Several people have remarked that it noticeably outpaces the NWO-1, which was categorically the most lifelike digital I've heard to date. That includes many of the finest players available. In this hobby, the music becomes the focus when the component doesn't interrupt your listening by 'shouting out' its attributes. And that's APL.
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I recently took the plunge and ordered the NWO-2.5. I'll post my impressions after I receive and evaluate my unit. In the meantime, I would like to share what I uncovered in my research. This was very helpful in making my decision to take the plunge. Perhaps, it may be helpful for you also.
There are several reviews/impressions of the NWO series on the APL Forum and on Audiogon. Some of the reviewers of the NWO also own several top-tier digital sources including EMM Signature combo, dCS stack, Spectral SDR4000S, Zanden combo, and Reimyo as well as the state-of-the-art vinyl front-ends that ranged from $32K to $65K. In addition to the seductive superlatives for the NWO, the reviewers heralded the NWO-2.0 and its superior successor the NWO-2.5 not only as the state-of-the-art digital but also as being head-and-shoulders ahead of the top-tier players listed above, in both the Redbook and SACD formats. For some reviewers, "nothing came even close" to the NWO-2.5. Perhaps more significant, were the comments that placed the 2.5 on par with or better than the state-of-the-art vinyl. In other words, this may be a milestone for both digital and vinyl. For details, see for example: http://www.aplhifi.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=558
I'm a hard nosed academic and I'm not easily seduced by reviewers' superlatives. Therefore, I wanted to know what is the solid basis for those superlatives describing the NWO-2.5 milestone; the hardware, software, engineering and implementation:
1. The NWO is based on the Esoteric UX-1. It uses the UX-1's chassis and it's top-of-the-line VRDS-NEO transport (NOT the smaller and lighter version of the VRDS in the UX-3, X-03, P-03 or in the Spectral SDR4000S). Check out the pictoral comparison between NWO's transport (the VRDS-NEO) and some transports of other top-tier players: http://www.aplhifi.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=560
Those pictures are worth a million words! The rest of the audio elements in the NWO-2.5 are the brilliant extensive re-design and implementation by Alex Peychev.
2. 20 DACs per channel: A configuration of 10 DACs working in differential mode where each DAC chip has separate DACs inside for the differential outputs. These are the flagship AKM DACs that were designed for professional application with significantly less out-of-band noise compared to other DACs. That should dramatically reduce distortion and noise.
3. 211KHz/32bit upsampling (The world's first implementation was in the NWO-1.)
4. Proprietary APL Hi-Fi Master clock
5. Fully balanced and transformer coupled Class "A" tube output stage that features the dual triode 6H30pi known for it's extremely linear transfer characteristics.
6. H-Attenuator, with remote volume control (so, no preamp is needed), that is configured in Class "A" differential mode.
7. A special version of the output transformer, additional linear R-core power supplies.
Please note that I am not affiliated with APL Hi-Fi. I currently own the excellent APL 3910 with AKM DACs, and I'm impressed with what Alex accomplished in that player. Given NWO-2.5's solid engineering, my sublime experience with it's predecessor, and it's superlative reviews, it appears that this milestone is worth mortgaging the house for. In my humble opinion, it's worth taking the plunge. Stay tuned. I'll post my impressions.
As good as this unit might be, I would sure want to hear the Meridian 808 Signature Reference ($13.5K) before buying in this price class (assuming one could live with RBCD & DVD-A only). Great review in September Absolute Sound by Sue Craft and Robert Hartley. Apparently with this one you can hear a cockroach crawling along the far wall of the recording studio.
they were absolutely corrrect with that review. I have just recently purchased the 808 and it is breathtaking!!! It is by far the best I have ever heard in digital playback. If you play a hybrid sacd from a good recording it is soo killer. I had my eoteric xo1 limited in the same system and hooked up the meridian and the redbook is to die for. The same cd sounded as good if not better than the esoteric on sacd (hybrid). It is truely the new reference player
I dunno, I have listened and owned over 45 player's in the past few years, and APL, Alex, has won me over, AGAIN. So much so I just PIFed for the NWO 2.5, cause I definately believe in this unit being the beat available, regardless of price. Best of luck in YOUR journey, but, mine ends with ALEX, and his NWO 2.5.
