On The Bench: Nagra Jazz and MSA Monoblocks

I thought I was imagining things, so I reached out to Gideon Schwartz of Audio Arts in NYC to see if could lend a hand. By way of response, he sent me a Nagra Audio Jazz preamplifier and a pair of MSA amplifiers that he likes to run bridged, as monos.

I don’t hear a lot about Nagra these days, which is a shame, as they’re rather remarkable sounding. I have them here, running them with a pair of TIDAL Contriva Diaceras I rescued. And before all you neat-freaks feel the need to pile on, yes, I need to clean up. Bah. Go away now.

Right off the FedEx truck, the Nagra, it was hard to tell anything other than they’re on the far side of “refined”. Six hours of warm-up later (they’re demos, so they’re broken in), the Nagra are really … ah … good. Hee hee! The bass punch is stunning, and I want to say “for something this small”, but that’s not right, it’s just stunning, period.

I will also say this — I may not care how good the Nagra amps sound. I mean, that’s nice and all, but they’re so easy to move around! I almost can’t get over how compact and livable they are. Yes, there’s a switch-mode power supply in there and that’s why they’re so lightweight, but you know who’s in heaven right now? My lower back. Oh yeah. I just installed two monos and my back feels like a million bucks. That, all by itself, is monetizable folks. Sold! Okay, maybe not, but any day I get to avoid a slipped disc is a winner in my book.

Getting back to my earlier comment, you know, about needing a hand: what I’m trying to do is get a handle on a source component, and thought maybe some alternative electronics would help, just in case the “performance was being limited by” my reference bits — a pair of Pass Labs XA-100.5 monos with an XP-30 preamp.

Yeah, didn’t think so either, but you audiophiles are so picky when it comes to this stuff, I thought it’d be worth exploring it. Side bennie: I get to play with Nagra gear. Schaaaa-WING!

See? That’s “audio winning“.