|Vincent Audio - SA-31 Hybrid Stereo Preamplifier
"A Very Good Preamplifier"
Tube Sound and Transistor Power
The hybrid vacuum tube and solid state design of the beautiful Vincent SA-31 line stage preamplifier lets you have it all. It delivers the luxurious sound that can only be obtained with finely-made vacuum tube equipment as well as the power associated with solid state designs, including speed, reliability, and control. That's a difficult combination to beat, especially once you factor in the affordable price.
"The SA-31 is a very good preamplifier that... gives listeners a significant taste of the sound of higher-priced equipment," reports Chris Martens in the August 2007 issue of The Absolute Sound magazine. "The SA-31 produces a rich, seductive sound, whose signature characteristic is a midrange that is dynamically alive and leans just lightly to the warm side of neutral."
When Vincent created the SA-31, the German audiophile company delved deep into research and development until each stage of the preamplifier provided exactly the results that the engineers had in mind. Extensive listening sessions complemented each stage of the engineering process to ensure that the SA-31 didn't simply look good on paper. It also had to deliver startlingly good real world performance.
"Vincent Audio's driving passion is to build serious high-performance audio products that are eminently affordable," observes Martens in The Absolute Sound.
Pure 'Class A' Output Stage
The vacuum tube output stage of the SA-31 uses a unique proprietary design configuration with a short signal path to create a delicate and detailed soundstage. For best sound quality, the output stage operates in pure 'Class A.'
Highly Precise Potentiometers
The SA-31 is equipped with highly precise potentiometers from ALPS for ultra-quiet, accurate tone and amplitude adjustment. The monoblock design in the amplifier sections for left and right channels help to achieve the best possible signal-to-noise ratio.
Four inputs give you the capability of connecting a tuner, CD player, tape deck, and more. A record out connection add to the flexibility. An extra preamp output gives you a convenient path for bi-amping your speakers.
In addition to the set of high-quality tone controls, the SA-31 includes a loudness switch for big dynamics even at low volume levels. This is a great idea from the days of classic hi-fi that Vincent has brought back with this highly capable preamp.
Ownerís Guide (1.1mb PDF)
- Hybrid vacuum tube and solid state design
- Twin monoblock design
- Short signal paths
- Precise ALPS volume control
- Four line-level inputs
- Pure 'Class A' output stage
- Tone controls and loudness switch
- Color: black/silver
- Frequency range: 20 Hz Ė 20 kHz, +/- 0.5 dB
- Output voltage: 2 V
- Input sensitivity: 150 mV
- Total harmonic distortion: < 0.1 % max. (1 kHz, 1 Watt)
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio: > 90 dB
- Input Impedance: 47 k Ohm
- Inputs: 6 x RCA
- Outputs: 2 x RCA, 1 x Rec Out
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 17" wide, 3.1" tall, 11.8" deep
- Weight: 9 lbs.
"The SA-31 produces a rich, seductive sound, whose signature characteristic is a midrange that is dynamically alive and leans just lightly to the warm side of neutral. Together, these qualities help the preamp do a fine job of capturing subtle contours or inflections in both human and instrumental voices."
"One of the SA-31's greatest strengths is its ability to reproduce continuously shaded tonalities at the edges of notes -- shadings that give notes their shape and substance. Perhaps as a result, this preamp presents images that have a consistently pleasing, sculptural solidity -- never the flat, 'color-by-numbers' quality that some solid-state preamps exhibit."
- Chris Martens, The Absolute Sound, August 2007
|Im a low buck guy, so keep that in mind. But I do like my music. My backup rig was using a vintage Luxman R113 as a pre amp, and it finally took a header. I took the Parasound P/HP 850 out of my main rig to fill the void. Now that 850 which I bought right here at A-A a few years back is a good pre amp also, particularly for the $$, and has been bulletproof and still offers great sound. I decided to take a step to the side, and bought an SA-31 to replace the Parasound 850 in my primary rig. After a few hours of listening, I have come to the conclusion that Vincents lowest offering is a darn nice pre amp. The sound is a bit brighter hard to put this in words than the 850, yet still offers a degree of warmth that the aging 850 lacked. Im running the signal from a NAD 545BEE CD player into the Vincent, then into a pair of mono Hafler XL280s, and then onward into a pair of Polk RTi12s. Warm, rich and full. No disappointments - I am happy with this combination. Those two little tubes are welcome here. I might buy another for my other rig now.|
|- Bruce C, TN|
||This is a fun preamp
|I just picked up a used SA-31 a few days ago for our lake home audio system, but first dropped it into in my reference system, to really hear what it is all about.
The SA-31 is polite in a nice way in the highs. Usually when I describe something as polite, it is my way of saying low resolution and boring; but this is not the case with this preamp at all. This preamp is fun. The SA-31 has PRaT Pace, Rhythm, and Timing, which get my toes tapping listening to music, rather then critically listening to the system. Music thru it has dynamic ďjumpĒ like real instruments playing live music. It is not as resolving as my $5,000 preamp, but it is just as fun in its own way. Midrange is good, and bass is just a teeny tiny tad fluffy. These sonic signatures held the same when I moved it into my other system.
