The RCD-101 is one of Vitus newest units to the market which replaces the outgoing RCD-100 cd player. In true Vitus fashion, they have really gone to town on the update, leaving no stone unturned and going in and improving every single aspect of the design. So comprehensive was the final set of revisions that the RCD-101 not only trounces the older 100 model into a cocked hat, but it is also sonically superior to the previous Siganture class cd/dac the SCD-010 which I believe used to retail for around the £15,000 mark.
Both the RCD-100 and SCD-010 were no slouches in their day and were very highly regarded against their competitors so that should give you some idea of the level of performance that this new first rung of the Vitus digital ladder provides.
Let’s take a closer look at ths innards. The discontinued Phillips CDPro2LF transport found in the old RCD-100 has been replaced by a Sony SACD unit which Vitus has completely stripped and rebuilt for greater precision and hence less requirement for error correction. The RCD-101 benefits from a new USB interface which supports DSD and is also driverless. Along with USB you have one AES/EBU input and one SPDIF input so plenty of options for adding a pc/mac, a dedicated streamer, digital TV, Sky, your bluray player etc. The RCD-101 is a true balanced cd player, transport and DAC and sports RCA and XLR analogue output as well as an SPDIF and AES/EBU digital output. Lastly, the RCD-101 has a much improved power supply over the older model resulting in greater dynamics and a lower noise floor.
In the Vitus tradition, this is a digital player which sounds very refined and natural. Out and out resolution and detail levels are very very high but it’s the complete picture of the music which dominates and the RCD-101 never sounds excessively detailed or bright. If the word ‘digital’ causes you to momentarily shudder at the thought of a source that might offend with a clinical, brittle, edgey, tiring presentation then the RCD-101 is the very opposite of that. In the biggest of cliches the sound is indeed very analogue like and you would be forgiven for thinking that you were listening to a very good turntable, perhaps a direct drive with exemplary pitch stability.
That said, whilst the RCD-101 has smoothness, warmth and refinement it does not achieve these by softening, abbreviating or rolling off. It simply does not commit one set of sins to avoid commiting another set. This is a DAC that at the same time sounds extremely neutral and precise with excellent articulation and dynamics. There is bite to the edges of notes and very good focus to the soundstaging. There is bags of precision and complex tracks unravel effortlessly but at the same time giving you the resolution and high articulation which can make many a cd player sound awkward with a tendency to trip over its own resolving power. The RCD-101 is proof that a warm over-ripe melliflous tube Dac is not necessarily the way you should solve the pitfalls of the digital signal. It is also living proof that you can have precision, speed and extreme accuracy without straying into leanness and sterility and losing that strong sense of realism which we all chase.
As a Vitus piece, it goes without saying that the RCD is very dimensional with a layered 3d sound and tonal accuracy is absolutely superb. There is no pinching or accentuation of frequencies, solo piano for example has an incredibly real rendition and fine timbral and textural nuances are preserved and very well communicated especially for a unit at this sort of pricepoint.
Scanning the marketplace and looking around at what else is available for £7990, I am going to go out on a limb here and say that in all likelihood, the RCD-100 is going to shock you a fair bit. I have sold a fair few of these since they came out and nearly every source they displaced was something that started life considerably more expensive. This is a very very high level source and all the cd/dac that most people will ever need in their entire lives. Please do not let the generous price or the fact that it is Vitus’s entry product mislead you into underestimating what this thing is capable of. There has been a lot of very expensive DACs and Streamers flood the marketplace in the last 6 years or so but for me, most don’t even get beyond that most basic of pitfalls of sounding mechanical, electronic and overly analytical.
Of course you can plug whatever preferred streaming device you choose into the back of the RCD and it can be seen as a pure dac with a transport thrown in for good measure. Whilst a basic pc or mac will get you up and running with streamed music immediately, I would ultimately recommend a highend device with a natural sound that will be synergistic and in harmony with the Vitus way of doing things. For the ultimate in functionality and sonics, I would offer you somehting from the Aurender range of streamers.
Much like the RI-100 vs. SIA-025 integrated amp comparison, I often get asked to compare the RCD-101 against its Signature elder brother the SCD-025. First of all, understand that the SCD-025 has just been upgraded to MK2 guise so is now well over twice the price of the RCD at £18,500. It is quite simply a phenomenal digital source. In the last few months I have had two customers trading £15k+ ultimate spec Linn LP12 turntables in to afford the SCD. Yes that’s right, they are pushing Vinyl to one side and trading in turntables that have been in the family for decades, all so they can put an SCD into their living room.
The SCD is surely one of the greatest digital players available anywhere at any price but the RCD-101 at around 43% of its cost, is simply not 43% of its performance. If the RCD were offered at a price strictly commensurate to its sonic comparison against the SCD then it would surely be around 70-80% of the cost, so approaching the £14,000-£15,000 mark. Listen to the two back to back and whilst the SCD is doing a lot more and sounds even more natural, efforless and invisible, the RCD gets fairly close and you come away thinking what exceptional value for money it is.
That just about wraps things up. I hope i’ve been able to impart enough information on this beautiful box of tricks. If you’d like to know more or arrange a store demo or home loan then simply pick up the telephone or drop me an email.