Three essential insights have driven Peachtree Audio from the beginning. First, the firm was quick to grasp that computer audio would likely become the preferred music delivery vehicle for growing numbers of music lovers, young and not-so-young. Second, Peachtree understood that genuinely good sound quality is a gift that keeps on giving and that never goes out of style. Third, Peachtree recognised that, in order for its products to win the hearts and minds of newer generations of audiophiles, accessible pricing would be a vitally important factor. This is the basic ethos that Peachtree has followed for years and it is one that has served the company well.
Over time, Peachtree created successive families of versatile integrated amplifier/DACs that were computer-friendly, easy to use, attractive, and that offered an awful lot of sound per pound. First came the entry-level Decco-series amp/DACs, then the larger Nova-series models, then the second-generation Deccos and Novas, which were followed by the top-of-the-range Grand X-1 model, and now the new Nova SE (for Special Edition) range. The most powerful and accomplished of all the new SE models is the nova220SE (£1,499), which is the subject of this review.
What makes Peachtree’s SE models special? The answer is that all novaSE models borrow the discrete Class A preamplifier section that Peachtree originally developed for its flagship Grand X-1 integrated amplifier. Sonic benefits of this preamplifier section are said to include reduced noise, plus greater resolution and finesse. Having listened to Peachtree’s earlier, non-SE version nova125 amplifier at length, I can vouch for the fact that the nova220SE does take sonic steps forward relative to its predecessors, though the improvements it offers can at first seem subtle in character. Going further, though, the nova220SE adds design features not shared with other SE models; namely, a preamplifier that, says Peachtree, “delivers a balanced signal to the internal amplifier,” along with a dual mono, balanced stereo Class D power amplifier section that puts out a substantial 220 Wpc @ 8 Ohms, or 350 Wpc @ 4 Ohms.