Peachtree Nova in da' House

Got my Peachtree Nova last Friday. I’d put a deposit down with my local dealer back in January (John Barker of Sonic Culture here in San Diego). I’ve been following the news on delivery with some impatience, trying not get too excited. Feel like I’ve been sleeping in my car waiting to buy Stones tickets. I think I got in on the 2nd cut of the initial production run. John sent me a note last Friday telling me it was in, and I left work early to pick it up.

I put the Nova front and center in my main system, and connected it to a pair of AAD 2001 monitors using Audioquest Type 8 speaker cable with silver BFA connectors. I hooked up my Olive music server, using both the Coax digital and optical digital connections. I listened to some old favorites - a mix of pop vocalists and light rock, including Diana Krall, Celine Dion, Eric Clapton, Michael Buble, Rickie Lee Jone, Roxy Music, Dire Straits. At first listen I was a bit disappointed. Then, an hour or so later I was enthralled. Subsequent listening this past weekend confirms that the Nova needs to warm up a bit, but when it does, WOW. Before I get all giggly, I have two words to describe this unit - Spooky Good!

I’ve since re-connected it to my main mains – a pair of Gallo Ref 3.1 speakers – uisng some generic Home Depot speaker wire cut to a 15’ run. I also ran a pre-out signal to an Onix SP3 tube amp to drive the AAD 2001 monitors. (IC’s for that are DH Labs Air Matrix with the Audioquest cables.) Truth be told, the AAD set up outpaces the Gallos right now. There is a whole layer of richness down low with the AAD, but I’m sure the limiting factor is the cables. Either way, or with all four speakers firing, the Nova is bringing me lots of smiles. The Nova has an interesting feature in that when you plug in a headphone plug the signal to the mains is cut, but the signal to the pre-outs is not. (It’s kind of like a bastard Speaker A/B selector.)

Integrated amps with built in DAC’s are my main stay these days. Even at home I’ve gone digital for the most part, and while I still have an old Nakamichi cassette deck and about 100 vinyl LP’s, almost all my listening is via the Olive and/or iTunes. In my home office I have a Kingrex T20U (with external PSU) driving a pair of Linn Kan II bookshelves, and a Dared MP5 at the company office driving a pair of Arcam Alto’s. My Olive has a dedicated IP address, and while my Macbook Pro has a small library of music, I can listen to my entire digital library on the Olive from anywhere via streaming audio over the internet.

In summary, the Nova is everything I had hoped it would be, and I haven’t even connected anything else yet!

One interesting tidbit is that the sound from the Nova sounds better with the optical output (using a 1.0m Van Den Hul Opticoupler cable) from the Olive than with the coax digital output (using a 0.5m Zu Ash cable). Go figure.

System notes:

I made a trade for the AAD’s a while ago here on A’gon. They sit on a pair of metal speaker stands, which in turn sit on some large butcher blocks (24 x 18 x 3) which are resting on EVA foam pads. (I live in a loft, with hard wood floors, and the building construction leaves much to be desired. So I prefer to decouple the speakers from the building). The stand columns are filled with sand, and I added some Dynamat to both the top and bottom platforms. The blocks weigh 40 lbs each, the stands (with sand) maybe 30, so a lot of mass beneath each speaker, and each speaker weighs about 40 lbs each anyway. I use them 3 different ways: as a 2nd pair of mains, as a front speaker (with a center channel signal split to both speakers), and as speakers for my TV. They are fantastic speakers.

For the Gallos I have another pair of butcher blocks (18 x 18 x 3) resting on rubber floor mats. The Gallos sit on Aurios roller blocks which sit directly on the blocks. I’ve tried different set ups with these speakers, and this set up seems to work the best.
I'm wondering if the Nova's amp delivers enough juice to make the Gallo's happy?
Thank you for the great review. I, too, have been interested in the Peachtree products. I have given up on most "HiFi" and simplified over the last few years. I'm currently listening to a 47 Labs Shigaraki system, that has brought me much joy.

I also noticed that you mentioned the Kingrex T20U and Dared MP5. How do they compare to the Peachtree?
The MP5 is a fun little toy, decent sound, and responds well to tube rolling. The Kingrex is smoking hot, but only 20 watts of power. Both of these have 1 RCA input & 1 USB digital input.

The Nova has way more power, 5 digital inputs (2 optical, 2 coax, 1 USB), and 2 RCA inputs. It has plenty of juice to drive my Gallos.

A Kingrex is a hot ticket, but no coax or optical inputs. It drove my AAD monitors adequately. I would love to try a pair of them and bi-amp. The Gallos of course, cannot be bi-amped in a standard fashion.
This integrated looks quite an intriguing side street in my research for a DAC upgrade. It'd be driving a pair of Totem Hawks. I wonder if Peachtree is considering a pre-amp/dac version without the amp.

