NuPrime AGM STA stereo power amplifier
Review samples provided by Dimex
Retail Price AMG STA: 1.595 euro
Regular readers will know that I have very good experience with NuPrime amplifiers. After years of use with all sorts of speakers and countless comparisons with other amplifiers, I still feel that the ST-10 stereo amp with its proprietary Class-D technique offers a unique proposition and amazing value for money. It’s not without reason that I still use it even in the context of equipment costing tenfold.
Of course, at 1.595 euros, it is not going to outperform state-of-the-art, high-end products, but in certain important aspects it equals some of them and in other aspects, it comes far closer than it should when considering its modest cost. At the exact double rate of 3.190 euros, the ST-10M mono versions retain all of what makes the stereo model such a great amp while addressing the main areas in which the stereo model falls short in my opinion: treble refinement and overall resolution.
Up for review here is another NuPrime amplifier but, this time, one with an enhanced working principle: the AMG STA that offers a different sonic perspective and costs exactly the same as the ST-10.
AMG STA Technical
The ST-10 and ST-10M amplifiers are pure Class-D designs albeit using a proprietary circuit. The AMG STA amplifier uses a similar circuit but with the switching frequency raised to 700kHz and fitted with an analog input with a 1M Ohm input impedance. Another important difference is that the ST-10 uses a high-end opamp for the input stage whereas the AMG STA uses discrete Class-A transistors.
I asked the manufacturer for more information. Jason Lim replied:
“Our design is different from other Class A + D designs, because we designed the Class-D amp ourselves, which enables us to combine the Class-A preamp stage in series with the Class-D power stage. For other manufacturers who have to purchase an OEM Class-D module, the principle of current dumping is to take a Class-A in parallel (bridge balanced) to supplement the sound quality of Class-D. This method addresses the harmonics/warmth issue of Class-D so that it can sound richer, but it still doesn’t fix the sampling rate problem of Class-D. Over the past 15 years, the switching frequency/sampling rate of Class-D amps has steadily increased, but for off-the-shelf amp modules (ICEpower, Hypex, and other lower quality class-D amps using reference designs from MOSFET suppliers), they have cost consideration and other priorities. Nuprime continues to push the envelope of Class-D design, such as using Class-A transistors and also raising the switching frequency to 700KHz (far above other off-the-shelf Class D modules). Therefore, the approach taken by Nuprime Class A+D design is not only to provide “richness”, but also improve the resolution.”
There is more to read more about this, as well as other techniques, on the Amp Design page of the NuPrime website.
Powered by a large toroidal transformer and with 2 x 130 Watts into 8 Ohms and 2 x 200 Watts into 4 Ohms, the AMG STA will be powerful enough to drive any loudspeaker, including Apogees, Logans, Magnepans and Magicos. And yes, that includes the rather difficult Q5’s, as I will report on further down. Naturally, if you push it far enough I imagine that there will ultimately be a limit to the available current. But for the playback levels that I can tolerate and with any of the speakers that I tried it with, it is more than sufficient.
With a smart front panel but an otherwise simpler enclosure, NuPrime managed to keep the price of the AMG STA the same as for the ST-10, in spite of more complex electronics. The front panel is machined from a solid piece of aluminum with a protruding NuPrime Brand name. Unusually, the power LED is mounted underneath and behind the power switch, lighting it in a nice and understated fashion when viewed from the listening position.
When standing up and looking at it from an angle, however, it is super-bright. Between this solution and the highly dimmed deep blue LED in the ST-10, I prefer the latter.
Jason Lim responds: “Thanks for your feedback. We will make an adjustment by adding a filter to the LED”.
The speaker connectors are very tightly-spaced on the ST-10, and the same is the case on the AMG STA. There simply isn’t much real estate, to begin with. But due to the louver-like extension on the rear, spades can only be inserted from below, meaning that the AMG STA needs to be positioned at the edge of the shelf or component underneath it. Thankfully, NuPrime did clear enough space to allow the use of beefy high-grade IEC power connectors.
Bananas work just perfectly… but when using Spades, especially those with long metal parts such as with the Jorma cable, one has to be very careful not to make a short
Connectivity matters and working principles aside, from the moment that I switched it on, I heard that the AMG STA is something special.
