Friday, September 24, 2010

Nuforce Reference 18 Amplifiers - A journal of break in and sonics


So the Nuforce Reference 18 mono block amplifiers arrived today, 9/24, in a massive 60 pound crate. Impressive, I thought. I opened the crates to find the two amps wrapped in velvet, and surrounded with a massive amount of form fitting foam. The nice thing about the crates is that they had latches and a locking hinge that held the lid open for you. Much better, and more reusable than screws. I would have liked to see some strapping across the crates in case the latches gave way somehow.

Being Friday, I wasn't really eager to tear apart my system, I was more eager for beer. But curiousity got the best of me and I disassembled my system, removing the Modwright KWA 150 that sat on its WellFloat platform (those platforms are awesome by the way). I had to scrounge up one more platform since I now had 2 amps to deal with. So the Wellfloat under the Bybee conditioner was replaced by a maple platform. There, both amps had nice places to sit and were ready to be connected.

Now, I prefer the sound of the Modwright KWA 150 to the Nuforce Ref 9 V3SE, so I am a little skeptical about the Ref 18. We shall see.

Finally, with the amps connected, I had to flip the power switches on the back, then sloooowly swipe a finger across the touchpanel on the front to power the amps on. I say it that way because the first few tries at swiping my finger were of the velocity used on my smartphone. In this case, that was much too fast.

Okay we got past that, and even though the Nuforce manual says not to critically listen to the Ref 18's for 75 hours, I had to hear the break in process, because customers will want to know.

Initially, the sound is damn good. I am surprised. It seems a little lighter on the bottom than the Modwright, and perhaps a tad cooler, but this is with 10 minutes on them. The point is, with the Ref 9 V3SE I would have run out of the room screaming by now, and I'm here. Listening. Not bad. Tone seems to be more analog sounding, less harsh than I expected, and soundstaging is very good. Right now, I would say my only negative finding is that the Modwright, with 1000 hours on it, is better at dynamic contrast. Mind you this is less than an hour into listening. Now where is my beer?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

6 Great Computer Audio Resources


Computer audio does not have to be scary. The benefits of storing all of your music a computer are, ease of access, portability, and yes in some cases better sound. The number of high resolution recordings is growing every day. The sheer amount of data on these recordings is greater than what can be stored on a CD, making the potential for better sound quality a reality. Even if the quality is "only" CD or (gulp) even less, storing music on your PC for the sheer portability of doing so allows the possibility of transporting your music to every room of your house without carrying stacks of CDs with you. Imagine, your entire music collection available to you on the patio, at the pool, in your bedroom, home office or garage. The benefits are huge, and the opportunities to enjoy your music outside of your listening room are here. Heck it might even provide an opportunity for you to share your passion in ways you never thought. We love our music, and the good it does for our soul, why not explore PC audio? You might find yourself enjoying music a lot more often....Now, on to my top resources.

  1. Benchmark Media Audio Wiki - You will find tons of information on how to set up a PC or Mac for computer audio. If you are new to PC audio, this is a great place to start.
  2. HD Tracks - HD tracks is at the forefront of providing a downloadable, high resolution music. If you like classical, blues and jazz, you will be very happy. Rock? you might find a few gems like the Pixies or Interpol.
  3. Pandora Streaming Radio - Let me warn you, Pandora is NOT about hi rez sound quality, its about discovery. You simply tell Pandora who your favorite artists are, and it will create a "radio station" around that (or those) artists, sprinkling in some new and/or similar artists that you may never have heard of. Prepare to listen for hours and discover some great music. One of the best things to happen on the internet besides TweekGeek ;) .
  4. DBPowerAmp - It has a strange name, but this software application allows you to rip your CD collection to a hard disk, complete with artwork, all bit-perfect thanks to AccurateRip.
  5. iTunes - You can actually download lossless music from iTunes as well. Explore better sound quality, and they have a pretty kick-ass software application for playback too. Not that it is the best sounding, but it probably has the best user interface.\
  6. Foobar2000.org - for the more adventurous Windows user, Foobar 2000 offers some sonic advantages over many other playback applications. Playback of ultra high rez files being one
  7. What are some of your favorite Computer audio resources? Tell us and you automatically enter for a chance to win an M2Tech hiFace USB to digital audio interface.