VIRTUE AUDIO SENSATION M451 & M901

Price: $799 & $949

plus additional options

 

by

James L. Darby

 

As you should know, we at Stereomojo are big fans of companies that bring us very high quality stereo components at bargain prices. As such, we are big fans of virtue audio because that is exactly what they do. We have reviewed a few of their products and even did a three-way shootout with their original small amp versus a NUFORCE AND A TRENDS TA 10.2. The shootout consisted of a three-judge panel and guess what - the Virtue Audio One came out on top.

Stereomojo has always been at the forefront of new technologies like what is often called digital amplification. Five years ago when that technology was just taking off, we did a blind shoot out of 14 different “new technology” amplifiers. That's right, 14! Something of that magnitude had never been attempted before, much less successfully pulled off. The big news was that the overall winner was the least expensive amp in the contest: the $130 Trends Audio. It bested amps costing north of $2000. Significantly, it employed the new at that time Tripath chip. The results sent shockwaves through the industry.


Virtue amps also uses Tripath at their core, but they have taken that technology to a new level as witnessed by the Virtue One wresting the title away from an updated Trends in our second shootout. But Seth Krinsky, head guru of Virtue, wasn't satisfied, so he set out to create something even better he christened the Sensation. It was supposed to be released three years ago, but Seth is a perfectionist and he kept working on the design until it not only sounded great and looked great, but was also exceedingly reliable. You'd think a guy who was recently engaged would slow down a bit. But no! Shortly after the Sensation came to market, he formed an alliance with tube amp expert Gary Dodd to add a tube buffer stage to an already sweet sounding amp.


Seth also believes in the concept of upgradability and provides several options to improve the Sensation sound if you wish, as funds become available. There are even two different models to start with.


So here we have the first review of both Sensation versions and virtually all the available options. Has Krinsky created another colossal killer component? Buckle up, strap in and hold tight. Let's do this.

 

VIRTUOSITY

I asked Seth what prompted him to start Virtue Audio, to which he replied: “In the early 2000's, the only place to find audiophile grade gear at affordable prices was on Audiogon, used. After learning what most gear cost to make in China, it seemed clear to me that there was a business opportunity in offering more for less. Remember that this was before the Chinese found eBay others started copying companies like ours. I was getting 2-channel sound from a huge, energy sucking Yamaha amplifier and it seemed to me that the world needed a high-end, small, wireless amp. The wireless part didn't work out properly but the sound quality exceeded anything I could have imagined. On a personal note, I was also an overworked computer guy looking for a creative outlet and a way to connect with other people who didn't sell me caffeinated beverages at wee hours. Virtue has become a community and every geek like me wants friends (hopefully others find theirs more easily.”


He was then asked why he chose the name Virtue. “Virtue was born at a time when I was unemployed and growing spiritually. I was trying to figure out how'd I'd buried a decade of my life in work and poor relationship choices and was determined to not screw up again. In my own search for clarity, I started looking for rules on dating, family, and business -- and it became pretty obvious that old-fashioned, traditional Judeo-Christian values, offered the simplest and surest path to happiness. At their core are some commonly held notions about life based on experience, justice, and what some consider divine revelation (for me, simply "truth"). At the time there was some scandal related to the Gulf War and the word "virtue" was the top search-word on Google. This was a word that had profound meaning to lots of people and seemed to capture these ideas all together. Virtue also has a musical sense about it ("virtuoso") and is easy to understand in many languages. Calling my electronics company "virtue" was a once in a lifetime opportunity connect with customers around some powerful concepts that had improved my own life and were essential for a well-functioning society. It was audacious and counter-cultural really. By calling ourselves "Virtue" we gave up the ability to be "creative" and made a compact with our future customers: no gimmicks, no BS. We respect you and you can trust us. Our customers know what it means and so do our staff and partners. And it's also evangelical: we're setting an example. We are privileged with the challenge of upholding our virtuous name every day. There's even a Jason Mraz lyric which I considered making our tag line: ‘Our name is our Virtue.’ Even if we only sell 1 unit per year, we want to do it virtuously.”

 

MODEL BREAKDOWN

Virtue makes five amplifiers, all integrated and all using the same Tripath chip. There are two Sensation models: the M451 and the M901. Here's a side-by-side comparison:


As you can see, the only differences are the speaker posts and the type of caps used. And the price of course. Available upgrades are an aluminum remote to replace the standard plastic model - both have the same functionality. Price is $99. There is also an upgraded external power supply that increases voltage from 24 to 30 and doubling the wattage (of the power supply) from 65 to 130. Cost is $149.