I will listen to the AMG STA, first using different setups in the same room, consisting of either the Aqua Formula xHD DAC with V2 output board and Audio-GD Master 1 combo, or the CH Precision C1 DAC. The source in both cases is the Antipodes CX running Roon via HQPlayer to the Aqua LinQ, connected via AQLink I2S cable to the Formula xHD and via a Jorma AES/EBU cable to the C1 DAC. The loudspeakers are the Magico S1 MkII’s and, in a later stage, the WvL SONs. I will also briefly involve the AMG HPA, an analog preamplifier and headphone amplifier.
Lastly, I will also listen to the AMG STA power amp in audio buddy Niels’ setup, which in its core is formed by the Aurender S10 music server, Mola Mola Tambaqui DAC and Spectral DMC-30SV preamp. Here, it will drive the Magico Q5 loudspeakers.
Thanks for the informative review of the Nuprime AMG STA and all your other reviews for that matter. I always greatly enjoy your reviews. It’s also a wise decision to test equipment in someone elses system in order to get a broader grip on how the equipment under review behaves with other components. Keep up the good work.
If you look at the specs for NuPrime’s amps, their SBR specs are not very good. Don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of amp noise.
I’m not sure what you are referring to but I judge audio equipment by ear, not by spec.
The SNR is not a good measure of a state of the art amp’s performance, because AMG STA has PURPOSELY added GOOD 2nd-order harmonics. Those are the characteristics that makes the amp sounded “real”, where an old violin sounded like one, etc. SNR measurement won’t be able to differentiate good “noise” versus bad noise. I bet you have not listened to NuPrime amps before, otherwise you won’t be making this statement. Give it a try.
Ah, SNR! You wrote SBR…
You are correct in that they have carefully added 2nd order harmonics, just like it would happen with tube amplifiers. I’m not saying that more distortion is better (in principle it is not). But in important aspects, this can actually help create the illusion of reality. On the other hand, it takes away some precision and transparency. Still, it’s always about weighing various aspects against one another and it is the end result of all combined measures and techniques that counts. That, and the end user’s set of preferences and of course the system synergy. But rather than discuss the good or bad of this in theory, I prefer to just listen to the products that I review.
It is always excellent to read your reviews !!! I find that your reviews are well done with comparisons with other products and sound specifications which are well rendered. your report is rich in lessons. thanks again.
I want to clarify about the “adding” of 2nd order harmonics. We are not dealing with digital design here. So there is no such thing as simply “adding” for the sake of having some sound characteristic. It doesn’t work like this in the actual design. What we did was to use the Class A transistors circuit to shape the sound, just like what linear amps would do. So if you want a warmer linear amp, you would pick the tube or transistor with the sound characteristic. Likewise, the transistors circuit that we created, would have higher order of even harmonics, which existing in linear amps as well.
First of all a big thank you for your site which is worth gold to me.
Concerning the AMG STA in stereo presented here, in view of the increase in quality of the ST10 in mono (resolution-refinement), and idem for the STA9 that I had in stereo then 2X monos with a nice improvement in dynamics, aperture and depth as well as in bass resolution in particular, I can not help wondering about the contribution of 2 AMG STA in mono … This to improve, perhaps, the dynamics which seems to you to be a little lacking and in particular for the strength of the low frequencies, which are also important to me.
This is for my Harbeth M40.2 for which I was thinking of changing the current Modwright KWA150SE amp for a Bryston B4 cubed. Its price is more than twice as much as 2 AMG STA for a final rendering that would then seem quite close?
Finally, which power cables would you recommend for the AMG?
Thank you in advance for your opinion
A pair of AMG STA’s is certainly worth investigating and is on the list of things to do. But I can’t guarantee that it will materialize.
Reading your review of the NuPrime Evolution Ones it sound a lot like the AMG STA. Can you comment on the difference, even though you didn’t have them side by side? Could you please also write a sentence or two about the sonic difference between NuPrime and the Audio GD mono blocks?
Thanks for great reviews. Can’t wait to read about Vinnie Rossi and Classé.
