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REVIEW: Audio-Gd NFB-6 Preamplifier (SS)

75.131.20.113

Posted on May 3, 2012 at 05:53:05
Dynobot
Audiophile

Posts: 2787
Location: USA
Joined: December 8, 2011
Model: NFB-6
Category: Preamplifier (SS)
Suggested Retail Price: $400 Intro
Description: Balanced Headphone / Preamp
Manufacturer URL: Not Available

Review by Dynobot on May 03, 2012 at 05:53:05
IP Address: 75.131.20.113
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for the NFB-6


This is a review of the Audio-Gd NFB-6. This is a Headphone/Preamp with full capabilities in both areas. It is of small form factor and is based off of the Master Series preamp. It comes with 3 types of audio inputs and outputs which are RCA, XLR, and ACSS [ACSS is Audio-Gd's version of passing the signal in the current domain instead of the voltage domain]. ACSS is supposed to perform much better than either RCA or XLR and only a few companies use it including Mark Levinson and a couple of Japanese companies, suffice to say it is always used on very High-End gear to squeeze out the last drop of performance.






Internally the NFB-6 is very well laid out with very few wires but instead everything is soldered directly on the the circuit board for the shortest point to point route. It uses a single R-core which is configured to run a Class A heavily regulated power supply . Another unique feature is the volume control, it too uses the current signal instead of the voltage signal which is supposed to provide a cleaner less distorted sound.

Break-In:
The NFB-6 went through a wild ride during break in, out of the box it sounded very clean and straight forward with deep taught bass and very clean highs, although a bit disjointed or incoherent. During the last 250hr it went from super lush and thick sounding to lean harsh. This swing back and forth must have happened 3-4 times, which can be disheartening to some who just don't have the patience or the belief that it will settle down into some sort of coherent sound after awhile. During the break in I tried various power cords, and interconnects but all the while kept it plugged in to my Balanced power box. I used ACSS coming from the Ref5 Dac as well as XLR with Mogami and AudioQuest KingCobra. During the entire break in process ACSS consistently sounded clearer and more alive than XLR. Note that the Gain function only works with XLR or RCA not ACSS. So in normal conditions the gain is set to High for ACSS and should be compared with High gain using other connections. Eventually the sound settled down and I decided to use my Silver power cord with Furutech ends. With the stock power cord the sound never seemed coherent, there was just something not perfect with the blending of octaves from top to bottom. But then its not completely broken in yet, Audiogd says 300hrs.

Sound:
The sound of the NFB6 is clean and clear with a touch of lushness. Its not as neutral as the RocSA but it is more musical and reaches deeper in the bass octaves than the Roc, which probably contributes to the lush sound signature. The soundstage is deeper than it is wide, there is nice depth but the sound does not extend outside the width of the speakers. In doing so the speakers never really vanish from the musical picture. Highs have nice air with no hint of glare or harshness like was evident early in the breakin period. Notes are very well rounded because ever aspect of each tone is captured and portrayed in the sound scape. Decay hangs in the air perfectly making piano for example sound very real, each note has proper impact and speed.

Music:
Listening to Keith Jarrett Live at Montreux was a delight, the NFB6 was able to keep up with the speed of Keith's playing on Oleo without effort each note was crisp and clean with the upright bass keeping pace all the instruments were portrayed nicely in the soundstage and I was able to clearly hear one of the guys in the group who was really getting into the groove [as he would grown and make Aaarrrr sounds while he was playing] cymbals hug in the air and filled the room which made turn it up a few notches to really enjoy the music. Again no harshness just nice tonal accuracy. As Keith moved on the next track named Four the low end of the upright bass was as real sounding as ever, deep and taught, you can hear the vibrations of the strings while they are being plucked again keeping right in tune with Keith as he jams on the piano. And once more some guy in the group making his noises as he plays shows just how much and how easy the Ref5/NFB6 combo was able to bring out of the music and paint it upon the soundstage. I think speed, accuracy, clarity, and bass slam are words that come to mind in describing the NFB6.

Comparisons:
One prerequisite is switching the powercord and using quality IC's, in addition to suffering through the breakin. Even with XLR the sound is excellent and trades of with a bit more organic sound. Comparing the sound to no preamp there is a difference, running the Ref5 straight into the Dynaudio speakers did not have the impact and speed nor the deep bass. Compared to the RocSA the NFB6 seems more musical as the Roc was more neutral.


Product Weakness: Able to pull low end information out of the music [can be too much of a good thing] thickens the soup. Break in will turn people off
Product Strengths: Able to pull low end information out of the music, clarity, price


Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: Powered Speakers
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): NFB-6
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Audio-Gd Ref5
Speakers: Dynaudio
Cables/Interconnects: Audioquest KingCobra, Norse Audio ACSS
Music Used (Genre/Selections): All
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner



Dynobots Audio
Music is the Bridge between Heaven and Earth - 音楽は天国と地球のかけ橋

 

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RE: REVIEW: Audio-Gd NFB-6 Preamplifier (SS), posted on May 3, 2012 at 16:12:42
Frank I
Reviewer

Posts: 1744
Joined: December 9, 2001
I guess you did not use headphones. Kingwa sent me an amp for a full review for headfi which is about three weeks away but I will say this much ot a 400.00 piece and not a giant killer by any means

 

RE: REVIEW: Audio-Gd NFB-6 Preamplifier (SS), posted on May 3, 2012 at 16:26:51
Dynobot
Audiophile

Posts: 2787
Location: USA
Joined: December 8, 2011
No I did not use any headphones, did you use it for a speaker set-up? [just curious] Also curious as the the Dac and wires [not that it should matter]. I am guess that you find the sound a bit on the harsh side and disjointed, possibly even closed in or dull to some degree [lacking air].

