I have been a harsh critic of NuForce in the past. Their constant tweaks and upgrades was a pet peeve, and in my system the Reference 8.02 really sounded artificial, bright and unpleasant.
That said, the new Reference 9V2 SE are significantly improved, and frankly completely different than what I heard a few years ago. They are darned good amplifiers.
Denf, thanks for a very well written and informative piece. IMHO, your extensive experience with similar products is what gives this review so much value. It will certainly help me make a decision about whether to take the Class D, analog switching plunge. Kudos!
Denf, great review, it's extremely well written, informative, and a fun read. The only D-amp I have alot of experience with are the Kharma monoblocks that I thought were quite good, better then a pair of highly regarded Lamm monoblocks, in a friend's system.
I see you have the Flora in your system, I too have it as my preamp and think it's another "killer" piece sonicly and quite the bargain regarding its retail price. I have a question, what tubes do you use? I finally ended up with NOS oval plate TungSols, expensive and very hard to get, but boy they offer sonic bliss in my system. Thanks for the excellent review.
Hey thanks guys for the kind comments! I really glad you found some value in my review.
Teajay - yes! couldn't agree more, the Flora preamp is a true 'giant killer' of a preamp and seems to be a match in proverbial heaven with the NuForces. I'm still using the stock 6Sn7's but recently picked up a matched pair of Sylvania VT-231's that I plan to send off for a cry'o treatment. Will let you know what the results are.
Great review, Denf. Which power cords are you using with the Nuforce amps?
And Tvad: a tip o' the hat to you for volunteering your new perspective.
Nice job. I am a huge fan of the V2s. In "my" thread dedicated to the V2, I proclaimed them to among the top "5" amps of any type or price. Of course, I was harshly flamed. At the same time, I honestly know of no one that has carefully listened to the V2 and not give it the prop's it deserves.
Here is the best compliment I can give it: For the past 8 years I have been a contributing reviewer to www.positive-feedback.com. Since putting my 9SEV2 in my system (I purchased the review sample, Duh, the biggest no brainier of my lifetime), I have lost much of my motivation to continue reviewing. I just love to listen to music through my system. They make every aspect of my system sound better and I just don't want to put any review gear in the loop, I want my system as it is!
Thanks again for your review and I agree, this is a landmark product.
You're right on the mark John. Two new reviews just popped up within the last few weeks - one at The Stereo Times (Feb 2008) and the other at Audio/Video Revolution (Feb 2008) BOTH reviewers basically state that the V2's are amoung the finest amps they have heard. The guy from Audio Revolution in so many words says that the V2's handily out-gunned his Levinson 336 amp.
As I listed in my other amps owned, I once owned the NuForce 9.0SE's, and they were also great amps, but these new V2's have catapulted them into a whole new level/category, IMO.
Let's face it, there's just always going to be audiophiles who can't wrap their mind around the fact that an amp doesn't have to cost a fortune, weigh a ton, and cost an exhorbitant amount of money to be 'world class'.
Drubin - I'm using the excellent over-achieving Acoustic Zen Tsunami AC cords - very synergistic match up.
Denf - thanks for the great review. While visiting CA last week, my wife and I auditioned the NuForce 9V2SE, P9, and the new S9 speakers. We finally agreed on a sound that we both loved. I've only been at this for 27 years less than you and have the upgrade bug. I been looking for 9 months and nothing has been considerably better than what I have until I heard the NuForce. My question is - have you listened to the speakers or the pre, and if so please give me your opinion. I'm looking to purchase one piece now (can't quite swing all three yet).
Catahula bill- Haven't heard their speakers or pre, but if they dedicate the same level of genius and commitment to these pcs., they should be above level performers as well. If you haven't already, you can Google a search on these. I seem to remember a review (maybe 6 moons?) on the NuForce speakers not too long ago.
I don't own the Nuforce, but I do own another D-amp.
I have replaced my Spectral equipment with the
S300 Belcanto d-amp.I think the people who do not like
d-amps have not given them a chance.
I had to break my amp and Belcanto Pre3 preamp in.
It took about three months of average playing time.
I thought they sounded a bit strange at first.
Not any more.I do not plan on going back to my Spectral
Great review Denf. I love my SET sound and I am really quite happy with my rig, except for one thing: I don't have the amp power when I really want to crank out some very serious dynamic dbs. You know what I mean? I would love to have the SET sound with some powerful reserves for the dynamic stuff. I would love to know how these babies would sound in my rig. Any thoughts? Audiophools, please jump in. thanks in advance, warren :)
Warrenh - I believe NuForce still offers a "$1.00 in-home trial" for 30 days. You have nothing to lose (other than $1.00).
Warrenh - I believe NuForce still offers a "$1.00 in-home trial" for 30 days.
