No more NPC?


#1

I just got an email from the PSA sales dept. saying that the NPC will be phased out (and is now on sale, for those who have been thinking of getting one). It will be replaced in 2017 by a reference-level phono preamp to be designed by Bascom King.

While I have no doubt that this new phono preamp will be terrific, it will also be (to quote the email) “far more expensive.”

I can’t help but wonder about this decision. I own an NPC and love it. It plays my vinyl very nicely indeed and lets me digitize it at good quality, which I am slowly doing. Is there no room in the lineup for a mid-level piece in addition to the reference level one? I personally will never be in the market for a phono stage that costs a lot more than the NPC, so I would have to go outside the PSA line if I didn’t already have the NPC. I can’t be the only one in this situation.

And will the new one include an ADC? While the NPC is not cheap in absolute terms, I think it is very good value given that you get an excellent phono stage combined with the ADC.

There must be reasons for this decision, but I for one regret it.


#2

Unfortunately no more NPC for now. At first the unit sold really well and then sales dried up and have been slugging along at a snail’s pace ever since we went through the first thousand or so units. The requests we get from people are for an analog only phono device and interest in a quality A/D Converter never hit the mark we had hoped it would. I wish it had been different.

I love the NPC too and shall never relinquish the several I have. I even had engineering modify one so the ADC gained balanced inputs and I use that as the best damn ADC I have ever heard for my recording stuff. It’s a terrific product, an excellent analog phono preamp and a state of the art ADC. I can’t fault it in any way shape or form - other than sales have just fallen off and it’s time to move on.

It had a good run. Actually, it had a great run!


#3

Thanks for the response, Paul. I suppose many (most?) die-hard vinyl fans aren’t interested in digitizing their records, which made sense when we were limited to CD-quality. But with the NPC one can copy the vinyl at hi-res, which is great for backup or for the need to downsize one’s living space. The latter is, unfortunately, something that many of us may face; it’s certainly one reason I am working on copying my vinyl.


#4

They’ll have to pry this NPC out of my cold dead hands laugh

I have used it to digitalization most of my vinyl collection into DSD64, but I have also been able to hook up one of my old tape players to it. The NPC can then convert to DSD and send it to my DS. Sound of course is not quite as good as CD or vinyl into the DS, but it’s fun to play some of the mixed tapes I used to put together back in the day. cool


#5

I too was surprised to see this e-mail. I have one of the first 50 NPC and have been enjoying it. My only reason for getting it was the ADC, I liked the idea of an all digital system, no preamp to veil the sound, but still wanted to have a turntable. The NPC was the answer, so I got one immediately, the only thing I hoped for in the future was a better phono stage. While the NPC is definitively not a slouch, there is a little room for improvement. The problem is, the replacement may just be an analog phono preamp. While not specifically stated, I certainly got the impression from Paul’s response that it will not include an ADC.

Now that I got the whining out of the way … Can you give us some details on what features this new unit will have? I assume it will be in a larger chassis, also assume it will have easily adjustable loading and maybe capacitance. Taking that further, adjustable loading/capacitance through the remote? Will it have balanced inputs? Phono cartridges are, by design, balanced so balanced inputs can provide the best signal transfer. Really going out on a limb, how about selectable de-emphasis curves, i.e. non-RIAA? Some of the early stereo era record labels (I believe Columbia was the biggest) used different pre-emphasis curves. Having the correct de-emphasis curve will let you hear what was really intended. While not an important thing to me, I know there are a few who desire this.


#6

There are many excellent ADCs which will pair nicely with any phono pre.


#7
pmotz said

Now that I got the whining out of the way … Can you give us some details on what features this new unit will have? I assume it will be in a larger chassis, also assume it will have easily adjustable loading and maybe capacitance. Taking that further, adjustable loading/capacitance through the remote? Will it have balanced inputs? Phono cartridges are, by design, balanced so balanced inputs can provide the best signal transfer. Really going out on a limb, how about selectable de-emphasis curves, i.e. non-RIAA? Some of the early stereo era record labels (I believe Columbia was the biggest) used different pre-emphasis curves. Having the correct de-emphasis curve will let you hear what was really intended. While not an important thing to me, I know there are a few who desire this.


It will not include an ADC and I can’t really give you any particulars at this time. Bascom’s working away at the circuit itself and we haven’t even given thought to packaging and featuring it as of this writing. Certainly it will be in a full width chassis to match the preamp.

#8

Elk, while I’m not in the market, can you list a couple of good ADC’s that would exceed the performance of the NPC? Would be good to know if I ever get seriously back into vinyl (I only listen to LPs on occasion).


#9

Take a look at the offerings of Solid State Logic, Benchmark, Antelope Audio, Crane Song, etc. Oodles of possibilities.


#10

No to mention DSD capable recorders at various price points, like the ones from Korg, Tascam, Merging Tech etc.


#11

I am considering picking up a NPC before they are gone. I have a Grado cartridge (moving iron), which has an optimal load of 10K, which is not one of the combinations in the NPC manual. Is there a dip switch combination that would get me closer to a 10k load than the second choice 47k load? Thanks.


#12

No, unfortunately WYSIWYG. I have never heard of a Grado that has 10K as optimal - usually moving iron likes higher impedances.


#13

I have the GCPH. How much of a step up is the NPC? I just want it for the phono stage, mostly. Thanks.

Steve


#14

Quite an improvement. I traded my GCPH in and haven’t looked back since. Just as a straight phono preamp, the NPC is much, much better than the original.


#15

Thanks Paul. I just pulled the trigger on one with your son Scott. Nice guy.

Steve.


#16
Paul McGowan said No, unfortunately WYSIWYG. I have never heard of a Grado that has 10K as optimal - usually moving iron likes higher impedances.
This is an old G1+ that I bought when I was in college (late 70s). Here is a pic from the cartridge specs.

Grado-Specs.jpg


#17

Fun!

Are you certain the suspension still works properly and has not dried out? Cartridges rarely last anywhere near this long.


#18
Steve said Thanks Paul. I just pulled the trigger on one with your son Scott. Nice guy.

Steve.


He is! Thanks.

#19
Elk said Fun!

Are you certain the suspension still works properly and has not dried out? Cartridges rarely last anywhere near this long.


The cartridge still plays. Is there a way to tell if the suspension has dried out? How long does the suspension usually last?

I also have a Goldring 1012GX and a Shure M97xE that are probably in the neighborhood of 10+ years old.

I just ordered an NPC for archiving my small vinyl collection. Any suggestions on cartridges or stylus replacements if what I have turns out not to work well? Turntable is a Technics SL-1210M3D, so nothing high end. Thanks.


#20

The sound will often be a bit raspy, like a dirty stylus. The sound may be brighter than usual. Mistracking, especially vocals and piano. Adding downforce does not help or helps only when well over spec.

If it tracks fine and sounds good, go with it. :slight_smile: