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Arrived today, well packed and promptly shipped from Christian. I had to run back to the office and didn't get out until 9pm, by the time I got home, fed the cat, found where I had put my extra power cords, listened to my amp for a bit to seal auditory memory, and hooked up Jason's Ncores, it was about 10pm. So I got about an hour on them so far at reduced volume evening listening. All just first impressions, I'll do a real review after I ship them out. Detailed, smooth, excellent soundstage. Ever so slightly reticent in the treble, just to the degree I like. You can hear everything because of the extraordinary detail, but nothing is grating on the ears. All the attributes of my favorite chip amp, without any of the harshness. But the most striking characteristic is the amp's ability to sort out complex musical passages, separate images from one another, and not lose the musical whole. This is something I only hear from the finest components. We see if it all holds up a higher volumes.
anyone know who the artist is for the song Dark Angel on Zybars post # 56 ?
But the most striking characteristic is the amp's ability to sort out complex musical passages, separate images from one another, and not lose the musical whole.
Very promising.Can you tell us what speakers(and sensitivity) and preamp You are using.Jerry
I agree with this after listening to mgalusha system, very transparent too. I thought afterwards its one of the most naked sounding amp’s I’ve heard, depending on one’s system that could be bad, good or great.It will be interesting once mine are built to see how well it drives a difficult load.
I got a chance to go over to Mike's last night and give the nCore's a good listen. Before we get to the impressions, I'll say up front I am biased in favor of the nCore's, as I really want to get rid of my tube amps since I have a 5 year old daughter and I'm always a bit worried she'll get into them (even though I put them inside a cabinet behind a closed door). To be thorough, I brought over my tube amp to hook up into Mike's system so we could do direct comparisons on a level playing field. My tube amp is a hotrodded Dynaco ST70 using modern VTA boards and input circuits, an upgraded oversized power supply from Triode Electronics, and premium parts throughout. We listened to Bjork, Mahler, and Shostakovich in the comparison. All in Hirez.So, how did they sound? Well, first up, I am happy to report they do NOT sound like the typical sterile and shrill class D amps I've heard up till this point. I was particularly concerned the highs. Bjork in particular can drive you out of the room if the highs are poor. Same with the flutes and piccolos in the Shostakovich. But luckily they did not sound harsh or strident at all. Very smooth. Nice.Soundstage was awesome. Some amps give you good SS width, others give you good depth. Few give you both. But the nCore gave perfect soundstage, front to back and side to side. I believe it's because they have such incredible transparency, there's just a perfect view into the recording venue. You hear everything. But not in a clinical or dry way. Mike said the nCore's are warmer in the mids than his Atmasphere's were, and I believe him! (But then again, I've always hated the sound of OTL amps). Another noteworthy area is dynamics. With the nCore's, you have basically unlimited dynamics, no compression at all, and complete and utter ease when in the middle of large dynamic peaks. The other cool thing is the soundstage does NOT collapse when played back full bore and using very complex music (ie, the Mahler and Shostakovich). For fun, at the very end of our session, we also threw on some Kodo, also in hirez. Uhm, holy crap! That was awesome, it really brought out all the strengths in the nCore's.So, how did my tube amps fare? Worse in every category I can think of except one. The one area the tubes did better was tonal density. There were simply more tonal variety and saturation for different instruments. Not so much in the highs, which sounded pretty much the same on both amps, but in the mids. Easier to hear the difference between violins, violas, cellos, and double basses. Unfortunately, tonality is the single most important factor for me when listening to a system, so the tube amps are staying. They actually did pretty well in the dynamics, transparency, soundstaging areas, but were definitely not at the level of the nCores.