 


The newest add-on is the tube buffer custom made by Gary Dodd. Price is $300. Does it make $300 worth of improvement? Virtue lists several other 3rd party devices that work with the amps, but one of the most interesting and one Seth told me I should really hear is the Black Lightening battery unit by Vinnie Rossi at Red Wine Audio. These units are custom made to your specification, depending on what components you have. The one he makes for Virtue has the correct cable connection needed for the Sensation, correct voltage etc. I’ve known Vinnie for years and he graciously sent me a unit to use with the Sensations. The price was $599, close to the cost of the amps alone. Was it worth the extra bucks?

 


FOLLOWING A TRIPATH

 


There are several potential qualities that all Tripath based amplifiers have in common:


Small form factor. Since most of the circuitry is condensed into a single chip, big cases are not required. The Sensations casework, which is highly customizable, is larger mainly due to the necessary jacks for the three inputs and the remote control functionality.


Extremely low heat output. The Tripath uses electricity at a high level of efficiency, so little unused power needs to be vented in the form of heat. Even at idle, the Sensations only draw between nine and 12 V depending on which power supply is used. For those who live in tropical climes like me, that’s a godsend, and it really helps with electric bills as well.


Sonically, the Tripath is very fast, allowing it to fully reproduce fast transients like guitar strings, pianos, drums, metallic percussion and everything else that is either struck, plucked, bashed or strummed. They also hold onto notes and sounds longer, letting them fully realize and develop like real music does. They also are known for their lack of coloration since signal paths are microscopic and need less soldering and lengths of wires like conventional amps. Their sound can be much less “digital” sounding than Class D or even some solid-state amps.


Did you notice above that I said potential qualities? That’s because, like every other product, it’s all in how it’s designed and implemented whether the electronics, whatever they are, are allowed to achieve their full potential.


Many hours, days, weeks and sometimes months were spent with the Virtue Sensations and their options, so hundreds of different music selections were used. The findings are based on those experiences, though I only cite a few specific selections:

 

The Stereomojo Ultimate Evaluation Disc
Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classic of All Time – Santana 2010
Orchestrion – Pat Metheny 2010
So Runs the World Away – Josh Ritter 2010
Tango 3 – Gotan Project
Conspirare – A Company of Voices
Exotic Dances for the Orchestra – 24/172 bit Reference Recording
Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up the Virtue variations.

 

THE FRONT PANEL


The Sensation’s face (both models) could not be simpler; there are two buttons and one giant knob, accompanied by 6 LED status lights. Sensation has two power switches: a main, manual rocker switch on the back and a power button on the front (which can also be controlled by remote). The power on/off is on the left front and a matching source selector on the right. In the center is an enormous volume knob, all of which can be ordered in a selection of colors. The three lights on the left are on/off, standby and protect. The amp has a soft start function and the lights tell you the status.

 

.

Standby lets you know the rear power is on if lit

The protect light will flash on if you carried away with the volume level and lets you that clipping is occurring and you should back off.

 

SENSATION M451
$799


As illustrated above, the 451 is identical to the 901 save for the brass speaker posts and the type of caps that are used; Sonicaps for the 451 versus the Auricaps for the 901. The sound is amazingly good; very fast with ample detail, midrange sweetness and solid bass. Some say the Sensations sound like tubes. They do not. But, they do have more of a tube quality than other solid-state amps anywhere near the price and certainly more than most any Class D. What that means is the silvery, somewhat metallic sheen you get with solid state is greatly reduced without sacrificing the pinpoint detail and bass/treble extension that good solid state can impart. The sound is still not lush with a golden glow that some tubes give you and the ultimate spaciousness and air of better amps is somewhat reduced. Still, the 451’s sound is relaxed and not overly analytical while retaining a very clean presentation that is never fatiguing.


The 451 sounds very similar to the Virtue One.2 with the Auricaps, and it should since the innards, with the exception of an ALPS attenuator, are the same. But remember, the little Virtue sounds pretty good! Our Dr. John Richardson in the three-way shootout said this about the little bugger: “Anyone who has read my review of this amp here at Stereomojo.com knows that I have nothing but praise for this product. This faceoff was interesting and productive, but I can say that it really doesn’t change my opinion of the Virtue. Of the three amps, it was definitely the most lively and engaging. Specifically, it gave the most up-front presentation of music, in terms of harmonic texture, rhythm and pace, and soundstage. In short, the One hooked me quickly and got me more deeply engaged in the listening experience… that’s what it’s all about, right?”

