This is one excellent amplifier. Solid looking and well-specified - picking it up confirms the weight of multiple power supplies hidden inside its slim brushed-aluminum casework - the AP80 majors on drive and clarity. A good way to describe the sound of the 80W per channel NVA is that it has a valve-like lucidity and speed, yet with the battleship-sized weight and control that you get from better transistor designs. It tools along at normal listening levels with infinite ease.
With Mighty Sam McLain's I'm Tired of These Blues disc it tosses out the sound of the kick drum, creating a pulse within the room, and excels at sorting instrument separation, giving each both space and definition within a soundstage that conveys the ambiance of a recording situation.
Bandwidth is exemplary – the amp providing excellent explosive bass from our Reference disk of Stravinsky's Firebird Suite played by the Minnesota Orchestra. It's dynamically coherent way up into the audio spectrum, with high hats or triangle sounding bright and resonant, and decaying naturally.
As for inputs, the AP80 offers five at line level, plus a tape loop. The speaker outputs require four millimeter plugs - there are no binding posts on the back of the amp - and controls are the bare minimum: you get a source select switch and a volume knob.
For those skilled at soldering, this amp comes in kit. But the pre-built model is worth every penny.
* * * * *5 STARS
For: Excellent full sound with lots of musical detail.
Verdict: A deceptively ordinary-looking amp, the NVA rivals more pricey designs with its superb musicianship.
Source: WHAT HI-FI (Sept 1997)