The $1 In-Home Trial is a great opportunity. The trial is for one week, though. It's not for 30 days.
I'll have to wait until the summer when I can make the best of a week. thanks guys....
I have to say that my own experience with the Reference 9V2 SE amps mirrors Denf's very closely. I can also add that on my VMPS RM30 speakers the bass is outstandingly articulate and extended.
I first used a solid-state preamp with the NuForce and it sounded pretty darned respectable, but since I switched to a custom built, dual-mono, transformer-coupled 6SN7 tube preamp the sound has been simply extraordinary. This is a super combination in amplification!
Great review Denf!
Thought I'd add my 2 cents. I'm 2 months into owning my ref V2's replacing my venerable Classe CA100's which now serve surround sound duty. In my 40 years of audio insanity these amps have educated me in a way I'd not thought possible. I find them so neutral, so natural that due to the nature of my system, I've had to replace, modify, experiment, and now look to build myself a set of speakers to utilize the full potential these amplifiers deliver.
You'll have to excuse me as I've not gotten much sleep lately due to late night listening experiences. Don't beat me up on my current setup but you can't help but laugh. My source components are a Playstation 3 and a modded Squeezebox 3. I hate my Sony Playstation 3 but admittedly, the Playstation is an overachiever. It just looks bad and has a fan to boot! It looks like a game machine sitting stupidly on my Adona rack system and oh ya, it’s that too :-/ My SB3 is not much better except for it's Welborne outboard linear supply. The SB3 need more tweaking and I love the interface. The Sony is really just a bus station transferring EAC ripped - FLAC encoded - Tversity server sent files through the PS3 then to an Onkyo PR-SC885P preamp, then to my SE V2's and finally to my Def-Tech BP2000's.
Please don’t get me wrong here. I’m just trying to name bash or discount brands or equipment. How I arrived at my somewhat kludgy system with these state of the art amps is another story. In fact it sounds pretty amazing at this point. My feeling is that it all starts with the V2's. I cannot describe a sonic signature with these amps. They're fed pristine digital files are @ 44.1Khz through a pretty long path and deliver an unbelievably coherent sound at the end.
The BP2000's don't image. That was my mantra for a decade. Now I have a SOLID central image with good depth although still confined between my speakers. This did not happen until I changed the power cables first from outlet to Line filter box (also modded), then on the Onkyo, and then on the PS3. Amazing change with the addition of HQ DIY power cables!
Last night after setting my newly acquired Adona rack I played Steely Dan - Aja. I laughed throughout the entire song and the next. I cannot believe how good the sound was through my Def-Techs. I think I was giddy. Don’t ever remember being “giddy”. Another thing I noted with these amps is the fact that they play at low volume levels the same as at high volume levels. How many amps or systems have you listened to that only came alive or sounded good only when pushed to higher volume levels? I thought that just how it is or supposed to be. Not any more! Even at low levels these amps bring all the nuisances of recordings that one hears at high SPL’s.
So these Nuforce’s forced me to upgrade some cables. Why, because you can tell what these things are capable of and wish to exploit.. I can't imagine how they'll sound through some audiophile grade speakers. I need a second job..
Criticisms? These amps seem to be sensitive to noise. Mine are quiet but I had my moments. The WBT binding post has failed and is in need of repair. Sometimes when I turn the amps off then on again say after changing to a different interconnect, they don't always turn back on. What is that?. I have not done that yet. I'm looking for winners here and like to DIY. They're so small.... They like nice interconnects, cords and equipment around them ;-)
I really like the MAC Palladium's. I've tried the following cables through the Nuforces.
Various high end Monsters = Give to your neighbor
Anti Cables = Good but lacks smoothness and warmth.
DH-Labs BL1's = Better, warmer, detailed but read on.
Balanced Neotech UP-OCC interconnects = Good but voices lacked weight and felt recessed ON MY SYSTEM with my edgy metal dome tweeters
MAC Palladium's = These cables changed everything. Voices became more natural with proper weight. Detail by not hyper detail and non-fatiguing, even on my HT speakers. I'll buy more from this co. as their prices seem very reasonable.
Sorry this is so long – perhaps more than .02 cents worth?
"The $1 In-Home Trial is a great opportunity. The trial is for one week, though. It's not for 30 days."
Practically all in-home auditions last more than 1 week. And we never charge the $1, it is just to get your attention because people don't believe it when we say it is free. If you're serious in buying Nuforce amp or preamp within 3 months, you have nothing to lose except your time to audition it. We bet that it will outperform anything at any price.
marvellous! This is all pointing to switching technology coming of age. . . and not necessarily conforming to increasingly obsolete stereotypes.