So who in their right mind would pay the extra $350 bucks for the 451? Well, one rather limiting factor with the smaller amps is that they only have one input; if you want to change sources, you have to change cables. The Sensations have three. Also, there is no remote control option, making the One ideal for computer audio or those with just one source who don't mind getting up and down the change volume levels. In other words, cheap bastards. Now don't take offense, we love cheap bastards! It could be argued that most of us here at Stereomojo are, indeed, cheap bastards. In fact, and I'm very serious about this, I'm thinking of starting a column entitled, “Stereo for Cheap Bastards”. It would, of course, concentrate on reviews of gear priced $1000 or less. Or maybe $500. I haven't decided yet. What do you think? We really want to know. Drop me a short note and express your opinion - on the idea, the title and the price limit. We do listen. Email Me

Cheap bastards or not, in addition to the higher quality ALPS volume control, the Sensation 451 adds three inputs, a full function remote control and the very cool Sensation case that is fully customizable with exotic woods and colors. In addition, you can't add the Dodd tube option to the smaller amp, there just ain't room.

The Sensations are however, rather sensitive to different speakers. They work very well with many, but not so good with others - more on that later.
The 451’s standard power supply (the same one standard on the 901) makes speaker choice even more critical. Bottom line, most audiophiles would be more than happy with the base 451 in their MAIN system, especially if they are coming from mid-if amps/receivers they’d gotten at Best Buy, or an older solid -state entry level high-end amp they’d owned for several years. Others would love the 451 in an office or second system. Perfect for the college student or teen.

 


THE M901
$949


Same box, same chip, same everything as the 451, just better capacitors (Auricap) and the improved speaker posts. And about 150 bucks. Is the extra money worth it? Let’s see.


The 901 speaker posts are more than just a different base metal, Seth adds 1% Tellurium (pronounced as te-LOOR-i-em ) to the upgraded posts. Tellurium is an element that ranks #52 on the periodic table hit parade. It’s a bit toxic and is a primary component in blasting caps, so don’t try to aboard an airliner with some in your pocket or you’ll get more than a crotch inspection. Here’s what Seth has to say about it: “If we made the connectors from 100% copper, they would be too soft to be machined (stamping is OK) and would tarnish over time. By adding 1% Tellurium we preserve 99% of the conductivity of copper and give the part nearly the same machineability as brass, which is 30% zinc (boo, hiss). Tellurium copper is very expensive and hard to find. We may change the mixture in the future but we'll always try to offer a "no-compromise" version of the Propeller Post because otherwise our most critical customers will insist on upgrading the binding posts. We would hate that because buying a Virtue amp should be a "no-regret" decision. Incidentally, both the t-copper and brass versions are gold-plated so unless you cut them to see the metal underneath (copper is reddish, brass is gold-colored), they will look the same.”


Aren’t we informative? What you get for your 150 clams is a more sophisticated sound. Soundstage layering improves, meaning there’s more of a perception of rearward expansion and depth of field, to use a photographic term. Instruments and voices become more “visible” in the soundscape, more dimensional. The overall size of the stage increases as well and the fringe areas are less fringey and more defined and in focus. There’s a tad more space around grouped instruments giving a more “airy” feeling. There’s a little more texture to the low end, too, but no extra “oomph” added to the already good low registers.


THE ADD-ONS


If you want that extra “oomph” in the low bass plus a lot more, you need to opt for the $149 upgraded 30v, 130 watt regulated switching power supply, pictured below on left. It features:

- Wide Input Voltage 90 to 264 VAC,47 to 63 Hz
- IEC-320-C14 Input Inlet
- Input Surge Current, Over Voltage and Over Load protection
- Power Factor Correction(PFC)
- Long Hold Up Times (75ms)

 

It also effectively doubles the amount of real power to the speakers. Imagine buying a new Corvette only to find that it came with a little 100 horsepower 4 banger, or “power supply”. Upgrading to the 450 horse would change things quite a bit, no? Same thing with amps. In large part, it’s all about the power supply. It’s better to have run-of-the-mill parts with a great power supply than vice versa. But the Tripath is not ordinary, especially in the Virtue amps, but it does benefit much with an engine upgrade.


