Anyone compare VAC Phi 300.1 to VTL 450's.

I would think the Vac would be more refined, I don't know if its soundstage would be as big as VTL. VAC amp 300.1 owners have you tried this amp with Audio Researh REF 2 mark 2, Cat, or Vacs. own preamp what do you prefer and why?
Well, since you have not gotten any responses as yet, I will give you my semi-second hand impressions. (I say semi-second hand, as I did not own them, but my friend owned the VTL 450's for a year or so, before he bought the hybrid Lamm M2.2 monoblocks. A couple of years later he tried out the VAC Phi 300 (not the upgraded 300.1 version though), and then compared it to the Lamms. I did get to hear the VTLs a few times in his system, and I was there for the VAC to Lamm comparision - lucky me! :-)

First off, the VTL 450's are very fine amps, and for the money, a good deal. (Used they tend to go for around $4,500.) They have plenty of power, and good bass response. (Great bass response when you consider that they are tube amps.) For tube amps they are pretty neutral, without a lot of mid-range bloom. They do run hot though, so consider that they will probably raise the room temperature several degrees. (The Lamms run cooler, although even they run very warm, but not hot. but even they will raise the room temperature a few degrees.) When compared to the Lamm M2.2s, they compare favorably in the mid-range (both are fairly neutral), in the treble, the Lamms are slightly more extended and detailed. In the bass response, the Lamms are incredible, whereas the VTLs are merely good. Both soundstage and image very well. (FYI, my impressions of the VTLs are based upon my recollections from a couple of years ago.) All in all, while the VTLs are good amps, the Lamms are great amps, but since they cost at least double the cost of the VTLs, that should be expected. The speakers for this comparison were the Avalon Eidolons, and the preamp was a ARC Ref. 2, mk. 2. IMHO, the ARC Ref. 2 is a very good preamp, but not a great preamp, as I felt it had a bit too much tube noise. I will point out that I am VERY sensitive to tube noise, which is one reason I have a solid state preamp, the Ayre K-1xe. FYI, it was during the comparison of the VTL to the Lamm amps, that I fell in love with the Lamm amps, and quickly managed to buy a used pair of Lamm M2.1 hybrid monoblocks, which I still have. :-)

When comparing the VAC Phi 300 to the Lamm M2.2s, this was a much closer comparison. (Of course it should be, as the price of an used VAC is about $8K, compared to the used price of the Lamms which is about $12K.) In fact, I would say it was a coin flip as to which one is better. The bass response of the VAC is very similar to the VTL - good, but not great. The treble response is better than the VTL, in fact, it is even slightly better than the Lamm M2.2s. The mid-range of the VAC is very sweet. (I don't think it is as neutral as the Lamms, but given how sweet it is, who cares!!!) There is one other item we noticed, which actually is the reason my friend ended up keeping the Lamms, rather than changing to the VAC, is that the VAC seemed to be a little slower on the initial attack of percussive instuments, such as drums or even the initial key/hammer on the piano strings. (It was barely noticable, but it was there, nonetheless. I think the VTL also had this same trait.) My friend told me that if he could have afforded to own both amps, he would have bought the VAC. (But the economy has affected him too.) All I know, is that we both sat quietly and throughly enjoyed listening to an entire album side of Norah Jones singing, without either of us speaking. The mid-range of the VAC has an enchanting quality that puts it up there with any amp I have ever heard. (However, the VAC is also one of the hottest running amps I have ever known as well. It put out at least as much heat as the VTL, and more than both Lamm monoblocks put together.)
The equipment for this round of comparisons, included the Rockport Antares speakers, and the ARC Ref. 3 preamp. I much prefer the Ref. 3 preamp to the Ref. 2, as it is much quieter. I would have no problem owning the Ref. 3. It is also possible that the VAC has slightly better bass response than the VTLs, as the Antares are a somewhat difficult speaker to drive, due to its 13" woofer. The VAC did a very good job, just not a great job. The VTL only had to drive the 11" woofer of the Avalon Eidolon.

My opinion is that if you can afford the VAC Phi 300, go for it. It is a better amp than the VTL 450s, but for double the price, it should be. If you need to save some money, the VTLs are good bang for the buck amps, IMHO.

