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Audio-gd NFB-10

Rating:
5/5,
  1. dagothur
    The Wonderful NFB-10SE
    Written by dagothur
    Published Aug 19, 2012
    5.0/5,
    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.
    1. BleaK
      Great impressions! It mirrors my exact same thoughts after owning the NFB-10SE about 6 months.
      BleaK, Sep 3, 2012
    2. dryvadeum
      Are you using the NFB 10 in balanced mode or SE mode with your LCD's?
      dryvadeum, Apr 23, 2013