What you get what you get for your $149 is an improvement in “virtually” everything, pardon the pun. It's like adding a turbo or supercharger to your car motor. More power, more response, a more robust soundstage in much greater weight and control in the bottom end. If you have speakers that are less than 97 DB or so sensitive, this upgrade is a must. You also get a substantial boost in dynamic contrast; more snap, crackle, pop, bang and whomp throughout the frequency range, which makes quieter passages seem even quieter. The added heft below about 500 Hz makes everything sound more substantial, more realistic. We think it's well worth the extra cash, but we especially like the fact that it can be added later to either model as funds become available.

 


THE DODD GAMBIT

Next on the list of options is the Gary Dodd tube buffer for an extra 300 bucks. You can order this from the Virtue menu on either model, with or without the bigger power supply. We report, you decide.

My college fraternity, in addition to drinking excessive amounts of beer and chasing excessively inebriated sorority girls, was into chess. We discussed chess, researched chess strategies, read books about chess, and sometimes we even played chess. In chess, a certain series of moves is often called a “gambit”. If you want to win at chess, you need to know your gambits so you can use them and recognize them when your opponent tries them. So one very late night, a brother and I were engaged in mortal chess combat. Apparently I knew a few more gambits that night than he did, so I was close to winning, at which time he said, “Darby, I've created a new gambit… just for you”. Intrigued, I stupidly said, “let's see that bad boy then!” At that, he stood up and violently knocked off all the pieces on the board, sending them scattering all over the room. After that, he immediately screamed, DOD...GAMBIT!!!”. If you fail to see the humor, just reverse the D and the G. It was my friend’s way of expressing extreme frustration without taking the Lord's name in vain. Guess you had to be there…

The 2010 Dodd gambit is a tube buffer option handmade by tube deity Gary Dodd of Dodd Audio who created the Dodd battery powered tube preamp, perhaps one of the best in the world. At least we thought so when we reviewed it several years ago

 

You will notice an immediate and significant change. What the tube does this make the sound even more liquid three-dimensional. It adds a beautiful organic, natural quality to the amps. Gone is the last vestige of anything slightly resembling digital or solid state. While still not as human sounding as a pure tube amp or, for that matter, my $12,000 LSA Statement hybrid integrated amp, Gary's JJ ECC 803S handcrafted tube addition takes you much closer than an extra $300 has any right to. Gary puts a little toggle switch in the mix just so, I guess, you can prove to yourself how much better the tube sounds in the circuit than out. I don't know how much extra that switch costs in time and money, but it seems a bit superfluous to me. If you order this option, you most likely want to use it, especially since you need to unscrew and open the top to access it. We can't think of a situation where we want to turn it off, but maybe you will.

One really fun and interesting aspect of the tube option is that it encourages the art of tube rolling. Different tube types, brands, nationalities and ages can greatly change the sound of an amplifier. We really encourage our readers to try it and there is no cheaper and easier way to start than with a Sensation that has the Dodd gambit. The list of tubes that are interchangeable is exceptionally long. Check this out:

Lots of new tubes can be purchased for $10 or less than the list of vintage tubes is even longer with prices commensurate to their rarity and quality, but even those prices start at less than 10 bucks - and you only need to buy one.

 

Seth, Cami & Jason


In addition, the Sensations are perfect platform for rolling in other things like caps or volume controllers. Audio Circle.com is replete with guys documenting changes they've made and all of those areas. There are even those that have replaced the wooden tops with granite or marble, others that have experimented with different feet with different isolation qualities. There simply is no better platform with which to experiment.

 

GETTING OFF THE GRID

 

One sure way to improve almost any electronic component is to unplug the thing from the wall and into a battery source of power. There are a couple of options on the Virtue website, one being another by Gary Dodd for $179. We weren't supplied one of those, so we couldn't test it, but we do think it would be an excellent addition.

What we were sent by Vinnie Rossi of Red Wine Audio was the Black Lightning, Vinnie’s plug-and-play replacement for the inferior stock AC adaptors currently used to power your DACs, phonostages, preamplifers, amplifiers and other audio components. Each unit is hand-built and preconfigured to meet your specific power and connectivity requirements for your individual component. The one Vinnie makes for the Sensations precisely matches the specs of the different power supplies as well as the correct cable connector, so it's an easy plug-and-play. Once installed, it's highly intelligent circuitry takes over from there. Like Seth, Vinnie is so confident that you will love it, he offers a 30-day money back guarantee. That's a lot of confidence in a product that sells for $525.

