by CycleCoach » Thu May 10, 2018 11:16 am
This is a review, well sort of.
It’s taken me quite a while to get my thoughts in order since I took the plunge and ordered a “starter pack” of P20/A20 and cables, and I’ll be honest I’ve spent a lot of the spare time in between listening to music rather than preparing to write this.
I need to rewind a bit. After an extended hi-fi free period (caused by kids and their destructive fingers, followed by their sporting aspirations which took up all my spare time,) I dragged my old stuff out to see what I had.
Basically I used to have the “old favorite” LP12 (Lingo, Ekos, Troika) with Naim NAC 32/5 NAP 135s and a pair of Isobariks. The speakers were U/S thanks to toddler tweeter pokage, so I found an old pair of Rogers LS4a in the loft to use instead.
The one thing I was determined about is that I didn’t want to go for analogue again. Why? Well for one thing there was a day when my brother visited with a portable mini-disc player and I fed it through the system (I had a spare input for a Walkman Pro) The compressed MP3 files sounded BETTER than the turntable. It was the beginning of the end for my analogue obsession. Add a couple of house moves into the mix and other things became more important.
I started listening to my laptop through a cheapo NAD amp and looking on t’internet for information. The first thing I noticed was that Hi-Fi isn’t such a big deal anymore, it seemed to be more centred on willy waving about expensive esoterica ownership. I started using the Naim amps again at this point.
Long story short, I happened on HFS and asked a couple of questions. Mostly the replies were surly to start with (I now know there is history – but I knew nothing of all that stuff then!)
In the end I was encouraged to try the A/P 20 starter set on a 30 day trial. Nothing to lose so why not? But how could it possibly sound better than my beloved Naim (which I had paid £4k+ on?)
And the conclusion?
The lil’ combo blew the Naim stuff away. Really. There was a clarity I had never experienced before. I was used to what I can only describe as a certain “graininess” to the sound, but this was absent. In the past I was constantly turning the volume up in a misguided attempt to hear through the mix – this was no longer necessary. I never felt that there was a shortcoming in the power stakes either – this went plenty loud enough for me. The sound wasn’t perfect though there was a tizz in the treble and plumminess to the sound which I blame squarely on the Rogers speakers with their BBC style crossovers and metal tweeters.
Longer term things have moved on quite a bit, I acquired a P50sa on eBay, along with a pair of Cube 1s and LS6 speaker cable from friends here on HFS, and this week some SSP Mk2 interconnects. On the front end I splurged the £4 to try the mysteriously wonderful Chinese DAC (now with matching power supply (details of this elsewhere,)) but for the time being the A20 is still the heart of the system.
On paper this should be a bit of a mismatch but it is a testament to the little amp that it more than holds its own in this system – I’m never thinking about it like I was about those crappy speakers, It just does its job. It does its job exceedingly well, and I have been able to hear the improvements of each change in the system clearly.
I wish I had taken the plunge earlier, but hesitated, even though NVA offers a 30 day no quibble return policy (I wanted to hear before buying I guess,) but now you can even trial the loan set of the world-beating little combo in your own home, so even that tiny hurdle is removed. I really couldn’t recommend this amp more highly.
Current System: Macbook Pro, Starting Point Systems DAC 3, NVA P50SA, NVA A20, NVA LS6, NVA Cube1