The NuPrime IDA-8 Integrated Amplifier

*Hi-Res bluetooth dongle for wireless streaming is included.

Ultra Low Noise Class A+D Integrated Amplifier with DAC and Wireless Port

NuPrime's new Class A+D hybrid amplification technologies deliver the substance and warmth of Class A amplification and the efficiency and speed of Class D technology in a milieu of un-measurable noise. The IDA-8's spacious, transparent, dynamic and luxuriously textured soundstage has to be heard to be believed. The NuPrime IDA-8 consists of an ultra-low-noise integrated amplifier and digital-to-analog converter that decodes USB PCM 384 and DSD 256 with the convenience of wireless audio in a small, handsomely designed home stereo component.

With all stages in one chassis, the IDA-8 avails itself of the shortest possible signal paths in order to facilitate vanishingly low levels of noise and distortion for a black-velvet background to music. The listener’s initial reaction might very well be “I can’t believe my ears!”
The IDA-8’s low noise floor is further complimented by an innovative volume control based on a thin-film resistor design that positions a single resistor in the signal path for each volume setting. The "switched resistor" design is implemented with FPGA chip. Volume changes occur in 99 precise 0.5dB increments for each input’s individually adjustable volume level. Precise level matching is a breeze, as is the user’s ability to make comparisons of music sources.

By utilizing discrete components in NuPrime’s ULCAM circuit, the signal can be fine tuned to reduce noise and provide maximum power. The NuPrime amp circuit improves on traditional class-D design by using a self-oscillating circuit to generate pulse-width modulation. The amplifier switches at a frequency of 600kHz, well beyond the compact disc’s 44.1kHz sampling rate. Most class-D amps switch at 300kHz or lower. In addition, NuPrime’s SRC IC chip provides FPGA processing for ultra-low jitter and distortion rates. Completing the ensemble is NuPrime's new linear power supply with its high-efficiency toroidal transformer for reduced high-frequency noise and strengthened low-frequency performance. The damping effect of the NuPrime isolation feet (patent pending) absorbs and cancels vibrations that degrade audio performance. The overall result is unprecedented transient speed and an almost shocking level of dynamic impact.

The IDA-8 achieves Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise (THD+N) levels of less than 0.005% while achieving a system efficiency of up to 93%. The IDA-8's frequency response to 50 kHz elevates vocals into emotional experiences; similarly, instrumental upper registers mimic a live performance’s shimmering heights.

The IDA-8's features and specifications have few equals. Just one audition will convince you that the IDA-8’s performance and sophisticated styling are rarely duplicated at any price point.

Features:

  • Ultra-Linear Class A Module (ULCAM) achieves audiophile-quality sound with Class-D’s dynamics, speed and efficiency. Extraordinary result of THD+N lower than 0.0015% and S/N ratio of -130dB for the preamp stage.
  • NuPrime SRC IC chip provides FPGA processing with ultra-low jitter and distortion
  • NuPrime vibration-free isolation feet (patent pending*)
  • State-of-the-art DAC supporting USB PCM 384 and DSD256, that is also capable of decoding DoP formats via coaxial and optical inputs
  • Analog line-out (can be used as Sub Out)
  • Extension port for Bluetooth dongle (included) or future release of optional Wi-Fi dongle
  • Full microprocessor control with memory retention
  • Four digital inputs and one stereo input for complete system flexibility
  • Supports DSD native playback by ASIO2.1 and DoP method
  • Ultra-low-noise JFETs in the input stage for the lowest possible noise floor
  • Volume adjustment in 99 precise 0.5dB increments
  • Advanced, thin-film switched-resistor ladder network for controlling volume, with a single resistor in the signal path at any volume setting
  • Individually adjustable volume on each input for precise level matching of sources
  • Exclusive driver software for Windows
  • Standard driver software for Mac
  • Asynchronous transfer mode
  • Very low power consumption on Standby Mode
  • Available in black or silver anodized aluminum finish
  • Includes remote control

