Discrete DAC+ Headphone amplifier / Preamplifier
Supports full speed Asynchronous Transfer Mode
Built in the Tenor TE8802 chip
Built in 2 Pieces Hi-end grade WM8741 Chips
Price : (Exclude shipping cost)
Pros - Relaxing and warm presentation, incredible build quality, power house
Cons - OS and Filter buttons seem to make the user want to do more than should be, no coax input, only dac output.
A little About me
I'm a 25 year old firefighter currently for the U.S. Army North Carolina National Guard. I was formerly a civilian firefighter in Kentucky with the Millard Fire Department before I enlisted and moved to my current location in Charlotte, North Carolina. My current goal is to begin my career again in the civilian fire service, and yes, I am the cliché of wanting to do that since as far as I can remember.
My interests/hobbies are powerlifting, fishing and relaxing to audio products and reviewing them to help other decide on what products would work for them. On that note over the years I've really came to an understanding of what it is I like and look for in audio products.
What I look for is a relaxing, warm and sensual sound that just drifts me away in the emotional experience of the music being performed. Yes, accuracy is still important but I will happily sacrifice that if I'm presented with a clean, warm sound that can wisp me away into an experience that makes me yearn for more.
My ideal signature are that of respectably forward mids and upper bass range with the bass being controlled but with some slight decay. I like my treble to have great extension and detail reveal but I don't like artificial treble in order to achieve that. Examples of products that have given me chills and keep giving me the yearning for more feels are the Bowers & Wilkins P7, Oppo PM-1/2, Empire Ears Hermes VI, Audeze LCD-XC, Meze Headphones 99 Classics & Stax SR009.
The Opening Experience
I traded for this product here on Head-Fi so I can’t correctly give an accurate unboxing experience. But I can say I was super excited to get it in the mail *insert smiley face*. ALSO, this is the NFB 15.32 variant (newest). The product page says NFB 15.1 (original), same frame but updated insides.
Though I can’t comment on the unboxing experience I can and most certainly will however say that the build quality of the NFB 15.32 is absolutely top tier. It feels completely stern in my hands and there’s no weak link that I can at least make out. The frame itself is made completely out of sleek black aluminum, The only plastics that I’m seeing is the power, inputs, and the plethora of knobs on the front that let you chose pretty much every function you could imaging. The back has the standard coax, optical, and usb inputs but quite misfortunate it ONLY has dac coax outputs. So it can only tether its dac to another amp. and not vice versa.
Specifications (Ripped straight from the manufactures website)
1 Version 100-120V AC 50/60 Hz 2 Version 220-240V AC 50/60 Hz ?
W180 X L220 X H55(MM, Fully aluminium ,with feet )
The ease of use for this unit is, at least not me, not easy. I had an unnecessarily difficult time trying to both find and then download the correct drivers for this device, Now a quick disclaimer, is that I often have this issue ever since I purchased this Windows 8.1 laptop so it may very well just be a difficult program I’m running (whatever came with this thing). Now, once you have the correct drivers downloaded you’re good to go as it’ll work absolutely beautifully as is. However for those more technically inclined than I am, there’s an “OS” and “Filter.” There’s an application you can download on your computer that allows you to program different sound signatures into the amp. (pretty much like EQing your amp). I tried this a couple times and each time I did I felt like I ruined the entire amp. For nothing but very loud static would come out. The owner before me was able to get it to work just fine so I’m simply saying I had a difficult time and just enjoyed the amp. with how it is stock.
The Audio Gd NFB 15.32 is a wonderfully musical sounding solid state amp. It has a sensual warmth to it that really reminded me of a tube amp. The mids are super smooth and complement HD650s almost as good as tube amps. do (tubes really are the best for the 650). The NFB has really nice transition between the notes along with really, I mean REALLY amazing separation when considering this beasts price point ($250). One of my favorite songs I’ve found to both listen to and test realism and soundstage is “Pirate of the Caribbean” by the Rhapsody Philharmonic. This is a flash mob style video/recording that really puts you at the performance within the crowd of onlookers. The NFB 15.32, being warm with soft mids, really accent that of the Cello and Double Bass that begins the performance. As the rest of the performers start joining in you hear the crowd react and the different instruments sound as spaced out as they look in the video (I’m aware a YouTube video is super hi rez yeah yeah, but it’s quick source for finding music I like both known and new). The power output on this is also very very impressive and very linear. Easily able to drive my HD650s quietly and with vigor. Though the Aune X1s is a flatter sounding combi unit and is also very linear in a direct A/B it pales to the NFB. Now, with this being said however; it is not as quiet as the Aune. The NFB 15.32 does read some feedback when placed too close to another device and is very apparent when powering my Empire Ears Hermes VI (ciems).
So to sum up my thought of the NFB 15.32, I find it to be an incredibly musical combi unit that I’ve really came to love. This may be either a personal preference or even a deficit or maybe even both; but I really wish it wouldn’t try as hard to do too many things. It plays audio very very well and presents a wonderfully warm and engaging experience that tube lovers can come to be at home with, But it puts too many buttons on the front that almost forces the user to try and program things that doesn’t even need to be.
The build quality is one that gives me complete and utter confidence for users to have years to come but it only having a dac out has really irritated me. Especially when other combi units I’ve listened to or even reviewed have had that feature. In fact I really wanted to make this unit my bedroom unit to listen to as I went to sleep because of its warmth but it has NO COAX INPUTS!!!! So there’s no way I can just plug my phone in and drift away. Small shortfalls, absolutely but shortfalls nonetheless.
For those who want a very simple and respectably affordable combi unit and you don’t want to do a “stack” then this is absolutely a unit you should look into getting for it seriously outperforms, in terms of audio reproduction, a vast majority of the competition in this price point. However, if you like to have the ability to do a stack or even play music from your phone through this then unfortunately this unit may not be the right fit for you.
Also, make sure to check out my unboxing and review videos. They’re pretty awesome AND you getta put a face to the Army-Firedawg name. If this review helped you out at all please hit that thumbs up button for it really helps me out a lot Till next time my friends, stay safe.