Review: Canor Virtus I2 Tube Integrated Amplifier: A Sonic Maestro’s Symphony of Excellence

Review: Canor Virtus I2 Tube Integrated Amplifier: A Sonic Maestro's Symphony of Excellence - Embark on an audiophile journey with Canor Virtus I2 amplifier


In the realm of audiophilia, Canor, the Slovakian tube specialist, has consistently garnered acclaim for its ability to transform audio components into true sonic gems. The latest addition to their illustrious lineup, the Canor Virtus I2 integrated amplifier, builds upon the success of its predecessor, the AI 1.10. With a foundation rooted in the accolades earned by AI 1.10, the Virtus I2 seeks to redefine the boundaries of excellence in tube amplification. In this journey, Canor endeavors to maintain the exceptional standards set by its earlier models and push the envelope further, exploring refinements that elevate the listening experience to unprecedented heights.

Unveiling the Virtus I2: Harmonizing Form and Function: As we embark on the exploration of the Canor Virtus I2, it becomes evident that this amplifier is more than a mere successor; it’s a testament to Canor’s commitment to sonic purity and aesthetic finesse. While strikingly resembling the AI 1.10 externally, the Virtus I2 introduces a refined design and crucial technical advancements that promise a discernibly enhanced audio journey. Beyond the sleek exterior lies a meticulously crafted amalgamation of cutting-edge circuitry, redesigned transformers, and a profound understanding of the interplay between mechanics and sound. Join us on a sonic odyssey as we dissect the nuances of the Canor Virtus I2, navigating through its technical prowess and unraveling the auditory magic it holds within its robust chassis.

Canor: Crafting Sonic Excellence with Slovakian Precision: Founded on a commitment to excellence, Canor stands as a prominent name in high-end audio. Hailing from Slovakia, this tube specialist has garnered a reputation for transforming audio components into masterpieces of sonic craftsmanship. With a team that embodies down-to-earthiness and a relentless pursuit of perfection, Canor has consistently produced amplifiers that meet and exceed the expectations of discerning audiophiles. Rooted in a wealth of experience and a dedication to innovation, Canor’s amplifiers showcase a harmonious blend of traditional tube technology and cutting-edge design. The company’s unwavering attention to detail, from meticulously selected tubes to refined circuitry, reflects its commitment to providing enthusiasts with aural experiences that transcend the ordinary. As Canor continues to push the boundaries of what’s possible in audio, it remains a symbol of Slovakian precision and sonic excellence.

Technical Specifications

Impedance: 4 Ohm8 Ohm
Continuous power (RMS): 2 x 40W /4.8 Ω – ultra liniowy, 2 x 20W /4.8 Ω – triodowy
Typ: Tube
Class: A
Tone Control: NO
Built-in DAC: NO
Preamplifier gramophone: NO
Signal/noise ratio: > 95 dB
THD distortion: <0,05% / 1 kHz, 5 W
Frequency response: 10 – 50.000 Hz ± 0,5 dB / 5 W
Input impedance: 30kΩ
Bluetooth: NO
2xRCA line inputs: 1
Headphone connector: Lack
Trigger: NO
Typ lamp:4 x KT88 / 1 x 12AX7 / 2 x 12AT7
Reinforcement: -30dB @ Ω, -28dB @4Ω
Subwoofer output: NO
Speaker outputs:2 sets
Power supply:NetworkAC230V, 50Hz
::Power supply: 230 V / 50 Hz / 375 VA
::Damping factor at 4 Ω load at output: 9 (based on measured output impedance)
::Damping factor at 8Ω output load: 10.5 (based on measured output impedance)
::Lampy: 4 x KT88 / 1 x 12AX7 / 2 x 12AT7
Weight:26 kg

Canor: Crafting Sonic Excellence with Slovakian Precision

The Canor Virtus I2 integrated amplifier presents a captivating exterior that seamlessly marries aesthetic elegance with ergonomic precision. Upon initial inspection, the amplifier exudes a robust and familiar aura reminiscent of its predecessor, the AI 1.10. However, a closer look reveals a meticulous approach to refining the amplifier’s external design, marking a subtle yet significant evolution in its visual appeal.