Giant-killer, don't know that I would expect it to compete with my $3k Audio Research Preamp thats for sure.

Don't know how long you had yours but this thing needs some crazy breakin time, compared to other Audio-gd gear, for example the RocSA this is going through some major changes.

I figure after it breaks in I will do some listening with my mid-fi cans [Grado-SR80 and FischerFA-011]. Honestly I am not a Headphone guy so I really would not know how to evaluate in that respect, when I listen to cans its for background music late at night.

Looking forward to reading your review.


Dynobots Audio
Music is the Bridge between Heaven and Earth - 音楽は天国と地球のかけ橋

 

RE: REVIEW: Audio-Gd NFB-6 Preamplifier (SS), posted on May 3, 2012 at 18:48:59
Frank I
Reviewer

Posts: 1744
Joined: December 9, 2001
sit it for headphones only and have it set up to an OPPO BDP95 balanced with HD800 balanced and and Denon D7K and others. It a 400.00 amp and its Ok but it dont compete with the Violectric V200 or the Decware tube amps I use. I only use these for headphones as that what Kingwa primarily designed this for as a primary use. I have about 300 hrs on them. I only use near field speakers now so this is being used in my headphone system which is now 98 percent of my listening time. I switched to headphones three years ago all high end and very enjoyable,

 

RE: REVIEW: Audio-Gd NFB-6 Preamplifier (SS), posted on May 4, 2012 at 01:36:38
Ozzy
Audiophile

Posts: 6599
Joined: September 21, 1999
You are a reviewer?


Don't worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older, it will avoid you.
- Winston Churchill

 

RE: REVIEW: Audio-Gd NFB-6 Preamplifier (SS), posted on May 4, 2012 at 02:47:11
Dynobot
Audiophile

Posts: 2787
Location: USA
Joined: December 8, 2011
I used to own a Decware too, its pretty good

>>>>>I only use these for headphones as that what Kingwa primarily designed this for as a primary use.

Have a look at the back of the NFB6 it was not designed for primary headphone use, it was designed off the Master5 Preamp. This is/was a full preamp with headphones added later on...

How long have you been familiar with the Audiogd line up?


Dynobots Audio
Music is the Bridge between Heaven and Earth - 音楽は天国と地球のかけ橋

 

RE: REVIEW: Audio-Gd NFB-6 Preamplifier (SS), posted on May 4, 2012 at 04:16:40
Frank I
Reviewer

Posts: 1744
Joined: December 9, 2001
I have been familiar with the audio gd lineup for three years. I speak with Kingwa frequently and he told me he designed this to replace the 2 series which is really over 5years old and it was designed after the master 6 but these are be used more so for headphones. I also think it not bad and built well but some of the people considering this for headphone usage this will be disappointing. Balanced for headphones can get expensive and I do ot see many HD800 using this as they would want to get the most out of their system and other amps will be better suited. .Since I only use a pair of near field speakers with a Classic Pioneer receiver I have no use to use a preamp . My CSP2 works a SET for my HD800 and I use the V200 Violectric for all others

 

RE: REVIEW: Audio-Gd NFB-6 Preamplifier (SS), posted on May 4, 2012 at 04:30:11
Frank I
Reviewer

Posts: 1744
Joined: December 9, 2001
I have written reviews on gear for posting on headfi as a hobbyist.

 

Nice email Frank......, posted on May 4, 2012 at 05:20:59
Ozzy
Audiophile

Posts: 6599
Joined: September 21, 1999
....should I share it with the rest of the class?

But since the gloves are off, I certainly hope you write better in your "reviews" than you do in this forum. Or for your sake, maybe you have a good editor.

You have a nice day.....



Oz


Don't worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older, it will avoid you.
- Winston Churchill

 

RE: Nice email Frank......, posted on May 4, 2012 at 05:38:16
Frank I
Reviewer

Posts: 1744
Joined: December 9, 2001
Glad you liked it

 

RE: REVIEW: Audio-Gd NFB-6 Preamplifier (SS), posted on May 5, 2012 at 15:54:10
Frank I
Reviewer

Posts: 1744
Joined: December 9, 2001
I have to tell you about the break in. The amp has been taking a wild ride and is starting to sound better in context of a headphone amp 1n a balanced configuration with the HD800 and Oppo BDP95

 

RE: REVIEW: Audio-Gd NFB-6 Preamplifier (SS), posted on May 10, 2012 at 09:34:52
Frank I
Reviewer

Posts: 1744
Joined: December 9, 2001
I postewd my revie win the headphone Heights section and on Headfi.org , I only used it as a headphone amp

 

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