Sensation "no-brainer"

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virtue

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Sensation "no-brainer"
« on: 3 Jan 2010, 05:15 am »
To to increase excitement around Sensation so I've dropped the price by $50, perhaps permanently.  If you've already ordered an amp at the pre-order price, I've already refunded you $50.

I'm hoping that this amp becomes the "no-brainer" category killing, 2-channel amp.  Yes, to get the most out of it you need to buy a 3rd party supply or wire it up to some SLA batteries you might have laying around.  But the sound is just awesome and the unit is small enough to be put on a bed-side table but can still hold its own on a rack of full-sized equipment.

Pre-order sucks because the immediate satisfaction is not there.  I'm hoping another $50 off makes the medicine go down more easily.  M451 can now be pre-ordered for $599 and M901 for $799.  Downgrade the 130w PSU to run the amp on batteries, and the M901 is yours for under $700.  Early customers can apply their V1/V2 upgrade coupon and this thing is deep in "shh... I stole it" territory.
« Last Edit: 3 Jan 2010, 10:06 am by virtue »

classicjt2

Re: Sensation "no-brainer"
« Reply #1 on: 3 Jan 2010, 05:52 pm »
Happy New Year to you, too, Seth!

Man, what a great time for a price cut. I decided to upgrade from the Sensation M451/ Antek, to the M901/ JT Dynamic power supply.

I've been listening to a prototype of the Sensation the last few weeks, and I have several observations:

1) It offers a level of performance beyond anything I've heard for well beyond its asking price, and not just T-amp or class-D, etc. This thing will outperform an "old school" Krell or Audio Research amp that I'm aware of even remotely in its price range (even at used pricing). It combines a warm musicality with resolution and transparency. Over the holidays, I've been playing Rachel Yamagata's heart-meltingly tender rendition of Joni Mitchell's "River", and it sounds truly compelling. Added to this, the resolution is so enhanced, my wife added, "I can now make out the words that were just mumbles before."

2) Power supply choice is more important than ever. I thought, since having installed big dedicated AC lines, that the psu choice would be less important. Wrong!  It's now more important than ever with the Sensation. The 65w and 90w units are non-starters; the only real choices are the 130w switching power supply and the battery and linear power supply options. The 130w (standard on the Sensation M901 (and optional on Virtue amps), offers much improved sound over the stock options. It's a bigger upgrade in the Sensation than with the Virtue One/Two amps (Why, I don't know).

But the Sensation truly comes into its own on either battery power or the big linear Antek power supplies. SLA batteries (I used Vinnie's beautifully built Red Wine Audio version) offer incredibly quiet and black backgrounds, sharply defined images with a three-dimensional density to these individual images. And terrific bass control and punch. It all adds up in a palpable presence that makes for a wonderful listening experience.

The Antek, when combined with the Sensation, delivers its sense of realism in a different way. It's not quite as pure and quiet as the RWA, but it's so full of life and bloom I can't seem to turn it off. First of all, it has deep, rippling, visceral bass punch and extension. It reminded me of years of selling and listening to Krell amps and their "famous" bass response, only to be floored by a pair of 90w Lamm tube amps, that gave the best bass I've ever heard in a system (and through a puny pair of ProAc floorstanders, at that) To this foundation, the Sensation/Antek builds with a beautiful vocal range, clean attacks, and a open, boundless, three dimensional soundstage that's deep, wide, and tall.

3) The Sensation is simply a beautiful piece of equipment. It's smaller than it looks in pictures (only approx. 10" x 10"), and is so nicely fit together. The panels fit together better than any Lexus. The Virtue amps are solid and nicely made, but this one puts it over the top.

4) When ordering a Sensation M901, you have to deduct for the 130w psu (that gives you the $99 discount), then have to go to the "Partner Products" page and select the power supply you want. An extra step, but it assures you get the psu of your choice.

There's so much more to be said on the Sensation, but I hope this helps.

James
« Last Edit: 4 Jan 2010, 12:42 am by classicjt2 »

virtue

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Re: Sensation "no-brainer"
« Reply #2 on: 3 Jan 2010, 06:35 pm »
James, thanks so much for the post.  I really appreciate it because currently there are only four updated Sensations in the world and we sold them all (including yours) for cash-money.  You are amazing.

