To some, hi-fi is about ‘WAF’ vs ‘The Stack’ and the fun of seeing your mates faces when they come over to see and hear your new amazing system. Should you go with the lifestyle piece and forego that visceral thrill of jaws dropping upon sight? What about performance? Naturally the big iron (or billeted Aluminium) will have a sonic and power advantage over the smaller and almost certainly Class-D unit, right? Well, the lifestyle piece certainly won’t blow your friends away by dominating one end of the living room like a shrine to your audio deity, but we have reached a point where sonically you can bring high performance and significant flexibility in a single box.
Case in point, the Peachtree Audio Nova 300. Peachtree Audio is an American company whose amps are built in Canada. Peachtree Audio is celebrating its 10th anniversary and is rebranding itself Peachtree 2.0 to reflect a complete overhaul of their lineup as well as moving all production back to North America. The Nova 300 is currently the top of their lineup with the yet-to-be-released Nova 500 coming soon. The Nova 300 is not simply an integrated amplifier. Reading the box, it is an integrated amp, reference DAC, phono preamp (MM only), has a home cinema bypass option, and includes a headphone amp. It is also iOS certified and supports direct WiFi play. It offers a wide variety of connectivity to accommodate most any system configuration. It can operate as an amp only or a high-performance preamp. The two analogue inputs can each manage two different functions. It is easily field upgraded for any firmware updates (I performed one and it took less than 15 seconds.)
Previous models of Peachtree integrated had a valve input which has been removed in this new series of products. When I asked about that to Peachtree’s VP of Sales and Marketing David Solomon, he stated that the reduction of signal-to-noise ratio to –111dB at the pre-amp meant the valve was simply too noisy for the qualities of this next generation pre-amplifier. It’s one thing to use a valve buffer on a preamp that’s doing -100dB, but totally different when it’s –111dB. No audiophile would want that kind of dynamic damper. One step back perhaps for some audiophiles but a clear two steps forward for sonics. Another upgrade is the switch to new-generation ICEpower ASC Class D amplifier modules that in Peachtree’s view have surpassed many of the Class A/B amps in sonic character. This forward leap is due in large part to the new switching power supplies operating at 440kHz vs the previous 100kHz. All hint of power supply noise is gone creating a real head to head battle in amplifier designs. The amp has a signal to noise ratio of 105 dB A-weighted at the speaker level and can function safely down to 2.5 Ohms. Power ratings come in at 300 Wpc at 8 Ohms and 450 at 4 Ohms – sufficient power to drive virtually any speaker with ease and musicality.