A second review of the new DVA 225 Monoblock amps

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I.Greyhound Fan

A second review of the new DVA 225 Monoblock amps
« on: 18 Oct 2020, 08:10 pm »
This is my second review of the new DVA Monoblock amps. My initial review was pairing the amps in 2 of my home systems which can be found at the top of this AVA page.  Last night I was able to bring the amps over to a friends house to compare them to his Pass XA100.5 Mono blocks which are 100wpc Class A and sell for over $16,000 a pair.

Besides the amp my friends system consists of the following gear-

Atma-Sphere MP-3 preamp with the latest teflon caps. $6,000
Lampizator 7 Lite DAC with upgraded tubes $6,000
The latest Revel Ultima Studio 2 speakers over $16,000pr
Over $2K in cables
Puritan Audio power conditioner
There were probably at least $2K worth of room treatments on the walls and ceiling.

I know this system's sound very well and it is a true high end system and sounds fabulous.

Last night we spent about an hour listening to the system before inserting the AVA amps.  There were 4 people present. Music source was HQplayer via Roon.  The sound was fabulous as usual.  Then we inserted the AVA amps and listened for 3 hours and for the first 15 minutes they sounded flat and then all of a sudden they just blossomed.  I suspect that the amps were cold  (it was 39 degrees last night) from the drive over to my friends because in my original review the amps did not need warm up.

First off, we noted that the 225's had a little more detail and a little more resolution.  The attack was crisper. This did not surprise me since Pass amps have a rounded sound.  Bass had more punch than the Pass amps.  The sound did not have that forwardness that I noted in my initial review.  It was mid row.  Texture was very good but not as good as the Pass.  Cymbals sounded very natural and at least if not better than the Pass amps.  Where the Pass mono's had the 225's beat was that the overall sound had better tone and texture with a wider soundstage and more space between instruments.  Don't get me wrong, the 225's did not sound closed in.  It's just that the Pass amps were better in this regard.  The Pass amps also had better decay on piano.  Vocals with the Pass were better but not by much.  Vocals sounded a bit more natural and had more texture. Air and transparency was better with the Pass but again, it was not night and day. The Pass amps also had fuller midrange but again it was not night and day. The Pass amps did somewhat sugar coat poor recordings when compared to the 225's.  Overall  the 4 of us were very impressed that the 225's were not at all embarrassed by XA100.5's considering the great cost difference.  My friends system draws you into the music and the 225's did not diminish that feeling.  We all felt that the 225's punch way above its price point and could compete with much more expensive amps.  In some aspects it sounded better than the XA100.5's but in the end we all preferred the $16,000pr XA100.5's.  One of my friends in attendance who own's a AVA 400R amps stated  he would like to own a pair of the 225's.  In the end the 225's did not disappoint.  AVA has another winning amplifier.

For those wanting to know if the 225's produce a lot of heat, after 3 hours of listening at loud volumes, the amps were just warm to the touch.

Music:  We listened to a lot of Rock like Massive Attack, Pineapple Thief new album, Elbow, Roger Waters, Fleetwood Mac to name a few but we also listened to some Jazz, piano and vocal music.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
« Last Edit: 19 Oct 2020, 03:55 pm by I.Greyhound Fan »

aln

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  • Posts: 224
Re: A second review of the new DVA 225 Monoblock amps
« Reply #1 on: 21 Oct 2020, 01:04 am »
When do they go on sale?

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: A second review of the new DVA 225 Monoblock amps
« Reply #2 on: 21 Oct 2020, 02:32 am »
When do they go on sale?

I returned the amps to Frank this morning and I spoke with Mary and asked her that exact question.  She said they are looking at a new supplier for the chassis, so it may be several weeks.  They are awaiting a sample chassis. Your best bet is to call and speak to Frank.

dminches

Re: A second review of the new DVA 225 Monoblock amps
« Reply #3 on: 21 Oct 2020, 11:54 am »
What are the specs on the DVA 225s?  How do they compare to the DVA 850s in this regard?