Denf i concur with you in your fine review. I have gone through the upgrade chain that Nuforce offers to there customers. I started with basic ref 9, then SE, now V2. Each upgrade was easily audible for the better. The V2 technology in the last upgrade is going to be hard to beat. I challenge Jason and Casey to try and deliver one more upgrade to this fine series of amps.
Not only does Nuforce make one of the best amps available they know how to keep there customers up to date with upgrades. And the price for these upgrades is more than fair. It saves you from playing the turnover game.
I have been in front of my system since mid after noon today. Its about 10:30 now. I'm Absolutely fatigue free and musically satisfied.
My analog front end is my choice for sit down in your ear music listening. Some of our LP selections today.
Beatles Magical Mystery Tour, Sargent Pepper,
Pink Floyd Pulse
Led Zeppelin One
Jeff Beck Truth
Moody Blues Long Distance Voyager
Like you said something will arrive in the future that will possibly surpass these super amps. But that manufacturer will have to work hard to beat the satisfaction to price ratio that Nuforce offers.
Like you i am just a hard working music lover that is in no way at all connected to Nuforce.
BTW your system if a fine one, glad to hear from another satisfied ref 9 SE V2 user.
The sound you hear is the total contribution of a whole lot of equipment starting with source, head-amp (if any), pre-amp, then the Nuforces and then speakers.
For the kind of sound you describe hearing, how do you know what you are listening to? Which component is contributing to the incredible sound you are hearing?
Is it possible to comment on the virtue of a single product by listening to a chain of products connected in series? Perhaps your entire system was state-of-the-art apart from your prior amps which was the bottleneck. And swapping them for the Nuforces opened up the bottleneck and increased the enjoyment bandwidth?
Glad you liked the Nuforces, I'm making it a point to listen to them properly when I get a chance. Actually I already have but it wasn't as captivating as you described so I'm going back again.
I have had the opportunity of evaluating the excellent NuForce 9 V2 SE in my system. My system was configured as follows: TEAC X-01 Limited, JRDG Capri, NuForce 9 V2 SE, Vienna Mahler 1.5 speakers. ICs are AQ Sky XLRs, NuForce are powered via Cardas Golden Ref PCs, speaker wires are Cardas Golden Ref.
The amps were not new and had been previously used. However they had not been used for a couple of weeks prior to my insertion into the system. What seems to be apparent with switching amps I have tried this far is that they need to be turned on at all times and must play for a long time before sounding at their best. . . this is even for aledgedly broken in devices. This is very important, because otherwise you may be unwittingly undervaluing them based on very temporary artifacts that may be peculiar to this type of device. Beside the usual initial 'dry' sound, you may discover that the NuForce amps are INITIALLY doing something funny in the treble region, which sounds like a slight burr, resembling a slight ring modulation. A comment that I have heard somewhere is that their treble may seem slightly disconnected from the rest of the sound. True but. . . this is also very temporary. . . just be patient, leave the devices powered up at all times and play a lot of music for at least a couple of weeks. You will find that the NuForce will re-break in very nicely; The stage will open up; they will gain more and more authority; harmonic content will fill up; frequency will extend; and the anomaly in the treble will be absorbed and disappear. In the end you will be left with a very graceful and very nimble sound, which can be both delicate or powerful, depending on the music. from little amps that can even control the notoriously difficult twin 10 inch subwoofers of the mahlers with what seems to me a pretty iron fist. The amps filled my essentially 18x30 feet listening room with a very credible stage and textured music. I was particularly pleased by the sense of air surrounding the Clarinet and the English Horn solos in Dvorak's 9th Symphony undr Bernstein and the Israel Phil, the speed and impact of the timpanis from the 3rd movement of the same work was quite satisfying, and the realism of the voice of T. FD'Althan in Monteverdi's 2nd Book of madrigals was delightful. The amps seem to be excelling at staging and imaging.
I only wish that some of the metal work, connectors, switches, etc. . . on the NuForce matched the quality of the sound I was hearing and were commensurate with the price point. 5-way binding posts or patented Cardas connectors would have been welcome instead of the spade-only connectors with plastic screws.
But do yourselves a favor. . . if you have the opportunity of auditioning these fine amps, do not form any opinions unless/until they have been playing for a long time!
The Eichmann binding posts on the 9SE's do take bananas. You just have to pop off the little plastic dust caps. These binding posts, which ain't cheap, were probably chosen for their sonic merits. The Cardas stuff is heavy and manly, but does it sound good?
Your prescription for getting good sound from the Nuforce is asking too much IMHO.
Drubin, I clearly stand corrected on Eichmann binding posts. . . I did not realize they have dust caps. . . my eyesight is not what it used to be 40 years ago. . . (chuckles!) but I should have had the common sense of checking with Jason at NuForce before shooting my mouth. Once again my apologies
As for turning the Nuforce on, and even forgetting they have a power switch unless bad weather is in the offing. . . there is no problem. . . switching amps consume negligible amounts of power when idling. And why be concerned if the first time you turn them on you need to wait for a couple of weeks for them to sound their best? It's all fine music after that. . . and you never need to get anxious about ICE modules running out of steam after just 1000 hrs of operation. The prescription seems pretty easy and bland.