Well, those are my two cents worth.
Good Luck in your search.
Kurt, was this the original version of the MB 450 or the Series II? BTW, how do the Lamm hybrids compare to great ss-amps in the bass?

I believe it was the MB 450 signatures, but not the series II version, which I think now cost $15K, right? (They were probably made about 4 years ago, as best I can determine. I believe the list price on them was $10K.)

As far as the Lamm hybrids bass response, you ask?
The absolute best I have ever heard, bar none.
(And that includes going up against some pretty good amps, as you have read, and that includes the DarTZeel NHB-108, which is a wonderful solid state amp too. The DarTZeel has, for a solid state amp, an amazing mid-range, but it lacks a bit in the bottom end, (possibly due to it only being a 100 wpc stereo amp), and it not quite as nice in the treble response as the Lamm M2.2, IMHO. That being said, it is my favorite solid state amp.)
(Again, the Lamms were so good, that I immediately started searching, and found, a pair for myself.) In case you are wondering, the difference between the M2.2 and the M2.1 is that the M2.2 has 20 more wpc, and the treble is more extended. (Plus the amp is biased up to 41 wpc in Class A before going to Class AB, where as the M2.1 only goes to 36 wpc in Class A.) The M2.1 is very slightly dark sounding on the top end in comparison, but unless you've heard both, it would be difficult to detect said darkness. (And, by doing some easy and fairly cheap tube rolling, one can eliminate said slight darkness.) Going from the stock Sovtek 6922's (there is one in each amp) to something as relatively cheap as some Amperex Orange Globe 6DJ8's ($50 a pair for a NOS set), will pretty much eliminate the darkness. And, for a few hundred dollars a pair, for some pinched waist Amperex 6922's, you'll not only extend the treble nicely, but you'll pick up a nice touch of mid-range bloom. I am very happy with my Lamms, and sincerely doubt I will ever give them up. (Well, except to buy my friend's M2.2s when he upgrades!)

FYI, another friend owns a pair of M2.1s too, and he too would only upgrade to the M2.2s as well. (His M2.1s are up for sale here, so he can buy the M2.2s that are for sale on Audiogon as well. I wish I had the cash to do that!)

PS I forgot that there was one more reason my friend did not change to the VAC Phi 300. The cost of retubing the amp is probably $500 for stock tubes, and given that NOS tubes usually sound better, it would probably cost over $1,000 to retube them with NOS tubes. (My friend listens a lot, and he figured that he'd end up retubing the amp every other year, so it was a consideration.)
I've owned both amps and the 300.1 is better but again it cost more so it should be. My 450 was only a sig not series II. I had the 300.1 and the Lamm 1.2 ref and I thought the 300.1 was better also. I could not get over how good the midrange was and the 300.1 had amazing bass for a tube amp. But none of these amps had bass like the Levinson 33H.
Actually the price of the 300.1 in monoblock fashion is in the price range of the big 600 watt VTL monoblocks. They look like space heaters. Do you know what changes were made from the 300 to 300.1. Also I have heard the VTL 450 and thought the bass was good but not the tightest. I also thought there was a slight glare in the upper mids. My thinking is that the 300.1 will have tighter bass, less glare and grain in the upper mids, and probably a fuller midrange without being heavy or dark.
Jwm describes my experiences with the 300.1 in his last sentence...well put.
I would like to amend something I wrote previously.

(However, the VAC is also one of the hottest running amps I have ever known as well. It put out at least as much heat as the VTL, and more than both Lamm monoblocks put together.)

I have recently purchased a VAC Phi 300.1 amplifier to replace the Lamm M2.1 monoblocks.  The VAC does run very warm, but not as much as both Lamm M2.1 monoblocks.  I attribute my error to the fact that we were in my friend's listening room doing an A/B comparison between the Lamms and the VAC, and the room was pretty hot (much hotter than usual) with both amps on, and they had been on for a few hours.  I erroneously attributed this primarily to the VAC when I should have attributed it to the Lamms.

I will also point out that the bass response of the VAC is the equal of the Lamm M2.1s, (although it may not be the equal of my friend's M2.2s).

So far my enthusiasm for the the VAC 300.1 amplifier has only grown now that I own one!