It’s been approximately 6 months since Vitus released the RI-101 Integrated Amplifier, the replacement for the incredibly popular RI-100, in that time I have installed more than a handful of the new model and everyone who has made the jump to Vitus has been nothing but delighted.
The RI-100 always punched well past its price point and never failed to impress when demonstrated, I’ve lost count of the number of times a customer heard Vitus for the first time and passed comment that they didn’t think an integrated amplifier was capable of delivering that level of finesse and refinement. It will happily sit with other amplifiers costing a lot more money and offers resolution, scale and musicality that can make going back to listen to anything else simply impossible to do.
The RI-100 had obviously been around for the past part of half a decade and Vitus certainly don’t churn out new product very often because they simply don’t need to. That said after 5 years Vitus wanted to show the world they were capable of taking the RI-100 and improving on it in every way.
Visually the RI-100 and RI-101 are identical other than a line of additional cooling vents on the top lid of the new model, rear panel connectivity is the same. Internally the main power supply and output stages are the same but everything else is new, the volume control is borrowed from the Signature Linestage, the input stage of the power amplifier section has been dramatically improved as have the relay modules. The RI-100 barely ran warm, but as mentioned above cooling has been improved on the RI-101.
Million Dollar Question – How does it sound?
It’s safe to say that the new RI-101 is significant step up over the outgoing RI-100, I was lucky enough to have both side by side for a period of time earlier in the year. Now I have spent the past 18 months extolling the virtues of the RI-100 and it still sounds fabulous but the RI-101 does show it a clean set of heels. As with all Vitus products they like a good 24 hours or so to warm up and they really start to sing.
The RI-101 is more detailed, bass is more textured and better controlled, perhaps a little cleaner, but the presentation is still wonderfully natural and organic with bags of dynamics.The RI-100 was priced at £9900 and the new RI-101 is £11,800 and is obviously that little bit closer in monetary terms to the wonderful SIA-025. I’m pleased to report in performance terms it has certainly closed the gap a little as well.
The most recent RI-101 customer passed comment that listening to his favourite records on his beloved turntable was like hearing them again for the very first time and his system was delivering more detail, texture and emotion but most importantly simply more music that was really engaging to listen to. In the short time he’s had his new amplifier he listening to more music than he has done for years and he ‘downsized’ from multiple boxes to the RI-101.
That is quite a common theme, it’s becoming increasingly popular for people to want (or need) to move away for multiple box systems for something a bit more simple, something that takes up less real estate in the lounge and is more acceptable from a domestic point of view (we’ve all been there!). I have had several customers part exchange numerous boxes for the RI-101 and every single time the resultant performance has been significantly better than what went before.
The RI-101 offers more connections than most people need, I don’t think I have anyone using more than 2 inputs truth be told. The RI-101 offers 3 XLR inputs and 2 RCA inputs. Any one of these inputs can by fixed to bypass the volume control so you can integrate it with a home cinema system (which I’ve done on a couple of occasions as well).
The standard Vitus RI-101 Integrated Amplifier is £11800.00, there is also the option to have one of two DAC modules fitted to the RI-101.
The first DAC module is £2200.00 and offers 4 digital inputs, which are USB, Optical, Coaxial and AES EBU, this module also can be installed into the RI-100.
This module occupies the 2 red spaces in the image above, USB and Optical on the left side and Coaxial and AES on the right side.
This internal DAC offers incredible flexibility, value for money and performance. In performance terms this will happily sit alongside external DACs costing a lot more money, you’re not paying for expensive shiny casework, lights and glossy packaging! Remember you don’t need to worry about an expensive interconnect and power cable with this module as well. In sonic terms it’s pure Vitus through and through. Endlessly detailed, musical and incredibly natural and soulful in its presentation. Performance far exceeds it relatively modest price-point.
Connect a Melco via USB and you’ve a serious high-end system in 2 boxes. You obviously have 3 other inputs should you wish to connect a CD transport or even a TV via the optical connection!
The second DAC module available for the RI-101 is a brand new release coming hot off the heels of the brilliant Reference RD-101 DAC/Streamer. This new module offers network streaming in lieu of the USB and Optical socket, you still have coaxial and AES inputs.
With the Ethernet socket you simply connect to your network and you have ability to stream Qobuz, Tidal and Deezer directly to the RI-101 using MConnect on your iPad to control it. It also can be configured as a Roon Endpoint as well which is proving very popular due to their wonderful interface. It can also play music stored on a NAS drive as well.
So you simply need to add speakers and you have a serious high-end system in one box! This DAC module is priced at £3000.00 (please note: this module does not fit inside an RI-100). The USB socket on the image below is not a digital input, it is to connect a wireless dongle should it not be possible to hard wire your amplifier to your router!
In performance terms this new DAC board is very good indeed and will no doubt prove very popular as it offers brilliant sound with the ultimate convenience. Simply connect the RI-101 to your router, all you need is a pair of speakers, a Tidal subscription and an iPad and you good to go with all the music on earth!
However, if you own lots of music on CD the USB DAC module and a Melco will sonically have the edge, but the network DAC board at £3000 is certainly no slouch!
I really hope this brief overview on the Vitus RI-101 is useful. If you would like any more information or would like to arrange a demonstration please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Price-points as follows
Standard RI-101 Integrated Amplifier £11,800.00
USB DAC Module for RI-100 and RI-101 £2200.00
Network DAC Module for RI-101 £3000.00
Existing RI-100 owners can upgrade their amplifiers to full RI-101 specification for £4000, this includes transportation to and from Denmark as well.
Thanks for reading 🙂