One might cry “Blasphemy”! An integrated amplifier, claiming audiophile anything? You must be bedeviled! No, not if you were to operationally define audiophile performance.
Many may and will disagree, but my personal definition of an audiophile is comparable to my operational definition of a gourmet chef. For example, a gourmet chef brings out the true flavor of foods, using spices and condiments to compliment rather than cloud the featured delicacy. A gourmet chef will never receive a compliment that goes like, “hey, those asparagus really compliment your fifteen pounds of roast garlic”. In turn, an audiophile is one who strives for an “unflavored” listening experience, i.e., just the music and no distortion, noise, or other than flat equalization.
One of the mantras of traditional, armchair audiophiles, rating right up there with the fallacy that nothing sounds as good as tubes, has been that nothing good comes from integration: “You simply cannot achieve audiophile stature by integrating the pre-amp, EQ, and power amp all in one.” Well, everyone is entitled to their opinions, tastes, and misconceptions.
NuForce has decided to succeed on the side of blasphemy with its DDA-100 digital integrated amplifier, which the company claims to deliver high-end, audiophile-grade sound quality. The amp relies on an advanced Class-D design that converts digital audio into analog form at the last possible stage, the PWM amplifier output. The result is low distortion and noise.
NuForce DDA-100 digital integrated amplifier does not employ a DAC.
Basically, the amp doesn't use a DAC stage that’s common practice in comparable digital audio amplifiers. Its PWM power amplifier stage is modulated directly by the incoming signal and digital-to-analog conversion occurs at the speaker outputs. The PWM power amplifier stage functions as a power DAC, thereby eliminating any DAC-related problems.
The DDA-100 supports four digital input sources via one USB, one coaxial, and two optical inputs. Output power is 75W RMS (250W peak) per channel.
Specs include a 96-kHz input sampling rate, 3-GB/s over-sampling rate, a clock reference signal for synchronizing incoming digital audio data, 100% linear frequency and phase response at ±0.1 dB from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, a THD+N figure of 0.07%, and a SNR greater than 95 dB A-weighted. Retail price is pretty manageable at $549. For more details, visit the company’s website.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I did happen to audition this puppy with an old pair of Celestion A bookshelf speakers. Just the right amount of garlic with the asparagus, and both the Czech Philharmonic and Alice In Chains never sounded better. ~MD