If my two reviews read similarly then I’ve not done a good enough job to differentiate. With my current knowledge, I feel that the AMG STA is even more refined and fluid than the Evo Ones. Also, I feel that the little stereo amp is more fun to listen to than the more business-like Evo Ones. The Audio-GD’s are the best amps I’ve heard bar the CH A1.5. That’s only fair given the difference in size, weight and cost. The Classe is only reviewed for Dutch printed magazine HVT. I don’t think I’ll write an English review for HFA but you never know.
I did have a chance to test the Classé Delta Pre + Classé Delta Stereo Power Amp at home for a week, so I was extra curious to find out if we had similar findings. The fan noise was too loud for me. No need to look for dark background in other components if you have a fan noise killing all of it. I found it to be rather even in the frequency delivery but I lacked some speed in the transients. High quality design and material but I think the price was too high compared to the performance. Bass delivery wasn’t to my liking at lower volume levels. Also very narrow angle of response for the remote. For this amount of money there are other more tempting options, in my book.
My apologies for misspelling your name Christiaan, sorry about that.
No probs, of course:-)
Hi Per, I agree on several points, especially the fan noise. Way too audible indeed. I’ve fed that back to the manufacturer, hopefully, they can do something about that. Without going into detail, in general, I think more highly of the amp than the preamp.
Hi Per, agreed on the fan noise. It’s too much for me, too. I have now published a full Classe Delta pre+ power review on HFA.
Hi ..all you need is the Nuprime Dac évolution review ??
Happy year ??
Christiaan another fantastically thorough well written review thank you. I have zero interest in Class D or SS at all for that matter and yet I was thoroughly entertained. Happy New Year!
Thanks for your informative and comprehensive review on the Nuprime AMG STA stereo power amplifier. I’m coming up on 9 years I have been using a Wyred 4 Sound ST-1000 class D amplifier to power my ML Spires. With my musical tastes leaning heavily toward acoustic jazz and jazz vocals for both analogue and digital playback, the AMG STA voicing sounds like it would be a very good match for the Spires and possibly a substantial upgrade to my ST-1000 amp as it several generations of class D behind. Did you have a chance to test the AMG STA with your ML ESL 15a? If so, could you please share the results. If not, any thoughts you could share on suitability with ML ESLs would be appreciated.
Hi Ed, the AMG-STA works very well with the 15A’s and it displays the same differences from the ST-10 or the A1.5 as observed with the Magicos. That said, I feel that Logans always have a slight synthetic quality. This was the least present in the 15A’s but still there, compared to the Magicos. With this in mind, an amplifier that sounds robust, open and lifelike combines best, in my opinion. The CH works superbly well and AVM also works very well. The NuPrime ST-10 offers great tonality (it actually counteracts the Logans’ slightly less than natural tonality) and solid bass but the Logans do unveil its limitations in terms of resolution. And I prefer to use an amp with tight bass with the Logans as they don’t need any extra fulness. The AMG-STA, finally, sounds gorgeously refined and highly detailed and that works well with the Logans. It also has leaner and slightly more precise bass which also works well. However, while the AMG-STA is very linear and neutral and not synthetic in itself, it does not counteract/supplement this inherent Logan quality as much as the more solid and “wooden” sounding ST-10 does.
I’ve not heard the W4S ST-1000 but since they contain early ICEpower modules, my guess would be the AMG-STA might indeed be an upgrade for you on all accounts.
Lastly, please note that I am apparently more sensitive to what I perceive as a synthetic quality of Logans (and Quads, as well) than most.
Hi Christiaan, Thanks for the thoughtful and thorough response. I too find at certain times and am sensitive to the Spires sounding a bit synthetic/artificial (something inherent in the electrostatic membrane vs. traditional cone drivers?) especially when it comes to reproducing the correct robust, reedy and hearty timbre of jazz saxophone. Conversely it doesn’t present itself as an issue with vocals, piano, drums or even trumpet. But since a majority of my listening library involves recordings of acoustic jazz with saxophone being prominent it’s important the amplifier help to make saxophone sound more well like a saxophone. If I read your response correctly the ST-10’s solid & “wooden” character would alleviate the synthetic sounding saxophone more so than AMG-STA. And this may be more important than the level of refinement the AGM-STA brings.
