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Nord Three SE 1ET400A Dual Mono Teardown

restorer-john

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#41
It may be all over for them when someone like Topping makes a Class D amp which nearly equals the performance.
Or when someone simply copies the NCore modules. There's nothing special in them apart from the firmware on the PIC and that's not exactly hard to extract. I think you'll see a stripped down, completely different form factor (more practical for heatsink mounting) Chinese product if there isn't one already. A module at a small fraction of the Hypex prices.

In the meantime, module prices are artificially held high to recoup investment and bank a war chest to fight the copiers.
 

Tks

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#42
I think we agree more than we disagree. My reasoning is:

The active components in need of cooling are thermally connected to a plate below the amp/psu modules, which in turn are connected to the bottom plate of the case. That plate is a heatsink with a comparable surface area to the ones on the sides, and is probably sufficient without further help from the ones on the sides as it is in the FusionAmp plate amps. In contrast the coils aren't thermally connected to a heatsink, and aren't intended to be. They're intended to be cooled by airflow, either passive or if necessary forced. Ventilation holes would improve the cooling of the coils, and the thermal image suggests that the coil cooling is more likely to be a limiting factor than using the bottom plate as the heatsink.

The case looks like an off the shelf unit more or less, so I don't think there's much extra cost in those side heatsinks. They're also difficult to use effectively with these amp/psu modules. The same goes for the similar case audiophonics use.
I agree, which is why I am perplexed by the cost of this unit. Seems like an average effort. But then again it seems power amps cost an arm and a leg for no reason as compared to headphone amps (though I am told it's due to the power expectations being a totally different ball game on power amps, which makes sense, but for these prices? Eh, i'd rather simply cut to the chase and get a Benchmark if I am already at that spending tier). Or hope another company grows a brainstem and contacts THX and presents a new offering seeing as the Benchmark has been alone in it's category for years now it seems.

A custom case would make it much, much more expensive.
The case is the most expensive part of a component (alongside the power transformer in linear supply component)
I don't agree. Look at what Benchmark offers for $3,000 made in New York.. The two offerings are far apart. Even with a 50% price increase over the Nord, you get a solution you never really need to wonder about build/design decisions, and as of now, the best performing amp known in existence.

And it's been out for years.
 
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restorer-john

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#43
I have no problem with Nord sticking modules in nice cases, charging what the market thinks is quite reasonable (I don't), adding on some value with their magic buffer stages and finishing the products well enough, but not over the top.

They have a niche and can make some money, pay some UK taxes and do their bit. Good on them I say. They are not masquerading as world class amplifier pioneering engineers are they?

But let's not pretend each and every NCore in a box is anything other than off-the-shelf amplifier solutions (expensive for what they are). To me, they are the antithesis of what HiFi is all about. A constant attempt to be the best, never being satisfied with the status quo and hiring the best engineers to do it. BP came along and did his thing with Class D and manufacturers and DIYers all lined up in droves to license/buy his stuff. There's just no desire, no R&D budgets, fewer world class analog engineers, and probably no real large mass market for anything better, as improvements will be subtle, so people are just waiting for the next thing out of Purifi to obsolete the module they have just bought. What's next, a "Purifi i400 inside" sticker to finally commoditize and obsolete amplifiers based on an internal component part? Or overpriced plug-in upgrade module options every few years?

A bit like Apple and their next model iPhone, except the queue outside the new Purifi store won't be as long.
 
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Matias

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#44
The alternative is what we had until now. Companies priding themselves in machining single blocks of "aircraft grade" aluminum, with their super ultra proprietary usual class AB output stage on a linear power supply. Costing double by selling through dealer networks and spending big money on ads on the handful of audiophile magazines, and also on expensive audio shows around the world. Sell a few dozen units a year with huge margins to pay for all that, while complaining that the high end audio market is shrinking. Refresh the product line every 5 years or so. Sounds familiar?

