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Once this dream team had assembled, it was time to contrast it against my resident amps. What followed wasn't exact carnage but Vivace fronted by the DFP made quick work of both EX-M1 and 925. The Kinki sounded somewhat thicker, slower, less insightful, shiny and smooth plus was more mechanical in the treble and had its upper bass boosted to score lower on clarity and pronunciation. It's fair to call it more juvenile and nowhere near as refined. The EX-M1 somewhat made up for its lack of sophistication with stout drive but was easily bested nonetheless. Still, I've thoroughly enjoyed this integrated since its arrival and nothing on this count has changed.
Vivace+DFP versus 925 was more interesting. The former was clearly faster, more open, effortless, sunny, articulate, tonally even and texturally drier. The Trilogy integrated played it warmer, dimmer, beefier if stuffier, calmer, more voluptuous and with larger images. Vivace's major edge on technique and lack of limits particularly on acceleration and dynamics would make it a top open-baffle speaker like a sound|kaos Libération. The 925 would be a regular ported affair on the slower side to synergize best with faster companions. Variety is the spice of life. Many enthusiasts would buy into Trilogy's voicing because of all its meatiness. This integrated is a fabulous match for speakers that err on the lean, ethereal, lightweight anemic side. That makes it a highly situational product. Vivace was far more universal, thus not geared towards covering up or replacing severe colorations. Its revelatory prowess was one of its greatest strengths in fact.
After these comparisons, it was time to kick back, relax and have a casual listen; or try to. One of the very best things about these Californian monos was their engaging excitement. I couldn't simply flip a mental switch and disconnect from their highly resolving entertainment. Review loaners rarely have me this at the edge of my seat and for all the right reasons. The ones which do I view as overachievers. Today's jewels clearly belong to this prestigious club. Their performance was outstanding enough to outclass many pricier class AB competitors. I can't remember when exactly I stopped thinking about Alberto's topology but it happened very quickly. What I did think about was the S.P.E.C. RSA-M99 reviewed several months earlier here. Voiced to mimic SET valves, this class D Japanese integrated sounded nothing like Alberto's. In fact, I'd position these machines at polar opposite ends of the same spectrum [so would I, precisely – Ed.]. Affiliation with switching output transistors is the only thing they share. The takeaway in this context is the potency of modern class D; how much performance it can offer; how different its executions can be; and how varied their sonics. My successful adventures with this breed showed flavors so broad that to me there simply no longer is any uniform or predictable pattern. Alberto's creations cemented that observation for good.
Although many still don't consider class D fit for audiophile duty, personal experience tells me that it has blossomed enough to render earlier infamy done and dusted. The S.P.E.C. RSA-M99 had already liberated this topology from its stigma. The AGD Vivace did it even more so now. Although both stomped stereotypes and scored silly high on performance, today's impressed me significantly more. And yes, at first glance Vivace might strike you as downright quirky. Since nothing like it exists elsewhere, such a first reaction seems actually fitting. Upon closer inspection it simply becomes clear that nothing about this product is frivolous. Its small footprint, illuminated acrylic top, quality assembly, dead silence, stunning looks, plenty of power and pleasantly cool operation all contribute but Alberto Guerra's unique GaN power stage packaged inside easily swapped glass is the crowning glory. Once he pushes this concept further, a new set of AGD valves instead of a new machine will be all there is to it. If that's not future-proofing/forward-thinking at its finest, I haven't the faintest what would be.
In my book of hifi acquaintances, the AGD Production Vivace has positioned itself somewhere in the ballpark of the Bakoon AMP-13R on maturity, sophistication and overall voicing. But unless the latter flourishes into a far more powerful version of itself, I can't know which one would take the cake on my speakers. Guesswork aside, Vivace emerged as one of the finest amplifiers I'm aware of and undoubtedly the very best class D case I've heard, hence our 'Victor' award. This also expresses my admiration for Alberto Guerra's engineering skills and his way of merging visual pizzazz with petite size, top sonics, modularity and efficient practicality.
Without such products, there'd be no progress. Kudos!
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