Specifications:

Inputs: 1 x USB PCM / DSD Digital (PCM up to 384kHz & DSD up to DSD256 ) 1 x Coaxial Digital S/PDIF (PCM up to 192K supporting DoP format DSD64) 1 x Optical Digital S/PDIF (PCM up to 192K supporting DoP format DSD64) 1 x Bluetooth (included) or WiFi receiver device (optional). 1 x Analog Stereo RCA (analog input will be digitized)
Outputs: 1 x pair of stereo speaker (binding posts) output 1 x pair of stereo RCA (2V*), variable (volume controlled) output.      
USB Sampling Rates: 44.1KHz, 48KHz, 88.2KHz, 96KHz, 176.4KHz, 192KHz, 352.8KHz, 384KHz and DSD 2.8MHz, 5.6MHz, 11.2MHz S/PDIF Sampling Rates: 44.1KHz, 48KHz, 88.2KHz, 96, 176.4KHz, 192KHz, 384KHz (Coaxial) Maximum Sampling Rate: 32-bits
Bit Resolution: 16-32-bits Power output: 100W x 2 @ 8 Ohms; 100W x 2 @ 4 Ohms THD+N: 0.005%
SNR : 95dB Peak Output Power: 280w Frequency Response: 10Hz to 50kHz
Dimensions: 235 mm W x 281 mm D x 55 mm H (including feet) Weight: 4.3Kg Worldwide AC voltage: (90VAC~130VAC // 210VAC~ 250VAC) With Voltage Select Switch
AC Fuse: Slow-blow, 3A, 250VA        

Frequently Asked Questions


DAC FAQ

USB Standard and Ports

For a complete history and explanation of USB standard (1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 3.1) and port types (A, B, C, micro, etc), refer to Wikipedia USB article.

NuPrime communicates and decode digital music from the computer through USB Audio (this is a software standard, not physical USB standard). USB Audio is a software standard that defines how audio devices can communicate with the computer to play music. The USB standard and port type set the physical properties of how devices are to be connected to the computer and the speed limit.

The USB communication is always between a host and a client devices. Some devices such as smartphone or tablet can act as USB host or client device. When a smartphone is connected to the computer, it functions as a client device to the computer. Printer and USB hard drive are USB client devices. Client devices can not work with each other, unless one of the device has the capability to become a host. NuPrime's DACs (including Digital Integrated Amp) are all USB client devices and they are designed to play music from computer, smartphone or tablet. 

Some of the NuPrime models come with two Type-A ports. One of the ports is a standard USB 2.0 port (for audio, USB 2.0 is the standard and USB 3.0 is backward compatible with USB 2.0) for USB audio use. The other port is a proprietary NuPrime digital port that uses the same USB Type-A connector. It is not a USB standard! NuPrime wireless devices (Bluetooth dongle, WiFi audio receiver) use this custom digital port for 5V power as well as digital music signals (in S/PDIF format). For example, if NuPrime WR-100 is to be connected with a non NuPrime DAC, it would have to be powered by a 5V power adapter and connect its optical S/PDIF output to the DAC. But if WR-100 is connected to NuPrime IDA-8 or DAC-9, a single cable is all that is needed.

USB 3.0/3.1 is also compatible with USB Type-C, the latest plug design that’s just starting to gain adoption. This reversible plug is distinct from USB 3.1, though manufacturers may choose to support both at once. For example, the 2015 MacBook and the second-gen Chromebook support the USB 3.1 standard on their Type-C ports, while the OnePlus 2 uses the USB 2.0 standard despite a Type-C port. Don't confuse the USB standard with the port type. 

What is USB Audio and how do I configure Windows or Mac computer for USB audio and the DAC ?

USB Audio is a standard for digital audio used in PCs, smart phones and tablets to interface with audio peripherals. The source device that produces the data is called the USB Host and the receiving end is the USB Client. So, if a smartphone is connected to a computer, the computer is the host and the phone is a client. But if a DAC is connected to the smartphone, then the phone is now the host and the DAC is the client.

