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earflappin

New nCore 400 Amplifier

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The following is a review I posted last night on the Hypex nCore DIY thread. Given the discussions on this forum about Class D I thought it might be of interest....

 

I have been a die-hard Class A amp guy – SS and tubes including OTL’s - for decades. I tried a Halcro when they first came out. It may have boasted ultra-low distortion figures, but it was too sterile and thin sounding for my tastes. If this meant I liked an amp with coloration then so be it. Bring on the color.

 

A few months ago I bought a Class D Audio SDS kit just for kicks based on a friend’s recommendation. Compared to my Class A OTL’s they had better bass articulation, similar midrange, better macro/micro detail, but overall the tonal and energy balance wasn’t right. They sounded “over-caffeinated” and had a glassy, un-natural sounding high frequency, which quickly led to listener fatigue. The amp over exaggerated leading edge transients and truncated the decay. Despite these negatives, I found myself enjoying the SDS for periods of time, but ultimately preferring my Class A OTL’s for their better tonal balance and natural sound.

 

Within just a few seconds of listening to the nCore I knew they were a game changer. This is the most accurate, resolving yet musical amplifier I’ve heard with perhaps the exception of the Clayton M300’s. I can’t be definitive on the Clayton’s as I heard those at a friend’s place who has a system very similar to mine and it’s been too long to rely on aural memory. I will be sending him my nCores so he can weigh in with his own impressions.

 

I have listened to probably over 4 hours of various recordings from classical to rock, unamplified to heavily synthesized and poor to excellent recordings.

 

First, the nCores get the tonal and energy balance right. Gone is the over-emphasis of the attack. Attack and decay sound like live music. There is a harmonic richness of instruments and vocalists, which grabs you. I listen to a lot of live unamplified music, especially piano and the nCores sound much more true to live. Second, the resolving power is phenomenal. Truly. The nCores expose details that I have never heard before on very familiar recordings and it does it with complete and utter effortlessness. One really notices this on complex passages. The size and location of performers and instruments as well as the recording venue are much more accurately rendered. Bass is the best I have ever heard. Lastly, the nCore sounds great at low volume and at even very high volume there is not even a hint of distortion.

 

Bottom line, I’d have to say the nCore’s live up the Hype(x). A friend gave that to me so I can’t take credit for it…. A BIG congratulations to Bruno, Jan-Peter and the entire Hypex team as well as a thank you for making this new world class technology available to the DIY market.

 

Will the nCore’s be everyone’s cup of tea. I’m sure not. You will hear, for perhaps the first time, what the rest of your system and room really sound like and it might not be what floats your boat. If your source is a bit bright and thin you will hear it in all of its glory. For me I have worked very hard to build an accurate end to end playback chain and the nCores are the perfect fit. They are staying.

 

Lastly, just to put the information in one place a few words about my system. My speakers are Geddes Abbeys a two way, controlled directivity monitor with 12” compression driver loaded waveguide with foam insert and 12” pro woofer. They are 95 db efficient, have extremely flat polar response and are super dynamic. My source is a Metric Halo LIO8 DAC/PRE fed via FireWire from a Mac Mini both powered by custom linear power supplies fed from a PurePower 2000 battery-based regenerator.

 

 


Mac Mini / Pure Music > Firewire & USB > Metric Halo LIO-8 > Hypex NCORE 400 > Geddes Abbey Speakers > Rythmik Servo & Geddes Band Pass Subs // DH Labs Cables, HRS MXR Isolation Rack, PurePower 2000, Elgar 6006B

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Hi Alan,

 

I bought the modules and assembled them myself. Piece of cake. I used a single Hypex SMPS600 as the power supply for both modules, but will be buying a second SMPS600 so I can package them as monoblocks. The single SMPS600, however, is more than capable of powering both modules to drive my speakers in any case.

 

Only the nCore 400 is available for DIY...the nCore 1200 is only for the OEM market. I understand Theta is offering the nCore 1200 with linear power supplies for $6k per monoblock....

 


Mac Mini / Pure Music > Firewire & USB > Metric Halo LIO-8 > Hypex NCORE 400 > Geddes Abbey Speakers > Rythmik Servo & Geddes Band Pass Subs // DH Labs Cables, HRS MXR Isolation Rack, PurePower 2000, Elgar 6006B

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is there anything else required to build something of this sorts besides the powersupply and 2 of the ncore modules and the obvious wiring to interconnect everything?

May be asking for a lot but any place that kind of covers the basics of how to assemble these?

 

Did you build your own chassis?

