38 responses Add your response
not necessarily - the Spectron for example is a whole level better as a monoblock in bridged mode - - myself as well as many other users can attest to that. Spectron has plenty of power for most speakers so its not a power issue. Spectron claims cancellation of distortion products is the reason
Since the Ncore already has such low claimed distortion perhaps it would not have such benefits from bridged?
In any case, I would definitely be curious to hear from someone who tries it. . .
Yes, we do claim distortion cancelation when our stereo amp, Musician III is used in fully balanced monoblock configuration.
There is no any proprietary design. None what so ever. Any (transistor) stereo amp can be configured the same into fully balanced monoblock and on paper will have distortion cancelation too and Distortion-free sound is glorious...as you noted.
In real life if you want distortions cancelation then these from right channel must be equial to these from left channel and subctracting you have zero. Simple? In order to have it your parts tolerance (on right and left channels) MUST (M-U-S-T) be very high - otherwise one can create even more distortion.
Also, amplifier in such configuration has double slew rate (same raise time...but one channel go to +Signal and another to -Signal is distance of 2x Signal), double bandwidth, entire power supply dedicated to one speaker instead of two as was in stereo etc.
NCore has good specs on the paper, so one can try...
Finally had a chance to hear the nCores in my system. My current amps are the Joule Electra VZN100's.
The nCores were very difficult to assess. At first, I thought they sounded good but something was missing. Trying to get a description, all I could think of was polished. We listened for days but found ourselves not so into our music collection. I just couldn't stay connected to the music. My audio buddy stopped by as he was very interested in these nCores but thought they sounded compressed. When we returned the Joules into action it was an immediate reminder just how amazing these tube amps are. We are both disappointed with the nCores but given the number of folks who love these things, we want to try another pair. I do have 97db sensitivity on the speakers. Maybe that has something to do with it?
I don't want to like the Joules, too hot, too weird. But I can't find anything even close that connects us with the music.
Maybe there was something wrong with these nCores?
Maybe there was something wrong with these nCores?
The Ncores sound best plugged directly into the wall. I'm not sure of your set up, but that is the way that most users found them to sound best. There are many threads about the Ncore over on the Audio Circle forum. Perhaps there may have been a deviation in this particular build? Dunno?
Your Joule Electra amps are a superior sounding tube amp, no doubt about it. They offer a true 3D bloom that can be found in only the best of tube amplification. The Ncore is SS Class D, and as DIY can be put together for about 15% of the JE VZN 100's. Your high sensitivity speakers are pretty much a non issue for the Ncores. Many are using them with high sensitivity with great results.
Hey lets face it, you already have a fantastic sounding amp and the Ncore didn't float your boat. No biggie!
Beauty is in the ear of the listener :-).
Rodge827, very good points. In the context of comparing apples to apples I found the basic unbridged nCore 400s (I spent $1375. building mine) are less forward, more relaxed, with greater space between instruments. Basically an across the board improvement within the varying designs of, the still young class D, switching amplification.
I've been enjoying switching amplifiers since the PS Audio HCA-2. I find them an economically stellar sonic alternative to tube and solid state. In most examples they're unmatched at certain attributes. Generally, their transparency, while unmistakably forward sounding, maintains a remarkably uncongested presentation even when pushed hard. The most critical detractors agree their bass is rock solid even though they may not be comfortable with their unembellished bass.
As a long time owner of tube amplification I never understood the claims of switching amplifiers "tube like midrange." I have heard quite a few switchers and never found that second order harmonic thing with class D or with solid state. Hence, if you like tubes, buy tubes.
At the other end of the efficiency range, I have 81dB speakers and, while there is plenty of power, I can't help but wonder what bridged amps would do.
I assembled the mono amps with one SMPS/NC400 in each stereo case so there is provision for adding a second. Just thought I'd wait for someone else to do this and comment before I spent the other $1300.