Most USB audio interfaces are USB 1.0 and USB 2.0 compatible, so you should have no problem getting a device to work with any computer manufactured in the last 5 years. A USB audio interface attaches to the computer with a standard USB connector and to the device itself with any number of other connectors, ranging from proprietary connections to standardized connections.

USB Audio devices do not need the bandwidth of USB3.0 and USB3.0 is backward compatible with USB2.0

USB 2.0 can handle bandwidth of 480 MB/second. To put this into perspective, 24 bit/192 khz audio--the highest bandwidth in commercial use--uses approximately 10 MB/second per track of audio. So, a stereo recording would take approximately 20 MB/second or 5 percent of the possible USB 2.0 bandwidth. This large amount of bandwidth available allows for USB audio interfaces to accommodate just about any recording or playback scenario imaginable.

Steps to setup your computer to use external USB Audio device such as a DAC (Digital to Analog Converter):

  1. Connect the USB Audio device to the computer (before installing any device driver).
  2. Install the Windows device driver if it is required (Mac computer does not need to install USB Audio device driver)
  3. Go to the System Preference/Setup and look for Sound device setup. Choose the desire USB Audio device (e.g. NuPrime uDSD, Encore mDSD, ...)

For further information about how to configure the music player software for high resolution music playback, download this user guide: http://www.nuprimeaudio.com/images/productpage/NuPrime-USB-Playback-Guide.pdf

Occasionally Windows users might encounter driver error or not able to install certain device driver files. This is usually due to conflict with previously installed driver. Unfortunately there is no simple solution to this problem. Try the following steps:

  1. Uninstall NuPrime USB audio device driver.
  2. Go to Device Manager and look for any USB audio device driver (or any device driver) that has an error mark next to it.
  3. Delete the driver.
  4. Install NuPrime USB audio device driver again.

What kind of volume control and preamp do you use for your DAC?

In traditional pure-analog designs, a switch-resistor network for volume control works best but is very expensive due to the use of many high precision discrete resistors. Next is a high-quality volume pot. You rotate the pot to change resistance, which in turn attenuates volume. A volume pot is non-linear and has balance issues at low volume.

A DAC typically has a mix of analog and digital inputs. Some DACs convert the analog input into digital to utilize the DAC's internal digital volume control and inputs selection, avoiding the use of expensive analog preamp and volume control as described above. The performance degradation of the analog input that has to go through A2D, volume adjustment and then D2A depends on implementation, which is beyond the scope of this discussion. Digital inputs on the other hand should go through the high-end DAC's internal volume control for best performance. 

Therefore it make sense to best adjust the volume in the digital domain for digital signals, and use an analog preamp and volume control for analog inputs.

Our DAC-9 and DAC-10* have analog inputs without A-to-D conversion. We use a mixed analog and digital volume-control design. The digital volume control’s 0.5db steps are sent to the DAC for the best possible result. The DAC’s analog output and analog inputs from other sources then go through a switch-resistor network. The DAC's output is switched straight through with minimum resistance. For analog inputs, the switch resistor network provides the best possible result. 

In conclusion, we feel we’ve developed the best type of volume control and preamp for a modern DAC.

How do I connect my DAC to Android or iOS tablet and smartphone?

If you are not familiar with USB audio device, please read the FAQ topics on "What is USB Audio and how do I configure Windows or Mac computer for USB audio and the DAC ?" and "USB Standard and Ports"

The standard USB audio cable that comes with your iOS or Android device can not be used to connect the DAC. You will need a different cable that treat the iOS or Android device as the host, and the DAC as the client. 

  • iOS device - use a genuine or Apple MFI approved USB Camera Adapter cable
  • Android device - use a quality USB OTG cable

iOS Device

USB Audio has always been supported by iOS. You can use Apple USB Camera Adapters to import photos from your digital camera. You can also use Apple USB Camera Adapters to connect other USB devices to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. If you're using an Apple USB 3 Camera Adapter, you need an iPad with iOS 9.3.

