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NVA amps with Harbeth

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  • NVA amps with Harbeth

    I just took back a rare British amp, an NVA AP70 just today. I was wondering whether anyone, particularly Alan has used this amp to drive Harbeth speakers. When powered up from cold, this NVA has killed my Plinius/ARC separates in terms of transparency and musicality. I was told this amp will sound much better when left overnight. I cannot imagine how my SHL-5's would sound like when I listen to them tomorrow evening. I knew my Plinius amp was the one producing a smooth, warm and thick kind of sound particularly in the mids all the while which is favourable to certain types of music, but the NVA has now confirmed this by giving a breath of fresh air to the sound with its delicate presentation.

    It is too premature at this point of time to make any valued judgment since the NVA amp is still cold when I am writing this. I may very well be in for a surprise when the amp is fully warmed up when I listen for the 2nd time tomorrow. I would appreciate if anyone who has listened to NVA amps particularly with Harbeth speakers would care to share their experience.

    Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    Re: NVA amps with Harbeth

    The NVA AP70 has 70 W, so it should be more than sufficient for the SHL5.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: NVA amps with Harbeth

      Yes, the NVA AP70 should be more than sufficient to drive the SHL-5.

      The NVA AP70 retails for ?700 and to my ears is a good sounding unit. It has musicality and PRAT with sweet highs. Anyway I will confirm this again tomorrow.

      I have owned the Arcam Alpha 10 before which retails for ?800 and remember the sound to be quite dull and uninvolving with poor dynamics and transients. Sometimes it amazes me some sleeper amps like the NVA can sound better than the Arcam. I wish I have discovered the NVA a decade ago.

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      • #4
        Re: NVA amps with Harbeth

        Originally posted by ryder View Post
        Yes, the NVA AP70 should be more than sufficient to drive the SHL-5.

        The NVA AP70 retails for ?700 and to my ears is a good sounding unit. It has musicality and PRAT with sweet highs. Anyway I will confirm this again tomorrow.

        I have owned the Arcam Alpha 10 before which retails for ?800 and remember the sound to be quite dull and uninvolving with poor dynamics and transients. Sometimes it amazes me some sleeper amps like the NVA can sound better than the Arcam. I wish I have discovered the NVA a decade ago.
        NVA did have a reputation already some ten+ years ago, for making very transparent sounding amps. Arcam has always have a reputation for warmer, softer sounding amps. As your speakers now don't need the softness/warmth of an amp to sound 'nice', you can now fully appreciate the transparent nature of the NVA amp.

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        • #5
          Re: NVA amps with Harbeth

          I can't wait for tonight and woke up at 5.30am this morning to have another listen before driving off to work. Although it is too premature to pass any judgments at this point of time, first listening impression is extremely positive. The NVA has confirmed the Plinius to be a warm and lush sounding unit. Tonality is much improved and the sound takes on greater presence and realism. Voices sound like real voices, less digital and grain, almost tube-like. Micro-dynamics, tonality and timbre are now greatly improved which further add to the listening enjoyment.

          The only setback is the voice of Shirley Manson, lead singer of Garbage(one of my favourite rock band 10 years ago) now sounds a little strident, and guitars take on a shrill and sharp sound which translates to higher listening fatigue. This CD sounds better through the more forgiving Plinius.

          The bottom end appears to have less bass(although bass is still taut) and this doesn't come as a surprise to me since the Plinius is lush and thick sounding in the mids which gives an impression of producing more bass. Nonetheless, I suspect things may improve when this unit is fully run-in within the next few days as claimed by the designer.

          In summary the revealing nature of the Harbeth has been further exposed with the clean and transparent sounding NVA amp, or vice versa. The Harbeth is not all that warm as what I have thought of earlier. Matching is extremely important in getting the tonality right, and yesterday's experience has proven that.

          I am not sure whether my ARC pre or Plinius power amp is the culprit, nor do I want to write any bad things on either one since I know there are many folks who own the Plinius and love the sound. After listening to the NVA the Plinius now seems to sound a little "fake"(can't think of a better term to describe it at this point). It may well be the preamp but after trying out 4 preamps with the Plinius odds are high it's the amp.

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          • #6
            Re: NVA amps with Harbeth

            Hi ryder,
            A few people who dislike Harbeth said Harbeth is colored. I disagree. To me, Harbeth is very revealing and natural. It show you what is your amp true color is.

            Have fun!
            "Bath with Music"

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: NVA amps with Harbeth

              Gents,

              If any of you are unhappy with the current sound you are getting with your Harbeth speakers, do yourself and favour and listen to the LFD Zero MkIII. All the preaching by the folks here and Sam Tellig of Stereophile have proven to be true. I just listened to this amp yesterday with my SHL-5. As good as the NVA was in driving the SHL-5, there is no comparison. To my ears and in my system, the LFD remains the best amp in driving Harbeth speakers. This was concurred by two other members in the room who attended the listening session. The LFD is indeed a very special unit. There may be other good amps out there that can give similar results but as far as things are concerned, for the first time in my life I have heard what the SHL-5's are capable of when driven by the LFD, beautiful music.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: NVA amps with Harbeth

                Hi All,

                Have used NVA amps and LFD in the past - although only LFD's with the SHL5's I have.

                I used the little NVA passive pre-amp together with the NVA cables. It is stipulated by NVA that you use their cables with at least some of their kit, unless that has changed recently. I was pleased with the performance for the money.

                I was using Accoustic Energy speakers and LFD monoblocks right up until the point that I was moving kit around and plugged everything in. Due to the inflexible nature of the NVA cables, I had inadvertently broken off part of the NVA amp. Soon as I turned everything back on it blew all 4 woofer on the AE's and melted bits of my LFD power amps - got rid of it after that....

                This mishap did alow me to get a pair of Harbeths though with the insurance money! The LFD's were sent off to Dr Bews at LFD for repair and the sounded great with th harbeths, incredible neutral and natural sounding amps coupled with the Harbeths. Can recommend them for that and the service from LFD.

                The LFD website doesn't have a lot on it, but stereonow.co.uk have some info, plus Howard popeck who runs stereonow used to do Harbeth I think also,

                Regards

                Austin

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                • #9
                  Re: NVA amps with Harbeth

                  I've never had any problems with LFD equipment over the years but I do know that their service is second to none should you ever need it.

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                  • #10
                    Re: NVA amps with Harbeth

                    At one point I did consider getting the LFD from stereonow.co.uk and sent Howard Popeck an email. I didn't receive any reply to that email and had since chosen another amp in driving my SHL5. The LFD is no doubt an excellent match with the Harbeth.

                    The NVA is excellent at its price range but the shortcomings become apparent when it is compared side-by-side with the LFD. By the way, the Harbeths are a quantum leap above the Acoustic Energy in terms of sonic performance if you happen to have the AE109 or Aesprit range of speakers.

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