And, as far as tube "sound" is concerned, I use a Metric Halo LIO-8 processor and find that the NCore neutrality (IMO) works well with the "Modern California Tube" character setting. Hey, DSP tone controls!
So, no-one has made/heard bridged NC400s?
Question for Nsirkin, Hi my name is MrAcoustat, i was at a friend's home a few weeks ago and for the FIRST time heard a class D amplifier that i liked, it was a Hypex stereo amp with NC-400 & SMPS-600, now i have the intention of having mono blocks built for myself, my speakers are also 81db Acoustat 1+1s [IMG]http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/zz61/MrAcoustat/KeepItSimple1000X750.jpg[/IMG]i want wood chassis just like the Leviathan Red Dragon i know that it will cost more but i don't care because i not only like good sound i also like good looking units, please let me know if for you the NC-1200 & SMPS-1200 was worth the extra cost Thank You. email@example.com
PS: More photos here!!!!! http://www.flickr.com/photos/mracoustat/
I have ordered 2 Veritas monoblocks from Merrill Audio. I expect to receive them by the end of October and will be able to directly compare them to the NC400s I assembled.
It's hard to imagine a better amplifier than the NC400s, IMO, but the attention to detail, component quality and case construction of the Veritas amps has me salivating!
To finish up, I just listened to my OPPO-95 playing SACDs directly into the NC400s and it is just the best I have heard in my room.
Thats great - I'll sure bet you are excited about the Veritas amps!
FYI, there was a bunch of discussion recently over on audiocircle and the few lucky owners of NC1200 amps (basically either the Merrill or the Atsah) are all reporting they sound much better than the NC400.
Interesting to see if that will be your impression too!
Dan, since the NC1200s will be in such a better "environment", a comparison would be inconclusive. Besides, I am sure that I will like the new amp better. ;^)
Simon, they do use the SMPS1200. I think that the site typo occurred because there are 2 versions of the SMPS1200, differing only in fixed output voltages. There's an SMPS1200a700 and an SMPS1200a400 version.
Early Christmas with these things and I'm going crazy getting photos as the chassis moves along! Boy, I love this hobby!
Well, a big congratulation to Nsirkin! I was lucky enough to know Merrill from one of the local Audio Clubs we both belong too and had the opportunity to assist Merrill in listening tests of his prototypes. Besides myself there were a few other Audiophiles from time to time. This was in my system as well as several others.
My system is: B&W 802D speakers; PS Audio Perfectwave DAC MKII with Bridge by Ethernet and PW Transport by I2S/HDMI; Synergistic Research Galileo Universal Bi-wire Speaker Cells and Balanced Interconnect Cells; Power Conditioning is Synergistic Tesla PowerCell 10 SE MKII; Power cords to the amps and DAC and Transport are Triode Wire Labs Ten Plus (Very impressed with Pete's power cords. You owe it to your self to try them. Money back Guarantee).
I have tried MANY amps but could not find the RIGHT one with the BEST sound with also the following: Mono Blocks; True Differential Balanced Inputs; Not to weigh a TON but also to have quality chases; Cool running, for an amp; Quality parts, and no throw away power cords; Sound that is Pure, life like, true to tone, fast with total control of the speakers, real sounding rise and decay of the sound of instruments, deep, wide holographic sound-stage, not sterile but not warm, even sounding from top to bottom, able to reach well into the highs and dig deep into the lows, easy to maintain, no added noise of its' own (I can not believe how quite they are) and also musical/toe taping. And the price is NOT an arm and a leg. Yes, Merrill's amps are not inexpensive but to even come close to the sound, let alone everything else Merrill is including, someone would have spend a HELL of a lot more. I quit after hearing $16,000 to $30,000+/- amps and while some were really great sounding amps, NOT one can give me the sound that Merrill's Veritas amps do.