As good as this unit might be, I would sure want to hear the Meridian 808 Signature Reference ($13.5K) before buying in this price classMy neighbor has one. It sits idle on his shelf, bested by both MBL & Zanden. Yet even with the support of a $250K system in a blue-printed listening room, neither his MBL or Zanden transport/DAC combos dig out nearly as much presence and palpability as I heard from the APL. Not even close. I'm not talking about extension, air, transparency, etc....but purely about the daring presence of a person singing in front of you.
I'm the first to argue that there is no absolute 'best' in this hobby, but I must say that the NWO was spine-chillingly good.
The apl players are very nice indeed but you folks are being very milseading by saying it crushes the Meridian 808. There is no digital playback made that can do that period. The machine comes with a factory 5 year warranty to back it up, is upgradable when necessary and is truely amazing. I have the Apl nwo-2 and it is a great player but it doesn't hold a candle to the meridian. I have yet to hear any digital playback that is able to extract so much information from a cd than this player. I wish people would say more accurate responses when someone needs their help. There are way to many variables to consider when asked this question to compare players. Many times stores don't have their equipment set up right in order to do a fair a/b comparison. I will give you a case in point. I went to my local store who sells Mcintosh, ayre, meridian,dcs,wadia, and esoteric to name a few and I wanted to compare some cd players in the identical setup I have at home. Well for one, he had the mcintosh mc501 monos plugged in a normal outlet together. No dedicated lines (very necessary)and regular cheap speaker wire from the 70's. I wanted to buy the ayre c5xe, meridian 808,wadia 861 se( which I still have)esoteric xo1 limited, and the po3/d03 combo, as well as the dcs separtes, but I couldn't really hear that much of a difference. So I took them all home as demos. I have owned all of these units after this test at one point and now only have the meridian and the nwo-2. I was able to take all these home for a week and demo them and I will say that they all were significantly better in my system because of the way it is set up and were all good players and all quite unique in their own way. I could totally hear a significant difference between players. The meridian will rock your world. I have friends and family who come over all the time and when I had the 808 hooked up everyone thought I got a new stereo. It truely changed my system and bought it to another level. Hope this helps you out. It is very important to try everything in you setup. Also realize that the other components must be able to allow you to hear differences otherwose it is very hard to discern between digital playback.
It is very important to try everything in you setup. Also realize that the other components must be able to allow you to hear differences otherwose it is very hard to discern between digital playback.
I totally agree with you that the best way to evaluate a particular component is in a properly set up system consisting of sufficiently resolving components and in your own familiar listening room. I would add that proper acoustical room treatment/correction is also essential because poor room acoustics could camouflage both strenghts and weaknesses of a component. And in my humble opinion, it's best to evaluate a component over a long period of time. In the links I provided in my post above, it is made clear that several of the reviewers owned both the NWO and the particular top-tier players they were comparing it with (including Meridian 808 Signature, EMM Signature combo, Zanden, dCS stack, Spectral SDR4000S, Reimyo). It is also clear that those comparisons where done in state-of-the-art systems. These comparisons were NOT done in dealer showrooms or on a short term loan from a dealer. Therefore, your blanket implications to the contrary are not true. To let them stand without a correction would be irresponsible. It is one thing to express your opinion about equipment, it is quite another to falsely imply that those audiophiles with their state-of-the-art systems were negligent in their comparison tests. Perhaps, your lack of knowledge of the details was due to your not being able to use the above links since, for some reason, they got truncated. Should you request, I can provide those links in a private email.
I wish people would say more accurate responses when someone needs their help.
