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?


  1. How is the break-in coming. I'm really interested in hearing more as I'm thinking about going with the Ref 18 amps or the KWA150. I currently have the Ref 9v3se amps. Have you noticed any big differences with the 18s?


  2. Hey its been well over a month now can you share any info on your ref 18s now that you must have a fair amount of time on the amps for run in. i am using ref 18s and no doubt its a different sounding amp compared to ref 9 se v3 and needs a long run in to settle in IMO. mike