Cafad

Integrated Amps: An Addicts Guide Part, The Third.

262 posts in this topic

So, here we are again with the third thread (representing the third listening room) since this obsession began back in mid 2010 (or possibly early 2011, I'd need a good psychologist to be sure).  Pics of the new listening room will arrive in good time, a new camera is on the way, as will pics of the first amp to grace the new room, until then I'm afraid I'll just have to copy and paste from the good old internet.

 

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This is Darren69's Peachtree Nova, the older model with the mosfet modules (prior to the class D modules and the power increase).  It is listed in the manual as 80wpc into 6 Ohms so, in my mind, it is probably about 60wpc into 8 Ohms.  It also has the option of a tube preamp stage (that can be switched on and off via the remote) and a built in 24/96 DAC so it scores very well in the value for money stakes.

 

As I've been discovering over the last few weeks it is a very easy amp to like, that built in DAC has been in use for all my tv and movie viewing and has done a sterling job.  It must be well integrated with the preamp stage because I have been unable to pick the difference between it and the Halcro's built in DAC, so just because it's rated at a 'crappy' 24/96 doesn't mean that it doesn't sound good.

 

I'm also a fan of the Nova's look, that wood veneer looks very cool and the fact that it's curved somehow makes it work even better.  IMO the veneer on the new PS Audio Sprout looks very "80's station wagon fake" by comparison.

 

For those keeping track this is Integrated amp number #62 (at least, I'm pretty sure it is, I actually thought I was up to #63 at one stage... oh well, somewhere in the low 60's, so let's just call it #62 and leave it at that).

 

The Peachtree was fed from a Halcro EC800 cd player via Aurealis R1 interconnects to the Nova and then through Redgum Expressive Line speaker cable to my Lenehan/ETI S2R speakers.  And now that the hardware stuff is out of the way let's get down to the important stuff.

 

Highs:  Open, airy and spacious and sort of 'happy', xylophone and triangle sound a little bit sweet and a little bit luscious without going far enough to be called rich.  I love the top end of the Nova, no glare, no hardness, never harsh or grainy.  I've given it a 7.5.

 

Mids:  Well separated, natural and pleasingly rhythmic, light acoustic music is beautifully rendered as is jazz and opera (even though I don't usually go there).  The mids and highs are given center stage and the bass is generally kept under tight control and used to back hem up and reinforce them.  Vocals are also very good, but I'm getting ahead of myself there.  7.5 

 

Bass: Well controlled and forced into second place behind the mids and highs, excellent control and presence but not enough for a bass head.  It doesn't go as deep as it could but I believe this is deliberate as if it did then it would likely interfere with the treble.  So, I'm giving it an 8.0 for quality and a 6.5 for amount and depth, so that averages at 7.25.  It could use a little more impact as well but again that would cause issues for the top end.

 

Vocals:  Natural and just a little breathy and rich and just a bit sweetly relaxed, an 8.0 for both male and female vocals.  An excellent vocal performance, very enjoyable.

 

Soundstaging is hard to judge, it took me several months to get used to the new room the last time so I imagine it will take quite a while this time as well.  It did seem to be pretty capable, it does the job and doesn't do anything wrong so I'll give it the benefit of any doubt with a 7.0

 

Overall performance Integration:

The treble is where it's at with the Peachtree Nova, the bass is good too but the treble really shines.  The only thing it is lacking is a little impact and dynamicism but I suspect that is deliberate, you wouldn't want those to get in the way of the vocals or the rest of the mid range.  An excellent amp for slower styles and still a good one for rock.  A very easy amp to live with.

 

Ability to Emote:  With slower styles, folkish rock and ballads it scores 7.5 but it drops to a flat 7.0 on harder tracks so I'll average that to a 7.25.  

 

Electric Guitar Test:  As with many amps that are very well controlled it could not score above a 7.0, it just isn't edgy or rebellious enough.

 

80's Rock Test:  Again good, 7.0 but not great, as with the electric guitar test it does well enough but it just doesn't have the right personality to fit well with 80's rock.

 

And a few random observations:

The top end has a few characteristics that remind me of the Burson PI-160, it doesn't sound the same but it does have similar strengths with those nice airy highs.  The mid range has maybe half of the rhythmic energy of the NAKSA 80, it sounds nice but it isn't nearly as addictive as the NAKSA was.

The Nova was never forward in its presentation and not generally recessed either, it was slightly withdrawn on occasion.

 

Considering the Nova sounds this good and has the added extras of an inbuilt DAC and a remote control I'd have to call it excellent value for money.

 

And I'll add a few of my own pics in midweek.

 

Edit:  Pics added.

 

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Edited by Cafad
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Yep. The Nova is definitely a nice amp. it isn't stellar in any one area but has a nice set of qualities that make it an amp that almost anyone could enjoy and use in most systems

 

P.S I just love the description of the PS Audio Sprout looking " 80's station wagon fake ". This is so true it is uncanny and the whole PS audio hype about what is a tres ordinaire amp is also 80's empty head palaver.

 

Great review as usual mate :):thumb:

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Thanks Rantan, the first time I saw the pics of the Sprout the old 70's and 80's tv shows came to mind, the ones where every family had a station wagon with fake wood strips along the doors.  Now I can't comment on how the Sprout sounds, I've never heard it, but I can say that it looks out of place without a set of white wall tires underneath it.   :)

 

The Nova sounds good enough make me very curious indeed as to the sonic characteristics of the Peachtree Grand Integrated, that should be a pretty impressive amp.