Canor’s international salesman, Ivan Bosnovic, sheds light on exterior refinement, emphasizing a commitment to creating a product that delivers sonic excellence and delights the visual senses. The amplifier retains the signature massive case, the eye-catching rotary knob, and the unmistakable display, maintaining the brand’s identity. What sets the Virtus I2 apart is the attention to detail in eliminating rough edges, resulting in a more harmonious and polished appearance. The subtle fine-tuning of the housing becomes apparent upon a second glance, where the refined design comes to the forefront. The rugged yet sophisticated aesthetics speak to Canor’s dedication to crafting audio components that seamlessly blend into any high-end audio setup, offering auditory pleasure and a visual statement of precision and craftsmanship. The Virtus I2 is a testament to the belief that exterior refinement is not merely about appearances but an integral part of the holistic audiovisual experience that Canor aims to deliver to its discerning audience.

Technical Advancements: Elevating Sonic Precision and Performance

Beyond its captivating exterior, the Canor Virtus I2 integrated amplifier unveils a realm of technical advancements that collectively redefine the boundaries of sonic precision and performance. At the heart of this evolution lies a redesigned motherboard, a testament to Canor’s commitment to continuous improvement and harnessing the latest technological possibilities.

The developers at Canor leverage their enhanced knowledge and expanded options to meticulously employ Surface Mount Device (SMD) components, resulting in a signal path with even less resistance. This strategic use of technology, often imperceptible to the naked eye, contributes to a sound quality that transcends its predecessor, the AI 1.10. The motherboard upgrade serves as a foundation for a sonic journey that is both immersive and technologically sophisticated.

One notable addition to the Virtus I2 is the incorporation of complete shielding as a solid stainless steel cover for the input transformer. This enhancement, coupled with redesigned output transformers—crafted with the precision only possible from Canor’s in-house winding mechanism—is a sonic milestone. According to Ivan Bosnovic, the amplifier’s international salesman, these new output transformers contribute significantly to the most noticeable improvement in the sound, demonstrating Canor’s mastery in marrying mechanics and audio perfection.

The culmination of experience from developing the Virtus M1 mono power amplifiers further enriches the Virtus I2. The realization that mechanics play a pivotal role in sound quality prompts an in-depth examination of AI 1.10’s housing for resonances. Various vibration-inhibiting techniques are then applied, elevating the housing to Virtus level and creating a synergy of engineering finesse and acoustic brilliance.

In addition to these structural enhancements, Canor introduces advancements in the amplifier’s tube assembly. The Virtus I2’s tube complement comprises the readily available yet high-performing 12AX7 as the input stage and two 12AT7 double triodes as driver tubes. The power amplification per channel employs a pair of common yet robust KT88 tetrodes.

Chief developer and Canor co-owner Zdenek Brezovjak’s expertise in tube technology shines through as the KT88 tubes undergo a meticulous burn-in process of at least 200 hours. This intensive care, combined with precision tube selection and matching for optimal sound, exemplifies Canor’s commitment to delivering audio components and sonic instruments crafted with passion and precision.

As the Virtus I2 emerges with its refined motherboard, shielding enhancements, and advancements in tube assembly, it stands as a testament to Canor’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of what’s achievable in the pursuit of audio excellence. The technical advancements make the Virtus I2 a worthy successor to the AI 1.10 and position it as a benchmark in its upper price range—a sonic masterpiece forged through the marriage of innovation and expertise.

Experience from Virtus M1 Development: Elevating the Canor Virtus I2 Soundscape

The Canor Virtus I2 integrated amplifier emerges as a refinement of its predecessor and a product enriched by the invaluable experiences gleaned from the development of the Virtus M1 reference monos. This synthesis of knowledge reflects Canor’s commitment to a holistic understanding of audio components, transcending circuitry to delve into the profound impact of mechanical elements on sound quality.

Central to this evolution is the meticulous examination of the Virtus I2’s housing for resonances—a practice that stems from lessons learned during the development of the Virtus M1. Canor’s engineers, armed with a profound understanding that mechanics wield a significant influence on audio outcomes, undertake an intensive process to fine-tune the Virtus I2’s housing. Employing various vibration-inhibiting techniques, the amplifier achieves a resonance-free environment, elevating it to Virtus level and enhancing its acoustic brilliance.

Ivan Bosnovic, Canor’s international salesman, sheds light on this journey, emphasizing that the refinement goes beyond circuitry. The experience gained from developing the Virtus M1 serves as a guiding beacon, prompting Canor to explore not just the electronic intricacies but also the physical resonance of the amplifier. The result is an amalgamation of engineering finesse and acoustic prowess—a synthesis that places the Virtus I2 at the pinnacle of audio excellence.

