Paul Tiernan Paul Tiernan
4 minute read

We get many enquiries that go along the lines of 'how well will your amp work with my speakers?' The answer, very often, depends. We understand the attraction of simple answers, but amp to speaker matching is one of those judgements where a little more thought will often reward you with greater long-term musical enjoyment.

The starting point is to understand that NVA amplification will make your speakers your speakers sound. In other words, NVA does not editorialise your music; your recordings will not be 'coloured' by frequency anomalies or bandwidth limiting.

Then, you need to do some thinking about what you want from the amplifier, in the context of your own circumstances and preferences. High volumes in a large room? Low volumes in a small room? The types of music that you listen to? The more demanding of the amplifier that you want to be, the more headroom you need; and that headroom is delivered by larger power supplies.

Last but not least, you need to consider the electrical load presented to the amplifier by your speakers. A speaker with a benign impedance profile (staying well above 4 ohms throughout the entire frequency range) will enable an amplifier to play at it's best, with plenty of headroom. A speaker with above average efficiency will enable you to play at higher volumes, if desired, without straining the amplifier. A speaker with a first-order crossover will maintain correct signal phase, ensuring that the amplifier signal remains transient perfect, and reducing the amount of EMF that the amplifier sees. The musical benefits are improved clarity, detail, transient delivery, separation and timing.

So, to answer the original question, we need to think about the combination of all of the above factors. With that in mind, we can draw some conclusions about amp to speaker matching...

A larger power supply is always a benefit. Our M600 monoblocks will outperform our little S80 power amp, regardless of the impedance / efficiency of the speakers used.

A speaker with higher than average impedance and a first order crossover can be driven by a low-power amplifier and still achieve very good results. Our Cube speakers (which have the simplest possible crossover – a capacitor and a padding resistor) sound superbly clear and musical with any of our power amps.

Speakers with more complex (high order) crossovers will benefit from both extra power and bi-amping (if facilitated by 2 or more sets of inputs per speaker). An excellent combination would be to use our M300 or M600 monoblocks to drive the mid/bass units, and our S80 stereo power amplifier to drive the tweeters.

Less efficient speakers (below 87db) will require more power to play at higher volumes, especially in larger rooms.

This table (below), describing some common scenarios, may be helpful. All assume use at average listening levels (approx. 75-80db).

Speaker Properties

Some examples of speaker types / brands

Recommended NVA power / integrated amplifier(s)

Impedance does not drop below 6 ohms, above average efficiency, low order crossover

Most horn speakers (modern and vintage)



Audio Note / Snell (vintage)


High impedance, capacitive load

Quad ESL 57 (vintage)

Any (the NVA circuit was designed using the original ESL)

Impedance does not drop below 4 ohms in the low frequencies, below average efficiency, low order crossover




Monitor Audio


3 Square Audio

Royd (vintage)

S150, S300, M300, M600, INT250, INT400

Below average efficiency and high order crossover

Original BBC type designs (vintage and modern homages)




S300, M600, INT400

Impedance dropping below 3 ohms in the low frequencies

Some electrostatic designs such as Martin Logan


On a personal note, we're happy to talk to you about the speakers that we like, and that we think are well designed, but speaker choice is very much down to personal taste, both sonically and aesthetically. It's not our job to criticise your choices, what works for you is the most important thing. We hope the advice in this article will help you get the best from your choice of speaker.


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