Most commercially made hi-fi amplifiers are designed to compensate for poor speaker design. NVA amplifiers are NOT. We could add the components that most other manufacturers employ to get around poor speaker design - thermal cut out, filtering, output protection, zobel networks, fuses - but these things would damage the sound quality of our amplifiers, and we won't compromise on sound quality for the sake of unconditional stability. We prefer to remove the disease rather than treat the symptoms.
There are, of course, different opinions about what makes a badly designed speaker. We are not talking about personal preferences, but we are concerned about electrical compatibility. To cut a long story short, at NVA, we think of good speaker design as high impedance, simple crossover (1st order, pictured below, or just a capacitor and a padding resistor for the tweeter), and high quality drivers. Note that high sensitivity (above 90db) is not essential (unless you want to play at higher than average volumes with our lower powered amplifiers) - ease of drive is far more important.
Using a speaker that conforms to the above will achieve the very best sound quality from your NVA system. You will hear fabulous transparency, separation, 3D soundstage and dynamic ease. You will also notice that your NVA amplifier barely gets above room temperature. This is the indication that the amplifier is working well within it's design window. Using a badly designed speaker (low impedance, complex crossover, poor quality drive units) will strangle all of the above. In extreme cases, and especially when playing at loud volumes for extended periods of time, it could also lead to overheating or other damage to your NVA amplifier(s).
We've put together a list of just some of the better known speakers, both vintage and current, that are known to work well with NVA amplifiers:
NVA Cubes - all models
Royd - Minstrel, Doublet, Eden, Sintra, Coniston, A7, Apex, Abbot, Merlin, Sorcerer, Sapphire (pictured, above)
Epos - ES14, ES11, ES12
QUAD - ESL57
Monitor Audio - R252, R352
Klipsch - Heresy, Cornwall, La Scala, Klipschorn
Electro Voice - horns
Reference 3A MM de Capo
Arcam One & Two
3 Square Audio - all models (Ayal standmount pictured, above)
Klipsch - most models
Kudos - most models
Neat - most 2 way models
Scansonic - most models
Richard Dunn Speaker Modifications
For those who can manage a bit of DIY, NVA founder, Richard Dunn, created a series of modifications that can transform vintage speakers such as Goodmans, Wharfedale and JPW. Visit the Hi-Fi Subjectivist Forum for more reading.
Many more speakers work well with NVA. If in doubt, look for a simple low order crossover, nominal impedance of 8 ohms or above and a benign impedance curve. We will be happy to check and advise on your behalf.
The above lists imply no guarantee or warranty, they are only intended as guidance based on our experience and feedback from NVA users.
“Speakers…how about no crossover…full-range electrostatics?”
The NVA circuit was designed using the original Quad ESL57. Compatibility with other models will depend on the impedance characteristics and whether the speaker has been fitted with circuitry that could, in certain circumstances, return DC to the amps. We’ll be happy to check out individual models for you.
Speakers…how about no crossover…full-range electrostatics?
We are prototyping a new version of the Cube semi-omni speaker, right now. The same size as the Cube 1. We are also considering a larger 3-way standmount, with a 10 or 12 inch woofer, and a smaller bookshelf model. They would all have a simple 1st order crossover, or simply a capacitor plus padding resistor for the tweeter. All will be very easy to drive with any of our power amps.
Hi, are you planning on reviving your range of speakers, and if so, will they be the same models as before ?