NuForce Reference 8 vs. 9


Two questions:

1) How might the two compare driving the Gallo Ref 3.1 (sensitivity 88 dB). Would the 8s be too small to get the base (my room is 17x10x11)

2) What are people using for pres for the NuForce?

I think the Reference 8 amps will have enough power to drive the Gallos in your size room. That said, I own both the Ref 8s and Ref 9s and the Ref 9s are fuller in the lower registers and provide more bass impact (regardless of speaker sensitivity).

I'm driving the Ref 9s with a Benchmark DAC1 through a unity-gain, passive-buffered (solid-state) preamp with fantastic results.

In another system with the Reference 8s I'm using a Monarchy Audio M24 tube DAC (with built-in tube linestage) directly into the Reference 8s with excellent results (great bass too).

I have a friend who swears by NuForce's own P-8 preamp, which is supposed to be very good, although I haven't tried it myself. The selection of the preamp depends on your own taste and listening biases, but great results can be achieved via different routes.
Driving my 9.02s with tubed ARC LS5MKIII with GNSC Ref mod.

Note 8s are now 8.5s. My audition of 8s was impressive and easily drove my 93db/w/m speakers. Hard to say what you'd hear due to preferred listening levels, etc.

Also, nobody mentions that the taper on the volume circuit/knob on preamps might mislead you. Some - maybe all? - use a non-linear log? taper, which means most of the gain is in the first bit of rotation. So you are led to think you have that much gain on the full turn but you don't, as it's 'runs out of gas' pretty quickly.

Techies - am I right about this? Newbies should be informed!

Bob Wood
Plato, I see you have owned the Monarchy SE160's. I own the SE250 and wonder how these Newforce amps sound compared to Monarchy. My concern is the Newforce amps may lack the body, texture and lushness on the Monarchy amps. Are these Nuforce amps on the sterile side of the sound spectrum? I now they can sound effortless,clean and transparent, but what about rounded notes and body?

Thanks for your help.

Hi Bill,

I would say that the NuForce Reference 9 is a pretty neutral sounding amp. The Reference 8 sounds a bit thinner in the lower midrange and upper bass, and lacks bottom end weight and slam (though their bass articulation is excellent. The clarity and imaging of the Reference 9 is also first rate.

The Monarchy SE-160 amps (really the same amps as the SE-250, in mono form) definitely sounded lush and warm compared to the NuForce. Probably the midrange and highs on the Monarchy amp are a little sweeter but not quite as clear and detailed. And the bass control of the Reference 9 is demonstrably superior to the weighty but somewhat less articulate Monarchy amps.

I used my Monarchy SE-160s driving the midrange/tweeter panels of the InnerSound Eros, where they provided a very synergistic match. Using them full range, their lack of bass definition becomes more of a factor, in my view.

I just received the Monarchy M24 tube DAC for review and I can tell you it is a very impressive sounding unit. What I'd probably do is use the M24 to drive the NuForce Reference 9s and have the best of both worlds... You should take a peek on Monarchy's website.
Plato, I have owned the SE160's and now the SE250's. The 250's have much better bass then the 160's. I love the 250's and these Nuforce amps just seem interesting. I think system matching and personal taste will most likely determine which amp is best for me.

I like a sweeter sound with warmth and body. The Monarchy amps do this with outstanding transparency at the same time. Voices are the very best I have heard. Better than Wright Sound 2a3 SET amps driving Cain & Cain IM Ben speakers! My old system.

Based on your comments I think the Monarchy SE250's will stay and someday I may try an A/B comparison with Nuforce on my Dali Grand speakers.

By the way, I find the P8 to be excellent, in that it is neutral, smooth and transparent. It smoked the Plinius M8 I compared it with by a large margin in my opinion, the M8 being quite electronic hard and grainy sounding. But the P8 is not a tube pre by any stretch. Give me the 'tell it like it is' P8 anytime, but others will want a preamp to do something to the sound.
i am, using the p-8 with my ref-9s driving tyler linbrook signature system speakers, my only tube gear is a ear 934p and at this point i am leaning to the ear over a ps audio gcph, for my ears i cant beat the sound i am getting from my setup, lots of luck with your choice in a preamp,
One thing to take into account is that you can't use a Nuforce amp together with the Gallo sub amp on the second voice coil.
"One thing to take into account is that you can't use a Nuforce amp together with the Gallo sub amp on the second voice coil."

This would be according to....?

for the music,
Probably according to Nuforce. I am not familiar with the Gallo's but the Nuforce guys are very explicit in their literature about not connecting their amos in ways that sum the earths or both earth ans signal and I guess that is what hartneed is saying.
I posed the following question to NuForce, via email, after reading the manual available on line:

"Do I understand the NuForce manual correctly that NuForce amps cannot be used with the Gallo subwoofer amp to biamp the Gallo ref3 because that would involve two amps driving a single speaker driver?"

Jason from NuForce responded:

"Yes, you[r] understanding is correct.

I replied:
"Thanks for your quick and honest response."
I am not wanting to catch anyone on a technical point, or to argue ...

And, I still don't feel settled about this issue.

The Gallo bass driver has a second voice coil. Your note to Jason at Nuforce does not make this distinction clear to me.

Though I find the possibility of incompatability plausable, I remain curious if any of you have experienced issues? Based on the positive feedback I have been reading here about the broken-in Gallo systems with sub amps, I had been hoping, at some point when I am feeling more flush, to add the Gallo amp to my NuForce setup.

I could imagine that there could be a conflict with the high damping factor of the amp being modulated by back electro-motive force (back EMF) from the sub amp. Could this be the issue?

Perhaps a word straight from NuForce would be helpful.

for the music,
Powering up the 2nd voice coil with another Nuforce amplifier is not a problem. This is quite different from the issue with an active subwoofer amp taking speaker level input.

However, if you plan to use a signle Nuforce amp driving both voice coil, please be careful and start slow, the halving of load impedance from the parallel connection will draw twice the current and could melt the voice coil if they are not designed to handle the power.