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The VL10 runs three 6H30 valves per channel and the WUBA topology is a single gain-stage wideband balanced differential amplifier design with no load resistors, buffers or followers. The VL10 is a zero global negative feedback design. JE Audio chose the 6H30 valves because of their sonic qualities, reliability and availability. All internal components from transformers (premium grade R-core) to capacitors (premium copper foil paper in oil) are of very high quality. The VL10 has 47-kohm and 94-kohm input impedance single-ended and balanced respectively. Output impedance is quoted as 1.1kohm (each phase). Frequency response is +0, -3dB from 10Hz to 500kHz and signal gain is 21dB. The unit weighs a solid 14kg.

I asked John for a little history and company background: "All JE Audio products are designed and produced by JE Electronic Co Ltd in Hong Kong. JE Electronic was founded by me in Hong Kong on Sept 2005. Before founding the company, I worked in semiconductor industries (manufacturing and distribution) for over 12 years in various management positions in sales and marketing. I have been an audio electronic DIYer since high school. The studies of electronic engineering at universities further broadened my understanding of amplifier design.

"By 2005 when the company I worked for merged with another, I decided it was time to start a new chapter of my career. I formed the company that year. It took about two years before the first JE Audio products were launched in Hong Kong in Sept 2007. We first introduced the VM60 and VL10. In 2008, we added the VS70 and VL20. Even though JE Electronic is a small company with four employees, the size doesn't stop us from doing quality work. The innovative amplifier designs have earned us two patents (invention) issued by the US and two more patents (design) from Hong Kong and China. JE Audio will continue to offer quality audio components at affordable prices."

Just Enjoy
After a 100-hour running-in period, the VL10 slotted into the system in place of my superb reference Supratek Sauvignon preamplifier, a hard act to follow. And indeed the two preamps differed in many easily noticeable ways. The VL10 straightaway proved to be a livelier and brighter-sounding component, almost colder. It sways toward the leaner and more detailed end of the sonic spectrum. John Gorka's deep and close-miked voice for example [The Company You Keep] acquired a slight glow on sibilants and tended to sound a little peaky. A visual parallel would be the enhanced, almost surreal edge definition you see when an object is back-lit. This was not ultimately fatiguing in any way but simply a noticeably brighter balance overall. This tonal balance led the musical pendulum to swing towards the detailed and resolute end of things.

And that lively sonic blanket covered the frequency range top to bottom. Which meant the bass register was deep but most importantly, very detailed and tight. Bass lines were easily followed and tended to boogie the music along in a jet-propulsion kind of way.

Aussie duo Mr. Sister -- Mel Robinson as vocalist/cellist and Steve Richter on electronica and everything else -- and their superbly engineered Empty Places is a moody and introspective ensemble of beautifully-written and orchestrated tracks. On "Shelter", Mel's delicate voice soars above the mix with the VL10's resolution separating it masterfully, and the complex strands of synth lines and deep cello notes are controlled in a most powerful and penetrating manner. What's more, recording and equipment permitting, the VL10 allows for the launch of a large soundstage with focused images spread laterally to the speakers' outer edges. Impressive, VL10!