NVA Reviews (THIS THREAD IS ONLY FOR STASHING REVIEWS)

All reviews of NVA here.
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savvypaul
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Re: NVA Reviews (THIS THREAD IS ONLY FOR STASHING REVIEWS)

Unread post by savvypaul »

Rodney Woods (via Facebook)

I've recently purchased an NVA passive preamp, the SA version, absolutely brilliant, no frills, just a huge strip out of hash from the sound, thank you, no point of mincing their words when you get where they're coming from, if you want a remote, get real, more circuits, less accurate. Take the plunge, money back guarantee which I thought I'd use is actually expired, just busy listening to music through a clean environment.
I am in the hi-fi trade
Status: Manufacturer
Company Name: NVA Hi-Fi
https://nvahifi.co.uk/

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savvypaul
Posts: 6541
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Re: NVA Reviews (THIS THREAD IS ONLY FOR STASHING REVIEWS)

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By email:

I have just received an SSP Digital MKII cable and wanted to tell you how impressed I am with it, even after only a few hours of use. The cable arrived quickly and seems remarkable value for money; thank you. Expect an order shortly for another SSP MKII Digital to go between my streamer and my Denafrips DAC (it has made such a positive difference to the Audiolab CDT -> DAC integration).
I am in the hi-fi trade
Status: Manufacturer
Company Name: NVA Hi-Fi
https://nvahifi.co.uk/

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savvypaul
Posts: 6541
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Re: NVA Reviews (THIS THREAD IS ONLY FOR STASHING REVIEWS)

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From: CycleCoach

NVA Phono 2: Don’t Look Ethel!

I’m sure many of you will be familiar with the 1974 Ray Stevens hit The Streak. An instantly recognisable comedy ditty that tells the story of an adventurous streaker baring all in a variety of awkward social situations. The song is regularly punctuated by a simple-witted fellow, who shouts at his wife, “Don’t look Ethel!” But it was too late….

Well, if you’re the owner of a different phono stage, (up to, and including, the Phono 1,) then this is my opportunity to warn you. “Don’t look Ethel!” because if you do, or at least if you listen, it could indeed already be too late. Forgive me for being flippant, and perhaps I should tell you what I’m driving at here. I had a Phono 1 in my system for quite a time. It followed a Pro-Ject Phono Box II jobbie, as I re-introduced a loft-full of vinyl into my life.

“Oh my God,” I realised. “Vinyl is still brilliant!”

And it is.

My front end is a Linn LP12 with an Ekos arm, Troika cartridge and Lingo power supply. Not to everyone’s taste maybe, but I’m falling in love with the auld Orange Box all over again. It was wonderful connecting it all back up (at first with the Pro-Ject,) and spinning discs – like a time machine back to my memories of the 1980s and 90s – and straightaway there was something special going on. As I just said. Vinyl is bloody brilliant. And I was re-connecting with it, (as well as with a younger me.) It was giving me something which digital simply doesn’t. It felt honest and real. Totes more emotional. It was connecting me to the music, but not in a cerebral way: This was visceral. Human emotions! Such fun. Such fun!

I thought that what my turntable was delivering was close to perfection: How could it get any better than this? A trip oop North to NVA towers a few weeks later had me zooming back down the A1 with a Phono 1 on the passenger seat, and a jaw-dropping experience ahead of me. The Phono 1 was so superior to the Pro-Ject. I mean the difference was seismic. (Apologies if this starts to sound a bit Hi-Fi-ish) It was clearer in a way I did not foresee. I was getting more detail, smoother delivery and things like female vocals were breathy where they should be, and sharp in the right places without getting shrill. Bass lines weaved in and out without blurring other instruments, and kick drums kicked. This wasn’t HiFi: it was just more REAL without unnatural emphasis. Fantastic. And without doubt this was a lifetime buy. This was IT. (Get ready Ethel…)

I need to qualify my gushing about the Phono 1 a bit. Once I got it sorted the sound was sublime – but – It was a little bit picky about placement on my rack and was particularly discombobulated by digital noise from my streamer and it’s switch mode power supply (a Nord.) I got round this by simply switching the blummin’ streamer off and being careful about cables (shielded were better.) I also did something with tinfoil that I’m not proud of…

