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REVIEW: VTA Latino ST-70 kit Amplifier (Tube)

Model: Latino ST-70 kit
Category: Amplifier (Tube)
Suggested Retail Price: $875
Description: Updated kit built Dynaco ST-70 power tube amp
Manufacturer URL: VTA
Model Picture: View

Review by airtime on October 21, 2015 at 08:53:18
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for the Latino ST-70 kit

Remember that feeling when you audition a stereo that just nails it and hits all the right spots. Well I have been trying to write a review on this amp for six weeks without sounding like a sales pitch. This is my third and final draft so here it goes.

Let me first start with the designer Bob Latino. One HECK of a nice guy that is willing to give you all the help you need. I personally did not run into any problems. But Bob was there. He offered his phone number and answered emails within hours. If you decide to build this kit you are not left high and dry with out support. Bob will help you sort out any questions or problems you run into.

Building this kit was a lot of fun. I ordered the kit just to save money. After I opened the box and laid out the parts I thought, "what the heck did I get myself into?". Well, after the first cloud of solder fumes wafted up my nostrils I was hooked. I found myself waiting to go downstairs and work on the kit. The only advise I would offer is that you DO need an illuminated magnifying lamp. The PCB solder points are very small and you do need a fine tip solder iron. Otherwise I think Bob spent more time organizing and labeling those little parts bags then it actually took to build the kit. Everything is clearly outlined and well labeled. The instructions are very clear and at NO point did I wonder what Bob was referring too. All you need is basic soldering skills to put this amp together.

The parts quality are top notch! Bob didn't save a penny on cheap parts. A lot of kits send you a "starter" set of tubes. Adding cost later on because you end up upgrading on your own. The set of tubes that comes stock with this kit are what I would call keepers. You would be hard pressed to find better. The Driver tubes were vintage NIB GE 12AU7's. Yeah try finding a better tube there!. The EL34's were Shanguans. Now I have never heard of these tubes. Apparently they are very well known and BTW - one fantastic sounding tube! Nooo complaints there.

After three months and several hundred hours of listening here's how it sounds. I would like to make it very clear that this is NOT your grandfathers Dynaco. This is a new modern upgraded and redesigned version with a modern sound. The fallacies of flabby bass, bloating, etc... do not apply here. The sound is crisp, clear, clean, articulate and tight. Imaging is very wide. Even better and wider separation than my NAD C275BEE power amp with 0.009% distortion. All this while still maintaining that warmer tube charm and NO hint of being sterile or cold. Highs are clean, midrange in proper proportions and bass is snappy and crisp. Dynamics are in perfect proportion. Actually what I did noticed was the smaller nuances. Something that typically separates tubes from Solid state amps. That detail, bounce and separation of background instruments is noticable. I could go on but I'm sure you are sick and tired of reading pointless descriptions. Let me leave it like this. If you were walked into a room blind folded and listened to this amp, you could mistake it for a several thousand dollar solid state amp. In short I am happy and yes it does maintain a tube quality sound. So don't read too much into this statement.

Read the web site to see how flexible this amp is with tube choices. You could spend a life time just tube rolling. One thing I would like to close on is something that has been already been mentioned in other reviews. When I first turned on this amp I thought is wasn't working. This is the quietest amp I never heard. I mean NO background noise.

I can't impress upon you how wonderful this amp sounds and performs. Without a doubt this amp is second to none it it's class!


Product Weakness: none that I can think of
Product Strengths: Great sound in all areas and very flexible rolling tubes

Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: VTA ST-70
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Conrad Johnson Classic 2SE
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Marantz NA7004 streaming player
Speakers: Zaph Audio SR-71
Cables/Interconnects: Home made
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Classical
Room Size (LxWxH): 15 x 17 x
Time Period/Length of Audition: Three months and over 200 hours
Type of Audition/Review: Home Audition
Your System (if other than home audition): Home

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Topic - REVIEW: VTA Latino ST-70 kit Amplifier (Tube) - airtime 08:53:18 10/21/15 (6)


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