All reviews of NVA here.
User avatar
Dr Bunsen Honeydew
Posts: 30876
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2012 7:26 pm
Location: Muppet Labs
Great Britain


Unread post by Dr Bunsen Honeydew » Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:13 pm

Rolf Schnaibel - The Cube 1 sound very clear, its amazing that an 8" speaker can produce such an deep and strong bass.
My other speakers are 15" coax, but with cubes I can hear things I didn't hear before.

I read that cubes take a long time until they play at their best, but I enjoy them very much even with
only a few hours playing.

A friend had a short listening to the Cubes and was impressed.
He already has p20/a20, I gave him sound cords to try and he was shocked how good it sounds then.
I suggested to order a phono1 and a cube3, he has a small room and limited money.

Anyway, thank you for your great work and service.

User avatar
Posts: 59
Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2012 5:03 pm
Location: London


Unread post by Keithh » Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:46 pm

LS6 Biwire

I took advantage of the Docs excellent pre Xmas deal to upgrade my speaker cables from LS5 to LS6, not because I was unhappy or dissatisfied with the LS5. You know the temptation was always there and the deal just tipped me over. They are biwired only because another forum member was selling a set of biwred Cube 1's some while ago, another bargain I just could not resist. Anyway so as I said I absolutely loved the LS5 with such detail and presence so had seen the various reports here and was very keen to hear what the LS5 could do...

I use mainly Flac files with some Spotify mixed in, Vinyl is very much secondary so this is written about listening to digital only. First impressions were mixed, on the positive side vocals seemed to have more grain and texture, an example being Genesis P-Orridge on Psychic TV's Snakes, and upper bass seemed more tangible, great but on the negative side some recordings I was very familiar with sounded splashy and harsh. :shock: Oh no had I made a big mistake? Well I knew from the forum here that the general view was that the cables would need some time to burn in so I persevered. It took about three weeks before improvements began to show. The harshness faded to be replaced with lush detail, in fact there was more detail everywhere. I was hearing things clearly that seemed either to be previously back in the mix or absent. The degree of texture (timbre?) also stepped up in fact there was more of everything - amazing.

The net result is that when playing music now I am completely absorbed, I have been told of this tendency before but even I am aware of it.
Of all noises, I think music is the least disagreeable. - Samuel Johnson
In == Vortexbox + Raspberry Pi + BOSS DAC/ Goldring 1042 + SL-1210MK2 + Phono 1
Shaking it all about == P50SA + SP + A80s
Out == LS6 biwire + Cube 1
Bubbling under == BMU

Posts: 276
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2014 11:06 pm
Great Britain


Unread post by Stemcor1990 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:23 pm

P90SA / A20.

I had originally purchased an A30 as a temporary amp pending the arrival of some cash to fund an amp further up the range.

Upon arrival at NVA towers, the Doc said that the A30 was no more so I took home an A20. I already had the P90SA which was controlling a pair of Teddy Pardo monoblocs. I love Teddy’s amps but I was using his pre which does not have any form of balance control. A hearing problem means that some form of balance is now important.

Having started my NVA journey with a phono 1 and now a phono 2 with twin psus, it was inevitable that I was going to try a NVA amp (my speakers are cube 3s).

The P90SA and the Teddy power amps are a very nice combo. All I am interested in is a system that sounds a bit like people playing musical instruments. To be honest, this combo ticked the box and I could happily live with it.

However, the full NVA is an itch I have to scratch. The Teddys have been sold and the A20 has been up and running for a couple of weeks.

Firstly the bad. If you think that replacing circa £2K worth of Teddy Pardo with £200 worth of NVA is a good idea then you might be disappointed.
The good news is that the A20 gives a stupidly good account of itself. I would say about 85% of the Teddy performance at 10% of the price. Yes I missed the finer points of the musical performance which the Teddy reveals and the A20 hints at but on a performance per pound basis, the A20 is a gem and deserves to be more widely heard. For some, this might be all they ever need.
For me the combo does 2 things and they are the only things I value.
1. It makes bands or groups of musicians or whatever you want to call it sound like they are playing together. I have heard systems which sound “disjointed” as if one of the musicians is slightly out of step.
2. It is able to demonstrate those little nuances so it sounds like somebody is playing a musical instrument. I have just ordered a 2nd stock TSS and I’m hoping for some significant improvements in this area.

Apologies if my description sounds like a load of nonsense but it’s the best I can do.

