VITUS Masterpiece P201 MkII Phonostage-2box

VS 32 PS MP P201
Price on application
Vitus Audio

"leading edge technology" enables VITUS AUDIO to make some of the Best Hi-Fi products in the world.

New

The Masterpiece Series has in fact been on our internal road map for some years, but was not supposed to be introduced until 2011. However as the number of requests from the market increased, we decided to bring development forward and launch this very special series early. We think it is somewhat fitting for a range of products that are ahead of their time! The complexity of all the MP products has put our engineering team to the test, as the technology used in the Signature Series needed to be pushed to the extreme, to satisfy our expectations for the new Masterpiece Series.

To reach this level, we had to re-qualify all parts from component level and up. Further more, many new custom made parts were developed, pushing our subcontractors technology to the limit of "possible". The MP-P201 uses the same discrete gain stage modules developed for the MP-L201, however it has been optimised for a much lower noise level. This is essential in order to keep the very high musical performance with even the lowest output cartridges available on the market today.

Gain selection on the MP-P201 is based on the output voltage from the cartridge. This is the most effective and optimal way of ensuring perfect balance between the cartridge and the phonostage. Setting the correct load has also been made as user friendly as possible. The four load boards in the MP-P201 provides a total of 16 different load values. The external power supply is shared with the MP-L201 and gives the first extreme level of line regulation. This ensures the lowest possible noise level, even before the supply reaches the actual phonostage circuitry.

A++ rated by Stereophile mag (Mr Fremer)

Specifications

Reviews

Specifications

Product Type: Two chassis true balanced phonostage
Inputs:
1x RCA
1x XLR

Outputs:
1x RCA
1x XLR

Internal Cabling: Andromeda by VA
Remote Controlled: YES can be controlled by our RC-010 (purchased separately).
Dimensions: Both Power-supply and phonostage: 130H x 435W x 430D mm
Total Weight: 46Kg

Reviews

You need to hear Vitus Audio's MP-P201. You need to hear it even if you haven't got the US$60k (excl sales tax) just so you know what awaits you, should you strike it rich.
Michael Fremer

REVIEW SUMMARY: Nor did such a degree of delineation sound artificial. It sounded as natural as when I hear the New York Philharmonic in Avery Fisher Hall, with imaging, sound staging, and depth just as easily audible—not as compartmentalised musical workstations, but as part of an organic whole that some skeptics claim doesn't exist when you hear symphonic music live. It does.

The Vitus MP-P201's speed, transparency, three-dimensionality, frequency extension, rhythmic ability, musical grip, and any other parameter you could name—with the exception of what only tubes can do—took the overall sound to a new, exalted level. That Shostakovich performance sounded as convincingly "live" as I've ever heard from a recording.

EXTENDED REVIEW massive, two-box beauty from Denmark costs US$60,000 (excl sales tax) , and I wish I could tell you it wasn't really better in most ways than the already outlandishly priced and sonically superb Boulder 2008, but I can't.

No one spends this kind of money on a phono preamp unless its appearance and functionality are commensurate with its sound, and in the MP-P201 they are—even if there's only the RIAA curve, and no Mono button. However, what will get wealthy enthusiasts to drain $60k from their bank accounts will be the Vitus's unmistakably astonishing sound. Plug it in, play it, and compare it with whatever you own, and unless you are a confirmed tube-a-holic, if you've got the krone, prepare to shell out. Designer Hans-Ole Vitus claims that this method has already sold more than a few units of his mundanely named product.

The Vitus includes switchable, independently configurable balanced and single-ended inputs and a single balanced output. Pushbuttons select and save input sensitivity (125–500µV for MC) and loading for each input, the name of which can be selected from a list of 10 popular cartridge brands—or, in Text mode, you can enter your own.

Vitus offers a choice of four dealer-installed modules for resistive loading, only one of which can be installed at a time. Each includes 16 different resistances,. Two are MC only, and two offer both low impedance loading and 47k ohms, for those who have MC and MM cartridges. No alternate capacitive loadings are offered, but really—how many buyers will use an MM cartridge with a US$60,000 (excl sales tax) phono preamp?

