I purchased the baby integrated of the NVA range for a second system I have planned for my kitchen diner. This was to go with a Cambridge audio CDP and a pair of Mordaunt short MS902S (small book shelf speakers with 5" mid/bass) which I intend to fully Doc mod when I get my Marantz 3 ways finished
This is my first encounter with any NVA products and as such I could not wait to have a listen. I could not hook them up to my main system speakers as they have the speaker cables hardwired right to the drivers and are probably too high capacitance for the NVA. My MS902S are in bits so I turned to my last pair of speakers which are B&W CM1 stand mounts. Hooked it up with LS2 speaker cables and the front end is from my main sytem.
Well what can I say. Like Alfi I have been totally blown away by this AP20 integrated. It is so small and cute which is bound to be a hit with the female(s) in our life. It is so straight forward compared to my main system amps which are Avondale 821A with separate PSU and four Avondale NCC200 mono blocs.
The sound of the AP20 is so smooth and natural with no part of the frequency spectrum standing out or screaming at you. There is detail a plenty even with lowly model in the range. I have not experienced any listener fatigue what so ever, I just tend to drift off and stop analysing everything. It's all about the music. I have an ear problem (mild tinnitus) and have suffered with sibilance with more of my music than I should. Listening through the AP20 has solved a lot of this for me, I am no longer waiting for the ssssssss on certain tracks when I know they are coming.
As Alfi has said, with such a low power output this amp is never going to rock the foundations like my Avondales can (340VA per mono bloc) and it is slightly less detailed, but it slays the Avondale for naturalness and is sweet as a jar of honey. I can drift off into the music like I have never experienced before, everything is just right.
I would love to hear the AP20 with my doc mod speakers when they are finished. I will no doubt be purchasing more NVA product on top of this AP20, phono1 and BMU I have already purchased.
More reviews to come.
Well the Doc dropped off the NVA phonostages for me to try since we never got to the Huddersfield bake-off a couple of weeks ago. My brother came round as a second pair of ears and we used two songs for the comparison, Mary Black - There's a Train that Leaves Tonight and Acoustic Alchemy - Mr Chow.
First up was my usual Arkless which I have been happily using for the last few months and we have always thought it was a bit of a bargain since I purchased 2nd hand for £200.
I then changed over to the Phono 1, this was the biggest wow moment for both of us. The music moved to a different level of enjoyment, especially the bass which came through with more clarity, and the sound was more listenable/smooth with no lack of detail. To say I could have paid an extra £100 to achieve this, what was I thinking about.
Next up the Phono 2, what did this bring to the party. Firstly it opened up the sound from top to bottom even more, percussion was especially easier to follow on the Mary Black track. We both felt that on both tracks the music came across with more weight/solidity.
The icing on the cake came with adding the 2nd power supply. With this in the system, there was greater separation and instruments were easier to follow, it brought smiles to our faces. My brother felt adding the 2nd power supply was more beneficial than changing from the Phono 1 to the 2, I was a little unsure enjoying both upgrades.
A couple of days later, we again listened to the Phono 2 with and without the extra supply. Paul Simon - Graceland was used and sounded simply stunning with the Phono 2 but adding the extra supply confirmed our findings, bringing out low level detail more to the fore. I can honestly say I have never heard this album sound so good, making this for me a must have upgrade.
Post by zebbo » Sun Jul 23, 2017 9:05 pm
Ok, BBPSU + Phono 3.
Had some friends round on Thursday night, (as the Mrs was out, ), for an evening of good music and a beer or three. All friends present are owners of decent hi-fi systems so know what they are listening to.
We started off using my Phono 2 and played a few albums of various genre from gentle folk, (Mary Black), through some blues, (Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, Keb Mo), and some more contemporary stuff, (Imelda May, Dire Straits, etc). As usual the sound did not disappoint, lovely detail, not too much of anything, all pretty natural sounding, just what we've become accustomed to really. The soundstage, while quite nicely presented, has never been huge and often just hints at what might be beyond the confines of my room. I've always assumed that was the limitations of my listening room.
Well, changing over to the BBPSU + Phono 3 blew that theory into the weeds straight away! My god, I swear the back wall of my lounge disappeared! Nothing really changed much musically, the bass is pretty much the same, the detail is pretty much the same, maybe a tiny bit better, but the acoustic that it was all being played in was now just a huge open space. There is an EASE to the sound that is infectious and everything sounds even more natural, even more REAL than it did before. Some albums showed a greater improvement than others, which is to be expected I suppose, being dependant on the quality of production, pressing etc, but one album in particular now sounds absolutely stunning! It's probably just about my favourite album to-date and I have NEVER heard it sound so good - Janis Ian - Breaking Silence. If you don't own it, check it out, if you do then you know what I'm talking about. 100% analogue including the use of valves and it is amazing, musically and technically.
