I thought I'd share a few impressions of my new NFB-11 (with TCXO upgrade) as an upgrade to my ODAC and Asgard 2. First off let me say that for the last week and a half, I've been stuck using my Realtek ALC887 sound card with my desktop speaker setup. Yuck!. I had forgotten how bad motherboard audio can be, and I can't wait to kick anyone's ass who says that "motherboard audio is not so bad these days." LOL
So the NFB-11
* excellent detail and clarity
* tons of volume
* great usability in terms of front face plate switches and input options
* would be nice to have RCA input as well
The NFB-11 sounds great, and I'm really loving how it sounds with my Soundmagic HP150s, AKG K612 Pros, and HE-400s. The HP150s are a new headphone for me, and this is the first chance I've had to try them with something better than my DX50. The NFB-11 really makes all of these headphones wonderful to listen to.
I had already sold my ODAC and Asgard 2 before the Audio-GD got here, so any comparisons are based on unreliable audio memory. I came to the Asgard2 from an Objective 2, and I always thought it had a touch of warmth and smoothness giving it a bit more musicality than the O2. I wouldn't necessarily describe the Asgard 2 as a warm amp, just not as cold as the O2 could be to me. With the NFB-1, there is a clear neutrality that is better than I remember the neutrality of the O2 with the ODAC, without the "edginess" of the the O2's sometimes analytical sound. The NFB-11 is just as musical to me as the Asgard 2/ODAC, but it achieves it through delicate precision over that smoothness and slight bit of warmth. The additional detail resolution give it an overall edge over the Asgard 2. (note: by describing the Asgard 2 as having a bit of warmth, I'm buying into the neutrality reputation of the O2. But perhaps the O2 is a touch cold, and the Asgard 2 is just right
In terms of soundstage, the Asgard 2 had an advantage. I think Schiit's design on that amp gives it an above neutral soundstage. It was so apparent when with my speakers the first time I used the Asgard 2. The soundstage in front of me just expanded outward a bit more to the sides. However, I'm not unhappy with the NFB-11. The additional precision of the sound, the extra micro detail, gives it an additional intimacy that is more important to me than a slightly wider soundstage.
I also do think that the NFB-11's DAC is a better than the O2 because I was able to hook up my Meier Corda Rock, and it seemed to perform with a bit better depth and detail than it had with the ODAC. Similarly, I hooked my Indeed t-amp/Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 SEs up to the preamp out on the NFB-11, and it just sounds a bit better than the ODAC did. I can't wait to try it out later with my HK 3390 amp which I use with my speakers when it's not summer time and so hot. And this also why the variable pre-amp output is important to me. I'm not thrilled with how the HK3390s pre-amp affects the sound, so I run directly to the main amp in on the HK3390, using it only as a power amp (great for this for anyone who can find one cheap).
In terms of volume, of power, the NFB-11 has it in spades. On the occasions when I turned up my HE-400s very loud with the Asgard 2, I always felt that I was getting to where it's distortion was starting to rise with some of the dynamics. No sense of that at all with the NFB-11. Just sounds the same but louder, as if there's more power to spare. Same with the K612 Pro. Since these are each some of the more difficult to drive headphones in their own way, I'd be very curious to hear what headphones the NFB-11 would have a problem with.
Finally, I love the usability of the NFB-11. I'm glad that the NFB-11 is not the heater that Asgard 2 was; just slightly warm to the touch. It's also nice having the gain switch on the front, and then of course, definitely convenient for desktop space not to have to hook up a separate DAC, even one as small as the ODAC. I love all the input options. I have been using the USB with my computer (no driver issues), and also the coaxial output with my DX50--that happened to be a bad idea to try that. It sounds so good that now I could see getting another NFB-11 or maybe the NFB-15 for another headphone station in my house for use with the DX50.
Overall, given the $400 shipped price, I'd recommend the NFB-11 with TCXO upgrades over the ODAC and Asgard 2, which would cost a bit more than the NFB-11. It's just better all around to me. And given how well the NFB-11 performs, seems like more people should be considering spending a little more over the Modi/Magni or Modi/Vali to get the NFB-15. The Audio-GDs are just better price/performance values.Edited by cel4145 - Yesterday at 1:32 am