1. No ad-hominem
2. No spamming or shilling
I jumped at the chance to purchase this interconnect since it was offered for half price and pleased I did. It has replaced SC between pre and power amps. This has given an improved performance on both vinyl and digital sources. For me the biggest improvement has been in dynamics, on a number of occasions I have been shocked at the impact of various instruments on different recordings. The bass goes deeper, but not in a mushy way, still keeping things tight and detailed. I also felt the soundstage has got deeper but that maybe all in my imagination. Ok not a cheap upgrade but worth it in my system.
LS6 delivered today.
Upgraded from LS5(now in my AP10p / Magnum system).
I didn't expect a great improvement moving from LS5 to LS6. Proved totally wrong. All the earlier comments and ebay description spot on. It is not even run in and it does make the speaker cabinets disappear. Bass tighter, treble sweet, individual instruments space etc. A long night ahead Phono 1 next
PI, IQ Audio Digi+, Beresford Caiman, AP10, LS5, Modded Magnums. Audio Alchemy CD & Ariston RD40 in bits.
kimangelis » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:34 pm
This about the TIS interconnects recently purchased. Richard asked for a review from those who purchased same.
Saturday 21 October.
I first purchased a length of TIS to replace my SSP digital interconnect between CD spinner and DAC (both Rega).
I used all the same settings on the DAC so the only variable is the interconnect.
Primarly I noticed that things were different. I was blown-away at first but am aware such effects can be felt when turning up the gain, so ignored the effect.
Secondly was the lack of jarring when the music turned from melodic to discordant. There was no switch from the comfortable to the uncomfortable.
To be clear.. my previous SSP set-up isn't bad, but I do listen to extremely variable music both classical and electronic, so the variation in presentation can be extreme.
I was hearing more but not as a collection of seperate sounds but more of a better-assembled collection, such as I would experience at a good concert hall.
Monday 23 October
The interconnect pair between DAC and P50SA is installed. Prior to this I had listened to a few of my favourite pieces from the likes of Amy Winehouse, Animals as Leaders, Schostakovitch and Satie piano, Vaughan Williams and Rachmaninov symphonies and a varied collection of personal favourites. This I repeated with the TIS.
Initially I was disappointed, as the quantum shift I experienced with the TIS digital interconnect was not multiplied by the TIS DAC-P50SA interconnects.
However, increased listening showed another aspect. One of imagery. The TIS took it to another level. I could 'see' the position of the bassist when listening to Amy W and identify the position of the 1st and 2nd violinists when listening to the LSO (Telarc CD). I am very aware I am listening to an illusion; a reproduction of music via electronics and moving speaker cones moving air.However, illusions are measurable, in that spacial positioning and musicality can be judged as accurate or not so.
Thursday 26 October
Home early as I was in work early... set about choosing a selection of 'testing' recordings (I have a lot of CD's) from raw crossed-mike piano recordings to more complex electronic pieces from the likes of Genesis and Pink Floyd. Testing vocals from Eminem, Annie Lennox, Seal, and some opera pieces from Wagner and Puccini.
Again the effect is more of a complete ensemble than a collection of individual instruments, particulary noticeable with multi-layered electronic pieces from the likes of Tony Banks. There is more detail but is never overwhelming.
Friday 10 November
Now have a full TIS loom between CD ad DAC, DAC and P50SA, and on to the A70's. Absolutely freezing here today so lit the log-burner, closed the curtains and pretended it was evening. Had a French classical afternoon from the likes of Faure, Durufle and Ravel. A lot of vocal stuff from the first two. Decided to switch back the digital interconnect back to the SSP. That didn't last long as there was a clear difference. Replaced interconnects between DAC and P50SA from TIS to SSP. Not so much of a difference. Ditto with the P50SA to A70 links.
However, once I reverted to all SSP the magic was gone. Some female vocals became strident and violins to shriek a little. Still very very good but not what I had been used to over the previous two weeks. Re-introduced TIS link by link, and although the stages brought about a minimal change, the whole was certainly more than the sum of it's parts. Up to stupid-of-the-clock again so tomorrows walk may have to be foregone....
It's now 2.00am on Saturday. My only (downstairs) neighbours are away for the weekend so I can press on.
Decided to switch from classical French music to more of my musical mainstays such as Steely Dan. Repeated the switching process and the picture became more two-dimensional with the SSP. Re-instaing the TIS link by link was again not revelational. But again the TIS as a whole loom blew away the SSP as a whole loom. The plucking of a bass string was more grainy (as it should be). I was aware of Donald Fagen's facial expressions as he strangled the hell out of a phrase. Switched to Steve Hackett to hear acoustic guitar and it was as though the system had disappeared. Fine, it was late at night/early in the morning so perceptions change. But the quality of what I was hearing had changed not just slightly but dramatically.
Monday 13 November.
Did a listen to all my classical and other favourites. This is music of which I am VERY familiar. It ranges from Vaughan Williams, through Rachmaninov, Shostakovitch, Gershwin, Copeland, Led Zeppelin, Steely Dan, Pink Floyd, Genesis... etc etc. Swapped-out all of the TIS for SSP and listened. All very very good. Swapped-in the TIS and listened again.
With the TIS....
1. The soundstage is VERY clear. Positions of instruments, singers et al is almost realistic.
2. The music as a whole is more as I expect from a good concert hall or venue.
3. The image is much more 3-dimensional. A more effective illusion.
3. Clarity is much improved.
4. Detail is VERY much improved. A single plucking of a string is almost as if the player were there.
5. All frequences are brought together as a whole. There is a definite lack of screech.
Tha.. that... that's it folks. If I've waxed too lyrical then, well... hard luck. I write as I feel as I hear.
Best regards to all.
It's just a little over a year since I first became aware of the 'new' NVA. I had known the 1980s / 1990s incarnation but hadn't realised that the company had started trading again. From the utilitarian look of the companies 1980s offerings, I had taken them then for one of the 'flat-earth' brigade without ever hearing them. A spectacularly stupid (and deliciously ironic) mistake, given what I now know first-hand.
I came across the current NVA product line-up when I was looking at the Balanced Mains products being sold by Russ Andrews. A Google search for other 'balanced mains units' threw up some industrial types but also the NVA BMU. It seemed to do everything the RA unit claimed but with more convenience (long captive mains lead and 4 sockets) and much better looking...and at a third of the price. Being familiar with RA's 'creative' pricing I was not entirely surprised, but the difference was in four figures!!
I duly ordered an NVA BMU via ebay for £500 including delivery. Around 7 days later the BMU was delivered and I plugged in my system as it was; including Sugden A21aS2 and Harbeth P3ESR with Townshend cables. The NVA BMU made an obviously positive difference to my system (I posted a review of the BMU here around a year ago). I plugged it in for a few days at a time, then took it out for a few days at a time...and quickly understood there was no way I was sending it back. During this time I also read through the articles at nvahifi.co.uk and lots of threads on Hifi Subjectivist. In light of the direct selling policy; cutting out unnecessary dealer margins, 30 day home trial and money back guarantee, full value upgrade scheme and the logical purity of the NVA design philosophy, I felt like having some more NVA in my life could be a good idea and that not at least trying more NVA kit would be pretty dumb. I joined HFS and posted a thread:
“What next for a chap who has just found NVA?”
I got plenty of pointers on what to do next and why, but, after consideration I thought the right idea was to try 'the whole NVA thing', so I ordered P50sa, SSP MK2, A60 MK2, LS6, Cube 2. Richard had a secondhand pair of Cube 1s available at the time so I happily tried them ahead of the Cube 2s. I did introduce the NVA items into my system pretty much one at a time, though; partly because I logically should and partly because the delivery of the different items was spaced out over a few weeks. It quickly became apparent that the NVA items, individually and as a whole, outperformed my Sugden / Harbeth / Townshend set up by a distance. I actually kept the Sugden & Harbeths for an extended time to plug back in, now and then, to check that I wasn't deceiving myself . This has only ever resulted in out-loud-laughter, speedy removal and return to NVA. One particular moment sticks in my mind; when my partner first saw the Cubes, she said “they look interesting'. Halfway through playing her favourite piece of Chopin, she said “they sound bloody interesting”. At the end of the piece she said “how much can you sell the Harbeths for?”
