Review of the New DVA 225 Mono Block Amps

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. Read 3656 times.

I.Greyhound Fan

Review of the New DVA 225 Mono Block Amps
« on: 6 Oct 2020, 12:27 am »
Hi all,

When Frank Van Alstine asked me to review the prototype version of his soon to be released DVA 225 mono block amps I jumped at the chance.  I have reviewed several of his products and it is always fun and interesting and this review was no different. 

I was finally able to post a picture at the bottom of the page by converting it to a JPEG file.  I can tell you that the amps utilize the silver faceplates and blue power button that is available on the higher end AVA equipment.  They weigh about 16 pounds each and their dimensions are about 10" deep and 8 3/4" wide.  They have XLR only inputs and a ground lift switch in the back.  Frank says that they put out 225 wpc at 8 ohms and almost double at 4 ohms.  They are high current amps and after listening to them with my Magnepans I have no doubt about that.

I listened to them in my reference system which is as follows- BAT VK 51se tube preamp, Luxman DA-06 DAC, Magnepan QR1.6 speakers, dual Martin Logan original Dynamo subs, XLR's- Belden 8402 and Audioquest Colombia 72v DBS.  Speaker cables- 10g Belden by BJC's.  My reference amp for comparison is my Pass X250, 250 wpc at 8  ohms and 500 wpc at 4.

I also listened to them in my son's system which consists of a Pass B1 preamp buffer that we built using high end boutique parts, Parasound A21 amp, my older AVA DAC the Ultra II SL Hybrid DAC with all the mods and using 1950's NOS Raytheon 6CG7 tubes. this takes SPDIF input only and plays standard redbook.  A Schiit Eitr USB to SPDIF converter was used for computer music files.  Speakers are the new Wharfedale EVO 4.4's.  We used an RCA to XLR converter that Frank built as the Pass B1 is single ended only.
XLR cables were Cardas Parsec's and RCA's by BJC's.

I wanted to listen to them in my friends $45,000 system but he was unavailable.  If Frank lets me hold onto them for 2 more weeks I will post another review.

Music players used were Bug Head and Audirvana. 

I first listened to the amps in my reference system. I picked a piano piece from George Winston's remastered Autumn album called Colors/Dance.  I love this song for a reference as the piano has weight, texture, depth and excellent decay.  I feel that if a system can get piano right then most (not all) other aspects of sound fall into place.  After the first few notes I knew that the amps were special.   It sounded like George was playing in my room (I have seen him live 4 time and once 2 rows back in an intimate venue). The piano had great body, tone and texture and the decay was fabulous.  The sound stage extended toward the ends of my 17' wide room and to the top of my 9'  ceilings.  I could tell already that the amp was more detailed than my Pass.  The attack was more well defined as the leading edges had a natural crispness that the Pass does not have.  The Pass is more rounded and softer in presentation.  Moving on I queued up Eva Cassidy's Live at Blues Alley Stormy Monday and Fields of Gold on the Bug Head Music Player.  This is one of my favorite  albums and I know it intimately.  The textures of her voice really stood out. It felt like I was in the front row in center stage at the intimate club where it was recorded.  Her voice just had wonderful tone.

Next up I listened to Boxer Rebellion's Cold Still as I wanted to get an idea on how the amps handled bass.  The amps did not disappoint.  They had very good low frequency authority.  Bass was well defined and tight.  My Pass amp has a little more bass slam and presence but the DVA 225's had tighter and faster bass and sounded more controlled. If you are not familiar with Pass amps, they tend to be a little rounded on the edges, bass is thunderous but a little loose and slow compared to some amps.  The DVA's definitely have better PRAT.  And don't get me wrong, the DVA's have very good slam, just the Pass hits a little harder.

I then listened to London Grammar's Hey Now from the album If You Wait.  Her voice was lush and had a forceful presentation but still had air and transparency.   The music had just the right amount of bloom and bass rattled my room in a good way.  I then put on Sara Bareilles Yellow Brick Road from the album Live at the Variety Playhouse.  I first heard this album a few years ago at Axpona with all Bricasti gear and Tidal speakers and I was blown away at how real her voice sounded and at how the piano just seemed to be floating in air.  Well I got the same feeling that I did in the Bricasti room.  The amp gave a great holographic presentation.  Sara's voice had authority but was delicate when it needed to be.  Piano sounded like it was floating in air with space around it.  Now it was not to the same extent as the Bricasti system but it sounded damn good.

