Hypex NCore NC400 - USA Tour Listening Impressions

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Rclark

Re: Hypex NCore NC400 - USA Tour Listening Impressions
« Reply #560 on: 20 Aug 2012, 07:38 pm »
Jonbee I too noticed the same phenomenon with my own amp. As clear as it sounded before hearing Ncores, it seemed muffled immediately after reinstalling it.

Thanks Jackman, fella's, very kind words. I do love this hobby and enjoy reviewing gear. By the way, as far as recording quality, well it's just that the Ncores won't sugar coat a 128 mp3 download/laptop rip. It's still music, it still sounds good and you enjoy it because you enjoy that band. But it's just that it doesn't sound as good as some painstakingly recorded material. The Ncores aren't going to "make it sound worse", it's just showing you that the recording always sounded that bad.

 Don't fret about it. In my mind, this is what you want. If I had the Ncores here, I'd much rather listen to them, with their honest presentation of material.

 You'll still like your music a lot regardless, you just won't use the bad stuff as a demo.

mr_bill

Re: Hypex NCore NC400 - USA Tour Listening Impressions
« Reply #561 on: 20 Aug 2012, 08:40 pm »
Hi guys,
I have my NCores plugged into my Torus power conditioner.
Tonight, I will try straight into the wall.
I echo everything that Jonbee said.  The bass especially, is a very noticeable no brainer improvement.

genjamon

Re: Hypex NCore NC400 - USA Tour Listening Impressions
« Reply #562 on: 20 Aug 2012, 10:00 pm »
I'm with what Rclark says about Ncore just not making poorly recorded or poor bitrate sound worse.  In fact, the poorer quality stuff is about the same proportion better with Ncore compared to my other amp as with good quality stuff.  I get at least some soundstage depth rather than none with my other amp, and the hash is greatly diminished, improving listenability of poor quality stuff.  But if there's not much to work with on the recording or bitrate, there's just not much to work with.

roscoeiii

Re: Hypex NCore NC400 - USA Tour Listening Impressions
« Reply #563 on: 21 Aug 2012, 02:30 am »
jonbee and RClark,

Thank you both for the detailed write-ups. Very clear, informative and the descriptions that really capture the sound of these amps.

TJHUB

Re: Hypex NCore NC400 - USA Tour Listening Impressions
« Reply #564 on: 3 Sep 2012, 10:51 pm »
I received the tour amps a week ago from last Friday.  I immediately got them up and running.  I have heard my friend's pair of NCore amps in my setup twice before, and I've heard them in his setup 3 or 4 times.  This was the first time I was able to listen to NCore amps in my setup for more than an hour or two, so thanks for that Jason. 

Upon first listen, I heard exactly what I don't like about these amps...the bass.  To me, it sounds like the amps shift the timbre down, and this makes the bass sound deeper overall.  But this deeper bass doesn't sound right at all in my setup.  Bass guitar and upright bass just sounds wrong.  The notes are too deep, and there is a rather large loss of definition.  I lost a lot of the string and wood sound of the upright bass, and I honestly felt that much of the musicality from the bass was just lost.  I had a very hard time listening past this for my entire audition.  Luckily this issue doesn't affect all tracks.

As my listening time passed, I started to notice that I thought the vocals from just about every track I listened to sounded amazing.  The vocals were rich, defined, clear, and had a holographic position in the stage left to right and depth.  I found myself repeatedly thinking this throughout my entire listening time with the amps.

Speaking of the sound stage, the width of the sound stage was more narrow than I'm used to, and not much deeper.  One thing I kept noticing is that while the vocals had great separation in the sound stage, intruments did not.  The instruments seemed to be combined into a wall behind and around the vocals, but they were sort of smeared together with a lack of separation.  I heard this issue in just about everything I listened to.

The treble was actually better than I expected, but still not what I would call super realistic.  It's comfortable, and sort of sterile in some ways.  I don't mean to say that it's bad, more that it's lacking something.  I actually found the treble to sound good overall, but missing that something that grabs you.  One thing that was very clear to me is that the NCore's have a blacker background than I'm used to, but that blacker background comes from missing information.  There were many tracks that I listened to where I couldn't hear the ambiance or detail that I was used to hearing.  There were even midrange details I felt were rather attenuated or muffled. 

This brings me to another thing that kept happening to me.  I kept wanting to turn up the volume.  Why?  I think it was my attempt to hear the details I was missing or wanted to hear.  I noticed this the entire time I listened.  Luckily the NCore's sound good at higher volumes, so nothing ever got worse with high volumes.