I call these class D modules assemblers a breath of fresh air in this market. :)
 

JohnBooty

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#45
To me, [Ncore-in-a-box amps] are the antithesis of what HiFi is all about. A constant attempt to be the best, never being satisfied with the status quo and hiring the best engineers to do it. BP came along and did his thing with Class D and manufacturers and DIYers all lined up in droves to license/buy his stuff. There's just no desire, no R&D budgets, fewer world class analog engineers, and probably no real large mass market for anything better, as improvements will be subtle, so people are just waiting for the next thing out of Purifi to obsolete the module they have just bought.
I agree with you: striving for perfection (or at least "better than what we have now!") is at the heart of HiFi and I love it.

However, I'm fine with companies focusing their talents and efforts pretty much everywhere else but advancing the state of the art for amplifiers at this point. It's about as close to a solved problem as we have in this hobby/industry!

At this point the main thing that really excites me is a trickle down effect where excellent amplification becomes more and more affordable.

But you are a guru (I've learned a lot from your posts) and I respect that everybody has their own personal, totally different wish lists for the hobby/industry. That's another thing I like about HiFi...
 

restorer-john

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#46
The alternative is what we had until now. Companies priding themselves in machining single blocks of "aircraft grade" aluminum, with their super ultra proprietary usual class AB output stage on a linear power supply. Costing double by selling through dealer networks and spending big money on ads on the handful of audiophile magazines, and also on expensive audio shows around the world. Sell a few dozen units a year with huge margins to pay for all that, while complaining that the high end audio market is shrinking. Refresh the product line every 5 years or so. Sounds familiar?

I call these class D modules assemblers a breath of fresh air in this market
That is true also. Good point. :)
 
OP
amirm

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Thread Starter #47
That's certainly true of cases like the machined-from-solid type, but a simple metal box with holes in the right places?
The moment you go that way you are single sourced and may have to order a bunch of cases at once and take the inventory risk. Cash flow is a huge problem for small companies.

The current case is attractive so not worth paying extra for another one just to be different.
 

Ron Texas

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#48
@restorer-john we have been past the point for a while where amplifiers are transparent. Can anyone really hear the difference once SINAD goes past 85, or even less for that matter? Speakers are the frontier where improvements are likely to make a difference.
 

restorer-john

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#49
@restorer-john we have been past the point for a while where amplifiers are transparent. Can anyone really hear the difference once SINAD goes past 85, or even less for that matter? Speakers are the frontier where improvements are likely to make a difference.
I'm not so sure. I'm going to be controversial here and say that great measuring amplifiers may not be great sounding when paired with certain speakers. We know the speaker/amplifier interaction is where the rubber hits the road.

So, you might say, everyone should get active speakers with DSP tailored to the internal amplifier, driver characteristics and performance, but then all the 'hobby' aspect of mixing and matching speakers and amplifiers goes out the window and HiFi is boring.

Many years ago, Yamaha came up with Active Servo Technology. It used custom speaker compensation networks and negative impedance-like drive (alternative NFB paths in the amp) to allow speakers and amplifiers to compliment each other. Amazing bass from small enclosures, tight control and tons of power, flat response etc. Each AST speaker came with a special plug-in cartridge for the AST amplifiers. The integrated amplifiers also had a flat cartridge for normal speakers. It was a relatively simple analogue process but worked very well.

We had the whole range to play with and it was a lot of fun. Really cool and a breakthrough in small speakers with amazing sound. But AST only lasted less than a year and we cleared it all out very cheap. Thy kept the concept on powered subwoofers and mini systems only. Audiophiles didn't want 'solutions' or speakers that needed a special amplifier (although it was a perfectly normal amp in real terms).

SINAD at 16bit level is seriously enough if you can maintain it through the chain IMO, but HiFi always has to push the envelope. Imagine if they had stopped at 0.1% THD in the 1960s and called it good?
 

