- Sonus faber
- Spiral Groove
- Wilson Audio
- Om Stylus
From Vision to Market
When VTL introduced its awe-inspiring 1250-watt Wotan amplifier in 1996, Luke Manley, VTL’s President, called it “the culmination of all we know about amplifier building at VTL.” But even as he spoke those words, change was brewing—both in the audio industry and at VTL. The growth of home theater meant that amplifiers were being called on to perform an array of new functions. Meanwhile, VTL was confronting the question of how tubed equipment would fit into modern home entertainment systems. Reliability and consistency of tubed components were issues that had to be decisively resolved. With these questions in mind, Luke began formulating ideas for a new Reference amplifier; tubed to be sure, but packed with technological innovations and breaking new ground in sonic excellence. After five years of intensive R&D, designing, testing, refining and listening, VTL’s newest addition to the Reference family is ready… Siegfried 800-Watt Reference Monoblock Amplifier has arrived.
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When Luke began developing the concepts for a next-generation Reference amplifier, he laid out the following design goals:
- The Reference amplifier should deliver a new sonic standard worthy of its marque as a member of the Reference family – it should provide unsurpassed sound quality as well as excellent measurements on the test bench
- The amplifier must be able to drive a wide range of speaker types to their optimal performance, with consistent performance under all conditions
- The amplifier must be self-optimizing and provide a full range of diagnostics for sustaining peak performance.
- The operation of the amplifier must be intuitive and user-friendly while providing flexibility in its control functions, for integration with modern home theater systems
From the outset, it was apparent that Siegfried would not be a business-as-usual design. “The R&D process ended up being an intensive cross-disciplinary collaboration between multiple teams of engineers in different parts of the country,” says Luke Manley. “Tube circuit designers, power supply experts, software engineers, control circuit experts, and industrial design specialists all had a hand in shaping Siegfried.”
The quest to make Siegfried “smart” was a major part of the design process. VTL was committed to eliminating the continual tweaking and guesswork that usually come with owning large tube amplifiers. Automatic self-regulation was understood to be the key to keeping Siegfried operating at peak performance. To that end, engineers embedded a logic-controlled automatic tube biasing circuit inside the amplifier to ensure that Siegfried is running optimally at all times. A full range of diagnostic functions were also included to let users know which tubes need to be changed, amplifier operating time, tube life, real-time AC voltage and more.
Siegfried’s sound quality took a significant leap forward, due in part to the use of new precision-regulated power supplies. Benefits heard include increased dynamic headroom and a tighter, more tuneful bass. Listening tests also revealed a new vividness, with a noticeable increase in agility and articulation within the music. A balanced input stage keeps the noise floor vanishingly low.
Siegfried’s physical package received special attention in the design process. The thick and extremely rigid chassis (provided in a tower configuration) is clad in non-magnetic material and rests on large non-resonant feet to banish mechanical interference. The sleek, modern appearance of Siegfried matches the cosmetics of VTL’s TL7.5 Reference Preamplifier. A curved fascia is inset with a digital readout and three buttons. With its subtle interplay of brushed, ribbed and polished aluminum, Siegfried has a commanding yet refined visual presence; unmistakably a product for the most serious and discerning music lovers.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the way our new ‘smart’ amplifier has turned out,” says VTL’s Luke Manley. “Siegfried has surpassed everyone’s expectations with respect to sound quality and ease of use. This is an amplifier you can turn on and forget about; allowing you to sit back, relax and simply enjoy the music.”
Who is Siegfried, the Hero?
Siegfried is the greatest hero of Germanic and Scandinavian myth. The name is a conjunction of ‘victory’(sieg) + ‘peace’(friede). If you think of Siegfried as a sort of Teutonic Achilles, you wouldn’t be far off. He is superhumanly strong, a great warrior, headstrong and nearly invulnerable. As a grandson of Wotan, the most powerful god of Germanic lore, Siegfried has a spark of the divine in him, yet his passion and pride reveal him as fully mortal. Siegfried was raised in the forest away from civilization. He is intuitively sensitive to the ways of the natural world, and exhibits a childlike simplicity in his interactions with others.
What is Siegfried, the Amplifier?
The newest member of VTL’s Reference amplifier lineup, the Siegfried 800-Watt Reference Amplifier expands the boundaries of what a powerful tube amplifier can be. Directly descended from VTL’s Wotan MB-1250 Reference Amplifier, one of the most powerful tube amplifiers in continuous production, Siegfried shines in its own unique way. This 800-watt all-tube monoblock provides all the muscle you’d ever need to handle the most demanding musical passages, but offers so much more. Logic-controlled automatic biasing of all tubes means ‘smart’ Siegfried constantly checks itself for optimal performance. A full range of diagnostics alerts users to the status of each tube, including when to retube. Siegfried puts an end to the guesswork formerly inherent in large tube amplifiers, while crossing new thresholds of sonic performance.
What does Siegfried, the Hero, do?
After reforging the broken sword of his father, Siegfried sets out on two quests, both of which can only be accomplished by one who knows no fear. His first quest is to slay a giant dragon. Using his wits, Siegfried kills the beast as it emerges from its cave, symbolizing the light vanquishing the dark. The dragon’s blood makes Siegfried nearly invulnerable and also allows him to understand the language of nature. A bird tells him of a fair maiden, Brunhilde, who sleeps within a Ring of Fire. For his second quest, Siegfried uses the redeeming power of love to awaken and free Brunhilde, creating a new beginning for human consciousness on earth.
What can Siegfried, the Amplifier, do?
Thanks to huge precision-regulated power supplies, VTL’s Siegfried amplifier handles the most demanding loads with ease, ensuring consistency of performance under any conditions. A brawny 800 watts of power results in impressive dynamic headroom and tight, deep, resounding bass. A simple audio circuit and audiophile-quality components give a bold, vivid freshness to music. There is nothing glaring or artificial-sounding about Siegfried; instrumental timbres and human voices come across in an extremely natural way. Siegfried’s uncanny handling of rhythm, pace, dynamics and texture connects to those ineffable qualities that define the soul of real music. Siegfried allows users to immerse themselves in its glorious sound without having to wonder whether the tubes are all performing properly: Siegfried continually optimizes tube bias and reports diagnostics on each individual tube, leaving the listener to think about nothing more taxing than the next piece of music to enjoy.