 

I'm trying to get myself onto a roll this weekend, I've got the Amber 50b warming up as I type and if I can get through that then there's Simon's Sony to be attacked.  I also have plans beyond that, but they'll probably intrude into next weekend.

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@@Cafad thanks for your thoughts and, interestingly enough, they are close to my own listening experience.

I say 'interestingly' because it I different ears, different room etc.

Yes, the grand integrated would be a very interesting listen as it is pretty much a completely different beast.

As mentioned, it is one of the nicest looking components around. The internet pics don't do them justice, they are very classy in the flesh.

Glad that it added to your integrated memory in a positive way. :)

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Good to hear we agree Daz, and as for the 

 

Glad that it added to your integrated memory in a positive way. :)

 

I've found that most of them do.  Even the ones I haven't liked (Cyrus, Onkyo, Rotel) have been worthwhile hearing, you need a "dislike" or "negative" reference point to weigh all the positive comments against or they just become words without meaning.  And the marketing departments of the world generate far too much of that stuff to need any assistance from me.

 

 

The next amp in line is the Amber 50b, once again with help from google (the new camera is due Wednesday) here are some pics of the animal I speak of.

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Nice big pics those, well done google!

 

The Amber is an interesting amp, one of those amps that was made far enough back in the past that many people haven't heard of it and those who have seem to have fond memories of it.  Unless it caught fire on them, apparently that happened every now and then, oops.  The amp is full of fuses (supposedly to stop the fireworks) both speaker and otherwise, they make it very clear in the manual that you need to match the speaker fuses to the speaker rating as the fuses are the only thing stopping the amp from over driving them.  Sounds a bit complicated doesn't it?

 

There's a lot to be said for the Amber in the area of connectivity, it has both pre out and power in sockets (you know, those sockets that have been recently renamed a "HT bypass") and several power plugs in the back similar to the older Sansuis.  The power amp section is rated at 50wpc into 8 and 90wpc into 4 with a 90K input impedance, that's pretty good.  Only a 15K input impedance on the preamp section though so I'm wondering if it might benefit from a buffer, I might give the Burson buffer a try in the chain later on.  There's also an optional sub sonic filter to reduce low level noise, so there is a bass reduction function (I wonder why that function never caught on in later years) on offer.

 

So, for amp number 63 I was using my Halcro EC800 cd player, Aurealis R1 interconnects and Redgum "Expressive Line" speaker cable feeding into my Lenehan/ETI S2R speakers.

 

Highs:  Very similar to the Nova in detail levels but with energy on display, more zing, triangles are sparkly, twinkly and quite brittle sounding but not hard or harsh in any way.  Trumpets are nicely raspy and brassy but also not hard or harsh.  Slowly played piano is an absolute treat but strongly played piano is not quite as nice.  8.0 (but 8.5 on the slower songs)

 

Mids:  Similar to the highs in that there is plenty of energy on display and the orchestral 'zing' is the most fun to listen to that I have heard in quite a while but apart from that it is fairly neutral... but... it is not a boring or bland neutral it is more a happy and friendly neutral that is satisfying to listen to.  8.0

 

Bass:  Nice presence, light on the impact and overall depth but good variation on tone within the bass region.  I have read a couple of posts on other forums where people are asking why their Amber doesn't give good bass and that is because, like the Nova, it concentrates on the mids and top end, bass heads will not get their rocks off from this amp.  However having said that it does do acoustic bass very well and if you feed it some haunting music (Dido's first album for example) it gets the atmosphere spot on without needing any extra bass depth so it does quite a bit with what it has.  So, quality is very good but amount present is a bit light, I was going to give it a 7.0 but I've upped it to a 7.5 on the strength of the quality.  

 

Vocals:  F: With strong vocals it does a fairly good job, 7.0, but with slower and softer vocals it really shines, I would give it an 8.5 on Enya's entire best of album (I sat through the entire thing because it sounded so damn good), so I think I have to average it at 7.75.  

M: The amber likes the guys too, male vocals have a nice sense of body to them and this doesn't seem dependent on strength or speed like the female vocal performance does.  8.0

So the Amber has definite variable strengths in the vocal area, if you play to those strengths it is an excellent performer, if you don't it still does a good job but... well... why would you not play to its strengths?

 

Soundstaging:  It is rare for an instrument to come directly from a speaker with the Amber, I would guess that about 80% of the sound sits somewhere in the space between with occasional forays behind the speakers and the rare sound that comes from just beyond them.  It makes for a bloody brilliant, and I have to say somewhat surreal, listening experience (my apologies for the technical language).  This must be exactly what people mean when the say that the speakers disappear, you don't notice them because they don't seem to be doing anything, the sound seems to be coming out of the back wall rather than from the speakers.  The effect is practically magical, I'm going to give it an 8.5 with the option to upgrade that to a 9.0 with more evaluation.  

Also instruments don't always sit still within that space, they sometimes move, and I could swear I heard Mark Knofler move back slightly from the microphone two or three times, you can pick up that movement more as a 3D effect than as a change in volume with the Amber.  Yes, colour me very impressed indeed.

