(Review) Viva Solistino, The Best Value in Hifi

viva solistino

In our recent review of the YG Cairns, we discussed affordability, and what it means to folks in this hobby. The Viva Solistino is not exactly what many would consider affordable at an MSRP of $22,500.00 in the U.S., however as mentioned with the Cairns, in a world where amplifiers can get into the 100’s of thousands, the Solistino stands out as an incredible value in high-end audio reproduction. This is a tank of an amplifier, is built to last, using true point-to-point wiring and offering true full Class A tube sound, that’s right, this is no hybrid, 100% tube sound and power. Speaking of power the pair of massive 845 tubes, PSVANE in this case, provides 11 watts of power, is 11 watts enough, well that depends on your needs, and what you’re driving with the amp.

I first came across Viva at Capital Audiofest, where Oz of High End By Oz was showing their Solista amp. Oz has been showing with Viva for some time now and every show I went to, it solidified more and more how much I wanted to get one of their amps in to experience more long-term. Shows are great for getting a taste of what a piece of gear has to offer but to really understand a piece and experience everything it has to offer nothing beats hearing it in your own system.

A little to know about Viva, and owning one in North America. As you may know, they are made in Italy and imported into the States by Oz, but you don’t have to worry about owning an imported amplifier as there is an Authorized Repair Center for North American owners. Meaning if you ever have an issue or need service while under warranty or out of warranty you won’t have to ship your amp or speakers all the way to Italy. Some of their repairs have had turnaround times of 10 days and in some cases even less. It certainly adds peace of mind for owners of their wonderful products. It is also worth mentioning that Oz at High End by Oz keeps spare tubes for all Viva (and Thrax) in stock so if you need a replacement all you need to do is contact your dealer to one will be on its way to you. If you think that makes for great service, it gets better, If you order their Credenza or Master Horn speaker systems, Amedeo as well as your dealer and Oz will be there to do the installation and setup, making sure you get the absolute most out of them. This level of after-sales support should ease the minds of anyone considering buying a piece from Viva, as it is not always the case with imported brands.

viva solistino

Unboxing and Set up

The Viva came on a pallet and in a wood/cardboard crate weighing quite a bit, as the Solistino weighs 30 kg or about 66 lbs for us in America. After getting it in the house, I moved it onto the amp stand where it spent the rest of its time as I didn’t care to move it around too much. In the crate, you will also find all the tube boxes and a pair of white gloves, be sure to put these on to avoid getting oils on the tubes. I started at the back and moved my way forward, and it is easy to tell what goes where based on the pin config, so you shouldn’t have any issues putting one in the wrong spot. The huge 845s are a twist in tube that took a bit more force to turn than you may expect. Granted it’s not a lot so if it seems as though you have to force call your dealer first, but you will feel some resistance until it clicks into place. The rest are a push-in style that will have a bit of resistance as well but with a firm grip, they push in fairly easily. The last Item to get out will be the satisfyingly heavy remote, it is among the nicest and simplest remotes I have used. All you have is an up arrow and a down arrow, this only controls the volume, which is a motorized analog volume control.

Once it was in place and the tubes were in, it was time to start connecting my inputs and speakers. There are 5 single-ended inputs on the back, 2 pairs of binding posts, and a pair of single-ended outputs. 4 of the inputs are typical RCA analog inputs, however, you will see one labeled D and this is Direct, it can be used with a source that has a volume knob that you prefer to use over the built-in volume. There is no phono stage or digital inputs on the back. This is a true analog tube amp, though the addition of a Phono wouldn’t change that, it would complicate the circuit and take away from the simple and reliable design. It is also likely anyone buying an amp at this level is already using or planning on using an external Phono Preamp. With streamers and DACS as prolific in the market, as they are, I don’t miss a digital section on the Viva.