 


equitech model q balanced power supply, red wine audio black lightning, sotm usb, berkeley alpha usb, meitner ma-1, bent audio tap-x balanced preamp, pass labs xa100.5, revel ultima studio 2,

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No, all you need is a case/chassis, cabling, plugs and connectors, and maybe a power switch. But some basic knowledge of electronics is needed - one guy already fried his nC400 by not allowing his power supply caps to drain before plugging in the amp...

 

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I'm a huge class D / switching amplifier fan currently using NuForce mono's. This is extremely interesting but I'm a bit confused.

 

Were these components purchased from classsdaudio.com or from hypex.nl? According to the Hypex website they are currently out of nCore 400 stock.

 

Since, "basic electrical knowledge," is a broad description are there any assembly instructions or available support of any kind? I take it the term, "kit," is the purchase of the processor module and the power supply/s only-which are purchased separately, depending on a desired configuration, from one of the sites above?

 

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I got my modules directly from hypex. The second batch is now all spoken for, but as far as I know they are accepting orders for the third batch.

 

The modules come with pretty good documentation, but it is not a set of step-by-step instructions. There is also some additional documentation such as UcD input wiring guide (PDF), and the stuff in the "downloads" section on the hypex.nl site.

 

 

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Hi Vic,

 

The nCore 400 and associated, compatible SMPS 600 are only available from the Hypex web store. The first batch in December quickly sold out as did the second batch in January. While they show "sold out" on their web site you can place orders. Right now the next shipment is week 11.

 

These are DIY kits and while the overall documentation is excellent, there are no step by step instructions. That being said, putting them together is not hard either and the customer support from Hypex is excellent. Also, I (or other early nCore adopters) would be happy to help you. All necessary interconnection wiring is included. What you need in addition are: (1) IEC power inlet, (2) XLR or RCA female input connectors, (3) binding posts and associated wire to the nCore 400 modules and (4) chassis.

 

Right now I just have mine connected on a maple shelf.... :-). The nCore 400 modules include a decent heat sink so that mode of operation is fine for awhile anyway.

 

The nCore design is pretty power supply non-sensitive so you can build your own linear power supply or use another SMPS. I opted to buy the power supply from Hypex. The model compatible with the nCore 400 is the SMPS 600 and it will drive multiple nCore 400 modules. Currently I have one SMPS 600 powering both of my nCore 400's. Some guys are using one SMPS 600 for 3 modules in active configurations. It will depend on your power requirements and packaging desires. I am buying a second SMPS 600 only because I want to package mine as mono blocks.

 

If you use 1 SMPS 600 for more than 1 nCore 400 you need to build a Y cable which is easy. The SMPS 600 connects via a 12 pin cable.

 

BTW, the SMPS 600 is fused and they are designed to be left on all the time. At idle they consume very little power.

 

The guy referenced who had an issue powered up the SMPS before connecting it to the nCore modules thus charging the SMPS capacitors. Rather than testing to be sure they had discharged sufficiently he hot connected it to the nCore's. While this in and of itself might not damage the nCore's it will likely damage the connector which is not designed for such abuse. And it will scare the living daylights out of you too.... :-) My recommendation would be to not power up the SMPS until you have it connected to the nCore's....OR....properly discharge the SMPS caps with a bleeder resistor or even a light bulb.

 

Hope this helps.

 


Mac Mini / Pure Music > Firewire & USB > Metric Halo LIO-8 > Hypex NCORE 400 > Geddes Abbey Speakers > Rythmik Servo & Geddes Band Pass Subs // DH Labs Cables, HRS MXR Isolation Rack, PurePower 2000, Elgar 6006B

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The nCore 400 connectors and pin outs are sufficiently different that I would advise against using UcD documentation. Everything you need to know is in the nCore 400 and SMPS 600 data sheets which you can access via the Hypex web store.

 


Mac Mini / Pure Music > Firewire & USB > Metric Halo LIO-8 > Hypex NCORE 400 > Geddes Abbey Speakers > Rythmik Servo & Geddes Band Pass Subs // DH Labs Cables, HRS MXR Isolation Rack, PurePower 2000, Elgar 6006B

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I have a bit of electronics knowledge and was going to buy some class d amps anyways but I much prefer the idea of diy if they really do sound as good as a pair of ICE module monoblocks that i would pay $2k+ for anyways.

 

My only worry is the shipping. $1k worth of goods coming into Canada via UPS is going to be like $300 in brokerage fees on top of my federal/provincial taxes.

 


equitech model q balanced power supply, red wine audio black lightning, sotm usb, berkeley alpha usb, meitner ma-1, bent audio tap-x balanced preamp, pass labs xa100.5, revel ultima studio 2,

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I paid $60 in duties in the USA and about $30 in shipping for 3 day service. Most posters have rated the Hypex UcD above the ICE and the nCore notably better than the UcD. The first nCore powered commerically available amps are $12k for a pair of monoblocks.