 

Overall Performance Integration:

Great sense of acoustic energy, loves orchestral shifts and swings in both pitch and tone, very enjoyable to listen to.  Fades in and out are very captivating.  And then there is the soundstage to consider

 

Ability to Emote:  7.5 on the stronger, harder tracks to 8.5 on the slower ones, the Amber conveys the meaning of the vocals and the feel of the song very well, so well in fact that the change from one track to another can cause a bit of an an aural/emotional shock.

 

Electric Guitar Test:  I really wanted to turn this up, 8.5, it's got energy, it's got just a slight sense of feedback and it's got the guitar able to move around within the soundstage.  

 

80's Rock Test:  Very, very 80's, 8.0, not that much of a surprise really since the amp is old enough to remember the 80's.

 

And some more comments/observations.

There seems to be a sort of soft, sonic overbearance present that helps to fill the room and just has to add to that overall soundstage effect, it seems to help put that zing into things and adds an atmospheric effect as well.

The Amber can exhibit a very soft touch when required and it does so with a sort of soft atmospheric aplomb.

 

Now this amp is pretty old, early 80's I think, and it does show some signs of that age.  It took a few days of operation for it to settle out and it takes about 45 minutes for it to warm up (but that's alright because it's worth it).

It may well be in need of some TLC and perhaps a recap.  If that is so then a service may well help it pick up its portrayal of harder, faster music and since it is so good at the slower stuff I'm pretty keen to give that a try.  

 

And to think I picked up this little gem from ebay for $325.  Finds like this one are just one more reason to love this hobby.

 

 

Next up, Sony 700ES.

 

 

Edit:  I've just taken a peak inside the chassis and found a sticker dated 05/88 so it's a little younger than I thought but it can certainly still remember the 80's.

 

Edit:  Pics added.

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Edited by Cafad
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Thanks for the reviews Cafad. I had a couple of Amber Series 70 high current power amps which I sold late last year. Went for a song after not getting much interest on the SNA classifieds. I suspect the new owner is very happy with them. They were very easy to listen to and no SS edginess at all. Vocals really sounded hypnotic and bass was more than sufficient for my ears. I suspect they would shame many modern amps.

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Thanks for the reviews Cafad. I had a couple of Amber Series 70 high current power amps which I sold late last year. Went for a song after not getting much interest on the SNA classifieds. I suspect the new owner is very happy with them. They were very easy to listen to and no SS edginess at all. Vocals really sounded hypnotic and bass was more than sufficient for my ears. I suspect they would shame many modern amps.

I suspect you are correct, I just tried out the Amber as a power amp being fed by my Burson Conductor and the combination gave me great truckloads of deep, powerful and yet rather mellow bass (and a ground loop hum so I can't go that way in the long term, but it was worth a try).  So if the 70 series is anything like the 50 series then yeah, they'd shame a few of the current (no pun intended) crop all right.

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Jeff

 

What type of sound does the new room produce compared to the other 2?

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Love your work mate, keep it up. It's going to take a while to get used to that new room but I'm sure you'll manage ;)

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Jeff

 

What type of sound does the new room produce compared to the other 2?

Just a bit different.  I can't run the volume up too far without getting a bit of upper bass reinforcement so anything above about 80db is not real pleasant.  Back up in the north I was listening to quite a bit of music above 75db but now that I live in suburbia I tend to sit down around 65db so while it isn't an issue that stops me I will sort it out just as soon as I can figure out how to read the graphs produced by Room EQ Wizard (and sort out how to do something about them).  There's a little more detail on display too, probably because I'm sitting only half as far from the speakers as I was before.

 

 

Love your work mate, keep it up. It's going to take a while to get used to that new room but I'm sure you'll manage ;)

I don't think it will take as long as I originally thought it would this time.  The Amber has already proved that I can have a great 3D soundstage without any serious mods or treatment, if I keep it on hand for regular aural re-calibration then I think I can put this whole 'getting used to a new room' on the fast track.  It'll still take a few more weeks but I was expecting a few more months so weeks are good.

Edited by Cafad

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Hello Cafad,

 

Hope I'm not derailing a more informed discussion amongst mates here but I just discovered your thread and am starting to enjoy poring over it already but was immediately engaged by the Peachtree popping up when I opened it as it's my current amp. I'm relatively new to the hobby, kinda came in sideways via headphones, and budget and cramped living conditions preclude a large system at present, so the Peachtree's doing a great 'one box' solution for me .

 

This preamble is all leading up to an actual question - Did you experiment with tube in the preamp? Reason I'm asking is I can't really detect any difference whether on or off and I'm wondering, is mine blown? [it lights up] or is the stock tube really subtle and I should try another? or is it just a gimmick? Any light you can throw would be welcome and if this would be more appropriate in a different Forum please let me know.

 

Thanks for the great thread

Michael

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I found it made a slight difference, of the negative variety. :)

I am not a fan of tubes, I must say, but I found this dulled the detail a tad. It usually stays off when I am listening.

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Hi Michael, Darren has jumped in and said pretty much what I was going to (thanks Daz).  I found a small difference in the level of detail available, in that the tube reduces the detail a bit, not a large amount but it is a reduction none the less and smooths things over a little.  It would be handy to use if you had bright or hard speakers, or if you just liked looking at glowing tubes (and some of us do) but it wasn't a big draw for me.

 

Try throwing on a track with lots of mettalic or brassy sounds on it, that should help you differentiate between the tube and ss preamp stages.