viva solistino

After you have your speakers and sources plugged in you will notice three controls on the front. On the left is the 3-position toggle switch, then in the middle is the volume knob, then the input selector. Before you listen you have to push the switch down to warm up the tubes for 5-10 minutes, then you can switch it on in the up position. The volume knob is one of the most satisfying volume knobs I have ever used, firm but smooth. The input Selector switch is also satisfying, with a heavy positive detent in each position that feels like it has some substance. After you have that all set it’s time to sit back and enjoy. After enjoying your music for some time and when it comes time to turn it off, you simply switch the toggle to the center position. Now what happens next may be worrisome for first-time tube owners, if you sit and listen you will hear some crackling, this is just the tubes cooling off from their very high temps (I recorded into the higher 400s with my temp gun), so if you have curious kids or critters, make sure to keep them away from the amp to avoid burns.

The simplicity of the amp will be a love-it-or-hate-it feature. I know many like to be able to tweak settings and change the tone, but that complicates the circuitry and in turn, can color the sound. I used to be one of those very people. I love to tinker with settings to get the most out of anything, but the sound is just so sublime that even I don’t want to change anything. There is always the option to tube roll to try different sounds, though that can be risky as not all tubes are compatible even if they have the same socket and it would be advisable to talk with your dealer or Viva before trying other tubes.

The first speakers I used were my Sonus Faber Sonetto Vs, which have a 90dB sensitivity, which is likely the lowest you would want to go with the 11 watts on tap. That said in smaller spaces you may be able to get away with a lower sensitivity, but I wouldn’t personally recommend it. I also tried my Magnepan LRS+ as an experiment, as Magnepans are known to be hard to drive. I won’t spoil the result just yet, you will have to read more to see if it worked out. I also tied my Martin Logan LX-16s, which are an older Motion Series speaker, as they have a 92dB sensitivity rating, and I was curious how a higher sensitivity bookshelf would sound. As far as sources, I used my LP-7 turntable with Ortofon Quintet Blue, Rotel CD-11, and my MacBook Air M2. For the most part, I used the standard inputs, though I tried the direct to see how it would work but I overwhelmingly prefer the very smooth analog volume knob on the Viva over using my MacBook’s “notchy” volume control.

viva solistino


Is perfect too strong, especially knowing it gets better than this? I have heard Viva’s Solista with their Nuda horn speakers and that combo would be my money-no-object endgame perfect system. So can I say this is also perfect? Well for me in my space and at this price point I think so. The Solistino sounds so effortlessly gorgeous and leaves me wanting for nothing more. I could happily live with this as my integrated amp for the rest of my life. It has pre-outs so in the event I want more power I could always purchase a pair of their mono blocks and have everything I could want. That said with my Sonetto’s the 11 watts is more than enough in my space, only getting over about halfway up a few times when listening to softer recordings. Also, you can use the preouts with a subwoofer and that is what I did with my new Paradigm Defiance V8.

Unlike the Model T, this amp can come in any color you want, all you need to do is provide an automotive finish code to your dealer. The custom colors are a 10% upcharge, and the front and rear plates can be custom painted as well for $750.00 (U.S) this will add 3-4 weeks to your lead time, though it can be worth the wait when you see some of the colors that they have done. I think if I were ordering one it would be Lincoln’s Autumn Red, as I owned a Lincoln in this color and it has always been one of my favorite paints. The standard colors are gloss black and Silver and won’t add any cost or time. The review unit I have is the gloss black and it does look gorgeous and classic, looking into the paint there is incredible depth. Everything about the Viva is done with the utmost detail, meaning you get a Concours D’Elegence level fit and finish.

