Customer Reviews M5 High Pass Amplifier Combination

Quoted from Ultra Fidelis' Web Site:

Vandersteen M5-HPA amp: If you haven’t heard it and your Vandersteen speakers, you haven’t heard your speakers…

I’ve owned my Vandersteen 5A Carbons for over 3 years. During that time, I’ve owned a number of excellent pre-amps and amplifiers, all which brought me great pleasure in combination with my speakers. A few months ago, I purchased the new Vandersteen M5-HPA mono amplifiers. I didn’t change anything in my system except swapping out my existing amp and the model 5 Vandersteen cross-overs (no longer needed as the new amps have adjustable ones built in) for the new amplifiers. I did need to swap my pre to amp interconnect from a 1M AudioQuest Wild to a 1.5M Fire to make up for the added length that the now-removed cross-overs had added.

After letting them sit for about an hour in standby (Vandersteen’s recommended break-in method), I listened to Townes Van Zandt’s “Pancho and Lefty” from Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas album via TIDAL. I was stunned at what I was hearing after only an hour… Townes was sitting in my living room with me! Every nuance of his voice, his guitar and the resonance of the hall was perfect. If I was better versed in PA systems, I might have been able to identify what brand he was using.

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I left the amps in standby for the next four days to get to 100 hours and sat down for some serious listening. The amps deliver the best treble extension, the clearest mid-range, and the most controlled, fully articulated bass that I have ever heard in my house. Transients are lightning quick, imaging is precise, and the sound stage realistically sized. If the artist is playing electronically through a large PA system, the sound stage is huge and fills the front of my room. If the artist is 4 singers backed by a few strings, then it sounds like 4 people singing in the front of the room. The strings vibrating on an acoustic guitar are palpable, as if I could see the strings being plucked a few feet in front of me. Piano high notes are clearly a hammer striking strings. Every variation in tone, vocal intonation, vibrato is crystal clear – details are easily discernable without distracting from the musical whole.

Regardless of what volume I choose to listen at, I hear more of the music from every song. “Sail” from AWOLNATION, not a song I play very often, has always sounded a bit bloated and one dimensional. I can now hear micro-details and a depth that I never noticed before. On “Black Lotus” by Walton, playing at level 8 on my ARC pre-amp, every note is audible, the “synth-bells” ring clearly, the bass is tight and extended, and it vibrates my couch. I continue to discover new music and re-discover music that I have either dismissed or forgotten over the years thanks to these amps. I noticed the amps continued to improve, from their already impressive debut, over 500 hours or so.

One thing that I find interesting is that at least one very respected manufacturer is talking about how they have reduced the time needed to cross from the PNP (positive) transistors to the NPN (negative) transistors to reduce distortion introduced by changing from the positive to the negative transistors. Vandersteen has totally eliminated the time to change from positive to negative by creating an amplifier that only uses negative transistors. How’s that for optimizing performance and eliminating any possible distortion?

I can’t recommend these amps enough. If you own Vandersteen, I encourage you to contact Ultra Fidelis and make an appointment to hear your Vandersteen speakers with these amplifiers; you will not be disappointed. Also check out the new AudioQuest Folk Hero Series speaker cables, and the new Niagara 1200 and the PowerQuest 2 and 3, revolutionary products bringing state-of-the-art performance to heretofore unheard-of price points.

Associated equipment: Audio Research CD/DAC, Pre, Aurender N10, AudioQuest cables and AC power conditioning.

Bob F., Milwaukee, WI

Quoted from the Vandersteen Forum:

"I bought my first set of Vandersteen speakers one week after I started my first legit job. I was 25 and I carried those 2Cis around the country over the next 25 years.

The upgrade started when I accepted that even though I had worn earplugs at concerts my entire adult life, I had lost a fair amount of the high end. I wanted more of what I could still hear. I called Randy Cooley of Optimal Enchantment, and he started talking about the Quatros, powered by M5-HPAs.

Plotting commenced.

I knew who I had to convince first. Randy set up a listening session for my wife and daughter. He said the subwoofers bring people a great amount of joy. They could hear that, so the speakers and amps on our official family home improvement project list.

When our hopes to remodel the kitchen and bathroom in 2021 fell through, guess what shot to the top?

The speakers came, curbside delivery, on a few weeks ago early on a Tuesday morning. A neighbor sussed out my predicament, and helped me lift them up the stairs into the house. Amps, interconnects, and speaker wire arrived over the next couple of days. I quit work early to set things up.

Dropping this amount of money, a large sum for me, on a system that I have been eyeing for years had a likelihood to disappoint. Expectations were so high. What would they sound like in my house when they were mine?

I then had the remarkable experience of John Lennon appearing about six feet in front of me. The song was "Happiness is a Warm Gun."

It was one of the more stunning experiences of my life. These Vandersteen speakers and amps are worth every penny." 

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