NVA is the determinedly minimalist hi-fi company founded, in 1982, by the renowned British electronics designer, Richard Dunn. Richard sadly passed away, unexpectedly, in 2019, but the brand is now being taken forward by Tom Danus (who worked alongside Richard for 3 years) and Paul Tiernan, an NVA customer since 2016 and audiophile of 30 plus years who had been helping Richard at shows and bake-offs.
Tom & Paul have prioritised existing users in their first year at NVA, ensuring that heritage models can be serviced and offering retrofit upgrades to bring components up to the latest specifications. That has included fitting high quality power supply components such as Toroidy Audio Grade transformers and Vishay long life capacitors. These are the sort of 'ingredients' usually only found on more supposedly upmarket 'menus'. Now, they are ready to promote their message to a wider audience.
Tom says... “we have spent your money where it counts. The cases are the same but much of what goes inside has been upgraded, and we've done this in full alignment with Richard's stated design principles.”
Talking of the cases, these are bespoke to NVA, in high grade acrylic (any colour you like as long as it's black, of course) and are made by a company that also supplies display cabinets to the Natural History Museum in London.
The NVA ethos has always been clear... the simplest possible circuitry combined with very high quality power supplies. There are no compromises to convenience; you can forget niceties such as tone controls or remote control. There's no output protection, no shielding or filtering, no fuses. You can't even look inside...the cases are bonded together to avoid the magnetic contamination of steel screws.
Paul explains...“we are interested in the best sound quality at the best price. We make no allowance for the user beyond what is critical to the operation of the equipment. The issues that can affect the signal path, such as digital and RF interference, can be thought of as a disease. Most components treat the symptoms of the disease by using shielding and other filtering. That can (mostly) block the interference but also brings it's own problems that will often degrade the sound quality, akin to a negative side effect of taking medication. Our answer is to keep the signal path as simple as possible and leave you to remove the disease (interference) instead. So, if your digital TV box is causing noise, either switch it off or move it to a different part of the room.”
Use of NVA's own low capacitance speaker cable is mandatory, and using other cables will invalidate your warranty. This controversial policy is explained by Tom... “we are not looking to make an unconditionally stable amplifier, we are looking to make the best sounding amplifier. Filters and fuses squash the music, so we don't fit them, but it means that the amp can be sent into oscillation if you use high capacitance speaker cable. You will also need to follow some basic instructions when setting the equipment up and when taking it apart.”
For all these reasons, NVA tends to attract experienced, serious audiophiles who are independent thinkers, and who 'get' what the NVA ethos is all about. Those who seek convenience and idiot proofing are not catered for, so it's no wonder that NVA has become a cult brand in the hi-fi world...talk to enthusiasts at hi-fi shows or online, they may or may not like what NVA stands for, they may not even have listened to NVA, but the name will certainly provoke a reaction. Love or hate? You decide. This new phase of NVA is the evolution of a revolution that was founded by a true pioneer.