With Sonus Faber Sonetto V

As per usual I played a wide variety of music, and at no point did the Viva disappoint. It has the speed and dynamics to keep up with the most demanding of tracks. I love classical and listened to a variety of different pieces, among them was Joe Hisaishi, specifically “Viola Saga, Movement Two” which was recorded by the Deutsche Grammophon in Vienna. It is a wonderful dramatic piece, filled with small details and transients that create the atmosphere of the song. It speeds up as it gets near the climax about 3/4th of the way through the song and the Viva handled the pace with ease. The excitement of the track keeps you on the edge of your seat, especially at the 8:00-minute mark, where everything picks up. Hearing this song on the Solistino was like hearing it for the first time again. The background was dark but spacious, as was the sound stage, there was an air around the instruments allowing each one to be made out easily, making the whole experience incredible.

I had to listen to the 1812 Overture, Oz (from High End By Oz) would be disappointed if I had not, as it is my go-to to listen to at every show and is among my favorite pieces. I have owned about a dozen different recordings, though after giving some to my sister I think I am down to about 8 now, and each one is a bit different to the next. My Favorite though is my recording of the Philadelphia Orchestra with Eugene Ormandy conducting. The piece starts very soft and almost distant sounding and requires a delicacy to convey. As it progresses there are small, you may say, outbursts of percussion, followed by fast strings then quickly subsiding back to softness before the brass comes in. About 3 and a half minutes in, you get the famous drum rolls with the horns, before fading to black and bringing in the strings again. With the Solistino you don’t feel like it’s simply quieter, you get the softness the instruments are played with. Imaging is also pinpoint accurate, creating that holographic sound that makes you feel like you are listening to live music. I can not say it was like hearing it for the first time this time as I have listened to this piece on several Viva-driven systems now, just never in my own system with a Viva amp.

viva solistino

I wanted to also listen to something contemporary and see how vocals would perform so I listened to Folklore by Taylor Swift. The whole album is incredibly well put together, but one song in particular really shines, “Exile” in which she duets with Bon Iver whose very deep heavy vocals contrast Taylor’s airier parts in the track. The instrumentals give this sense of the space, being dim and intimate. You can almost play a movie in your head imagining two people having a difficult conversation. Bon Iver really comes to life with the body and dynamics of the tubes, you just do not get this same sound from solid-state or hybrid amps. I also listened to the Long Pond Sessions version of the song which is much more intimate as it is a small venue live recording. The vinyl of this album is wonderful, listening purely analog on the Viva is an experience like no other and makes me not want to listen to music any other way. Taylor’s voice sounded as lifelike as I have ever heard on a recording, that midrange richness is all thanks to the tube amplification.

I have never heard my Sonus Fabers like this before, as this is the only fully tube amp I have used with them. I don’t want to go back to Solid State, and this is probably the longest time my McIntosh has spent unplugged on the shelf. The 11 watts was more than enough to keep me happy and listen at the levels I like to. The Solistino added roundness and airiness to my Sonus Fabers I hadn’t experienced before. If you are hesitant to consider amps with double-digit wattage ratings, you shouldn’t be, if you consider that these speakers will produce 90dB with a single watt, having 11 times that, you can easily get above comfortable listening levels.

With Magnepan LRS+

I was curious if the 11 watts was enough to run my Magnepan LRS+, I and many others have said in the past that Magnepans want loads of power to sound their best. I have tried quite a few different amps with these speakers and my findings have shown that watts are only part of the equation. Out of curiosity, I tried the Arylic B50 which offers 50 watts per channel, the same as my MC250, but it didn’t make the LRS+ sing as my MC250 did, so what gives, well it’s about current. Current is a part of the function of watts, which is volts x amps (current) and the tiny B50 didn’t have the amperage to drive them. The Solistino did way better than I thought it would, I only needed about 1/3 of the volume capacity to get to a level that was still comfortable. I have to say, that the sound was incredible, and the level of detail that Magnepans offers is hard to compare to, especially at the price of the LRS+. Pairing these, at times analytical, speakers with a tube amp brings the best of both worlds. You get detail, but it cuts some of that high-end harshness and adds some thickness to the sound.