Some USB devices need more power than your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch can provide. If you connect one of these types of USB devices, you might see an alert that says “attached accessory uses too much power." Try one of these steps: 

  • Connect the USB devices to a powered USB hub or secondary power source.
  • Use a Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter. The Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter has a built-in lightning port, which you can connect to a USB power adapter. This provides power to your iOS device and connected USB device.

Android Device

Prior to version 5.0, the support for USB audio is spotty. Some device manufacturers do a better job than others. In general, Android OS 4.1 and above provide support for USB audio device. If you have doubt, check with your device manufacturer or search for help online. Please do not ask our support staff. In general, similar to iOS device, if the DAC is connected and functioning properly, the Android OS will send the audio to the USB port. There is no need for any system configuration.

We strongly recommend USB Audio Player PRO for high resolution music playback.

Similar to iOS device, if your USB device consumes more power than allowed by Android device, you will need to power the USB device. If you are technically inclined, here's a useful article: http://source.android.com/devices/audio/usb.html

Powered USB DAC

NuPrime DAC-10/10H, DAC-9, IDA-16, IDA-8

Externally Powered USB DAC

  • NuPrime uDSD - should always be connected to computer or a powered USB hub
  • Encore mDSD - can be connected to mobile iOS or Android devices directly, provided that the headphones used do not draw too much power. mDSD should be connected to headphone before connecting to the mobile device. If you don’t hear any sound from iPhone or iPad, try to lower your iDevice system volume, then pressing the mDSD volume up first, then increase the system volume.

How to connect to a powered USB hub - you will need a USB Type A to Type A cable for connecting the Android USB OTG Cable or Apple Camera Adapter Cable to the USB hub.

 

How to play DSD on NuPrime device ?

We recommend JRiver Media Center for its ease of use and setup. Please refer to this setup guide: /images/guides/JRiver-Configuration-for-DSD-Playback.pdf

For Foobar please refer to this general purpose USB audio playback guide: /images/guides/NuPrime-USB-Playback-Guide.pdf

What are ASIO and WASAPI ?

WASAPI - Applications communicate with the audio driver through Sessions, and these Sessions are programmed through the Windows Audio Session API (WASAPI). In general, WASAPI operates in two modes. In exclusive mode (also called DMA mode), unmixed audio streams are rendered directly to the audio adapter and no other application's audio will play and signal processing has no effect. Exclusive mode is useful for applications that demand the least amount of intermediate processing of the audio data or those that want to output compressed audio data such as Dolby Digital, DTS or WMA Pro over S/PDIF. WASAPI exclusive mode is similar to kernel streaming in function, but no kernel mode programming is required. In shared mode, audio streams are rendered by the application and optionally applied per-stream audio effects known as Local Effects (LFX) (such as per-session volume control). Then the streams are mixed by the global audio engine, where a set of global audio effects (GFX) may be applied. Finally, they're rendered on the audio device.

Audio Stream Input/Output (ASIO) is a computer sound card driver protocol for digital audio specified by Steinberg, providing a low-latency and high fidelity interface between a software application and a computer's sound card. Whereas Microsoft's DirectSound is commonly used as an intermediary signal path for non-professional users, ASIO allows musicians and sound engineers to access external hardware directly.

Can't play DSD256 with Audirvana 2.5 on a Mac

Mac OSX does not support native DSD, it only supports DoP (DSD over PCM). DAC-9 and DAC-10 only support DoP 128.

If I am using your DAC with a preamp or integrated amp, how do I set DAC’s preamp volume?

It depends on how good the volume control on your preamp or integrated amp is. Basically you want to set the volume of the less accurate preamp as high as possible (90% of maximum for example) and use the better preamp to make the fine adjustment. If both are equally good, set both to around 0db (mid-point). It is easier to test your preamp at low volume. Set DAC-9 to near maximum volume and try it out with your integrated amp. Does the music sound well detailed at very low volume? Do the opposite and compare again.