 


Mac Mini / Pure Music > Firewire & USB > Metric Halo LIO-8 > Hypex NCORE 400 > Geddes Abbey Speakers > Rythmik Servo & Geddes Band Pass Subs // DH Labs Cables, HRS MXR Isolation Rack, PurePower 2000, Elgar 6006B

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Ya shipping is about $30, taxes will be 13% and i'm sure there will be 5-10% duties since this product is not made in one of the NAFTA countries. I checked UPS and I won't have to pay them brokerage, though if I don't pay UPS in advance for taxes they charge a bond fee which is 2.7%. Then there is the 4% credit card fee that hypex charges. And I think that's it :)

 


equitech model q balanced power supply, red wine audio black lightning, sotm usb, berkeley alpha usb, meitner ma-1, bent audio tap-x balanced preamp, pass labs xa100.5, revel ultima studio 2,

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Screw it, i'm going to order 2 nc400s and 2 smps600s, another 2 month early bday present to myself.

 


equitech model q balanced power supply, red wine audio black lightning, sotm usb, berkeley alpha usb, meitner ma-1, bent audio tap-x balanced preamp, pass labs xa100.5, revel ultima studio 2,

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Order went through, now the long wait.

 

I assume "11th week availability" means 11th week of the year, so mid to late march?

 

Guess that gives me time to source a decent looking chassis.

 


equitech model q balanced power supply, red wine audio black lightning, sotm usb, berkeley alpha usb, meitner ma-1, bent audio tap-x balanced preamp, pass labs xa100.5, revel ultima studio 2,

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Here's a chassis to consider - the AL-299B or S. If you go over to the DIY nCore thread...and search that long thread for "chassis" you will find other options...

 

http://www.vt4c.com/shop/program/main.php?cat_id=1032&group_id=2

 


Mac Mini / Pure Music > Firewire & USB > Metric Halo LIO-8 > Hypex NCORE 400 > Geddes Abbey Speakers > Rythmik Servo & Geddes Band Pass Subs // DH Labs Cables, HRS MXR Isolation Rack, PurePower 2000, Elgar 6006B

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Thanks for the link earflappin, those are much nicer than what I have found so far.

 

Also when you say DIY nCore thread, which message forum is that in reference to?

 


equitech model q balanced power supply, red wine audio black lightning, sotm usb, berkeley alpha usb, meitner ma-1, bent audio tap-x balanced preamp, pass labs xa100.5, revel ultima studio 2,

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Here's that thread....

 

http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/vendors-bazaar/190434-hypex-ncore-205.html

 

over 200 pages and counting....

 


Mac Mini / Pure Music > Firewire & USB > Metric Halo LIO-8 > Hypex NCORE 400 > Geddes Abbey Speakers > Rythmik Servo & Geddes Band Pass Subs // DH Labs Cables, HRS MXR Isolation Rack, PurePower 2000, Elgar 6006B

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oh goodness, there goes the rest of my week reading that. Guess i'll have to scratch "start exercising", off my to do list for now.

 


equitech model q balanced power supply, red wine audio black lightning, sotm usb, berkeley alpha usb, meitner ma-1, bent audio tap-x balanced preamp, pass labs xa100.5, revel ultima studio 2,

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These nCores are probably just a phase...

 


2 ch Setup:

Motorola Modem sb6141> Emo Systems EN-70HD > (5) eero > Synology 1813+ (DSM 6.2), 4TB Seagate NAS Drives, 4GB RAM & Zero Surge & APC XS BX1000G/backup to Synology DX513) > Emo Systems EN-60KDS  > Roon > Mola Mola Tambaqui > BSS BLU 50 > (2) Hypex NCore NC502MP > JBL M2 Master Reference

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Why the negativity from somebody who has been posting and following the DIYA ncore thread(and pretty closely judging by all your posts over there)?

 


equitech model q balanced power supply, red wine audio black lightning, sotm usb, berkeley alpha usb, meitner ma-1, bent audio tap-x balanced preamp, pass labs xa100.5, revel ultima studio 2,

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It's a joke!

 


2 ch Setup:

Motorola Modem sb6141> Emo Systems EN-70HD > (5) eero > Synology 1813+ (DSM 6.2), 4TB Seagate NAS Drives, 4GB RAM & Zero Surge & APC XS BX1000G/backup to Synology DX513) > Emo Systems EN-60KDS  > Roon > Mola Mola Tambaqui > BSS BLU 50 > (2) Hypex NCore NC502MP > JBL M2 Master Reference

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