On January 15 we took a deep dive into the initial construction phases of the Vitus Audio SIA-030 integrated amplifier ($46,200, all prices USD). In that article we looked at the transformer, the internal plate that the power-supply components are mounted on, the heatsinks and output stage, the input module, the rear plate (complete with input and output connectors), and the internal section of the faceplate. These individual modules are all tested on completion and their addition to the product follows a precise order to ensure that the final stages of manufacture can be accomplished efficiently.
This month we look at the assembly of all these modules into a finished SIA-030 integrated amplifier. Before we get to that, however, you might be wondering, “What exactly is an SIA-030?”
The Vitus Audio SIA-030 is a 138-pound stereo integrated amplifier that measures 10.6″H × 17.1″W × 19.7″D. It comes standard with three sets of XLR analog inputs and two sets of RCA analog inputs. It has one pair of speaker binding posts and a handy set of RCA preamplifier outputs that can be used to drive a pair of subwoofers or—if you want to biamp your system—a separate power amplifier. In addition, there are two bays that can be used for an optional DAC and/or the optional phono stage.
The SIA-030 is rated to produce 30Wpc of class-A power into 8 ohms or 60Wpc in class A into 4 ohms. In class-AB, the SIA-030’s power spec increases to 200Wpc and 400Wpc into 8 and 4 ohms, respectively. The frequency response is said by the manufacturer to extend to 800kHz, with a signal-to-noise ratio of 120dB (1kHz) and THD plus noise rated at 0.01%.
The SIA-030’s volume control is a relay-controlled fixed-resistor network with a 102dB range in increments of 0.5dB. The front panel is bisected by a thick glass pane. On either side of the glass is a row of three buttons. On the right, those buttons control volume up/down and mute; on the left, the three buttons let you select Input, Menu, and Standby. Once in the menu system, these latter three buttons also allow navigation. Overall the SIA-030’s front face is a very clean, minimalist design. You can order an SIA-030 in the standard black or silver finishes, or the bespoke finishes Vitus offers: Titanium Orange, Dark Champagne, or Titanium Grey.
Now let’s dig into the assembly process and take a look at how this product comes together in its final form.
The tested heatsinks (photos above and below) are mounted onto the internal plate with aluminum fittings that allow for minor adjustments for production tolerances.
The input module, chassis extensions, and the output PCBs are installed next.
The internal front-panel componentry is carefully installed in an electrostatic-discharge-safe environment. Working in this type of space is necessary to avoid any potential damage from surges that can happen without this safeguard in place.
Jesper—the main technician responsible for building this particular SIA-030—makes sure all parts are fitted correctly. At this point he can adjust accordingly using the aluminum fittings mentioned previously (photo below). This process is important to ensure the top and bottom plates fit perfectly later in the assembly process.
In the next stage, the PSU/slowstart PCB is carefully installed. The installation consists of aligning and mounting the PSU/slowstart board, adding Kapton tape to the heatsinks, and positioning and soldering the prepared transistors into place.
If the 47,000µF capacitors were incorrectly mounted in the fabrication of the finished internal plate, installing the PSU/slowstart PCB would be impossible and disassembly would be required. This is an example of why Vitus takes great care in fabricating each module and tests at each step. Taking care at this stage means that disassembly of a product is rarely if ever necessary.
The photo below shows Jesper testing the PSU/slowstart module and its functions while it is isolated from the rest of the amplifier.
In the above picture, the rear plate is installed.
In the next stage of manufacture, the bias is adjusted, and the amplifier is marked as approved if it passes the quality-control tests perfectly (photos above and below).
At this stage, the product has undergone all the necessary measurements as well as a burn-in phase. It is now ready for the mechanical parts to be installed.
Installing most parts is a two-person job: one technician aligns the product and the other completes the installation process. First, faceplates with buttons are added, then the bottom plate is carefully placed and bolted on and individual module covers are added. Finally, the top plate is fitted, which signals that assembly of the product is close to completion.
Those with keen eyes will notice the red plastic dossier in the photo above. For every product Vitus Audio produces, a dossier containing assembly guidelines, process forms, and test reports follows the unit through all of the assembly stages from start to finish.
After assembly, a product is only cleared for shipment when it’s been fully tested, the burn-in phase and listening tests have been completed, and even the smallest discrepancies and problems have been analyzed and addressed. At this point, all the files in the red dossier are transferred to a green dossier—meaning it’s ready to go to its new owner! Once packed and shipped, the green dossier goes into a special reference folder so that it can be consulted in the rare event of a failure.
This particular SIA-030 in Titanium Orange finish is now in North Carolina, and I’ll be auditioning it for my Ultra Reference System soon. Stay tuned!
. . . Jeff Fritz