I then wanted to put on some pristine recordings so I queued up the song Skylark from the Best Audiophile voices vol. I by Monica Mancini.  I was not disappointed.  The background was dead silent.  The sound stage was spacious and well defined and despite the smooth and clean sound there was great texture to Mancini's voice.  Next up was an ECM recording by the Tord Gustafson Trio.  There was great space between the instruments and each was well defined.  Treble had good air and was grain free.

I found the DAV 225's to be fun to listen to.  They were more musical and had better PRAT than my Pass amp.  They have excellent dynamics and great headroom.  I listened at various volumes and they never broke up or sounded congested at loud volumes and they never ran out of steam.  The general tone of the amps are neutral with just a hint of warmth and darkness but that is probably be due to my BAT preamp and Luxman DAC.  I prefer a bit of warmth and darkness.  They present a tall and wide soundstage with good depth and have a nice holographic sound.  My Pass has a little more midrange fullness and a slightly wider and deeper sound stage but the amps are very close.  The DVA's have tighter, faster bass but again, the Pass had just a bit more authority.  The DVA's have better attack, more detail, texture and resolution.  The DVA's have very good air and transparency but not quite on par with the Pass.

As far as presentation, my Pass presents as middle row listening while the DVA is more forward.  It is not quite front row but somewhere between the middle row and front row in my system.  Interestingly, Audirvana has more air and transparency compared to Bug Head but the midrange is thinner.  When I used the DVA with Audirvana, the midrange sounded better than with the Pass.  It did not lose as much body as the Pass.  Probably because the 225's have a slightly more forward midrange.

Overall, the DVA's hold their own and surpass my Pass amp in many respects.

Next up, my son and I compared the DV 225's to his A21 amp.  The A21 was embarrassed and sounded mifi in comparison.  It was not even close.  Bass, musicality, dynamics, transparency, sound stage were much better with the 225's.  There was much more detail, texture and resolution.  You could really hear the grain in the A21 when compared to the 225's.  We listened to George Ogilvie's a Delicate Kind and were not disappointed with bass slam and drum kicks which sounded great and like real drums.  Pat Metheny's guitar on The What's It All About album sounded natural with great pluck and detail.  Jackson Brown's voice from the Solo and Acoustic Vol. I had great texture and you could hear the subtle imperfections in his voice.

In conclusion, the DVA 225's represent great value just by the fact that they surpass my Pass amp in many respects.  They offer very good detail, musicality, PRAT, texture and bass all the while sounding holographic,  smooth and fatigue free.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask or PM me.




« Last Edit: 8 Oct 2020, 02:48 am by I.Greyhound Fan »

BruceSB

Re: Review of the New DVA 225 Mono Block Amps
« Reply #1 on: 6 Oct 2020, 01:14 am »
Thanks.
Great review.
It appears that this is a very special amp.
Wonder if you can tell us how high the unit is?
Looking forward to seeing the picture.
Thanks again.
Bruce

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Review of the New DVA 225 Mono Block Amps
« Reply #2 on: 6 Oct 2020, 01:19 am »
Thanks.
Great review.
It appears that this is a very special amp.
Wonder if you can tell us how high the unit is?
Looking forward to seeing the picture.
Thanks again.
Bruce

Bruce, the amps are roughly 4" 5/8 tall including the feet.

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Review of the New DVA 225 Mono Block Amps
« Reply #3 on: 6 Oct 2020, 01:53 am »
I was able to post a picture at the bottom of the review.

spab

Re: Review of the New DVA 225 Mono Block Amps
« Reply #4 on: 6 Oct 2020, 03:41 pm »
Larry,
Thanks for another great review!
I have always found your reviews to be spot on when I have acquired & evaluated the Van Alstine equipment. 
What would be helpful to me, and perhaps others, would be a comparison of these monoblocks to the other Van Alstine amps. Price wise they will slot in close to the DVA 4/2 amp that you reviewed a while back, and also the Fet Valve 600R. Is their sound more in the recent SET heritage -- similar to the SET 400 that you reviewed? Thanks in advance for your insights!