During my visit to collect the A20, the Doc pointed me in the direction of a dac and psu combo for less than £50. Yes £50 - it’s not a typo. The dac arrived first and is quite good. The addition of the psu is taking things to a new level and as the supply beds in so the music improves. It’s going to be interesting using this with the TSS.

Berty bass
Posts: 113
Joined: Tue Nov 21, 2017 9:54 pm
Great Britain


Unread post by Berty bass » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:03 am

BMU - loan unit

Thought I'd share some impressions of the BMU following my recent loan. Equipment used: Rega P6 TT with Goldring Excel GS MC cartridge; NVA Phono 2; Rega Elicit-R integrated and Kudos X2 speakers.

I'd previously had all this kit running through a Tacima 6-gang extension, and was well used to the presentation, so I unhooked that and replaced it with the BMU straight into the wall socket and connected the amp; Phono 2; TT PSU and (unused) CD Player.

First LP to be spun was Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On'. Being a bass player myself, Jamerson's playing on the title track especially is one of my go-to reference points and I did notice a little more depth to the bass and focus to the sound in general, which also lent greater dynamics to the presentation too. To my ears though the improvements were incremental rather than drastic, and this was borne out in subsequent listening to a variety of female vocals - Aimee Mann and Kate Bush amongst them - and some Beatles (Sgt Pepper reissue).

One thing I have experienced since I introduced the Phono 2 (swapped for a previous, new Rega Fono MC) - apart from the vast improvement in every respect :grin: :grin: - is that I get an occasional, low-level 'popping', usually unnoticeable during normal playback. I'd put this down to a mains issue which the Phono 2 might have been more susceptible to and had hoped the BMU might resolve it, but I noticed it was still there. No big deal usually anyway, but also not one the BMU was able to eradicate.

As a matter of interest I then swapped the BMU for a bog standard 4 gang extension (from Argos, I think) with no switches or lights etc., and was pleasantly surprised to find that it really didn't suffer too much in comparison with the BMU. In other words the improvements the BMU offered over the Tacima were present with the Argos jobby too - maybe not to quite the same extent, but I felt there wasn't enough daylight between the two to justify the outlay on the BMU for me.

All of this tends me towards the conclusion that my 54-year old ears are no longer quite as 'golden' as they may once - if ever - have been. Or, of course, my mains is relatively trouble-free. In fairness we did have the old fuse box swapped out for a new consumer unit recently so I don't know if any issues we may have had were stabilised at that time. All-in-all though I felt improvements - though present - were marginal and was a bit frustrated not to have experienced the more significant differences others have reported.

Posts: 1034
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 11:01 am
Location: Kidwelly, West Wales


Unread post by Alfi » Wed Feb 21, 2018 5:43 pm

BMU Loan feedback.

The main reason for my trying the BMU is because I suffer from buzzing/humming transformers. It’s not that the buzzing is very intrusive, but I can just hear them between tracks from my listening chair and I sit approximately 10 feet from the housing unit. I’m concerned this buzzing is not helping them mechanically or electrically and is perhaps also affecting replay performance. I will add that I can hear them clearly buzzing away when I change a record or CD, so too loud as far as I’m concerned.

The BMU arrived from Berty Bass via UPS on Friday and I installed it in the system that very evening. Considering my initial hope for quieter transformers I was somewhat disappointed as my initial perception was they seemed as noisy, but I left it all powered up overnight. The BMU was put it in to an adjoining room - just the other side of the wall so I could close the door on it. I did notice though that the buzzing transformer issue appears to be dependent on the day/ time of day, sometimes it is acceptably quiet at other times it’s just too loud.

So my initial thought was that it may not be making much of a difference to my mains issues but OK, what about system performance…?

I have a particularly sensitive ear to sibilance, but I must admit since I have gradually moved over to NVA products, adding each be they cables, amps, phono stages or power supplies each has had the desirable outcome of reducing that particular personal annoyance whilst also ensuring my musical enjoyment is fulfilled.

First up I decided to play Dire Straits debut album, in particular the track Six blade knife - a track that I find to be particularly offensive for sibilance. I sat there awaiting it to grate on me but it didn’t so I was very pleased. Cue some more sibilant material I have here, all now played perfectly well with sibilance well in check to the point it no longer grates on me, this is good!

Now of course this is not all, NVA audio is very sweet treble wise with very tuneful and well controlled bass and the addition of the BMU seems to be reinforcing these excellent attributes in my system. The presentation of Santana’s Abraxas album is amazing! Sound staging is huge, left to Left to right presentation is wall to wall in my listening room which measures approx 18’x 12.5’. For an LP12 to produce a stage this wide and high is simply staggering. I also feel the soundstage now extends further toward the listening position.