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Hey Darren & Cafad thanks for corroborating my own experience which was that it made it sound ever so slightly..... worse! Good to get a second opinion when you're new to tubes, luckily it was bought in spite of that feature rather than for it. :)

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Thanks to caleb I am now an official member of the Plinius owners club.

 

And here is a pic to illustrate the point.

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And a bum shot.

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I've already got a few interesting things to say about the Plinius 9200 but they are going to have to wait until after my weekly shopping trip.

 

Enjoy your long weekend everybody!

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A beautiful timeless design, good on ya Jeffro.

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Geez that looks nice. Looking forward to the review ;)

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The 9200 does look good doesn't it guys?  I find myself staring at it as I listen and I can't help but feel that it may be staring back and trying to work out what this vacant looking human is doing while he stares at it.

 

I'll start this review with a few things about the remote that are not audio related as such but are more to do with laziness and creature comforts.

 

The remote control is one of the best executed remotes I've handled.  The remote itself is huge, almost high enough to be considered an effective wheel chock, I've seen pics of it from the top before but I never thought it would be this high/thick.  Check out the comparison with two 'normal' remotes in the pic below.

 

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And it's a solid aluminium case.  I have claimed several times in the past that the Consonance remotes, which have a nice solid aluminium construction, are so solid that they can be used for home defense without fear of damaging them but this thing could be used to fend off lions while tracking across the African Savanna, it's like one half of an over-sized aluminium set of nun-chucks!  

On a more functional level, it manages the volume control very well, it does not increase or decrease the volume so fast that you have to try to set the correct level 4 or 5 times and then give up and do the micro adjustment by hand like many other brands do.  In fact I have had to tap the "+" button two and three times to get the desired amount of increase several times in the last day and a half, and I find two or three button presses far less annoying than having to get up and adjust the volume by hand after the remote fails to do what I want it to.

So it's nice to know that Plinius have put some thought into volume control.

 

On the negative side the remote does only control the volume, up, down and mute.  There is no remote source switching available so if you have decided to move from music to movies or back then you will have to get up and do it by hand.

 

Also, Plinius have this strange approach to a HT bypass, the manual is confusing and I can't get it to work and after a few searches it seems many others have failed to sort it out as well and these attempts led me to indirectly sabotage the 9200's bass performance.  I've been wondering about the bass side of things since Friday afternoon, what was there was good but it just didn't go very deep and I was waiting for it to show up, but it just wouldn't, until this afternoon when I finally tried something that sorted it out.  During my attempts to use the HT bypass I had been using both the outputs on the back of the Halcro cd player, the stereo plugs and the L and R of the 5.1 out, when I disconnected the 2 I wasn't using, suddenly I had depth in the bass.  Stupid, stupid, frustrating hobby!

 

I can type more later, after I've listened again to every song I've played in the last 48 hours. :mad:

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You could build a house with 10 000 of those remotes! it's a damn brick....

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I think the later integrateds from plinius do a more modern style HT bypass. Looking forward to your full writeup!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Interesting review of the Amber 50B.I owned one for a while about 7 years ago and always liked it.

Like most integrated amps a bit let down by its preamp section but still very capable and musical.I always thought it sounded rich and smooth and very easy to listen to.

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This Plinius 9200 has taught me a few things, and I have to say that I've enjoyed the lessons.  I started out learning that having both the outputs of the Halcro cd player hooked up made a bit of a mess of my bass and then I continued to learn because after I removed the second interconnect the bass, while it had deepened did not return to 'normal'.  Instead it (while remaining very smooth, strong and just plain delicious) seemed to be shifted out to the side and it lacked initial impact.  Now this was pretty strange and it took a visitor to help me work through what was happening.  The top end was just great, best cymbal taps, triangles and metal strings I've heard but somewhere in the lower mids (or maybe upper bass) that impact disappeared and was replaced with bass notes that just gave you the middle of the note and not the leading edge (think of a bell curve and that's the form of each bass note, there is no leading edge there is only the middle of each note).  And I wasn't really impressed with the vocals, they were a bit bland.  So... eventually... because I can be a bit slow when I'm trying to work things out... I changed cd players.  Then everything* changed.  

 

*(OK, almost everything) 

 

With the Consonance cd120 on duty the top end wasn't as extended or as clear as it had been (but it was still damn good) but the vocals improved dramatically and while the bass still felt just a touch smoothed over on the leading edge of each note at least it now had a leading edge that you were able to notice as being smooth.  

(why oh why did I only bring two disc spinners with me? I could really use the Thule and the Redgum at this point but they're still up north waiting for me to pick them up)

 

So I have some to a few conclusions.

1.  The Halcro and the Plinius are both quite detailed and where they aren't (notably bass and vocals) they are very neutral so when you combine them you get a brilliant top end and great instrumentals but ho-hum-ish vocals and overly controlled bass.  

2.  In the mid range the Plinius is the most neutral amp I've encountered so far, that often quoted "straight wire with gain" phrase comes to mind.  It will give you the amplified source material without adding any personal colouration of any kind.  When I listen to the mid range I am hearing either the Consonance or the Halcro and not the Plinius.

3.  The two personality aspects that the Plinius does possess are beautiful, clear and extended highs and strong, clean and smooooooooth bass.  Highs that are free of any and all of those pesky aspects that sound bad and bass that, while strong and present is kept out of the way of the rest of the frequency range so it does not smear any higher frequencies that it is sharing the soundstage with at the time.

