Review: VTL MB-100 Tube amp

Category: Amplifiers

My musical tastes are based on unusual for audiofile musical areas such as enjoying dissonance in musical compositions, exploring minimalizm, sophisticated electronics, musical abstractions, avant-grade or even everything above said mixed. Along with this I love euro jazz and progressive rock.

In this situation I can explain that I need a completely full-range system that can reproduce nearly everything. I need clarity in small bands and sophisticated electronics, I need dynamics and bass for rock and big-bands or orchestras. I do not have in my collection too many pieces of a large orchestras but for example Keith Tippett 50piece band sounds about right in my rig. Classical music for me limited with only few composers and I can only say it's neo-classical music: Michael Nyman, Alexander Balanescu, Alfred Schnittke or Alf(which is mostly strings). Along with that I mostly listen to the music and performance rather than listening to how it sounds.

I'm using my vtl amps for more than two years after the Bryston 3b-st.
These increadibly well engineered tube mono amps that sound natural and dynamic without compromizing to different kinds of music(except large classical orchestras) Voice is increadible and dynamics are fast and strong. Bass is not as boomy rather than being defined deep and soft compared to 3b-st. Sound of percussion is deep and detailed; drumsets sound dynamic and resolved on upper range(maybe a-bit bright but it's sometimes great for jazz). IMO these amps let the speakers source components and preamp do the job they have to do without adding to them any extra task revealing their weaknesses and strengths.
It runs very quiet and do not have any hissing sounds. You have to touch the driver with your ear to hear the noise especially after I replaced stock powercord with VanDenHul Mainstream. My amps are truly "Heavy Horses" that used to serve to the seller and than to me and don't break. The only downside of my amp is that I have to roll tubes freequent i.e more often than once per year due to the freequent and long listenings(10000 lps and cds for the past few years what do ya think!). Usually that is the time when my amps become to sound not right(i.e dull and mushy)
My plans was to biamp my speakers with McCormack DNA1 for bottom end but heh I've changed my mind after I've listened to Orpheus ear-speaker system. Hell with everything -- maybe I can get it used someday with sufficient break on the original mega-price and yet I would keep my VTLs/Totems for public listening.

Associated gear
Click to view my Virtual System

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Quicksilver Silver60
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Bryston 3b-st
Had a pair of these years ago and would have saved lots of money if i had stopped there. Very good amps IMO...
I somehow figured short tube life issue in my amps. There were bad coupling capacitors WIMA and replaced them with Multicap RTX of the higher voltage rating. There were actually more upgrades done at the same time that I planned so I won't bother opening up and retreiving PC board again from these compact amps. Oh, man there were so many F-s while I was trying to reach something in these amps!
I am also a happy owner of the MB-100's. I had mine for about three years. They are great. I know there are better amplifiers out there, but I think the MB 100's is a great place to get off the relentless chase for sonic narvana. This amp has a great mid, decent bass, and some nice highs. Soundstage is great, imaging is fine. Details are there. Again, there is better, but at what price? Usually much higher.
Although not expensive, these are great amps, particularly with sensitive speakers. Great midrange and breathtaking highs.Soundstaging is very impressive; much better than many expensive amps I've heard. Female vocalists sound like they're standing right in front of you in your listening room!
The bass probably isn't great, and they don't look like much. However, the upper detail and soundstaging are truly mesmerizing!