Furthermore, redesigning the output transformers, a hallmark of Canor’s craftsmanship, finds its roots in the development of the Virtus M1. Bosnovic notes that these transformers, crafted with precision thanks to Canor’s in-house winding mechanism, contribute significantly to the Virtus I2’s enhanced sound quality. Drawing from the lessons learned in creating reference monos, Canor integrates this expertise into the Virtus I2, delivering an auditory experience that is technically superior and steeped in the rich tapestry of sonic finesse.

In essence, the Virtus I2 is not merely a technological evolution; it is a manifestation of Canor’s journey in understanding and mastering the intricacies of audio reproduction. The Virtus M1’s influence is not just in the Virtus I2’s refined circuitry but also in the meticulous examination of every nuance, from housing resonances to redesigning critical components. This marriage of experience and innovation culminates in an amplifier that not only meets but exceeds the expectations of audiophiles, setting a new standard in the pursuit of unparalleled audio perfection.

Tube Assembly and Burn-In Process: Crafting Sonic Excellence with Canor’s Precision

At the heart of the Canor Virtus I2 integrated amplifier lies a tube assembly meticulously curated to uphold the brand’s commitment to sonic excellence. The selection, handling, and treatment of tubes play a pivotal role in shaping the amplifier’s distinctive sound signature, and Canor’s approach reflects a dedication to precision and performance.

The tube complement of the Virtus I2 includes the widely-used yet reliable 12AX7 as the input stage and two 12AT7 double triodes serving as driver tubes. A pair of robust KT88 tetrodes facilitate power amplification per channel. However, the ordinary nature of these tubes is transformed into extraordinary through Canor’s rigorous handling and a burn-in process that speaks volumes about the brand’s uncompromising standards.

Chief developer and Canor co-owner Zdenek Brezovjak, recognized for his expertise in tube technology, oversees a meticulous burn-in ritual for each KT88 tube. These tubes undergo an arduous 200-hour burn-in, during which they are subjected to controlled conditions that simulate real-world usage. This process ensures the stabilization of the tubes and contributes to the establishment of consistent electrical properties across the entire set.

The significance of this burn-in transcends mere technicalities; it is a testament to Canor’s commitment to delivering aural perfection. Each tube, with its unique characteristics, undergoes this intensive treatment to achieve optimal performance. The documentation and archiving of the measured results exemplify Canor’s dedication to precision and accountability—ensuring that users receive tubes thoroughly tested and matched for an impeccable listening experience.

In a world where tubes are often viewed as temperamental components, Canor’s approach stands out. The burn-in process guarantees the stability and reliability of the tubes. It reflects Canor’s belief that the finest nuances of audio reproduction are achieved through an unwavering commitment to craftsmanship. The result is an amplifier that not only boasts technical prowess but also resonates with the warm, authentic tones that tube enthusiasts cherish. The tube assembly and burn-in process encapsulate Canor’s pursuit of sonic perfection, which goes beyond the ordinary to deliver an extraordinary listening experience.

Listening Experience: Reveling in Sonic Mastery with Canor Virtus I2

Embarking on a sonic journey with the Canor Virtus I2 integrated amplifier is akin to stepping into a realm where music transcends mere auditory sensation, transforming into a rich, immersive experience. The amplifier’s prowess lies in its technical specifications and ability to breathe life into music, intricately capturing every nuance and delivering a listening experience that borders on the transcendent.

Canor’s Virtus I2 inherits the legacy of its predecessor, the AI 1.10, and carries forward the brand’s signature trait of delivering power with casual finesse. What sets it apart is the refined circuitry, redesigned components, and attention to detail that elevates the listening experience to new heights. With 40 watts per channel, the Virtus I2 may not boast sheer power. Still, it defies preconceptions by seamlessly adapting to highly efficient speakers, demonstrating that the quality of watts often surpasses sheer quantity.

The Virtus I2 distinguishes itself with its versatility in the realm of tube amplifiers. Switching between triode and ultra-linear modes introduces a delightful dichotomy—a choice between the warm, smooth allure of triode and the more powerful, agile dynamics of ultra-linear. This flexibility allows the amplifier to cater to diverse preferences, making it a companion to various musical genres.

Listeners are presented with a symphony of options, from connecting to high-efficiency speakers for more efficient power utilization to exploring bi-amping possibilities with a master/slave configuration. The latter, a unique feature allowing the pairing of two Virtus I2 amplifiers to create a monolithic power amplifier with 80 watts, showcases Canor’s ingenuity in catering to audiophile aspirations.