Hi Ed, that all sounds familiar. Indeed, if making a sax sound most acoustically realistic then the ST-10 will likely be more ideal than the AMG-STA. However, given the opportunity, I’d really advise to listen to both.
I hope you don’t mind me chiming in, just another audiophile here, but if your Spires don’t reproduce sax well and most of your listening is to sax led bands perhaps what you need is not a new amp? I am sure the Nuprime sounds fantastic, I find Christian’s reviews to be spot on, but long term will that timbre issue still be nagging at you? Just my two cents and good luck with your system whichever way you go.
Good point, Jon. The thing is that it is hard to find a speaker that has all the pros of Martin Logans, not the cons, and costs similar money as the Spires in this case. I feel that the Magico S1 mk2’s go a long way toward achieving this ideal in many facets (for my taste at least but not everyone will agree), but below 40Hz, understandably, it is no contest with the ESL15A’s. Also, Logans tend to be open and detailed but still relaxed and even a little sweet. This is a quality (or deficiency, depending on your views) that you don’t often find in traditional speakers. That said, the Spires have prodigious bass but it’s not quite as articulate or as controlled, or as well-connected to the foil as that of the later generation Logans. In that regard, certain traditional dynamic speakers may offer a good alternative. In any event, Ed, I hope you can work it out!
Thanks again for all your thoughtful input.
Though difficult it may be to audition ST10s vs. AMG-STAs it’s good to know that both are equally good match for Spires and it comes down to personal choice.
As for eventually moving away from Spires to something newer and possibly non-electrostatic, I’d love to audition a pair of dynamic speakers that is under $10k USA a pair, retains many of the positive virtues of ML electrostatics but sounds more natural for acoustic jazz music. If you can think of one please let me know.
Hi Ed, alas, for under 10K retail, I really wouldn’t know. Most important for me (coming from decades of using Logans, Magnepans and Apogees) is that a speaker is linear and has the lowest possible coloration and with cabinets that almost automatically leads to high cost. The first cabinet speakers that I feel are comparable to Logans in this respect while improving on them in certain other aspects are the Magico S1 mk2’s, at ~10K second hand. They are not perfect but neither are the Logans. Or any speaker for that matter:-)
Hi Christiaan, You’ve confirmed what I thought that under $10k it would be very difficult to build a cabinet speaker that equals or improves upon Logans. Magicos have earned a great reputation with cabinet construction and sound quality and maybe there’s a second hand pair in my future. Thx again!
Friendly input is always welcome. You make a very valid point in context with doing a major overhaul of my system but I’m currently focused on doing less costly incremental improvements.
Another interesting review from your hand.
In the past you also favorably reviewed the Kinki Studio integrated. How does this compare to the NuPrime AMG STA ? I know it’s comparing an integrated to a power amp but still something can be said about the sound quality I think. Kinki also has mono amps in their line up that may compete with the STA in mono setting. What’s your opinion ?
Hi Ben, In retrospect, the Kinki will be closer to the ST-10: a solid and bold sound but not the most refined. The Kinki does not have much in common with the AMG-STA. As for the newer mono’s, I can only guess. From reading the information if I interpret it correctly, it seems the company strives for a forgiving and rich delivery which gives me pause but, in practice, this can turn out differently. Terms like rich can mean different things to different people. At some point, I may review the Kinki amplifiers but not for the foreseeable future.
Thanks for your reply.
Very recently I purchased an Audio-gd HE-1 preamplifier which is a step up from the Master 1 you reviewed earlier and now I’m looking for a power amp to match it with. The Kinki might be a candidate but the NuPrime can be a contender as well and of course Audio-gd has power amps/mono blocks in their line up that I could consider also.
My next speakers will likely be the ELM ELS X from Martin Logan. In the past I used to own Quad electrostatics and I like to return to these type of speakers because they do things so well. The ML Masterpiece series are out of my financial reach unfortunately.
Refinement is important but perhaps too much of it might make the sound too polite I wonder ? If have to compromise between refinement and a dynamic, lively and lifelike sound I would choose the latter. Of course if you could have it all now wouldn’t that be great !