As a music lover with a bit of spare cash it was not a big hurdle, then, to decide that it was an obvious case of 'the more NVA, the better'. Whenever opportunity has arisen – spare cash coinciding with curiosity / 'B' stock offers / secondhand items becoming available – I have added or upgraded my system (as per my signature).
How does it sound? Like a wide open panoramic view, like the valley laid out in front of you from the top of the hill with rich and natural colours and the interweaving of streams and hedgerows – not, as I now understand, the narrow, pinched, meanness of flat earth systems or the suffocated, stuffed and cosseted approach of BBC-type speakers – I fell for both, in the past. I see Lou Reed sneering at me from behind his dark glasses when I play his 'New York' album. I see Hank Mobley and Wynton Kelly talking to each other by sax and piano and the sweat bouncing off Art Blakey's drum skins on the Music Matters release of 'soul Station'. I see Willie Nelson sitting at the kitchen table of a mid-west farmhouse when he sings 'Family Bible'. I see Jonny Cash furtively popping pills backstage at San Quentin. I see Elvis Costello's hang-dog face when he confesses “Falling for you without a second look, Falling out of your open pocketbook, Giving you away like motel matches”. I see Nigel Blackwell giving me a nod when he tells me he knows that “Chesil beach is far away in time”. I see how it sounds, because it sounds how I see. The NVA is effortless, pure, open, even handed, unfiltered, simple.
There is another important reason why I have come to cherish the 'NVA thing'...which is the honesty of Richard Dunn. During my youth I hung around very occasionally with some pacifist / anarchist / artist / permaculturist types who had formed a punk group called Crass and lived in an 'open house' a couple of miles up the hill from my village. We helped them push their 2cv up the hill (it had no engine) in exchange for tea, home made bread and a few records (the sleeves of which we had to fold ourselves). Crass sold hundreds of thousands of records which they recorded, designed, manufactured, distributed, promoted mostly by themselves and completely without involvement of the traditional music 'business', maintaining complete control of their art and using the profits to help other bands make their first records. In a recent interview, one of the founding members Penny Rimbaud was asked how they could possibly have achieved all this while staying outside the then all-pervasive industry. Penny replied “Honesty. It is like honey to a bee.” Crass made the most of the tools they had, rejected and exposed the lies and manipulations of the 'business' and changed what was possible for musicians. NVA is utilising website, ebay, forum and bake-offs, side-stepping and exposing the dishonesty and greed of traditional dealers and magazines to change what is possible for audiophiles. When Richard says “I make the stuff for my own enjoyment, but I suppose it's fine for you to like it, too, or not” then that is honey to this bee.
All plain sailing? Pretty much, but patience and learning may be required; NVA does not cosset users against the real world at the expense of the music. The NVA gear doesn't use filters or chokes and is sensitive to placement. You need to keep head units away from their power supplies and amp transformers. Spread the gear out – closely spaced 'hifi' racks are not suitable; have a local carpenter make you something(s) at a fraction of the cost. If you have bad mains you will know about it; my BMU buzzes a few times each day for this reason (but this protects the amps from doing the same and you can keep the BMU tucked away). If you are unlucky the NVA may pick up RFI from digital sources including things like Sky TV boxes. The NVA will not treat the symptoms, you have to identify the cause (the disease) and deal with it. Richard is endlessly helpful and will never leave a customer unhappy.
A short while back, when the Cube 1s had been converted for bi-amping but the A70s hadn't arrived, and I had loaned my Cube 3s to another forum member, I had to plug other speakers in. It was a miserable time. All the NVA kit is special to me, but if I could only buy one piece of NVA, I would buy the Cubes...and then steal a BMU! They are genuine game changers in musical enjoyment. Stand out, exceptional items that will make you think again about what is achievable in a home audio system.