I'm not certain when we'll get some more review units back from the production line - it could be with the main shipment in March.  James Darby has had the last version for a year and I've promised him an updated one for nearly so long.  I had absolutely no idea that he'd been running it for a year and called it is "reference amp" for speaker auditions.  When he told me at RMAF it gave me much more confidence to to an incremental upgrade rather than continue hoping to get the kinks out of the redone, higher-priced dual-mono unit.

ZLS

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Re: Sensation "no-brainer"
« Reply #3 on: 3 Jan 2010, 09:54 pm »
    I too have the Sensation M901, and I agree whole heartedly with what has been previously said. 
    I, in fact would go further, and even contradict  Seth (What Heresy!)in that the Sensation absolutely requires a high class (in terms of clean useable power) power supply.  To not do so is akin to buying a 4 Wheel Drive Car for its road traction and safety and putting 4 bald tires on it.  What's the sense? 
    Any discussion of the Sensation begins and ends with it's price performance ratio, and the incredible value that it represents.  Yes, there are other Amps using different topologies that sound better in one specific area, but none of these amps  come close to achieving  the performance of the Sensation at it's price point. 
    I use the Sensation with Omega Speakers, and the synergy is excellent.  It produces an emotionally involving sound that is quite seductive. 

    This is me putting my money where my mouth is.  When the next generation of Sensations becomes available, not only will I purchase it, I want to be first in line. 
    'Nuff Said

virtue

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Re: Sensation "no-brainer"
« Reply #4 on: 3 Jan 2010, 10:03 pm »
ZLS,

Thanks so much for your post.  Yip, I drank the cool-aid with the first production by limiting power supplies to the linear switching variety - didn't even know that > 5A @ 30v would be a problem with the switches until the first guy plugged batteries into the unit.  We live, we learn. 

Now, folks will ask me why I am not bundling a high-current supply by default.  Clearly there's a difference of opinion on batteries (quiet, darker) and linear (fast, open and airy).  Who am I to decide?  My customers like to component-roll and we need a low-price entry-point.  Buy an amp today, give it more juice tomorrow.  Let one thousand flowers bloom. 

Very best,
Seth

JohnR

Re: Sensation "no-brainer"
« Reply #5 on: 4 Jan 2010, 11:55 am »
Seth, any words of advice for those considering Sensation vs multiple/s of 1.TWO? Thx

JohnR

virtue

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Re: Sensation "no-brainer"
« Reply #6 on: 4 Jan 2010, 07:54 pm »
Hey John,

There would be 2 reasons to use 2 amps.  First, you want to get more out of smaller, cheaper power supplies.  However, when you can build/buy your own battery pack or buy a 10A Astron/Antek supply for < $200, the first argument goes away.  Using 2 such supplies on a pair of ONEs would give you no power advantage at all. 

Second, you want better channel separation from dual-mono.  Based on what I've heard about imaging with the current design, the case for dual mono is perhaps weak. 

In the future, we will do dual mono, why not, in one box.  That won't require synchronizing volume knobs, etc.   But today, we don't.  Nevertheless, the case of it is much weaker with those 10A supplies out there.  If it were me, I'd go for the convenience and value of a single unit - Sensation or the ONE.2, and spend the cash on a kick-ass supply.
Seth

virtue

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Re: Sensation "no-brainer"
« Reply #7 on: 4 Jan 2010, 07:59 pm »
Sorry... the question was Sensation vs. 2 x ONEs.  I'd buy a Sensation M451.  It sounds better than the ONE, looks great, love the remote, is a great value.  The M901 is a high-value upgrade (all-copper signal path + auricaps) and James says that the 130w supply is downright acceptable on its own, if not as good as batteries/linear.  However, for my own money I'd get an M451 and assemble my own Antek supply.  I'm a cheap bastard.

cynan

Re: Sensation Upgrade Offer
« Reply #8 on: 4 Jan 2010, 08:29 pm »
So to clarify for us dim-witted types  :wink:

Am I correct in the interpretation that early customers who use the coupon instead of upgrading essentially get an extra $50 off for the pre-order price as follows?

Early Virtue 2 customers can get an M901 for:

1. Trade up:

$849 - $479 (assuming mint condition, with 30V/130w PSU) = $370

$849 - $379 (assuming mint condition, with 30V/90w PSU) = $470

2. Coupon:

$799 - $150 = $649

Without PSU, $700 - $150 = $550

All above + shipping, etc.

