Vincent CD-S6

The last review and lampization of 2007. (photographs will be fitted on Jan. 03.)

This is a Chinese player with supposedly German roots of marketing and design concept. So they say. So it is "almost German".
Just like myself ;-)

First, after initial adimiration of this high-end, "tube player with a glow", lets see what the Google throws at us after search:

Vincent has redefined the pure sound of hybrid technology with the CD-S6 MKII. Particular care was taken with respect to the shielding: input relays as well as the remote control circuitry have their own shielded compartments behind a wall of steel. This recent development combined with vacuum tube technology has culminated in a smooth, warm sound.  The musical timing is definitely maintained and an incredible soundstage is created. With its weight of 9 kg this Vincent is underlining the sheer craftsmanship and a fondness for perfection. The unit features a digital output. Finish: black or silver. Tube illumination can be dimmed or switched off.
UUuuuu!!! Hybrid Technology ! Shielded remote circuitry compartment ! WoW! Mother Of Lord ! Wall of steel! Un-be-lie-vable! I want it !
I want sheer craftsmanship, technology that culminated!!! I am coming ! Now now yes yes yes!

so much from the UK distributor. And now some "independent review" from "Soundstage's" Aaron Weiss - "The Wold's Leading Magazine For High End Audio". Just follow the link please and read the first paragraph. What a superb piece of audio journalism !

There is even more of the ridiculously stupid mumbo jumbo there. Don't you have people any brain left to see for yourself, why does everybody just JOINS THE circle of writers who will praise everything that anyone cares to throw at them  in the advertising driven business?!? (just see how many ads Soundstage has on their WWW) Why do Soundstage employ and pay partially blind and partially deaf people?

Here is my review.
The look of this player - to my eye - is nothing more than another Chinese monster pretending to be high-end. They all share similar features: looks to die for, a little bit on a vulgar side of taste, the best DAC chip money can buy, as many op-amps as one can fit on a given PCB, and tubes being only attractive visual addition, an excuse to call the player TUBED.
From just 1 meter away I could take it for a BAT VK-D5. Meaning - the Vincent looks THAT GOOD. Even after opening the hood - it looks like a BAT. Same shitty plastic transport from Philips, perhaps the cheapest one ever made. But in Vincent it is a Philips-China version of VAL1202, in BAT it was still European made..

The PCB looks extremely well made, clean, sophisticated design with lots of high-end parts and colorful heatsinked regulators standing in straight rows like soldiers....

or is it really ...



where is my magnifying glass magic lamp !?

Wait a minute. The parts on the PCB are FAKE IMITATIONS. All capacitors are WIMA look-alikes. I bet that the BurrBrown op-amps are fake as well: they are painted with white letters, not laser engraved like real BB 2604.
Wait a minute - WHAT OPAMPS?! This is a tubed player innit?  .... well...

...not quite.

Counting opamps - 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 - TEN opamps means 5 per channel in a series and this shit feeds the triode ... well ....

lets see - this is not amplifying triode, no SRPP, no MU follower - this tube is a CATHODE BUFFER to color the sound of op-amped shit. This is SHIT SQUARED.

And what about the glow ? There is an
Amsterdam brothel window mounted on the front of the player to fool naive crowds that they should reach deep in the pocket. There is a God Knows What For tube installed there as a Christmas decoration, which has no other role but glowing for the crowds, but this tube does not glow itself (as none of the small triodes does) so they mounted 8 LEDS illuminating it from both sides plus a MIRROR (!) behind to increase the glow! In my humble opinion illuminating tubes with LEDS is very vulgar, hence the brothel association) You feel rich enough to treat yourself and buy the HIGHEND HYBRID TECHNOLOGY player. remember .... "... vacuum tube technology has culminated ...." - you are welcome to be my guest.
If fitting 10 crappy opamps with fake "Chinese-Wima" caps and adding an idiotic tube cathode follower at the end they call hybrid technology culmination, yes, I dont know what to say. Culminate my ass and sue me for all I care. 1800 Euro MRRP ? 4 times the Shanling 300?

Anyway, the poor friend of mine already BOUGHT IT paying the German / Chinese crooks over 1100 Euro in the vain hope of tubed sound.