Oh, No!

In direct comparisons with the Boulder 2008, the Vitus MP-P201 produced more of everything that anyone would want to hear from a solid-state phono preamp—and for twice the price but with considerably less functionality, it had better well! The first late evening I spent with it had me yelling, loudly and often, to no one in particular, "Are you f***ing kidding me?"

Just when I thought the dynamic and spatial potentials of an LP had been fully expressed, just when I thought the resolution of inner detail of the other top contenders I've heard had revealed all that was engraved in the grooves of some overly familiar vinyl, the Vitus proved me so wrong. Even casual listeners—such as my skeptical next-door neighbor, who visits periodically to hear the latest insanity—exclaimed profanely when he heard his requests through the Vitus.

Often, great amplifiers are described as "gripping" and "holding" the loudspeakers. The Vitus MP-P201 did that to the signal coming from the cartridge as no other phono preamp has in my experience. That effect rippled through the signal chain, improving the performance of everything it touched, and finally tightening its grip on the speakers themselves. It wasn't at all subtle—as a visiting speaker manufacturer heard the other day. Nor did it sound too mechanical or dry or "electronic"—though again, if you primarily value the continuousness and flow of tubes, while you'll be respectful of what the MP-P201 achieves, you might not be as impressed as I was.

The MP-P201's dynamic presentation at both ends of the scale was nothing short of ridiculous. Its bass extension, control, and weight were granitic. Its ability to tonally and spatially retrieve and resolve instruments and voices within a narrow frequency band produced a constant barrage of new information from some very familiar recordings.

Unexpected voices and instruments appeared in three-dimensional space from the most familiar recordings. These familiar recordings are almost part of my DNA, so suddenly hearing something completely new and obvious produced many "WTF" moments. Even after having sat mesmerised by that Shostakovich LP through both Boulders, hearing it now through the Vitus MP-P201 was yet another revelation of what's possible from vinyl playback specifically, and from musical reproduction in the home in general. The Vitus drew a line in the sand of its soundstage that produced images of the fronts of orchestras way back in space, with an unprecedented solidity and certainty of location. Every aspect of the spatial picture was equally solid and convincing, including the front-to-back layering of orchestral sections—even though this Melodiya/EMI is a very distant recording.

If you can look yourself in the eye and spend US$60,000 (excl sales tax)  on a phono preamp, you need to hear Vitus Audio's MP-P201. You need to hear it even if you haven't got the US$60k—just so you know what awaits you, should you strike it rich.
....... Michael Fremer

Imagine your speakers becoming clouds from which music emerges. Welcome to the MP-P201. Marathon listening sessions

SUMMARY - Perfection? - A US$60,000 excl sales tax component should take your breath away, and the MPP-201 does so the second the first record is placed on the turntable. So choose carefully. You will always remember the paradigm shift. After months of listening, I still pinch myself nearly every time I experience this marvel, and remain amazed at how much detail is locked up in those grooves.

EXTENDED REVIEW: When I was a kid, my friends would be quick to shout out “infinity” when they spotted the coolest bike, baseball glove, or sneakers. Yet as soon as that word was uttered, another voice rose up and declared “infinity plus one!” Decades later, more than a handful of us have faster bikes and fancier shoes. But we often make similar claims when referring to our audio systems. And the stakes are much higher—at least in the sense that “infinity plus one” now costs a lot more.

It is always tough assigning value to things we don’t need. Of course, the biggest question with something like the $60k Vitus MP-P201 phonostage is “how much better is it?” Passing the $10k mark for a phonostage means serious high-performance territory. If you don’t have a mega system with an equally mega turntable, don’t even think of blowing this kind of coin on a phonostage. It’s a waste. Competition at this level is fierce, and there are a number of excellent choices in the $10-$15k category. We’ve reviewed such models from Aesthetix, Audio Research, ASR, Burmester, Boulder, Conrad-Johnson, Naim, and Pass Labs. Plus, there are probably another ten excellent models in this range we haven’t covered.

