Oh, my VSP Labs TransMOS 150 amp back from repair

WIth my purchase of a pair of Mirage OMD-15s, I was looking over options to improve the signal quality I feed them. I went ahead and ordered an Onkyo A-9555 from Amazon, but now I wonder if I shouldn't have waited until I got one of my four non-working VSP Labs TransMOS amps fixed. I just got the least broken one back from the shop.

I bought it originally for around $200, and it cost $144 to fix it. I slid it in to replace a cult-favorite Amber Series 70. The Amber is a nice little amp, but now I remember why I went nuts for these VSPs.

Even before it had reached optimum operating temperature, it asserted its superiority in many different ways. The bass is cleaner, but fuller, more extended, and delineates multiple, sometimes doubled, bass lines that otherwise might pass unnoticed. The notes have more bloom and decay. There's an overall stronger sense of musicians in the room, whether string bass, female vocals, drums, or whatever. There is far more compelling interaction and harmony going on with vocal backup and choruses. And the stereo image is bigger, more room-filling, and articulate.

For all its articulation, it also is more cohesive. What this amp gives is a Class A type control and extension in the bass plus a transparent and liquid midrange and delicate, detailed, but not etched highs. I think the fact that it's stable into zero ohms is significant: No matter what impedance the amp sees at a given frequency or amplitude, it delivers the signal regardless. That makes for a more continuous, liquid sort of presentation.

That A-9555 is gonna have a tough time displacing it. If it succeeds, then ampflifiers have come a lot further in the last 22 years than I knew.

This amp is 150 wpc into 8 ohms, and doubles into 4. The OMD-15 presents a nominal 6-ohm load and dips frequently to 4. It is also rated to handle up to 250 watts. As I said, i have 3 more of these on the shelf needing repair. Perhaps I should get a second one fixed and bi-amp?

Well I had the VSP Labs TransMOS and Amber Series 70 years ago and all I can say is the Onkyo A-9555, once broken in, will outdo both of them. Be advised that the break-in period for the Onkyo is quite long but once it has broken in it is really a great sounding unit.
Bobgates: Wow! That's saying something, and that's something to look forward to.

I'm fine with a 100-hr. break-in. That's what the Mirages required, and actually they kept sounding better for another couple hundred hours.

Did you change the Onkyo's internal fuse to a Hi-Fi Tuning fuse like the Abso!ute Sound reviewer did?
08-30-08: Bobgates
Well I had the VSP Labs TransMOS and Amber Series 70 years ago and all I can say is the Onkyo A-9555, once broken in, will outdo both of them.
When I got the VSP back from the shop it was hard to imagine what Bob Gates was saying. Well, I took delivery on the Onkyo today and my preliminary feeling is he's absolutely right.

Although the Onkyo had the typically flabby bass and honky midrange of an SS amp straight out of the box, it straightened out into something more linear, open, and transparent with excellent bass control within a couple of hours. Within 3 hours it was as much better than the VSP as the VSP was over the Amber.

When CDs are playing it's still a bit forward, but LPs sound fine. Overall I'd characterize the sound as very fast and transparent, very dynamic, with smooth treble and tight extended bass. Exactly what I was looking for.

I definitely like it better than any British integrated I've heard at $1500 or below, and like it in some ways better than a ~$2K+ Musical Fidelity integrated. The MFs still sound a bit forward, bright, and therefore a little artificial to me. I think this Onkyo will sound more real for a lot less money when it finishes breaking in.