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The SV-238 is a massively overbuilt transistor amplifier with a beautiful design. It also looks more like a classical electronic device than audiophile esoterica. The wife acceptance factor should be rather high if you can get away with depth and weight. The nearly 53cm depth extension reminds you of dealing with serious equipment and for those who usually buy their amps on the euro-per-kilogram scale, the 36kg Vincent is a truly elevated choice and good bargain. One of the particulars are the lateral heat sinks contained in an additional metal frame with several openings to dissipate the heat generated by the high class A bias (up to 60wpc into 8 ohms).The external casing is very well finished and the amp can be handled without risking injury by sharp heat-sink edges.

The big digital display grants access to all the necessary information and is embedded in a thick, elegantly curved aluminum fascia. Eight buttons surround a larger power button and allow manual volume adjustment and input selection between five unbalanced and one balanced source. Of course the SV-238 may also be operated from its full-featured remote control. Most impressive is the rear panel with its four huge speaker binding posts - impressive but also problematic as the imposing depth increases to about 55cm. You have to find appropriate audio or real furniture for this beast. Vincent suggests its own fine rack line to support their biggest audio components. Besides the six inputs, the rear panel also offers two pre-outs, one RCA, one XLR.

The Vincent is a completely balanced class A/AB design with high nominal power (200/400/700wpc into 8/4/2 ohms). A dedicated CPU controls various functions and there should be neither mechanical distortions nor the usual wear of old-style mechanical controls. Crystal ICs handle the low-level signals. The Vincent SV-238 claims 50kHz ultrasonic extension at minus 0.5dB, 350mV input sensitivity, <0.1% THD at 1kHz/1w, a S/N ratio of better than 95dB and an input impedance of 47K.

Sound: The Vincent integrated combines excellent dynamics with a very gentle and sophisticated sound. Its astonishing flexibility allows the use of even punishing speaker loads. The impressive and effortless energy reserves can drive difficult speakers while the smooth accurate class A sound avoids any harshness when using high-sensitivity speakers. In fact, the Vincent SV-238 matches energy and delicacy with the brawn of the best solid-state amplifiers will. In Casa Chevassus, the Vincent powers either JLA widebanders or McIntosh LS360s in the same sweet but persuasive manner.

Listening to Just Family, one of the first Dee Dee Bridgewater albums, the Vincent delivers the kind of huge acoustic pressures only powerful solid-state amps or big sophisticated valve bruisers can. Even at very loud levels, the voices of jazz stars will never turn aggressive. Here the dynamics of Stanley Clark's bass were simply astonishing. More than the LS360, the JLA with Stand 80 woofers conveyed the impression of physical heat. I have always been curious to know how this album was recorded. The only observation I have is that this sensation of incredible pressure is not always reproduced at this same tactile level even over the most prestigious of amplifiers.