So here we arrive at my Road to Damascus moment – (Ray Stevens can start pickling an intro on his banjo.). I was lucky enough to get a visit from The Savvy One here at CycleCoach Mansions, nestled deep in the actual Nene Valley (where the N and V originally came from in NVA if you didn’t know – I’m sure you did.) Savvy brought with him a Phono 2 for us to compare to my “1,” in what was to be a purely academic exercise, also Savvy was quite keen to revisit an LP12, as he had owned one back in the day. I’ll quickly describe the rest of my system here: P50 SA pre, 2x A80 monoblocs and Cube 1 speakers. SSP interconnects and LS6 speaker cable (Yes, I know: it’s very NVAish!)

We settled back to spin a few of my disks and chat about music – and we both agreed it was sounding pretty good. One that came out was my copy of The Lonesome Jubilee by John Cougar (just as he moved upmarket to being a Mellencamp.) This is a great album to check out a system, without it being an audio firework display. It’s well recorded, live sounding and dynamic, with subtle extra percussion and delicate backing vocals – I thoroughly recommend it if you haven’t heard it. We both enjoyed that, and others, from the likes of DEVO, Zappa, Joni Mitchell, Patti Smith, John Lee Hooker, Melissa Etheridge and quite a few more, but I’ll concentrate on the Mellencamp for context.

After an hour or so, we switched in the Phono 2 “to see what it was like” and without wishing to sound hyperbolic (don’t look Ethel…..) it was gobsmacking. The sound-floor on the “1,” properly set up, is impressive, but here it dropped away like a black pudding thrown down a lift-shaft. Inky blackness unless you turned the volume up way beyond the sensible. Things didn’t get louder in comparison, just more dynamic. The volume was there but it was more controlled.

The first track on Lonesome Jubilee is Paper in Fire. Along with plaintive vocals, guitar and bass, it features harmonica and a driving kick-drum line that emphasises a well-staged studio acoustic. Clearly the producer had good ears. Now we were hearing a more coherent band-sound, but with more separation between the musicians. Drums were more forceful, with convincing attack, but without being emphasised. Female backing singers were more focused, and easier to hear, despite being further back in the mix. Bass had real weight behind it, but again it seemed just like “the real thing.” I suppose a HiFi reviewer might say something like “a clearer window onto the music,” but that isn’t quite right. In a way, some things were further back if the mix dictated it, so that the “room full of musicians” was more believable. My Cubes already gave me a nice “rainbow” shaped sound between and above the speakers, but now it was more 3D, with band members sounding further back behind the plane of the wall if the mix placed them there. And in the centre of it all hung John Cougar’s voice, like a comforting ball of warm nougat - almost solid enough to touch. Lovely.

So how would I compare the Phono 2 to the Phono 1? Clearly there is a family sound, as you would expect. The Phono 1 is brilliant in its own right, and, if I hadn’t heard its big sister, I would have been happy with what I had. The truth is that the “2” just gives you more. More of everything. The two-box design allows you to hide the power supply almost in the next postcode if you want to, so it doesn’t seem to have the noise issues you can encounter with a “1.” Dynamic range, punch, clarity, resolution, dynamics and all that HiFi stuff is facilitated by the wonderful implementation of the “2’s” power supply. I don’t care about any of that per se. I just know that it elicited an emotional response from me. What I heard made me feel something. It felt real enough to immerse me in the music.

Now I’d heard it. I’d peeked between my fingers and there was no going back. If Savvy had tried to leave with the Phono 2, I might have had to resort to rugby-tackling him to the ground. As it was, he was gracious enough to leave it with me. And with me it will stay. That’s it: The biggest single improvement I’ve ever made to my system. Ever. And in those terms, it might even be the biggest HiFi bargain ever.

So, to strain the metaphor one final time, Ethel wouldn’t just be taking a sneaky glance at our streaker, she’d be running down and forcibly grabbing the old boy by the scrotum!

Happy listening.
I am in the hi-fi trade
Status: Manufacturer
Company Name: NVA Hi-Fi
https://nvahifi.co.uk/

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