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Review of the New DVA 225 Mono Block Amps
« Reply #5 on: 6 Oct 2020, 04:23 pm »
Larry,
Thanks for another great review!
I have always found your reviews to be spot on when I have acquired & evaluated the Van Alstine equipment. 
What would be helpful to me, and perhaps others, would be a comparison of these monoblocks to the other Van Alstine amps. Price wise they will slot in close to the DVA 4/2 amp that you reviewed a while back, and also the Fet Valve 600R. Is their sound more in the recent SET heritage -- similar to the SET 400 that you reviewed? Thanks in advance for your insights!

I feel that the mono's have more space and air along with a wider sound stage.  The mono's have a more forward sound where as the SET's have a sweeter more romantic midrange. The mono's have slightly better PRAT.   FV R series amps sound different with more air and transparency and a little brighter but bear in mind the R series amps have undergone some changes since I first reviewed them.  I found the Mono's to be the most fun to listen to and my 29yo son agrees.

As far as price, you can't hold Frank to this but I thought he said that they would be in the $3400-3600pr.  They are well worth it at this price as far as I am concerned.   They easily compare to amps selling in the $5K-$7K range.

AvsFan

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 881
Re: Review of the New DVA 225 Mono Block Amps
« Reply #6 on: 6 Oct 2020, 04:25 pm »
Price?
And when will they be available for purchase?

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Review of the New DVA 225 Mono Block Amps
« Reply #7 on: 6 Oct 2020, 04:42 pm »
Price is in the $3400-$3600pr range I believe but don't hold me to it.  They will be available soon but I would call or email Frank.

By the way, Frank is letting hold onto the amps for 2 more weeks so I can review them in my friends $45K system with his Pass XA 100.5 mono blocks, Atma-Sphere preamp, Lampizator DAC and Revel Ultima Studio 2 speakers.

JakeJ

Re: Review of the New DVA 225 Mono Block Amps
« Reply #8 on: 6 Oct 2020, 04:54 pm »
Thanks for great review.  Not being familiar with the music you chose means I'll need to do some homework to get the flavor of your descriptions.  This is a good thing, new music is almost always a good thing.

Really like the small form factor too.  One could place one amp behind each Maggie and it would be invisible and have very short speaker cable runs.

Congrats Frank on an awesome new product in your lineup.

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Review of the New DVA 225 Mono Block Amps
« Reply #9 on: 6 Oct 2020, 05:09 pm »
Thanks for great review.  Not being familiar with the music you chose means I'll need to do some homework to get the flavor of your descriptions.  This is a good thing, new music is almost always a good thing.

Really like the small form factor too.  One could place one amp behind each Maggie and it would be invisible and have very short speaker cable runs.

Congrats Frank on an awesome new product in your lineup.

We listened to a lot more music that you may  be familiar with such as Pink Floyd the Wall which sounded fabulous. 

Give London Grammar a listen, the If you wait album, just fabulous, same for that Sara Bareilles album.  I was not a fan until  I heard that album.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=london+grammar+if+you+wait&ru=%2fsearch%3fq%3dlondon%2bgrammar%2bif%2byou%2bwait%26cvid%3dba5eb9b67f0741f9b03a892631ae531b%26pglt%3d547%26FORM%3dANNTA1%26PC%3dU531&view=detail&mid=AEA5C02B19F6776D2026AEA5C02B19F6776D2026&&FORM=VDRVRV

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=sara+bareilles+live+at+the+variety+playhouse&&view=detail&mid=07C9161C52A91742F2AC07C9161C52A91742F2AC&&FORM=VDRVRV

Rocket_Ronny

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 1353
  • Your Room Is Everything - Use It Well.
    • ScriptureSongs.com
Re: Review of the New DVA 225 Mono Block Amps
« Reply #10 on: 6 Oct 2020, 05:22 pm »
How would this compare to the Fet Valve amps sonically? Do the Fet amps double power into 4 ohms? I was on Frank's website but I did not see that.

If I was going to buy one of Frank's amp, and would love to have one, I would gravitate to the Fet 600. Although the 850s would be awesome, I don't have the budget even for the 600 given the 30% conversion rate we have to deal with in Canada. You guys in the states have had it good I tell you.

Thanks Frank for you life long dedication to the pursuit of musical excellence and sharing that result with others. It's far more than manufacturing a product, you have made a family.

Rocket Ronny

RonN5

Re: Review of the New DVA 225 Mono Block Amps
« Reply #11 on: 6 Oct 2020, 05:53 pm »
Greyhound....

Great review... it seems like you are saying the sound is a nice blend between dry but precise solid state and euphonic tube in a way that is very musical.