Santana’s Moonflower album can be quite sharp and strident over many tracks, but I’m delighted with the reproduction of this album in my system with the BMU installed. To those of you considering this unit, it certainly is worth a try. Like some members you may not find the positive attributes I have but for me it will certainly be on my list of further NVA additions to my system In the near future.

I cannot understand why the BMU has had his effect on my system but I tried it in place for a few evenings then removed it but then added it back in just to be sure, its positive benefit is very real to me, so to list the benefits imparted on my system by the BMU…

Clarity and control, quiet passages are almost silent, smooth n’ silky presentation and authority. All NVA attributes duly reinforced. It’s on my list of future upgrades.

Heavily modified suspended sub-chassis turntable, Sole VIII sub-chassis, "In Sole" advanced polymer suspension, Ai bearing, PU7, DV20X2, Norton Airpower clone. Technics SL110A, AT 1005, Soundsmith Denon DL103. NVA BMU, NVA Phono 2 MC (2 power supplies), NVA P50 SA, NVA A40 Mk1 power amps, custom birch ply Allison 6/NVA Cube 1 clones, NVA TIS mk2 , SSC, LS6.

Posts: 19
Joined: Sun Jan 21, 2018 6:32 pm
Great Britain

Phono 2 (MM) - 1 PSU - 2m Blue Cartridge

Unread post by mikeyb48 » Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:23 pm

I'm hoping to borrow the Phono 2 (MC) with PSU soon, but in the meantime here is a review I did a couple of years ago of the Phono 2 (MM) with my then Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge...... My system is considerably different nowadays, hence my wanting to demo the MC version.

Let's get to it.....

Build Quality is excellent, the High Gloss Acrylic cases look and feel great ( a bugger to photograph though lol ), dust magnets for sure, but they look great and in our house dust doesn't lie around too long, the cases being identical size makes them nice and neat on the shelf with large NVA emblazoned on the right side being the only markings on the front, along with a subtle single red Led on the same edge the stage and the psu, which again looks tidy and understated.

Each box is 250mm wide by 70mm high and 210mm deep.

So I hooked it all up, simple enough, very good fit on the PSU connectors to the stage itself, RCA socket the same quality of fit, with a toggle switch for Power On/Off - love the toggle switch, much prefer them to push buttons, they just feel sturdier. Upon switching on you get a little internal thump as the psu kicks in with very low amount of internal hum to begin with but this soon disappears into the background, so far so good. First up was Thin Lizzy's Fighting, one of my favourites and one I bought on release in 1975 so it's had a bit of play over the years, however it's is an album that I still really enjoy and is quite a powerful recording. My TQ amp has a built in phonostage and has been mentioned in a few reviews that it is very good too, I don't disagree, I had previously tried a Trigon Vanguard II, a Whest 2.0 and a Firebottle ( Built by a hifi enthusiast - see AoS forum for more info ) the Firebottle easily beat the Trigon AND the Whest as well as my amp's internal one, however my wife's redundancy put any purchase of the Firebottle well and truly on the back burner. So I was stuck with the TQ internal stage, this gives me something to base this review on, although I do remember the qualities of the Firebottle that I liked so will mentally refer back to that in comparison too.

The first thing that struck ( literally ) me on the opening track was the power and attack of the guitar chords, then the drums kicked in, wow, I thought, now that's a rock record, I hadn't heard it this good, ever! The Phono 2 sounded much more powerful and direct than the inbuilt stage, probably a bit more gutsy than the Valve based Firebottle but marginal. I think the Firebottle is cleaner more precise but I'm not sure that's not always a good thing for rock.

Now you know what it's like when you get a new hifi toy, you flick through tracks/albums ( possibly not as much as my wife does with the TV remote but you know what I mean), over the next few days when I had time, I ended up jumping through the various albums above and enjoyed them all. My collection dates back to 1975 and as you can tell by the choices I listened to I'm a rocker, but I also like Electronic ( Tangerine Dream, Kraftwwerk etc ) although that type of music was hard to come by in the mid 70's on LP unless someone imported them and they cost a bomb, so I don't have many early version, Kraftwerk's Man Machine probably being my earliest Electronic LP.

