Virtue TWO.2 Class-T Integrated Amplifier
as reviewed by Robert H. Levi
You like exotic, cutting edge amplifier technology? You want an 80-watt per channel integrated amp that sounds pretty much like nothing at all? You want it second generation so that all the bugs are gone and added features include the world's best caps, superb battery power supply, and a sub-woofer connection all available at incredibly low cost? And, you want to hold the entire piece of gear in the palm of your hand? Well audiophiles, the Virtue TWO.2 is the ticket to ride and what a swell uber-musical ride it is!
Utilizing the powerful Apogee Tripath DDX2200 series power chips and stuffed [and I mean tightly stuffed!] with AuriCap capacitors and tons of techno-cool goodies by the legendary Roger Sheker, Chief Designer of Audience LLC, the TWO.2 is as much fun to use as it gets in today's hot audio environment. Plus, the review sample came in red, my favorite color.
It took me 5 minutes to set it all up. I used a pair of Paradigm V20 Mk.3 speakers, Harmonic Technology Pro 9 reference bi-wire speaker cables, a Denon Universal DVD 2200 Player, and a pair of Kubala-Sosna Emotion interconnects. I plugged the Virtue into the optional Dodd Battery Supply and was on my way. Very nice sounding ice cold, it sang beautifully after 24 hours of playing a CD in repeat mode. How cool is this!
The super pure copper connectors made attaching all the wires a snap. I can't see a flaw in this amazing package. Is this the Dynaco Stereo 70 for today's audio youth who want sophisticated sound at a reasonable price? Heck yes! I'll gladly admit that I initially figured I'd last 10 minutes at most listening to the Virtue. I was sure it would sound like some Zappo Receiver you might purchase at Best Buy or Radio Shack for your 10 year old nephew. Instead, I went from cheap no-name interconnects, to Kimber KCAG interconnects, to $3000 Kubala-Sosna Emotion interconnects and heard every change and improvement clearly! Is this some kind of legerdemain or are we seeing and hearing a new technology as promised by many engineering gurus of today?
Here's the deal. The Virtue's Class-T technology is very low distortion, very musical, smooth and un-fatiguing, and even natured from highest to lowest notes. It sounds like both tubes and good solid state… sort of quick, snappy, open, airy, and elegant. It does not blur definition or dull the highs like many pricey ICE amps. It does not stress out or get hard sounding when pushed and clips very softly like tubes. I like its well rendered depth and big sound staging along with spot on imaging. Vocals are really lovely and realistic. Complex musical passages resolve very well. I could not make the Virtue distort or crunch and I tried! The bass is powerful and deep.
I never heard the popular 2005 Virtue ONE.1. The brand new TWO.2 is clearly a tweaked and finished product. A boon to those searching for more from a desk top system, the Virtue will power good speakers in a medium size room quite admirably. It is said to work with loads from 2 - 20 ohms with max output at 4 ohms. The 6 ohm, 90dB efficient Paradigms were powered to ear shattering levels with the Virtue TWO.2.
The Virtue has only one pair of high quality RCA inputs so you'll need a switch box if you want to hook up a larger system with more than one source. The stepped type volume control is mighty fine. There is no remote. The TWO.2 is very stable and may be operated without speakers attached.
Virtue is now offering a bigger Sensation series of Class-T integrated amplifiers with three RCA inputs and remotes. Watch PFO for upcoming reviews of these very cool looking products.
I hesitate to continue to wax poetic about a $598 integrated amp [including the excellent Dodd battery pack.] How will anyone take me seriously after this? I guess I'll just have to risk it. You folks who have been looking for a wham bam super deal in high value amplification, here it is! It's available factory direct from Virtue Audio and it's called the TWO.2.
Recently I read an article about a tube amp from China that put out 2.5 watts and cost about the same as the Virtue. Even if those 2.5 watts were the greatest watts in audio history, so what! Unless you plan to power a hearing aid or some weird horn contraption, the Virtue will entertain you, involve you, and make your great exploration of fine audio a lot of fun. I like fun! End of story. Robert H. Levi