Every so often an amplifier arrives at my home for review and after a healthy period of listening I realise that this one is going to be difficult to write, purely because there are no discernible negatives to the experience at all. Put simply, the new Vitus SS-103 is so accomplished, so involving, and so entertaining that, even looking under the smallest musical grains of sand, I can’t find anything I don’t admire about it. It has its own way with music that is very ‘Vitus’ and anybody who has had the pleasure of listening to any of Hans-Ole’s creations will recognise his style as it moves through the music and the mysteries and fascinations it resolves while doing so. It manages to sound both compact and expansive at the same time and there is a sense of commanding power in the way it employs its considerable reserves of power entirely to the benefit of the music.
But, let me not get ahead of myself here and gush too exuberantly before a brief introduction. The SS-103 replaces the older SS-102 at the top of the Vitus Signature series of power products and it shares the traditional Vitus hallmarks of being an enormously refined stereo power amplifier built around a simply massive UI-cored transformer and housed in an immaculately constructed and finished (industrial themed) enclosure. Build quality is truly exceptional but it’s not what you might call compact. It cuts a striking figure through its sheer size and ‘armour-plated’ construction and style, leaving it beautiful, but visually imposing. When in place, it is indeed an enormously precise hunk of audio architecture and the review sample came in a gorgeous contrasting champagne finish which I thought was by far the nicest I have ever seen on a Vitus product.
At a back-breaking 90 kg you are going to need at least one friend and possibly two, to help unpack it and heave it into position. It is, by most standards, simply enormous and will probably find itself sited on the floor in most installations. You can buy a 50 watt amplifier that is about the size and weight of a box of cornflakes, but the Vitus sets new standards of serious weight and dimensions. A set of Stillpoints Ultra 5’s should be your friends here. They sound great and lift the Vitus physically and sonically. “An amplifier that size producing only 50 watts?” said almost everyone who gazed upon its mighty presence. But, as with every Vitus amplifier I have used, the power output figures are, I would say, conservatively rated. The integrated SIA-025 I have grown used to, is claimed to be a modest 25 watts per channel into 8 ohms. Not a lot you might think, but that figure tells only a small part of the story and it will drive most speakers very adequately. Bigger rooms and less efficient speakers bring new challenges and requirements, so when I say that the SS-103 can provide 50 watts of Class A power into 8 ohms, believe me when I say that this is considerable. Switch to Class A/B and the output shoots up to 150 watts into the same load. With Vitus you are unlikely to be wishing for more power where domestic needs are concerned.