Concerns, questions, caveats?
Because the Phono 3 is different to the Phono 2, how do I know how much of the improvement is down to the new head unit or the massive PSU? I would like to try the Phono 3 with a, still substantial, but physically smaller PSU to see if the humungous BBPSU is completely necessary. Something that doesn't elicit a reaction of "what the hell is that bloody thing?!" would be nice.
I thought I should report back as thanks to EvilC I have now had a chance to listen to a few of his NVA amps and cables. Amps used were a Mk1 A30 and Mk2 A80's (we skipped the A60 he also had available!), interconnects were SC and TIS, speaker cables LS3 and LS6. P90SA pre and Epos ES14 speakers remained consistent throughout. The sound was excellent to start and just got better and more "real" as each piece was upgraded. A particular surprise was the change from LS3 to LS6 loudspeaker cables when we were still using the A30 and SC's - with the change of speaker cables there was suddenly much more depth and more details were revealed, it was not subtle at all! Thanks again to EvilC for such an excellent demonstration of what you have all been telling me.
I now need to try some NVA in my own system to see how it works here. My plan is to start with cables so I can get them "run in" before I try the amps (although I must admit I was lucky enough to pick up a P50SA at a good price on Ebay recently but I'll hold onto that until I can try it with some NVA power amps). To that end Doc would you please put up a 9m pair of SSC on Ebay which will deal with the long interconnects for between the pre/power amps? The shorter ones I need are all standard items so are already on Ebay. Re speaker cables I'm going to go straight for LS6 but need an unequal length set, 1.5m on one side and between 3.5m and 4m on the other, how do I purchase these?
I was very happy with my Dynaudio Emit 10 speakers, which will now be sold. They are transparent and sounded better and better as I added NVA kit to my system. There was no way I would consider replacing them with another point and squirt design. Having read about the Cubes and the benefits of the semi-omnidirectional approach, I had to give them a go with the 30 day return option providing security. The Cube 3s seemed most appropriate in the context of the small dedicated listening area of the room.
Like all NVA equipment they arrived very well packaged. I was a bit surprised at how heavy they are. They look good mounted on my vintage Atacama solid stands. The metal meshing a plus point, making them toddler proof. Initial impressions are important and what really struck me was the scale and realism they produce. This was something new to me. To establish the optimum position I played some Bob Marley as there is prominent bass, with the subwoofer off. Once I discovered that they sound best five inches from the rear wall, I tilted them slightly inward.
The upper bass is a revelation. Bass guitar notes are precise and clearly defined. This is something I was missing out on previously and is very pronounced on early Beatles recordings. There is also plenty of extension, so much so that I have lowered the cut off frequency of the subwoofer to the point that it hardly comes into play when playing music. Some tv programmes are a different matter though.
I have had to raise the volume on the P50 SA a few notches, but this is due to the semi-omnidirectional design. There is no lack of sensitivity and I’m sure high volumes can be achieved with amplifiers with a lot less clout than my A80s.
Every type of music, from Motorhead to my granddaughter’s nursery rhymes, is just better with an increase in clarity and dynamics. The sound no longer seems to be coming from the speakers, but from a wide stage beyond the room. I no longer have to sit in the centre of the sofa for the optimum sound. SQ in the dining area of the room, well away from and not facing the speakers, has improved beyond belief with an increase in volume as well.
Less than a year ago I did not have any NVA equipment, now my system is all NVA bar the sources and SW, the Cube 3s have completed the chain. Favourite albums from long ago have taken on a new lease of life. I am hearing things I did not before and there is greater space between everything. I find that I am listening at less mean volume levels, but because of the increased dynamics peaks are just as loud, or louder.
Before discovering NVA and not falling for the flat bullshit in the 80s, after hearing the LP12, I thought all high end kit was a rip off and avoided it on VFM grounds. By cutting out all the sticky palms between design/manufacture and purchase, NVA provide fantastic value. I am enjoying music like never before.
And northwest of Pegasus
Flew into the light of Deneb
Sailed across the Milky Way
NVA BMU, Sonore microRendu/McRU PS, AQ J-bug, Wirewold Ultraviolet, Chord Qutest, NVA P50SA, NVA A80sMk2, NVA Cube 3s, NVA LS6, NVA TIS mk2. Rega Planar 3, Denon DL-110, NVA Phono 1, NVA SSP Mk2, Grado SR 325e, headphones, Chord Mojo.
