The Vitus RD-101 DAC/Streamer is £10,800 and is the replacement for 2 models in one effectively, the older RD-100 DAC/Linestage and the also the RCD-100 CD Player/DAC.
With the RD-101 Vitus removed the CD section and the linestage section of each of the older models to make it a source only product, it offers plenty of digital connectivity in the form of USB-B, 2 x RCA inputs, 2 x AES inputs and they have also added a streaming input in the form of an ethernet socket. There are RCA and XLR analogue outputs, you may also spot on the image of the rear panel a USB A socket – this is for adding a Wi-Fi dongle should hard wiring an ethernet cable be problematic.
Streaming online music services are quickly becoming a very popular way to listen to music, Tidal and Qobuz offer CD quality and 24 bit streaming and are easy to use and sound great, to get up and running you simply need to give the RD-101 a network connection and you can stream Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, Deezer or music stored on a NAS drive or a shared folder on a computer – all controlled by the MConnect app, which is available on both iOS and Android devices, it fairly straightforward and intuitive to operate. The RD-101 is also Roon Ready as well, so can be used as an Endpoint for those who use this rather good software, it is not officially certified yet, but it works perfectly within the Roon ecosystem as a RAAT device.
In my experience the most commonly used input on the is the USB-B connection, perfect for connecting up your Melco, Aurender or Innous or even a computer, although for me having a Melco connected via USB playing music stored on the Melco hard drive will offer far greater performance than streaming, if you have a Tidal or Qobuz account you can run this through the Melco as well.
Vitus have really put an tremendous amount of blood, sweat and tears into the RD-101, please do not think it is just the older RD-100 without the Linestage and with added ethernet, virtually the whole product has been redesigned from the ground up with the a new DAC chipset, new power supplies and a much better output stage. It is a significant uplift in performance over the RD-100 and also the RCD-101.
In performance terms the RD-101 is simply best described as pure Vitus through and through, it sits just on the warmer side of neutral and offers all of the resolution and transparency anyone could ever want, it’s never forward, strident or lively in the way it presents the music, it simply focuses on being musical, engaging and almost analogue like in the way it paintsa huge musical landscape in front of you. Compared to the internal DAC board of the RI-101 or RI-100 (which is excellent in it own right and certainly no slouch) the RD-101 instantly sounds much bigger and the music plays with much more authority and engagement with greater levels of weight and insight. Which is some compliment given how good the internal DAC is as well!
I’ve been talking to a good customer of mine for a little while now about adding a RD-101 to his system to partner up with his RI-101 and flagship Melco N1ZS/2. The lockdown has certainly made some aspects of hi-fi challenging in terms of home demonstrations, so we arranged for me to take my demo RD-101 to the customer and literally leave it on his driveway so he could safely install it into his system by himself so I don’t need to set foot inside his house.
I reminded the customer that as always with Vitus they sound good from the start, but they really change and open up quite dramatically after a good 24-48 hours of warming up.
Once it had been on for a little while the customer started to send me the odd email with his thoughts on the what the RD-101 was doing and how the overall performance of the system had changed.
It is warming up and boy is it coming on song – just listened to a few bits and the combination is just something else – it is quite something and VERY moving – I am sure it will be better still tomorrow once fully warmed up – this is a big change! Bloody marvellous!
Then a couple of days later…..
It is absolutely outstanding as an addition to the system – it has completely changed how it sounds It sounds as it did before – but so much more so! Overall if I had to describe how the sound has changed is that there is just so much more ‘air’ and ‘space’ around the music. It is really difficult – but there is just so much more of ‘all the good stuff’. There is so much insight, accuracy and precision – but it is so much more open and welcoming than it ever has been before.
Then after 10 days or so
All in all I have to say the effect is quite magical and I am completely blown away. As good as it sounded 2 weeks ago – and it was good – it is as nothing to how it is sounding today!
To say the customer is pleased with his new addition is a bit of understatement.
We keep the RD-101 on permanent demonstration, the next DAC up the Vitus range the Signature SD-025 will be joining it on permanent demonstration very soon as well, that will make for a very interesting comparison! We also have the brilliant Exogal Comet Plus on demonstration with something new entirely waiting in the wings to be unveiled!