Part of this comes down to excellent solidity. This is perhaps less well heard on classical guitar (even a big, eight string one), but is clear on ‘The Moon Song’ from Beyond The Missouri Sky [Verve], the late 1990s duet with Pat Metheny and the late, great Charlie Haden on bass. Metheny’s guitar and synth sounds are forward in the mix and it’s easy for Haden’s bass to float around the mix a little. Instead, it’s a rock-solid underpinning. And it’s not just slow jazz where this rootedness benefits; when the band kicks in on ‘She Talks To Angels’ from The Black Crowes Shake Your Money Maker album [Def American] yet again the band is rooted in place, and not just a Stones tribute act.
Let’s put this into perspective. I could improve on the sound of the VSi75 within the Audio Research range, but I would struggle to improve significantly upon its performance from two boxes anywhere near the same price. No, that’s too sanitised. If this were real life, I’d be leaning in and I’d be whispering this; don’t let anyone know, but every fibre says this is Audio Research Reference amplifier combination-grade sonic performance, but with £10,000-£15,000 lopped off the price.
This downshifting lark demands a lot and frequently fails to deliver. It’s 2014; we should be able to take preamp, power supply, power amp, and all the trimmings, put it all in one box and get a performance at least as good as what we previously had (if not better) for less money. And, when you actually sit down and listen to what the Audio Research VSi75 does, it does just that. Yes, of course a Reference 5SE preamplifier with a Reference 75 power amplifier is better, but this isn’t just in the same league, it’s playing in the same game, and it’s not outclassed. Excellent.
Type: Valve-based, 2-channel integrated.
Valve complement: 2-Matched pair KT120-Power Output; 2 -6H30 driver.
Analogue inputs: Five single-ended line-level inputs (via RCA jacks).
Analogue outputs: One tape output (via RCA jacks), four and eight ohm loudspeaker terminals.
Power Output: 75Wpc @ 8 Ohms
Frequency Response: (-3dB points at 1 watt) 1.0Hz to 70 kHz
Bandwidth: (-3dB points) 12Hz to 70kHz
Distortion: THD </+ 0.05% at 1W, 1kHz
Input sensitivity: 0.55V RMS Single-ended for rated output. (32.5dB
gain into 8 ohms.)
Input impedance: 52.5K ohms
Output Regulation: Approximately 2dB 8 ohm load to open circuit (Damping factor approximately 4).
Maximum Input: 10V RMS (any input).
Overall Negative Feedback: 4dB.
Dimensions (HxWxD): 235 x 368 x 413mm
Manufactured by: Audio Research
Distributed by: Absolute Sounds
Tel: +44(0) 20 8971 3903