Some operational questions:

1.  Does the amp have a 12v trigger

2.  Does the amp have a sleep mode

3.  Does the amp “thump” when you turn it on or off

4. Does the amp run warm

Thanks!

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Review of the New DVA 225 Mono Block Amps
« Reply #12 on: 6 Oct 2020, 06:14 pm »
The amp does not thump when you turn it off.  But it will keep playing for about 8 seconds after you turn it off just like my Pass amp.

It does not have a sleep mode.  No 12v trigger.  I will have to check and see how warm they get and get back with you.

It definitely is not dry sounding.  It has a bit of warmth and darkness but just a hint but that could  be my gear and my son's. The BAT preamp is dark with just a hint of warmth (but sounds more SS than tube) and the Pass B1 that we built was voiced that way with the caps and resistors that I chose. It is very musical, more so than my Pass.  It has a rich midrange but not as romantic sounding as the SET amps.  It is precise, more so than the Pass which has a rounded sound.  It is holographic.

Rocket Ronny, the FET Valve 400 is more affordable and you would won't notice the power difference depending upon your speakers.

Rocket_Ronny

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 1353
  • Your Room Is Everything - Use It Well.
    • ScriptureSongs.com
Re: Review of the New DVA 225 Mono Block Amps
« Reply #13 on: 7 Oct 2020, 03:31 pm »
Absolute Sound stated that the Fet 600, I believe has a closed in top end and leans toward a dark signature. I think that was back in 2014. Is that characteristic of these mono's in this thread, or to the Fet line up if at all true?

Rocket Ronny

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Review of the New DVA 225 Mono Block Amps
« Reply #14 on: 7 Oct 2020, 04:24 pm »
Absolute Sound stated that the Fet 600, I believe has a closed in top end and leans toward a dark signature. I think that was back in 2014. Is that characteristic of these mono's in this thread, or to the Fet line up if at all true?

Rocket Ronny

I never found the FV 600R to be dark and I have 2 local friends that have R series amps from that time period and I would not call them dark.  The top end on the R series is anything but closed in.  I found them to be airy with good space but just a little bright in my system otherwise I would have bought one.  And who knows, maybe the tubes were not broken in enough when TAS reviewed the amps.  It just goes to show how system dependent gear is.

The 225's have barely a hint of darkness and warmth in a good way.  But as I said, my BAT VK51se preamp has a dark sound and my Luxman DAC leans to the warmer side.  I am sensitive to brightness and prefer a darker, warmer sound.  Even my XLR's are picked for this sound.  So the 225's may not actually be dark. My son's  Pass B1 was built with parts that lend to a darker warmer sound and the older AVA hybrid DAC has 1950's tubes that are slightly darker and warmer. 

Rocket_Ronny

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 1353
  • Your Room Is Everything - Use It Well.
    • ScriptureSongs.com
Re: Review of the New DVA 225 Mono Block Amps
« Reply #15 on: 7 Oct 2020, 06:08 pm »
Thanks, appreciated. A guy has to take reviews with a grain of salt on some aspects due to all of the variables.

Rocket Ronny

danielgk

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 36
  • AVA engineer/technicion
Re: Review of the New DVA 225 Mono Block Amps
« Reply #16 on: 7 Oct 2020, 09:30 pm »
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

BruceSB

Re: Review of the New DVA 225 Mono Block Amps
« Reply #17 on: 8 Oct 2020, 01:12 am »
Thanks for the information Dan.
Wonder if you can give us an idea of the number of amps it would put out?
Thinking specifically regarding electrostats which, as it were 'love' amps (current).
Also wonder if you can give us an idea of the signal to noise ratio?
I am guessing maybe around 120db?
Just another query which, if it is a little ignorant please forgive me.
So, if an eight ohm speaker sees this amplifier as four ohm does this mean that in effect the speaker gets double the power?
That is it gets the amplifier's four ohm power?
Specifically the amp can supply 225*2 for an eight ohm speaker?
Appreciate your comments.
Thanks again.
Bruce

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Review of the New DVA 225 Mono Block Amps
« Reply #18 on: 8 Oct 2020, 01:34 am »
Hi Dan, I agree that this is the best sounding AVA amp with the exception of maybe the DVA 850 but I would have to hear them side by side.  The R series and SET amps have a completely different sound.  I would be interested if you agreed with my review although we have different gear and rooms.