The Absolute Sound
"...when you consider the NuPrime IDA-16 has an advanced DAC built in, which will play virtually any digital recording available today, it’ s an even better value. Of course, if it didn’ t sound good, it wouldn’ t be a good value, no matter how low the price was, but it sounds excellent...The NuPrime IDA-16 DAC/amplifier along with the KEF LS50 speakers made a system that, if you’ll pardon a tired reviewer cliché, punched far above its weight. So to return to the question left open in the first paragraph: Yes, the NuPrime IDA-16 DAC/amplifier can indeed be called a bargain. Highly recommended...", - Vade Forrester, editor
"...This quietness was a particular advantage when I listened at low volume levels, something I usually find uninvolving. Not through the IDA-16 -- my music was just as captivating as at high volumes. Against the NuPrime’ s jet-black backgrounds, all of the dynamics of my recordings were present at all volume levels, making the IDA-16 one of the few amps I have enjoyed for late-night listening... IDA-16 is an exemplary integrated amp-DAC with rock-solid imaging, transparent sound, and tight control of bass...", - Vince Hanada, editor
DAC-10H / DAC-10 Reviews
OUR TOP PICKS by The Absolute Sound
"......Within their product categories the DAC-10H DAC/preamp and ST-10 basic power amplifier are priced at the lower mid-level, yet they both deliver a level of performance that could be considered exemplary regardless of their cost. The DAC-10H has the capabilities, sound, and feature set that should keep it current for a number of years, while the ST-10 produces a level of sound quality that unless you absolutely must have more power output capabilities, will make “upgrading” to anything but a far pricier and more powerful amplifier more of a sideways proposition than an upward one…
"…I could talk about the DAC and preamp capabilities of the DAC-10H all day—they're that good. But what I really want to focus on most is the headphone amplifier. It's really something special…NuPrime's is the real deal—fully balanced design, with gobs of power, all routed through that sweet lossless volume control system. This headphone stage was clearly taken very seriously...Maximum output is 4,000mW per channel into 32 ohm loads via the balanced output. It will do 3,200mW into 50 ohms and 1,600mW into 100 ohms, meaning every variety of planar magnetic headphone should theoretically be well served. And that's exactly how it played out in my testing.
...as a DAC, it equals anything I've heard in its class. Add in the exceptional preamp stage, the cutting edge format support, the very generous connectivity, and of course that killer balanced headphone amp, and it seems NuPrime is ahead of the game...", - John Grandberg, InnerFidelity.com
"...Reference, appearance, compactness, design, all in the portable DAC with headphone amplifier NuPrime uDSD recalls the DAC previously marketed under the NuForce brand. But if the name has changed, the force becoming excellence, performance followed the same path as the uDSD is capable of playing digital audio files up to 24-bit PCM 384 kHz and DSD files to 2.8, 5 6 and 11.2 MHz…
"...Performance as Headphone amp
- can immediately tell the uDSD is stronger and a cleaner through the whole range
- it's not a matter of energy or detail, just a sense of a haze that is lifted
- almost on par with the HDP headphone out on technical ability
- HDP has more power overall, better subbass presence because of that
- with the Wyrd I would say uDSD has slightly better detail across the board
OUR TOP PICKS by The Absolute Sound
"...over the years I’ve reviewed and used plenty of digital power amplifiers from Bel Canto, Wyred4Sound, April Music, and others, and I appreciate what a well-designed model can bring to a system. And it happens that the ST-10 is the best digital power amplifier I’ve heard to date...
“…It certainly has it’s own signature that will impart a bit of it’s flavor into your music but the for the most part bleeds and inviting warmth down low and lack of glare and airiness up top. I find it neither forward or laid back but a really good middle ground of aggression. Musically natural is what this amp is…
…(with the HD800S) the bass is pretty tight. Instantly agreeable in tonality and balance. High gain is heaps better for the HD800S as the bass firms up substantially and adds tonal weight overall…
…(with the THX00) this is golden right here. This sounds better than all of the other amps for the THX00 on exciting songs…The warmth of the 9 and linear treble balance of its tuning, gently buffer the glare of the THX00 but only slightly as to not hinder its perception of a forward and breathy vocal run. If you are looking for an amp for your THX00 I would say stop right here…
… it has a lot going for it and is an easy recommendation for someone looking for an amp that can play with most headphones and then some. My Trafomatic Head 2 has an impedance knob of 25,50,100,300, and 600 ohms yet it seems and sounds less versatile than this amp. Good insight, refinement, and musical tonality make this headphone amp a real winner in my book…”, grizzlybeast (Head-Fi.org)
“…...As a line level preamplifier, the HPA-9 is everything we could want - transparent, with a vanishingly low noise floor. You can draw a direct line of comparison with one of our NuForce favorites - the HAP-100 preamplifier.But having enjoyed a lot of time with both in our home system, the NuPrime is much better in detail and dynamics, with far superior bass performance. There is a sense of scale with the NuPrime which is comparable with far more costly preamplifiers from the very best analogue designers.…
THE ABSOLUTE SOUND SOUNDSTAGE! NETWORK
"…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)
"……For the DAC-9, NuPrime wanted to bring something a little bit more musical and colored to the market than what the DAC-10H offered and as such tapped into AKM’s VELVET SOUND architecture instead of Sabre. To achieve this change in tonality NuPrime designed the DAC-9 around an AKM4490 EQ 32-bit stereo DAC which is also a very popular chip design used in the likes of Cayin’s new i5 DAP, the AK380 from Astell & Kern, as well as desktop units such as the TEAC UD-503, the new Schiit Bifrost and the forthcoming Amare Musica DAC...