Now, every person, who I know of, who heard Merrill Audio Veritas in their system (who has a system that can really take advantage of it) have all been surprised and impressed. ONE CAVEAT!! They are very sensitive to power cords and power conditioning. We found out that you can not just assume that a well regarded power cord will work well with the amps. They did not like a pair of Synergistic Basik cords but their active type were fine. Also there were other well known brands that had some issues. They LOVE Pete's Triode Wire Labs Cables, both Ten Plus and Seven Plus. So make sure you try several types if you upgrade from what Merrill Audio already gives you(but I think you would have to spend a lot more before you "might" get an improvement over the TWL cables). And 9 out of 10 times they will sound better NOT plugged into a power conditioner.
If you have the source and speakers that can take advantage of what this amp can do you will be AMAZED!! My B&W 802Ds never sounded this good. I hear things, from top to bottom, that I never heard or as well. And base, who needs a woofer?!
As with food we all have different tastes and this my not be yours and that is fine, more power to you, but if you have no ax to grind and really hear them set up properly you are in for a treat.
Now these are my opinions and observations and YMMV but if you take the time and set it up properly you will be amazed. It REALLY takes A LOT to impress me enough to make me spend my money and I rarely post. That is how impressed I am. Call me a FAN BOY.
I have no financial interest in Merrill Audio. Yes I have bought a pair. Are they perfect, no, nothing is but they come pretty close to it, and at this price for new, I have not heard anything else like it and as good.
PS These amps need to be left ON, not standby, and seeing that they use like 8-9 watts when not in use it is like leaving on a night light. They need several hundred hours of play four the amps, fuses, power cords to sound their best so take your time and you will be rewarded. If you do shut them off it will take a couple of hours to sound good but after a day or two you are back to great.
Thanks, I can't wait!
I use TWL 7+ power cords with the NC400s and have sold my Conrad-Johnson LP275M amps and have Parasound JC-1s for sale.
This 3.5" round NC400 board (with the SMPS) can drive my 81dB MBLs as I have never heard before and that is pulling less than 20 watts from the wall at idle!
I just got pictures of the Veritas chassis after glass-bead polishing and about to go for anodizing!
I presently use my PS Audio PW DAC MK II and the volume control that is built in. I have used this configuration for several years now even with my Wadia 861. Though with the Wadia I also could through my Halcro pre into the mix at times. IMHO if your system is neutral then you do not need a preamp and extra cables that will add its own tone/sound to the mix. The Veritas is so transparent, quite, neutral in tone, musical and not analytical in any way you want to advantage of that. Now if you like the "sound" of tubes you may want to add that into the mix and all the power to you and enjoy.
One caveat. To really get the best out of the Veritas USE BALANCED ONLY. Yes you can use an adapter but you have not heard what tis amp can truly do till you us balanced.
And I mean True Balanced. Many products have balanced inputs/outputs but are not truly balanced.
I hope my long winded response helped you. If you have any more questions let me know.
I know I'm reviving an old thread, but was wondering if perhaps anyone else had comments about the NC400 module. I'm always keeping an eye out for an amp setup and this caught my attention.
I was first looking at the channel islands models and my search lead me to Hypex. I looked into building a couple of mono blocks using the NC400 modules to be able to get into a Hypex setup and save myself some money. The CI amps were $1600 a pair for the lowest model.
I looked into building my own using the NC400, but with the exchange rate and the VAT, building my own is going to cost more than just buying them from CI.
Any thoughts? Is just buying them pre built a better way to go for a U.S. resident?
Tony, which Channel Islands amp is based on Ncore? I went to the web site.... Seems both D500 and D200 are based on older Hypex UCD modules. As far as I know, the Ncore NC400 module by Hypex is solde only to the DIY market. OEM manufacturers purchase Hypex NCore NC1200 modules instead for their amps... Currently, Merrill Veritas, Acoustic Imagery ATSAH, Mola-Mola.