Guidocorona your description above is a first rate piece on what to expect upon hearing Nuforce Ref 9 SE V2s in a system. And leaving them on at all times is a must and is absolutely harmless to the amp. Of course if you dont use any type of surge protection you have to pay attention to the weather. I use Brick Wall surge protection and the only time i turn my amps off is when a long vacation comes along.
Flkin after going through the upgrade path with Nuforce amps three times, that give me perspective musical differences in what i hear in each upgrade from an amp. I do understand your point though.
Thank you Stltrains. I have experienced that NuForce is not the only amp that exhibits a curious anomaly in the high treble when not completely -rebroken' in. In my system I am also running a Rowland 312 -- my very favorite amp of record. This is also an ICE-based amp sporting a 3X-Nuforce price point; yet, when starting cold after a several days out of the system, or after a trip by courier, rather than sounding constricted/chesty like a typical solid state amp in need of warm up, it sounds quite open, but you can readily hear some very jingling/jangling-harmonics-out-of-kilter-sounds at the top. Grand piano for example reminded me of an old saloon upright clunker. After several days the oddity is reabsorbed, and what you are left with is absolutely bleedin' glorious. Please note that the 312 in my system is not at all new, but had probably a few thousand hrs of operation on it when it arrived at my place. . . . even though it had probably not been playing for a few weeks.
It has been suggested that ICE-based switching amps may actually require more than 1,000 hours of break in when new to achieve their peak performance.
Question: how is the Spectron break-in pattern instead?Unfortunately, not having had the excellent Spectron in my system yet, I cannot comment on its break in pattern. . . although I did enjoy this amp quite a lot when I auditioned it last fall in Denver.
What is slowly becoming apparent to me is that at least some of the switching amps on the market today -- rather than being impersonal dry sounding dead weights forever -- are in fact complex instruments of music reproduction in their own right, willing to yield their late-blooming sonic secrets only to the very patient.
>willing to yield their late-blooming sonic secrets only to the very patient.
I just sold my Nuforce amps, but after reading that, I may buy another pair. Guido, you poet, such a turn of phrase!
Hi Drubin, are you suggesting you may have sold the Nuforce prematurely. . . or are you simply pulling my 'poetic' leg? Guido
A bit of both, but mostly the latter.
Drubin, what you buy to replace them?
Hi, Do you still own the Nuforce amps?
I just read your thread on the Nuforce 9v2SE and enjoyed it. I noticed that one of the amps that you had experience with was the Pass 250.5. The reason I mention this is that someome has offered me, on trade, a Nuforce Reference 9V2. I had my heart set out to get one of the Pass amps for my Apogee Stages, possibly a X150/150.5 or 250/250.5. Pre amp is up in the air at this point, and I mainly listen to digital. Not sure if you can extrapolate what the Nuforce (9v2) vs the Pass designs might be, but it would be most interesting if you could give me your thoughts. Thanks, and most appreciative.
I'm planning to get the Revel Salon 2's can the Nuforce drive those are they I believe are really power hungry.
I don't know yet folks but soon I'll have plenty to comment on as I just sold my 9SEV2's and bought a Pass X350.5.
Why did I do that?
I'm selling my line arrays and purchased the Dynaudio C1's which I felt the Nuforce's were struggling to get bass out of these power hungry, inefficient little monitors. There was only one direction to go IMO. Actually, this may be a test. Was it a power problem or something else? I'll know soon enough.
I loved my Nuforce's. Cool, don't take up space, energy efficient, and other than the crappy RCA connectors that constantly come loose and even break on occasion, I can't say anything bad about these little jewels. Me thinks that in a year, ya, watch my posts, I'll be selling the Pass for the Nuforce Ref 18 (then my wife will surely have me committed).
All I can say in that this uber expensive, good looking room heater BETTER perform as it has some serious competition to live up too, and I will post the results.
IMHO, my Nuforce 9V2 SE is the male equivelant of a Calgon bath, they just take me away. Connected to my VMPS 626Rs, I often smile to myself with joy and sheer wonder in how these little beauts constantly improve my musical mood. Purchase a pair and see for yourselves, that which we 9V2 SE owners already know, great product for the money!!!
I realize this is an older thread,but are any of you 9v2se users running single ended?. I would like to try these amps with my Adagios because they have a synergy with the class D or "switching amps" and these sound like killer amps,but without spending a ton I only have a sunfire receiver to drive them with right now,I know this wont bring out the best but I figure if I like what I hear I will invest in a good prepro