Thursday, 06 February 2020 16:42

TEST: Vera Audio P400 / 1000 - A Norwegian Dark Horse gets on the track Featured

Written by

With extremely heavy-duty loudspeakers, I sometimes wonder if I have painted myself into a corner. When it takes around 70 watts to reach the 96 dB limit in listening position, it is not easy to obtain amplifiers that can be sent as normal surface mail. So my reference amplifier has not been challenged for some years. That has suddenly come to an end...

It is very easy to have some of the world's most highly praised speaker structures standing well placed in the lkiving room. But it also has its challenges, I have solved these with the help of ASR Emitter II Exclusive, an amplifier that is perfected through a long development, and which manages to draw MBL 101E2 quite smoothly. But this amplifier also has its special aspects, and the fact that it comes in four packages weighing in at over 130 kg, makes results in that it is extremely rarely moved around.

Since it is "good enough" for the most part (google a little, then you see what we are talking about), there is no reason to move it either, so I did not expand my horizon regarding amplifiers since ASR came into the house. But I did thorough reviews before I decided, so I haven't had such a strong need to try again.

Ever since Infinity launched a Class D car stereo amplifier, I have been interested in this sensible way to make amplifiers. I borrowed some NuForce and W4S top models. Exciting stuff, but NuForce wasn't strong enough for my use, and the W4S was less neutral than I wanted it to be. So I landed on ASR, and did not think the election was particularly difficult. But the development has now proceeded, and I can`t help noticing a bold Norwegian project, Vera Audio.

Vera Audio P400 / 1000 

P400 / 1000 is characterized by innovation and creativity, but is still a rather audacious and unobtrusive case, which did not stand out. You probably won't notice this guy before you move in close. Then you see how well he is made, milled out of a block of aluminum, Despite this solid impression, this little beast weighed no more than nine kilos, and is thus easy to move. (don't know how to appreciate it, you've never had a really heavy hifi ....)

The amplifier is so small that there are only XLR inputs on the back. So as I prefere rca interconnects, I had to use transitions. This went absolutely smoothly.

The amplifier has a circuit breaker that you only use when the amplifier is to be turned off for a long time. For everyday use, press one button on the front. The on / off button glows amber when the amplifier is not turned on. Pressing this will light purple for six to seven seconds before switching to blue, and tell him it's ready to use. Besides, he will glow red if you screw so loudly that he cuts or gets short of breath, something I did not do. Then switch off the amplifier and restart it. But you should take a look at the back before you go that far. Here are some unusual features. The best part is that you can adjust the input level so that it optimally adapts to the preamplifier, something that can be done for both channels, regardless of each other, so that you can in practice have both balance control, as well as one way to adjust the level of the preamplifier gain, as well as to how many loudspeakers can withstand, should you wish to do so. There is also an excellent balance control.

It is still more exciting stuff on the back; you find a way to connect. If you turn on this one, you must also switch over the speaker terminals so that you lose mono. Then this changes from being a stereo amplifier of 2 * 400 Watts in 8 Ohms, to a monster of 1500 Watts. You just need two of these, something that doubles the cost, but then here is so much power that my MBLs are satisfied, and then some. Before the actual listening began, I tried out how loud it could go. And it was loud ..... with the defense hearing protection on my head I measured over 120 dB before I made sense, in listening position, three meters away from the loudspeakers. Now I rarely play higher than around ninety dB (and never pass hundred dB) as it can be a point to take care of the hearing as a man around my best age. But I passed the limit to where ASR amplifier usually resign. ASR dosn`t clip, they just shut down. Here there is a built-in fuse box. When it beats 500 Watts, ASR shuts down. The Vera P400 / 1000 also has a fuse box, but I didn't have the nerve to provoke it. The 1000 watts that can be delivered in connection with 8 Ohms load is difficult to surpass. 

The manufacturer also recommends not using bridging on speakers with a lower impedance than 3 Ohms, which may be worth noting if you have heavy-duty electrostatics. Otherwise, it is astonishingly much the same between ASR and Vera, but since Emitter 2 Exclusive has a preamplifier card, it is unwise to make a fair comparison. In practice, I suppose they will probably behave quite similarly, but then Vera must get an equally transparent preamp card to work with as ASR has built in. 

One important difference may be that ASR can work with extremely low-impedance loudspeakers, while Vera has a lower limit of 3 Ohms when bridged. I noticed that Power was not available in 4 Ohm during connection. Although such a mode would like to make the speaker impedance of nominally 4 Ohm can be a problem, I did not notice the slightest twist or ugliness of some kind. But one can wonder about how much power that can be delivered in low impedances like my loudspeakers (which goes down to 3.7 Ohm at the lowest).