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: A second review of the new DVA 225 Monoblock amps
« Reply #4 on: 21 Oct 2020, 03:00 pm »
What are the specs on the DVA 225s?  How do they compare to the DVA 850s in this regard?

225wpc at 8 ohms, 385 at 4 ohms.

I have heard the 850's at Franks but I did not review them.  They do sound different.  I believe the 850's are similar to the R series amps and I really like way the 850's sounded in Franks system.   

tcatch

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Re: A second review of the new DVA 225 Monoblock amps
« Reply #5 on: 22 Nov 2020, 07:40 pm »
The comparison I am eager to see is between these new amps and the DVA SET 600’s.  I’ve been close to pulling the trigger on a pair of those for a couple of months, now.  (Though I am also tempted by the similarly-priced Parasound JC5.). Maybe I could save some bucks and be just as happy with the 225’s? 

My speakers, BTW are 4 ohm Alta Audio Rhea’s.  It seems that any of Frank’s amps would be happy driving those, but I wonder if there is one that would be better. And i wonder if the mono amps are essentially bridged versions of stereo amps, which sometimes means they are less than happy with 4-ohm speakers.

My current amp is the only instance (as far as I know) of the short-lived, fully-differential, XLR-only DVA 700.  I believe I have the same prototype unit that I Greyhound Fan reviewed here back in 2017.  I like it very much, but still hope for something better.  I am attracted by the description of the SET amps’ “romantic midrange”.

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: A second review of the new DVA 225 Monoblock amps
« Reply #6 on: 23 Nov 2020, 12:22 am »
The comparison I am eager to see is between these new amps and the DVA SET 600’s.  I’ve been close to pulling the trigger on a pair of those for a couple of months, now.  (Though I am also tempted by the similarly-priced Parasound JC5.). Maybe I could save some bucks and be just as happy with the 225’s? 

My speakers, BTW are 4 ohm Alta Audio Rhea’s.  It seems that any of Frank’s amps would be happy driving those, but I wonder if there is one that would be better. And i wonder if the mono amps are essentially bridged versions of stereo amps, which sometimes means they are less than happy with 4-ohm speakers.

My current amp is the only instance (as far as I know) of the short-lived, fully-differential, XLR-only DVA 700.  I believe I have the same prototype unit that I Greyhound Fan reviewed here back in 2017.  I like it very much, but still hope for something better.  I am attracted by the description of the SET amps’ “romantic midrange”.

I would go with the SET amp.  Its midrange is fabulous.  I prefer a richly textured and romantic midrange and the SET will give you that.  The 225's don't have the same midrange.  It is full sounding and textured but not really romantic like the SET amps.

You are correct, that the 225's will be happier with 8 ohm speakers as they are bridged.  Here is a post from one of his engineers-

I work with Frank and was involved with the M225 design, and I built all the prototypes.  As far as I'm concerned, this is the best sounding amp to ever come out of AVA.  It is a new chassis design for AVA with the heat sinks on both sides, rather than on the back.  About 40% more heat sink ares is obtained this way.  One of the design goals was for two of these mono's to sit side by side on a standard 17" shelf - we almost made it - I think the heat sinks need to interleave a little bit in order to fit.

The 16 pound monoblock contains a 9 pound transformer rated at 400 VA.  This basically means that you are never going to get more than about 80% x 400 = 320 watts out of this amp under any circumstances...its just designed that way.  A bigger transformer would cost more, weigh more, would not fit in the chassis, and would give you a lot of power that you would probably never use.  As is true with all bridged amps, the impedance seen by the amp is 1/2 the speaker impedance.  So with 8 ohm speakers, the amp sees 4 ohms.  With 4 ohm speakers, the amp sees 2 ohms.  And with 2 ohm Maggies (in spots) the amp sees 1 ohm.  I have been running my prototype pair with 4 ohm speakers for months now and they seem very happy with that load.  They also seem ok on the bench with a 2 ohm load as long as you don't try and pull more than about 150w out of them.  At this point, the speaker fuses need to be 9 amps and things can get hot very fast as the amp winds up dissipating a larger percentage of the overall power than it does with higher impedance loads.