Is the Line-Out / Subwoofer Out full range?

All the Line Outs or Subwoofer Outputs from all the DACs and Integrated Amps are full range.

The subwoofer outputs from home theater products are filtered according to the device setting.

Optical input is not working or has intermittent problem

Some entry level consumer devices have optical outputs with high jitter and that can affect the locking of optical signal with some model of NuPrime DAC. If this is determined to be the problem, you can use an optical to analog converter such as "Musou Digital Optical Coax to Analog RCA Audio Converter Adapter" (available from Amazon.com) to convert the noisy optical signal to the DAC's analog RCA inputs.

My Windows PC is not showing the NuPrime DAC

1. Check the Sound setting in the Control Panel. Verify that the NuPrime DAC is selected. If it is not showing, the device driver was not installed correctly.

2. Go to Device Manager to check the USB audio device driver is installed and without any conflict. Remove conflicting USB audio devices. There are several places to check:

a) The NuPrime USB audio device listed under Device Manager.

b) In Device Manger, in "Sound, video and game controllers", there should be a NuPrime USB audio device. Check that there is no "error status". Right click to "Update Driver Software" if the status is "error".

3. Reboot computer.

4. Check that your USB cable is not defective. 

 

How does NuPrime determine the "Displayed Sampling Rate"?

There are two ways to determine the sampling rate:

  1. Use meta data from the source music. If the meta data is wrong or the source does not contain any sampling rate data, then NuPrime device will not display the correct sampling rate.  Even if the display does not show the correct sampling rate, the decoding will not be affected. The actual sampling rate is detected during the decoding process. Products using this method are: IDA-16, DAC-10 and uDSD
  2. Use SRC (sampling rate converter implemented in FPGA) to detect the clock of the source music to determine sampling rate. Products using this method are: IDA-8, IDA-6 and DAC-9.

The sampling rate is displayed during the following conditions:

  1. When an input is first selected, the Input Number and Sample Rate are displayed. Unless there is a change in input or sampling rate, the initial sampling rate will not be displayed again. 
  2. The sampling rate is displayed whenever there is a change in Input Source or music sampling rate.

Encore mDSD playing DSD file on latest OSX has noise

Please go to MIDI setting on MAC and make sure it is set to 24 bit.

What is the XLR pin definition of your DAC?

Our DACs follow the standard XLR pinout.

Pin 1 = Ground; Pin 2 = HOT (+); Pin 3 = COLD (-)

How to use NuPrime DAC with Synology NAS ?

Connect Synology USB output to DAC's USB input.

Then follow this application note:  https://www.synology.com/en-global/knowledgebase/DSM/help/AudioStation/playmusic

"Enable high quality output for USB speakers" should be selected in the Audio Station's Advanced Setting.

Amp FAQ

MCH-K38 front panel buttons and LED lights

The buttons on the front panel are toggle on/off switch. 

Power button:  Red means Standby and Green means power on.  No Light means AC power switch off.

Channel 1 ~ 8, Red light means the source is set to XLR and Green means the source is set to RCA.  No Light means the channel is turn off.

The light in between 1 & 2, 3 & 4, 5 & 6, and 7 & 8 are Mono indicators.  Red light also means the source is set to XLR and Green means the source is set to RCA.  No Light means the channel is turn off.  The mono channel can be toggled on/off with channel 2, 4, 6, & 8. 

Please make sure to press the buttons to turn on the channels.  Since our stereo lights are very small LED on the button top, so it might be easy to miss if its put inside the rack.

Where can I find a Turn-On trigger cable for MCH-K38

It is not included as an accessory. If you need it, please contact your distributor or dealer. You can't use any generic 12V trigger cable.

What some of the amps have the same power rating at 8 and 4 Ohms ?

