Steven Norber of PranaFidelity Delivers | AXPONA 2023




steven norber

Insiders, intelligentsia, and those-in-the-know, know that Steven Norber has got the mojo — and they know that his demos are always among some of the most engaging, liquid, analog-sounding, and real-to-life to be heard. I say all that because I spent many long years not in the know! Would probably have stayed that way if PTA alumni Mal Kenney hadn’t first clued me in.

Shown here were the PranaFidelty Dhara loudspeakers, in their super-dense “compressed” Baltic Birch enclosures. There’s not a lot of information on these online, but here’s what Norber shared with me.

Words and Photos by Scot Hull.

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The Dhara ($9,500/pair, which includes matching stands) are a 2-way symmetrical array from Steven Norber, featuring dual 15 cm woofers and a 30 mm tweeter (stated frequency response: 38 Hz – 23 kHz at 8 Ohm nominal impedance). The sensitivity is pretty standard: 88.5 dB @ 1 watt/1 meter. The dimensions are 20.75” h x 10” w x 14.5” d, and they weigh 40 pounds each (w/o stands).

Here at AXPONA, these speakers were shown with the in-house electronics from Norber, the fully-balanced (no input/output transformers) PranaFidelity Purna/CA preamplifier ($14,500) and Puma/MA amp ($10,500). Here’s the details on the preamp:

  • MM/MC phono stage (40 – 80 dB gain), with multiple loading options.
  • Line stage gain: 0/6/12 dB selectable
  • THD: 0.0002%
  • Signal to Noise ratio: 115/112/107 dB (0/6/12 dB)
  • Input impedance: 100 mΩ
  • Output impedance: 0.1Ω
  • Frequency response (-3 dB): 0 – 25/10/4 mHz (0/6/12 dB)
  • Slew rate: 500 v/uS

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The PranaFidelity Purna/MA stereo amplifier from Steven Norber has the following specs:

  • Output power: 400 watts @ 8 Ohms (700 watts/4Ω, 1200 watts/2Ω)
  • THD/IMD: 0.003 20 Hz – 20 kHz @ 1 watt
  • Signal to Noise ratio: 128 dB (unweighted)
  • Input impedance: 100 kΩ (balanced), 50 kΩ (single ended)
  • Output impedance: 0.002Ω
  • Frequency response: 0 – 50 kHz (+0/-3 dB)
  • Gain: 26.8 dB
  • Inputs: Balanced (XLR), Single Ended (RCA)

The system featured cabling from Silversmith Audio, including Fidelium Speaker Cable (starting at $1,195/set) and Fidelium Interconnects. Power was handled by Furutech, with DPS-4.1 AC Cables (starting at $2,100) and an e-TP609 NCF AC Power Distribution unit ($2,000).

On the digital front end, a PranaFidelity-modified Wyred4Sound DAC2 was paired with a PranaFidelity-modified Pioneer Elite PD-65 CD player used as a transport.

On the analog front end, a Stabi R turntable from Kuzma ($11,139), mounted with a Stogi Reference tonearm ($4,852), was carrying a fan favorite DL-103R with boron cantilever and a Fritz Gyger S stylus ($1,000).

And that’s all the bits and bobs.

I’ll skip the details and jump to the summary — this was an excellent sounding room. Everything was just right. Tight bass, rich mids, and airy highs. Imaging was eerie and solid. Seriously, just check the audiophile boxes already.

TL/DR; this room was a Best-in-Show contender, and it was also one of the very first rooms I lingered in for more than a moment. I’m embarrassed to say that I wasn’t quite expecting this level of performance, and not one that set the bar that early in the show, but there it was. Sucked to be everyone else, but suddenly, there was a high-bar.

So, here’s the thing. PranaFidelity may be an “insider’s brand”. And if that’s so, well, that’s a shame. Or perhaps not — because, maybe that means that you can get in on a “bespoke” type audio brand that doesn’t have a 100-year waiting period, one that has sonics on a level that is utterly embarrassing to most of what you’ve ever heard, and one that creates that experience out of a (relatively) compact package.

That’s pretty sweet.

If you would like to hear even more coverage from AXPONA 2023, check out our recap report and highlights from our audiophile-oriented show The Occasional Podcast. You can stream the episode direct from the embed below, or from your favorite podcast platform including iTunes, Android, Google, Deezer, Spotify, iHeartRadio and more.

Also don’t forget to check out our collaboration to commemorate the event with our solid bronze record weight available only for a limited run. This 800 grams of solid bronze features the PTA roundel on the top with also acts as a 45 adapter. You can purchase direct from the PTA Approved Store here on the site.

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About Scot Hull 1057 Articles
Scot started all this back in 2009. He is currently the Publisher here at PTA, the Publisher at The Occasional Magazine, and the Executive Producer at The Occasional Podcast. There are way too many words about him over on the Contributors page.

1 Comment

  1. This was one of the most enjoyable rooms in the entire show, lively, spacious, musical, with timing, PRAT, – EVERYTHING. Prana is always good but this was their best ever.

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