A richer sounding amplifier (not too much) might just be the right thing to add in order to fill out the somewhat lighter electrostatic signature just to make it sound that little bit fuller and timbrally perhaps more natural.. Your ML Renaissance 15A might not need this because it is already warm enough sounding all by itself because of its size.
If you have any alternatives to the ones I already mentioned please let me know, your advice is much appreciated.
Oh, and keep those reviews coming, they always guarantee interesting reading material for us audiophiles.
Hi Ben, smaller Logans tend to be brighter than the big models. They are also more forward and less smooth than Quads. You are right in assuming that refinement often comes along with politeness. It’s very difficult to balance this just right, resulting in many amps that are either slightly too polite or slightly too rough. I totally agree that the ESL15A’s have more than enough body themselves but for the smaller Logans, this is indeed different.
It’s good that you are leaning toward one “extreme” as that makes it easuer to find your ideal amp. Considering that you value liveliness and dynamics over the last bit of refinement as well as expressing a preference for fullness I would recommend trying the NuPrime ST-10 first. It is not warm or smooth but sonorous, rich and very robust and I think it will perfectly supplement the slightly lean Logans in the bass and lower midrange while being compensated in the treble by the Logans’ openness to make for a nice balance.
The amp’s dynamics and joy-de-Vivre will likely put a big smile on your face. The Audio-GD monos really are superb but they are very clean and revealing and I suspect not ideal with these smaller Logans, not to mention overkill in terms of power. You might try the AMG-STA next if you decide that you’d like a little bit more finesse but bear in mind that the ST-10 remains the king of solidity and bass heft.
That is some review of the AMG STA amp, especially when combined with your March ‘21 follow up on using two in mono. You mention it’s incredible value “outperforming amps costing multiples”, though then “unfairly”comparing it to the CH. Question- How would it compare to a moderately (more within the multiple range) priced high end amp like your previously reviewed Bryston 4b3, 7b3?
Hi Marc, haha yes, indeed, these little amps really sound remarkable. In my view, they also stack up well against Bryston, no matter if that’s a 3B, 4B, 7B, or 14B. In all cases, the AMG STA provides a more hi-res, more articulate, and more refined sound. However, as you might expect, the NuPrime does not have the extra big and powerful Bryston bass. I think I’ve performed comparisons in the various Bryston reviews, certainly with the ST-10 but perhaps also with the AMG STA, have a look!
Ok, because of you I bought a single AMG STA, just temporarily installed it yesterday. This amp might be meant for my 4b3/15a setup or…..I own another setup using Tekton Double Impact SE speakers. They are incredibly revealing, like no other speaker I have ever owned. In fact they are so “neutral”, I can even hear the difference in wire changes.
I need preamps for both setups, (I know that, that’s why I want you to review the Bryston BR-20, lol), and an amp for one of them. I’m currently running a Cambridge Audio 851N in pre-amp mode for the 15a’s and an Emotiva XMC-1 (actually meant for surround) for the Tektons. The Tektons are being driven by my old Sunfire Cinema Grand.
My Dilemma- I flip tested my Sunfire and 4b3, between the two speakers, I without reservation feel the 4b3 does 10x more for the Tektons than the 15a’s. So, in comes your NuPrime AMG, to see which one it did the most for. I haven’t gotten there, lol. My 15a’s are up at home, my Tektons are at the beach.
So what’s the point…and how might it help your readers on the NuPrime AMG subject? I have an interesting observation that I didn’t expect to try, and certainly didn’t expect to hear. Of course the NuPrime kills my Sunfire in every way except maybe bass heft. Though the NuPrime is much better at bass control.
My observation..I also own the NuPrime IDA-6 mini amp/pre/dac, which I use to power a set of JM labs bookshelfs used instead of internal TV speakers elsewhere in the house. I started switching the AMG for the IDA-6, I can’t tell the difference. Other than, yes, the AMG can be driven louder, I literally hear no difference across the board. I’m scratching my head. How can the $500 IDA, that is also a pre and DAC sound as good as the $1700 AMG??? Could it be my emotiva is just that bad a pre-amp, stepping down the AMG vs the all in one IDA?? I have no way to figure it out, as I feel my Cambridge is just as weak as the emotiva, plus, 150 miles away. Suppose the only way to figure this out is to borrow a preamp and switch out the emotiva. Any thoughts/suggestions?