There is two side to a coin. The truth is that the amp is capable of more power than the spec suggested. So if 4 and 8 Ohms are specified at 100Wx2, that means the power supply is a 200W PSU. And we are extremely conservative about our power rating (we provide conservative RMS rating, not peak power). A customer reported 180W for IDA-8 because he is using just one channel to do the measurement. So, if IDA-8 is in a bigger case, and we put in a 300W PSU, you will see a higher rating. In reality, you get more than 100W per channel from the 200W PSU, because not both channels are driven at the same time.

Why don't we put in a bigger PSU? Each model is designed for specific product position and adding more power will certainly increase the cost and size of the product.

Can the amplifier's speaker terminals be used as source inputs (e.g. to REL Subwoofer) ?

In some applications, the speaker outputs from the power amplifier are used as source signals for devices such as REL sub woofer. For such application, usually the receiving devices should have DC offset blocking capability because some amplifier by design has floating ground (DC offset) on the speaker outputs. 

The following models have no DC offset on the amplifier speaker outputs and the negative terminal is also the ground:

NuPrime STA-9, MCH-K38, IDA-16

The following models' speaker outputs can not be connected directly to sub woofer input:

NuPrime Reference 20, ST-10, IDA-8

IDA-8 Reviews

 

                                 THE ABSOLUTE SOUND                                               SOUNDSTAGE! NETWORK

 

                     Product Of The Year

 

"When I’d hooked up the Definitive Technology StudioMonitor 45 speakers to the IDA-8 and begun playing music, I realized that the NuPrime was unlike any other entry-level amplifier I’d ever had in my system. Everything immediately sounded more precise and controlled…

… the little IDA-8 sounded so refined and powerful that I soon decided that, to get a true measure of its sound, I needed to move it into my reference system. In that system I had a variety of high-end but still high-value speakers to use with the NuPrime IDA-8: the KEF R900, Definitive Technology Mythos ST-L, and GoldenEar Technology Triton Five. Even with those floorstanders, the IDA-8 was able to tightly control the low frequencies in Lorde’s bass-laden Pure Heroine (24/48 FLAC, Lava Music/Republic). The IDA-8’s midrange was also something special: exceedingly clean but very full, reproducing voices with clarity and presence while also providing their full weight and body. With the IDA-8, I felt I was hearing everything in Susan Wong’s 511 (24/96 FLAC, Evosound) -- not something that I think I have ever said before about an integrated amp costing under $1000...The NuPrime’s sublime midrange allowed voices to float effortlessly in mid-air…

…It sounds fantastic, has plenty of power to drive any reasonably efficient loudspeaker to room-filling levels, it’s compact, and, best of all, it costs less than $1000…the NuPrime IDA-8 was so good that it seemed almost a shame to extract it from my reference rig and reinstall it in my second system, where it will remain as my new budget reference amplifier. It’s one of the best deals available in audio today…", Roger Kanno (SoundStageExperience.com)

 

" ..The IDA-8 conveyed the music’s richly woven textures as well as its individual parts. Soundstaging was deeper and wider than I expected for an amp in this price category, with precise instrumental placement. Background noise was also shockingly low; the IDA-8 boasts an impressive 95dB signal-to-noise ratio...

...the IDA-8 is a winner, and a force to be reckoned with in its category (and beyond it)…it brought warmth to its clean and clearly resolved presentation of digital sources to...Though a touch dark in character (à la Class D), it delivers substance and warmth with A well-conceived Class A/Class D hybrid that doesn’t want for power or clarity, the IDA-8 ought to find itself on the audition short list of a wide range of hi-fi hobbyists, from newbies to more experienced audiophiles...",-Julie Mullins (The Absolute Sound)

Read full review
 

"…From the very first listen, the IDA-8 elicits a big ‘WOW’. For those that know me you'll appreciate I can be a bit of a cynic and our home system is very much biased toward the analogue. So the initial recommendation of the IDA-8 is not given lightly. It's the immediate impression of enhanced clarity coming out of the little NuPrime that is most striking…",-John Ransley, New Zealand Dealer (Totally Wired)

Read full review