There are a lot of audio products at all prices out there. Some of them, let’s be honest, don’t deserve their place in the audiophile pantheon but hold on by some minor miracle. At the other extreme, there are excellent products that should receive far better recognition that they get. Norma is distinctly in the latter camp; this Italian manufacturer builds them right, as evidenced by the Revo IPA-140 integrated amplifier.
Norma designer Enrico Rossi is based in Cremona and the city’s significant connection with music and musical instrument design has clearly rubbed off. He believes the reproduction of the human voice – especially the human voice in song – is so difficult that it is a window on the quality of a system, and as a result the voice is used extensively in listening tests on Norma products. This ethos could result in something ethereal and meaningless, were it not for Opal – Norma’s parent company – and its thorough grounding in test equipment. This gave Rossi the opportunity to develop the Norma project over a six-year period in the 1990s, prior to launching the first products.
The company’s Revo IPA-140 is a modern-day result of this painstaking design brief. It’s a 140W per channel, fully dual mono integrated amplifier, using a sextet of MOSFETs on each side, giving the amplifier a potential burst power of 1.5kW. And it really is truly dual mono – if you go for the specified phono stage option, it comes as two boards, one for each channel. Aside from the plug and the optional USB digital input (it’s hard to split a single USB connector into two and still have it work), the amp is essentially two monoblocks sharing a common front panel, sitting in a non-magnetic, solid aluminium chassis. Norma has gone with a high-bandwidth design (>2MHz) and has built it to last with elements like sealed and very long-lasting gold/palladium relays for source switching.
It’s a fairly minimalist looking amplifier with only chromed volume knob and a set of LEDs highlighting which source is used as the only concessions toward frivolity.