered SET amplification. That doesn’t mean that it will not respond well to some solid-state shove. One has to be circumspect, of course. I did not crank the volume up to full power – or indeed anything close. But then again I did not need to. Even in Class A the Vincents drove the speakers to ‘plenty loud enough, thank-you’ without any sign of audible distress or causing the heat sinks to get any more than mildly warm.

In parallel with the Vincents I also had here on review a pair of 87dB Raptor stand mount speakers by English manufacturer Reference Fidelity Components. Designed for 40 Watts of tube power and upwards they were too needy for my own Audio Note Kegon monoblocks, but the Vincents made them stand up and salute, creating a combination whose sonic grip was undeniable but which made for entertaining music also. With this load the heat sinks on the 995s became warm to the touch, but no more than that. I will be tendering my review of these impressive new RFC speakers shortly.

Since the early 2000s I’ve been a dyed-in-the wool fan of low power single-ended triode amplification, and the 995s are the first solid state amps I have heard in quite a while that tickled my musicality bone. Reviewed by a European audio title as being the slightly less impressive partner to the SA-94, the 995s are, in my view, actually superior: while the SA-94 at £2,109 is good, pair the 995s with an even better line stage than the SA-94 and they respond with a liquidity and a drive that makes them really quite special at their RRP of £3,220 a pair.

Vincent SP-995 rear panelVincent SP-995 in black

7 Responses to Vincent Solidline SA-94 stereo preamplifier & SP-995 class A mono amplifiers Review

  1. Byron says:

    Thanks for such a great review. I don’t know why, but lots of people are simply sleeping on this brand…at least here in the USA they are. I own Vincent tubed power amps as well as the tube preamp and they are simply amazing at their price point…hard to beat. So I can agree with your review 100%….you are spot on in the way you described the characteristics of the Vincent products.

  2. Stanley says:

    Vincent Audio gear is extremely underrated & has to be heard to be believed

    I can understand why some people do not like Vincent because they are putting High End gear at real world prices! Ignore this company at your peril . Audition & judge for yourself!

  3. Bill says:

    Made in China is always a turn off for me, but it really depends on how well they are made and of course the sound quality. I like the sound quality of tubes, so the author being impressed by these amplifiers is a plus to me. I have a solid state amp made about 16 years ago, which can be switched from Class A to A/B. I like the feature, and it is useful for sound quality of different music. They can be switched to A/B to save energy.

  4. Wayne Elliott says:

    Vincent products are “stupid good” for the money. Paired with the sublime SP-998 Mono Blocks the SA-94 Pre-Amp is superb, but it needs to be matched carefully and sounds best with Tubes from the source.

  5. Jorge says:

    I own the SP-991 Plus power amps and I just can’t say, apart from being from China (that’s something that I really don’t care, sorry) is that after 17 years together, they ain’t been beaten for another set of amps (and I also own the most powerful stereo power amp from Electrocompaniet). Definition of their sound is smooth and ultra micro information power. They don’t sound big all the time, but only in the moments they should. I also have had Vincent’s preamplifiers like the SA-93, but to my own taste (they are not bad components at all and construction is just top) they are not in the same league of these monsters. The SP-995’s were a replacement, but they are not in the same league of the old 991’s. Same happens with the SP-998, not as much in all terms when compared.

  6. Daniel says:

    It’s intriguing to see how the Vincent SA-94 and SP-995 defy the typical characteristics of solid-state amplification. As someone who has often found solid-state sound to be too sharp and digital, the promise of a more tonally rich and relaxed sound is quite enticing.

  7. Bertrand says:

    Thank you very much for the great review!
    I have a Vincent SV-237 that was feeding my B&W 803D3, but then I had the opportunity to buy either the Vincent monoblocs SP-998 or the SP-995. Your review helped me a lot with my choice and I even got the Vincent Preamp SA-94 that I find incredible for the price. Just to make sure, I sent an email to Vincent in Germany to ask which of those monoblocs have the best performance and they replied that in their opinion, it was the the SP-995 . My speakers never sounded better, and I had a few amps before those Sp-995. Only thing I noticed is that the monoblocs are very hot all the time in class A ( I switch to class B for movies with the receiver and they are never hot then ), but that could certainly be because I never push them very loud . So here I have an amazing system with 100wpc pure class A for a fraction of the price you would pay with other renowned brands. Vincent is definitely way too underrated and I hope they can get the recognition they deserve in the HiFi world.

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