Rock-Solid, Smooth-Sounding Performer
Vincent Audio's designs have been appearing on "Best of the Year" lists with increasing frequency. Five of its designs were honored with a listing in The Absolute Sound 2012 High-End Audio Buyer's Guide, including three stereo amplifiers. Too new on these shores for inclusion is the K-35 vacuum tube integrated amplifier, but we expect it will soon be reaping the honors, too.
These days too many components from other manufacturers are succumbing to the miniaturization craze. Fidelity is taking a back seat to ultra-compact size and microchip circuitry. But Vincent realizes that many discriminating audiophiles still desire classic construction techniques and aren't looking for a tiny box to place next their PC.
The Virtues of Classic Design
The K-35 is a big, hefty, rock-solid vacuum tube integrated amplifier that harkens back to the golden age of hi-fi while still welcoming any technological advances that fill the mandate of delivering a top-quality audio experience. For discerning listeners who prefer warm and richness to an often harsh and over-clinical approach, there's just no alternative to the luxurious sound of vacuum tubes. And Vincent is as expert in creating value for the money as it is in engineering magic.
In its January 2010 issue, Germany's Stereoplay magazine praises the K-35 for its "outstanding performance for the price… offering wonderfully refined, warm, and full sound."
As with all of its designs, extensive listening sessions complemented each phase of the engineering process to ensure that the K-35 didn't simply look good on paper. It also had to deliver startlingly superb real world performance.
Automatic Tube Biasing
Vincent chose tubes that deliver maximum bang for the buck, then added a dose of convenience that you don't usually find with vacuum tube gear. One 12AX7 and two 12AU7 tubes are used in the preamplification stage, while four EL34 tubes supercharge the output stage. And the superb sound is unexpectedly hassle-free.
The long lifespan of the tubes used in the K-35 and their robust behavior in combination with loudspeakers make dealing with the K-35 nearly as easy as maintaining a solid-state amplifier. Unlike conventional tube amp designs that make you monitor and adjust the tube bias, the K-35 boasts automatic biasing that keeps the tubes at optimal performance and unfazed by heating or aging.
This new control system suppresses distortion and noise that not only sounds bad, but which can also actually damage your vacuum tubes. The system automatically monitors the tube circuitry and tweaks operation to optimal level under all conditions. Neither extreme volumes nor abrupt changes between high and low tones can unsettle the smooth performance of this new bias control. You can forget technical considerations and focus on the music instead.
The Ins and Outs
The K-35 has ample connections for a versatile music system. It includes four line-level inputs and a recording loop. There are six speaker binding posts – three per channel, and these include separate taps for 4 ohm and 8 ohm speakers. A detachable IEC power cable provides an easy upgrade path.
Rounding out this impressive package is a substantial infrared wireless remote control. Unlike the plastic handsets that come with most audio components, this remote is made of metal. It feels substantial and is a pleasure to hold and operate. In addition to providing input selection, the remote also operates the K-35's motorized Alps volume control. This potentiometer is exceptionally quiet in the K-35's circuitry.
"Outstanding performance for the price… offering wonderfully refined, warm, and full sound."
- Germany's Stereoplay magazine, January 2010