If correct, the $550 for a new M901 seems like the best value - and I suppose what you mean by a "no-brainer"




virtue

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Re: Sensation "no-brainer"
« Reply #9 on: 4 Jan 2010, 08:52 pm »
Haha... it's a "no-brainer" at full price but certainly a super-amazing deal for those early customers to whom I promised a full upgrade.  The huge discount makes me wince a bit, but such is the cost of virtue!  Customer satisfaction is (nearly) priceless!

Please note that shipping costs are non-refundable except for DOA situations which don't occur often because we test everything on the way out the door!


cynan

Re: Sensation "no-brainer"
« Reply #10 on: 4 Jan 2010, 09:01 pm »
Darn you Seth! I'm so completely satisfied with my Virtue 2 Classic I had convinced myself that I didn't need a Sensation (and I absolutely don't!). But at $550... A man's will power is only so strong...


virtue

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Re: Sensation "no-brainer"
« Reply #11 on: 4 Jan 2010, 09:11 pm »
Audiophilia condemns us to a lifetime of suffering.  Thankfully, the arbitrage opportunity here is evident.  In a worst case scenario, you're likely to make money selling the unit on Audiogon.

cynan

Re: Sensation "no-brainer"
« Reply #12 on: 4 Jan 2010, 09:59 pm »
However, for my own money I'd get an M451 and assemble my own Antek supply.  I'm a cheap bastard.

I assume you mean the Antek torroidal kit? Can anyone comment on the merits of the linear vs torroidal PSUs? Lol - it seems like you went from not enough high-current PSU options to too many (But choice is always good)

virtue

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Re: Sensation "no-brainer"
« Reply #13 on: 4 Jan 2010, 10:38 pm »
I've removed the torroidal/linear distinction from the website because it is confusing.  I'm calling Antek a linear supply now.

The Antek supply uses torroidal transformers and is effectively linear - it has no more than a 6% voltage drop between no load and fully loaded @ 30v.  Most garden-variety "torroidal" transformer, subwoofer power supplies display non-linear characteristics and would be less desirable for this application. 

Let me be clear that if you have sensitive speakers (ie. a super high resolution speaker), batteries are going to be the way to go.  You can build up a kit yourself, buy one from GR, or buy a beautiful, finished unit with some smart circuitry from RWA.

dvenardos

Re: Sensation "no-brainer"
« Reply #14 on: 5 Jan 2010, 12:17 am »
The Virtue Two classic is a great amp, perhaps it will become a collectors item.  :green:
Darn you Seth! I'm so completely satisfied with my Virtue 2 Classic I had convinced myself that I didn't need a Sensation (and I absolutely don't!). But at $550... A man's will power is only so strong...

JohnR

Re: Sensation "no-brainer"
« Reply #15 on: 5 Jan 2010, 01:39 am »
Decisions, decisions. Seth, do you have a picture of the aluminium remote?

satfrat

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Re: Sensation "no-brainer"
« Reply #16 on: 5 Jan 2010, 02:01 am »
Decisions, decisions. Seth, do you have a picture of the aluminium remote?

This one? This was on the Sensation M901 webpage.   

 
Cheers,
Robin
« Last Edit: 5 Jan 2010, 03:50 am by satfrat »

JohnR

Re: Sensation "no-brainer"
« Reply #17 on: 5 Jan 2010, 03:44 am »
Ah! Cool, thanks :)

Cheerwino

Re: Sensation "no-brainer"
« Reply #18 on: 5 Jan 2010, 03:05 pm »
Just wanted to add that the aluminum remote is REALLY nice, as nice as any I've seen. I've been using it with the Piano CD for a few months, now. It has a real heft and nice button feel--an authoritative "manly" remote.  :thumb:

Vinnie R.

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Re: Sensation "no-brainer"
« Reply #19 on: 5 Jan 2010, 04:11 pm »
Quote
Let me be clear that if you have sensitive speakers (ie. a super high resolution speaker), batteries are going to be the way to go.  You can build up a kit yourself, buy one from GR, or buy a beautiful, finished unit with some smart circuitry from RWA.

Thanks, Seth!

As you'll all see on the Virtue page ("partner products"), we offer the Black Lightning Series 10 (including required cable for any Virtue model) to Virtue customers for a discounted price - and with a 30-day refund policy if you don't fall in love with it!  As mentioned in the description, it already features in-rush current limiting  8)

All the best,

Vinnie