NUforce IA-7 high end amplifier NIEUW, en elders voor €
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This NUforce IA-7 unit is low profile, half size, but rather deep, being 45mm (1.75") high, 216mm (8.5") wide and 407mm (16") deep. Weighing in at 3Kg (6lbs)
The chassis is available in black anodized aluminum with sandblast finish.
The front panel maintains the deep horizontal line so typical of all the power amps of the range. Here a few very small leds and two knobs are present
on the right side. The unit controls are completely microprocessor controlled: the knobs are free running, evidently connected to digital encoders.
The left knob is the input selector. The units has four inputs. The selected one is identified by one of the small leds on the left side of the knob.
The knob has also the function of stand-by switch: you have just to push it.
The right knob is the volume control, completely digital, ranging from +30 to -70dB in 0.5dB steps. The step size is quite fine, but this allows for
a very accurate level regulation in any condition. The leds on the left of this knobs give a very rough, 4 step indication of the level, and also an
end of range warning because in this condition they start flashing.
On the crowded back panel from the left you can find four RCA sockets corresponding to inputs 1 and 2; then two 3.5mm stereo input jacks, implementing
inputs 3 and 4; then other two RCA sockets, implementing the pre-amplifier line output. It is therefore possible to use this unit as a pre-amplifier or
for bi-amping by driving two additional external power amps, or also as a pre-amplifier, switching off the power amp via the booster switch, next on the panel.
Then there are the four high quality, large size, completely protected and isolated power output posts, that can receive bananas from the back and from
the top. The protection here is welcome, as the room between the knobs is very reduced, and an improper action could easily cause an unwanted short circuit,
in case of naked posts.
After this you can find the power switch and the IEC power cord connector.
The remote is apparently built on specs. It has a very limited number of buttons, so it is easy enough to use.
The unit has been obtained combining Ref 9 amplification circuits with a scaled down P-8 preamplifier and a single 8 series switching power supply with
big reservoir capacitors like in ref 9. The result is a very high quality unit.
The unit is based on an advanced approach that, based, as all the Class D products, on the fact that an audio signal can modulate a power oscillator,
departs from the classic PWM (pulse width modulation) approach because it does not make use of a fixed frequency oscillator, nor of a saw-tooth waveform.
With respect to most amplifiers, NuForce technology has some specific difference: it provides an extremely low output impedance (damping factor of 4000!!),
a very extended frequency response (up to 100KHz), and an extremely low distortion. The boards are stuffed with many SMD and few through-hole components.
The high frequencies are very extended (-3dB at 100kHz) but the power bandwidth appears somewhat limited at low frequencies, with a -0.9db at 20Hz.
Distortion is very low at any power.
The unit requires a not so short break-in, before showing the best performances. During break-in, the amplifier gets less aggressive, more educated, polite,
while bass increases.
The final sound is clearly in the NuForce league. It is definitely not euphonic in the traditional (audiophile) sense, but very transparent, clear, fast,
neutral, perhaps with an hint of cold that in any case causes no prejudice to musicality.
The highs are very extended, crisp, brilliant but also absolutely smooth and never edgy or harsh.
Mid frequencies are very precise, very neutral. Voices are precisely carved and correctly placed.
Low frequencies are very tight, precise and go very deep. The sense of rhythm and pace are good.
The sound is very musical and natural: the IA-7 has a very good sense of rhythm and pace essentially because it is so fast and transparent.
The sound stage is wide, detailed, precise. Depth and ambience are present as far as they are present in the recording. Nothing is added, and apparently
nothing is subtracted with respect to what's on the disk: with an adequate source the support limits are easily made evident. You will discover that all
those CDs you have do not sound all the same, but, as LPs, each of them has its own sound.
The listening levels of the IA-7 flies as high as the best amplifiers. Cranking the volume knob up to levels that are hardly sustainable (for the listener),
but for sure not acceptable (for the neighbours...) causes the sound to bloom and get far too warm, as happens with any normal amplifier of comparable power,
with no symptom of "digital" distortion.
This integrated amplifier is outstandingly precise, detailed and transparent. It does not add anything to the sound, and scarcely hides anything at all.
Also the preamplifier stage seems really very good, neutral, transparent, fast, precise and pinpointing. A perfect control, up to a point of shyness, in
the bass region can also be very attractive where this section takes over an unnatural bloom due to bad interaction between loudspeakers and environment.
All these qualities would make any integrated amp interesting, at any price tag. With IA-7 price tag, things get just outstandingly interesting.
Do not make the mistake of underrating it. Used in a less than adequate system, it will give a very good result, but only with a rather high level system
you will not risk to waste its potential and/or to have source defects made evident.
NuForce are really in a new league by themselves.