Three weeks with the NuForce amps...

Shown above is a front and back view.

They were here and at least deserve to be mentioned. Below is an account of the time they spent here that may shed some light on what may have contributed to their decision to withdraw from the event.

The NuForce guys seamed pretty apprehensive about this whole deal to begin with. They were very concerned with my system and whether or not it would match up well with their amps. Then not wanting to be left out, they decided to send amps.

The first pair of amps arrived. They used what looked like WBT Nextgen inputs and some plastic coated binding post.

When hooking them up I found it difficult to tighten the binding post very well. Tuning a slick plastic knob with little to hold on to made getting a tight connection difficult. Move the cable and they might slide out. Turning it was NOT like turning a finely machined nut on a treaded bolt. It was like turning a plastic nut on a threaded bolt.

Going under the binding post with the speaker cable didn't seam to work as it left no room underneath for my heavy ended speaker cables so they had to go down from the top and stick straight up in the air.

Vertically oriented post located at the outside edge of the amp would have allowed the speaker wire to come straight off of it towards the speakers. I wonder why this approuch was not used?

Another thing that bugged me about the layout of the mono-blocks was that they were not mirror imaged pairs. I am used to mirror imaged mono-blocks with the speaker outputs on the outside, power cord in the middle and inputs on the inside. This way cables never cross over or under each other and have no effect on one another. With the NuForce arrangement there was going to be some criss-crossing and there was definintly going to be a power cord passing either over or under a speaker cable and an RCA.

Lastely was that the power on/off switch was on the back of the amps. I don't care much for feeling around by the power cords to turn it on or off. Most wives would like it even less.

Okay all hooked up and then fired up. There is a huge noise floor. It was an unbareable level of what sounded like White noise.

The funny thing was that I could turn off the amp on the left and the noise level of the amp on the right dropped in half. Then I could turn on the amp on the left side with the amp on the right side off and the amp on the left was quite. But then if I turned the amp on the right back on there was a huge noise floor again, from both amps.

They both played, but there was no listening through all of this.

So I call the folks at NuForce to report the problem. Jason and Casey were easy to deal with and went right to work brain storming as to what the problem might be.

Casey suggested that there was a problem with my pre-amp. It had a ground loop problem that would show up on their amps but not so bad with others. Their amps are very good (or bad) about revealing system problems...

I said, no Casey, I don't think that is it.

Casey says, yea I am pretty sure that your pre-amp is causing it.

(Me, confidently), No I am pretty sure that's not it.

Casey, Yea we have seen this problem before. I am pretty sure that your pre-amp is passing the AC noise.

(Me again) Casey, it's a battery powered pre-amp. There is no AC noise.

Casey, hmmm battery powered pre-amp. That could be a problem.

(Me), Well that could be a problem for you...

I then am walked through a surgery process on the amps to correct what they thought might be a grounding problem. I disconnected ground wires from the balanced input, etc. To no avail the problem was still there.

Interesting insides though. The speaker output wires leading off of the board to the binding post looked like 18 gauge or smaller. This was unexpected.

So they graciously sent out a new pair and their new pre-amp too.

The second pair worked. No White noise anyway. Inputs on this pair was not the same WBT's as before. In fact the they didn't match each other.

Another issue I had with these amps was the turn on noise. There was a clear pop through the speakers when they were powered on and the whinning zing of caps charging up. This same sound was also there when turing them off.

I told guys from NuForce about the turn on noise. They said there shouldn't be any turn on noise. But the first page of the manuaul, that goes out with the amps, stated that there could be some turn on noise and that it would not damage your speakers.

Feedback was asked for several times on the amps but I felt it best to remain neutral and not form or relay my personal thoughts. I did mention though that they sounded better here than any of the other times that I had heard them.

Then there was their pre-amp. They wanted me to use their new pre-amp as the reference pre-amp for the event.

I also had here the Superphon pre-amp and the Dodd Audio prototype battery powered tube pre-amp. Both were superb pre-amps.

Since it wasn't a pre-amp comparison I felt that I could at least give them some feedback on it and let them know if I would use it for the event.

I'll keep my personal thoughts to myself here, but there was no way I could use it for the event. It was not even close to being in the same ball park as the other two that were here.

This news may have added to their worries. They then decided it would be best to pull out of the event.

They really wanted to approve of the sound before allowing anyone to hear the amps. They stated in an e-mail " ...if we can't tune the Ref 9 in your system to our satisfaction, we'll have to back out of the audition." So they did. As bad as withdrawing may look, I think it might have been the best thing for them.

End of story.


GR Research Inc.
910 North Jackson
Iowa Park, TX 76367