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Thread: Nat Audio - giant killers?

  1. #1
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    Nat Audio - giant killers?

    Hi guys, just thought I'd start a thread devoted to the little known Nat Audio amps from Serbia.
    I've just invested in the Utopia 2-box preamp, and SE2SE 75W/ch 211 SET monos utilising a quad of NOS 1948 GE tubes.
    These amps are replacing my much loved Audion Quattro 4 box dual mono line stage/Black Shadow 25W/ch 845 SETs utilising Elrog tubes (which themselves replaced my Hovland HP200 tube preamp/Radia SS power amp).
    I don't really have a lot to say about them technically, but will chip in w/comments when relevant.
    Sound quality, however, I am v.happy to talk about.
    I've always favoured a slightly lean sound, being v.sensitive to excess warmth potentially obscuring fine detail, or being a euphonic colouration, jarring in the l/t. V. much my experience w/eg BAT amps that I've listened too, and less stellar SET amps.
    So the Nat "fully saturated" sound was initially disconcerting, requiring a certain amount of hair pulling and dialling in, and plain old acclimatisation to be made, to "get" the sound.
    Initially this total fullness from the mids into the bass was just little OTT. But then I realised w/more dialling in that there was no gauziness to the sound, no obscuring of fine detail, no softening of dynamics, no blunting of upper mids/treble.
    No, just a full blooded sound that is blazing fast, v. detailed but not spotlit, and warm but only in the ways that real musical instruments sound warm in real life, and not as a hifi artefact.
    I can say the sound is right up there w/the Koda trial I made a year ago, but w/added neutrality, and at a third of the price. That is as great a selling point of the Nat that I can think of.
    Nat Audio - giant killers? Most certainly.
    Trans Fi Salvation tt & Terminator arm, Soundsmith Straingauge SG200 cart/Eera Tentation cdp/Nat Audio Utopia line stage & SE2SE SET monos w.NOS '48 GE tubes/Zu Definitions 4 spkrs w.Duelund caps & Lundahl transformers/Stacore isolation platforms, Symposium Isis rack & Rollerblocks isolation/Sablon Reservas & Elites cbls/Westwick 8kVA balanced pwr, Oyaides dedicated lines w.Furutech US sockets, SR Black fuses, Entreq Silver Tellus grndng.

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    The "third of Koda's price" is the retail. It's actual price is much less. The NAT pre one step down from yours was rated as 2 in Germany behind Ypsilon's 23k pre. Their third or fourth down from top power amp was rated as 1.

    Not only Giant killers, I think they are giants. I know a guy who owns the uber expensive Wavac pre and power, and he owns NAT's top of the line pre and power, and while he does say the Wavac is better, it is comparing 200k to 30 or 40k. He does say NAT is better than Kondo.

    I know a guy who owned VTL Siegfried, VTL 7.5 MkIII, Einstein, and a few others and prefers NATs
    Last edited by bonzo75; 03-17-2015 at 09:53 AM.

  3. #3
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    Gosh, the Nats are challenging, but showing massive promise. Atm, my digital has never sounded so good - bass harmonics to die for, saturated mids, sparkling treble. And absolutely no hint of digital glare. It does help I have the giant killer Eera Tentation cdp in my rig which I have found beats other 1-box cdp's at 2x the price (no comment on days like the Lampi 7).
    But my analog front end is taking more effort to dial in, the enhanced bass harmonics slightly blunting mids dynamics, esp evident as a softer snare drum attack and piano strikes than I'm used to.
    A work in progress.
    Trans Fi Salvation tt & Terminator arm, Soundsmith Straingauge SG200 cart/Eera Tentation cdp/Nat Audio Utopia line stage & SE2SE SET monos w.NOS '48 GE tubes/Zu Definitions 4 spkrs w.Duelund caps & Lundahl transformers/Stacore isolation platforms, Symposium Isis rack & Rollerblocks isolation/Sablon Reservas & Elites cbls/Westwick 8kVA balanced pwr, Oyaides dedicated lines w.Furutech US sockets, SR Black fuses, Entreq Silver Tellus grndng.

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    I heard NAT on piano with the analysis. Best ever piano. But yes, they don't do rock like SS or a hybrid like Lamm M2.2. that maybe why you don't get the drums

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    Boinzo, the issue is more analog v digital. The drums are fine on rbcd.
    Trans Fi Salvation tt & Terminator arm, Soundsmith Straingauge SG200 cart/Eera Tentation cdp/Nat Audio Utopia line stage & SE2SE SET monos w.NOS '48 GE tubes/Zu Definitions 4 spkrs w.Duelund caps & Lundahl transformers/Stacore isolation platforms, Symposium Isis rack & Rollerblocks isolation/Sablon Reservas & Elites cbls/Westwick 8kVA balanced pwr, Oyaides dedicated lines w.Furutech US sockets, SR Black fuses, Entreq Silver Tellus grndng.

