First things first at RMAF 2019, I had to see, hear, and lay hands on the new Vinnie Rossi L2 ‘Signature Edition’ Integrated Amplifier (L2i-SE, $18,995 USD).
But before I begin, let’s backtrack to 2018 where Vinnie Rossi showed us their new L2 Signature Preamp and Monoblocks. In that selection of components, DAC and phono cards, you’d be looking at nearly $37,000 USD to complete the electronics portion of the system. Now enter the new integrated in Signature Edition (~$19k) and Standard (~$13k) with the option to install both the DAC and Phono cards at (~$3,5k ea).
The new L2i-SE is a beast of an integrated. The preamp section in the new L2i-SE Integrated is almost a complete carry over from the L2 Preamplifier. With Vinnie Rossi’s class-A, ultra wide bandwidth, “convertible” directly heated triode (DHT) preamplifier design compatible with: 2A3, 45, 300B, PX4, 101D, 205D, T-100, SV811 and other 4-pin DHT families. As with the amplifier stages, the story is an all Class-AB MOSFET output stage, 100 / 175 wpc RMS into 8 / 4 ohms (using only one pair of output devices). Delivery is a full dual-mono power supply design employing multiple patented Belleson super regulators. Attenuation is a discrete, 64-step resistor ladder analog volume control incorporating Pickering England silent reed relays. Outputs are rrue active balanced (XLR) and single-ended (RCA) inputs and outputs; WBT speaker terminals. The complete package is Made in the USA.
As optional with the L2 Preamplifier, the L2 Dac (optional module, $3495 USD) performs PCM up to 32-bit / 768kHz, DSD up to DSD512. Dual flagship AKM AK4977EQconverters, fully discrete Class A output stage. The L2 Phonostage (optional module, $3,495 USD) is also available.
The L2i (non-signature edition) standard version is essentially the same as the SE, but instead of the DHT tube stage, it uses a more compact 6SN7 unit that still resides inside chassis, with the same access from above. Both models will include bypass switches so that you can use the J-FET stage when desired. Tubes do stay on when using the J-FET stage, as adding switches would compromise the sound when powered. Low noise is a priority in the design.
Chassis construction is all aluminum and beefy. Each piece being milled from solid aluminum blocks and bolted together. No extruded heat-sinks here. Vibration is defeated further with the inclusion of Stillpoints feet on the underside of the chassis. The included remote control is the same as with the L2 preamplifier, along with WBT speaker outputs shared with the mono-blocks. With the new L2 Integrated, the shared DNA comes down completely. One could say that the new Integrated isn’t a step down at all, but just a different form for the Vinnie Rossi sound, albeit in a smaller package.
The debut of this integrated amplifier was with QLN’s Prestige Three SE two-way tower loudspeaker ($12,000 pr USD). These made in Sweden loudspeakers I had heard before in a few Well Pleased AV exhibits earlier in the year. The Prestige Three SE are easy to drive 8-Ohm towers, that feature a single 1-inch soft dome tweeter with AirCirc magnet, and a single 7-inch Kevlar cone woofer per side. Low frequency response is rated -3dB at 28Hz. Power handling a wide 25 to 250W with an 87.5dB Sensitivity. Construction is based around the Qboard cabinet, which in this SE version is finished with WBT posts around back, and a stunning wood veneer and multi-layer lacquer everywhere else.
As a source, the Portugese made Innuos Statement Music Server (1TB SSD – $13,750 USD) which holds the flagship position in the Innuos line, and does so with authority. Features include new external, linear power supply architecture with 8 independent PSU Rails, EMI-optimized motherboard exclusively designed for Innuos, and custom-designed Ethernet and USB Reclockers with 3bpp OCXO clocks.
Power conditioning was handled by the Polish made GigaWatt “PC-4 EVO+” with LC-3HC ($10,000 USD). Holding up the whole affair was the Australian made SGR “Model 5 Symphony Statement” Equipment Rack ($3,200 pr shelf USD). Cabling Swisscables ran wide throughout the system, starting with their Diamond Series speaker cable ($7000 pr USD), and power cable ($2,250 USD). For digital it was the USA made Black Cat Cable TRØN USB Cable ($1,995 / 1 meter USD)
As for how it all sounds? Amazing. These QLN loudspeakers are familiar to me with Well Pleased AV exhibits, and with Vinnie’s new integrated, and statement pieces from Innuous, it’s the overall best they’ve ever sounded. On day one I was ready to professize that this system would definitely set a high bar for all others to come, and likely be a shoe-in for best in show. Then on Sunday, when I swung by for a return visit, things were even better as the tubes had been changed to something a little more exotic from Western Electric. What was already great, just got greater. This system more than almost any other at the show sang like angels on the mountain tops.
By Eric Franklin Shook