Getting great high-resolution audio from a digital source involves a lot less fuss and tinkering than it did in the old analog hi-fi days, but there are still a good number of components that go into turning those ones and zeroes into sumptuous sounds before they reach your ears. Firstly, you need a good digital-to-analog converter, or DAC. Then a good preamplifier for signal processing, volume control, and source switching, not to mention a little amplification for headphones. And finally, if your speakers aren’t self powered, you need a good amplifier to boost the resulting low-level analog electrical signal to a level sufficient to drive your speakers. With its new nova220SE integrated amp, though, Peachtree Audio has combined all of those elements into one gorgeous turnkey solution.
The signal path for the nova220SE begins with a 192kHz/24-bit DAC, which features an asynchronous USB (Class 1 or 2) input, along with a coaxial digital in and a 96kHz/24-bit optical digital in. Peachtree Audio National Sales Manager Jonathan Derda – aka the Ambassador of Awesome – reveals that the grounding scheme of the DAC has also been improved over previous designs, as has the isolation transformer on the USB input, all of which promises to deliver a lower noise floor and better micro-detail in your music. The nova220SE also includes a truly analog input with a completely separate signal path to maintain the analog signal purity of any non-digital sources you might want to connect.
From there the converted digital (or unconverted analog) signal makes its way into two discrete Class A preamp sections (one for each stereo channel) borrowed from Peachtree’s flagship Grand Series products. The result? A stereo signal with ultra-wide dynamic range and fantastic signal-to-noise ratio. The nova220SE also includes Peachtree’s signature triode vacuum tube buffer design, which promises to add a little warmth and knock the rough digital edges off of any poorly recorded or overly compressed digital tracks in your collection, although it can be bypassed completely with the included remote control.
Connect your favorite set of headphones to the nova220SE and it delivers a staggering 1170mW of power into 32Ω with 0.006% total harmonic distortion. If those numbers don’t mean much to you, that’s about ten times the power of the headphone amp I use in my desktop system, and if my back-of-the-napkin calculations are correct, about 50 times the output of my iPhone 5S. That doesn’t necessarily equate to 10 (or 50) times louder, mind you; it simply means that the nova220SE can power even the largest, most difficult-to-drive headphones with ease, and with plenty of amp headroom to spare.
Speaking of power to spare, the nova220SE tacks onto the end of all of this dual-mono amplifiers delivering an impressive 220 watts of power per channel. At this year’s International CES, Peachtree was using the nova220SE to power a pair of the notoriously difficult-to-drive MartinLogan Summit X hybrid electrostatic speakers, so it’s safe to say that this gorgeous little beast of an integrate amplifier has the goods to back up virtually any speaker you could want to connect to it.
The Peachtree Audio nova220SE integrated amplifier is expected to ship to select retailers starting in February for $1999.