September 18, 2011

Absolutely Beguiling – Vitus Audio SCD-010 CD Player

The Vitus Audio SCD-010 CD Player surprised me. If anyone were to tell me that this entirely-solid-state CD player was tube-based, I’d have believed him.

I had listened briefly to Vitus’ amplifiers in showrooms and in hifi shows, they gave me the impression that they embodied the best qualities of solid state gear, their sound being clean, balanced and well controlled. However, they were less likely to be associated with terms like ‘warm’ or ‘honeyed’. So when the local distributor, Swedish Statement, brought the Vitus Audio SCD-010 CD Player over to my place, I had the same expectation too. (At the same time, they also brought a pair of Marten Design Getz loudspeakers, that is a story for another day)

Indeed, during the first couple of hours of listening, the SCD-010 seemed to re-affirm my expectation. The sound was clean and clear, everything was there, but the music seemed a little detached emotionally.

After that, as my normal habit, I put the player on repeat for a few hours then I put it on standby when not playing. The SCC-010 in the standby mode was warm to the touch, and indeed when it sprang to life from standby, it was ready to perform in its top form. After a full warm up, the other side of this player came to show itself, and it was an astonishing transformation...

The SCD-010 is one hunky piece of gear. It weighs a very heavy 26kg. The build has the tank-like quality of the best high end gear; yet undeniably its line also has the clean-cut, minimalist and softer touch of the Scandinavian – Vitus Audio is Danish. I like the look very much. I would complain about its display window though, being too small to read from 5-6 feet away. This handsome machine lists just a shade shy of the RM100k mark at RM91,995.

The Vitus SCD-010 is a top loader, the cover manually slides open and close very smoothly. After the disc is placed onto the spindle, you’ll use the magnetic puck to weigh it down. The transport is a Philips CDPro2 LF that Vitus says it has also heavily modified by stripping it ‘down to its basic mechanical and electronic parts and totally rebuilt. This ensures a lower level of errors in reading the digital information on the discs, which leaves the error correction system in the drive with much less work to do’. The SCD-010 is a CD only player.

Digital outputs and inputs on the left, analogue outputs on the right

It has the normal analogue outputs, 1 RCA pair and 1 XLR pair that Vitus builds with its own amplifiers’ topology. It has 2 digital outputs, 1 RCA and the other XLR. It also has a couple of interesting features. Firstly, it has 2 digital inputs (1 RCA, 1XLR), I had no way to verify the resolution that they could accept as I did not have any external high res digital source, however the local distributor told me that they accept up to 24bits/96kHz. Secondly, there is a built-in volume control. Used in conjunction with the digital inputs, it means that you can do without a pre-amp if you are running all digital gear.

Comparing the SCD-010 running straight into my monoblocks to having the signal through my pre-amp, I preferred the straight through method a little more, though it was a close call. Straight through, there were slightly clearer details. With the pre-amp in the path, there was slightly more body to the sound. I ran it with the pre-amp in the chain most of the time as I needed its pass-through feature for my home theatre setup.

After the initial run-in warm-up period, the SCD-010 settled down to a stable sound. Boy, was I in for a treat! This player caressed female vocal like no others. It was the most seductive I have ever heard from Stacey Kent from a compilation of her songs (Stacey Kent - Collection). Her voice was in turn sultry, creamy and yet powerful, her performance was dripping with emotion. There was an inner glow to her voice that just pulled the listener’s attention in. I bet everyone who heard this can’t but fall in love with it immediately.

The SCD-010 also turned piano music from a mere recording into a great performance. My favourite piano reference CD – George Winston’s ‘Autumn’, was transformed. A few things stood out, first was the definition and delineation of the notes, each note was cleanly enunciated, the slight smearing of one note to another in the lower register that I used to hear was gone. Each ping of the piano key was illuminated, like it was surrounded by an aura. Details were excellent, I could hear into the minute changes as each note came into being, progressed and finally dissolved. Reverberation and air in the recording were aplenty, whether it was natural or added as it may be. They all added so much more musical information to the performance itself as to bring the recording up another level.

The SCD-010 sounded totally in control all the time even as it tackled complexity, speed and dynamics. It did them pretty well, though in this regard I think some other players could out-slam the SCD-010, especially some high-enders from the US of A. However, I am pretty certain they could not match the Vitus’ beguiling charm.

The Vitus SCD-010 came across as peerless with vocal, acoustic music and small scale ensembles. It has a very natural, very analogue and rich sound, not unlike the kind we attribute to tube gear. With the Vitus SCD-010, you’ll listen more with your heart rather than your head.

This CD player has a musical soul.

Addendum 19/9:

I neglected to mention that the Vitus SCD-010 CD Player comes standard with Vitus Audio's own Andromeda power cord.

The Andromeda is a sturdy and very well constructed cord. More importantly, it matched the CD player extremely well, adding to its virtues. Compared to my Shunyata power cord, when used on the SCD-010, the Andromeda made the CD player sound quieter, the background was pitch black. It also added further to the silky smoothness and richness of the SCD-010's sound (Haagen Dazs ice cream came to mind :-) ).

Since the Andromeda matches the SCD-010 perfectly well, I don't think there is any need for the owner to go seeking for another power cord, really.

Vitus is carried by Swedish Statement. Please contact Koo at 012-2891682 or email

No comments: