The Gearhead: Finding True Love

Speaker-amp synergy is a tough thing to get a handle on. If you’re listening, like I am, to a pair of speakers you’ve made, you can understand their character and limitations fully and even still be surprised by the synergy a specific design of amplifier can have with your gear.

But if you’ve not been involved in the development of what you’re listening to (i.e. almost everyone else), the ideal marriage of amp to speaker can be mystical and hard to pin down. It can come from any angle, without warning.

My speakers are not the most efficient — hell, they’re not very efficient at all — but for some reason, this VAC Renaissance 30/30 Mk III amplifier has fallen in love. Who am I to get in the way of a perfect partnership?

I think that the wonderful synergy in the setup here has something to do with the way I voiced my tweeters. I aimed for neutral, or perhaps a hair on the demure side of neutral. They're silk domes that are crossed over with a concoction of REL and Mundorf Supreme film capacitors, and have a tendency to show only what they're given.

With the VAC 30/30 Mk III connected, they're showing incredible inner detail and coherent midrange and treble information and a seriously huge, 3D soundstage, and they are just singing in a way I cannot reach with my usual testing system featuring a Class D (Class A input stage) stereo amp.

This, you see, is the downside of my job here as a testing technician. I’ve come up with every excuse I can think of to keep listening to this amplifier on my speakers. I decided to polish all of the metal surfaces to bring it up a cosmetic grade. I cracked open the notepad and started writing this blog post. I’m now done with the listing portion of my process, having researched the amplifier and found the MSRP and quantified the cosmetic and functional assessments.

I don’t think I can justify sitting here much longer, listening to this beautiful sonic match made in Heaven. I suppose the incoming shelf in the photo area designated for heavy items is a bit full — maybe I should keep it here until they can empty that out.

I can test cables, I can test DACs. I can find something to do that won’t sever the love-laced connection between this stunning all-triode, zero negative feedback (well, that’s the setting I have it on) 32-watt amplifier and my DIY speakers.

But, sadly, it is a terrible truth that all good things must come to an end at some point. The final note is near, and I will have to move on to other gear. But for this moment, still, I am living like this desktop system is complete and will never ask for another enhancement. Life is grand when soulmates are together.

ADDENDUM: Before putting the VAC beauty away, I tried it on a pair of LS3/5A clones as well. This showed the same liquid midrange and expansive soundstage as my speakers, but less bass than I was able to get with larger cabinets and woofers. The LS3/5A sound is well known to many, so hopefully that helps with the question of whether this amplifier will mate with your speakers in a similar way.