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New Arrival - Northern Fidelity NF DAC

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 




Some of you may have seen the review I did of the Lead Audio LA-200 integrated amplifier. It's a great little all-in-one unit, with DAC functionality, headphone amp, and "pure digital" speaker amplification in the same vein as the NAD M2 and C 390DD, or the NuForce DDA-100. Lead Audio has had some success, especially overseas, with their LA-100 which is essentially the same thing minus the speaker amplification. I was curious to see what new products they might come up with down the road. 


Several years later, they form a new sub-brand called Northern Fidelity, with Danish audio designer Soren Mac Larsen (formerly with Copland) still at the helm. The first release is the NF DAC, followed up eventually by the matching NF AMP-A (analog) and NF AMP-D (digital). 


I go my hands on the NF DAC for evaluation and have been enjoying it for a while now. I still have a lot of listening to do, but so far I find it rather enjoyable. It's a slightly warmish signature, very natural, with good tone and plenty of body. The XMOS based USB section is excellent, and the integrated amp seems a better match for high impedance headphones than low. Variable output means the NF DAC can be a preamp too, if you want. Pretty nice for under $700, which is what the manufacturer suggests retail pricing should be. I suspect it will come in somewhere closer to $600, which would be even better, but of course the resellers are free to charge what they like. But even at the full $700 it's got a pretty nice feature set: balanced design, XMOS hi-res USB, quality integrated headphone amp, preamp functionality, and a unique attractive design. Build quality is up there with the best I've seen in this price range. 


I'll have more to say about this unit as I get more hours logged. Just wanted to throw it up here for now to get a thread started. 







post #2 of 6

Interesting. I like the looks.

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

Me too! Just finishing up with the Yulong DA8, and now I'm moving on to serious listening with this NF DAC. So far it's got a very nice analog sound to it, good depth and accurate imaging. Need a lot more time though. 


It's cool that they have matching amps in the works. Sort of a desktop friendly mini system I guess. 

post #4 of 6

Selling on Ebay and Amazon for $1100, not looking good.

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

Yeah I noticed that. Appears to be the same seller on both sites, calling themselves by the company name but probably not affiliated with them at all. I believe Lead Audio is still looking for distributors in the USA. 


I'm currently using the NF DAC in a desktop setup. It's very convenient to have the option of choosing the output - I can use it to control volume on the Adam Audio F5 active speakers, or switch to headphone output for quiet listening. The last DAC I had in there kept speakers always active, even when headphones were plugged in.... that got annoying rather quickly. 

Edited by project86 - 8/3/13 at 7:48am
post #6 of 6

Yeah I was hoping it was an unaffiliated seller. If it can hit in at $600, I might have to consider it over the Concero I had my eyes on.

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