It is less than a week that I have playing with a borrowed pair of NC400s, but they have amazed me. They work well with a good tubed preamp. If you have the system for it, they really expose the space around the recording extremely well. This is not a subtle thing. It can really make reality pop! My speakers are only 84dB efficient and are the bare minimum that I would want to use with these amps. Brass doesnt have quite as much a bite with these as my current amp, but I consider that minor. The NC1200 is said to be better with brass, so it may be just a power thing. If that is the case and your speakers are more efficient than mine then you might not have that issue. Even with that issue, the many virtues of these amps greatly overcome that subtle issue. I currently plan to buy a set to replace my current amp.
Next week I plan to bypass my tubed preamp and go straight into the NC400s from my solid state DAC. If I learn any more, I will post to this tread.
My post above was badly written. I must have been half asleep. The current bottom of the line Channel Islands amp (from what I understand) is BASED on a UCD200(?). When researching the amp, I saw the name Hypex pop up so I checked it out, which led me to the NC400.
I may have been trading apples for oranges as the CI unit is based on a Ucd module as opposed to the NC400, but I found the NC400 interesting anyway.
As I said, maybe apples to oranges, but I was wondering if it is just more cost effective to get the CI amps rather than build my own based on the NC400 module. As I said, the modules and power supplies, due to the exchange rate and VAT, aren't inexpensive.
I'm figuring after everything is said and done, it's looking like an NC400 build, done nicely, is going to run about $1K each.
The NC series is better than the UCD series. I consider $2000 for a pair of NC400 based monoblocks to be tremendous value.
You might be happy enough with UCD based amplifiers, but that's impossible for me to say. That's strictly up to you and what your priorities are. What I can say is I believe the extra money you lay out will not be wasted.
Wilsynet, when you say that the NC series is "better," I take it that you are saying that the NC sounds better. It just seemed to me that the NC products were something put together to accommodate the DIY crowd and not necessarily an advancement in the technology.
In any case, I'm sure that you are right about the value, in light of what many companies are charging for a pair of mono blocks. Still, the Channel Islands units seem to be a good value as well.
I think I'm going to have to join some sort of DIY forum as see what I can find out. I seem to have caught a bug and have it in my head that building a set of amps would be a fun and rewarding thing to do.
What I'm having a hard time with right now deciding between the Icepower and the Hypex modules. It seems that the Icepower stuff is dirt cheap now, relatively speaking, with two channel modules going for $500.
I unintentionally caught the Euro to Dollar at a favorable rate. I didn't get into casework so the whole project ran a little over $1300.
I wouldn't be surprised if some shielding casework and higher end power cables would improve the effort. My anxiousness to hear them and the subsequent improvement over my previous switching amplifiers led me to use the nCores assembled on a piece of Maple.
The sight of electronics screwed to a piece of wood has become quite the conversation piece especially when the Avalon Monitors get cranked up and there's little heat. A native Californian, I don't burn in the fireplace so if I ever smell wood my first glance will be out the window then at the nCores.
Thanks for setting me straight guys. I was under the incorrect impression that the NC products were an accommodation and of lesser quality than the UcD modules. That in itself tips the scales a tad bit in favor of building my own as opposed to buying a set that is based on the UcD modules.
I am also interested in placing mine in wood cabinets. It would be nice to have amplifiers that actually match my furniture.
A few months ago, a local audiophile borrowed my NC400 amplifiers and compared them to his very expensive state of the art Icepower based amplifiers.
When he returned the NC400 amps to me, he said it was no contest. He had already placed an order for his own NC400 modules.
I have kept my NC400 amps longer than any amplifier I have ever owned. If I named some of the amplifiers I've owned, borrowed, listened to -- most would agree that the list would represent some very credible, even elite manufacturers. Both tube and solid state.
Having said all that, let me also say that the NC400s are not out of place paired with my Coincident Statement Linestage. That's how good they are.
I still cannot believe how good my Hypex NCore NC400 bridged amplifiers sound. I am hearing bass, imaging and many other musical details I did not heard before with the Luxman. They are truly outstanding amplifiers. Of course, the Bricasti M1 DAC and the lack of a pre-amplifier help with the sound quality.