… (tonality) the vocal performance is natural sounding, clear and sibilant free though on formidable DACs such as the Hugo and the DAC-10H that additional level of clarity and layering better-suited choir and orchestral works were vocal layering sounded more precise and detailed…Rock and pop vocals, modern genres with high range synth-happy workouts suit the DAC-9 so much better where is can display a detailed treble performance that sensibly avoids grating or any digital glare……The pairing with the NuPrime HPA-9 amp was spot on. This is NuPrime’s twin amp that stacks ever so sweetly with the DAC-9, on top or below…It really is worth the money for me with its excellent transparency and eye for detail…
…Power wise the DAC-9/HPA-9 can easily handle planars such as the Ether C, LCD-2 and tonally treble edgy headphones such as the K812 actually behaved themselves wonderfully. In fact, so much so I used the K812 for the majority of the review combined with the HPA-9 amp for comparative listening it was that good. It is normally quite hard to find a combination that tames the treble peakiness of the K812 without losing a ton of detail but the DAC-9/HPA-9 combo did a very nice job indeed, keeping plenty of detail and allowing me to sit back and listen to the music without getting zapped by painful treble…", marcusd (Headfonics.com)
" - exceptionally clean, clear sound, not least promotes a very pleasant, seemingly organic timbres representation.
- tonal neutrality, the sound image becomes but absolutely consistent and coherent.
- an impeccable resolution, delivered pleasant long-term compatible sound.
- well-balanced voice or midrange.
- excellent space: precise focus- we recommended listeners to experience with both the stereo and mono version ", Jörg Dames (fairaudio.de)
Combination of energy and musicality
"...NuPrime's achievements have earned an excellent reputation, including its digital amplifiers, including the STA-9 model on power stages using
a brand design and preceded by class A gain stages. Listeners get excellent sound results, which should reconcile the advocates of opposing
opinions on the amplification classes!..."- , Philippe Daussin (qobuz.com)
Best of 2016 (Part-Time Audiophile.com)
"...How does 120W x 2 worth of hybrid Class A + Class D amplification for $649 sound? How about running a pair of them in mono mode for a total of 290W per channel? You’d think there must surely be some compromise involved yet try as I might I just can’t find it.These little fellows offer richly textured sound with an excellent soundstage and deep low-end extension, all in a tiny package. The amps build on the classic NuForce Reference models of yesteryear, but take on a subtly relaxed flavor where those older models could be a bit high strung. This is a hugely crowd-pleasing product worthy of serious attention despite its affordable nature......"- , John Grandberg (parttimeaudiophile.com)
Reference 18 and Reference 20 Reviews
"…from the moment I powered-up the Reference 18s they immediately produced a more detailed, threedimensional, and dynamically expressive sound than any of the NuForce amps I’ve reviewed in the past…left behind the world of incremental improvements and instead offered a substantial sonic leap forward. ..Dynamic contrasts are one of the things the Reference 18 does best, so that at times the amp creates the illusion that it has, in a subtle and entirely appropriate way, unlocked and expanded the dynamic range of familiar records…I couldn’t help but notice how much sheer sonic information the amplifier was conveying…becomes noticeably more liquid, easygoing, and relaxed. As a direct consequence, musical details are allowed simply to happen, unfolding effortlessly and naturally without the amplifier imparting any excess edge...
...The Reference 18 does an increasingly good job of capturing the sense of air surrounding instruments or reverberating within the confines of recording spaces… The fascinating result is that both lateral and front-to-back imaging become at once more focused and specific, yet also exhibits a more natural and organic sound…it is hands down the finest amplifier NuForce has made, and I think it is good enough that it deserves to be included in most any discussion of top-tier amplifiers. Even if you have heard (and perhaps disliked) Class D amplifiers in the past, this is one I think you will find worthy of your time and consideration…keeps faith with the truth of the recording itself, which is all anyone might ask of a fine power amplifier…" - Chris Martens, AVGuide.com
"...one day well into the review period, while working out, I was playing Donald Fagen’s Morph the Cat (CD, Reprise 49975). Out of the corner of my ear, I heard what I’d been missing. I sat down in my listening seat and there it was: the dimensions of both individual instruments and the recording venue were revealed. This screwed up my workout, but I sat there and listened to almost the entire CD -- the Reference 18s were unraveling and presenting this recording in a new way...", - Tim Shea, SoundStage!HiFi magazine