While the cost competes with the price of these Sensations themselves, we found that the Black Lightning makes perhaps the biggest improvement. It simply propels the Sensations to a whole new level. Needless to say the quality of your power company's juice will determine how much improvement you hear, Florida Power & Light does pretty well down here. Still, the difference was profound. As Joni Mitchell sang, “Don't it always seem to go/That you don't know what you've got till it's gone”. That's certainly the case here when you immediately know that the noise and grime is gone and the background is blacker than a moonless night sky on the top of Mount Everest. It's almost spooky and a bit startling. Instruments, voices and sounds now stand out like the brightest stars in that night sky; sparkling, clean and gorgeous. Go ahead. Try to keep your eyes closed while listening! You'll want to open your eyes and see the show.

 

A Sensation plugged into a Black Lightning and driving an appropriate speaker is simply spectacular. This combo will surpass many more expensive amplifiers with anywhere near comparable power. Vinnie has recently upgraded the Black Lightening to the LPF or “Lithium Iron Phosphate” batteries. LFP batteries use organic, phosphate-based material instead of the SLA or "sealed lead acid" type that most other batteries use and what the version we had used. LFP is a new and improved technology offering many advantages – both sonic as well as technical, including:

Approximately 1/2 the internal impedance compared to SLA – lower impedance translates directly into improved sound
No loss in cycle life from deep cycling (cycle life is the number of charge / discharge cycles a battery can perform before its capacity is reduced)
They are designed to be cycled over 5x more than their SLA counterparts, resulting in significantly improved battery life
Ability to enjoy continuous play time, even while the battery pack is charging (simply by flipping a switch)
The battery pack includes a built-in, custom-designed cell management board that balances individual battery cells, optimizing reliability and battery pack performance
Higher energy density, which translates into less than 1/2 the size and 1/3 the weight compared to SLA
They are user-replaceable: LFP-V Edition components come standard with premium quality snap-in connectors, allowing easy plug-and-play battery replacement (no soldering required)
A higher nominal voltage rating and flatter discharge curve, offering improved sonic performance for your extended off-the-grid listening sessions

We don't know if the new LPF versions sound better, though we'd love to find out. I'm definitely looking into acquiring Black Lightening technology for my reference system - it's that good.

 

REALITY CHECK - What's UP??


If you know us, you know that we don’t play favorites, even when a favorite is a guy like Seth Krinsky. We don’t just point out the good things about a product without the real world factors such as value. So, let's have a brief reality check before you start to write a personal check. Let’s do some math:

Sensation M901 $949
Upgrade Power Supply $149
Dodd Tube Buffer $300
Black Lightening Battery $525
TOTAL = $1,923

We’ve pointed out several times that anyone can start with the basic Sensation and build their way up by adding accessories, but we think you need to know what “up” is, and in this case it is nearly $2,000. We just said that this full-boat configuration competes with more costly amps around the same output and we stand by that. But there are integrates out there that you can buy, some all-tube, with more power and similar performance, but you would still need a battery like the Red Wine to get the utter clarity of this combo.

Speaking of output and clarity, there’s another issue we need to address. The chart that shows the Sensation’s output at 87 wpc needs some clarification. That figure is at FOUR Ohms, not 8. At 8 Ohms, the standard barometer, it’s half that or about 44 wpc. Digging a little deeper in the Virtue site, we found this that shows how the output power is effected by the choice of power supply:


24v/65w (standard) 30wpc
30v/90w 40wpc
30v/130w 55wpc
30v/300w 87wpc

 

With the standard power supply, both Sensations put out 30 wpc...at 4 Ohms. At 8, it’s 15, a far cry from 85. The upgraded power supply we tested indicates 55 wpc, again at 4 Ohms. That’s about 28 real world watts per side. Still not 87 though. To get full output, one would need to purchase a more powerful 30v/300w power supply, according to the chart. There is a third party device available through Virtue that does close to that, the 30v/10A JT Dynamic Power Antek Linear Supply (240/115v). It’s $249.That should give you about the full rated 87 watts (at four Ohms), which translates to about 44 at 8.


In Mr. Krinsky’s defense, I happen to know that he recently revamped his entire pricing structure to make it easier to pick and choose the different options and compare apples to apples. For instance, the 901 used to include the upgraded power supply, but it made it confusing to compare the other models pricewise that did not. You almost needed to break out a calculator to determine which combos were the best values. Now everything comes with the basic PS. Trust me, I know how difficult to maintain continuity within a complex website, so I suspect that Seth will make power outputs as easy to choose as the amps themselves. It does take time.

