Signature MB-185 S3 Monoblock
Following the footstep of the MB-450 Series III, the MB-185 Series III Signature monoblock has gone through the same technological improvements as its bigger brother. The upgrade to the Series III platform is extensive with a complete rework of the signal path and new features added while retaining all the user friendliness of the previous model such as automatic tube biasing and comprehensive fault sensing.
Upgrades include a fully balanced differential input stage driving a differential phase splitter and a lower impedance push-pull output stage. Also new is a shorter, faster and fully balanced negative feedback loop, with zero global negative feedback. The negative feedback loop completely eliminates ringing and requires no capacitor compensation to maintain critical phase integrity and information. The result is an amplifier that remains stable even under the most demanding loads.
Another significant change to the MB-185 is the switch to EL-34 tubes. Long admired for their rich, natural and open sound, the EL-34s bring a distinctive new sonic signature to the amplifier that emphasizes the integration and inner details of music. The output transformer has been completely redesigned and carefully matched to complement the midrange purity and quick, taut bass of EL34s.
There is also a new user adjustable Damping Factor Feedback control that allows the user to adjust the amplifier’s output impedance by varying the amount of negative feedback. Impedance can now be precisely set to suit the listener’s taste, and to improve control of the loudspeaker loads to deliver best performance.
The 4 possible settings are:
- LOW – Lowest damping factor, good loudspeaker control, most natural sound.
- MED – Better loudspeaker control, with some impact on sound quality
- HI – Best loudspeaker control, with a little more impact on sound quality, but on speakers that need the control the sonic improvement is clear
- MAX – Maximum damping factor, but sonic impact is noticeable
- Fully balanced differential circuit – even single-ended signal produces balanced signal at output
- Re-designed fully balanced differential input and driver stages for increased signal swing, bandwidth and stability
- Zero global Negative Feedback
- Shorter, faster feedback loop for greater tonal control without phase shift
- Improved handling of loudspeaker loads for greater signal stability
- The amplifier is unconditionally stable, without the need for capacitor compensation
- Tube like JFET-type current source for lower sonic impact in single-ended mode
- Lower impedance output stage for improved loudspeaker control
- Dramatically increased interleaving and coupling in the balanced VTL proprietary Signature output transformer, for wider bandwidth and zero ringing
- Variable user-adjustable DF feedback control to vary output impedance and damping factor for optimal matching to speaker load
- Software microprocessor controlled
- Tetrode/Triode Switchable
- Auto Bias, Fault Sensing
- Current in-rush limiting
- Standby Mute function; with reduced tube current for increased tube life
- 225 watts per channel in tetrode; 140 watts per channel in triode
- Uses eight EL34 or 6CA7 tubes per monoblock
- Adjustable regulated screen supply for stable operating point; discrete regulated input and driver supply for greater signal resolution and tonality
- Adjustable precision-regulated bias supply for greater signal resolution and noise rejection and improved isolation from mains supply variations; output operating point does not change with AC power fluctuations
- Improved Autobias and fault sensing system to operate in fully balanced differential mode; amplifier is fully protected against output tube failure; no need for precision matching of output tubes
- All premium Mundorf silver oil caps in signal path
- Film bypass of power supply caps for greater HF resolution
- Extruded aluminum front panel with luxurious, modern look – black and silver options available
- Rack mountable
- Rigid construction and improved ventilation for lower operating temperature
- Factory upgradeable from Series II
|Vacuum Tube Complement||8 x EL34 or 6CA7, 1 x 12AT7, 1 x 12BH7|
20Hz – 20kHz <3% THD
|Tetrode: 225 Watts, Triode: 140 Watts
|Input sensitivity||Variable between 1-2V, depending upon DF setting|
|Output load range||4Ω – 8Ω|
|S/N ratio||225W Tetrode & 140W Triode: -90dB, 120Hz|
|Power consumption||Idle = 270W, Full power = 550W|
|Primary mains fuse rating||100/120V = 12A Ceramic Slo Blo, 220/240V = 6A Ceramic Slo Blo|
|Input fuse||100/120V = 1A Ceramic Slo Blo, 220/240V = 1A Ceramic Slo Blo|
|Logic fuse||100/120V = 1A Ceramic Slo Blo, 220/240V = 1A Ceramic Slo Blo|
|B+ fuse rating||Plate Fuse – 1.5A fast acting 600V, Screen Fuse – 0.75A fast acting 600V|
|Dimensions W x D x H||18.5 x 18 x 9 inches (47 x 45.7 x 23 cm)|
|Weight||85lbs (38.5kg) per monoblock unpacked, 100lbs (45.4kg) packed|
“The sense of live musicians in their room and now in yours is again spookily real … as in being at a live performance, detail is imminent as a naturally occurring aspect of the artists at work in a specific acoustic space and time. It is the actual physical presence of the amps themselves that can never be discerned. The VTLs instead ultimately give primacy to and serve wholly the performer and the performance. It is as if the glass fascia on the front of the amplifier’s casing is a window into that musical event, the tubes illuminating that performance, with seemingly infinite colours and washes of tone.”
”The VTL MB-185 Series III Signature amps, especially when mated with the highly sympatico VTL 6.5 Series II Signature tube based preamplifier, equally distinguished by its accurate tonal balance and rhythmic prowess and linearity, results in a system of amplification that has managed to bring out the best in every speaker I have to date hooked them up to, from big Wilson Sasha 2s to little Harbeth monitors. No glare, no listener fatigue. Just a whole lotta musical satisfaction going on.”
"At the 2015 RMAF I spent some time with the VTL MB-185 Series III Balanced Signature Amplifier. These hefty looking monoblocks put out 140wpc in triode mode, or 300wpc in tetrode, into 5 ohm loads. That is a lot of great tube juice, capable of driving loudspeakers with aplomb, even the tough customers load-wise. And the VTL’s do this with a S/N ratio of -90dB."
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