Some other observations (in no particular order):
There's a bit of an art-deco look to the Cubes.
I prefer my acrylic with the dust left on, most of the time.
As I have added more power to the set up, I am able to play at higher volumes without 'loudness'.
The P90sa takes the most time to run in.
The 2nd power supply takes the Phono2 from excellent to exceptional value for money.
The HFS forum is an invaluable asset.
You can have proper bass in a domestic room, without boom, and without room treatments.
Hifi kit does not have to add it's own 'flavour'.
The sale of my old kit will more than cover my NVA purchases.
You are dealing directly with the designer and maker. That's a rare thing. Don't expect a corporate customer service department. Expect to deal with a friend and extend the same in return.
NVA BMU / WTL Versalex / Transfiguration Axia /NVA Phono2 w/ 2nd PSU / GSP Revelation C / Vortexbox Appliance NAS Server / Sonore microRendu USB streamer w/ LPSU / Chord 2Qute USB dac / NVA P90sa / NVA A80MK2 (bass) / NVA A70 MK2 (tweeters) / NVA Cube 1 / NVA TIS MK1 / NVA SSPMK2 / NVA LS6 / NVA AP10H (& 1x additional PS) / Audeze LCD-2
I will keep it short or as short as possible but without loosing the core which is my opinion on piece of gear.
I am headphone guy so all (almost) all listening is through those funny tiny (or not) thingies you attache directly to your ears…
My weapon of choice are planars.
A bit about technology:
Planar Magnetic Headphones are often called Orthodynamic, a technical term advanced / popularised by Yamaha in 1976 to describe their line of headphones at the time using a driver type known generically as isodynamic, planar-magnetic, or magnetostatic incorporating characteristics of both dynamic and electrostatic driver design.
Planar magnetic headphones are not difficult to drive bacause they are almost purely resistive
so the amp doesn't see any of the reactive load that it would see in normal dynamic headphone - however because they are so inefficient they need an amp that can swing a lot of voltage to drive it - so that's why it is recommended to use full size amp to drive them.
And till recent anouncement of Hifiman (6k usd) Susvara, HE-6 were them most inefficient of them all.
for those of you interested Tyll have done good YT video about Planar driver
My main headphones are Hifiman HE-6 - heavily modded
And that's what made me look at NVA in a first place - a speaker amp for my headphones
I was happy with AP20 but when opportunity presented itself I jumped on and got myself AP70 SA,
Not long after that Doc announced that his BBPSU prototype is up for sale for fraction of the price of production piece
and it could be used as a PSU for a Phono stage or AP10H to make it best NVA headphone amp ever to be manufactured!
It was no brainier for me, I only asked for SA to be fitted as I found benefits of SA in my AP70 to be way above upgrade price.
Not only (but mainly) from sound quality point of view, but also practically as SA takes away all channel imbalance - something that regular volume pot sometimes suffers from - mainly at very low to low volume settings and headphones are more likely to make it pronounce more that speakers.
My opinion/review of AP10H SA + BBPSU
If step from AP20 to AP70 SA was gentle but noticeable then step up from AP70 SA to AP10h SA + BBPSU is even gentler but even more noticeable, but in reverse or mostly retrospectively (more about it later).
What I mean by that is that for me there is no dramatic jumps in quality between AP20 and AP70 as even AP20 was above most if not all headphone amps I have heard.
It is just with more power there is more music and in case of HE6 optimum power to drive them really really good.
With AP70 I was really happy, it took all goodness of AP20 and upped it a bit, it was actually so good that I wasn't really sure if it is possible to squeeze any more from my headphones. Even thought we are talking about 2 x 160VA(AP70) to 4 x 1000VA (BBPSU) power difference.
Well I was right in a way, there was no more to squeeze, power of AP70 was more than enough to let HE-6 shine to it maximum potential but what AP10H + BBPSU do - it is to let it breath. The best way I can describe it is: all restrains were taken away
HE-6 are now tapped to unlimited power resources and there is nothing stopping the music to be as natural and enjoyable as possible.