The key elements of the sounds I was getting from the Phono 2 at least playing Rock anyway, were:

It seems to match very well with the 2M Blue, it was setup for this ( I sent the info to NVA prior so they could match it ) and it is spot on, the soundstage is about the same as my TQ amp stage, slightly less than the Firebottle, but only a little. The music seems to fill my room better with the Phono 2, I sit at the opposite and of the room from the speakers and using the TQ stage the sound is only driven about 1/3 rd of the way into the room, using the Phono 2 its increased by about another 3 or 4 ft to halfway ( does that make sense? ), the Phono 2 has more impact on guitar and especially drums, my PMC's aren't very efficient at 87db, but the Phono 2 gave them a lot more drive and impact. They HAVE to stay as my wife picked them and likes the size of them as they don't dominate the room, I'd like bigger ones ( don't we all lol ), but for now they are here to stay, the phono 2 made me think, that's not a problem, mind you I have thought of changing to the PMC 22's as they aren't that much bigger but would give 90db and I'm pretty sure the wife wouldn't notice ;)

I then tried a Shure 97Xe cartridge on the TT which made the sound a good bit warmer than the 2M Blue, but not as clear on the top end, it didn't stay on long, I preferred the 2m Blue.

The only thing I wasn't sure about on the Phono 2 was the sound of the drums, yes they had impact/slam/drive whatever you weant to call it, but they sounded different to how they sounded on the TQ internal stage and the Firebottle, for some reason I wasn't convinced they sounded right, strange thing to say I know, and its very subjective, but I'm of the opinion that if it sounds good and you like it, does it matter if it's right? I listen to music not HiFi ( although I'm dangerously close to losing the ability to just listen to the music and I blame Forums :P ) The drums might not sound right on my TQ amp stage or on the Firebottle, but I preferred how they sounded on them rather than on the Phono 2, but the Phono 2 was better overall which I think is more important.

I also tried the Phono 2 into my Inca Tech Claymore 2 amp ( recently bought off eBay ), now there's a rock setup if ever I heard it, probably as 'live' as I will ever get in my house unless the wife relents and lets me buy Floorstanders, it's ALL I'm going to get, subtle no, genteel, not in a million years, I like my music fairly loud a lot of the time but can listen at low levels if reading or browsing t'internet, but the Clay 2/Phono 2 combo had me there! The fullest I've heard my room with music since buying the various bits, the 100w Claymore drive my PMC's better than the TQ version, however the TQ is the better all round amp.

Right, I've waffled enough, it's a damn sight easier to talk about this than type it, but hey ho life's a bitch.

In summary:


Build Quality
Size ( I like how the PSU and Stage match )
Sound Quality


Drums ( but only a tiny bit )

Would/will I buy one, not sure to be honest, it is difficult for me to demo anything near me, so having the opportunity to try out the Phono 2 is greatly appreciated, I think my biggest issue with my Vinyl setup is that I haven't decided which cartridge to go with yet and I should no doubt test cart and stage together but that's all but impossible for me, I just have to buy to try, then sell on if I don't like. A Phono stage that covers both MM and MC with switchable settings would be more practical until I settle on my final setup ( if I ever ).

Sorry if I've bored you, thanks very much to Dave for organising the demo ( and for kicking my ass - (in a nice way) - to get this written lol )

Mike. ( still as lost/confused as ever)

User avatar
Dr Bunsen Honeydew
Posts: 30876
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2012 7:26 pm
Location: Muppet Labs
Great Britain


Unread post by Dr Bunsen Honeydew » Tue Mar 20, 2018 12:51 pm

New Convert to NVA
Unread post by auto-icon » Tue Mar 20, 2018 12:37 pm

I recently stumbled across NVA when looking into the possibility of purchasing a balanced mains unit. Compared with the price demanded for a BMU by a firm based in Cumbria, the £500 asked by NVA seemed modest in comparison. Seeing some favourable reviews, the 30-day trial period, and a no-nonsense response to a query, in January I went ahead and acquired the NVA BMU. It’s a heavy piece of kit – I had it sent to my work, and my arm nearly dropped off getting it back home on the train and bus. It’s also a very sleek looking piece of kit, and with the sockets on the top of the box, easy to use. The BMU produced an astonishing improvement in my system, given how much I’d already invested in mains filters and cables. The music was clearer, faster, and more natural. The system seemed to have ‘calmed down’ – as indicated by the fact that, before BMU, my Exposure IV power amp had a tendency to hum quite noticeably, while now, with BMU, it is virtually silent. I should add that the BMU hummed when first plugged in, but is now also virtually silent.

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.