Judging by the calibre of the digital sources you auditioned (Ayre CX-5e, dCS separates, Wadia 861se, Esoteric X-01 Limited and the P-03/D-03 combo), you are obviously a very devoted audiophile. The fact that the NWO-2.0 and the Meridian 808 are the only digital sources that now remain in your system suggests to me that, except for your opinion on the 808, you agree with the reviewers in my links that the NWO is superior to the rest of the top-tier players you heard. The difference of opinion on the 808 can perhaps be attributed to individual preferences/systems. It's great that you have found a player that satisfies your taste preferences and is synergistic with your system. Congratulations! You are entitled to express your opinions about your equipment as you have done. For example:
The apl players are very nice indeed but you folks are being very milseading by saying it crushes the Meridian 808. There is no digital playback made that can do that period.
I have the Apl nwo-2 and it is a great player but it doesn't hold a candle to the meridian.
It appears that you are of the opinion that no digital playback can crush the Meridian 808 but the 808 can crush other digital players. I attribute this extreme opinion to your youthful exuberance for your new toy. By the way, you didn't mention if you have heard the NWO-2.5, the successor to your 2.0. Those who heard both the 2.5 and the 2.0, claim the 2.5 crushes the 2.0 (see the links in my previous post). If you do hear the 2.5, let us know your impressions.
I am unable to locate reviews of any NWO models other than anecdotal remarks by a few internet posters. Can someone direct me to a bona fide review?
With $10K in mods on top of the Esoteric mule, APL is at an unprecedented price-point for a modder. It seems like what we are seeing here is evolution beyond the modder's art to a branded, productized solution, albeit one with dual branding. Don't know what APL's marketing plan is for this unit. Word of mouth? Travel to CA for Audition? It's quite an evolution in the hi-end that the world's best player could also be the world's best kept secret. A unit that preportedly "crushes" all other uber-hi-end units certainly deserves broader coverage. Or has our industry become so fragmented that stealth marketing by internet forum is both necessary & sufficient as a promotional tool for SOTA equipment?
With $10K in mods on top of the Esoteric mule, APL is at an unprecedented price-point for a modder. It seems like what we are seeing here is evolution beyond the modder's art to a branded, productized solution, albeit one with dual branding.
The NWO-2.5 is Alex Peychev's cost-no-object design. Technically, this is not a "mod" of the Esoteric UX-1 (or X-01) because all audio elements get replaced by proprietary elements as I have noted in my post above. To design the best possible digital source, Alex decided that he needed to start with the best available transport. Since Esoteric does not licence their top-of-the-line VRDS-NEO transport (They do licence their smaller/lighter VRDS.), the only way to get this transport is to use an X-01 or UX-1 as a mule. Some may call his decision fanaticism or obsession. After following Alex's work and enjoying his previous creation (the APL 3910), I call it the ultimate devotion to perfection. But even with this extra cost, Alex was able to achieve the state-of-the-art at far below the cost of many of the top-tier players. I saw a post somewhere by Alex that said Esoteric/Teac supports his effort 100%.
Don't know what APL's marketing plan is for this unit. Word of mouth? Travel to CA for Audition? It's quite an evolution in the hi-end that the world's best player could also be the world's best kept secret.
At present, there does not appear to be a marketing plan. It's all word of mouth. As I read and heard the comments about the NWO-2.5 from a variety of sources (Audio Asylum, Audiogon, APL Forum, private communications), it was clear to me that most of the superlatives attributed to the NWO-2.5 went beyond what I have read about other top-tier players. They were groping for a new language to describe the NWO. And these were comments by audiophiles who owned several top-tier players and state-of-the-art vinyl systems. That inspired me to order the 2.5 and check it out for myself. I'll post my impressions when I get it. In the meantime, I agree with you that there should be broader coverage. I'm trying to do my part by sharing the information that I came up with during my research. But my real test will be in tasting the pudding. Stay tuned.
I keep seeing each of Alex's newer units as being described here in Audiogon as "blowing away" the previous generation. There is a lack of description of how it is better. For some reason any newer mod to any unit is described as elevating performance to stratospheric levels. I don't understand if this is a selling forum or an information forum.