I had to give him some hand and I promised to play with the player.
Now I ADMIT I did not audition it brand-new. I did not have the time for such ride. I would rather eat a dead rat for breakfast.

Back to lampization proper:
What we have here is a nice DAC chip - Burr Brown PCM1732, totally integrated, with filters, volume, HDCD, output stage and what have you.
(Hey!  German/Chinese Vincent (VanvGogh?) morons, this dac HAS the ouput stage, no need for 10 op-amps and a tube).
Oh yes, I almost forgot - ...the sheer craftsmanship and a fondness for perfection...

Here is the DAC data from their white paper:

The PCM1732 is designed for mid- to high-grade
digital audio applications which achieve 96kHz sampling
rates with 24-bit audio data, such as High Definition
Compatible Digital (HDCD) CD players, DVD
players, mini-disc players and AV receivers.
PCM1732 uses a newly-developed “enhanced, multilevel
delta-sigma modulator” architecture that improves
audio dynamic performance and reduces jitter
The internal digital filter operates at 8x oversampling
at a 96kHz sampling rate, with –120dB stopband

l INPUT AUDIO DATA WORD: 16-, 20-, 24-Bit
l SAMPLING FREQUENCY (fs): 16kHz - 96kHz
THD+N: –96dB
Dynamic Range: 104dB
SNR: 104dB
Stopband Attenuation: –120dB
Passband Ripple: ±0.00001dB
HDCD Filter Optimized for 44.1kHz to 48kHz and 88.2kHz to 96kHz
Digital De-emphasis
Soft Mute
Digital Attenuation
Zero Detect
Digital Gain Scaling
Reversible Output Phase

Among the other users of PCM1732 we can find superb players like Musical Fidelity and Linn, as well as the other Vincents.


Back to Lampization...
Since after spending 1100 Euros there was no budget left for my Fikus lampization, I decided to simply bypass the opamps.
What I did:
Tried the DAC straight to RCA (via capacitor to remove 2,5 V dc component) and it sounded very smooth, very clean but without power.
So I wired the jumper from DAC legs (13 and 16) to the output tube grids. Since we have a tube, lets use it! Let's put it to work as it should.
I cut off the trace before the grids and also after the DAC legs 13 and 16. I only left the grid grounding (biasing) resistor of (I think) 1 Meg.
The wire jumper literally jumps across the 10 opamps, their relative capacitors, filters, power regulation IC's, across all the money spent on useless circuits.
Why do they do it like this, just like Shanling does, just like Music Angel does? Faking all good stereotypes about tubes and decent engineering into a mockery of the real thing?

Half hour later ...

OOooo what a fine feeling to be such a smartass! This player not only glows, not only it is full of shit, but it plays sweet music now. It is as good as it gets with such componentry. A cathode follower buffer with regulated (transistor) supply rails of 90 V does just the trick - adds to the DAC output some current drive, necessary to get through to the amplifier. The whole trick costs 2 capacitors of 100nF (I used Arcotronics MKP) and thats all. A scalpel is the only tool we need apart from the soldering gun and a piece of wire.

After the mod it is listenable, very nice, very open and airy. In my subjectively screwed up memory it outshines now the BAT - which it was supposed to impersonate.

Happy New Year !!!

Amsterdam brothel window ...

The beast within the beauty ... (BAT lookalike)

The transformer has a fake shield. You might think - shielded, potted and encapsulated transformer ... but NO, this is not shielded, not potted and not encapsulated. Just a fake plastic cover.

Just plastic cup.

Signal taken from DAC legs via capacitors to the tube grid.

The neat and nice PCB looks. Good softwaqre for PCP layout.

The dac (HDCD) underneath the PCB and it's 10 op-amps plus a tube - the whole output stage.

The whole PCB

The red capacitors look like WIMA brand but not really ...

The DAC chip

A very nice AC filter PCB that cleans the RFI from AC input. Two capacitors (black) and a toroidal coil with red wire.

The meachanism

The mechanism again - the whole thing...

The window whore - the tube for the looks inside bowed mirror compartment.

The output tube - useless in original design, but very handy in new scheme of things.

The blue caps - fake WIMAs.... "for audio" !!!

The output caps - decent SCR's

The signal wires coming to the two tube grids...

Dec 31 2007, 7 pm.