Before you get stuck into the nova300 review below, check out DAR’s overview of Peachtree’s latest nova range as well as the my review of its baby brother, the nova150.
How many integrated amplifiers do you know of whose spirit of unification waves buh-bye to kabelsalat and a (potentially) costly hifi rack? Peachtree Audio’s nova300 invites us to connect loudspeakers and a source for a complete system, nothing more to add.
How many integrated amplifiers do you know of that include a hi-res PCM- and DSD-capable ESS 9018K2M Sabre D/A converter – bowel fed via asynchronous USB, coaxial or TOSLINK – whose audible performance almost rivals that of the US$199 AudioQuest DragonFly Red but dispenses with its interceding 3.5mm to RCA breakout cable?
How many integrated amplifiers do you know of that also include an MM phono stage that operates on par with Schiit’s US$100 Jotunheim phono module?
How many integrated amplifiers do you know of that offer a headphone output that isn’t resistor dropped from the main amplifier circuit but backed by a dedicated circuit capable of driving all manner of high-end headphones? This Peachtree’s 6.4mm socket is even beefier on power than that found in the nova150. Peachtree themselves refer to the nova300’s as “high output”, the nova150’s as “standard output”.
In real-world listening tests, we get ample SPLs, robust dynamics and tonal satisfaction from a pair of high-impedance (and fussy) Sennheiser HD800S.
Focus not on the nova300’s minor tonal shortfall when compared to a dedicated headphone amplifier like the Schiit Jotunheim. This shortcoming is even harder to pick once the HD800S are swapped out for a pair of AudioQuest NightOwl. Instead, see the Peachtree’s glass as more than half full: the nova300 offers one of the finest headphone outputs to be found within an integrated amplifier this side of the Vinnie Rossi LIO.
How many integrated amplifiers do you know of that eradicate the need for a third party streamer with an iOS-talking, electrical noise-rejecting asynchronous ‘Dy-NEC’ port (which should have been greenlit by Apple by the time you read this)? Lasso any iOS device to the rear panel’s USB A socket to play anything that an iPad or iPhone will play. Most often used by yours truly here is Spotify Connect: a Peachtree-connected iPad is controlled from the listening position by iPhone and/or Macbook. An infra-red remote will do play/pause and previous/next if smartphone-over-wifi control isn’t your thing.
How many integrated amplifiers do you know of whose high gloss wood effect or piano black rounded sleeve takes levels of aesthetic appeal and lounge room agreeability far beyond that of the pedestrian black/silver box? The nova300’s handsome attire wouldn’t be out of place sat atop a vintage Parker sideboard or next to an Eames lounge (listening!) chair.
How many integrated amplifiers do you know of that deliver 300 watts per channel of Class D ICEpower for US$2299? The nova300 is the way to eradicate any doubts about your loudspeakers’ thirst for go juice. The nova150′ bigger bro will push twice its output power into 8 Ohms – 300wpc – and 450wpc into half that.
Listening to deep cuts from Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ and The Blue Aeroplanes’ extensive catalogues and through a pair of the Euro-styled ELAC UniFi F5 loudspeakers, we net a clear and distinct elevation in detail and layer separation once a Rotel RA-10’s more modest 40wpc Class A/B power is swapped out for the more punctilious Peachtree. A squeegee clean midrange and taut, muscular low-end control are two standout qualities of the incoming nova300.
Devialet’s Expert 200 remains a more finessed and elegant sounding piece. Its treble is altogether smoother. That makes the Devialet great for strung-out EPs like Kristen Hersh’s Strings but also a shade more polite when driving Daniel Avery’s DJ Kicks mix into a pair KEF LS50. The Peachtree serves up more hip thrust and 4-4 fist-punch but with an ever-so-slightly less colourful and rougher hewn top end.
Music taste will determine preference here but how many US$2299 integrateds do you know of that can hold their own against the thrice more costly Devialet on sound and looks? I find the nova300’s greater headroom and more overt macro-dynamic shifts better suited to the KEF standmounts than the Devialet, especially with indie rock and electronica/techno. Want a little more warmth? Add a tube buffer to the nova300’s input/output loop (untested here).
Did I forget to mention the nova300’s ability to play in unity gain power amp mode after a long press of an input selector switch (phono stage excepted)? Did I mention the nova300’s pre-amplifier outputs as primed for subwoofer hook-up? Its HT bypass? Its two analogue inputs?
I doubt that there’s a loudspeaker on the planet that this Peachtree won’t drive with sure-footed authority. Peachtree’s own nova150 aside, I also doubt that there’s an integrated amplifier out there right now with as much functionality for so few dollars.
The nova300 is an exceptional beast. Its combination of ALL of the above (read: real-world flexibility) and serious output power, both into loudspeakers and headphones, comes wrapped in shell amply suited to luxury department store shelf space where its über high-end audio aspirations could end up obscured.
Now you, dear reader, know as much as – if not more than – your nearest Peachtree dealer. Wallop.
Further information: Peachtree Audio