S-200 Signature Stereo Amplifier

s200-featured

VTL’s legendary Signature series has long been valued by music lovers who seek outstanding sound at a fair price. The new S-200 takes that proposition to a new level by including VTL’s latest technology in a space saving single chassis design. All the features and functionality of the renowned MB-450 and MB-185 Series III Signature monoblocks are built in, but in a package costing significantly less. With top quality parts, a fully balanced design, and innovative engineering, the S200 offers a listening experience unparalleled at this price.

This 200 watts/channel stereo amplifier is packed with technology VTL has spent years developing. A fully balanced differential input stage drives a differential phase splitter and a lower impedance push-pull output stage with a custom made, fully balanced, interleaved and coupled output transformer. Like its stable mates, the amplifier incorporates VTL’s SmartTube technology with automatic bias adjustment and fault sensing, making this amplifier especially welcome to music lovers who value ease of use. With the S-200, there’s no need to guess when or if a tube may need to be replaced.

To keep the output tube operating point constant and stabilize the critical power supplies, even under AC and main power supply fluctuations, the S-200 deploys adjustable precision-regulated bias and screen supplies, yielding tonal stability and sonic integrity especially during complex, dynamic signal conditions.

The S-200 also features a user adjustable Damping Factor feedback control that allows the user to adjust the amplifier’s output impedance by varying the amount of negative feedback. Impedance can now be precisely set to suit the listener’s taste, and to improve control of the loudspeaker loads to deliver best performance.

The 3 possible settings are:

  1. LOW – Lowest damping factor, good loudspeaker control, most natural sound.
  2. MED – Better loudspeaker control, with some impact on sound quality
  3. HI – Best loudspeaker control, with a little more impact on sound quality, but on speakers that need the control the sonic improvement is clear

The S-200 bears a similar sonic signature to its bigger brother, the MB-450 Series III Signature monoblocks. The mid bass authority and control is excellent while the midrange and top end reflect natural timbres and instrument colors effortlessly. The amplifier’s agility and speed, its very low noise floor, and its ability to drive a wide range of speakers are distinct features that few other tube amplifiers in this price category can offer. Pair it with VTL’s TL5.5 Series II preamplifier for one of the most compelling and seductive sounds available anywhere close to the price.

S-200
S-200
S-200

Functionality features

  • Fully balanced differential circuit – even single-ended signal produces balanced signal at output
  • Fully balanced differential input and driver stages for increased signal swing, bandwidth and stability
  • Zero global Negative Feedback
  • Shorter, faster feedback loop for greater tonal control without phase shift
  • Superior handling of loudspeaker loads for greater signal stability
  • The amplifier is unconditionally stable, without the need for capacitor compensation
  • Tube-like JFET type current source maintains sonic integrity in single-ended mode
  • Lower impedance output stage for improved loudspeaker control
  • Proprietary designed interleaving and coupling in the balanced VTL Signature output transformer, for wider bandwidth and zero ringing
  • Variable user-adjustable DF feedback control to vary output impedance and damping factor for optimal matching to speaker load
  • Software microprocessor controlled
    • Tetrode/Triode Switchable
    • Auto Bias, Fault Sensing
    • Current in-rush limiting
    • Standby Mute function; with reduced tube current for increased tube life
  • 200 watts per channel in tetrode; 100 watts per channel in triode
  • Uses eight 6550 or KT-88 tubes
  • Adjustable regulated screen supply for stable operating point; discrete regulated input and driver supply for greater signal resolution and tonality
  • Adjustable precision-regulated bias supply for greater signal resolution and noise rejection and improved isolation from mains supply variations; output operating point does not change with AC power fluctuations
  • Autobias and fault sensing system to operate in fully balanced differential mode; amplifier is fully protected against output tube failure; no need for precision matching of output tubes
  • Film bypass of power supply caps for greater HF resolution
  • Extruded aluminum front panel with luxurious, modern look – black and silver options available
  • Rack mountable
  • Rigid construction and improved ventilation for lower operating temperature

Documentation

pdficon_smallS-200 Data Sheet

Technical Specifications

Vacuum Tube Complement 8 x 6550 or KT-88, 2 x 12AT7, 2 x 12BH7
Output power
20Hz – 20kHz <2.5% THD
Tetrode: 200W, Triode: 100W
into 5Ω load
Input sensitivity Variable between 700mV and 1.6V, depending upon DF setting
Input impedance 45kΩ
Load setting
Optimum load range 4Ω – 8Ω
S/N Ratio -110dB, 120 Hz
Power consumption Idle = 330W, Full power = 1000W
Primary mains fuse ratings 100/120V = 15A Ceramic Slo Blo, 220/240V = 8A Ceramic Slo Blo
Input fuse ratings 100/120V = 1A Ceramic Slo Blo, 220/240V = 1A Ceramic Slo Blo
Logic fuse 100/120V = 1A Ceramic Slo Blo, 220/240V = 1A Ceramic Slo Blo
B+ fuse ratings Plate Fuse – 1.0A fast acting 600V
Dimensions W x D x H 18.5 x 18 x 9 inches (47 x 45.7 x 23 cm)
Weight 105lbs (47.6Kg) unpacked, 120lbs (54Kg) packed

VTL S-200 Signature – Editor’s Choice

hi-finews Editor's Choice“Setting the [DF] switch to Low produced one of those jaw-dropping moments, where a sound that I’d already thought was excellent became even better.”

