I had an oppotunity to hear the Hybrid VS-1mk11 and the all-tube Audiomat Arpege Reference in the same system over the past couple weekends.
The Arpege was both much cleaner sounding and much more musical. The transparency was downright shocking. We did not hear one iota of the "tube noise" that some alude to. The dynamics were quite impressive and I did not feel that its 30 watts were any less powerful than the 150 in the VS-1
The VS-1mkII sounded restrained and 2-dimensional in comparison.
This is my impression only in the one system I have heard both amps. The VS-1 has got rave reviews elsewhere so system synergy is key as always.
good luck and let us know your impressions . . .
I got the VS-1 Mk. 2 from the company on a 30-day trial. Previously my system consisted of the following components:
VTL-ST85 amplifier (all tube)
VTL-TL5.5 preamp (all tube)
Rega Planet 2000 CD player
Audio Physic Tempo loudspeakers
JPS labs wire
I replaced the VTL amp and pre-amp with the DK VS-1 Mk. 2. The difference in sound quality was shocking. The DK amp retained the harmonic purity and the dimensionality of the VTL combo except it added thrilling dynamics, much better bass, incredible pacing, rythm, and speed. Overall, it took my system to a new level of performance. It is also the only amp that I have had in my system that does not seem to have any flaws. It is an absolute sonic marvel and I highly encourage any serious audiophile to check it out.
I have heard a lot of equipment and so far the DK amp is the best amp I ever heard. Although I haven,t heard the Arpege amp, but I can;t imagine how a 30W tube amp can even come close to the DK amp or handle the type of dynamic swings without compression as the DK. My VTL was 85W and it fell apart dynamically if you turned up the juice. You just can,t deny the laws of physics, 30W is 30W and it will only provide provide proper dynamic range with very high efficiency speakers, most of which don,t sound good anyway.
I got the DK Design Group VS-1 Mk. 2 Reference integrated amp about 2 weeks ago from Blue Diamond Audio. I never heard such a sonic knockout! The midrange purity is stunning on my Sonus Faber Cremonas. The amp also continues to sound better and better each day with break-in. The amp can play string quartets and closely miked vocal recordings with amazing purity and intimacy. Then you can put on something like Prodigy (smack my bitch up) and your house is shacking with amazing bass energy and slam that I did not know was possible with this recording – all without a subwoofer. I listen to pretty much everything, I am serious Bach and Brahms fan, I also love jazz, and I like drum and bass and techno music. Nothing in my experience reproduces all music with such amazing realism as this amplifier. It’s the amp changes its character depending on the music that is playing. It can sound like a 10W per channel tube amp or a monster solid state amplifier depending on whats playing.
I guarantee you that if you get this amp, you will be blow away. I have owned the following amps in the past; Jeff Rowland, Pass Labs, and Audio Research and none of them presented a complete musical picture like this amplifier does. It is just silly to go out and spend more before hearing this amp.
Hey Loudandclear, if you thought the VS-1 Mk.2 sounded restrained then maybe you have a defective VS-1. It certainly sounded incredibly dynamic, musical, and 3 dimentional in my system with Vandersteen 5A speakers. You should contact the company and have them take a look at the unit. The VS-1 Mk2 amp completely blew away the Musical Fidelity kW500 which is more then twice the cost!
Anyone have a sense of what the DK would sound like with horns? Or has anyone heard one as such? I was thinking about an in-home trial, but didn't want to go through the process if the DK really has no chance of improving on the airy transparency of the SET/horn combination. Any comments?
It will only provide provide proper dynamic range with very high efficiency speakers, most of which don,t sound good anyway.
ARE YOU KIDDING?
Actually I agree that most high efficiency speakers sound pretty crappy, although when I say high efficiency I mean standard moving coil dynamic loudspeakers. Every high efficiency standard box loudspeaker that I have heard sounded pretty bad. Horns are another story. Horns can sound amazing when done right and provide incredible dyamics and resolution. I think the DK amp might work really well on a horn system since it is an extremely quiet amplifier with a very low noise floor, which will probably sound great driving a horn. Imagine what 150W of pure power will sound like on a high sensitive horn system...my oh my. I have heard many SET amps and I think the DK has a very high chance of taking your system to another level. Please give it a try and let us know how it turns out.
There's no doubt in my mind that the Audiomat Arpege was the far better amplifier in the system that we heard both amps in.
We even rolled some NOS Seimens and Amperex in the VS1. They were a vast improvement over the stock Chinese tubes, which shows that the VS1 responds to tube rolling.
