Quote the press release: “The amplifiers utilize ICE power’s innovative and patented Hybrid feedback Controlled Oscillation Modulator (HCOM) feedback and control techniques to ensure high output, wide bandwidth, low noise, robust stability and a simplified overall design. HCOM incorporates separate feedback loops after the power stage and after the output filter. This lets the system address the specific issues related to the power stage and output filter independently, resulting in lower distortion, less noise on the output, a less load-dependent frequency response, and a very low output impedance compared to other class D amps.”
Peachtree are going on record that the nova500’s balanced topology and its reference ICEPower 1200ASC2 power amplifier makes it the best sounding amplifier they’ve made to date. And you thought the Grand Integrated was something! The manufacturer also assert that all new novas will be just fine and dandy with loudspeaker impedance swings from 2 Ohms (hello Magnepan) up to 16 Ohms (hello Zu).
Note that dropped capital n on the new model naming? That’s not the only change. Brace yourself for a bevy of revisions.
Gone is the blue-lit tube buffer of earlier models which some might say added to the brand’s indentity. In its place a remote-switchable input-output loop (see twin RCAs on rear panel) for the addition of an external tube buffer (hello iFi) or other 3rd party processor (hello DSPeaker) should you so wish.
But before y’all take to the street to yell at the nearest cloud, ask yourself which is more relevant to the modern music lover: the tube softening of lower quality source material or vinyl playback? That’s right, Peachtree have included an MM phono stage in all three new novas. The phono input reverts to a second line-level at the press of a switch.
The changes don’t end there – we’re just getting warmed up.
Both the nova150 and nova300 will see D/A conversion from an ESS Reference 9018K2M Sabre DAC whilst the nova500 gets one of ESS ToTL offerings: the ESS 9038PRO which paper-promises a whopping 140db of dynamic range; the DAC chip industry’s highest according to Peachtree. File format compatibility runs up to 32-Bit/384kHz PCM and up to 5.2MHz with DSD (which we assume is USB only).
Each nova’s DAC can be fed via asynchronous USB, a pair of toslinks and a coax socket…but also via a further TWO new inputs.
First up, a remote-controllable, asynchronous iOS input about which Peachtree say: “The nova remote control will even perform the play/pause and track fwd/rev functions on any compatible application! And if you have an app that supports high-res audio, you can even use your iDevice as a mini music server with one of the most intuitive user interfaces on the planet…the touch- screen.”
Secondly, a Wifi-enabled streaming module, still in development at time of writing, will arrive when it’s ready. ETA is TBC.
Oh – home theatre bypass is back on the spec sheet and each nova can now be run as a power amplifier, bypassing the volume control applied to each digital input. Handy for those who prefer to add a touch of tube colour to the pre-amplifier portion of their system.
Headphonistas will welcome the greater attention paid by Peachtree engineers to the circuitry that sits behind the front panel’s quarter-inch socket. It’s fully discrete with an output impedance of one solitary Ohm. Not bad at all for an integrated amplifier loaded with so many other features. Owners of thirstier cans should note that the nova300 and nova500 will serve up more raw output power than the nova150.
Mercifully, Peachtree have kept the rounded corner wooden sleeve that wraps each amplifier. Each one is reportedly extremely expensive to manufacturer but, in this writer’s opinion, are pivotal to the brand’s elevated visual presence against the in-store sea of black and silver. That wood and those curved edges are precisely what drew me to my first Nova back in 2009 and they are (part of) what keeps me professionally and personally interested in Peachtree’s products.
Back then, nova amplifiers were made in China. No longer! Board and and metal undercarriage production recently relocated to Canada. The wooden sleeve in installed at Peachtree’s headquarters in Bellvue, WA. That spells “Made in North America” with no behind back finger crossing.
“The company has hired a world-class engineering team in Canada responsible for hardware and software design and two additional engineers responsible for mechanical design, sourcing and quality control. The new engineering team came together quickly and has been knocking it out of the park,” commented Jim Spainhour, Vice President of Product Development.