And both of these seem to be good, nay, desirable traits in an amp.

 

Now, while all the info above has me thinking very highly of Plinius and their Integrated amp range it does make this review a little difficult, since in many ways I'm actually reviewing the sonic characteristics of the cd players and not the amp.  I'm going to forge ahead anyway and give scores, where possible, for both cd players, but I'll lead with this warning:

 

Beware, if you buy a Plinius 9200 and find it has some sort of sonic trait that you dislike be sure to listen with a different source before you move it on as the odds are 50:50 that the trait that you dislike is not the fault of the amp at all and is due to the personality of the source unit.  

 

Integrated Amp #64.  Plinius 9200

 

The hardware in use is:  One Halcro EC800 disc spinner and one Consonance cd120 disc spinner (with Burson discrete opamp modules installed) feeding the Plinius 9200 via Aurealis R1 ICs.  The Plinius feeds my Lenehan/ETI S2R stand mount speakers via Redgum "Expressive Line" speaker cable.  And the power for everything is fed through two consonance PW3 power boards, one for sources and one for the components that need serious wattage.

 

Highs:  The Plinius is capable of greatness here if the source component is up to the task, the cd120 doesn't extend as far up as the Halcro does but even on it the cymbal taps, triangle, trumpets and piano are just superb.  I give it a 9.0 with the Halcro and an 8.0 with the cd120.  

 

Mids:  Very, very neutral.  You really get the impression that you are listening to the source without any "Plinius personality" added.  Many will say that this is what an amp should be, and in an ideal world they would be right, but I'm finding it is difficult to feel strongly about neutrality so I'm going to go with my mind on this one (whereas I usually rate on "likeability" which is a very emotional trait) and call it a 9.0.

 

Bass:  string sourced bass is damn near perfect, smooth, clear and kept separated from the upper frequencies to avoid interfering with them.  It does smooth off the bass impact a little so the bass can feel a little less dynamic than an ME or Redgum amp, the Plinius won't kick you in the chest like the ME or Redgum will either however it also won't cause you listening fatigue anywhere near as quickly.  Some amps can put out so much bass they can make the room feel claustrophobic (again on certain songs at certain volumes both ME and Redgum do this, but they are far from the only ones), the Plinius does not do this, at all, it fills the room with a nice, smooth presence but it doesn't force that presence on you.  That's its musical personality anyway, if you use it for movies then watch out, because you'll find that it very much can kick you in the chest (I watched "The Lazarus Effect" with the Plinius and it was an entirely different beast to the musical one I was used to, if you feed it deep bass then it gives you deep bass all right) it just doesn't do it with music because music just doesn't go that deep.  A 9.0 with the Consonance but only a 6.5 with the Halcro, the Plinius and the Halcro just don't combine well here.

 

Vocals:  Again, very neutral *.  A bit stark and matter-of-factual through the Halcro, a 6.0 there.  But nicely smooth and full bodied from the Consonance, a 7.5 on male and an 8.0 on the female vocals.

*  if I was prone to the use of metaphoric examples I might say something like; as neutral as a gearbox, stuck in neutral, missing it's handle, every position label except for the "N"... and sporting a "made in Switzerland" sticker.

     

2D Soundstaging:  Very, very good in the treble, 8.0 for the Consonance and an 8.5 for the Halcro but not as distinct in the bass, back to a 7.0 for both, that smoothness seems to affect the level of expressiveness in the sound stage.

The 3D sound stage was quite good, certainly decent so I'll give it a 7.0, but if felt a bit stifled, I think it would benefit greatly from a larger room, it would love my old listening room.

 

Overall Performance Integration:

I think I've covered this up above, it's really a very good 'source chameleon' so there isn't that much more to be said here as you'll be hearing a different source every time you change sources.

 

Ability to Emote:

Again, very dependent on the source.  If I were to rate it only on the extended top end clarity and the bass strength and smoothness I think I'd give it an 8.0 but that score isn't as important as it usually is.

 

Electric Guitar Test:

The Halcro rates an 8.0, it does so well with instruments.  The Consonance rates a 7.0, I think the Burson discrete opamps smooth out the mids a bit and while that helps the vocals it doesn't help my love of the electric guitar.  Another example of not being able to have it all I guess.

 

80's Rock Test:

And now we are the other way around, the Halcro a bit bland (while still decent) at 6.5 and the Consonance rather good at 8.0.

 

 

So, if anyone wants to start comparing sources using an integrated amp then the Plinius 9200 would be a very good choice.

 

Oh, almost forgot, Plinius recommend you leave the 9200 turned on but it does not have a standby mode, or to be more accurate it does but that standby mode is simply a position that you move the input switch to and it does not use any less power than leaving an input selected.  Which means that it uses enough watts on standby to give greenies nightmares (I read 80 on a forum somewhere, but I can't remember where so take that figure with a grain of salt).  However I did notice that it warms up pretty quickly and I couldn't spot any noticeable loss of sonic performance from about 20 minutes after a cold start so I won't be leaving it switched on 24/7.  

 

And now I'm off to look for a Plinius cd player because, well... just because the amp is so damn good I want to hear it the way it was intended to be heard.

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Great read as per usual Cafad.  I am particularly interested as I have a P8 power amp (combined with a Lightspeed attenuator) which I no longer use in my main system since getting a turntable and thus switching in a Yamaha AS1000 for both the multiple inputs and the phono stage. And my CD player is a Consonance.  I did consider selling the P8 for a 9200 but it would be a step in the wrong direction - rather wait a year or two and get a pre.