Hi Marc, nice feedback! Well, I think it’s twofold. Indeed, the preamps will likely be bottlenecks here. A good way to circumvent this is by using a DAC that has a built-in volume control. Second, I can imagine that even an entry-level NuPrime amplifier such as the IDA-6 will provide many of the brand’s core values. It’s similar technology, after all. But I don’t doubt that more profound differences will be observed once you have eliminated the preamp.
So, I’ll be doing a head to head with my Bryston 4b3 and my NuPrime AMG STA when I get them together in the next week or so. Will report back with thoughts.
Though in the interim, I’ve been trying to gauge what brick and mortar US dealers think of NuPrime. I called 5 dealers, (3 my personal current or past dealers who don’t carry NuPrime, 1 who does carry them and one who doesn’t). I have gotten unexpected though very uniform answers.
If they have heard of NuPrime (2 didn’t), they think they are junk. All said they don’t even want to spend the time to listen (!?!?!?) if I brought it in which I found shocking. The one that does carry them said, he knows they are a tough sell cause they are nearly impossible to have repaired, and they did have a whisper reputation of being poor build quality, and breaking often, but he added this was mostly during the days of NuForce.
So it has me scratching my head, why do US dealers hate NuPrime?? Can it really be the obvious guess (based on christiaan’s review comparison)….US high end dealers hate NuPrime cause they make their big margin equipment look bad???
I’ll have an opinion at least against a 3x the price amp soon.
Hi Marc, well, I can’t speak for the dealers but it’s not unusual for affordable products to be frowned upon in high-end circles, I guess it’s only human. And I’m sure there are also commercial aspects to it. In any event, my personal experience tells me that the NuPrime products are highly competitive, as outlined in my reviews.
Here’s a nice anecdote. My good friend JW has an all-Zesto tube system with Apogee Duetta Signatures and very recently his power amps needed servicing. Thus, I loaned him my AMG-STA in the interim. Previously, he used Jeff Rowland and he was never a Class-D fan. Of course, a “simple” amp would be better than no amp, and thus, he connected the little AMG and he was perplexed! Not only did his speakers produce the best bass he had heard from them thus far, but he was also amazed at the resolution and the level of nuance and refinement, in no way second to that of the Zestos. Even the soundstaging was as deep and layered as before. The only downside that he mentioned was that the NuPrime did not have quite the free-breathing quality of the tube amps and, most importantly, the unrestrained dynamics. By this, he does not mean slam or overall impact but rather the variance within the dynamic envelope. In comparison, the AMG-STA’s dynamics were more “compact”, with the combined sound modulating in level more or less all at once like a block, whereas with the Zesto’s, all the instruments and sounds move individually and at different rates. JW’s experience makes a lot of sense to me as this very much ties in with the common differences between Class-A versus Class-D. To me, however, the differences are smaller because as you know I use Class A/B transistor amplification and I am used to the relatively more stilted and compact kind of delivery. So, this is a long story just to reiterate that I stand by all my statements regarding NuPrime. Yes, you can do better but it will cost you many multiples.
On the subject of reliability, I think this did indeed pertain to the NuForce products, and maybe, certain initial NuPrime products. I have yet to encounter any issues with any of the NuPrime products that I used or own.
I never wrote back as to my Bryston 4b3 vs Nuprime AMG STA comparison. Writing the conclusion first, I now own the 2 of the AMG STA’s in mono along with my Bryston 4b3.
How’d I get there. I already owned the 4b3 and have had it paired with my ML 15a’s. LOVE the combo. A while back a friend brought his AMG’s over and we swapped my bryston for them. I was amazed at the time.