 

Cami Terpstra, Seth's Administrative Assistant, built a Sensation to match her favorite colors

...and her shoes

 

NOW IT'S LATER

Of course, there are no speakers that have a perfectly flat impedance curve, but some are much more linear than others. Still, impedances can and do oscillate between below 2 and numbers over 100 per speaker. And that, dear friends, leads us to the one significant “buyer beware” heads-up. This was alluded to earlier when I said, “The Sensations are however, rather sensitive to different speakers. They work very well with many, but not so good with others - more on that later.” Now, it’s later.


I hooked the 451 with the tube buffer and the $149 upgraded PS to the wonderful Nola Micro Grands. They have an 86dB sensitivity rating, rather on the low side. Turning the Sensation all the way up, I got a very low sound level. Very low. Unacceptable. Yet a 30 wpc tube amp drove them much better. We just pointed out that the Sensation output with the power supply should be 28 wpc, not that far off from 30, right? This same problem has been reported on the blogs with other speakers as well. Bottom line, not all speaker specs tell the whole truth about how amp might interact with them, so you’d better be more careful (you should ALWAYS be careful) than normal with speaker matching with the Sensations. Again, AudioCircle and the like (we avoid the Audio Asylum like the plague) are replete with good speaker/bad speaker with regards to the Sensations. Bear in mind that the physical size of the speaker has no relevance.

 

Above is a picture of the cheaper Virtue One driving a huge tower speaker. I heard it – it was astonishing. And plenty loud! Seth will happily help you with speakers, but when I asked him if he knew what was going on, he said he wasn’t sure yet, but added, “Just for emphasis, I've said it before and will say it again here: our Tripath amps, like class A or class D topologies, are not ideal for every system. This may break a bunch of amateur audiophile hearts, but there really is such thing as a synergy between speakers and amps. We encourage customers to post on our forums if they have questions about whether their speakers are a good fit. Fortunately, our amps kick ass on MOST systems -- normally far beyond customer expectations.”


I think I might know part of the problem. The Tripath chip was designed for loads of 4 and 8 Ohms. When speakers wander much outside those parameters, you get into foreign territory beyond the chip’s specs. They just aren’t that elastic. I think trying to get much more than 15 wpc out of the chip is also a stretch, somewhat akin to overclocking a computer CPU..


The Sensations are very realizable, stable amplifiers. Seth only gets about 5% of them returned, and much of that is customer financial issues, not unit failures, he says. You just need to be aware of the limitations, like any amp. Got it?

 

"I'd love to get a Sensation in MY stocking for Christmas!"

 

 

 

We know of no other amp that gives you as many options to tailor it to your personal taste, sonically as well as visually. In this economy, there are also no other integrated amps that allow you to start with a minimum expense without sacrificing major sonic or functional, um, virtues. Both amps offer the same internal chip, same number of inputs, subwoofer bypass, remote control ability and color/wood options. The basic 451 model offers outstanding performance for the money and you can only go up from there, easily adding options as your wallet, ears and maybe your wife see fit.

 


Each option is reasonably priced (especially the $300 tube option – Gary gets $1,000 for his own version) and makes significant improvements. Even at the $2,000 level that includes the Red Wine Black Lightening, the degree of transparency and the overall sound quality is well worth the money. One of the best sounds at the 2010 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest was the Sensation driving big Holographic Audio H1’s.


The Sensations are also very DIY and tweaker friendly, well documented by a large and vocal following on places like Audio Circle who enthusiastically tell of their adventures in tube rolling and even installing different caps. Seth regularly visits and comments as well, providing free support and encouragement. All the Virtue amps have almost achieved a cult following and, we think for good reason. These guys know a great thing when they see and hear it. If you are interested in trying your own ideas, you should start with the cheaper 451 and work your magic from there.
Most audiophiles would be more than happy with the base 451 in their MAIN system, especially if they are coming from mid-if amps/receivers they’d gotten at Best Buy, or an older solid -state entry-level high-end amp they’d owned for several years. Others would love the 451 in an office or second system. Perfect for the college student or teen.


Again, the only thing you need to watch out for is compatibility with different speakers, but that is true for all amps, as we have been preaching mercilessly for years. There is a long list of known brands that work beautifully with more being added all the time. Virtue even sells a few different models.

 

 

 

VIRTUE SITE

  

 

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