 

Can I ask - does it have a way of adjusting balance? I gather not but this feature has become important to me (ears aren't quite equal) and I need to adjust slightly to get the image centred.

 

Cheers

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I'm afraid there's no balance adjustment on the 9200 which is a pity but it does fit with Plinius trend of high quality builds that are short on extra functions.

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Hope you find a CD spinner to suit Jeff, would be a very interesting union.

Sounds like a keeper. :)

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    • By Eagleeyes
      Item: Musical Fidelity Nu Vista M3  Integrated Amplifer and Power Supply
      Location: Perth
      Price: $2950
      Item Condition: Excellent
      Reason for selling: Too many amps.
      Payment Method: Pickup - Cash, Paypal plus cots, COD Only Its 2 big boxes, would say $100 or so plus insurance to ship
      Extra Info: This very rare model 120 of only 500 worldwide is built like a tank, or make that 2 with power supply, original boxes, short and long leads, and manual. Perfect amp and very rare, takes up quite a bit of space on you rack and weighs about 50 kilos all up.
       
      Loads of reviews and information online but stereophiles here.
       
       
      INTEGRATED AMP REVIEWS
      Musical Fidelity M3 Nu-Vista integrated amplifier Specifications
      Sidebar 1: Specifications
      Description: Hybrid nuvistor/transistor integrated amplifier. Output power: 275Wpc into 8 ohms (24.4dBW). No other specifications listed.
      Dimensions: Amplifier: 19.5" W by 6.5" H by 18.5" D. Weight: 65 lbs. Power supply: 14" W by 5.25" H by 10" D. Weight: 30 lbs.
      Serial number of unit reviewed: None found.

      Manufacturer: Musical Fidelity Ltd., 15-17 Fulton Road, Wembley, Middlesex HA9 0TF, England, UK. Tel: (44) (0)181-900-2866. US distributor: (1999) Audio Advisor. Web: www.audioadvisor.com; (2004) Signal Path Imports, 215 Lawton Road, Charlotte, NC 28216. Tel: (704) 391-9337. Fax: (704) 391-9338. Web: www.musical-fidelity.co.uk.
       
      The old advertising jingle "Who put eight great tomatoes in that itty-bitty can?" bubbled through my head as Musical Fidelity's Antony Michaelson proudly unboxed the new $4500 M3 Nu-Vista integrated amplifier. How didthey cram it all in there?
       