Arcam Miniblink Bluetooth DAC, Marantz pm 5004, Wharfdale Diamond 121, NVA LS2.
Out and about
Oppo PM3, Audioquest Dragonfly Red.
Post by Chunk McDaniel » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:23 am
I took delivery of my NVA speaker cables and interconnects last week and my system has been running 24/7 since then to allow a quicker break in period. This was the last pieces I needed to complete a system I have put together over a 6 month period as funds allowed.
The set up consists of P50sa, Phono2, A80's and Cube2's connected with SSC and LS3 speaker cable. My sources are Pioneer PL-600x turntable (1979) also new to me and my Naim CD5.
I initially set it up and started playing cd's on repeat dipping in and out listening to the sound as it changed and morphed into what it is now a week later. My original ampification was old school Audiolab and Harbeth P3 es speakers with the rare Extender bass units.
My initial impressions after a week are that this is the finest sound I have ever heard from a system in my 30 years of this hobby. I loved my Harbeths but was never happy with the bass. Often sounding uncontrolled and boomy. Goodbye to that nonsense. I now have bass that is controlled and tuneful in a way I have never experienced. To explain ,one of my favourite albums is Solid Air by John Martin. My old set up could never deliver what is quite a difficult double bass sound without my room walls( partition) resonating and vibrating turning the whole thing into a complete mess at times. Now I can hear evey note with clarity and realism that makes this sound like a different and even better album. A sure fire product of Richard's mantra of working with the room not against it. My old set up would often reverberate throught the house at not particularly high volumes at the same volume I can hardly hear a sound in the other rooms with the NVA system. Once in the listening room my god is there music pouring from these little cubes of wonder. I am possibly hearing real music from my sources for the first time. NVA you have been a long time coming but oh how I am glad I found you.
Thanks Richard for producing such fine components which are clearly a labour of love and thanks to all the friendly forum members who gave your welcome advice. As for the review I read in what hifi of the Cubes. I cannot understand how that fool could not get these little speakers set up properly. He is either a complete bafoon and should not be let out on his own or more likely was instructed to write up a complete hatchet job. My Cube 2's were the easiest speakers to set up I have ever listened to. They just work.
This is just initial impressions more to follow when my NVA components and cables fully settle in.
Just a short note to say all arrived safe and sound, Installed
Yesterday Sunday. Silent by the way as the PSU's are well
away from the phono stage
Only had chance to listen to a few tracks.
What can I say amazing! my Phono 2 is likely from 1990 or before,
serviced in 1995.
Wow I should have upgraded to the Twin PSU's years ago.!
Much more information, more dynamic etc etc just more real
the PSU is quite frankly a bargain (the 100 ohm setting likely helped as well)
I would urge anyone and everyone who owns a single PSU setup to buy another!
SME Model 15 with Series V Tone arm and Ortofon Cadenza Bronze MC
By all means use this on your site if useful
Over the moon!
Here you are the review of the Phono2, I start at the beginning of the odyssey:
I lived happily for 25 years with the Braun equipment my mother bought at the end of the eighties (R4, P4, CD4, LS150). The P4 gave up 5 years ago and is now replaced with a Thorens TD126 and Yamaha MC-9.Two times since some capacitors and one time the speaker relais were changed in the R4 and every three years the MM/MC switch was cleaned and what ever I don’t know because of the need to often touch it a bit to get both speakers served. My thoughts were to buy a separate phono stage to get rid of that problem. So watched around the Internet and found recommendations regarding the Cambridge A651p. I ordered a used one at Ebay, it arrived and I was completely disappointed. It was lacking of everything, you couldn’t hear any breathings and quiet shouts on Keith Jarret’s Köln Concert for example. The drums were doing like ‘puff, puff’, half of the music had gone and the whole sound was flat. I found out that two engineers are doing modifications on these stages: Hoerwege here in Germany and Arkless in England. Hoerwege is a bit expensive and if I understood it in the right way they only replace components against better ones. I thought the change in the architecture as Jez Arkless provides could be more effective (nearly nothing left of this horrible stock stage!!). I sent it, it came back and I was surprised of the details in the music I had back and the sound increased during the first time but I always had the feeling the music is more shouting at than surrounding me and not effecting me physically (good music with good sound makes me grin!). That was the point I recognized how good my internal sound stage is and how much it takes to come to that level with an external one (and that I could have asked someone to just pass by this MM/MC switch!). But too late, I went on my path of finding a stage that wouldn’t leave me with ‘could be better but it’s ok’ feelings and became curious about the NVA products, read a few reviews (in which often superlatives were used) and decided to go for a Phono 2. It arrived three days ago and I continue listening with a grin in my face! Hawkwinds ‘Space Ritual’ was exactly that brain massacre as a journalist described it to be after the release of the record. This warm, rich and detailed sound with great basses and wonderful heights places you within the music. At the moment Tim Buckley in his London concert 1968 floats round me! It’s a pleasure! In a first reaction I wrote that I have back the sound I was used to. Now, after a few days I say it betters it and I’m awaiting the arrival of the 2nd PSU whether I don’t know what it should put on top.