Now lets go back to why it is noticeable in revers - First time when I plugged "the Beast" as I now call it - I didn't really hear any difference - it was just as good as I thought I remembered from AP70 - so a bit disappointed I went back to AP70 and then I had an eureka moment, only then I realised how BBPSU is affecting the music and what Doc was trying to explain to me, I don't have an simple explanation except maybe that my mind found music from AP10H+BBPSU to be at it natural state - or as it should be - and didn't really register "how good it was" it was just 100% right, nothing to detect no problems to be found - it was good and that was end of it.
Downgrading to AP70 showed those little nuances, those little things it was lacking, those tiny tiny imperfections I would never noticed if not directly comparing with "the Beast" and imperfections is not even a right word here as it implicates that AP70 is doing something wrong and it is not! but I cannot find different one (as English is not my native language) so it will have to do the job.
Would I be happy with AP70SA - hell YES - for any other headphones except HE-6 I would be happy with AP20 but
Would I ever give back AP10H+BBPSU - No Fu*king chance!!!!
DACs: Arcam Delta Black Box; Grace m9XX; NuForce Icon HDP;
AMPs: NVA AP10H + 2xBBPSU [one case prototype ], NVA AP70 SA, NVA AP20,
Speakers: Cubettes, Royd Envoy (Half Doc Modded);
Headphones: Hifiman HE-6, Hifiman HE-400i, Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro (250ohm), Superlux HD681 EVO,
Andy-831 » Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:34 pm
Well here we go with my thoughts of the day
We kicked off with Paul playing us some digital files from his Vortexbox.
The Phono stage bake off started with the Phono 2 with extra Psu. I found this stage to be accurate and dynamic with a well projected soundstage, side to side, back to front and top to bottom. Plenty of air around instruments, easy to identify where on the stage individuals were playing. The stage had attack when needed piano was edgy and in your face, kick drums and bass were accurate and controlled, voices were superb particularly with female vocalists. The whole projection was wide, deep, accurate easy to follow with good clarity and resolution, this is an excellent piece of equipment.
Second stage was a modified Cambridge (Arkless). I found it flat, thin and generally unacceptable . I have had two original Cambridge stages which my audio memory tells me were better than this modified version however its been a good few years since I heard one and time does dim the memory somewhat.
The MF was third up and again was generally found wanting. The last two stages did not recieve any extended play they were simply outclassed by the other equipment on offer.
Next up was the Graham Slee. I quite liked this little box of tricks and could live with this phono stage. It excelled at bass projection gave a decent soundstage, resolution was not quite as nice as the Phono 2 and whilst it was a good package when its pricepoint is considered it did not quite stack up.
We then moved onto the Phono 1 It was very clear this was the "little brother" of the Phono 2. It basically was voiced to sound very similar to the 2 but with slightly less of everything, nevertheless an excellent phono stage that had I not heard the 2 I could very easily live with.
So on balance in Pauls system today I would overwhelmingly choose the Phono 2 as my personal favourite followed by the Phono 1 and close behind that the Graham Slee Which was probably sonically between the 2 & 1 but gets relegated to 3rd due to its price. The MF and modified Cambridge were someway behind the others in my opinion.
Well thats my take on a very pleasant and enjoyable day out
savvypaul » Sun Nov 19, 2017 1:46 pm
Toontrev, Andy-831 and myself in attendance. Another fresh, sunny day for the bake-off. It only got cold, wet and miserable in the evening when Man Utd's 3rd & 4th goals went in against Newcastle (sorry, Trevor!).
Musical Fidelity X-LP (estimate £200 when new?)
NVA Phono1 (£280)
Arkless modified Cambridge Audio 651p (£250 mod plus donor unit at £80-£100 going on recent ebay sales)
NVA Phono2 w/ additional PSU (£700)
Graham Slee Revelation C w/ PSU-1 (£895)
Music played: John Coltrane, Hank Mobley, The Leisure Society, Martin Simpson, Tchaikovsky Swan Lake, Joni Mitchell, Judie Tzuke, John Cougar Mellencamp, Guy Clark, Magna Carta, XTC, Anthony Moore, Seventh Wave, Volcano Choir, Phil Alvin. A 'core' of these used for each stage, the others were discovered along the way.