I played System of a Down’s “Toxicity” on my CD-11 Tribute, not only is it a great album if you like that type of music, but it is also a great test of a system’s ability to handle speed and dynamic range. The album is full of fast blast beats, cymbal crashes offset by more delicate rides, and slower tempo bass lines like during the chorus of Chop Suey. Serj Tankian also has a great vocal range, changing from guttural yelling to soft singing in the blink of an eye. This album exemplified what I said before about getting that detail from the Magnepans with the richness of the Viva. The Solistino kept up with the demands of the speakers throughout the entire album, never cracking under pressure or showing weakness. Serj has great control over his voice and masterfully employs vibrato in a lot of his lyrics adding dimension and texture that I think a lot of metal singers lack. The Solistino does an excellent job of conveying that texture in a realistic way.

viva solistino

Changing it up I put “Vegas” by The Crystal Method in the CD-11. This CD came to me when I was probably about 12, a neighbor was having a garage sale and just gave me the CD along with a handful of other CDs, but this is really the only one I remember from that time. If you don’t know who The Crystal Method is, They are a couple of guys from Vegas who helped pioneer the Big Beat genre of music in the 90’s. The album is peak 90’s but if you ask me it still holds up well today, and you may recognize “Busy Child”, from the opening sequence of the remake of “Gone in 60 Seconds”. The album is bass-heavy electronic music with a variety of sample vocals and synth sounds. It is extremely dynamic and really requires a subwoofer to fully enjoy, and luckily for us the Solistino supports having a sub, in my case, a Paradigm Defiance V8 that I bought around the same time the Solistino came in. Once again I am impressed with how well the Solistino does with techno and electronic music. I was transported back to my childhood trying to get this level of sound quality out of a pair of Polk speakers and a Yamaha integrated amp, never knowing then that I would be playing the same album on a system of this caliber a couple of decades later. Younger me would marvel at the types of systems I listen to these days. Current day me still marvels at some of the systems I listen to.

I would be curious to hear other Magnepan speakers with the Solistino to see how well it handles their larger panels. The LRS+ is their smaller offering currently, but I would venture to guess it should do fairly well as I have plenty of volume headroom with the LRS+. I am very happy that I tried out this pairing as I was skeptical, but after hearing it, I can say confidently you can run some fairly demanding speakers with 11 watts, as long as you have the current to back up those watts and the Solistino does. The LRS+, in case you didn’t know has a sensitivity of only 86dB which is not what anyone would consider high sensitivity, meaning to get to the same level of 90dB of the Sonus Fabers, you would need 2.5 times more power at one meter. If you have a very large space it also may not work as well as it did for me as I do not have a massive room to try to fill with sound, so your mileage may vary, though most any high-end dealer will let you audition gear to make sure it works well in your system and your space, so try it out and see what you hear. It is worth noting one of the Viva dealers is using the bigger Solista with a pair MBL 116F Radialstrahler speakers in a rather large room and getting exquisite output.

viva solistino

With Martin Logan LX-16

These speakers were my first real purchase into the world of Hifi. When I was in my late teens and early twenties I always wanted a pair of Martin Logan Electrostats and a McIntosh amp, well a little later in life when I became more financially secure I bought the LX-16s, which is an early motion bookshelf. It was my foot in the door so to speak. I am not sure I can ever get rid of them as they are what I started Hifi Chicken with and hold a special place in my heart. You may not be reading this if I had never bought those and the Marantz SR7009 that I still have as well. I did later get my Electrostatics the Aerius Is, but that’s not what we are talking about today. The reason I wanted to try these with the Solistino is that they are a bit higher sensitivity than the Sonus Fabers and offer a different tonality than the other two speakers I used. They have a sensitivity of 92dB which is creeping into the territory where people start considering speakers as High Sensitivity. They are the sort of speaker that can make a lot of 11 watts and in my opinion, are still a good sounding speaker today.

