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Amp/Preamp Asylum: REVIEW: Edge Electronics NL-12 Amplifier (SS) by beefman

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REVIEW: Edge Electronics NL-12 Amplifier (SS)

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Model: NL-12
Category: Amplifier (SS)
Suggested Retail Price: $15,500
Description: 300 Watts/Channel (8 ohms), Dual-mono design, (2) 1500 VA Transformer. 106 lbs.
Manufacturer URL: Edge Electronics
Model Picture: View

Review by beefman ( A ) on June 02, 2005 at 21:22:29
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for the NL-12

I haven't spent much time here in the (Pre)Amp Asylum as I've been very happy with what I've had for a long long time (Manley Steelhead as pre and Rowland Model 10). However, the move to a new listening room and integrating the two channel rig into a home theaer along with new speakers has necessitated a bit of a change.

Originally I was running home-brew speakers using Focal 7W4411 midbass and the Audiom TD-5 tweeter in an MTM configuration. The Rowland drove these to wonderful effect. With the move to a pair of Avalon Radian HCs, the Rowland still performed well but was overtaxed when the going got rough. Dynamics were compressed and it was clear that the amp couldn't provide enough current to satisfy the speakers. I tried living with it but in the end knew that the Rowland was not a match for these speakers.

Thus, it was time for a new amp. I have to admit that I didn't even audition the Edges before I bought them (no one . I'd read the reviews and found several opinions from ears I trust singing the praises of Edge. So, I put in the order for an NL10.1 which took an agonizing six weeks to ship! (Edge was very good at keeping me informed and updated on the status of my amp.) Somewhere along the way, I decided that since I had to wait anyway, why not 'upgrade' to the 12.1. Finally, the waiting paid off, and the amp arrived... today!

I lugged the beast from the car inside (it's a backbreaking 120 lbs!) and started unpacking it. My first impression was that the amp was exteremely well packed and that even the accessories looked very well made. The fit'n'finish on the amp was simply stunning; it is so very beautiful.

Edge has some detailed installation guidelines (keep the amp off until fully connected, turn the amp on last and off first before any other component, etc) which I followed. After installation and about 15 minutes to allow the amp to warm up it was gametime. First on the list was 'Altitude' by Hybrid. This is an extremely challenging, dynamic piece of electronica with a huge soundstange that will utterly envelop you when done right. The Rowland could keep up with the pace, but never had quite the control I wanted over the Avalons. I also THOUGHT it was doing a good job of soundstaging and imaging. That notion ended once I heard the NL 12.1.

I'd always heard the Avalons were capable of holographic imaging but had never experienced it. I laid blame upon my room; blame that was quite misguided. Right from the start, it was as though the soundstage had exploded. The speakers completely disappeared and for the first time I experienced what I'd only read about previously. Imaging was precise and rock solid with no wavering. Bass was more extended and authoritative than I'd ever heard it from the Radians and the dynamics were simply effortless. Even at the point of discomfort, the Edge showed no sign of strain or compression. The amp is amazing.

A further listen to the fourth movement of Scheherazade on the Classic Records reissue of the seminal Reiner performance reinforced my impressions. The speakers again completely disappeared and gave me a wonderful soundstage with pinpoint imaging that did not waver. For the first time, I heard the true dynamic impact of this movement; the Rowland had always given up the ghost when the going got really rough but I'd always attributed it to the recording!

Now, lest I give the impression that all is sweetness and light I have quite a few issues with the amp. As I understand it, they will all be resolved with break-in time (a month or possibly more!). At first blush, what I hear is a certain threadbareness to the sound. Yes it's very dynamic but it's also lean, with a dry midrange and treble that sound reedy and grainy. The Rowland, of course, has NONE of these problems and for now, the Edge is somewhat fatiguing to listen to.

It's all the more frustrating because I can hear the wonderful things the amp is doing and KNOW what potential is there. I can hear hints of how the amp will sound once fully broken in even at this early stage and only wish I could speed the process.

For now, I will sum up by saying that even after only a few hours with the amp I find it absolutely captivating. Right out of the box, it bettered the Rowland handily in many areas, and with time I think will prove an overall superior amp. I will keep this updated as I gain experience with the amp.

Product Weakness: The break-in period is agonizingly long, the amp is heavy enough to cause herniated discs, the outputs are not clearly marked as far as channels and polarity
Product Strengths: HUGE dynamics, awesome soundstaging, extremely efficient and cool running.

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Edge NL 12.1
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Manley Steelhead
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Amazon Reference Turntable, Moerch DP-6 tonearm w/Blue Dot wand, ZYX UNIverse-G SB and CPP-1 Preamp
Speakers: Avalon Radian HC
Cables/Interconnects: Ucables ultimate interconnects
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Hybrid - Altitude (45 RPM remix), Reiner/Scheherazade (Classic Records Reissue), Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto #2 (Ashkenazy/Kondrashin)
Room Size (LxWxH): 16 x 23 x 12
Room Comments/Treatments: None yet... BOY do I need some
Time Period/Length of Audition: 3 hours and counting.
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): 2x PS Audio P1000 and 1 PS Audio P500 running Sinewave at 120Hz. 2 Quantum Symphony Standard
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: Edge Electronics NL-12 Amplifier (SS) - beefman 21:22:29 06/2/05 ( 4)