All said, I only listened to the NCore's through that Saturday, and then packed them up.  Switching back to my Odyssey's Saturday afternoon showed me that the Odyssey's are the amps for me.  I thought everything sounded better with the exception of the vocals.  I'd say the vocals are quite a bit better on the NCore's.  I just couldn't find any love for the NCore's with the bass issues I was hearing combined with the missing detail in the treble (and some midrange). 

Since I just poo-pooed all over the NCore's, I thought I'd mention that I have heard other good things from them.  I'm just stating the larger issues that I heard in my setup.  I also think that you should all know that my friend that owns a pair of NCore amps was with me Saturday.  I believe he would agree with some of the things I stated, but know that he loves his NCore amps. 

One of the reasons for my friend coming to listen with me, was that he wanted to know how his amps compared to the tour pair.  Not so surprising, his pair sounded significantly better in some ways.  One way his pair was better was clarity.  This increased clarity really helped the treble detail and allowed much of the ambiance detail I was missing to come through.  The sound stage was clearly wider as well, and the bass issue slightly reduced.  Needless to say, my friend was feeling pretty good about all of this. 

So how can his pair of amps sound "better" than the tour pair?  He'd tell you it came from some small tweaks, but mostly from the IEC sockets and fuses used.  IEC sockets?  YES!!!  My friend brought his pair of NCore's to my house a couple of months ago when they were new.  One of the things he brought with him was a second pair of IEC sockets because he couldn't believe what he was hearing. 

We listened to the NCore's with the IEC sockets that came with his enclosures, and then a pair of cryo-treated ACME's.  The difference in sound was HUGE.  The supplied IEC's sounded distorted, and in a serious way.  How can a 3/4" piece of metal affect the sound so severely?  I don't know, but when he switched to the ACME's, the sound was significantly better.  There's a fuse story/issue built in here as well, but just know that he now uses a Furutech IEC socket and a better fuse.  Much of the improved sound his pair clearly has over the tour pair of amps comes from these components.  Just know that the difference is very far from subtle, and on two different systems.

We also both wanted to experiment with the supplied Triode power cords to see what differences they provided for the NCore amps and my Odyssey's.  We started by swapping the Triode's with my friend's Signal Cable power cords.  The change in sound was significant.  The Signal Cable's sounded hollow which affected the overall sound in a rather negative way.  We then tried my Pangea AC-9's, and it was clear that the Triode's were down right amazing.  I have NEVER heard a power cord affect the sound of a component like this before.  There was nothing subtle about the differences, it was more like listening to a completely different component.  I really found this rather disappointing. 

The reason I was disappointed was that I was thinking trying the Triode power cords on my Odyssey's would mean that I'd need to find $1,000.00 for a pair of Triode's for myself.  Thank goodness this was not the case on my Odyssey's.  The AC-9's did just as good, if not better in some ways than the Triode's.  I can't begin to state how happy this made me.  But while the Triode's did little to nothing for my amps, just know that what they do for the NCore amps (both pairs we had) is HUGE!  If I had NCore amps, I'd have to find a way to own a pair of Triode power cables to go with them.  They are that good!!

Sorry if this "listening impression" has holes in it.  I just wanted to be brief as I could write in great detail about many of the tracks I used.  I should have written things down while listening, but I had no idea that Audio Circle would be down.  My comments are likely to not impress my friend either, but we'll let him clarify anything he'd like to address.  Sorry... :oops:

In the end, I was very happy to get to hear the NCore's in my setup for a longer period of time.  I was also very happy to get to hear what the Triode power cords did for my amps.  This is not something you get a chance to do often, and I really appreciated the opportunity.  If my friend can improve on the bass issue, I'd love to give the NCore's another shot.  I'm glad I ended up being happier with my amps over the NCore's, but that's honestly NOT what I was hoping for...long story...

poseidonsvoice

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Re: Hypex NCore NC400 - USA Tour Listening Impressions
« Reply #565 on: 3 Sep 2012, 11:09 pm »
Great review TJ. Thank you for your write up. You don't know what works in your system until you try it. That's why this tour rocks.

Best,

Anand.

roscoeiii

Re: Hypex NCore NC400 - USA Tour Listening Impressions
« Reply #566 on: 3 Sep 2012, 11:11 pm »
Speaker-amp synergy is also huge, making it surprising that there haven't been more less than glowing reviews of the ncores. TJ are you still using the Salks listed in your system profile?

TJHUB

Re: Hypex NCore NC400 - USA Tour Listening Impressions
« Reply #567 on: 3 Sep 2012, 11:19 pm »
Speaker-amp synergy is also huge, making it surprising that there haven't been more less than glowing reviews of the ncores. TJ are you still using the Salks listed in your system profile?

Synergy is huge, no doubt.  And yes I am still using the Salk HT2-TL's.

jonbee

Re: Hypex NCore NC400 - USA Tour Listening Impressions
« Reply #568 on: 3 Sep 2012, 11:20 pm »
More evidence, if any was needed, that when you're working with fine systems matchups rule the day. It may not be comforting to know that if you just buy well thought of expensive gear and hook it up you can get average or even terrible sound quite easily, and that trial and error, expensive and time consuming as it is, in the end is the only way to satisfaction.

In my system, the nCore bass is the best I've heard, hands down. Deeper, but also more true to life. But- my room has its' own signature, and that always has been a major contributor in the 200 hz. and below region. And so it goes.
Nice writeup of your findings.

mjock3

Re: Hypex NCore NC400 - USA Tour Listening Impressions
« Reply #569 on: 3 Sep 2012, 11:45 pm »
What???
Nice honest write up Terry. I am liking mine, in my system. I heard the bass information change in Terry's and it was a significant change in the detailing in the Patricia Barber Beat Goes On track.

Thanks for the review, and thanks again to Jason for his kindness in sending these out.  :thumb:

Mark

BPT

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Re: Hypex Ncore NC400- USA Tour Listening Impressions
« Reply #570 on: 10 Sep 2012, 12:41 am »
I had early interest when Hypex started and was on the fence about purchasing until the upgraded UCD400HG became available. I  bought 4 modules and built 2 stereo amps with very good linear power supplies (for bi-amping my OB line source speakers). Was very pleased with the performance. Did some tweaking with the input capacitors and output filter network with minor improvements. Decided to go all out and built battery power supplies for them at +/- 48VDC. They were sooo quiet with great soundstage depth. Some members may have heard them in my exhibit room three years back at RMAF. After a couple years the batteries started to become a bit of a pain so I went back to linear supplies. In an effort for further improvements, I removed the input capacitors completely and had a nice improvement. That is how I have been listening the past couple years.
Enter the NC400. I dropped them in my system to drive my OB panels from 200Hz up. While the supplied power cords looked nice, I used my own designs because I know their sound making it easier to hear overall changes in the sound of the system. Tonally they sound almost identical to my UCD400HGs (which means, very neutral). They are very quiet (as advertised) with an extremely good soundstage. The big question for me is are they better than mine since I use a good linear supply vs. their switching supply. The answer is yes. In the midrange it was close, but I felt the NCs had a better sense of space with improvements in very low level detail retrieval. Maybe a 5% improvement. The high frequencies were an easier call with the NCs being much cleaner and musical. A good 15% improvement over the UCDHGs. I did not test the bass performance. So, yes they are better and yes, they are worth purchasing. How will these babies sound with a really great linear power supply?  :thumb:
Chris H.
BPT
« Last Edit: 10 Sep 2012, 01:04 am by jtwrace »

OzarkTom

Re: Hypex NCore NC400 - USA Tour Listening Impressions
« Reply #571 on: 10 Sep 2012, 09:57 pm »
First off, I want to thank Jason for this great amp tour. More than anyone here, it saved me a lot of headaches. I was worried that the power gremlins would give me trouble on these Ncores, and darn, I was right. I wanted to bow out of the reviews, but Jason encouraged me not to.
 
About 33 years ago, I opened a small audio shop in my home in Iowa. I listened to most of the audio equipment during the daytime hours and it was long hours. In 1983, I moved my audio shop to a small town in Missouri where I graduated. I had to change my listening habits immediately.

I could not listen to AC powered amps here due to excessive electronic glare, that is how bad my power here is. I tried OTL's, Class A, SET amps, and just normal tubes amps. The only way I could listen was to wait until after 10pm Sunday-Thursday nights and after 12pm after Fridays and Saturdays. I have lived in three houses here and it is the same no matter what. For those of you that go to the audio shows and you have found your way in to a horrible sounding, fatiquing room, that was what I was up against.

Fast-forward to this past weekend and the Ncores. I hooked the amps up on Wednesday night and didn't listen too much. I expected the improvement would come the next day. Thursday night was sounding better, but to my dismay, it sounded somewhat mechanical. I suspected my AC gremlins was causing the problem again. Friday I started early in the evening, and the gramlins were back in full force, my ears were ringing in less than 5 minutes. I wished I had waited later that night. Saturday night was slightly better, but listening fatique set in after 10 minutes.
 
Being a stubborn fellow, that is what my wife calls me, I packed the Ncores up and took them to my buddie's Rex's house in St. Charles on Sunday. We hooked them up late that night, so we just listened for a few minutes. The amps sounded better than at my house, but still somewhat mechanical.
 
The next day was the day of truth. We first had the Virtue IC's hooked into the amps. The sound was now finally getting interesting. It was smooth, clean, clear, and quiet. The edge had disappeared, only the vocals were sounding a little recessed. I also had a pair of the Virtue XL cables with me, so we hooked those up.  That improvement took care of the recessed vocals. It was a damatic difference between the XLR's and the IC's. Rex and I now knew what everyone here has been raving about. This was definitely the best 200 WPC amp that Rex or I have ever heard.
 
I was mad all the way home, I was determined some way to get that sound here at my house. So after 10pm, sure enough I finally got that great sound that Rex got. My wife was mad as heck, but I had to find out if my AC gremlins here in my hometown was still the problem. I guess it is, now if I could only have borrowed BPT Chris's battery supply and hook it up to the Ncores. Some of you might have noticed a few months ago that I had asked Bruno on the DIY forum if he was bring out a battery version and he had said no. I was afraid this was going to happen.
 
Just a couple of quibbles, I too found a slight smearing of the instruments like TJ did, and the soundstage was not the most holographic that I have ever heard. I can say this though, if you absolutely need 200 wpc amp, this is one of the first that you should look at. I guess I will have to wait until someone like Chris(BPT) designs me a battery power supply.
 
After being a tube fanatic for over 30 years, I can now say that Class D is definitely here to stay. I may never buy a tube amp again. :o

Equipment used:
Rethm Maargas
Rethm Trishnas
Zu Drews(modified)
Virtue audio IC's
Virtue audio XLR's
AMR DP-777
Mac Mini with Amarra
Virtue USB cable

Freo-1

Re: Hypex NCore NC400 - USA Tour Listening Impressions
« Reply #572 on: 10 Sep 2012, 11:08 pm »
Right.  I also have been converted somewhat to Class D based on the TBI amp as well   :o
 

jbtrio

Re: Hypex NCore NC400 - USA Tour Listening Impressions
« Reply #573 on: 10 Sep 2012, 11:24 pm »
OzarkTom what you need is a purepower+ re-generator with has a battery backup. Your electric problems will be over.

I have a 1500+ and I'm very pleased with its performance.

Sorry for going off topic.

Rclark

Re: Hypex NCore NC400 - USA Tour Listening Impressions
« Reply #574 on: 11 Sep 2012, 03:45 am »

After being a tube fanatic for over 30 years, I can now say that Class D is definitely here to stay. I may never buy a tube amp again. :o


 Wow Tom, you've got some bad power  :lol:. That's too bad, you really missed out. I can't imagine power bad enough to make Ncores smear, that's actually pretty funny! No wonder it's batteries or nothing else for you. I'm imagining burnt out transformers and surplus east german cold war power plant technology.

 Good thing you've got that battery powered TBI. I can't wait to hear it myself.

 Anyway, on to the next review..

wilsynet

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Re: Hypex NCore NC400 - USA Tour Listening Impressions
« Reply #575 on: 11 Sep 2012, 04:20 am »
For Ncore listeners that were not smitten with its charms, I suggest you view my post here about Ncore performance into low impedance loads vs. high.  Low impedance performance was so-so at best while high-impedance performance is revelatory. 

I have the Selah Tempestas which are 85 db efficient, present a 5 ohm average and 4 ohm minimum load.

Is this considered too low an impedance for the NC400?  Does this matter all the time or primarily when the amplifier is pushed hard?

Occam

Re: Hypex NCore NC400 - USA Tour Listening Impressions
« Reply #576 on: 11 Sep 2012, 05:24 am »
Tom,

I'm unsure if I understand what leads you to conclude that the SMPS600 is inadequate in dealing with your noisy electrical grid. Your system, with the Ncore 400 serving  power amplifier duties, doesn't perform well until late at night, presumably due to main's noise and distortion.

How do you know that the AMR feeding the Ncore isn't the source of poor performance due to power supply inadequacy in dealing with mains pollution? Or your apple server, if not on batteries.
Or the separately powered woofers in you Rethm speakers?

The components I'm currently using with my Ncore 400s  is an EAR Acute III cd player/Dac serving source and preamp duties directly connected to the Ncore and then on to the Marten Miles II speakers. I live in Brooklyn, NY where the power, day or night, in engineering terminology, sucks big time. And while the EAR CD player needed individual power filtering from its dedicated outlet (as did the excellent Aspen Lifeforce amp) the Ncores supplied by SMPS600s, sound, IMO, best without additional power filtering, plugged directly into the wall outlets. I say 'additional' because the smps600 incorporates a low pass power entry filter, addressing both common and differential noise. It is one of the few mains powered components that don't appear to benefit from auxiliary series power conditioning.

To more conclusively assess the Ncore's need for a different power supply, one might evaluate the system using a conditioner(s) that provides isolating filtering, as well as a direct to wall option. The would help in determining which components and to what extent they're susceptible to power line noise. A multiple filter conditioner such as the Audience Adept would do quite nicely.

FWIW,
Paul

Rclark

Re: Hypex NCore NC400 - USA Tour Listening Impressions
« Reply #577 on: 11 Sep 2012, 06:18 am »
Tom,

I'm unsure if I understand what leads you to conclude that the SMPS600 is inadequate in dealing with your noisy electrical grid. Your system, with the Ncore 400 serving  power amplifier duties, doesn't perform well until late at night, presumably due to main's noise and distortion.

How do you know that the AMR feeding the Ncore isn't the source of poor performance due to power supply inadequacy in dealing with mains pollution? Or your apple server, if not on batteries.
Or the separately powered woofers in you Rethm speakers?

The components I'm currently using with my Ncore 400s  is an EAR Acute III cd player/Dac serving source and preamp duties directly connected to the Ncore and then on to the Marten Miles II speakers. I live in Brooklyn, NY where the power, day or night, in engineering terminology, sucks big time. And while the EAR CD player needed individual power filtering from its dedicated outlet (as did the excellent Aspen Lifeforce amp) the Ncores supplied by SMPS600s, sound, IMO, best without additional power filtering, plugged directly into the wall outlets. I say 'additional' because the smps600 incorporates a low pass power entry filter, addressing both common and differential noise. It is one of the few mains powered components that don't appear to benefit from auxiliary series power conditioning.

To more conclusively assess the Ncore's need for a different power supply, one might evaluate the system using a conditioner(s) that provides isolating filtering, as well as a direct to wall option. The would help in determining which components and to what extent they're susceptible to power line noise. A multiple filter conditioner such as the Audience Adept would do quite nicely.

FWIW,
Paul


 I found this interesting as well. Many people have noted that the switching supply with the Ncore is advanced to a level that it is superior even to stand alone power conditioning units and that the Ncore is preferred straight into the wall regardless of power conditions.

OzarkTom

Re: Hypex NCore NC400 - USA Tour Listening Impressions
« Reply #578 on: 11 Sep 2012, 11:42 am »
Tom,

I'm unsure if I understand what leads you to conclude that the SMPS600 is inadequate in dealing with your noisy electrical grid. Your system, with the Ncore 400 serving  power amplifier duties, doesn't perform well until late at night, presumably due to main's noise and distortion.

Jason told me to be honest, so I am being as honest as I can. What was causing the distortion in every AC powered amp that I have ever had here for the last 30 years is beyond me.  :scratch:

I even hear the AC glare if I accidentally leave my battery charger hooked up to the battery on my battery amp when playing. This was the #1 reason for me getting on the tour, I was hoping the Ncores would break that long streak. But I never hear that glare as long as I am on batteries on the amp, so the AMR or Rethm's is not causing the problem. And I have had other speakers hooked up here, same results.

Now I might not have used the right terminology on the smearing effect, and I am sorry if I didn't. The vocals and instruments sound very clear on the Ncores, but when there are several instruments playing in the background, it does not separate and pinpoint the instruments as well as I have heard on a few other amps. That may be caused by my AC also, but Rex pointed that out at his place too where his AC was not causing the glare problems.

Rclark

Re: Hypex NCore NC400 - USA Tour Listening Impressions
« Reply #579 on: 11 Sep 2012, 02:28 pm »

Now I might not have used the right terminology on the smearing effect, and I am sorry if I didn't. The vocals and instruments sound very clear on the Ncores, but when there are several instruments playing in the background, it does not separate and pinpoint the instruments as well as I have heard on a few other amps.


 See that baffles me, because I found the Ncore's seperation so good it was spooky, and especially noted so on busier tracks. Unstrained and effortless. It will be interesting to see if the TBI is even better.