spelling error on my e-mail address-sorry
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Haven't had any experience with the Nagra amp(s), but I did do a significant demo with the Nagra PLP preamp. It's a beautiful piece and remarkably small, "jewel-like" is an apt description - BUT, I must say that I was not impressed, especially for the money. With my equipment (all tube phono stage and amplifiers), the Nagra acquitted itself well in the soundstage and imaging department, but tonally, I thought it was very "white" sounding and "threadbare" in that it did not capture instrumental timbres. Quite a surprise for a tube preamp. My phono stage through it's line stage was much better than using the Nagra's phono stage, at least so I thought. Maybe different tubes would allow the Nagra to produce the fullness, complexity and character that music has, but Nagra's stock demo unit did not do it for me.
I must agree with Oahuan. I auditioned the PLP and the VPA units. I was not the least bit impressed. The music on the disc (played via a Naim CDS player) just didn't seem to make it to my ears, thus my brain could not enjoy any of the music I know the pits on the disc contained. I am not knocking the gear, I am simply saying it did absolutely nothing for me. The speakers were Dunlavy SC-IVA. I am not sure of the cabling/IC. I will say that it would be improbable to impose the absolute lack of musicality I encountered on cabling. I suggest you try perhaps a Joule Electra of CJ 17LS with the Art Audio Jota monoblocks (newer Jotas with the larh
Sorry, I accidently posted before completion. I must agree with Oahuan. I auditioned the PLP and the VPA units. I was not the least bit impressed. The music on the disc (played via a Naim CDS player) just didn't seem to make it to my ears, thus my brain could not enjoy any of the music I know the pits on the disc contained. I am not knocking the gear, I am simply saying it did absolutely nothing for me. The speakers were Dunlavy SC-IVA. I am not sure of the cabling/IC. I will say that it would be improbable to impose the absolute lack of musicality I encountered on cabling. I suggest you try perhaps a Joule Electra or CJ 17LS with the Art Audio Jota monoblocks (newer Jotas with the larger output transormers). Also as I just purchase the Viva Integrated, I can report that the unit is awesome in every regard, very much worth the price of admittance. I would prefer it to the seperates due to IC/PC/Space savings, and the sound is on par with if not a tad better than the seperates I listed. Regards, Mike
Nagra belongs to the new school of tube design; that is, fast and transparent with little "warmth" in the mid range. But it still maintains the spaciousness and 3 dimensionality like all tube equipment. Another plus is that the mid and low bass is superb even compared with SS gears. For most tube lover, Nagra can sound very transistor like and may choose words such as bland or colorless. I would even call it the Cello or Mark Levinson in the tube world; that is, very water-like with almost no flavor. I've been using Nagra PL-P/VPA with B&W N801 for nearly 2 months and the 89dB rated speakers were driven beautifully even during the loudest Mahler passages. For those who believe McIntosh MC275 was the best amp ever built, Nagra is not for them.
My day for posting, I guess. I had a 2-week home demo of the Nagra PL-P/VPAs. I absolutely want to love the Nagras because I think they are really great looking. The PL-P jewel like instrument grade appearance says "Swiss" design and manufacturing quality. The electrical design seems to be offering some very promising ideas and the internal implementation is outstanding, as others have commented. J-Skull's HiFi Nagra review s extolled SOTA sonic virtues on both the PL-P and the VPA. I guess I don't have J-Skull's evaluation system or golden ears. I didn't care for the Nagra's sound as compared to the Aesthetix I/O and my Audio Note amps. The Nagra combination is way to cool and not as musical as I would like in my system. Is that a matter of taste? Sure, that's why home demos are the only real test and final tool for decision-making. Clearly, Rdr4b is very happy on how the Nagras produce musical experiences for him in his system. He made a good choice. My opinion, and others, should be meaningless for your own musical decisions making. Certainly, no one can imply that the Nagras are anything less but outstanding audio design/manufacturing quality and very reliable gear. The rest is only personal taste. Good luck!
Gerrym's point is well taken. My VPA goes very well with my Amati Homage. Together the sound is simply enchanting. Amati's 92dB sensitivity helps quite a bit since I didn't quite like the VPA and B&W N801 sound although the B801 is rated at 91dB. PL-P/VPA is definitely on the lean side when it comes to mid-band lushness (or warmth) that is rare in live music. All Nagras are by all means fairly neutral.
By the way, tubes make a huge difference. Do not judge Nagra PL-P and VPA based on the crappy in-house Chinese and Yugoslavia tubes. Replace them with Cetron 845 or, if you can afford and are lucky to find them, the RCA 845s then you will get the first class sound. Also replace the PL-P 12AX7/12AT7 with Telefunken, Mullard or Bugle Boys and you will never consider the PL-P thin.