Dan

tomatchison

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Re: A second review of the new DVA 225 Monoblock amps
« Reply #7 on: 23 Nov 2020, 04:51 am »
Thanks, I.G.F.  That is very helpful.

-Tom  (AKA tcatch  -- I seem to have acquired two logins somehow)

mcsnare

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  • Posts: 6
Re: A second review of the new DVA 225 Monoblock amps
« Reply #8 on: 25 Apr 2021, 02:35 am »
I have a pair of the DVA M225's in to review for Part Time Audiophile. I can indeed confirm they are some of the finest sounding amps I've ever heard at ANY price.
Unlike a previous comment, in my system, they have an extraordinary midrange texture of an almost tube-like nature. Imaging is off the charts great. Huge bass with a vice-like grip. Super clean and classy top.
My system currently consists of:
Rega P10 with a Charisma Audio Signature One cart
VAC Master Preamplifier
Pass XA-200.8 monos or Audio Hungary Qualiton APX-200 II
Acora SRC-2 or QLN Prestege Five speakers
Innous Zen mini with a variety of DACs
All Cardas Clear Light cables and power bar

Dave


avahifi

Re: A second review of the new DVA 225 Monoblock amps
« Reply #9 on: 26 Apr 2021, 07:44 pm »
Well!
The cat is really out of the bag now!  Universal agreement that our brand new M225 mono amps are something very special.

$1699 each and actually available right now!  The pair I just send to an Audiophila reviewer is not coming back, the reviewer bought them the same day he unboxed them.

One spare pair ready to ship in house now, but another batch will be ready within a couple of weeks. 

Dimensions are 9" wide, 10" deep, 4" high and shipping weight of 18 pounds. Note that they are pure differential balanced designs with XLR inputs only.  We will have a small outboard stereo RCA to XLR adaptor available soon.

These are not soulless Class D switching amps, the are true Class AB designs biased on to about 20W chassis A. There is just an unbelievable lot of high class stuff packing in this small AVA designed chassis including mirror imaged audio boards and separate regulated power supplies for each channel and regulated output mosfet transistors too.


lovelexicon

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 26
Re: A second review of the new DVA 225 Monoblock amps
« Reply #10 on: 9 May 2021, 02:20 am »
"The 16 pound monoblock contains a 9 pound transformer rated at 400 VA.  This basically means that you are never going to get more than about 80% x 400 = 320 watts out of this amp under any circumstances...its just designed that way.  A bigger transformer would cost more, weigh more, would not fit in the chassis, and would give you a lot of power that you would probably never use.  As is true with all bridged amps, the impedance seen by the amp is 1/2 the speaker impedance.  So with 8 ohm speakers, the amp sees 4 ohms.  With 4 ohm speakers, the amp sees 2 ohms.  And with 2 ohm Maggies (in spots) the amp sees 1 ohm.  I have been running my prototype pair with 4 ohm speakers for months now and they seem very happy with that load.  They also seem ok on the bench with a 2 ohm load as long as you don't try and pull more than about 150w out of them."

Interested in the DVA225.  But given these specs, the Odyssey Audio Extreme Mono (at $3,400 a pair) is a very strong competitor.

Nick B

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Re: A second review of the new DVA 225 Monoblock amps
« Reply #11 on: 9 May 2021, 04:38 am »
I’ve not listened to any Odyssey amps other than at a show one time (and Klaus was great!)
but have heard great things about them. But for older guys like me, I can really appreciate
that the DVA M225s are 16 lbs each while the Odyssey Extreme Monos are 66 lbs each.
My aching back would say “thank you”  :thumb:

wjob

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Re: A second review of the new DVA 225 Monoblock amps
« Reply #12 on: 11 May 2021, 02:01 am »
Long-time reader, first-time poster here.