After this session, I found that the actual power needs of the MBLs could be well covered by one amplifier. The manufacturer has declared the power in stereo mode to be 750 Watts at 4 Ohms. And it seemed to be sufficiant. On a torture test where I played as loud as I can with hearing protection, I recorded 118 dB on the sound pressure meter app I have on my mobile, and believe me, that's enough. I did some testing between use and ordinary, but could not say that I managed to register differences in sound balance or space experience. When I played really loud, there was probably a little more authority in bridged mode, but less than I expected.

Since my loudspeakers need biwiring, I also tried biamping. I then reserved a stereo amp for each speaker, so that one channel went to the bass while the other took a treble. But there was little to gain from the program. The sound changes marginally, and I have trouble portraying what was different. I went for eighth to use.

One small detail that must be mentioned is the fans. The amplifiers are quite warm when they play for a while, and they are consequently equipped with fan cooling. This I managed to provoke several times, but not in a way that the fans were disturbing. I had to turn the music off and put my ear to the side of the amplifier to make sure the fan was working. It may seem like this is decent quality, but it will show time. It is important that fans are noise-free even when the amplifier starts to Count years. But as far as fans are concerned when trying out new products, there is no reason to threaten them other than this successful goal. In the paper that comes with, it stands for the filter for the fans to be reinserted for dust. The fans can basically not be heard from the listening position. They should take away heat if you play so high that the amplifier is at 65 degrees, and that may be wise.

The sound

But what about the sound then. Actually not so much to report here. As a stereo amp, this is one of the super-amplifiers that doesn't make a fuzz. If this level can be industry-standard, it is a major step forward from what I have previously experienced by Class D constructions. I find it difficult to put words into Vera's sound character, because there are so marginal things we can call coloring from there. This is the stage worker who makes the artists shine on the scene, and not the artist who calls out his ego. This is first and foremost neutral. If you want your palette to have a special color, you must obtain it other places than through this power amplifier, because P400 / 1000 does not have it, here the canvas is clean. So I can imagine that they have tiny colored amplifiers with clear color, can be the only one who will not thrive with Vera Audio's baby? But with its adjustable entry level, it is still an exciting alternative. Maybe optimum sound quality can just as easily be judged by the old sleeves of tube amplifiers, or the remarkable Manley 300B? The P400 / 1000 fits nicely to drive the basses on the MBL 101 with steel control, and I notice no special accents of anything whatsoever.

Here, what should come from preamplifiers and signal sources without any delimitations in any way. Particularly useful was the level adjustment at the entrance, which allowed me to use both the Creek OBH 22 passive control box and the Audio Research SP 10 quite optimally - the first one does extremely little, while the SP 10 with its many tubes certainly creates sonic fingerprints. I still prefer SP 10, since this old top model of Audio Research has dynamic qualities that no other preamplifier I know, as well as a sound character that is more musical than new, correct preamplifiers. And then the P400 / 1000 comes into its own, because the dynamic nuances come through without any form of masking. And neither should people with more sense of formality and detail than me become disappointed, for the passive OBH 22 performed very well, when it received enough gain. 

Either way, the power amplifier may be most impressing with its power reserves and ability to handle powerful transients. Here my radiant loudspeakers are very demanding, as they fire off the energy in all directions. If it is played really loud (and you have speakers with very low efficiency like mine) it may be fine to have an extra, so that the power reserves in practice remain unlimited, but for more normal people I doubt that you will feel need for anything more than one stereo amplifier from Vera Audio. Even when it comes to what has to do with three-dimensionality, the placement of the instruments and the experience of the room, there is nothing to report. Old classical music from RCA, Supertramp, progrock, Harry Belafonte in Carniege Hall - all nuances passed through. Coloring? Yes, but only from the SP10. And I wont be confused after 33 years of marriage. The Creek box has so little peculiar sound that it is just plain boring. Bottom line is there is very little subjectivity from P400 / 1000, which adheres strictly to the protocol. This is a plus, because I think you can save yourself a lot of matching work. Just buy the preamplifier you like best. (But the speakers need to fit the room, of course).

Conclusion

It might be more telling about low weight and good price, but the conclusion is that it is difficult to find anything to put on the Vera Audio P400 / 1000. If you buy two, you have endless power and neutrality. If you buy one, you are will most likely still get all the Power you need. Hundreds of dB on my speakers in a room of over 40 square meters should signal that it will make the day for most people. Also, you get away with half the cost and there are about tens of thousands you can spend to buy even better speakers than you are going for in the first place.

Read more about P400/1000 at Vera Audio

 

Read 1005 times Last modified on Thursday, 06 February 2020 18:15
Arve Åheim

Fagredaktør i Audiophile.no

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.