I played Laufey’s “Bewitched” album, which is a must-listen for any jazz fans. She has a vintage sound with some contemporary elements that blend very well. The first thing you notice with the higher efficiency speakers is the ease of the music, you can hear how little the amp has to work. Air Motion Tweeters can be bright at times and when you power them with brighter solid-state amps, can become fatiguing over time. The 845 tubes in the Solistino add some body to highs, softening the edges and preventing any fatigue that I have experienced with these speakers. After listening to the entire album the best way I can describe the sound is effortless, defined, and true to life.

viva solistino

Pros and Cons


  • True tube sound
  • True Analog sound
  • High current
  • Top-notch build quality and parts
  • Pre-outs to grow with or use with a subwoofer


  • Large and needs room to breathe (Class A tubes get very warm)


  • Dimensions w×h×d – 430×250×440 mm
  • Weight – 30 kg
  • Single-ended integrated amplifier
  • Triode tubes
  • Tube complement – 2×5U4G; 1×6N1Pi; 1×6SN7GT; 2×845
  • One Direct Input
  • Zero negative feedback pure class A operation
  • Real point-to-point circuitry
  • Four Inputs
  • Palladium-plated proprietary solid copper binding posts

Associated Equipment:


  • Sonus Faber Sonetto V
  • Magnepan LRS+
  • Martin Logan LX-16
  • Paradigm Defiance V8 (sub)


  • Rotel CD-11 Tribute
  • Audio-Technica LP-7 with Quintet Blue
  • Marantz SR7009 as DAC
  • Fiio M9 as a FLAC transport


  • Full Loom – Synergystic Research Foundation SX
  • Synergistic Research Powercell 8xs


  • Custom-build Amp Stand and Rack
  • Custom-made record weight
  • Custom-made marble isolation base for Turntable
viva solistino


It is hard to believe it gets better than this, as this is without a doubt the best Amplifier I have ever reviewed and believe to be one of the best values in High-End Audio. Anyone I invited over to listen was in awe of the sound. I have heard amps with double the price tag that either sounded marginally better or even at times worse. There is certainly a bit of bias though as I love tube amps, I love the dimension they impart to the sound. The only thing that would make this the ultimate integrated amp would be a phono stage. Now I will caveat that with the fact that most people buying gear at this level will likely have a separate phono stage already as high-end turntables seldom have a built-in phono stage, though for someone looking to build a small system and limit components for aesthetic or space-saving reasons it would make for a great addition. Viva does have a phono stage for people who want to have continuity in their system called the Fono, which I have not reviewed so I can not speak to its sound, but based on every piece of Viva gear I have heard, it is likely great. My main takeaway after spending time with the Solistino is that I was never left wanting for more, I could easily live with this amp as my reference amplifier, being completely satisfied with the sound quality, feature set, and appearance. With the ability to use external power when needed for more demanding speakers and to test power amplifiers, it would satisfy all my needs as both a hobbyist and reviewer. To me this amp is perfect, it does everything so incredibly well and comes in at a price point that won’t leave you disappointed, but rather ecstatic with what you have for what you paid. Viva has proven that not all watts are created equally.

Viva is imported into the U.S. and U.K. by High End By OZ, be sure to give Oz a follow on the social media linked below.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/highendbyoz
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/highendbyoz/?hl=en
Website: https://highendbyoz.com/

I also want to mention that one of the U.S. Dealers is where this amplifier came from, be sure to follow the House of Stereo in Jacksonville, links below.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HouseOfStereo
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/houseofstereojax/?hl=en
Website: https://houseofstereo.com/

All U.S. Dealers:

USA, Texas

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  • Profundo2051 Gattis School Rd., Round Rock, Suite 540/123
  • T:+1 510 375 8651
  • profundo.us

USA, Florida

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USA, Illinois

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USA, California

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USA, Virginia

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For more information on Viva and where you can buy click the link below.


House of Stereo in conjunction with High End By Oz, supplied the Viva Solistino for review. Viva, House of Stereo nor Highend By Oz paid in part or full in exchange for this review.

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