I was perhaps the first retail customer for the DVA 225 Monoblocks after emailing Frank about using the balanced outs from my preamp to run a second amplifier with RCA input.  (One could say he upsold me after suggesting not to do this.)

Let me say these amps are the real deal and have excellent tone and depth of soundstage that is amazing. I have replaced a Vision SET 120 with these amps, so my comments may be particularly useful to those familiar with the SET 120/400 family.  I will let other professional reviewers make broader comparisons.

My system for reference:
Bricasti M3 DAC with network renderer
PS Audio BHK Pre with Mazda 12AU7 NOS tubes
Vision SET 120/Ultravalve/DVA M225 as amps
Dynaudio Heritage Special Monitors (very fast, resolving, highly coherent)
Kimber Kable Hero/8TC
acoustical treatment of first reflections and bass traps in a small room

As you can see, I am very familiar with Frank's amps - I also own a Vision SET 400 in my large room system. For those familiar with the Vision SET range, you know what a great amp that is.  The SET 120 with single-ended inputs replaced a more expensive balanced Class D amp in my system and was better across the board, even in bass control.  The strengths of the SET range are its detail and intimacy, with a forward presentation and overall smoothness. I Greyhound Fan talks of the romantic midrange in these amps - I am not sure I am hearing the same thing, although perhaps the forward nature of these amps and their general smooth presentation gives this impression.  Certainly, they are very listenable amps with perhaps a bit of midrange emphasis but also a lot of detail on top and excellent deep bass.  The SET amps are also very fast.

In comparison, when I use the Ultravalve, I hear a more rounded presentation with a little less detail, but a very pleasant emphasis characteristic of EL34s.  The Ultravalve also gives a much more recessed presentation than the SET 120.  It makes the forward characteristics of the SET amps clear - if I were to criticize one thing about the SET amps, is that they have a front-row characteristic to the sound - for many this is a desirable trait and it certainly adds to the excitement the amp gives. However, in some systems, I could see this as a bit much. Also, for certain tracks the forward presentation can be a tiny bit fatiguing - I don't want to make too much of that comment as the amps certainly aren't the fatiguing type. 

So how do the DVA 225s compare to the SET 120?  At first listen, I thought they had a more recessed sound like the Ultravalve, but I now understand that to be an incomplete statement. The 225s have a much deeper soundstage than the 120 or the Ultravalve.  Whereas the 120 is forward and the Ultravalve is recessed, the 225s fill the entire state. In general, the 225s start further back than the 120 but are able to present more forward when called for.  On certain vocal tracks such as Johnny Case American V, Johnny presents forward with a deep stage around him. On well-recorded music, there is a dimensionality to the presentation that is rare to observe. Singers have depth and dimensionality to them. By comparison, the 120 seems more 2.5d and the singers seem flat in comparison (like a cardboard cutout singing from a point in space). This is not meant as a criticism of the 120 but rather a complement of the capabilities of the 225s.  The 120s have a slightly faster attack on notes than the 225s (this may give the more forward sound?) but the decay on the 225s is better. Acoustic music is, in general, more realistic and the sound of percussion is more lifelike. The 225s are deeply satisfying amps.

Note that the 225s fit on my rack in the same space as the 120 - they are the same height and the pair is just a smidge wider.  Like the SET amps, they run cool.

The Vision SET 120 is certainly a go-to recommendation for under $1000 and holds its own against more costly options. My comparison with the DVA 225s is a little unfair given both the price difference but also I am comparing monoblocks with balanced inputs to a stereo amp with rca inputs. If Frank would like to send me some monoblocks for a detailed review and comparison, I would be happy to accommodate. :D

Nick B

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 800
Re: A second review of the new DVA 225 Monoblock amps
« Reply #13 on: 11 May 2021, 03:14 am »
Long-time reader, first-time poster here.

