Vincent Audio makes some incredible audio gear with the SV-500 being one of my favorite amps I’ve reviewed for the money when it comes to musicality and sound stage. The SV-237MK II ($2999.95 MSRP) essentially adds Bluetooth 5.0 to an incredibly powerful MK I amp which uses their hybrid integrated output technology. Vincent’s Tube series of amps use a tube preamplifier section for adding that rich signature sound quality, but then amplifies it with discrete Class A solid-state output stage. This blend provides a rich and somewhat unique sound quality with a lot of power to drive some of the most demanding speakers.
To put it in to perspective, the SV-500 I reviewed had 50Wx2 @ 8 Ohms (80Wx2 @ 4 Ohms), and was able to drive the Alta Audio Alec towers, a glorious $10,000 speaker pair that handles an immense amount of power. This was all thanks to the use of the solid-state output stage but I was still able to retain the presentation of the tube preamp. The SV-237MK II steps the power up to a heart pounding 150W x 2 @ 8 Ohm (RMS) and 250W x 2 @ 4 Ohms! You still get the benefit of tubes on the preamp stage, which is subtly presented in an illuminated round window in the front center of the chassis. One amazing feature is pure Class-A mode, which outputs 10 watts x @ 2 at 8 Ohms. Class-A mode gives you a natural rich texture, especially in the mid range, and is something everyone should at least try out.
The IO panel stays the same as the prior version, with 3 analog RCA inputs, 1 optical, and 1 coaxial. There are also two preouts. The REC OUT bypasses the tube preamp stage entirely, and the PRE OUT uses the tube preamp which also includes volume control. If adding a subwoofer, you can use the PRE OUT connection for this. There is no phono input, which to me is fine. The Vincent Audio Phono preamplifiers such as the PHO-500 are essential pieces to properly enjoy listening to records and made a noticeable fidelity improvement over built in preamps. The rear also has two 12V triggers which gives you some extra versatility. New to the MK II is the antenna located on the top corner, which is what’s used for your Bluetooth 5.0 connection. I’m happy they went with a larger antenna for Bluetooth. Some brands go with an internal antenna array or a small module located in the back. This works fine up close, but depending on your room layout, or if you were to walk down a hallway for example, the internal antennas are limited in range. This antenna should provide you with better range and a more stable connection. If you do not want to see it, simply rotate it to the horizontal position to hide it behind the chassis. Bluetooth codec support wasn’t listed, so for now it’s safe to assume SBC and likely AAC. If I see any updates for AptX support I’ll be sure to update this article, but I do not expect it. The built in DAC is a Burr-Brown PCM 5102 which is fairly neutral sounding. Spec chaser out there may have preferred an AKM or higher end ESS option, but at the end of the day it mostly comes down to implementation. For what the SV-237 MKII is intended for, I have no doubts this will perform well. I wish the amp included the option for USB but with some great external USB DACs out there for a fairly low price, this isn’t a deal breaker. Pairing the Denafrips Ares II R2R DAC with something like this would be incredible.
The look is essentially identical to the older MK I, which follows Vincent Audio’s design language overall. The chassis has a nice blend of being beautifully-retro with some modern design touches. The MK II is available in black or silver aluminum. You get four big knobs up front for Treble, Bass, Input, and Volume. There is a tone-defeat button located at the bottom to bypass the EQ board, which has provided slightly better transparency and audiophile performance at the expense of adjusting treble or bass to your liking. There is also a Loud button and Power button. The chassis itself is rather deep, so make sure your rack or media console has the space to support a 17″ depth + cables. The width is pretty standard at 16.8″, and the height is only 6″. Weight comes in at 45 pounds. Looking at the chassis from above or the sides will immediately draw you to the massive heat sink array on both sides. This not only looks amazing, but it provides the necessary cooling to ensure performance and sound quality when being pushed to the limit.
The SV-237 MKII may not be the perfect amp for everyone, and at $3,000 it’s in a very competitive category because there are so many options out there. I think, based on my own listening experience, Vincent Audio Tube series excel in musicality. They truly have an immense sound stage and presentation, with a lot of the qualities I like from tubes, but with very little drawback. It’s a great blend and I often enjoy music more on their amps than most options on the market. If you want a truly high powered, very transparent amp, then you would want to go with a full solid stage option. This means either looking at Vincent’s Power Line or another brand that offers different configurations. If I were to connect my record player to a two channel amp (after the phono preamp of course), then I would prefer to use something like the this. When you AB an amp like this to others, it really makes the music come to life and becomes a more memorable listening experience. With that being said it’s worth trying out if you want something fresh and special sounding!
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