Hi-fi manufacturers can mainly be divided into two camps: those who use their ears in the search for products they think sound as musical as possible, and those who are looking to make the components that measure the best. Distortion should not just be tuned to the most ear-friendly area possible; it must be eliminated!
Norwegian Vera Audio falls into the latter category, because with the amplifier P400 / 1000 they have wanted to reduce the noise floor to vanishingly low levels. It reduces electromagnetic noise from the outside very effectively, not least thanks to fully balanced circuits (unbalanced inputs are not found here). In addition, the manufacturer has worked very hard to keep its own noise very low so that the music signal is kept intact all the way. Among other things, by building the amplifier around the proven Hypex Ncore NC500 Class D amplifier module, signed by hi-fi genius Bruno Putzeys, who is also chief engineer at Kii Audio.
At the same time, it is important that an amplifier can operate all speakers with steel control. It requires not least power, something this amplifier has plenty of. Basically, it provides 2 x 400 watts in 8 ohms, which is sufficient in almost all situations. But if you still are not happy, you can buy two and bridge each amplifier to 1000 watts! Or in reality we are closer to 1600 watts in 8 ohms, we must believe Vera Audio. And then we start talking!
The Vera Audio P400 / 1000 is a Class D amplifier with a switched power supply. This makes it much more efficient than a classic analog Class AB amplifier, hence the compact size. But with this effect we are talking about, even a Class D amplifier can go hot. That’s why Vera Audio has installed low-noise fans in the amplifier.
These are temperature controlled and will only start running when they have to. We are assured that in a room of 22 degrees or less, and if you are below 300 watts, then the fans will not start. If, on the other hand, you thunder loose for a long time at a time, the fans will switch on. But even if they go up to full speed at 1000 rpm, you almost have to put your ear to the fan opening to hear them.
Low impedances: Beware!
Like other Class D amplifiers, the P400 / 1000 is less efficient with low impedances below 3 ohms. Then the effect drops quickly, and you also lose the advantage of bridging. You will not get any more effect anyway. If you have low-impedance speakers, such as electrostats, you must therefore be vigilant. And since electrostats are very rarely very impedance linear, the amplifier will deliver more power in some frequency ranges than others, which then ultimately goes beyond the frequency response (EQ). Especially the harmonic range sounds with electrostats often restrained with Class D amplifiers.
The amplifier has adjustable gain, which is a kind of volume control. It’s nice to be able to adjust this according to how difficult speakers you have, to be able to play loud enough with speakers where the sensitivity is low, or if you want to adjust down gain if the speakers have very high sensitivity (think horn speakers). Furthermore, if you want to use an active crossover filter and connect an amplifier directly to each and every speaker element, you can adjust the gain individually to each speaker element. A well-known trick in the PA industry.
If you ignore the very dirty lyrics in Cardi B’s latest rap single WAP, you should really appreciate the rock-hard drive, especially in brass. Here it is just a matter of guffawing and feeling the bass rhythms on the body. With the preamplifier Hegel P30 in the front, the P400 / 1000 has better control over the Sonus faber Olympica III than most others, while Vera hits the voice reproduction. The vocals are so distinct and immediate that it feels as if you are one step closer to the sound engineer’s control room.
Taylor Swifts The 1 is a calm ballad with a good-sounding piano, rhythmic clap samples and a soft bass drum. And with her voice sore and undressed in the middle of it all. This is truly the sound of hi-fi in all its glory; The amplifier can definitely do anything but power.
The amplifier also masters classical music great, and you do not need large floor-standing speakers to appreciate the qualities. Dynaudio Evoke 20, for example, is a superb all-round tripod speaker, which lacks a bit of speed compared to the B&W 705 S2, but which catches up with a larger and juicier bass. And very balanced sound.
The P400 / 1000 holds the speakers in the neck, when the horns and strings play to the fanfare of Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks, performed by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields in 1986. The attack on the trumpets is almost insane, and the double bass tight and well defined. while the violins shine at the top. The amplifier is able to separate the instruments from each other in a very convincing way.
Comparison with reference
In comparison, the Hegel P20 sounds a little notch warmer and more lush, with apparently more energy in the deep bass area. It is also able to draw the horizon further inwards so that the music is experienced with more depth. It is not as powerful on paper with its 200 watts. But there is plenty in most cases.
However, there is something about the immediacy of the Vera Audio amplifier that appeals to me. Hegelen is a bit more heavy at the back, where Vera snaps. A snare drum may sound a little slimmer, but also more outgoing.
Twice as much fun with two?
For the occasion, I got two amplifiers for testing, so I can play with bridge connection. And if we disregard the fact that we suddenly get over a kilowatt to route with per channel in 8 ohms, which is not necessary either in our test room or with any of the speakers I have tested with, things still happen with the sound.
I can not say that I felt any blur in front of the music with one amplifier connected in stereo. But compared to bridge mode, it’s like there was something there anyway. Because it feels as if the piano tones sound even more nuanced, with each estimate better differentiated from the previous one. In the specifications, the amplifier is then also stated to have an additional 2 dB lower noise floor, but since it was already at -130 dB, one would not think it was audible.
The music sounds a little better across the board, and then it’s cool to be able to bother the neighbors a little properly too! But is it worth doubling the price to get two amplifiers? It really depends on the equipment and the room, and your needs. There is a difference, but if I were to buy more amplifiers myself, it would probably be either because I wanted to operate speakers with an active crossover, or I had a home theater with several channels to operate.
By the way, if you increase your budget by another 25 percent, you can afford the Rotel Michi S5, which has both the cash sound and an even greater degree of weight, stability and air around each instrument. Well worth considering. In other words, Vera Audio is a larger warp with one amplifier than two.
Vera Audio P400 / 1000 is a very tough little guy. A Class D amplifier that kicks loose and holds iron grips around the speakers. In addition, it has the ability to embrace the nerve in music, as a result of vanishingly low distortion so that the music signal can emerge in its entirety. Yes, it has a fan, but it is almost never operational, and hardly audible anyway.
Although the amplifier can be bridged to deliver well over 1000 watts in 8 ohms, it keeps with an amplifier connected in stereo. Then you get an insanely good amplifier that masters all music, almost regardless of sound level.
Two amplifiers sound even better, but when the price doubles, the competition does the same.
Finally: Be careful with speakers with a messy impedance curve. If you have electrostats, try before you buy.