User avatar
Dr Bunsen Honeydew
Posts: 30876
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2012 7:26 pm
Location: Muppet Labs
Great Britain


Unread post by Dr Bunsen Honeydew » Wed Mar 21, 2018 11:08 am

By ebay email - NVA A20/P20 starter kit

I just wanted to mention that I received the above items and I’m extremely happy with the sound quality I am experiencing, I been a naim fan for over 30 years, but since I been using your amps, I’m gobsmacked, sound quality and stereo image are absolutely fantastic, I’ve never been so happy with a Hi-Fi equipment purchase ever.
Thank you NVA.
Connor6612 - Australia

Same guy posted here.

A20 P20 positive experience
Unread post by enricomarraffa » Wed Mar 21, 2018 12:05 pm

I been a Naim user for well over 30 years, until I took delivery of this entry level combo A20 P20, power and passive pre, wow, my jaw dropped almost immediately, this is first class hi end Hi-Fi at any price in my opinion, I’m using these with my unitiqute as a streamer, and a pair of entry level Sonus faber Principias, amazing.
I have mid level naim equipment pre and power amps, but after listening to this NVA combo, I’m sold.

User avatar
Posts: 2292
Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2016 9:29 am
Location: Cardiff


Unread post by CN211276 » Fri Mar 23, 2018 1:33 pm

I previously bought this interconnector to connect the P50 SA with the A80s, review on page 17. This newly acquired TIS Mk 2 connects the new Chord Qutest DAC with the pre amp. Previously I was using SSP Mk2 borrowed from the Phono 1.

The source is 16 Bit 48kHz Tidal streams. The improvement brought about by the additional length of TIS is considerably more than that by the first length and is not subtle. It mainly concerns the higher frequencies where there has been a transformation. To optimise the sound I have needed to change the filter setting on the Qutest from white (Incisive neutral) to green (Incisive neutral HF roll-off). My understanding, though I am non tech and could be wrong, is that the TIS is able to transfer frequencies beyond the range of human hearing which have an effect on those we can hear.
Cymbals now have a presence and clarity which was not there before. With regard to the impact of crashes this is very apparent on tracks such as Queen’s “Tie your mother down”. However the improvement brought about by more subtle cymbal work is even more pleasing. I am fully appreciating the contribution of the high-hat for the first time, very noticeable on favourite tracks such as Neil Young’s “Like a hurricane” and a lot of Def Leppard material.

The reproduction of all forms of percussion, often low in the mix, has come on leaps and bounds contributing a lot to the listening experience. This particularly concerns maracas and tambourines. “Firth of Fith” by Genesis, containing both low in the mix, has never sounded better. Background maracas have taken on a new lease of life in Led Zeppelin’s “Custard pie” and towards the end of the Rolling Stones “Brown sugar”. The impact of the tambourine really hits home in Vinegar Joe’s “Proud to be (a honky woman). This is also the case when it is lower in the mix, along with maracas, on many of the early AC/DC tracks.

To sum up, TIS all the way from DAC to mono blocks, has vastly improved high frequency performance and increased the amount of what is classed as low level detail coming out of the speakers. Having one length was a worthwhile upgrade, but two is the equivalent of a major component improvement in the context of my digitally fronted system.
I set a course just east of Lyra
And northwest of Pegasus
Flew into the light of Deneb
Sailed across the Milky Way

Sonore microRendu/McRU PS, AQ J-bug, Wirewold Ultraviolet, Chord Mscaler/Qutest, NVA BMU, P90SA, A80sMk2, Phono 1, SSP Mk 2, TSCS, TIS mk2, Cube 1s, Atacama stands, Rega Planar 3, Denon DL-110, Grado SR 325e, headphones.

Second system
Chord Mojo (also HP amp), NVA P20, A20, Cubettes, SSC, LS2.

Out and about
Oppo PM3, Audioquest Dragonfly Red.

User avatar
Dr Bunsen Honeydew
Posts: 30876
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2012 7:26 pm
Location: Muppet Labs
Great Britain


Unread post by Dr Bunsen Honeydew » Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:20 pm

Re: Another DIY SS Amplifier with NVA Boards
Post by SteveTheShadow » Mon Apr 02, 2018 8:19 pm

As promised, here are a few impressions of the rebuilt amp with the simplified power supply.
The simple power supplied amp, has a lower noise floor than the twin carb supplied amp I had before, but there's more to it than that and before you think I'm about to start on that "instruments emerging from an inky black silence" audiophile bullshit, you can rest easy. There's no such thing as inky black silence unless you live in the vacuum of space; no, what the ultra-low noise floor allows, is for you to better hear the silence behind whatever is going on in the recording.