For listeners wanting to venture beyond the barrier at the boundary of the analog universe, what are the options? Surprisingly, quite a few. The Ypsilon YPS100 tips the scale at close to $30k; the Boulder 2008 is even more expensive. Where does the madness end? A US$60,000 excl sales tax phonostage is no more realistic to most audio enthusiasts than a $1.2 million Bugatti Veyron is to someone driving a Toyota Camry. Yet these exotic products have customer waiting lists.

On the bright side, you’ll never need to change oil or replace a clutch in the MP-P201. And you won’t need to hunt down rare NOS vacuum tubes. The MP-P201 is a fully solid-state design that, once experienced, will change your thinking about transistors’ capabilities—provided you have the preconceived notion that glass bottles are the only devices that yield untouchable musical performances.

A Little Perspective

Think of the sound of an ace $1,000 phonostage. Musical notes are reproduced, everything is quiet, and a dollop of tonality and dynamics makes you feel warm and squishy about having upgraded. If you made the leap from a basic $200-$400 turntable to a $1,000 unit with a competent phono cartridge, and everything is properly set up, analog enchantment happens. You evangelize about how vinyl is better than digital. The crusade begins.

The next major jump costs two-to-five times the aforementioned amount and includes added flexibility as well as a substantial performance gain (assuming your system is resolving enough to reveal the difference) and added flexibility. Gain and loading more easily adjustable, and multiple inputs might even be present. You’re moving closer to a more realistic picture of the music on your best recordings. The speakers feel more liquid and natural.

Once you cross the $10k line, in general, your speakers begin to boil like a big pot of water into which you drop delectable pasta. Yummy. Music sounds like it should—timbre, texture, low-level detail, dynamics, and bass weight envelop you, and yep, it’s time to upgrade other parts of your system to keep pace with the enhanced analog front end.

How Good Is It?

Imagine your speakers becoming clouds from which music emerges. Welcome to the MP-P201. Marathon listening sessions with every turntable, tonearm, and cartridge at my disposal reveals la meme chose: beyond-sublime music reproduction. The Denon DLA100 (based on the DL-103r) even takes on a new dimension, with a weighty presentation I’ve never heard from 103 Series cartridges. Mounted on the Funk Firm FX • RII tonearm, and mated with the AVID Acutus Reference SP, the $499 cartridge sounds like one that costs much, much more.

Have you ever ogled the paint job on the winning car at the Pebble Beach Concours de Elegance? Gotten lost in depth that feels so real it could just swallow you?  Again, meet the MP-P201. Whether via the humble Denon cartridge or mighty Lyra Atlas, the Vitus phonostage expands room boundaries to the point where you’ll look for surround speakers. This is two-channel sound at its finest.

I’ve heard too many highly tweaked systems that are so resolving, the owner is reduced to playing 20 perfect recordings and, after spending a small fortune, makes record-buying decisions based on “what will sound great on the system.” The MP-P201 does not force you to make such feeble choices.

This phonostage does not embellish in any way, yet it retrieves information from records at a supernatural level. The joy is twofold: Your best recordings transport you beyond what you ever thought possible, and mediocre LPs lay bare a wealth of information that previously appeared compressed. Run-of-the-mill pressings—whether an 80s classic like The Fixx’s Reach For The Beach or modern offerings such as the Decemberists’ The King Is Dead, neither of which sound particularly open—now come alive and possess tonal shading where none before existed.

As great as the MP-P201 is with average pressings, extraordinarily recorded LPs sound truly amazing. The more time I spend with the MP-P201, the more I suspect it comes equipped with one of the Guild Navigators from Dune—folding time and space every time I play records. Swapping the Denon for the Lyra Atlas and Koetsu Urushi Blue, it’s impossible to decide which is more enjoyable. The latter’s sumptuous midrange and depth lend well to recordings with a slight edge, while the Lyra’s ability to uncover the minutest details hypnotizes the senses.