I have nothing against new posters here at AG (welcome!), but I would have a little more confidence if some more long term members would offer some input on the VS1.
As always, try to audition in your system before committing to purchase!
Good Luck guys . . .
I replaced a Sonic Frontiers Power 2 (Svetlana KT-88's, Jan Philips 6922's) with the VS.1 MKII and find the midrange is not too much different from that of the SF amp, VTL amps, and other large contemporary design push pull tube amps. The bass is definitely better. The treble is some of the least fatiguing I have heard with a solid state power amp. The soundstage dimensionality is good -comparable to the SF but not quite as good as my 300B and 2A3 SET amps. My Maggie 3.6's, which sound harsh with some solid state amps are very happy with this one. I'm using Tungsram E88CC's in the preamp section.
On a separate topic, I exchanged emails with Daniel Khesin (DK) about the class A design of the power section. I asked how a class A can run so cool, and he replied that The VS-1 Mk. 2 uses proprietary circuitry (which they obviously don't want to say too much about to their competitors).
I also asked about the power meters which are marked in watts but actually measure the input signal before the volume pot. He replied that they were evaluating the available uV meters and found this very attractive and high quality one that's marked in watts, and changing the tooling to reflect uV would have added considerably to the cost without improving the quality, so they decided to incorporate it into the design without change.
I mentioned that after hearing the DK amp in my system I plan to sell the SF Power 2, and he commented that one customer is replacing Halcros with a VS.1 MK2. Whether this is marketing hype or not, I'm very impressed with this amp. Definitely a keeper.
Thanks much for all of your posts. It really has helped.
Hey guys, I just got the VS-1 Mk. 2 and it sounds awesome. Can someone give me some tips on replacing the tubes? How do the cages come off? Do they just pop-off or do you have to screw them off? I am a little scared to damage the circuit board if I just pull them off. Any tips would be highly appreciated. Thanks.
The little gold tips unscrew above the top silver ring.
I got my DK VS-1 Mk.2 at it sounds absolutely incredible on B&W Nautilus 802 speakers. However, I do not recommend using this amp with horn speakers. I tried it with a pair of Edgarhorns and I discovered that at very low volume levels the left channel becomes slightly louder then the right channel. This is going to be an issue with horns since you will always be running the amp at extremely low volumes. Only when you turn up the volume the two channels even out and the soundstage comes back to the center. Even though I love the way it sounded with Edgarhorns at high volume it will not be good at lower listening levels.
Thank you so much for the info. I had my doubts about mating this amp with horns, but I just wasn't sure. However, with my wife's Silverline Sonata II's, we could be boarding the train to audio nirvana.
Gotta go make some dough...
All the best,
I already installed Siemons ECC88 tubes in mine and any tiny, little grunge that was there has completely disappeared. The mid range is silky smooth. I listen to Alison Krauss, Keiko Matsui, Loreena McKennitt, and lately Tift Merritt so mids are very important to me.
I tried a Shunyata Research Diamondback Powercord ($175) with good success. Seems to make the music better defined. I think this is due to a "darker" noise free background.
The final tweak which improves the bass definition even more is a set of 4 hockey pucks, one under each foot.
A buck a piece at Sportmart!!!!
I have been in high-end audio since the invention of the 33 rpm record in the early to mid 50's. I have owned much very good high-end gear since then. I just sold a pair of Levinson 20.6 monoblocks, a CAT Utimate MK II preamp, a Cary 306/200 transport/CD processor and a pair of Cary 280 MB V12i Special Edition monoblocks, all of which I have been off and on using with various CD transports and DAC's and a pair of Piega P-10 loudspeakers and pair of REL Storm subwoofers, along with various cables, power cords etc. On a whim and from reading these threads, I bought and have now tried for several hours the DK Designs VS-1 MK II. This is a very initial report on the amp. In a nut shell, the excitement about this amp is justified. I tried it first with its owm power cord and interconnect and the amp sounded, while not broken in, truly excellent. You can tell from experience what the path of break in is going to be on this amp. While I have not yet rolled to a pair of Seimens CCa's I have on hand, I did switch to a pair of quattro fil interconnects, which improved things unremarkably a bit and then after listening a while went to an FIM Gold power cord. The latter made a big difference. Transients were cleaner, faster and there was additional high frequency extension, while at the same time a smoother, more relaxed mid and lower treble range. The bass is unremittingly excellent. This is a truly superior amplifier which unfortunately I am going to have to store in six months or so. It is as good or better on the Piegas than the Cary 280 MB V12i's and the Levinson 20.6's. In fact, the overall voicing of the DK is very similar to the Levinsons. I wonder. More later after I have listen and played further, and the amp has had some more break in. There is no question though that this amp is a steal and the handwriting is on the wall for American manufacturers with products like this produceable in China. As for its looks, I think they are goofy and retro, but I did not buy it to look at. However, the meter does intrege me.