Reverb tails or repeat echo effects decay naturally into the studio or venue space and can be heard to do so, even with louder instruments playing at the same time. Now when that happens, you get a far better sense of a human musical event happening between the speakers, which in turn, leads to greater involvement with the performance on the part of the listener, because the aural clues to the space, real or artificial are preserved intact.

This may sound somewhat abstract, but the ability of a piece of equipment to pull off this feat is paramount, if the sense of music happening in front of you is not to be compromised. I'm not talking about "detail" or any of that hi-fi nonsense; this is something else and once you are tuned into it, the absence of it becomes obvious. Now I've heard it, it has become a basic requirement for music reproduction. This NVA DIY build has that requirement nailed and not many amps I've heard have it down anywhere near as well.

So having had the basics laid down by the DIY NVA so convincingly, we can move on to the more concrete ablities of this piece of equipment. For example, solo piano is notoriously difficult for a piece of equipment to get to grips with due to the complexity of the overtones and harmonics the thing produces and the percussive nature of hammers on strings. The NVA preserves the harmonic structures of the instrument and the attack, sustain and decay, like nothing I've heard short of a top end SET amplifier. Hell, it makes my speakers sing like I've never heard them sing before.

You get piano, player, and hall, all interacting with each other to an extent that for all intents and purposes, the performer might as well be playing just for you. If, like me, you are trying to practice mindfulness and are only having limited success, the ability of this amp to take you into the centre of the performance will bring you right into "the Now" and keep you there with a disarming ease that is brilliant.

With groups of musicians, whether jazz ensembles, string quartets, full orchestras, choirs, rock groups or anything in between, you get the full picture of what is going on, and where. You can follow all of the instruments, all the time, hear the interactions on single take studio recordings and live performances and what's more, even to a non-musician like me, those interactions and harmonic relationships make sense, you hear not only the individual bits, but also how it fits together as a whole.
Those old Blue Note jazz records from the 50s and 60s seem to be lit from inside by some primal force.Lou Donaldson's Hammond driven sax workouts such as "Everything I do Gonna be Funky From Now On" are a case in point and hit the monkey bone right on.

On the soul front The Temptations' "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" and "Law of the Land" ooze atmosphere and menace. Stevie Wonder's "I Wish" is complex and layered with bubbling bass synths, insistent hi-hats and funky brass stabs melding together into a funked up festival of sheer infectious joyfulness.

OK..now the superlatives are out of the way, you should be getting the general idea that I like this amp.....a lot.
The Doc's philosophy that all components get in the way of the music is an interesting one. Having heard for myself the effect of removing unnecessary components from the PSU, I think you absolutely have to take what he is saying, and has been saying for years, very seriously. The man is damned right and if that brands me as a "Dunn Disciple" in the eyes of the more mainstream hi-fi fora, then so be it. I don't give a monkey's, it's their loss and they are welcome to keep faffing with spikes, cable risers and magic fuses in their quest for something or other.

This is the first time I have ever reviewed a system and not mentioned bass, treble, midrange, detail, texture, speed, dynamics or slam; I didn't have to. Now that is quite interesting.

ADDED 18/04/18

So after a week or so of messing with the valve amplifier. I got it sounding mighty fine and that's no lie.
Anyway, I brought down the DIY NVA amplifier, let it all warm through again, as it was metaphorically speaking, "stone cold" after being out of the system for about eight days.

So I'm sitting here, enjoying the music listening to Georgie Fame's 1969-1971 hits, and wondering why I'm still pissing about with valves at all. This is every bit as good, does not have the weight of a wall safe, puts out more power and uses far less electricity to do so. The upshot is that I've made a decision not to bother with valves anymore. There's nothing to be gained by continuing to use them.

My son gave up on valves about a year ago now and uses a Nelson Pass F5 power amp, built by (Lurcher300B) feeds it from one of his own BTE Designs passives and has never looked back. It's high time I joined him.

So DIYNVA it is now as far as amplification is concerned.
I sold off most of my valves last year when I got the A20/P20 combination. Now the DIYNVA will be seeing off my remaining stock as a job lot at Owston, free to a good home.

I've been torn between valves and the NVA version of solid state, since I got the A20 and latterly built the DIY power amp, but now intend to pursue my speaker designs; loads of stuff to catch up with there and a lot of too long neglected development work to do.

Post Reply