Fast forward, the latest comparison was to help me pick an amp for a new pair of Tekton Double Impact SEs I purchased for my summer place. I didn’t want to spend too much as it is a summer place, hence the AMG STA tryout. Well, I finally lugged my Bryston all the way to my summer place and compared it against 1 AMG STA, again, on the Tekton Double Impact SEs. Using a Cambridge 851n as preamp and streamer. Also using an Emotiva CD transport via AES connection. The very short version of my findings.
The AMG had the edge on clarity…it seemed. The bass was no doubt faster/tighter but it was not as powerful or well rounded as my 4b3. Which made me think two things, 1- was the AMG’s faster speed in bass thus proof of the additional clarity I was hearing in the higher range, or 2- was the fact that the Bryston sounded warmer in the bass and most definitely in the mid-range (think- “more finished” as if it was passing through a tube preamp) making my ears think the AMG sounded clearer in the highs?
I can tell you, I felt the Bryston’s overall sound was “better” because of this more well rounded (warmer, stronger bass and mid) presentation. But as I sad, you felt immediately like you lost that amazing un-artificial speed and clarity clarity that was present in the AMG STA. I almost felt like, perhaps the AMG just needed a proper preamp pairing to finish/polish the sound the way you like, whereas the Bryston, already felt complete. I’ll stop with this (leave the proper reviewing to Christiaan, lol) though I do have a lot more to say and have plenty more details to share should anyone like to hear more. Just ask.
Thanks for the feedback, Marc, I can totally follow your reasoning. In my view, the AMG-STA’s are very close to utter neutrality (but a little lean compared to a cross-section of everything out there) while the Bryston is a little fuller/fatter than strictly neutral but this is how many people like it. As always, these things are not really absolute:-)
Indeed, and the hobby goes on…what pairing might yield that next level magical balance?? : )
In addition to making me think that the NuPrime needed a warm preamp, the comparison now has me thinking, (I’ve held off on a preamp for my 4b3/MLs) with the Bryston seemingly having that “finished sound”, but clearly lacking in detail compared to the NuPrime, perhaps my preamp choice should be one that can extract more detail??
I heard that the Bryston BR-20 is very revealing, maybe an all Bryston pairing is the way to go? Haven’t had any luck finding a demo yet, so hoping you do to read your review.
While a preamp definitely puts a mark on the end result, it’s not likely that a preamp will yield a fresher/more explicit sound than a direct DAC output. And those that do, often achieve this by adding harshness. The BR20 is still on the list but there’s an ongoing shortage and the distributor can’t get his hands on a demo unit. As good as it might be (and I think it will be very good) it also probably won’t be the answer for you.
I agree with your thought that a DAC is really what will bring out the details, I therefore agree a preamp isn’t something I feel my 4B3 needs. I’m actually focused on the Bryston BR-20’s DAC performance. I know it is just reusing the identical delta sigma DACs that they use in the BDA-3, which based on old reviews, sounds like they simply can’t compete with the better ladder DACs like the Denafrips. But, my thought (hope), is they upgraded the implementation pulling even greater detail out of them. Then the fact that they are paired with the supposedly incredible preamp side, it might turn out to be something special??
The fact that the unit has a streamer which I always thought made sense from a design standpoint, and it having an HDMI board to pass through video for my TV, located between my MLs…well, it’s really hard not to hope…
As I am finding with Aries Cerat products recently, an analog preamp can absolutely do A LOT, but it’s not about crispness or resolution or things like that. Indeed, if it’s the ultimate level of detail and transparency that you are looking for, then you can’t beat the Denafrips, certainly not at the price. Although… never compared them directly but Audio-GD also has a great contender in the R8. On the BR-20 I can only speculate but it wouldn’t be the first time that a built-in DAC performs surprisingly well and the same goes for built-in streamers. In any event, try before you buy.
Been awhile, figured I check back in on the BR-20 review. At this point, it’s not appropriate to keep a Bryston and a DAC conversation topic under a review for NuPrime amps but not sure where else to put it where it would have context from previous posts.
You think it’s been hard to get a review sample because Bryston doesn’t want someone reviewing it that can compare it to ladder DAC…lol.
Hi Marc, Alas, no news on the BR-20 front. Honestly, I’m no longer chasing this as I am very busy with reviews as it stands. If the manufacturer or distributor wants a review, they know where to find me;-)