Engaging in a listening session reveals Virtus I2’s ability to seamlessly transition between tender, delicate moments and dynamically powerful sequences. Whether rendering the nuanced tones of a violin, the resonant strings of a guitar, or the natural warmth of a human voice, the Virtus I2 is a paragon of sonic authenticity. The amplifier is a testament to Canor’s quest for components that bridge the gap between the auditory and the real, creating a sonic landscape where instruments breathe, and voices resonate with a natural, unfiltered quality.

Comparisons with the AI 1.10 and external rivals like the Luxman L-507Z and Westend Audio Monaco reveal the Virtus I2’s unique sonic character. Its subtlety surpasses the Luxman, offering more complex, finely traced overtones while standing in contrast to the robust precision of the Monaco. The Virtus I2 strikes a balance, delivering power and nuanced richness that sets it apart in the crowded landscape of high-end audio.

As the Virtus I2 unfolds its sonic tapestry, one can’t help but appreciate the meticulous burn-in process of its tubes, the redesigned output transformers, and the culmination of Canor’s experiences from the Virtus M1 development. The amplifier emerges as an audio component and a conduit to musical realms, resonating with the tonal authenticity and spatial depth usually reserved for grander, more expensive systems.

In essence, the Canor Virtus I2 doesn’t merely play music; it orchestrates an experience—a symphony of sonic perfection that captivates, transcends, and reaffirms Canor’s place as a maestro in high-end audio. Each note, each pause, and each crescendo become a testament to the marriage of technical ingenuity and a profound understanding of what makes music heard and felt. The listening experience with the Virtus I2 is nothing short of a sonic odyssey, inviting enthusiasts to revel in the sheer mastery that only Canor can deliver.

Comparative Analysis: Canor Virtus I2 vs. AI 1.10

Musicality and Precision: In a comparative listening session, the Virtus I2, priced nearly 2,000 euros higher than its predecessor AI 1.10, stands out. While both deliver a fantastic tube sound, the Virtus I2 exhibits refinements in subtlety and precision. It captures the nuances of instruments with a depth that sets it apart, showcasing Canor’s commitment to continuous improvement.

Versatility in Sound Signature: Compared with competitors like Luxman L-507Z and Westend Audio Monaco, the Virtus I2 maintains its unique sonic identity. It may offer less power than some counterparts, but its friendliness and harmonious sound signature shine. The triode and ultra-linear modes cater to varied preferences, allowing users to tailor the amplifier’s character to their liking.

Power Supply and Fine-Tuning: Canor’s emphasis on detail extends to the power supply and circuit design. The Virtus I2’s PCB board material aims to mimic the sonic qualities of free wiring, showcasing the brand’s commitment to achieving the best possible sound. Including gain settings and the ability to fine-tune with different power cables underlines the amplifier’s dedication to sonic excellence.

Usability and Connectivity: Seamlessness in Sonic Exploration

The Canor Virtus I2 captivates with its sonic prowess and excels in usability and connectivity, ensuring a seamless and versatile audio experience. The amplifier’s user-friendly design comes to the forefront when the power button is pressed. With a swift startup time of 47 seconds, users are greeted by a slowly flashing red LED—a visual cue to the meticulous warming up of the tubes. Including a prominently displayed yellow dot and adjustable brightness levels on the front panel further enhances the user experience, providing a visually intuitive interface for selecting inputs and adjusting volume.

Connectivity options on the Virtus I2 are designed for both simplicity and versatility. Users can effortlessly integrate multiple audio sources into their setup with four RCA inputs and a high-level output. The thoughtful inclusion of XLR ports facilitates a symmetrical connection for those exploring bi-amping possibilities with a second Virtus I2. The master/slave configuration, allowing two Virtus I2 amplifiers to function as a preamplifier with dual mono power amplifiers, showcases Canor’s commitment to providing advanced yet user-friendly features for audiophile enthusiasts.

The usability extends beyond physical connections to the realm of operational modes. The ability to switch between triode and ultra-linear modes caters to varied sonic preferences. Whether opting for the triode’s warmth and smoothness or the ultra-linear’s increased power and agility, users can tailor the amplifier’s performance to suit their musical tastes. This user-centric approach reflects Canor’s dedication to delivering exceptional sound and an overall engaging and intuitive audio experience.

In terms of build and design, the Virtus I2’s exterior refinement, as mentioned earlier, adds to the aesthetic appeal and subtly enhances the user experience. The inclusion of a remote control further contributes to the convenience, allowing users to fine-tune their listening environment without leaving their preferred listening position. The amplifier’s ability to seamlessly integrate into various audio setups while offering an array of user-friendly features positions it as a companion for both seasoned audiophiles and those new to high-end audio.

