Here is a review of the new Vision SET 120. Frank asked me to review the new amp which is the baby brother of the SET 400. It puts out 60 wpc at 8 ohms and Frank says it is about double that at 4 ohms. It is biased to Class A for the first few watts. It's price is $899.
My 27 year old budding Audiophile son and I reviewed it. We had it in a secondary system for 2 weeks. It consists of-
Parasound A21 amp, Pass B1 preamp-buffer which has zero gain (built with high end parts- Mundorf and Clarity caps, TI Z-foil, Shinkoh Tantalum and Audio Note non metallic resistors), Emotiva Big Ego DAC with an AQ Jitterbug and Uptone Regen, AQ Cinnamon USB cable, AQ Golden Gate mini RCA to RCA IC. Speakers were Wharfedale Diamond 10.2 monitors with a sensitivity of 86dB at 6 ohms, PSB B6 monitors, Velodyne subwoofer crossed over at 50hz. Music player is Bug Head. Music was played at native resolution or upsampled 2x. The sonic character of this system was built to have a slightly warm, musical and smooth sound.
Some of the music used-
London Grammar, Pat Metheny, Eva Cassidy, George Winston and many other artists that I can't remember off hand.
First off, let me say that we enjoyed our time with this amp. It is very musical. It has the same sonic character of the more powerful SET 400. It's strong points are a deep, rich toned mid range, powerful bass and clear highs. The sound stage was wide and had good depth. Similar to the SET 400, vocals were just slightly pushed back from midpoint and cymbals were in the foreground with good air. Bass was controlled and powerful but not overwhelming. There was just the right amount of bloom. Piano sounded natural and had good decay. Overall the sound was natural, smooth and organic sounding. Female vocals like Eva Cassidy had good texture without sounding sharp. Horns were also very smooth without glare. Imaging was very good, the speakers disappeared.
So how does the amp compare to the $2300 Parasound A21 rated at 250 wpc at 8 oms and 400 at 4 ohms and 60 peak amps of current? Very favorably. It has more musicality and it is more pleasing to listen to. The SET 120 sounded great with the difficult to drive Wharfedales at medium to medium loud volumes but at high levels it became a little edgy where the A21 did not break a sweat. Most people would not be listening at these levels though. However, when we swapped the WD's for a pair of PSB B6 monitors rated at 89dB at 6 ohms we were able to play louder without issues. Part of the problem is that the Pass B1 has zero gain and I suspect that with another preamp that the 120 would not have any issues with the Wharfdales and loud volumes. Dynamics were excellent and transients were handled with out strain.
The 120's bass was more natural but not as tight as the A21 which has a dampening factor of >1000. The 120 was more musical however. The A21 sounded just a little smoother and had a wider sound stage with more air and transparency. There was more depth as well. There was more space between instruments which gave a sense of better resolution and detail.
My son and I enjoyed our time with the amp and were sorry to see it go. It held its own with the A21 in many respects. It's strong points are-
deep, textured and rich mid range
Smooth and Organic sound
Excellent dynamics and transients
Natural powerful bass and airy cymbals
Nothing to complain about at this price. It is a well rounded amp and performs way above its price point that offers a smooth, organic and musical sound found on more expensive amps.
Compared to the SET 400, the 120 sounded similar although we had them in different systems. The 120 has the same musicality and fabulous midrange of the SET 400. I think that if we had the added power of the 400 that it would have bettered the A21 as it held its own against my Pass X250 amp.