Does anyone know if other companies have DACs in the works that use the Sabre chip?
I received mine yesterday and listened for a couple of hours. Pretty impressed so far, a good match for my Warfedale Evo 30s. However, I do have an issue with a buzzing in the left channel (audible at 2-3ft from speaker). I will have to see how Signalpath deals with this. I also noticed that it does need to warm up a bit to sound it's best (20-30mins). I am hoping this warm up period will decrease as it breaks in.
Is it a noticeable improvement over the Decco? Meaning if it were a blind test could you pick out which was the Decco and which was the Nova?
Thanks for the review. I'm still waiting on my Nova. I, too, would be interested to know your response (or someone else's) to Restless_times' question. I had a Decco, which I traded in for a Nova. I was happy with the Decco, but my assumption is that the Nova will constitute a significant improvement over its erstwhile little brother.
Delavagus, they have a Decco trade in program? DO TELL!

No, they don't. I had some problems with my Decco (it was putting out a lot of noise through the headphone output). Rather than having them replace it, I got them to agree to upgrade me to the Nova.

Still haven't gotten the magic e-mail telling me it's shipped...
I finally got my Nova. I agree completely with Designdude: Spooky Good! I used it with a pair of Rainmakers all day -- kicked butt. Now I'm listening through a pair of Sennheiser HD 650's -- awesome!
One month later, after experimentation with a few different cables (Audioquest Type 8 w/silver BFA’s, Analysis Plus Oval 9’s, and some generics), different set ups (as an amp and pre-amp), and one fuse replacement (to a Furutech Select Series TF-5A), and I am still digging the Nova. It definitely needs time to warm up from a cold start, but other than that I have zero complaints.

I have no idea how it compares to a Decco, but I will say that I think the strong suit of the Nova is the DAC/Pre section. I’ve tried it as an integrated amp and as a pre-amp to my Onix SP3 (rolled with new EH tubes) to both my AAD 2001 monitors and my Gallo Ref 3.1. There is just a touch more “you’re right there” quality when using it as a pre to the SP3. Is that the signature of the SP3 amp itself, or a minor short coming of the amp section in the Nova? Or is it a mystical system synergy thing and the Nova amp doesn’t quite sync with my speakers, cables, and karma? Can’t say. But after a dozen different attempts, I do prefer the Nova when configured as a pre-amp.

P.S. For grins I tried a bastard bi-amp set-up, with the Nova speaker outputs connected to the AAD LF inputs, and a pre-out from the Nova to the Onix SP3, then to the AAD HF inputs. Sounded great to me. I could even tweak the HF/LF balance using the volume knob on the SP3. I’m not going to use it this way, but it does lead me to conclude that the Nova (or the Decco for that matter) could be a great front end piece for bi-amp applications. (Did someone say electrostatics?)
Great review Designdude. I'm in the market for a new Integrated amp and the Nova is near the top of the list. Is there even anything else in the price range with all the features?

I've been looking closely at the Peachtree products for an office system. I was hoping the Decco would do the trick. My local dealer was kind enough to allow me to a/b the Decco and Nova. The results were not even close. The Nova is a major step up in imaging, resolution, and extension/balance in the high frequencies.

Based on comparison, I wouldn't consider the decco. I'm now questioning whether the amp portion in the Nova really compares well to other units such as an Arcam Solo...

Perhaps it is wise to wait a bit longer before making the jump? I hear that Peachtree is making a DAC PRE, and also there is a new Decco coming out in late summer with better sonics, a smaller amp, and a few less features...
Thought I'd throw in my limited impressions of the Nova.

I just bought this unit from the original owner who had properly burned it in before selling it a few months later to me. I bought it as I needed to get a unit with a remote and I needed to put most of my audio equipment into a AV storage unit.

The only good comparison I can make to another unit is what it is replacing .... a Unison Unico 80W with built in phono stage, and I was using a MHDT Paradisea USB DAC.

I have to say the Peachtree (with NAD PP2 phono stage) isn't up to par with the Unison.

The speakers I am using are Opera Mezza monitors, digital source is Macbook playing AIFF files, analog source is Rega P25/DV 20X.

On the digital side its pretty close to the Peachtree, but the Nova is lacking a bit in bass extension and weight, and the Unico has a little bit more something, a fuller sound.

On the phono side of things there is a big dropoff across the board. This I assume is probably mostly due to the Unico phono stage being better than the NAD PP2? Won't know for sure until I try a better phone stage.

To get back to the sound I am looking for I will probably need to get an amp to use with the Peachtree as a PRE/DAC, and a better phono stage. So after that expense, I don't consider the Peachtree a "giant killer". But it is a pleasant enough sounding unit.