I wonder if Fremer followed PSA’s recommendation in the user manual to leave it plugged in continuously for several weeks to get the best sound.
Likely. He is an advocate of break-in as I recall.
Where did you read his review ?
I was pretty shocked to read his review. It’s so unlike what we hear listening to our own piece. The original unit he was sent, which I personally auditioned, had a sticking relay problem and we replaced in in a rush to meet his deadline. I never had a chance to audition the replacement unit and so really don’t know if what he got was representative of how they sound.
I certainly trust Michael’s ears and respect his opinions, so I can only conclude perhaps there’s something amiss with the unit we sent.
That would be my thought as well.
I’m not trying to be a turd, but these comments that ‘something might be wrong’ bother me.
As a consumer, and never publishing a national review, I may never know if something might be a little wrong with a product I own? Then I spend years with a product that is not up to spec, I’m not getting the performance I am supposed too - and I have no way of knowing it unless the owner of the company somehow thinks something was a little wrong with my product?
PS Audios customer service is superior, don’t get me wrong and that is to be commended.
Well maybe there isn’t much point in these comments until the unit is returned and tested?
It has always bothered me when a product receives a bad review, or the measurements are out of spec, and the manufacturer responds with “it is broken” and provides a “fixed” product. This is of particular concern when the reviewed unit came directly from the manufacturer. The unit under review should not be cherry-picked, but it should at least work as intended.
Of course, things break in shipping and weird things can happen. But the “something is wrong” explanation for a bad review is too common. Stereophile, to its credit, always reports such issues so that the consumer can take them into account.
Of course, we have no idea what happened here. Something may have failed on the unit, something may have come loose or Mikey simply does not like it.
I’m sure Paul will let us know if something was indeed wrong with the unit.
I’m going to play devils advocate here, partly cause it’s fun and partly because of the emperors got no clothing syndrome… But is it possible that in the scheme of things it really doesn’t sound as good in comparison to dedicated phono only preamps that don’t do all the other things it can do? I’m curious what stand alone high end phonos’s it was compared to when it was designed and voiced? I mean you guys (PSA) do compare it other units right? I can’t imagine that you voice and design in a vacuum? I mean you gotta figure that consumers and reviewers are going to compare it to compatibly priced units? I’d think it’d be pretty silly not to know how it stacks up? Right?
Ouch, painful review.
Did Fremer ever review the GCPH? My NPC replaced that as well as a Pro-Ject Phono RS, and the NPC sonics are an excellent improvement over both. What were these “less expensive phono preamps recently reviewed”?
Hope I’m not sounding like a fanboy. These are my ears talking.
Read the review. I have not heard the NPC yet and don’t have a TT anymore so I won’t be auditioning it at home. I’ve not knowingly read many of Mr. Fremer’s reviews but this one has a “fussy” tone to it in spots. I’m not sure that comparing the passive output of the NPC to “lesser priced phono pre’s” is entirely valid. Apples to oranges? We’re talking about a device that does much more than a dedicated analog phono preamp, would be expected to cost substantially more and the output being evaluated in this review is NOT it’s primary one. If I intended to purchase the NPC to use as strictly an analog stage I would question the price but, uh, this is not what it was intended to do in the first place (please correct me if I am wrong). To be fair he does point out the NPC’s versatility very early in the review but I think that the reader can get confused when the passive phono section, alone, of the NPC is assumed to be a fair equivalent to the full monty of the other products.
So, my first question is, is there a significant difference between the sound of the NPC analog outs into a preamp vs the NPC digital outs into the PWD into a preamp? Next, I wonder which DAC Mr. Fremer intends to use when comparing the full digital chain to, what, fully analog systems? It seems that w/o the PWD it would be an unfair pitch- isn’t that what ths device is primarily designed to work with? True, the NPC will work with a variety of DACs but if he were to use a lesser performing DAC alongside the analog preamps in the final round would it be any sort of valid comparison? I guess he will be doing this type of comparison…
wglenn said: the output being evaluated in this review is NOT it's primary one
I bought an NPC last fall. It was advertised as being two products in one box, a quality phono stage and an analog to digital converter. PSA claimed it was the best-sounding phono stage they've ever made, which is a considerable claim given their earlier products. So it's entirely appropriate to evaluate the sonics of the phono stage on its own. The value of the piece as a whole (its price/performance ratio) for any given user must include the ADC, of course.
I see two markets for the NPC. First is people like me who mainly listen to vinyl through a preamp but would also like the ability to digitize their vinyl for archival or convenience reasons. For them, the sound of the phono stage must stand on its own. The second is people who don't run a preamp, but would like to play music on vinyl that is not available digitally (or that they already own on vinyl and don't want to buy again), along with the archival and convenience features.
My NPC replaced a Simaudio Moon LP5.3 with upgraded power supply. This is a highly-regarded unit that retails, IIRC, for about $2400 with the PS. I sold the LP5.3 to finance the NPC, so I couldn't do a direct comparison, but after installing the NPC I did not have the feeling that I had taken a big step backward; the two seemed fairly comparable. One would never mistake either the LP5.3 or the NPC for an old-fashioned syrupy tubed unit, but neither would I call them overly analytical; I have no problems with long-term listening with either. But my preamp and the top half of my bi-amped setup are tubed, which may warm things up a little. So we're back to system matching, as always . . .
@magister: Thanks for the clarification on the NPC’s intended use. My assumption was that it was intended as a digital portal for an analog source but it was in fact intended to fill both roles. I am curious, do you have a PWD and if so, have you tried the digital route for LP playback?
@wglenn - I’ve done what you asked @magister and I could tell very little difference between the NPC to my amp vs via the PWD. Because I don’t have two runs of Cardas Clear, and don’t feel like spending the money on it at the moment, the NPC feeds the PWD!
@wglenn - It sounds like @David has an amp with volume control. I don’t, so I would have to compare the output of the NPC phono stage run though my preamp to a digital output from the NPC run through the PWD (which I do own). I’ve never done this, because I couldn’t see any reason to digitize an analog signal then convert it back to analog; one would not expect this to sound as good as the straight analog output of the phono stage. But it would be an interesting experiment if I’m ever in the mood to get behind the equipment and change cables around, which is a real pain. I would also need a different USB cable to feed the PWD. If a digitized then re-analogized (is that a word??) signal was close to the straight-through analog, that would speak very well of both the NPC and the PWD.
yup mine is a monster integrated but I can bypass the volume control with a ‘direct’ setting.