I keep seeing each of Alex's newer units as being described here in Audiogon as "blowing away" the previous generation. There is a lack of description of how it is better.
In my first post above, I provided a link to a thread on the APL Forum which contains the information you are asking for. You will find extensive details there by three different posters on 8/27/06, each comparing the NW0-2.5 with the 1.0. And on 8/29/06, a poster gives many details comparing the 2.5 with the 2.0. (With some research, additional relevant details can be uncovered elsewhere on Audiogon, Audio Asylum and the APL Forum.) No short summary could do justice to the extensive comments made in those four posts. That is why I provided that link to their first-hand accounts. Three of those posters, like me, are not affiliated with the APL company. After reading those posts, you can decide for yourself if this is just "selling" or information provided by serious audiophiles. For your convenience, I will provide the link again:
One has to wonder if the aforementioned threads are nothing more than a marketing strategy.
Reasonable skepticism is good but baseless speculation is not! Most of the positive comments about APL's NWO in this thread and in the provided links were made by audiophiles who are not affiliated with the APL company. They are not unlike some of comments you made on other threads. For example, you commented on the AH! Njoe Tjoeb 4000 CD player on at least eight (8) thread on Audiogon. Your comments were effusive, gushing with delight. AND, you provided links! But, it would be equally baseless for me to speculate that your comments and links might be a part of a marketing strategy!
A limited production unit is not really a phantom device. At the price level of the NWO series there will be far less units sold than for the AH! Njoe Tjoeb. The fewer buyers, the less the production backlog will be. Works for me...
Unless you live near APL, it may be difficult to audition a unit. I was prepared to buy an established product - the Ayre universal player - until I made a 3 hour comparison with APL Phillips SACD 1000 and decided it would be a step sideways instead of up. My NWO-1 sounds much better than the APL Phillips which sounded much better than my modified Pioneer universal and the Xindak player.
True, but I was commenting on an established product. Not some phantom device that doesn't even exist on the companies own web site.
Unfortunately, your reply to my post about your speculation is based on erroneous assumptions. If you had checked out the above links, you would have noticed that the NWO-2.5 was first announced on the APL web site on 8/24/06. (See Announcements in the Digital section of the APL Forum on the aplhifi.com web site. The interactive nature of the web site was achieved by integrating the forum with the web site. Personally, I prefer this to the static one-sided web sites.) What may make that announcement more credible for you is that it was made by an owner of the NWO-2.5, not by the APL staff. You will also find on that site listening impressions by owners of the NW0-2.5 and other audiophiles who have auditioned a production unit. By definition, an object that actually exists is not a phantom. To argue otherwise, has no basis in fact. (Similarly, your speculation, in a previous post above, lacks factual evidence.) Calling the NWO a "phantom device", contrary to the evidence, amounts to name-calling. Personally, I prefer a more civil discussion.
Kaaos, I do not have any dealers and I personally sold each of the NWO players. All of my customers still own their NWO-1, NWO-2 and NWO-2.5. None of them have compared their NWO with a "friend" who has a Meridian 808 either.
This said, Optarchie does not own NWO-2 nor he has ever heard one.
6moons.com just posted a preview of Srajan Ebaen's review of Esoteric P-03/D-03/G-0s which uses the VRDS-NEO transport. This is Teac's top-of-the-line transport that is also in APL's NWO-2.5. Srajan uses, with permission, Alex's photo comparing the VRDS-NEO with other transports used in some high-end players. He also credits Alex for bringing this to our attention: "Alex to the rescue." If more high-end manufacturers will pay more attention to their transports, we could all benefit. Here is the link to the 6moons' preview:
I have been following this thread, and as one of the owners of the NWO-2.5 and poster on the APLHiFi website, I thought I might post here as well. There are many people posting both conjectures and actual comparisons with other equipment. I don't have an extensive laundry list of equipment to which I compared the NWO-2.5. I personally own the dCS Elgar plus and Purcell. Needless to say, they will soon be listed for sale.