In essence, the Canor Virtus I2 goes beyond being a mere audio component; it is an instrument of sonic exploration designed with the user in mind. Its usability and connectivity features not only make it accessible to a wide range of enthusiasts but also enhance the overall enjoyment of the audiophile journey. As users delve into the immersive sonic landscape crafted by the Virtus I2, they not only experience the excellence of Canor’s engineering but also appreciate the thoughtful design elements that make exploring high-fidelity audio a truly gratifying endeavor.

Conclusion: A Benchmark in its Class

In high-end audio, the Canor Virtus I2 is a true sonic masterpiece, blending technical precision with a profound understanding of musicality. From its meticulously refined exterior to the intricacies of its advanced circuitry, the Virtus I2 exemplifies Canor’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of what’s achievable in audio reproduction. The amalgamation of technical advancements, the rich experience gained from the Virtus M1 development, and the tube assembly’s careful curation result in an amplifier that transcends the ordinary. The listening experience with the Virtus I2 is a journey into a realm where music is heard and felt—an immersive encounter with sonic authenticity and spatial richness. Canor, with its Virtus I2, not only maintains its reputation for audiophile excellence but sets a new standard, inviting enthusiasts to revel in the symphony of perfection that this amplifier orchestrates.

In conclusion, the Canor Virtus I2 is more than an audio component; it’s a testament to Canor’s uncompromising standards and a celebration of the artistry that is high-end audio. The meticulous attention to detail, from the exterior refinement to the technical advancements, reflects a commitment to crafting an amplifier that goes beyond expectations. Whether exploring the subtle nuances of triode or reveling in the dynamic prowess of ultra-linear, the Virtus I2 caters to diverse preferences with finesse. As it inherits the legacy of its predecessor and draws inspiration from the Virtus M1, the Virtus I2 emerges as a benchmark in its price range—an embodiment of Canor’s pursuit of perfection in every sonic dimension. For audiophiles seeking an unparalleled listening experience, the Canor Virtus I2 is an invitation to enter a realm where music becomes an immersive, transcendent journey.

Reasons to Consider Buying the Canor Virtus I2:

  1. Sonic Excellence: The Virtus I2 stands out for its exceptional audio performance, delivering a nuanced and authentic sound that caters to the discerning audiophile. The meticulous tube assembly, burn-in process, and technological advancements create a sonic masterpiece.
  2. Versatility in Listening: With the option to switch between triode and ultra-linear modes, the Virtus I2 provides a versatile listening experience. Whether you prefer the warm, smooth tones of the triode or the dynamic power of ultra-linear, the amplifier adapts to your musical preferences.
  3. Build Quality and Design: Canor’s commitment to craftsmanship is evident in the amplifier’s refined exterior, showcasing attention to detail. The robust build, elegant design, and user-friendly features enhance aesthetic appeal and usability.
  4. Flexibility in Connectivity: The amplifier offers multiple connectivity options, including RCA inputs and XLR ports for symmetrical connections. The master/slave configuration opens up possibilities for bi-amping, providing flexibility in tailoring your audio setup.
  5. Brand Reputation: Canor has established a reputation for producing high-quality audio components, and the Virtus I2 continues this legacy. The brand’s commitment to excellence and customer satisfaction adds a layer of confidence to the purchase.

Considerations Against Buying the Canor Virtus I2:

  1. Price Point: The Virtus I2, while offering exceptional performance, comes at a premium price. Buyers on a strict budget may find more affordable options that meet their audio needs without the added cost.
  2. Power Output: With 40 watts per channel, the Virtus I2 might be considered underpowered for speakers requiring higher wattage. Those seeking a more robust power output may explore alternatives with greater wattage capabilities.
  3. Limited Power Amplifier Range: Canor’s power amplifiers are limited to their Virtus M1 reference monos. If you anticipate expanding your system with different power amplifiers, the brand’s current offerings might not align with your plans.
  4. Complexity for Beginners: While the Virtus I2 offers user-friendly features, individuals new to high-end audio might find the amplifier’s advanced options, such as switching between operating modes, slightly complex. Beginners may prefer a more straightforward setup.

In summary, buying the Canor Virtus I2 hinges on your priorities and preferences. If you prioritize sonic excellence versatility and appreciate the brand’s commitment to craftsmanship, the Virtus I2 stands as a worthy investment. However, exploring alternatives may be more suitable if budget constraints, power requirements, or simplicity are paramount.