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norma

REVO AMPLIFIER


In deciding to sell our Kondo Overture some months ago, we set ourselves the challenge of buying our ‘last’ amplifier. So, little room for error! Having owned nearly thirty amps over thirty years, mainly Single End Triodes, we’ve been ‘around the block’.

For many reasons, we decided to look at Solid State rather than valves. Solid state is not familiar territory to us, but we like a challenge. A short list of seven amps was drawn up, starting at £2k and upwards. Without having heard any of the seven, and after further considerations regarding amplifier topology and price, the list dwindled to two, priced at £3.5k and £4.5k respectively. With this being our ‘last’ amplifier, there’s simply NO room for error!

Enter The norma REVO IPA 70. The demonstration IPA 70 arrived a week ago. On unpacking, the first thing I noticed was how cold the unit was, so once wired up, it was left on for a couple of hours to warm up. First disc in, Mark Knofler’s ‘Long Cool Girl’ from his 2015 album, TRACKER. Within 30 seconds, it very quickly dawned on me that The IPA 70 is something really special. Tone, texture, detail, delicacy are fully present, and in abundance. The word I would use is ‘mellifluous’. ‘Long Cool Girl’ is my ‘go to’ track as most amplifiers completely fail to integrate the drum stick hitting the rim - it’s usually ‘doing it’s own thing’. The IPA 70 integrates this quite beautifully, an indication of pure quality! I felt so ‘put at ease’ from the start. Things only got better!

On every piece of music we’ve played, the bass is deep, smooth, rich and textured. The midrange is portrayed with the same richness and texture, integrating beautifully. The ‘top end’ here describes an amplifier of high quality, so full of sweetness and body, rarely heard in amplifiers I’ve listened to, and that’s at any price! Not wishing to overstate things: The IPA 70 is for us, an ‘Epiphany’. Goes without saying: Build  quality and design are exemplary, exuding Italian style and finesse. Oh, and not a valve in sight.
 

This demonstration unit is being returned as a new IPA 70 has been ordered with a phono stage. After nearly twenty years, we’ve also bought a turntable with a Hana cartridge. Can’t wait! 

I hope it’s ok to mention Doug Brady HiFi Warrington here. Jon has been a true professional in the way he has dealt with me. Thanks Jon, much appreciated. Highly recommended!

Anyone on here own a norma amplifier?

 


 

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Edited by marko
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Yes Chris Kelly did a review of a Norma amp, think it was this one . In hi fi critic .Thanks for write up

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How is Norma sounding Marko?:)

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As you know Andy, I’ve had the privilege of owning some fabulous amplifiers. Bit of a ‘bold’ statement I know, but I haven’t heard any amplifier sound as resolving, dynamic and cohesive as The IPA 70 does in this ANUK system.

In all of this, I’m certainly not saying that any amp I’ve owned is any ‘better’ than any other. I’m not the arbiter of better or worse. 

At the end of the day, it’s all about subjective preferences in terms of musical presentation and system synergy.

Might have to book a room at Cranage though! 😃

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Edited by marko
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Hi Marko, nice summary and interesting thoughts. May I ask what you think of the phono stage. Doug Brady isn't far from me so after lockdown am contemplating a store visit. 

Also if memory serves me right I think it was you I sold my MF copper classic to many years ago and also had the privilege to listen to your AN setup at the time

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Thanks for your kind comments LBR225 (I can’t remember you name). Ah, was that in Harrogate? The MFA PP’s are lovely - fond memories indeed! 
This demo unit has no phono stage and will be returned to DB hopefully in a couple of weeks. The new amp I’ve ordered will have a phono stage fitted, bought unheard. For my purposes, I’m sure it’s going sound fine. Fingers crossed! 

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Ah yes, were they Harbeth speakers as well, am sure they were and the whole system was magical sounding. Was so tempted to try a valve amp back then too

I'm looking for an integrated myself, nothing too exotic but something solid and quality build to run my turntable

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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

The dem unit was returned to The Dealer today and this brand new REVO IPA 70 has arrived. I’ll give it a few hundred hours and get back to you. 

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Edited by marko
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  • 1 month later...