      The M3 packs improved versions of the English company's acclaimed Nu-Vista preamplifier and Nu-Vista 300 power amplifier (minus 25Wpc) into a surprisingly compact and dramatic-looking package. As with the separates, the integrated's power supply is outboard to keep transformer magnetic fields from interfering with low-level signals, but the supply, too, is smaller than the Nu-Vista 300's.
      With its blue LEDs, intricate, jewelry-like knobs (each is composed of seven individual pieces), and brushed "ultra-pure HE39" faceplate heavily accented with 24k gold, you'll have to decide whether the M3 Nu-Vista's looks remind you of Cartier, or of a dumpy guy with a comb-over wearing a Star Sapphire pinky ring. And if that's you, I apologize.
      Let's Get Physical 
      Appearance aside, there's no mistaking the M3 Nu-Vista's build quality: beefy and substantial outside, jigsaw-puzzle intricate inside, with circuit boards stacked like floors in a high-rise building and linked, in the case of the preamp board, with RCA-to-RCA interconnects. Despite the M3's compactness and complexity, its overall internal approach is impressively neat and orderly.
      Both the volume and source-selector knobs are remote-controllable, while the front panel's only other control—a tape monitor button—isn't. The amplifier-sized power supply, while not nearly as dramatic-looking as the main unit, nonetheless merits visible shelf space—a good thing, as it has the M3's only On/Off switch. Like the Nu-Vista 300's power supply and amplifier, the two halves of the M3 are connected by three cables: one fitted with XLRs for the preamp power supply, the other two fitted with Neutrik power connectors for the juice.
      There's a Mute button on the remote but not on the M3 itself; if you mute using the remote and then misplace it, you have to shut the amp down and power up again to un-mute. There's no front-panel "Mute" LED, so if you forget you've muted the unit and then go back to listen, you might accidentally start your source, hear nothing, and begin by turning up the volume. Once that doesn't accomplish anything, you might remember and un-mute with the volume fully up. How do I know? Guess.
      You have a choice of six selectable line-level sources, one of them labeled "SACD," and there's a tape monitor. Also included is a built-in moving-magnet/moving-coil phono stage. Given the M3's price, the phono stage must be considered a rather substantial freebie. Musical Fidelity reprises the 300's dual pairs of ridiculously oversized binding posts, thus guaranteeing that no spade lugs known to man will fit around them. Speaker cables tipped with banana plugs are the order of the day. The gold-plated RCA jacks are neatly laid out, with plenty of space between them for your favorite steroid-fed interconnects.
      The M3's heft, custom-machined heatsinks (watch it—they'll slice your fingers), superb fit'n'finish, luxurious control knobs, and internal layout add up to a $4500 design extravaganza and an incredible value. Nor will Musical Fidelity be making their profits from volume sales. As with the other Nu-Vista products, MuFi will make only 500 M3 Nu-Vistas; if history is any indication, they'll sell out quickly.
      Nuvistor Design 
      The M3 Nu-Vista's output stage is essentially dual-mono. Each channel is fed by its own transformer/power supply, and each has its own dedicated printed circuit board, output transistor array, and heatsink.
      Both the original Nu-Vista preamplifier and power amplifier (the latter reviewed in December 1999) include tiny, metal-can nuvistor (6CW4) triode vacuum tubes in their signal paths, but the M3 concentrates both pairs of these in its preamp section. Out of production for almost a half century, the nuvistor has a life span estimated at 100,000 hours. According to MuFi's Antony Michaelson, 500 Nu-Vista preamps and almost that many amps have been sold, and not one nuvistor has failed. Nonetheless, Musical Fidelity will stock a set of replacement tubes for every one of the 500 M3s it plans to build.
      While the basic Nu-Vista preamp and amp circuits have not changed, Musical Fidelity claims to have made a few improvements for their implementation in the M3. Slightly less negative feedback is used, but distortion is said to be four fifths of its separate cousins, thanks to refinements in the mechanical and electrical layouts. As in the 300 power amp, choke power-supply regulation is used, which results in a more continuous source of current to the reservoir capacitors with less spurious RF radiation. There's a new wrinkle, however: the choke regulators are mounted on the heatsinks. MuFi claims to have discovered a sonic improvement when the choke-induced "micro vibrations" are "exactly in phase with the...related circuitry."
      The end result is a preamp section claimed to be quieter, with wider bandwidth, lower distortion, and better overload characteristics. Though there is one fewer pair of output transistors, which drops the power from 300W to 275W into an 8 ohm load, the net result is a drop of 0.5dB in overall dynamic range, which is essentially meaningless in most systems. With about 40 amps of peak current, the M3 should be capable of driving almost any loudspeaker out there without ever clipping or distorting. The frequency response is said to be just about "DC to light" (actually to +100kHz), as the great engineer Bill Porter, responsible for Elvis' golden age of recordings, liked to claim for his work (Nashville Studio "B" 's finest).
      No Sonic Fingerprints? 
      The first design objective for the M3 Nu-Vista, as listed on the press release I received with my review sample, was "No sonic fingerprint." Of course, that's the goal for most designs of most designers, none of which, in my opinion, and none of whom have ever succeeded at it. Despite Musical Fidelity's best efforts, neither have they. No big surprise—every amplifier I've ever heard has a sound of its own. This is what makes the "if it measures the same, it sounds the same" crowd so annoying.
      I go into this review with an admitted prejudice: after I reviewed it in December 1999 I bought a Nu-Vista 300 power amp—essentially the amplifier section of the M3—and I have no doubt that John Atkinson's measurements of the M3 Nu-Vista will be as stellar as those taken of the 300. But I have another prejudice: I auditioned the 300 with the original Nu-Vista preamp, the sound of which I didn't care for at all. This despite the rave reviews it received, and the fact that all 500 preamps were snapped up in a hurry—when you find one on the used market, expect to pay more than it cost new. So what do I know?
      I auditioned the M3 in two places in my room—between the loudspeakers, where my 300 customarily sits, using digital source material, and in the space usually occupied by my preamp—so I could listen to both digital and analog. That spot necessitated a 20' run of speaker cable—hardly ideal—but overall, I noticed no fundamental sonic difference using 8' or 20' of the Analysis Plus Oval 9 copper wire sent along by Musical Fidelity's then importer, Audio Advisor. I also tried 8' runs of other, more familiar speaker cables, including MuFi's own Nu-Vista brand.
      When I closed my eyes, it wasn't easy to tell that I was listening to an integrated amplifier. Despite having two less output transistors, this package shared much of the 300's power, authority, dynamics, and overall sonic grace, though it didn't have the 300's bottom-end "slam" and control. It seemed ever so slightly softer in the lower bass, especially when reproducing well-recorded kick drums. But overall, I preferred the M3 to the more expensive separates because of its richer, warmer, quieter presentation.
