Melco/Exogal/Vitus/Estelon system

Integrated amplifiers,
Digital-to-analog converters,
Music servers and computer audio
Estelon XC,
Exogal Comet,
Melco N1Z,
Vitus Audio SIA-025
Melco/Exogal/Vitus/Estelon system

As a reviewer I crave change and am always expecting to hear something that just might tell a different musical story.    It’s even more intriguing when it comes with solid recommendations and takes the shape of a technology that, with a couple of exceptions, hasn’t completely convinced me of its musical merits up until now.  Add the fact that the whole thing will be supplied and installed by a single UK distributor, it’s time to kick back and enjoy the music.  No concerns about system compatibility here, and in the case of this system, no pressing reason to leave the couch either.

This Kog-supplied system is simply perfect for the lazy audiophile who likes to wander through their music library via a remote app. But, given my general reservations concerning the overall musical viability of stored digital music (excluding CD), was I really the right person to ask to review this system? I know both the Vitus SIA-025 and the Estelon XC speakers from separate reviews and think very highly of them both.  But this system was going to succeed (or not) on the capabilities of its digital front end where both the Melco N1Z music player and the Exogal Comet DAC were new to me. Fraser, from Kog, had been extremely fulsome in his praise for both components for a while, and now it was time for him to ‘put up’ and let the equipment do the talking.

The Vitus is one of those designs that will most certainly go on to be considered something of a classic.  A single-box integrated amplifier of a mere 25 watts, it sprang from the loins of the original SS-010 and, like all Hans Ole’s designs, is constructed around a huge transformer that is UI in shape and sits at the core of the amplifier’s weighty build and performance. The Vitus can be switched from Class A/B to A and it certainly should be left in the latter for all critical listening. It does take an hour or more to really show its qualities from power-up, but fully warmed, there is no question of its benefits. With two unbalanced and three balanced inputs and a menu system that I am growing more familiar with (after an initial rather dumb period) it tells its seamless musical story with control and subtle flair regardless of what music that entails. 

Describing its sound leads me to the way the music flows through it unhindered. It is one of those open-window amplifiers that is always in control, but without the iron-fisted note shaping of some solid-state designs. It glides along with an almost casual attitude to both rhythm and tempo and never, ever becomes over analytical or flustered. It will sound as good in 20 years as it has done for the past several and is at home in most real-world listening rooms except perhaps for grossly inefficient speakers, larger spaces or the most dedicated of head bangers. If you have all three of these conditions then Vitus have plenty of models further up their ranges that will be better suited.

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