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    Chuck out the TT then, two large windows behind your rack

  7. #7
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    As long as you're standing outside under the window at the time, Ked!
    Trans Fi Salvation tt & Terminator arm, Soundsmith Straingauge SG200 cart/Eera Tentation cdp/Nat Audio Utopia line stage & SE2SE SET monos w.NOS '48 GE tubes/Zu Definitions 4 spkrs w.Duelund caps & Lundahl transformers/Stacore isolation platforms, Symposium Isis rack & Rollerblocks isolation/Sablon Reservas & Elites cbls/Westwick 8kVA balanced pwr, Oyaides dedicated lines w.Furutech US sockets, SR Black fuses, Entreq Silver Tellus grndng.

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    You'll all be glad to know I'd rather throw Bonzo out of my window than my tt! Anyhow I'm 90% of the way to the solution - I've dialled up my cart vtf from 2.5 to 2.7. Sound opening up nicely.
    Back to the Nats. Despite the steep learning curve I'm having, they do something that I only hear in pricier gear like the $25k Koda K10 preamp, $15k Connoisseur line stage and $100k+ Ypsilon SET100 monos. And that is total tonal saturation thru the mids into the bass which doesn't cross into euphonic cloying warmth, so bridges the gap to how instruments and voices sound live, making the listening experience more like the real thing, more immersive, and I believe has a positive effect on subconscious awareness of timing cues.
    Much as I loved my Hovlands and Audions, I got nowhere near this expression of colour and density w/them.
    A total triumph, and at price levels 3-5x cheaper than SOTA offerings which I find hard to believe are vastly superior (I had a long stint w/the $25k Koda and wouldn't swap the Nats for it), it's a brand that a lot more discerning listeners here should seriously consider.
    Last edited by spiritofmusic; 03-17-2015 at 09:00 AM.
    Trans Fi Salvation tt & Terminator arm, Soundsmith Straingauge SG200 cart/Eera Tentation cdp/Nat Audio Utopia line stage & SE2SE SET monos w.NOS '48 GE tubes/Zu Definitions 4 spkrs w.Duelund caps & Lundahl transformers/Stacore isolation platforms, Symposium Isis rack & Rollerblocks isolation/Sablon Reservas & Elites cbls/Westwick 8kVA balanced pwr, Oyaides dedicated lines w.Furutech US sockets, SR Black fuses, Entreq Silver Tellus grndng.

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    Well, dialling in a better vtf has really provided dividends. I'm getting back the attack/snap/dynamics on lp's that were missing originally which was causing me to have major headaches.
    Lordy, this is one impressive set of amps, and is safely installed as my last ever change in amps as well as last major component upgrade overall, bringing to a close an 18 year evolution in my system via over half a dozen+ changes each to tt/cdp/amps/spkrs.
    Little did I guess that back in 1997 when I spent 9k on an all-Roksan rig as my first major foray into the high end I would have gone thru dozens more changes, and multiples of the original price, getting to this end point.
    But along w/my TransFi/Soundsmith Straingauge analog front end, Eera digital and Zu spkrs, the Nat amps are the Real Deal, and to my eternal liking are yet another giant killer that I've made a final investment in (like the makes I've mentioned in the rest of my system), in that the performance is uncompromisingly good and not embarassed at all in the company of more uber brands like Koda, Ypsilon, Grand Prix Monaco, Lyra, SME, DCS, Wilson.
    I would not choose any of these brands over my select little band. And now Nat Audio is proudly part of an exemplary sound at Real World prices.
    Trans Fi Salvation tt & Terminator arm, Soundsmith Straingauge SG200 cart/Eera Tentation cdp/Nat Audio Utopia line stage & SE2SE SET monos w.NOS '48 GE tubes/Zu Definitions 4 spkrs w.Duelund caps & Lundahl transformers/Stacore isolation platforms, Symposium Isis rack & Rollerblocks isolation/Sablon Reservas & Elites cbls/Westwick 8kVA balanced pwr, Oyaides dedicated lines w.Furutech US sockets, SR Black fuses, Entreq Silver Tellus grndng.

  10. #10
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    fantastic feedback, Spiritofmusic. Congrats and look forward to ongoing listening notes as you get to know your new SOTA amps. Congrats again.
    Speaker Wilson X-1/SLAMMS / Velodyne DD18+
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    Cable SC/IC / PC TA Opus Gen5/MM2 / PAD25th/Sablon GCUber
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    Power/Ground/Shield 7 x 16A Furutech / Burmester948+NordostQX4 / Tripoint TroySig+Thor / Entreq Atlantis/Receivus/Everest/Wrap
    Room/Tube Stillpoints Apertures / Amperex Mullard
    Headphone Sennheiser HD650 / Arcam rHead/ApogeeGroove

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