      No matter what I threw at it or how high I turned up the gain, the M3 always sounded at ease, never stressed or strained. Whether it's the nuvistors, or the care that went into the board layout, or whatever, the dryness, etch, and two-dimensionality that frequently parch moderately priced solid-state gear has totally eliminated. (Although the M3 costs $4500, that price must be considered "modest," given the design's power, build quality, and overall performance.)
      When I played the CD-Rs I'd recorded off of the Rockport System III Siriusturntable, the M3 sounded somewhat more rich and lush than the separate Nu-Vista combo, as I remember it, though I still wouldn't call the sound lush or sweet. It was more pristine, delicate, and ultra-resolving. The added quiet was an obvious benefit in revealing low-level details in most of the LPs and CDs I played. Reverberant trails extended in space and time the way they do on far more expensive separates. Spacious, atmospheric recordings like John Hiatt's "Lipstick Sunset," from Bring the Family (Mobile Fidelity MFSL 1-201, LP) were reproduced with impressive width, depth, and air.
      On tracks like Davey Spillane's incredibly well-recorded "Atlantic Bridge" (from Atlantic Bridge, Tara 3019), which has subterranean bass and the best recording of Bela Fleck's banjo you'll ever hear, the M3 stepped out in style, delivering plenty of bottom-end weight, midrange richness, and top-end sparkle. The banjo strings had a nicely developed metallic ring in front of the instrument's distinctive-sounding body.
      The overall sound of the M3 reminded me in many ways of the top-of-the-line PS Audio preamps of the late 1980s, which had remarkable high-frequency delicacy, purity, and freedom from grain, as well as wide soundstages that I could see way into (at least on the equipment I owned at the time). They also tended to have a paucity of image body, solidity, and weight. If I were to criticize the M3 in any way, it would be for those same deficiencies, though to a far lesser degree—the M3's midrange was much richer and sweeter than the midranges of those PS preamps. And the M3 possessed an overall liquidity managed by few solid-state preamps of my experience at any price.
      I also still heard some of what had bothered me most about the sound of the original Nu-Vista preamp: a mid- to high-frequency bubble of smoothness that was pleasing and refined, but that robbed instruments of their natural solidity, edge, and grit. It kept me from feeling cymbal rivets rattling as the metal rang. It also tended to reduce the sensation of blackness and definition between images. Remember, I'm comparing the M3's performance to preamplifiers that, alone, cost much more than this integrated. But in absolute terms, that smoothness diminished the sensation of musical "traction" that helps create a sense of a real musical event occurring in your room.
      Getting that level of performance from low-voltage electronics always costs big bucks. That's why the Ayre K-1x preamplifier costs more than eight grand, and the Audio Research Reference Two line stage costs ten! So don't think I'm being too negative. As fantastic a product as I think the M3 is, it would be unfair to other manufacturers—and, more important, to you—to be left thinking that the M3's preamp section leveled the playing field.
      If an amplifier has to err on one side or another, give me smoothness over abrasive, grainy, rough edges. The M3 tended toward the smooth, but it had the power, dynamic presentation, and finesse to rock hard and reproduce lush massed strings and female vocals with equal aplomb. The M3's presentation was of a piece, leaving no loose ends hanging out to get in the way of the music. Its ease and liquidity had me listening hour after hour without fatigue.
      Phono Section 
      The switchable moving-magnet/moving-coil phono section had enough gain and low enough noise for just about any cartridge I wanted to use with it. I could run the 0.5mV Lyra Helikon into the MM section, but the bass was somewhat weak. I got deeper, tighter bass and richer mids when I switched to MC. (The switch is inside the chassis, where dangerous currents lurk; Musical Fidelity prefers that this switch be set by the dealer.) The MC section also had no trouble with the ultra-low (0.2mV) Lyra Parnassus D.C.t. Both MM and MC settings are loaded at 47k ohms.
      The M3's phono section sounded like the very fine, three-can Musical Fidelity X-LP2 phono stage ($800): spacious and detailed, but a bit thin and cool in the upper midrange. I played a bunch of favorite test discs, and with Janis Ian's Breaking Silence (Analog Productions APP 027) noticed a bit of roughness in her voice that wasn't present when I ran the Audio Research Reference phono stage through one of the M3's line-level inputs.
      I hear you: "What do you expect? The Reference phono stage alone costs more than the preamp/amp/phono M3!" Well, here's the problem: The M3 Nu-Vista was so good overall that it demanded to be compared to the best out there, even if it fell a bit short in some areas. Bottom line: The M3's phono section is good enough to carry you until you're ready to spend more on an outboard device.
      Conclusion 
      I don't know how a relatively small company like Musical Fidelity can offer this level of power, performance, flexibility, superb build quality, and aesthetic refinement at such a reasonable price. After all, the Nu-Vista 300 power amplifier alone cost $5495. If you contemplated buying the Nu-Vista preamp/300 amp combo and missed out, here's your second chance. For a lot less money, you get what I think is, in some respects, more refined performance (though with slightly less power) in a single package.
      Reviews emphasize sound quality, but there's also pride of ownership. It counts. Most audiophiles would be proud to own an M3 for its physical andsonic qualities. At this price, the specialty audio world is populated mostly by black boxes. The M3, Musical Fidelity's final amplifying device in the Nu-Vista series, is a welcome exception. With MuFi making only 500 for the entire world, if you're thinking about owning one, now's the time. If the Nu-Vista preamp is any indication, you might have to pay more if you wait to buy one used.

       
      Pictures:
       
       





    • By AlurkA
      Item: My much loved Parasound Halo P5 has just turned 3
      Location: Preston VIC 3072
      Price: drop to $1300 includes donation to SNA. If shipping is required this will be at the cost of the buyer.
      Item Condition: Perfect nic, includes original packaging, remote control, manual. I am the second owner and have had the P5 for around 18 months.
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      Reason for selling: It is with a sad heart I am parting with this great little pre. It was my first foray into stereo. I have moved onwards and upwards and remain with Parasound.
      Payment Method: prefer pickup and cash, will go down the Paypal path if needed (the purchaser incurs any overheads associated with this), COD Only
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      Pictures: The pics below are of the actual unit up for sale.
       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       
       
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      Price: $850 25 post Aus wide (open to offers)
      Item Condition: Excellent 
      Reason for selling: Upgrade to different design (went from ute to Troopy) 
      Payment Method: Pickup - Cash, Paypal+fee bank dep
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    • By Johnno2017
      Item: SONOS CONNECT AMP
      Location: SYDNEY
      Price: $500 + delivery cost
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      Like New and will give you that awesome un-boxing experience.
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      Packed in original boxes and ready to be sent to your place within Australia. 
       
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