There are not many preamplifiers in the Vincent portfolio, because the models they produced turned out to be quite popular and in demand for a long time and did not require serious modifications. According to the engineers, the SA-31 model has existed since 1996 and was produced until recently “not at all for sentimental reasons, but mainly due to the fact that it is almost impossible to design a better preamplifier with similar sound quality in this price segment.”
However, after user requests, the company introduced a new hybrid preamplifier, the Vincent SA-32, which largely follows the design of its predecessor, but also differs from it in some aspects.
For example, the new product has a larger body and redesigned circuitry. The design now uses four 6N16 tubes, a pair each in the input and output stages. This design, as stated in the device description, makes the sound more natural and accurate, provides better dynamics and musicality.
The “loudness” function has been replaced with the ability to reduce the gain: now it can be changed by 8 dB using a toggle switch on the front panel. Among the connectivity options, the SA-32 added balanced terminals next to the RCA outputs. The preamplifier comes complete with a remote control in an aluminum case.
To control the output power and stereo balance, the front panel has dial indicators with a scale graduated in watts and decibels. The color of their illumination can be selected using a slide switch on the rear wall – red, blue, green or white. Inputs – balanced and regular, switchable with a toggle switch. There are two pairs of screw-type speaker terminals in each channel, which makes it easy to implement bi-wiring or use two pairs of speakers activated by the A/B buttons on the front panel.
In the system assembled for listening, all switching was organized with Purist Audio Design Musaeus series cables. The CD player and preamp were mounted on top of each other via Audio Physic VCF V Magnetic Sound Optimizer decoupling supports, and the 2.5-way Audio Physic Classic 8s were isolated from the floor by VCF II M8 supports.
The first thing I noticed was the acoustics – a pair of bass drivers produced very pleasant, fast and well-structured bass. Familiar recordings literally came to life, and the sound of the instruments acquired enthusiasm and some kind of festive mood. The Vincent SP-332 very competently controls the movement of the diffusers: in the recording of the piano we hear a completely natural attack on each note and its long, smooth decay in the hall where the recording was made.
The sound is light, comfortable and accurate – both the characteristic click when pressing a key and the vibration of the soundboard of a huge instrument are accurately conveyed. On the percussion, both the entire rhythmic pattern and the timbral structure of individual beats are beautifully drawn.
This is where it is appropriate to remember the tube-transistor symbiosis. Its character is precisely manifested in the incredible richness of timbres, when every touch on a string, key or drum membrane responds with a whole train of spectral components. Both brass and woodwind instruments are magnificent – you can feel real metal and “velvet” in their presentation. Even the synthesized sounds have a natural vibrational structure, which gives the recordings an unusually fresh interpretation. And there is no feeling of any overkill or excessive tint – the beauty is harmonious, with a sense of proportion.
The preamplifier has delicate tone controls: even with maximum lifts, there is no discomfort at the edges. The correction is quite deep, but the bass does not boom and the highs do not hurt the ear. The phase characteristic is also not disturbed – I turn the BASS and TREBLE knobs, and the imaginary sources in the scene remain in their places.
The sound space is built in detail and on a grand scale; it is felt that the terminal, if necessary, is capable of sounding even a small hall without distortion.
The overall dynamics of the system are also beautiful – it is capable of conveying both aggression and a powerful energy charge, but the sound is neither rude nor excessively harsh. And all for the same reason – high spectral resolution, intelligibility even at peak levels somehow softens the perception without reducing the emotional intensity.
Therefore, you can listen to any music with pleasure, from classical to White Zombie. This is the division of responsibilities between the pair from Vincent: the Vincent SA-32 gives a wealth of timbres, and the Vincent SP-332 powerfully and without simplification delivers all this beauty into acoustics.
Vincent SA-32 specs:
Frequency range, Hz-kHz 20 – 50
S/N ratio, dB 90
Harmonic coefficient, % 0.1
Input impedance 47 kOhm
Sensitivity, dB 500 mV
Tube package 4 x 6N16
Remote control Yes
Inputs: Analog audio 5 x RCA, 1 x XLR
Outputs: Analog audio 3 x RCA, 1 x XLR, Others 2 x 3.5 mm trigger