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Lovely Sound from VTL

VTL has finally released its long-promised TP-2.5i phono preamplifier ($3750). A completely redesigned replacement for the venerable 2.5, which was in production for close to two decades, its upgrades include shunt regulation and technology trickled down—oh, how I hate that phrase—from VTL's flagship TP-6.5 phono stage. JFET/tube hybrid circuitry is used for the MC stage, and all-tube circuitry for the MM stage. It has what VTL calls "enhanced" RIAA compensation and a front-panel-switchable filter/mono function.

Pictured on a Finite Elemente equipment rack below a Brinkmann Spyder Turntable with 10.5" arm ($17,490), Rönt power supply ($4190), and Lyra Etna cartridge ($8995), and above the TL-6.5 Series II Signature line preamp ($15,000) and dCS Rossini CD player/Clock stack ($35,998 total), the TP-2.5i contributed to the warm, exceedingly beautiful sound I heard during analog playback.

Bea Lam of VTL surprised me by offering to play the LP version of Cecilia & Sol, which she bought after reading my recent, praise-filled review for Stereophile.com of the CD version of this album from mezzo Cecilia Bartoli and cellist Sol Gabetta. Given that I had reviewed the CD when my system was unsettled from multiple review-related component switches, I found the way this VTL setup highlighted the textures of Sol's baroque cello and the beauties of Cecilia's voice a revelation.

Also in the system: VTL S-200 Signature stereo amplifier ($12,500), which is the stereo version of the 450 monoblocks; Wilson Audio Duette Series 2 speakers with stands ($22,500/pair); and Nordost's Odin 2 and Valhalla 2 cabling and QB8 power distribution system.

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