I've been using the Phono 2 for around a month and we started there as it was already plugged in. A wide open window, in my experience, to compare the other stages to.
The Arkless was next up, requested so on the basis of some seemingly outstanding reviews at AOS. I haven't heard the unmodded 651p but both Andy and Trevor had. This modded version is poor, I'm afraid. I had rather hoped it would be a bit of a giant killer – perhaps fond memories of growing up in Essex surrounded by souped up Ford Escorts has made me well disposed to the idea of 'pimping the mainstream'. This one is still very much a 1.1L! Rolled off treble, flat and thin elsewhere, non-existent bass resolve, very narrow soundstage. One Word Daily? 'Boring'.
Musical Fidelity X-LP. Just preferable to the Arkless on the basis that it has some treble information and the midrange has marginally better separation. On the Leisure Society track, though, the rhythm section sounded as though they were playing in a different room and from behind cushions. Off the pace.
We played the 'core' tracks with the Arkless and the MF, but no more.
NVA Phono1. A huge relief after the Arkless and MF. Proper bass, proper treble, proper music had returned. Full and expressive. A smile on everyone's face again. Rediscovered the urge to try different and new tracks. Exceptional value for money.
Graham Slee Revelation C w/ PSU-1. This one also has an EQ facility for “restoring the tonal range” of early (pre 1970s RIAA) recordings. This was my phono stage in daily use for around 18 months before the NVA Phono2. This one is quite nice; quite open, reasonably full, times acceptably, resolves bass properly. Obviously in a different league to the Arkless & MF. One thing I do realise is that it does subtly roll of the edges of vocals – clearly shown with the Joni Mitchell and Elvis Costello tracks. Still, plenty to like, and the EQ facility does work well (I have a lot of 1950s & 1960s classical LPs).
The Phono 2 now went back in and the level of musical information and emotion increased noticeably again. The 2 builds on the qualities of the 1, they are unmistakably cut from the same cloth. There are benefits over the 1 in terms of ultimate resolution, grip, propulsion, ease and transparency. We ran out of time (and, sorry, I ran out of memory) to play the Phono 2 with only one supply.
The NVA Phono 2 w/ 2nd supply was the best sounding phono stage. I would place the NVA Phono 1 next for my taste because it does certain things – presence and emotion - that I would not want to live without. I could make a case for the Graham Slee to be marginally ahead of the Phono 1 because it does a lot of things very nicely and the EQ facility is useful to me, but the Phono 1 is less than a third of the price of the Graham Slee and gets in the way of the music less, imo. The Arkless is not worth considering. The MF is similarly outclassed, but might be picked up very cheaply secondhand.
Toontrev » Sun Nov 19, 2017 8:46 pm
I must begin with thanks to Paul, he is a great host and you are made to feel very welcome, was also good to meet another HFS member, Andy, another nice guy. Made for a very enjoyable day, top blokes and good company.
I went along thinking that there wasn't going to be much of a difference in the phono stages, would I be able to hear the changes however subtle etc ?, at the back of my mind I was slightly worried about it, bonkers I know. How wrong could I be, to be honest the contrast with the NVA kit and the rest was so apparent its hard to believe .
Paul has a cracking system, everything played at the beginning sounded so clear, crisp and dynamic, I was really enjoying what we were playing until we started to change the stages.
First up was an Arkless modded Cambridge, I owned one of these in stock form a few years ago and thought it was excellent value for money. When Paul swapped it over I was astonished how much the sound quality suffered. Frequency extremes shrank, sound became muffled lacking in dynamics, the soundstage was thin and narrow. Dont get me wrong it didn't sound terrible but it was so obvious it was markedly inferior. You don't need to own golden ears to hear any of this btw it is so apparent. Moving over to the MF improved little, pepped the sound up a bit but I was glad when Paul turned them off.
