Vitus Audio RI-100

Vitus Audio RI-100

During the listening test, the RI-100 replaced the standard preamplifier/power amplifier reference pair (Melos Plus Series Line/Parasound HCA-3500) to drive the ATC SCM-50PSL. Placement and initial setup of the amplifier showed no particular difficulties. Perhaps, its relatively large chassis height, a little less than 20 centimeters, require some shelf adjustment in your rack, but otherwise, apart from the typical signal and power connections, all you need to do is the initial pairing of the remote control, a process that is fully explained in the well-written manual.
First impressions of the RI-100 included an apparent ease in loudspeaker drive, a feeling of listening comfort and the high dynamic headroom the amplifier seem to possess. Given its power, this is not surprising, but the effect on the end result is sufficiently decisive to pass unnoticed. With the RI-100 in place, the system maintained its very good dynamic behavior and, indeed, clearly improved in its ability to depict wide dynamic range information (this, probably because of RI-100's lower noise in relation to the tube-based Melos). The result is an ability to create real-life music levels and to include small details contrasting a more "dark" background. This, combined with a very clear, stable and engaging soundstage offers a final result which is very realistic and gives the listener a very strong sense of presence as well as a detailed image of sound sources in space. Even with rather low sensitivity loudspeakers such as the SCM-50, the amplifier seemed able to create quite high levels and left no doubt about its ability to support listening in a medium or large room.

Vitus Audio RI-100
Vitus Audio RI-100

The excellent dynamic behavior of the RI-100 appears to combine with a neutral and transparent character. If the goal of Ole Vitus was to create an amplifier whose main feature is its precision (and based on what he says, it surely was) then this objective was achieved and exceeded.
Towards the low part of the audio spectrum, the amplifier sounds well extended, with a good feel of air and a convincing description of the very low-frequency content. There is, also, a sense of balance and a very good ability to describe subtle details. The amplifier appeared to be capable of carrying the imposing nature of some tracks used during the listening sessions, the majority of them belonging to the electronic/soundtrack genre, without any traces of compression even during listening at higher than usual levels. In this respect, one has to admit that a level limit will probably be imposed by the loudspeaker system itself or by the room acoustics, rather from the amplifier, at least for a normally-sized room. Music tracks with a strong rhythm section are rendered with exceptional speed and punch, are offering a very good feeling of presence and a sense of a dynamic and fast character from which any trace of artificial emphasis is absent.
Mid-band appears to be well balanced, with an excellent sense of brightness and detail. The listener can comfortably follow the mixing details and the system with the RI-100 in place, maintained its ability to offer a closeness towards the soundstage without being oppressive at all. The overall performance is more a result of accuracy in transferring the data of the recording and less of any character from the part of the amplifier. Based on these observations, RI-100 is a perfect match to a highly accurate, neutral loudspeaker whose benefits will push to the extreme, given some good quality recordings.
High-frequency reproduction was among the best we have heard so far. The main characteristic proved to be its outstanding balance, where nothing is lost or downgraded and nothing appeared in excess, the result of this being an easy preservation of all the small but significant program nuances. The system sounded bright and generous where it should and dark/atmospheric when the recording so demanded and this easy-change-of-mood ability constitutes itself one of RI-100's most positive traits that will be noticed by the listener from the start. In theory, such behavior is the ideal but, truth to be told, it demands some truly top equipment and the amp is exactly that. RI-100 sounded fast, with a somewhat rounded body (compared to what I used to hear from the reference system) and with exceptional sustain/release details rendering, even at very low levels.
Stereo imaging was already mentioned in the first paragraph of this section as being on of the most prominent attributes in RI-100's performance. To the low noise level -a feature which highlights the details in space rendering and micro-dynamics- should probably be added both the high precision of the volume control and the great channel balance as the key factors. In this respect, RI-100 can be placed among the best we've ever had the opportunity to review. The amplifier offers a highly disciplined soundstage with clear defined boundaries, almost visible between the loudspeakers. This is quite often treated as a limitation: A missing sense of ambiguity and "atmosphere" that many listeners like but -to my opinion- the reality lies elsewhere. After listening for some time, one discovers how easily the amplifier passes the mixing details such as the position and the feeling of size of the sound sources, the acoustics of the space in which the orchestra was recorded (whether it is an artificial construct or a real-life space) and how well the various groups of instruments are described. The behavior of the amplifier is, in this case, addictive, especially if you are dealing with good recordings and a revealing loudspeaker and it is quite difficult for someone to return to a previous state where everything seems unclear and somewhat hazy.


It is a striking fact that a device of such a high price and performance level is the starting point, for Vitus amplifiers. Without resorting to any extremes in terms of design and manufacturing, the Danish company approached the idea of the integrated amplifier in a way that leaves no room for any doubts. RI-100 offers a comprehensive feature pack, with several interesting expansion options and a high loudspeaker drive capacity. Above all, though, its top sound behavior, based on precision and absolute respect to the program is what it counts the most. These, are all attributes that should define each amplifier capable of supporting a high-end system. Without a doubt, RI-100 sets a benchmark and, obviously, raises the expectations about the possibilities in performance offered by Vitus' top amplifiers…

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