Phorize

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#50
That's certainly true of cases like the machined-from-solid type, but a simple metal box with holes in the right places?
Reasonable if we are talking about Apple, but these guys are selling and buying in low volumes. They won’t get a much better price for cases than you would. Add to that the design process etc and custom cases start to drive the costs through the roof. Yes, Topping would trounce any western company producing these sorts of products, but as good as their engineering is, they also have the advantage of being in a society where people who complain about their working conditions get locked up and when the manufacturing is done t he toxic byproducts are just handed to a child labourer to go and dump in the nearest river. Apples and oranges
 
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#51
For those moaning about the quality of the case Nord uses, that have never had the amps in their hands.

AFAIK those cases are made in Japan (or at least that was a claim Alex Crespi from UpTone Audio has once made on CA forum, as they use the very same case for their excellent JS-2 linear PSU). They are actually very nicely made. Yes, they could have been made from billet aluminium or have 10mm fronts, but then they would cost much more.

As someone (who actually seems to know how a BOM of a typical power amplifier looks like) have already mentioned, the case is almost always the most expensive part of the design. Especially, if you have to make one in a relatively short runs. So it was actually a smart move from Nord to get those quality Japaneese cases for their designs.

The purifi modules would be impossible to bolt to the heatsinks, as the heatsink is not tall enough to have them mounted vertically.

The only thing I would like to see is a top cover with slotting for better ventilation. I was even considering laser cutting the slots myself, but then I would need to reanodise the top cover, which would make it differ in color ... so I passed on the idea. For now.
 
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maty

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#52
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maty

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#54
Re: Amplifiers with IcePower 1200AS2
https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=156237.msg1671865#msg1671865

Takeshi Takachi cases. Only 2 mm aluminium

* Apollon. I like more thick walls.
Black 10mm aluminium faceplate​
Silver 10mm aluminium faceplate​
4mm silver aluminium 2HE rackmount faceplate​
4mm black aluminium 2HE rackmount faceplate​

* Studio N-10 [Rouge Audio]
metallo nero con frontale alluminio ossidato silver 10mm (manifattura italiana)
 
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#55
The fronts are 3mm, not 2mm. I just measured them, as I have 5 of them on hand (both Nords and UpTone). And that is more than enough to give the box the needed rigidity. The amps certainly feel solid.

Sure, you can go with a thicker front for the looks ... but that would make the amp more expensive.

IMO those cases present a perfect balance between the cost and quality.
 

maty

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#56
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#58
Yes, only front is 3 mm. Others: 2 mm.
Heatsinks are also much thicker and they double as side panels. Only the top and bottom covers are 2mm.

But as I said - they whole structure feels rigid and well put together. I hope one day you will be able to get your hands on one, to see yourself.
 

AudioSceptic

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#60
For those moaning about the quality of the case Nord uses, that have never had the amps in their hands.

AFAIK those cases are made in Japan (or at least that was a claim Alex Crespi from UpTone Audio has once made on CA forum, as they use the very same case for their excellent JS-2 linear PSU). They are actually very nicely made. Yes, they could have been made from billet aluminium or have 10mm fronts, but then they would cost much more.

As someone (who actually seems to know how a BOM of a typical power amplifier looks like) have already mentioned, the case is almost always the most expensive part of the design. Especially, if you have to make one in a relatively short runs. So it was actually a smart move from Nord to get those quality Japaneese cases for their designs.

The purifi modules would be impossible to bolt to the heatsinks, as the heatsink is not tall enough to have them mounted vertically.

The only thing I would like to see is a top cover with slotting for better ventilation. I was even considering laser cutting the slots myself, but then I would need to reanodise the top cover, which would make it differ in color ... so I passed on the idea. For now.
Something I've always wondered: you need slots or holes in the top for ventilation, but isn't it just as important to have the same in the bottom to let cool air in? Airflow will be very poor if the only holes or slots are all in the top. Or does this flow create a bigger problem with dust accumulation?
 
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