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VTV Hypex Ncore NC252MP (It's all Amir's fault)

CDMC

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#1
For the past couple of years I have used a Parasound Zamp .v3 for my desktop system and enjoyed it. While I have from time to time thought about upgrading it, its size and cool running have kept it in place. Then Amir had to go do his darn test of it. That was enough for me to start poking at new amps. For me it quickly came down to the Schiit Vidar or giving a Class D amp a try. The Vidar was ruled out as being just a bit too large and power hungry (I tend to forget to shut off my amp and the Vidar draws a fair amount of energy at idle). I then started looking at Class D and based on the reviews, Hypex Ncore rose to the top for in the reasonable price stereo camp.

After researching, it came down to four candidates, IOM, March Audio, Audiophonics, and VTV. VTV is an unknown, but popped up when I was searching for hypex amps on Hifishark. It is from Vacuum Tube Values which gets cases made with their logo and then assembles various Ncore Models. I was originally looking at a NC122 but it was $489 while the NC252MP was $499. Same size case, $10 more, twice the power, it was a no brainer.

The VTV showed up last week and I had to let it break in as it was brittle out of the box. Just kidding. I received the VTV this morning. I didn't pull it apart, but the case is nice looking and it appears well assembled. I pulled out my Parasound and replaced it with the VTV. I did have to do a cable swap which put me back $75 as Benchmark was the only company that I could find that wires their RCA to XLR cables according to Hypex's recommendation.

The VTV sounds good to me. I did not do a bunch of back and forth swapping, but it seems to be a bit clearer and relaxed. I am guessing that when turned up the Parasound may have clipped a bit on peaks, while this does not. It is apparent if I turn the VTV way up (louder than I ever listen), it has the ability to overdrive the speakers.

All in all, I would rate the VTV as a great value for a Ncore amplifier. For those wondering, my desktop setup is a Dell Precision workstation running either Roon or Jriver, a Schiit Modi Multibit, Schiit Saga (thanks to their closeout for $200), VTV amp, Totem Mite speakers and a Rythmik L12 sub.
IMG_6617.JPG
IMG_6618.JPG
 
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#2
I'm definitely interested in VTV amps - they seem to be America's answer to the Audiophonics, where they package Ncore amps with no frills at very reasonable prices. I was looking for something with some more juice to drive my Martin Logan ESLs.

Will you report back as time goes on and let us know how it's holding up?
 
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CDMC

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Thread Starter #3
I will of course update, but assume that in the meantime, all is well unless I post otherwise. I should add that I did turn the volume all the way up on my preamp in active mode and do not hear any hiss or other noise from my speakers with my ear 6" from them (keeping in mind, my speakers are about 85db/w efficient).
 

Matias

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#4
I'm definitely interested in VTV amps - they seem to be America's answer to the Audiophonics, where they package Ncore amps with no frills at very reasonable prices. I was looking for something with some more juice to drive my Martin Logan ESLs.

Will you report back as time goes on and let us know how it's holding up?
Here's their NC502MP based amplifier with 2x500W at 4 ohms.
https://vtvamplifier.com/product/vtv-amplifier-stereo-hypex-nc502mp-ncore-amplifier-500wx2/
 

Koeitje

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I'm definitely interested in VTV amps - they seem to be America's answer to the Audiophonics, where they package Ncore amps with no frills at very reasonable prices. I was looking for something with some more juice to drive my Martin Logan ESLs.

Will you report back as time goes on and let us know how it's holding up?
VTV uses Ghent cases, which I really like in terms of looks compared to Audiophonics. But apart from that I think its great that both just offer simple amplifiers with no frills.
 

Matias

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VTV uses Ghent cases, which I really like in terms of looks compared to Audiophonics. But apart from that I think its great that both just offer simple amplifiers with no frills.
They also offer custom buffers with discrete opamps from Sparkos, Sonic Imagery and Weiss for those willing, as well as the basic stock opamps.
 

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#8
Congratulations on your new amplifier and your fine-looking workstation. I like the utilitarian computer desk with the beautiful wooden top.

And now I'm even more excited about getting my two VTV amps soon. Your amplifier search - and end result - is parallel to mine, which I have posted about several times here at ASR recently. I am glad to see someone pave the way with this amplifier, a unit that really appeals to me.

Question - are the cases as precise fitting as they appear to be in the images? The look to me is very high quality, and they are obviously custom Ghent cases - or from the same Chinese supplier that Ghent uses. The case halves have the same small vent holes on the top, the front panel is similar, and the rear panel has the same peripheral vent slots as Ghent. And there are no certification logos on the back - although that doesn't bother me with this type of "standard modules in a case" design. VTV doesn't "manufacture" them - they simply assemble them - which is also fine by me.

VTV Hypex Stereo Amplifier.jpg


My goal is to "upgrade" my current 2.0 channel stereo-only system (listed in my signature) to 3.0. I intend to do this by using 3 out of the 8 channels available on an IOTAVS AV 7.1 4K RCA/XLS preamp. I will also upgrade my speakers to Wharfedale's D320s for left and right, and D300C for the center.

Although all I really wanted was to do was add a compatible center channel for dialog improvement in movies, and that quest ended up being a major challenge. A matching mono amp is not available to go along with my big and heavy - but excellent performing - 1994 vintage Classé Model Seventy Class AB amplifier. Nor was a matching center speaker available to add to my also excellent older Paradigm Atom bookshelves. And switching back and forth between the Topping DAC for stereo and a cheap generic multichannel RCA only DAC with minimal features didn't really appeal to me.

So rather than that mis-matched hodge-podge of audio components, I decided to replace my Topping DX7s stereo DAC/HA (I don't use headphones) with the IOTAVX 7.1 4K AVP, the Paradigm Atom speakers with the new Wharfedale D300 series speakers. In a couple of months, I plan to replace my Classé Model Seventy amplifier - and a temporary Fosi TPA3116 ChiFi mono amp - with two VTV amps, the mono amp with the Hypex NC250MP module and the stereo model with the NC252MP.

The review of the NC400 amp here resulted in some contentious arguments about Hypex power ratings, which prompted major contributor and audio expert @restorer-john to complain strongly about "false advertising", and IMHO, rightly so. However, @amirm measured the NC400 amplifier at [email protected]Ω (not 400wpc) with extremely low distortion - a figure that I trust. If the ratio holds for the 250/252 modules, we can say that the power output of your new amplifier is about [email protected]Ω or [email protected]Ω.
 

ferongr

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#9
The review of the NC400 amp here resulted in some contentious arguments about Hypex power ratings, which prompted major contributor and audio expert @restorer-john to complain strongly about "false advertising", and IMHO, rightly so. However, @amirm measured the NC400 amplifier at [email protected]Ω (not 400wpc) with extremely low distortion - a figure that I trust. If the ratio holds for the 250/252 modules, we can say that the power output of your new amplifier is about [email protected]Ω or [email protected]Ω.
No. The build Amir measured had an undersized power supply (SMPS600N400). Hypex specifies that PSU for a monoblock build and not split shared on multiple amplifiers. You can't produce 800W of power with a PSU specified for 600W of output. Furthermore, the Hypex power specification is for 1% THD and not the "knee" that @amirm uses. The NC252MP has been measured in the IOM NCore Pro PWR and it comes very close to the specified power output (I suspect it would reach it with 230V mains but that's just drawing parallels from the PC PSU world were 120V results in lower efficiency and power output compared to 230V).
 

Matias

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#10
No. The build Amir measured had an undersized power supply (SMPS600N400). Hypex specifies that PSU for a monoblock build and not split shared on multiple amplifiers. You can't produce 800W of power with a PSU specified for 600W of output. Furthermore, the Hypex power specification is for 1% THD and not the "knee" that @amirm uses. The NC252MP has been measured in the IOM NCore Pro PWR and it comes very close to the specified power output (I suspect it would reach it with 230V mains but that's just drawing parallels from the PC PSU world were 120V results in lower efficiency and power output compared to 230V).
ICEpower usually rate their modules a few watts more in 220V so probably Hypex too.
 

Xulonn

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#12
Hypex power specification is for 1% THD and not the "knee" that @amirm uses.
Based on a large number of positive reviews and recommendations by people in the industry I respect, I think Hypex amplifiers are a remarkable technology and I plan to buy a couple of Hypex-based amplifiers in the near future. But I prefer to make my "how many watts" decision based on traditional conservative power rating standards. I am aware that it is better to have too much power than too little, and would rather have an unused power reserve rather than clipping. With any class D amp that has limited headroom related to the characteristics of switching power supplies, I would want 1.5x to 2x the amount of rated power compared to a robust class AB amplifier. I am not an engineer, and don't like to have to worry whether a "250wpc" Hypex Class-D amplifier is as powerful and will have as much headroom as the honestly-rated 140wpc class AB amp it will be replacing.