What source did you use (through the tubesamp)And what speakers.Jerry
See here: http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=105310.msg1075943#msg1075943mike
The Ncore have left my home and headed back up to NYC for the next stop. I'll add my thanks to all of the others herein to Jason for his kindness and generosity in sending out these amps on tour. I enjoyed my time with them immensely and it was fun having Al, Kevin and Barry stop over on Saturday to give a listen.I'll give a brief rundown of my system for reference. Oppo 971 transport into a JEC 7510 DAC with upgraded power supply, B&K CS 115 Preamp, which runs either passive or active, Pure AV power conditioner, used both in and out of circuit with the Ncores, VPI HW19Jr MkIII upgrades, classic NOS Empire cartridge, NAD 3020B as phono pre. Speakers used were slightly modded Maggie MMG's and PSB Alpha T, Yamaha twin 7" paper cone subwoofer. Cabling is a mix of Magnan, Zu, and Tuan's homemade cables, Zu Wylde were used with the Ncores. Comparison for the Ncores was a B&K ST202 amp, Barry had brought a Bell Canto that we didn't have time to hookup. The room is 10'x13.5' heavily treated with bass traps and wall mounted absorption. All of the components, except the Ncores, sit on Maple cubes.I wish I had some startling new revelation to add to the previous reviews, but I'm afraid everyone has nailed the character of these amps already, and they weren't wrong. They come out and go back in the box with the same basic sound, no breaking in or warm up time that I noticed. Al had suggested Friday that I disconnect the amps from my power conditioner, even though it has a a dedicated high power outlet, and hook them directly up to the wall outlet. I noticed only a very slight difference, maybe opening up a bit, or not. Note that after the amps left I tried this with the B&K and noticed a marked difference, much more open and fast, closer to the Ncores than it had been previously. So despite the rather lightweight power supply, they appeared immune to variations in power source.In comparison to the classic AB push pull B&K, the Ncores were immediately faster, cleaner, with a wonderful ability to delineate complex musical passages into their individual parts while still delivering a musically whole presentation. You could hear more into each instrument even with a reduction in apparent absolute treble levels. They sounded ever so slightly rolled off in the treble, yet had more high frequency detail, if that makes sense. Dynamics were completely unrestrained at loud levels, they never once pooped out no matter how loud we took them. Yet something I didn't get 'round to showing the other guys, they maintain this dynamic contrast even at low volumes. Bass, midrange, treble, soundstaging, imaging, tone, detail, etc. were boringly even and uneventfully excellent. They didn't do anything wrong across the board, there wasn't lightweight bass, harsh treble, flat imaging, haziness, nothing you could pick out to criticize. These are attributes I only hear in much more expensive amps, and certainly not in my B&K's. One minor problem cropped up only when the other guys were here, the left channel Maggie went into a weird oscillation that sounded like a blown tweeter, but wasn't. The first trouble shooting was to switch out to the PSB's which fixed the problem and gave us a chance to hear woofer in boxes speakers, so we never went back. I have no idea what it was, it didn't crop up before or after.I ran them with both passive and active circuits from the pre amp. I felt the active stage gave greater dynamics at almost no cost in noise or graininess. The passive stage was a little sweeter and cleaner, but I felt the trade-off went to the active side, which is the opposite of what I hear with my B&K. The other guys were firmly convinced I was wrong, and the passive stage was way better with only a slight loss in dynamics. A classic case of YMMV. Here's a pic of the little rascals, sitting on some short speaker stands I dug out of the attic. Note they are without the custom front faceplates that Jason removed. I can't wait for the $200 Chinese clones that will surely be out in a couple of months.
...And so I won't get flagged for off topic (sorry Jason), here's a short list of some of the music listened to:Paul Simon, GracelandLyle Lovett, Joshua Judges RuthHer Infinite Variety, Celtic Women in Music and SongSara Gazarek, Return to YouHolst, The Planets, LSO w/ Geoffrey SimonLiz Story, Solid ColorsPat Metheny and Lyle Mays, As Falls Wichita So Falls Wichita FallsSara K, Closer Than They AppearShadowfax, Too Far to WhisperThere were others, but you get the idea.
Wow, a lot of my favs on that list, being a Metheny/Mays and Shadowfax junkie myself. You've prompted me to cue a few of those up for the NCores this week
Well, I was lucky that I was able to squeeze myself into a night with the N-Cores by playing courier.I heard them at Dan's (Letitroll98) home in South Jersey on Saturday afternoon, and liked what I'd heard of them there. That evening, I had Al (hifial), his buddy Kevin (both of whom had traveled south to Dan's for a listen), and NYRaver Gary (he happened to call out of the blue asking about some DIY speaker cables), over to my place for a listen.................
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