Audio and Video Talk > South African AV Product Board

Geco Audio Vanguard

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Air:
Yesterday as a fulfilment of a promise made to Rudi before he left our shores that I would listen to a Vanguard, a new unit was delivered to my doorstep. So stay tuned! I will listen to the amp over the next few weeks and share my impressions but I also would like to invite all who had the opportunity to listen to the amp to also share their views.








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Tonteldoos:
Congratulations! Is it brand brand new? If so, some burn-in is in order.... let it play!

Zilch:
Awesomeeee!!!!!!

Air:
The Vanguard is brand new and was probably only used during the set-up and testing of the amp. So I will definitely let it run in the background for a while. I will also listen to the unit with different preamps in the chain so that I can get a good impression of the amp's personality.

Just as a start, I must say the fit and finish of the amp are very good.  I like the design. It is not overly embellished with detail, but the required hardware, like the heatsinks, is used in an interesting and novel way without obviously “trying” too hard. I think that is what style is all about. I think it would not look out of place next to some of the established international brands, especially from the Scandinavian countries, such as the recent designs from Copland.

I installed the unit, switched it on, and it has been running without a glitch, and I might add very quiet since Sunday. It seems as if the Vanguard design has been well thought through by Rudi and that with Heinrich’s hand in the production process, what we have here is a viable, marketable product. Rudi has been very successful over the years with his designs and is one of the main contributors to the forum, but the Vanguard is clearly in a different league than what he has done in the past. Not that his previous designs were not good; to the contrary, they are excellent and well-loved by many, but the Vanguard is a mature product ready for the market.

Air:
Before I share my first impressions, all-important first impressions, I just want to put a few stakes in the ground regarding my biases.  Some of these views and preferences you might already know if you have read my contributions and others not so known and perhaps implied but never stated explicitly.  Firstly I see no need for a pre-power combination in most circumstances, and I also don’t see the need for an amp of more than 100W maximum. If you do require such kinds of amps, in my view, you have the wrong kind of speakers. It is a personal bias; I accept it. I also understand that it is a controversial standpoint.  Many enthusiasts are crazy about the high powered amps, about pre and power combos and even using multiple amps to bi-amp or even run different sections of the speaker system altogether.

I also want to say upfront that I really see no value in a hyperbolic approach to share impressions about a product. Statements like “the best ever, it tranced so and so, or there is no comparison at all” just don’t do it for me. It helps me zero to understand a product and what it sounds like. I need to have a nuanced understanding, give me the context, personal preferences, share differences and similarities, virtues and sins and ultimately why you like the product and why not. Also, I believe price correlates with quality, but it is not a perfect correlation by all means. On an international forum, someone the other day asked about a Pathos product. Someone else answered that this particular guy must listen to an amplifier four times the price of the Logos amplifier in question. I think that is just poor judgement, social and otherwise. So I tried to understand products within price brackets at least.

Lastly, I have specific preferences for the kind of sound that I enjoy. I value midrange palatability and naturalness, rich textures, a balance between leading edges and decays, a coherent sound rather than a highly analytical sound. I am pretty willing to give up something in the frequency extremes to get more of what makes me happy. Suppleness in the expression of dynamic contrasts, macro-dynamics, but especially micro shifts is crucial to me.

The Vanguard is therefore not the typical amp that I would pay attention to, considering some of my departure points. Still, I have given Rudi my word that I will listen to it and listen to it and will listen with an open mind. 

I can say with confidence that my initial impressions of the sound of the Vanguard are very positive. The mere fact that I have been listening to the amp since Sunday, although mostly in the background as I work, is a good start. I know myself by now and I know how I relate and respond to different components.  Although I often have a number of components around, I sometimes very quickly decide I just frankly can't listen to the component at all. I won’t name and shame but some of you might know about the integrated amp, a well-known name, but for the life of me I could not listen to it for more than a few hours, maybe maximum for a day. With such components, I get quickly restless and start to think about taking a component out if I don’t like the sound. On the other hand, there are components that I always feel happy to have back in the chain I look forward to installing them and can’t wait to do so. It is an emotional response but very indicative for me.

The amp sounds balanced with no obvious abbreviations in the sound, not overly warm or clinical, there is no sense that it is all about power and no finesse and although I think the level of detail is very good, but it also don’t strike me as an amp that constantly will remind you of “look how can I be like an X-ray, or microscope and zoom in on detail while losing the essence of the music. With crescendos, the amp stays in control and even taxing recordings are listenable. Maybe some negatives in my book at this stage; it sounds like a SS amp and is less sweet than what I prefer. It is certainly not clinical but I will never mistake it for a class A SS amp even. I also prefer a more supple bass approach rather than an amp with an iron fist control in the bass lines. The Vanguard is voiced on the edge in this regard. As for the all-important midrange I think it is good at least for a SS amp of this nature.

I know many of you would ask but what pre are you using in the chain and what speakers etc as you are a proponent of the of the idea of synergy, but as this should be read as initial impressions I would rather not introduce those variables right now. Just take it as first impressions and I will make an effort to change the pre, and other variables over the next few weeks. I have already had offers for a pre that many of you would be interested in to hear how it works with the Vanguard. What perhaps could be of interest now is to say that I have used an integrated as pre-amp and that this has given me some sort of baseline to easily compare the Vanguard to that of the build-in power stage of the integrated(excluding the effect of the interconnect if you think IC do contribute to the final SQ).

I am in no rush, even more so give the Covid circumstances to rush through the listening process, but I would be keen to hear your thoughts on my views so far, I do believe at least some of the forum members heard the Vanguard and a number of units were sold by Rudi before he left.

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