I was perhaps the first retail customer for the DVA 225 Monoblocks after emailing Frank about using the balanced outs from my preamp to run a second amplifier with RCA input.  (One could say he upsold me after suggesting not to do this.)

Let me say these amps are the real deal and have excellent tone and depth of soundstage that is amazing. I have replaced a Vision SET 120 with these amps, so my comments may be particularly useful to those familiar with the SET 120/400 family.  I will let other professional reviewers make broader comparisons.

My system for reference:
Bricasti M3 DAC with network renderer
PS Audio BHK Pre with Mazda 12AU7 NOS tubes
Vision SET 120/Ultravalve/DVA M225 as amps
Dynaudio Heritage Special Monitors (very fast, resolving, highly coherent)
Kimber Kable Hero/8TC
acoustical treatment of first reflections and bass traps in a small room

As you can see, I am very familiar with Frank's amps - I also own a Vision SET 400 in my large room system. For those familiar with the Vision SET range, you know what a great amp that is.  The SET 120 with single-ended inputs replaced a more expensive balanced Class D amp in my system and was better across the board, even in bass control.  The strengths of the SET range are its detail and intimacy, with a forward presentation and overall smoothness. I Greyhound Fan talks of the romantic midrange in these amps - I am not sure I am hearing the same thing, although perhaps the forward nature of these amps and their general smooth presentation gives this impression.  Certainly, they are very listenable amps with perhaps a bit of midrange emphasis but also a lot of detail on top and excellent deep bass.  The SET amps are also very fast.

In comparison, when I use the Ultravalve, I hear a more rounded presentation with a little less detail, but a very pleasant emphasis characteristic of EL34s.  The Ultravalve also gives a much more recessed presentation than the SET 120.  It makes the forward characteristics of the SET amps clear - if I were to criticize one thing about the SET amps, is that they have a front-row characteristic to the sound - for many this is a desirable trait and it certainly adds to the excitement the amp gives. However, in some systems, I could see this as a bit much. Also, for certain tracks the forward presentation can be a tiny bit fatiguing - I don't want to make too much of that comment as the amps certainly aren't the fatiguing type. 

So how do the DVA 225s compare to the SET 120?  At first listen, I thought they had a more recessed sound like the Ultravalve, but I now understand that to be an incomplete statement. The 225s have a much deeper soundstage than the 120 or the Ultravalve.  Whereas the 120 is forward and the Ultravalve is recessed, the 225s fill the entire state. In general, the 225s start further back than the 120 but are able to present more forward when called for.  On certain vocal tracks such as Johnny Case American V, Johnny presents forward with a deep stage around him. On well-recorded music, there is a dimensionality to the presentation that is rare to observe. Singers have depth and dimensionality to them. By comparison, the 120 seems more 2.5d and the singers seem flat in comparison (like a cardboard cutout singing from a point in space). This is not meant as a criticism of the 120 but rather a complement of the capabilities of the 225s.  The 120s have a slightly faster attack on notes than the 225s (this may give the more forward sound?) but the decay on the 225s is better. Acoustic music is, in general, more realistic and the sound of percussion is more lifelike. The 225s are deeply satisfying amps.

Note that the 225s fit on my rack in the same space as the 120 - they are the same height and the pair is just a smidge wider.  Like the SET amps, they run cool.