I find one very important thing lacking in all of the posts in this thread....comparisons to live unamplified music. One would think that audiophiles don't care about that anymore. Perhaps no one goes to live music venues anymore. I think many professional reviewers have taken this same path.
My personal bias (and everyone has a bias) is, much more so, live music, not comparisons with more electronically reproduced music. I have been involved with live music in one form or another for over 30 years, studying, performing (vocalist) and attending live venues. I have recall of loving music since the age of 5, loving the emotion and space one can be brought to via a single work of music. I love a variety of musical genres and have performed both country folk, folk, and classical music. I also love jazz,
R & B, new age, world...what ever that is???
I can not add extensive comparisons to the latest and greatest pieces of equipment vs. the NWO-2.5 to this discussion. But, I can add my listening experience with the NWO-2.5 vs. years of live experience with music. I don't have to struggle to recall what any particular instrument sounds like in a live space, since I have been around live instruments for most of my life. The aural memory is ingrained.
I tend to judge reproduction of music by its emotional impact on myself. If it can move me, it is usually much more naturally reproduced....more similar to a live venue. For me, it is really that simple. Oh...I can break it down and analyze the individual and technical parts of the experience. My original reaction when I first heard the NWO-2.5 in Alex' system was...this sounds like live, unamplified music...I could "feel" the ebb and flow, the emotional interplay of individual instruments lines in every piece of music I listened to. It was so easy to get swept away and experience the performance as opposed to analyzing what wasn't right about the sound reproduction. On first listening, nothing distracted me from the experience of the music...there just wasn't anything to analyze.
That has been a rare experience for me, and I have listened to some pretty extensive and well regarded systems. My personal system has been upwards of $100K, but with the NWO-2.5, I am eliminating other pieces....going for a more simple approach. Seemingly, I am finding that anything put in the chain after the NWO-2.5, detracts from its musical performance. So simplify, simplify, simplify.
So those are my initial gut reactions to the NWO-2.5 playing a wide variety of music....classical, R & B, jazz.
On the more analytical side, what I hear the NWO-2.5 doing with digital media is that it gets the timing and drive of the live thing correct. It seems to cause the speakers to move more air than other digital front ends I have used or heard. There is seemingly more impact, even startling at times...like a live venue. This was amazing to me. Instrumental timbre was spot on with every instrument I threw at it (voice, piano, violin, cello, steel, nylon and cat gut string guitar, a variety of reed instruments (oboe, tenor and baritone sax, french horn, etc.).
For me, the NWO-2.5 put all this together in a coherent single piece of music that provided the magic that I get in a live venue.
For those that want to hear the more audiophile terms, yes, the bass is wonderful, impactful, tuneful, neither too lean nor too bloated; mids are weighty (not heavy) having the correct body, highs....maybe the best I have heard....oh so natural with "natural" detail and air. Imaging...I have not experienced a peer to the NWO-2.5. Remember that every piece of equipment interacts with the others in the chain. So, one may be able to make the NWO-2.5 sound less than it can.
Now I also wanted to talk briefly about the man behind the NWO-2.5 and that is Alex. He is the designer, the tweaker, the production technician, the final evaluator of every machine he creates. With regard to these aspects of his company, he is a one man show. Production numbers are, therefore, going to be low. I have known Alex for about a year and a half now and for me the one thing I can say is that I have rarely found another person who knows how to really listen and compare electronic reproduction to the actual sound of live instruments. He really knows what they sound like.
I am only a customer, and now friend. I have no financial interest in his company except a personal interest in seeing him succeed. He is a truly gifted man, being able to turn electronic designs (based on years of creating and listening) into musically accurate reproducers. He is incredibly impassioned with music and getting it right. His biases clearly align with mine. He is driven to continually improve his designs. I had originally ordered the 2.0 and he called me up, excited that he had found some changes to be made that significantly improved the SACD playback....well, they also improved the CD playback. That change is now the NWO-2.5.
To end....I am simply a happy camper. I have said enough!
Good luck to all in that elusive chase of their own "absolute sound."
I have had the NWO-2.5 in possession for a few months now.
My system had never sounded better. There is no digital glare. The midrange is sensational. The sound staging is the best I have heard.
The NWO-2.5 can also embarrass a state of the art analogue system.
I also own the EMM Lab signature units and also the Spectral 4000S in two other systems. By far the Apl NWO-2.5 is my all time favorite. As Jeff mentioned above , it compares favorably to Life music.
Are there any owners of NWO 2.5 in LA area? I Would love to audition this unit.
Apogee made an excellent effort to convey the sound signature of the NWO 2.5 and differentiate from typical digital sound. I agree, Live music should be the absolute reference. It will be also helpful if he comapres NW0 sound with Dcs elgar/purcell combo he has had.
Hifirabbit, could you also post comparision of NW02.5 with Emm labs?
Hello Guido, the NWO-1 was entirely single ended design with 10 DACs per channel and single ended output stage. The NWO-2 is all balanced with 10 x fully differential DAC design which equals 20 DACs per channel (10 + 10 in differential mode). The tube stage was also re-designed to differential mode featuring new output transformers. The NWO-2.5 has the same differential topology as NWO-2 but it comes re-designed DAC boards, re-designed Master Clock and additional PCB which allows for much purer digital signal path. Conversion of DSD to PCM is changed from the original 88.2K to 176.4K. Since the AKM DACs are capable of 216K input sample rate, all NWO players up-convert all formats to 211K.
The best way to know which one is better,If you have a chance,bring them home, and connect them with your system,
some players they perform poorly in my system, some they perform well in my system,CONSIDER THE SERVICE ALSO.THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.DISREGARD BIAS OPINION.IF YOU WILL SEARCH THIS SITE.YOU WILL FIND OUT MOST OF THE POSTERS SOMETIMES CANT SAY BAD THINGS ABOUT THEIR FRIENDS PRODUCT.BEWARE.
Well, I finally got to hear the NWO-2.5 tonight. My review of the player? ___________________(insert expletive here) unbelievable!
Alex said he had reached a point with the player where he was now unable to analyze or dissect the sound. We also found it impossible to do so. Everything we heard sounded like music, plain and simple.
During a piece by Rachmaninov, Alex asked if I heard the triangle struck in the background, and then muted by a hand. "Yes, I heard it," I said, "and saw it, too." If you can get one, do it. That's all I can say.
I was interested in purchasing a Meridian 808i and in doing research ran across this thread, in which fiesty supporters of the NWO 2.5 show Meridian supporters no mercy. Mibviking says that it "crushes" the Meridian. Boa2 says that the poor Meridian sits on the sidelines (bested by units that cost three times as much). I find the APL NWO 2.5 very interesting, and feel it must be an awesome machine. But the fact that product is so expensive and info is so scarce, it seems remarkable to me that anyone would purchase one of these units to ever know how good it was. You talk about a leap of faith, a $20000 one at that. Meridian is a bonfide, top notch company whose reputation is impeccable. Where will Alex be in five years when your unit fails? Where will Meridian be? Enough said. I'll take a "crushed" Meridian please. As a matter of fact, I ordered one today.
From my understanding the leap of faith has been gradual. Initially, people purchased Alex's APL 3910 and were quite impressed at its performance. It gained kind of cult following among some audiophiles who said it outperformed all others at its price point and many others costing up to twice as much. Then, it seems, Alex pursued the best player he could make because people always want the best. That led to the development of the NWO 2.5. Many people who owned or heard his APL 3910 took the next leap of faith and purchased the new player. Others went to visit Alex to hear the player for themselves before purchasing it. If you can afford $20,000 for a CD player you can find a way to listen to it before purchasing it or you can read the posts on the APL website and be assured that you are purchasing a quality machine made by a true craftsman. As for me, I have no affiliation with APL or Alex - I have taken a small leap of faith and am waiting on delivery of one of the last of Alex's APL 3910s. If I were in the market for the best digital, I would find a way to listen to the NWO 2.5 or I would take a leap of faith knowing that everything Alex has made/modded has received rave reviews.