Nagra VPA monoblock power amplifier Associated Equipment
When doing digital, I spun discs on the still-lovely-sounding Forsell Air Bearing CD transport. It sounded wonderful up on a trio of large PolyCrystal Cones on a pumped-up Bright Star Air Mass 2, itself atop a PolyCrystal equipment stand. Connecting to the dCS 972 D/D converter, I used both AES/EBU and BNC'd S/PDIF XLO The Limited datalinks. (They are so superb.) The upsampled 24/192 datastream fed the dCS Elgar via another pair of XLO The Limited datalinks for dual-AES running. (The Elgar can't lock to 192kHz on a single-AES connection.) I used the balanced analog outputs of the Elgar direct into the VPAs on a variety of interconnects, including TARA The One, Cardas Golden Reference, and, best of all, Synergistic Research Designer's Reference with the Discrete Shielding upgrade. Cables connecting the VPAs to the JMlab Utopia speakers were either The One, Golden Reference, or Designer's Reference.
When playing the Forsell Air Force One/van den Hul Black Beauty combo, I ran a set of the still-supreme XLO Signature phono cables to the Nagra PL-P preamplifier and took the output from the preamp's tape loop. The long run to the amps when using the PL-P was best served with interconnect supplied by then importer Steve Lee, one he informally calls Canorus Cable (Neutrik RCAs at one end, balanced XLRs at the other). Protesting that he didn't want to be in the cable business, he allowed that he'd be happy enough to supply the cable to interested customers for a couple of hundred dollars. I think it's a good investment—they sounded better than the similarly terminated cables that came packed with the VPAs, and far better than other single-ended interconnects with the provided adapters. Power cords were Synergistic Designer's Reference 2 Master Couplers, which sound fantastic and are priced accordingly, alas. A 12' pair on the VPAs seemed to supercharge their 50 available watts.—Jonathan Scull