The Vision SET 120 is certainly a go-to recommendation for under $1000 and holds its own against more costly options. My comparison with the DVA 225s is a little unfair given both the price difference but also I am comparing monoblocks with balanced inputs to a stereo amp with rca inputs. If Frank would like to send me some monoblocks for a detailed review and comparison, I would be happy to accommodate. :D

Thanks for the excellent and very helpful review as I’m a (very happy) SET 120 Control
Amp owner. As I’ve only had 6-7 amps over the last 12-13 years, I can’t really comment
on your impressions. But my thoughts are that the SET 120, combined with my Border Patrol SEi dac, Audio Hungary APR 204 pre and Fritz Carrera 7 BE speakers, provide me with midrange magic
What quite intrigues me about your review, though, are the references to increased depth and dimensionality, better decay, and more realistic and lifelike presentation in some regards. Something to think about 🤔
Nick

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: A second review of the new DVA 225 Monoblock amps
« Reply #14 on: 11 May 2021, 03:36 pm »
Nice review Wjob.  I still stand by my review that the SET 400.  I tried it in 2 systems and got similar results with a romantic or lush musical midrange.  Of course the preamp and DAC that you use is different than mine so it is like comparing apples to oranges.  But I heard the SET in Frank's system and heard a similar sound.

The 225's are great amps, more detail and depth than the SET 400's but also more forward sounding as if you were in the front row.  They have a huge, tall, deep and wide sound stage like my Pass amp just more forward in my 2 systems.  I found them a little faster paced compared to the SET 400 (which is not slow by any means).  They are also more dynamic.  Eventually, I am going to move on from my 105lb. Pass amp along with my 50lb. BAT preamp and if I do not go the integrated route I will purchase a pair of the 225's.

Also, on my second review of the 225's I tried them in my friends system with an Atma-sphere preamp and Lampizator DAC and the sound was midrow. It just shows that it is all about system matching. :D

avahifi

Re: A second review of the new DVA 225 Monoblock amps
« Reply #15 on: 11 May 2021, 05:44 pm »
Our DVA M225 mono amplifiers are in stock and available to ship right now.

We are just waiting for good photographs before posting them at our web site.

I think you will need to spend ten times as much to equal them, probably more.

Note that they are true differential balanced designs and thus are designed for a balanced XLR input only.

Frank

wjob

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Re: A second review of the new DVA 225 Monoblock amps
« Reply #16 on: 12 May 2021, 02:41 am »
Thanks, I. Greyhound Fan. Systems and rooms certainly do affect impressions - interesting how you saw the presentation move across the two systems you tried the 225s on.  In my room tonight, I listened again to some albums and songs I am very familiar with.  Frank Sinatra "In the Wee Small Hours", Dido "Still on My Mind", Freya Ridings "Lost Without You", Gotye "Somebody I Used to Know" and others. I would say our impressions are actually similar but we are coming from different directions. There is a little more mid-range emphasis in the SET 120 and more forward sound that gives a very intimate presentation. I can see that described as a romantic midrange. There are going to be people that prefer the SET amps over the 225s, and on some music, I might well prefer the SET amps. I'd love to compare the DVA SET 600 Monos head-to-head with the 225s. In any case, if you have the privilege to own one of these amps you are lucky indeed! 

drpalomo

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 5
Re: A second review of the new DVA 225 Monoblock amps
« Reply #17 on: 14 May 2021, 09:52 am »
can we see the guts of the DVA 225?

danielgk

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  • AVA engineer/technicion
Re: A second review of the new DVA 225 Monoblock amps
« Reply #18 on: 15 May 2021, 09:59 pm »
Here are some pics of the M225 as its being put together.  The M225 can be operated, adjusted, and repaired (if necessary) while lying open on the bench in 5 pieces.  The assembly starts by laying out those 5 pieces.



Then the 5 pieces are wired together.



Connecting current meters to the fuse holders and volt meters to critical points, as well as connecting an 8 ohm dummy load, allows the M225 to be quickly adjusted for optimum performance.  Replacing the current meters with the fuses allows the M225 to be run up to full power.



43.11v rms into 8 ohms is 232w for this guy.
Then the parts are assembled with 16 screws.



Finally the top goes on with 6 more screws.  Its then run up to full power a final time and then goes in a real system for a real world verification. 

Dan





gene9p

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Re: A second review of the new DVA 225 Monoblock amps
« Reply #19 on: 16 May 2021, 12:02 pm »
great stuff... :thumb: