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Audio-gd NFB-10

Posted

Pros: Musical, resolving, neutral, powerful, balanced, matches LCD-2s beautifully

Cons: Huge, some problems with optical, expensive shipping, no analog inputs, not for bright cans

After about a year of owning the Nuforce Icon HDP, I decided to upgrade my Amp/DAC to a unit more suited for the LCD-2's needs.  Having combed through the Amp Recommendations thread for the LCD-2, I decided upon the NFB-10SE.  Once everything with Paypal cleared and I finally got it from China, I was treated to musical bliss.
Design:  This amp is fairly large.  It's (WxDxH) 9x21x3 inches (22.8 x 53.4 x 7 centimeters), so you should have a good bit of space cleared for it.  For being quite large, it's surprisingly light.  This doesn't mean it feels dainty, mind you, it's very solidly built of metal.  It's all black with silver buttons on the front panel, which has some clear LEDs.  There's 9 filters (the last few are limited to 16/44), and I've found 3 to be the best for the LCD-2.  You can select high or low gain, three data inputs (USB, Optical and Coax) and a digital volume from 00 to 48.  It has balanced as well as single ended inputs, which can push 10W and 3.3W for 25 ohms respectively.  I've not used the balanced option, but the SE works just fine.  
Sound:  It's very slightly on the bright side of neutral, but nonetheless quite smooth and musical.  Every single detail in the music is revealed but not forced on you, and the instrument separation is fantastic.  With this much power on tap, it can really bring out the potential of the LCD-2.  The bass is less prominent, albeit much more refined and articulate.  The mids are smooth, well-defined and have excellent texture.  As it's a very slightly bright amp, some highs might be a little harsh on poor recordings, but otherwise it's 100% groovy.  In general, it's best to have a lot of good recordings, because it is manifestly not a forgiving unit.  The NFB will make it very clear what quality you're giving it. However, if you feed it well-recorded material and don't use Grados (which can be sometimes sibilant), I can guarantee musical bliss across the board.  These are a perfect match for dark, laid-back headphones.  I don't recommend using Grados or Ultrasones, since bright + bright = pain.  But if you have a pair of LCD-2s and want world-class sound without dropping a grand, the NFB is your best bet.
Value: The amp/DAC itself costs $500 before shipping, which is nothing to scoff about.  It is nonetheless an incredible value.  I tried a Lyr/Bifrost combo with my LCD-2 and thought nothing could be better.  The NFB proved me incorrect, and for $300 less.  A quality amp for quality sound.

Audio-gd NFB-10
Description:

A fully balanced dedicated DAC + fully balanced HP/Pre amp. Two models exist: The NFB-10ES with the Sabre32 ES9018 DAC chip and the NFB-10WM with dual Wolfson WM8741 DAC chips. In fall 2011, the original NFB-10 was discontinued and replaced by the NFB-10SE, using dual Wolfson WM8741 chips exclusively. No Sabre ES9018 version has been offered since the NFB-10ES. The NFB-10SE was significantly reduced in price as point-to-point hand soldered internals were extensively replaced by automated manufactured PCB occupying a smaller, lower cost enclosure. Amplifier power output was moderately reduced. Other changes included access via software to internal DAC filters through front panel input. Subsequent NFB-10 models, including the most recent NFB-10.32 maintained these changes. The current version is offered with an optional remote.

Details:
DetailValue
Additional Informationcan function as preamp (volume control) or output fixed gain signal
Additional Informationdigital inputs: USB and S/PDIF (TOSLINK and coaxial)
Sound Output Modebalanced and single-ended line out
Headphone Jack1/4"/6.5mm TRS
Headphone Jack4-pin XLR
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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