A quick corrective follow-up. The FIM Gold power cord is too much on the amp. I abandoned it. Like much Levinson gear, the DK VS-1 MK II is very carefully voiced around its own power cord, so finding something better is going to be very tough if not impossible. This amp is carefully thought thru sonically. Just don't use an FIM Gold on the amp. It was my mistake, although I keep an FIM Gold on my CD player. More later as the amp breaks in.
Hello friends. I bought this amplifier in Argentina and I had it shipped down directly from the company. I was very skeptical at first and plus I was about to buy an all Krell system with Sonus Faber speakers from my local dealer. However, after speaking to Daniel Khesin (I believe he is the DK in DK Design Group, although he was very humble about it) at DK Design Group I felt like the guys there were passionate and were also extremely knowledgeable about audio in general.
Daniel Khesin generously offered to send the unit on a 30 day trial so I can evaluate it at home without risk. Getting the unit through customs was fairly easy, in fact DHL came straight to my door and simply collected the duties right at my door, so I did not have to go anywhere. I also ordered a pair of Amperex 6922 tubes from a website on the internet.
I have to say that I am simply amazed by the sound of this amplifier. I took the amplifier to my dealer in Buenos Aires and this amplifier sounded better driving Sonus Faber speakers then Krell monoblocks that cost about US $12,000. This dealer was very astonished by this and he also contacted DK Design Group about becoming a dealer.
I don’t know how to speak the Audiophile language but I can say that this amplifier just makes music come alive in your room like no other component I have ever heard. The ergonomics are also outstanding, as this amplifier has a very nice modern look. The build quality is also exceptional and this piece weighs almost 50 kg!
A further report. The amp definitely likes its own power cord and is voiced around it. Secondly, I was shocked to discover the included 1m pair of DK interconnects out-did my 1 meter pair of Nordost Quattro Fil interconnects. A neighbor quickly concurred. It was not close. I am floored and have put the Quattro Fil IC's up for sale. Heretofore, with a CAT Ultimate MKII preamp and either the Cary 280MB V12i monoblocks or the Levinson 20.6 monoblocks, I set my Piega P-10 treble level control in the + position (N, + and - are the choices). That was to get treble detail. With the DK Design VS-1 MKII that detail comes thru easily and with better balance, all in the N position -- this too was a surprise. (The Piegas have ribbon tweeters and midranges.) I have since sold my CAT Preamp, the Cary monoblocks and the Levinson monoblocks. When I leave on my planned sailing trip, I'll just store this DK amp. I'll probably be buried with it. Another point. We all have good source material (a piano CD or a vocal CD or CDs of one or another label or such) that on one or another rig sounds especially good or pretty bad. This amp makes virually everything that is decently recorded sound good and very natural. That is quite a trick. So far this amp is breaking in beautifully and sounds very liquid, harmonically correct, quite neutral (w/ Siemens CCa's), has good frequency extension at both ends, is very grain free in the treble, has low end muscle where called for, is very relaxed and, quite importantly, can be listened to all day without fatigue. And for $3,000. Such a deal.
I had a very similar experience. The interconnects that were included with the amp were better then any other interconnect I tried, and I have a few lying around from AudioQuest, JPS Labs, Nordost, and Cardas. The DK interconnect was both fast, ultra detailed, and light like the Nordost, yet with a wider soundstage and better presence in the miderange. This internet is absolutely killer. I believe that DK is only including it with the amp for now as a promotion and then later it will be sold separately for hundreds of dollars. The fact that the company is including this cable for free with each amp is impressive, because I would say the interconnect alone is worth about $800.
Hi,I have had this monster for about three months and currently using dutch philips 6992 SQs.They are a superb sounding valves.I changed the interconnects from a Tom Evans Microgroove plus to the amp from the supplied ones to the Nordost Valhallahs,the clarity improved but the soundstage dropped.Iwas reccomended to try Blue Boys has any of you guys had experience of these.Not withstanding this a brilliant hybrid amp.