In the real world, I believe that @amirm 's ratings at "the knee" of the power/distortion curve are far more honest and useful than the b.s "max" or "peak" power ratings from marketing people.

So perhaps @restorer-john was right. In the world of honest and comparable amplifier ratings, the 250wpc rated NC252MP is actually only a 50wpc amplifier since "peak power" ratings of 1% distortion at 1KHz are basically a misleading specification for marketing purposes?

Unless you can provide me with a valid continuous power output rating for 20Hz-20KHz, both channels driven, <0.1%THD, you are playing an "inflated ratings" marketing game. How do you think the NC500 would compare to the Benchmark AHB2 power amp using the same rigorous measurement standards?

Benchmark AHB2 Power Amplifier - Continuous Average Output Power

< 0.0003 % THD+N at full rated power, 20 Hz to 20 kHz
  • 100 Watts per channel into 8 Ohms, both channels driven
  • 130 Watts per channel into 6 Ohms, both channels driven
  • 190 Watts per channel into 4 Ohms, both channels driven
 

Promit

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#13
I wish somebody would do an affordable rackmount chassis for these. Both VTV and Audiophonics use these funny long and narrow cases.
 

Matias

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#14
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Xulonn

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#15
I wish somebody would do an affordable rackmount chassis for these. Both VTV and Audiophonics use these funny long and narrow cases.
The VTV is 11" deep. The Audiophonics is 11" deep.

Nord and Apollon both offer these amps with rack-mount faceplates
 
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Thread Starter #16
Have you removed the top and viewed inside? I tried one of the VTV purifi amps the XLR pin 1 wasn't ground to chassis and the mains wasn't grounded either might want to look inside.
Really stupid question. How do I remove the top? It appears the case is a single piece with the endcaps attached. I pulled the four rear screws which only allowed the rear off.
 
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Based on a large number of positive reviews and recommendations by people in the industry I respect, I think Hypex amplifiers are a remarkable technology and I plan to buy a couple of Hypex-based amplifiers in the near future. But I prefer to make my "how many watts" decision based on traditional conservative power rating standards. I am aware that it is better to have too much power than too little, and would rather have an unused power reserve rather than clipping. With any class D amp that has limited headroom related to the characteristics of switching power supplies, I would want 1.5x to 2x the amount of rated power compared to a robust class AB amplifier. I am not an engineer, and don't like to have to worry whether a "250wpc" Hypex Class-D amplifier is as powerful and will have as much headroom as the honestly-rated 140wpc class AB amp it will be replacing.

In the real world, I believe that @amirm 's ratings at "the knee" of the power/distortion curve are far more honest and useful than the b.s "max" or "peak" power ratings from marketing people.

So perhaps @restorer-john was right. In the world of honest and comparable amplifier ratings, the 250wpc rated NC252MP is actually only a 50wpc amplifier since "peak power" ratings of 1% distortion at 1KHz are basically a misleading specification for marketing purposes?

Unless you can provide me with a valid continuous power output rating for 20Hz-20KHz, both channels driven, <0.1%THD, you are playing an "inflated ratings" marketing game. How do you think the NC500 would compare to the Benchmark AHB2 power amp using the same rigorous measurement standards?
According to Amir's test the 252 module is close to hitting close to its power rating at less than .1% distortion.

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...d-measurements-of-iom-ncore-pro-pwr-amp.8979/

I do agree about the fudge factor that Class D has no real headroom while most Class A/AB amps have a couple of db short term.
 

March Audio

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#18
According to Amir's test the 252 module is close to hitting close to its power rating at less than .1% distortion.

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...d-measurements-of-iom-ncore-pro-pwr-amp.8979/

I do agree about the fudge factor that Class D has no real headroom while most Class A/AB amps have a couple of db short term.
You cant really make generalisations about this. For example whilst the NC122 has little in the way of headroom, the nc502 does.

1588994248849.png


I wouldnt presume class A/B has headroom unless tested to show it does. It entirely depends upon the individual design and not the class.
 
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Thread Starter #19
Okay, I put on my seeing eye goggles and was able to figure out how to open the case. Getting older sucks. Here are some shots of the inside. I have not put it back together yet, so is anyone wants more angles, ask now.
 

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CDMC

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You cant really make generalisations about this. For example whilst the NC122 has little in the way of headroom, the nc502 does.

View attachment 62585

I wouldnt presume class A/B has headroom unless tested to show it does. It entirely depends upon the individual design and not the class.
I stand corrected. I thought the design didn't allow for any headroom.
 
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