Having been very impressed by the BMU, I decided to upgrade my Creek OBH passive pre-amp with the NVA P90sa passive pre-amp. It arrived on Friday – again a very sleek design. I plugged in my turntable, CD player, and headphone amp, settled down to listen to a CD through the headphones, only to find Jimi Hendrix blasting out through the left channel of the main loudspeaker. I didn’t know at the time that it was just the left channel – but as far as I could tell the volume controls were not working, the music was coming out at full blast, and I didn’t want to spend too much time trying to find out since the rest of the house had gone to bed.
I emailed NVA that night to explain the problem, and early next morning (Saturday) had an email back from Richard Dunn, telling me to send the pre-amp back to him. Following the exchange of a couple of emails, I ended up taking the pre-amp to him that very day. I’d never been to Sidcup before, but there’s a first time for everything, as they say.
Having arrived at Richard’s house, he invited me into his workshop (or is it better described as a laboratory?), while he started to investigate the problem. His workshop is full of NVA equipment and wires and boxes and transformers and components of various sorts and yet more wires (though I wouldn’t want to suggest that it is chaotic!) While I was waiting, Richard played for me the first ever stereo record released in this country in 1954. It was a demonstration record by Decca, with a view to persuading people to invest in stereo equipment, and the sound quality was marvellous. Richard reckoned that records had hardly improved since that time! I was also impressed by the NVA system, with a lovely Goldring G99 turntable, that Richard was using. It was by no means top-of-the-range NVA, but the music was natural and effortless.
As for my pre-amp, It turned out that the volume control had been fitted by the manufacturer with the wrong resistors (I think), and so Richard fitted a new volume control, and tested it on the system he had set up in his workshop. A run through ‘Court of the Crimson King’ showed that everything was now in order. Richard then kindly gave me a lift back to the station.
It’s now only Monday night, and opportunities for listening to my system with the NVA pre-amp have been limited. However, I have had chance to listen to CD and vinyl both through the main speakers and headphones, and I can say that the introduction of the NVA pre-amp has led to significant improvements, and no doubt, as it settles down, more will come. I’m hearing new things on recordings that I’ve listened to hundreds of times before! I never realized, for instance, that the acoustic guitar on Lou Reed’s ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ is in fact two acoustic guitars, one in each channel. In short, more detail is being revealed. The sound is also more effortless and natural. There is improvement as well to the percussion and bass. It really is a pleasure to listen to music reproduced like this – and after all, it’s all about, or at least should be about, the music.
I can assure anyone reading this that, by getting NVA products, they are getting excellent products and excellent value for money. There is no middleman, no expensive marketing – just great hi-fi.