What came next was remarkable, the Phono 1 is the perhaps the cheapest of the bunch but I wasn't prepared for the dramatic improvement. Just about everything that was right at the start of the session came back in spades. In case you're wondering I don't own any NVA equipment however when funds allow this has to change, it was that good. Clarity, dynamics, tunefulness of the bass lines, emotional involvement in the music and the rest, Joni was brought back to life again. Tremendous.
We had a break and started up again with the Graham Slee, there was a lot to like about it. Gave the sound a nice punchy drive and a fuller bass. I enjoyed listening to it, this would have made top spot if it wasnt for the NVA stages but in my opinion it didn't beat the Phono 1 which is a third of the cost. I hear more of the music through the NVA stages, I guess extended listening time perhaps may reveal more of the subtleties in presentation but I really enjoyed what this equipment brings to the music. This is the second bake off I've attended and they are really enjoyable. Thanks once again to Paul.
Here you are a short review after two weeks of listening to the phono2 with the second psu: I didn't expect a noticable difference to the phono2 with only one psu, because I was already delighted with it as it was. Adding the second psu makes voices a bit more clear and defined, seperates the instruments clearer and also the basses are a bit more pronounced. And that all in a pleasant, not overwhelming, way. Over all the feeling of being surrounded by the music increased. It doesn't matter what kind of music you listen to, the phono2 presents it in a natural and lively way and makes you smile every day from new because it sounds so good!
Review as promised (I haven’t posted to forum but will if you want me to) feel free to correct any grammar foibles.
P20 / A20 Starter pre/ power amplifier loan.
So where does one begin with a review? The beginning? Well my taste buds for trying NVA were whetted at a recent ‘bake off’ at ‘savvypauls' (who is a genuinely nice guy) up in deepest darkest Durham. I’m ‘up North’, he’s ‘up North North’ We had a ‘Speaker listen off’ with Pauls system both vinyl & digital as the base source(s). Part of said system was NVA amplification, what can I say through the day I was wowed at how dynamic and open the system sounded with timing and rhythm to die for.
Onwards a month or so and I see our Doc is offering a ‘Load Unit’ (again) …. Many buttons pressed and postage money sent and behold I have a box of goodies on its way to me.
Fast forward again and I’m opening the box which is very well packed and has the pre and power boxes (lush shiny black) along with lengths of speaker cable and interconnect. What more could a man want. Everything turned off and old kit, amp unplugged and I slotted the P20/A20 into position and wired up to my existing kit.
So, early listening sessions were encouraging but also tinged with those early ‘warmin up’ trade-offs, timings were off and the overall sound was lacking in authority (I am talking the first hour or so of listening here) Piano notes appear a little too light when once I remember them being played with greater authority. Bass was ok, but this time not so much light as lacking in texture….. drum skins were giving me nothing back just a thwack of sound.
Later that evening I’m glad to hear things were coming together much better, I have to say it took less time than I imagined for the amps to start to shine through. Back to some tracks I knew well and wow this little fella is really punching above its weight (it is only 25 watts I keep telling myself) cymbals are appearing in a different place to normal, far off the usual narrow soundstage of my old amp. More than that actually, when I swap over to Vinyl as source and play a few more albums I’m astonished that I can hear more soundstage. Not left to right, that’s about as good as my Roksan, this is depth of soundstage had been previously something I rarely heard and now the drum kit is well behind the singer and the guitar is slightly to the left and somewhere in between!! This in particular was the biggest ‘find’ for me, yes I was swooned with a good amount of dynamics and the openness and clarity was what I remember from Paul's system (Don’t get me wrong not in any way as great but a sibling sound signature none the less) Three or four days in and the smile is still there, texture is well and truly perceivable in the lower end and piano note decay is a joy to listen to.
Another surprise that keeps me scratching my head is how much headroom this little two box wonder has? I honestly cannot believe how well it drives my Russell K Red 100 speakers with ‘only 25 watts’ (medium to large stand mount 2-way speaker) I know what working up the NVA ladder towards that I heard in said bake off will bring ……. More of everything basically, it could be an interesting journey.