“Amply fulfilling VTL’s mission to make tubes user-friendly, this well thought-out design brings all the benefits of glowing ‘bottles’ with hardly any of the headaches. As for the sound itself, it would be true to say that the VTL gave fresh insights to everything played, but that wouldn’t convey what this amplifier does. Simply, the S-200 offers endlessly absorbing, effortless musical enjoyment. Warmly recommended.”

Read the full report here…

- Steve Harris, “VTL S-200 Signature”, Hi-Fi News, July 2014

World/US Premiers from Wilson Audio, Vacuum Tube Logic and Sonus Faber Highlight California Audio Show

… “With the S-200 engaged, this system produced the best sound I have heard from the Giya loudspeaker at a show, with beautiful timbre, broad and deep soundstaging, and exceptional clarity on transients on material ranging from The Tape Project’s Nat King Cole release to Peter McGrath’s 1979 recording of Schubert’s B-flat Major Piano Sonata played from a MacBook Pro into the wonderful dCS “Vivaldi” DAC. There’s no doubt in my mind that the VTL S-200 Stereo Signature made quite an auspicious debut.”

Read the full report here…

- Jim Hannon, theabsolutesound.com, August 13, 2013.

Neil Gader on the California Audio Show

… “VTL had to be rightfully proud of the sound they were getting from the S-200. There was plenty of the detail I’ve come to expect but there was also a wonderfully airy and open flavor to the musical fluidity and warmth that to these ears spells an authentic musical event, not just reproduction.”

Read the full report here…

- Neil Gader, theabsolutesound.com, August 15, 2013

CAS 2013: Music Lovers presents Vivid and VTL

This was an absolutely superb room presented by Music Lovers, a local dealer with not one but TWO Bay Area locations (one in Berkeley, one in San Francisco proper).

The Vivid Giya G-3 speakers ($40,000) featured here also feature in a running joke between my husband and myself. The joke is entirely on me: when I first saw the Giya G-1′s in Stereophile or some similar magazine a couple of years ago, I laughed out loud and scoffed about “ridiculous looking speakers for space age bachelor pads” or somesuch. This lasted until I actually heard them last year (I believe it was at T.H.E. Show in Newport), at which point I swore under my breath a lot and then vowed never to judge speakers by looks alone, especially when it turns out that the looks are also hugely functional, as in the case of the Giya series.

But I digress! This room also featured the debut of the VTL S-200 stereo amp ($10,000), the latest in their Signature series. This fully balanced amplifier also features VTL’s SmartTube automatic biasing technology as well as adjustable damping. VTL also provided their TL-7.5 Series III Reference Linestage ($20,000) and TP-6.5 Signature Phono Stage ($8,500). Digital was provided by the dCs Vivaldi Transport ($39,999) and dCs Vivaldi DAC ($34,999). Brinkmann Bardo took care of vinyl with their turntable ($9,490) and Pi cartridge ($2,700). Reel-to-reel tape finished out the analog set-up; unfortunately, I don’t have the make/model in my notes, but tapes were provided by Tape Project. Cables and power products were all provided by Transparent Audio Reference ($12-58,000).

So, how did it sound?

In a word: superb. I visited this room several times over the weekend. On Friday I was treated to an a capella track, and marveled at how distinct the voices were and how detailed. This was followed by a track from British rockers Alt-J (provided, I believe, by an attendee), demonstrating that the Giyas can be plenty punchy when rocking out. Later on in the weekend came a sublime sampling of Nat King Cole, courtesy of Tape Project. One of the amazing things to me was how un-localizable these speakers are; with my eyes closed, I would be hard-pressed to pinpoint where they were placed in the room. On Friday there was a bit of boominess and smearing in the bass, but as the weekend progressed, room treatments were tweaked and gear warmed up and this issue disappeared completely.
VTL is an excellent pairing with this speakers; the new stereo amplifier gives the impression of having plenty of power on tap, and provides clarity and tone without shading into unwelcome warmth or romanticism.

I very much hope that Beatrice Lam of VTL, Vivid Audio distributor Philip O’Hanlon, and dCS distributor John Quick of Tempo Audio Sales are proud of their room’s performance, because it was truly one of the highlights of the show.”

Read this report here…

- Kirsten Brodbeck-Kenney, Parttimeaudiophile.com, August 20, 2013