Hannes Hofmann (Germany)
dwhistance » Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:30 am
Having ordered the cables and picked them up from the Doc it took me a few weeks to get round to putting them into my system. However they have now been playing fairly constantly for a couple of weeks so it's time for a write up. Being somewhat anal by nature I introduced them one at a time so that I could hear the differences.
First up was a short length (40cm) of SSC between the tuner and preamp replacing a similar length of mid price QED, straight away there was a much fuller sound, more bass, more extended treble, more music.
Next was 80cm of SSP between my DAC and preamp in this case replacing 1m of Hovland cable which was, and I think still is, very well thought of in "hi-fi" circles and was fairly pricey in its day. The effect was just the same as with the SSC, fuller sound, more bass, more extended treble, more musical, however in this case I must admit I was surprised as the Hovland unlike the QED is a good cable to start with so the effect shouldn't have been so pronounced. I'm impressed!
Next was the 9m of SC between the pre and power amps which replaced a 2m set of Hovland. In this case there was essentially no change, however given the very long length of SC compared with the Hovland and bearing in mind that 9m of SC now costs less than half of what just 1m of Hovland cost 17 years ago I think that puts its performance in perspective!
Last was the LS6 which replaced a "cheap" set of Monster speaker cables I had been using simply because they were long enough and slim enough to allow them to run under the carpet pending the long interconnects. In this case there was absolutely no contest, the sound which was OK but a bit veiled expanded and filled out. There was now a real soundstage. Suddenly and surprisingly there was now real, well controlled bass and there were details everywhere that I used to hear from a previous "megabucks" system and had more or less given up on with my current lesser components. If I hadn't heard it myself I wouldn't have believed that a cable, particularly one carrying fairly high level signals, could make such a huge difference, simply astounding! It should be said that initially the bass sounded a bit "detached" and somewhat bloated but with burn in it has melded very nicely with the rest. I have owned some very expensive and well regarded speaker cables in the past including top end Nordost and Hovland and have never heard anything like this, LS6 is incredible!
As you will gather from the above I am very, very happy with my new cables. They have essentially given me a whole new system and one I am really enjoying listening to. Of course I am now wondering what improvement I would get if I changed the long interconnects from SC to SSC or even SSP, the DAC to preamp interconnect to TIS (I have seen the classifieds and am very tempted) and the tuner interconnect to SSP. I also need to deal with my record player as for some reason I completely forgot to get an interconnect for the phono amp to the preamp and, given the success of the other cables, am interested to know what the Doc's thoughts are for a tonearm cable to the phono pre.
Lastly many thanks to the Doc for his hospitality when I picked up the cables and for patiently answering all of my stupid questions. When I arrived he was having one of those difficult days we all get from time to time but he was very courteous and helpful despite having some pressing problems to deal with.
by Leadhead » Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:57 pm
Having picked up the loan kit on Monday evening and having a quick listen, I settled down last night for a good few hours of playing music to see if my initial impressions still held. I was thinking that maybe there was a slight lift in the upper frequencies as voices and guitar solo's seemed to stand out a little more than I was used to.
As it turns out, I was wrong. Everything, throughout the range, is just that much clearer. The bass drum intro on Dark side of the Moon had more authority and I could hear the reverb/echo. Jimmy Page's Stairway guitar solo on The song remains the same was clear, precise and had the hairs on the back of my neck standing up and I could better hear the ambience of the Madison square garden. Diana Krall in Paris, wasn't, she and her piano were in my living room! Everything I threw at these little black boxes came back with extra detail. Dynamics were great too, whether listening loud or quiet, there was plenty of power and all this from just 25 watts!
Now, I know I haven't listened to lots of different kit, but what I have at home, I thoroughly enjoy and didn't expect to gain much, or anything at all, so to say i'm pleasantly surprised is an understatement. So, thank you Richard, for opening my eyes, ears, whatever! Only downside I can now see, I have to save some pennies for the upcoming NVA purchases!