VSSL debuted its new single room A.1 Home streaming amplifier earlier this year and I decided to take it for a test drive. High resolution audio (HRA) and other high-quality music sources are experiencing a resurgence and VSSL caters to listeners by leveraging ease of connectivity via Chromecast and AirPlay 2. How would the VSSL A.1 Home perform? I set out to see for myself.
VSSL’s packaging is clean and straight to the point. There are a few included accessories including an IR sensor for third party integration, a quick start guide, end user reference card, and a phoenix connector for the onboard 50 watts per channel amplifier (at 4 Ω RMS).
The A.1 Home is elegantly designed and feels solid in the hand. Its feet are magnetic and easily removable for wall mounting applications using the included template. The back of A.1 Home is chock-full of connectivity including digital coax in/out, ethernet in/out, optical in/out and a subwoofer out.
Installation & Configuration
The physical connections were a snap. I decided to go for broke and connect the A.1 Home to a set of Polk Audio SDA speakers. The VSSL Website suggests bookshelf speakers, but how would a set of tower speakers do? I plugged in the phoenix connector, connected in a record player and Sonos Port. I followed the Quick Start guide and performed the initial connection through the Google Home app. VSSL then needs its own secondary app for any device configuration changes. I wish the setup experience lived in a single app, but I understand why they decided to do it this way. They’re trying to make the A.1 Home a connectivity Swiss Army knife, and you can’t do that with only a proprietary app.
After I walked through both app setups, I wanted to see how lossless music would do. I really like Roon Labs and their software’s ability to show source quality and how it’s decoded downstream. I pulled up While My Guitar Gently Weeps by the Beatles on TIDAL and started playing the song. I was pretty blown away. The signal from source through the amplifier remained lossless and the sound quality was full and deep. Even the low end packed a punch on tunes like Muse’s Madness. I tested other connectivity, including AirPlay 2 and Chromecast, and experienced clean, skip free sound (which seemed to bedevil its predecessors). I wasn’t sure how the line-in function would work, but the record player kicked on as soon as I stopped the streaming. This is an interesting flip from other audio systems where the line-in wins over streaming.
Big things do indeed come in small packages, and the VSSL A.1 Home packs a wallop! It’s a great fit for listeners who just want something to easily pair with AirPlay, Spotify Connect, or Chromecast. We’ll be adding this one to our professional integration lineup.