I connected my new Hypex NCore NC400 Bridged mono block class D power amplifiers to my Bricasti M1 DAC direct (no pre-amp) and my system sounds terrific. The combination of the Bricasti M1 DAC & the Hypex NCore bridged power amplifiers mono blocks sound more natural, clearer, have more bass, a lack of noise, excellent dynamics and details. Another layer of sound is presented WITHOUT THE pre-amplifier in the system. The Hypex NCore bridged mono block class D power amplifiers are highly recommended. I also tested the Hypex NCore mono blocks and feel the bridged version (4 NCore 400 amps, 2 on each side) is well worth the extra money based on the improved sound quality I am hearing.
conversations with Bricasti, Hypex & James (James Romeyn Music and Audio,
LLC), we decided to remove the R141 (circuit) from my Hypex NCore NC400 bridged
mono blocks, thus lowering gain by 14 dB, requiring 14 dB higher M1 volume
setting for same playback level. Bricasti says the goal is to have the M1 CLOSE
to 0db front panel attenuation. If you reduce the volume on the M1 DAC, you
cause more bit reduction meaning you lose sound quality. When you connect the
Bricasti M1 DAC to a power amplifier, you have to balance the M1 DAC to the
power amplifier in order to achieve your M1 volume settings CLOSE to 0db. My volume listening range is in the -10 to
-25db range depending on the source material.
the Hypex NCore Class D amps from James Romeyn Music and Audio, LLC (James). He
was very helpful answering my many questions.
This is my
first class D power amplifier and, based on my results, sounds terrific. Of
course, everyone has a different opinion on this subject. You never know “how
it really sounds”, until you listen in your room and system.
In summary, I
am thrilled with how good my system sounds. I am hearing details, imaging and
bass that I have not heard before. I highly recommend the Hypex NCore 400
bridged mono block power amplifiers. In addition, the elimination of the
pre-amplifier, in my system, greatly improves the overall sound quality (for
While I've never used a bridged NCore 400 amp I have used a quad amp'd non-bridged NC400 amp setup for about two years powering a pair of B&W 803D2's. During that time I was very impressed with what I heard. You haven't heard a true almost zero noise floor until you've heard these amps regardless of price. It's truly astonishing what a true black noisefloor can bring to the SQ table.
I know many people spend obscene amounts of money on power conditioning to try and lower the noisefloor of their systems but IME the majority of the noise heard is due to the components themselves and not the power grid. I say this with confidence because I've used other amps costing many times more than the NC400 on the same exact wall power at my house and as soon as I inserted the NC400 amps all noise I heard previously was magically gone.
I've since moved on to another Hypex amp (Merrill Veritas) and can confirm that they do indeed sound even better. I have no doubts that part of this has to do with the added power on tap as their are few speakers that don't behave better when almost unlimited power is on tap.
I can also confirm that another benefit of such a low noise floor is how easy it is to notice other tweaks to the amp itself. By this I mean power cords and isolation. I initialy heard the Veritas amps without their included Waveform Fidelity HE/MK3 HC power cables now included with them and the difference between the proper power cable and using some other brand was huge. The WF power cable made me a believer in what a good power cord can bring to the table.
In addition to the power cables these amps react very favorably to good chassis isolation. This is even considering the already hefty casework included to the Veritas amps. Again I heard my amps without the normaly included Stillpoint Minis for several weeks instead using an an equally impressive set of Solidtech Isoclear bases, as well as a set of Cardas Woodblocks. Each phase of isolation had noticable impacts on the sound. Ultimatly I settled on a set of Symposium Rollerblock Series 2+ with the Grade 2.5 Superballs. These brought a very nice finishing touch to the SQ of the amps above and beyond the previous isolation methods used before them.
All and all, you can't go wrong with these Hypex amps. Some will find them too honest but I suspect that is because they've gotten to used to the sound of the coloration found in almost all other flavors of power amp. I say given them a long listen before casting an opinion as their honesty does take some getting used to but once you realize the differences it's hard to go back.