unless you enjoy downtime for repairs ,don't buy a vtl
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I have VTL 5.5 preamp, has bloom of tubes with speed of solid state. Huge soundstage, I love it with my Virgo II's. Get the latest issue of Stereophile, they give a glowing review of the 5.5 . I think they will give it a class A rating. I have had it for four months, and have not had any problems.
I have the VTL 5.5 pre, VTL ST-85 amp, and audio Phyic Virgos. This is a superbly engaging, musical system. (Most systems I listened to in high end shops left me lukewarm) My non audiophile wife now fights me for time on the rig. My advice to you : BUY the VTL 5.5 used. The price likely has gone up since the Stereophile review.
Early on, VTL did develop a reputation for unreliability. Though that reputation may have been deserved years ago, the quality of VTL equipment has improved and that ought not to be an issue anymore. (I can only speculate that the reliability issue may have changed when Luke Manley, the son, took over VTL from his father, David Manley. David Manley is known as an outstanding designer and Luke Manley seems very focused on satisfying his customers.)
I have a VTL 2.5 and VTL 225 DeLuxe Monoblocks and am very pleased with them. The 2.5, a newer product, has had no problems at all and I am the second owner. I'm considering upgrading to the 5.5 because I am so pleased with the 2.5. The 225, an older product, is sonically outstanding, a former Stereophile Class A amplifier.
I have a 2.5 that had a tube go bad. The tube took out the power supply that fried the board. It took VTL three weeks to just make the diagnosis. They said they had never seen that problem before but if this is a design that is common to the 5.5, I would be hesitant to purchase VTL. They will fix this problem for about $800 and wil NOT warranty their work. They were not helpful. So, if you want a mint, rebuilt 2.5, you could get mine out of hock for the cost of $900, which would cover the repairs, shipping, remote, original box, and good luck! P.S. I had a ST-85 amp that didn't go bad in a year, but it was sold and replaced with SS. And yes, the 2.5 had that warm, tube sound but that combo lacked bass control and clear highs. Great mids though!
I have a 5.5 with a pair of 185 monos. No problem with the pre but have an intermittant hum with one of the amps. it is probably a ground problem because it goes away as soon as the power switch is moved. it is't bad enough to fix and hasn't gotten worse over 3 yrs. sound...with dunlavy athenas. killer tight deep bass as long as it's on the recording, wonderful mids, open highs. overall i could't think of anything i would change except for adding a phono section to the preamp. the cost there has had me on the fence for a long time...don't listen to that many LPs these days. if the guy with the one with the phono section still has his for sale maybe we could work a three way deal if you are interested
I have a 5.5 and a st150 that I was bi-amping with a classe ca 300 on the bottom driving b&w802n's .loved it so much thought i would get rid of the classe and got the phono 2.5tp and 225t90 mono blocks last week. I have had no problems until hooked up the mono blocks.put the st150 on the b out put for the rear and the monos on the A output for the front (bi-wireing).no need the classe bass is fine without no smear.About 1 minute into it the right side starts making a screaching noise then stops I dont know what it is but after another 10 sec it stops.So last night i have the system running for about 3 hours then shut down everything.Then this morning i go to power up the amps and then the screaching starts up on the right as usual for but now The st 150 starts in with the same crap only more anoying and louder like someone dragging a piece of metal across the blackboard. so I unplug the st 150 and hook up the ca 300 to see if maybe its the pre-amp. sound great except the 10 sec while the 225s are warming up. So I think its the st 150. I enjoy the sound of vtl,but hope its just a bad tube and not a transformer, i have spare tubes but i dont want to turn the thing on to try to bias until i figure out what that noise is.Anybody guess what is going on with the right mono and st150?
Found the problem, we had my listening chair delivered on friday. And My wife said they unpluged one of the speakers by accident, when I put it back i connected the neg to pos.So nothing wrong with the 5.5 ,classe or st150.still a little buzz for a couple seconds on the monos though,But once they are warmed up the sound great.
My impression of VTL is, they are EXTREMELY helpful by phone when something goes wrong, even if you bought it used & out of warrenty. But then, I've never had to send something in to them for out-of-warrenty repair work. I think a more important question here might be: how does VTL reliability & service compare with other tube mfg's--ARC, CJ, etc? Personally, I've started to calculate the shipping distance to the factory before buying any used gear......just my 2 cents.
no problems in last six months.It will make horrible noises if i forget to turn the rest of the system on before the amps.may be they where loaded up or something.they work fine now and keep getting better.I figured it was the speakers polarity.Its very dark in my listening room,ecept for the glow from all the tubes.