Pink Floyd albums prove enthralling, especially when enjoying first-stamper German, Japanese, and UK pressings of Dark Side of the Moon. There’s so much more information throughout the spectrum, it’s actually initially arduous to process. The opening heartbeat now feels buried in the floorboards, threatening to burst out, Edgar Allen Poe style, while the alarm clocks feel as if they are duct-taped to my head. Once acclimated to the additional bandwidth in my realm, the navigators take over again; hours melt away.

Classical lovers will marvel at the phonostage’s fathomless quiet—a wonder for rock and jazz, but a necessity for symphonic music. The resultant blackness may even force you to reconsider your test-LP protocol. My preferred classical demo discs include Mercury Russian recordings pressed a few years ago.

Byron Janis’ delicate touch on the piano during Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Flat Major “Triangle” comes off like a once-played master tape. This LP’s air and space will challenge any analog front end, but otherworldly is the combination of the Atlas cartridge and MP-P201, melding the best digital recordings’ inaudible background with the dreamy, fine-grained smoothness that only analog can deliver.

A Fourth Dimension

Regardless of the music, the MP-P201 gives more. There’s more extension at both ends of the spectrum. And even though this phonostage casts more detail on the high-frequency section, cues never become harsh or forward—a tough feat. Whether listening to Audioslave or Miles Davis, the density of information constantly exceeds expectation.

The increased texture now present in all recordings, combined with the dynamics and resolution, makes for a fourth sonic dimension. Music is no longer played as much as it is displayed, in almost hallucinatory form. Spinning the recent remaster of Miles Davis’ Bitches’ Brew casts wildly convincing impressions. Davis seems to lurk in my room, the illusion so realistic, it seems as if I can get up and walk behind him. Trippy and fun.

The Fine Print

The MP-P201 is a two-box design, with power supply and the phonostage on separate chassis, connected by a pair of umbilical cords. Once plugged in, the MP-P201 is ready to play after about two minutes. Akin to any premium component with a massive power supply, it requires a few days to fully stabilize. Since my review sample arrived with hours on the clock, I can’t comment on how long a new unit needs to sound its best.

Chassis and front-panel design mirror other Vitus products. The aluminum front panel is beveled in the middle in order to reveal the control functions behind the black, smoked glass. Removing the vault-like top panels showcases the precise build quality one might expect to see if a Swiss watch was enlarged to the size of a preamplifier. Hans-Ole Vitus redefines meticulous build quality. He heavily relies on custom-made surface-mount modules to guide every aspect of the preamplifier.

Loading can be controlled from the front panel or optional remote.  When I brought this up with Mr. Vitus, he just assumed that anyone buying the MP-P201, would have the remote and not need one. Again, Danish practicality, but he puts my fear at ease, “Of course if you purchase the MP-P201 as a standalone component, we will include a remote at no charge.”  Right on.

Input sensitivity can be set from .15mv to .5mv. With this kind of gain, all MC cartridges can be utilized—even ultra-exotic models with three turns of Martian wire on the core. Sixteen different load settings, with four separate modules, are also available.  While you might think 47k is a useless setting at this price, don’t forget about the moving-iron cartridges out there. They could be a great match.

The MP-P201 features two inputs, one balanced and one RCA. Both work so well, I can’t really tell the difference—even with identical tables, cartridges, and tonearm cables. I experience no loss of fidelity when using the balanced input with XLR-to-RCA adaptors. Balanced XLR and RCA outputs are available.

Perfection?

A US$60,000 excl sales tax component should take your breath away, and the MPP-201 does so the second the first record is placed on the turntable. So choose carefully. You will always remember the paradigm shift. After months of listening, I still pinch myself nearly every time I experience this marvel, and remain amazed at how much detail is locked up in those grooves.