Tone controls were a requirement I decided I wanted in my second system, because that is where I listen to all the LPís and CDs that arenít recorded well enough to be enjoyable in my reference system. It is amazing how much more listenable an entire music collects is once tone controls are available to correct the tonal balance of a recording. I did notice on my unit the bass bumps up a bit when I set the tone switch on. In other words the zero position on the Bass knob actually has a bit of bass boost. I just think of it as a feature, and I donít let it bother me. When the tone controls are not needed, simply click out the tone button. Problem solved.
I auditioned two other preamps with tone controls for this system. The $1900 AVA Ultra II EC hybrid w/phono stage, and the $900 NAD C 165BEE preamp w/phono stage. The Ultra II EC is more resolving then the Vincent SA-31, but both it and the NAD have a solid state high frequency signature that constantly reminds me Iím listening to electronics; where as the SA-31ís smooth top end sounds more like an all tube preamp. The NAD simply left the flesh off of the music. It sounded like notes on a skeleton. It is to electronic sounding, which is something I canít recommend.
I run the very neutral and transparent Anti-Cable speaker wires and interconnects, and I suspect that with more typical cables that tend to time smear out the highs, the other two preamps top end zip might be balanced down, but the SA-31 was the sweetheart for me.
The SA-31 has no remote control, and no Balance control knob, but that didnít matter to me. I found it to be the best sounding reasonable priced preamp with tone controls I could find. It does require me to run a phono stage for my turntable, but I am OK with that since I have a very good one on hand. I am happy enough with the SA-31 that I decide to take the time to share my experience with it here.|
|- Paul S, MN|
|I just got the SA-31. I bought it purely on reviews. My system had already been tweaked and adjusted for maximum purity. I was getting incredible sound and was very, very pleased. But the lure of a good tube preamp was very strong. Could the magic of high end tubes be had for $500? I was doubtful.
When I hooked up the SA-31 and began playing a CD I know very, very well I was dumbfounded. The increase in resolution and palpability was hard to believe. How could the sound get that much better!? I mean this was not a subtle change, we are talking a massive increase in musicality and palpability. The sounds literally were popping right out of the speakers into my lap. They were rich, rounded, palpable, lush, yet resolution was incredibly increased. Hall space, midrange clarity, dynamics, all there.
Not a hint of brightness or harshness. Pure musicality, effortless. I was transfixed and could not move from the spot. I kept listening and in a short time the whole CD was over. It was as if I had been hypnotized.
I moved to the next CD and so on, the sound getting better and better as the SA-31 burned in. It literally was the missing link, the Holy Grail. The sound I had before was empirically and mathematically pure, perfect balance and tonality, but the addition of the SA-31 brought in a magical variable, musicality. The system came to life, that is the best way I can describe it. The musicians came to life and were right there in my room sounding like living beings creating living music.
And all this for $500. Your a fool if you dont buy this unit. But be prepared to never leave your music room, it is that addictive.
Again let me clarify, this unit does not muddy up the sound with tube fog, it reveals the music by cranking up the resolution and laying bare in full rich lush relief all that makes music worth listening too. You can not, and will not, be disappointed in this purchase. This is literally the best audio component I have ever purchased and I have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in my audio career.|
|- Steven N, CA|
||The SA-31 is warmer than the $5000 Levinson pre-amp it replaced!
|Dear Audio Advisor,
I wanted to tell you guys
that I am absolutely thrilled with the product I recently purchased from you guys, sight unseen/unheard.
Wow! - I just got a Vincent Preamplifier -
the SA-31. Holy Moly!
I had to move my Levinson 380S to a different room for some unrelated
reasons, and I needed an inexpensive pre-amp and I thought the design was brilliant - with good old fashioned tone controls with a bypass, which is cool, and loudness switch for the old Fletcher-
Muson effect.... The design of this is absolutely wonderful - simple,
yet with everything you need, including two pre-amp outputs.
I am actually driving a Levinson 336 over balanced cables with an RCA-
XLR adapter and listening to Wilson MaxxII speakers. it sounds
AMAZING.... The SA-31 is warmer than the $5000 Levinson pre-amp it
replaced, no kidding. I love the ability to adjust it just slightly
depending on music and room... it makes it fun and allows for the
pleasing of the ear, and isnt that what this is all about?
Im not sure if purists would argue it isnt as accurate - but, with
a $10,000 amp and $60,000 speakers, to my ear, it sounds absolutely
gorgeous. I do not think Ill be putting the Levinson back in the
rack, if you can believe that....
Hey guys - AMAZING products, and almost indescribable bargains...
i would absolutely build a 2 channel audio system around this Vincent
Great job putting these products in your catalog and highlighting
|- John H, CA|