Mark suggested I contribute my two penneth as a happy, indeed more than happy, Norma owner.  I've got the Norma REVO ipa-140, the more powerful of the two integrateds, which I've been using every day now for around seven months.  Having read a lot of reviews, spoken to dealers and asked around, I was thinking of trying the REVO ipa-70 - the less powerful but I'm sure would've been more than aqequate, then a fellow audio-addict who'd got the 140 and wanted  to re-configure his system into an integrated AV/Hifi set-up offered it to me at an irresistible price so I jumped into the Norma pool without testing the water temperature - and it turned out to be absolutely perfectly warm, and indeed mellifluous to use Mark's very apposite term.  I've owned quite a few amps over the years (though not as many as Mark, probably around 15+, around half his count!), a mixture of solid state, hybrid and valve.  There've been some stand-out solid-states - the beautiful (in every sense) Bow Technologies Wazoo XL, Primare, ATC, Densen, Linn, NAD, Sugden, and on the valve and hybrid front various Crofts and an Octave.  All had their relative strengths, and some I kept for 3-4 years or more (still have the small Croft line integrated in a second system).  What I find with the Norma is that it has the virtues of solid state (lots of power and current delivery, ease of use and functionality, great r/c, no/low maintenance) but also a degree of warmth and an organic quality which bring it closer to some valve and hybrid amps.  It's totally non-fatiguing in my set-up (Aqua dac, mainly Auralic streamer, also Rega Apollo R used as transport, MF tuner and Harbeth 30.1 speakers) and works with every genre of music from solo instrument, small ensemble to large orchestra.  It made my Harbeths sound more alive than any other amp I've used with them - (I know Alan Shaw says that amps make no difference providing they're reasonably powerful, but based on the Norma, and possibly others, I'd beg to differ - don't think he's on this forum!)  Capable of great finesse and detail, it's a very refined amplifier but also has plenty of slam and powerful dynamics when needed.  The reviews I've listed below plus Mark's description above provide better accounts of its sonic qualities than I can, but I would also comment on the following:  build-quality - absolutely superb, never seen better, a lovely timeless design externally, very solid and no expense spared on materials - only the Bow Technologies Wazoo comes close and that was designed by a Danish architect!  Internally it's a joy to view - total absence of wiring and very high quality purpose-bulit circuit boards, innumerable capacitors, real perfection.  Norma products are hand-assembled in a small factory in Cremona and you can just feel the thought and care that have gone into its design and manufacture.  Next, customer care - I've not had any issues with the amplifier, but I emailed Norma first to check on power chords and second to ensure that I was moving the correct connectors/jumpers to change one of the unused inputs into an output for a headphone amp.  On both occasions I got a very quick and extremely helpful reply from the company's owner and designer, Enrico Rossi after emailing the Norma info address: service indeed! 

The 140 I have also has the onboard dac fitted, which is pretty good.  I still use my own dac, an Aqua (also made in Italy - again a small firm and the owner/designer replies directly to any queries) but I would say the internal dac is pretty good - and could compete with dacs around £1k - £1.5k or maybe more, and if I hadn't already had the Aqua I would have thought twice about using an external dac, it's that good - and really a bit of a bargain at £549.

As with a couple of other amps I've had, I did get very occasional and pretty insignificant transformer hum which was caused by DC on my mains supply (produced it seems mainly by my wife's hairdryer, though she denies this!) - we live in a Victorian house and the mains has been cobbled together over many years.  I didn't feel like putting in a dedicated supply - but after considerable research tried a Puritan mains purifier (http://www.puritanaudiolabs.com/) - absolutely brilliant!  I've tried other mains filters in the past from Isol-8, Isotek, Russ Andrews, and didn't like them much - if anything I felt they had a negative effect on sound quality but the Puritan is just superb - not only zero DC interference, but a definite improvement on overall sound quality - and that is seemingly backed up by measurements.

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Photo of my Italian duo, with the English Puritan conditioner underneath poking its nose in!

For those interested, I've compiled a list of all of the Norma reviews I could find: unanimously positive and full of praise.

https://www.stereonet.co.uk/reviews/norma-audio-revo-ipa-140-integrated-amplifier-review

https://aec33155-de71-48c5-a0dc-0c9f810bf61d.filesusr.com/ugd/30d98b_45c4f846c90e4585acb9b9db9b00aad3.pdf

https://www.hifiplus.com/articles/norma-revo-ipa-160/

https://reviewary.com/norma-audio-revo-ipa-140-review/

http://www.audioreference.co.nz/review/norma-audio-ipa-140-far-best-integrated-amplifier-ive-heard-my-time-reviewer-it-fully-par-ref

https://6moons.com/audioreviews/norma/1.html

https://aec33155-de71-48c5-a0dc-0c9f810bf61d.filesusr.com/ugd/30d98b_b00b1bf0db69480fb321318350640b60.pdf

https://www.soundstagehifi.com/index.php/equipment-reviews/672-norma-audio-revo-ipa-140-integrated-amplifier

https://www.thesoundadvocate.com/2020/08/norma-revo-ipa-140b-integrated-amplifier-critique/

The Norma website which has some nice photos and helpful info is:

http://www.normaudio.com/normaudio/en/

The British distributor/importer HiFidelity UK is at:

http://www.hifidelityuk.co.uk

And I'd endorse Mark's comments regarding Doug Brady Hifi - excellent dealership, been around for many years - and my local hifi den.

Edited by Blodger
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Here’s a link to the latest HiFi+ review by Alan Sircom that Mark mentioned:

https://www.hifiplus.com/articles/norma-revo-ipa-160/

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6 minutes ago, Blodger said:
6 minutes ago, Blodger said:

Here’s a link to the latest HiFi+ review by Alan Sircom that Mark mentioned:

https://www.hifiplus.com/articles/norma-revo-ipa-160/

Sorry - that’s the link to the previous HiFi+ review - the new one from this April is not yet available on the web, only in the magazine :

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Edited by Blodger
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