In the treble region the SP-331 sounds slightly softer but also more delicate and refined than typical solid-state amps in its price range. I put on the famous Dorati/London recording of Webern’s Five Pieces for Orchestra [Mercury Living Presence] and found that the SP-331 slightly truncated the sounds of hall ambience cues and high-frequency air surrounding instruments relative to the presentation I would hear from my admittedly more expensive reference amplifier. Nevertheless, the Vincent revealed much of the delightful three-dimensionality that makes those classic Mercury Living Presence recordings the sonic jewels they are. If you like your high frequencies presented upfront and with maximum definition, the Vincent probably won’t be right for you, but the fact is that it strays from strict neutrality only slightly, and in a direction that—if anything—makes the amp an easier match with other affordable components.
I’ve always viewed high-end audio as a voyage of discovery, and I regard both these Vincent components as highly worthwhile finds. The SA-31 is a very good preamplifier that, for a tick under $500, gives listeners a significant taste of the sound of higher-priced equipment. But the SP-331 power amplifier goes much further, peeling away many more layers of distortion that would distance us from the music we love. When driven by a preamp that can fully exploit its strengths, the SP-331 does more things right than any other sub-$1000 amplifier I’ve heard. TAS