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Nord NC500 Monoblock Power Amplifiers

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drummerman

New member
Jan 18, 2008
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That is better than the wood front.

Replace the round silver feet (so 90's) with square sorbothane ones and it would almost qualify as simple and elegant :)

All imho of course.
 

KLH007

New member
Mar 27, 2016
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It appears the big advantage of the NC500 is the separation of the input buffer which is integral in the NC400? Nord has an upgraded board which is socketed for easy OP amp swapping. The first 2 options are Burson and Sparkos, but any 8 pin chip can be easily substituted, such as Sonic Imagery. So for all of us who want the reliability and longevity of SS gear, there is a way to subtly nudge the sound to match speakers or a personal desire, great job Nord.
 

nevalti

New member
Mar 30, 2016
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I've had a pair of Nord NC500 MB monoblocks for about 7 weeks now and thought it may help to share my experience.

I had been using a Benchmark DAC2 and Bryston 4B SST driving PMC OB1i speakers. This is all pretty good, mainstream stuff, but I felt that the Bryston was a tad 'hard' and analytical. I auditioned the Atsah equivalent at The HiFi hanger and frankly was amazed. Admittedly they were using better speakers than mine by the musical insight was a revelation. They played me a variety of tracks and every one sounded better than I could hope to get at home. Even allowing for his excellent panel speakers there was obviously something about those amps that was well worth investigating. As they were reluctant to let me audition the Atsah amps at home I gave the Nords a try - and they were cheaper which always helps.

Doing a comparison against the Atsah amps is pretty well impossible as I listened in different rooms to different speakers and to different music. I will say however that both the Nord and the Atsah were instantly impressive and excellent value. At home, the £1,400 Nords were taking on the £5,000 Bryston and and still sounding good.

Having read the reviews on the Burson web-site I had the Nords delivered with Burson op-amps. and compared the Nords carefully against the Bryston for a week or more. After that time I was convinced that the Nords were more musical than the Bryston BUT less detailed, less dynamic and frankly the Nords made a mess of complex orchestra crescendos whereas the Bryston just got on and played every detail that you would expect to hear. A clear win for the Bryston and I talked to IQ about returning the amps.

'Hang on a minute', they said, 'please try the Sparkos op-amps before you send it back'. So I did.

Fitting the new op-amps is dead easy and takes about 5 minutes per amp working slowly and carefully.

With the Sparkos op-amps on place, there was no need for warming up or running in, it was instantly better in every regard. The Nords sounded even more musical, the missing detail returned in a very relaxed and easy manner and suddenly the complex orchestra work was sounding like real music, not just hifi. Rather like I found with the Atsah amps, the Nords now sound musical right across the board regardless of what music you play. They don't scream 'DETAIL' at you but instead sound like real music which doesn't have to make an effort - because it just 'is'.

A few weeks on and every time I put on some music I am instantly transported into the music instead of listening to the hifi. That is what it should all be about in my opinion. I don't want hifi, I want music - and that is what I have got from the Nords.

The Bryston amp is still a little more dynamic than the Nords but I much prefer these amps to the Bryston. That makes the Nords pretty good value for money. In fact I sold the Bryston for more than the Nords cost so I got a free upgrade and some spare money to buy some more music.

One interesting point. IQ tell me that some people much prefer the Burston to the Sparkos op-amps. Maybe this is a matter of taste or maybe it is related to the interaction with the rest of your equipment? Whatever the answer, if you try these at home and don't like them, for goodness sake do try the other op-amp option.

Lastly, the standard of construction is good but not really world class. Compared with the Bryston, for example, the construction is almost crude but the Nords are plenty robust enough and have the advantage that they can be tucked away out of sight so long as you set up some sort of remote power supply. I made up a couple of relay driven sockets so that they would both turn on automatically with the pre-amp. Well worth it if you are a lazy sod like me.
 

drummerman

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Jan 18, 2008
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The Nord's seem to be a huge bargain.

However, the supply of Hypex modules is on hold as far as I understand it so this all will be of theoretical importance to anyone interested.

I do wonder why (they are on hold). I hope it is not because iQ is doing this seemingly superb product much cheaper than anyone else and the competition, many of which probably use more, have objected?

I hope not.
 

wilro15

New member
Jan 19, 2012
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When I last spoke to Colin he said they would be available mid-May. For the amount of power you get, and the ability to swap op-amps to customise the sound, they do look great indeed. They are in the back of my mind right now...

Plus iQ have a matching preamp on the way too, which is also intriguing....
 

DocG

Well-known member
May 1, 2012
54
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nevalti said:
I auditioned the Atsah equivalent at The HiFi hanger and frankly was amazed. Admittedly they were using better speakers than mine by the musical insight was a revelation. They played me a variety of tracks and every one sounded better than I could hope to get at home. Even allowing for his excellent panel speakers there was obviously something about those amps that was well worth investigating.
Thanks for the nice write-up, nevalti! (And welcome to the forum, btw).

Out of interest, which panel speakers did you hear with the Atsahs? I'm planning a set-up with NC-400 modules and Magnepans, so I'm eager to know!
 

nevalti

New member
Mar 30, 2016
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The speakers I heard with the Atsahs, at HiFi Hanger, were Eminent Technology LFT-8B hybrids.

They were mighty impressive in that they (mostly) aurally disappeared and didn't impose their own sound on the music. I think that they are a bargain at only £2,500. I owned some Martin Logan Aerius(i) speakers, fairly recently, but these Eminent Technology speakers are in a whole different league. I could detect no drawbacks whatsoever for classical and jazz music.

Bass was a bit over-blown in the listening room but it was a fairly small room for such large speakers so I wouldn't blame the LFT-8Bs for that. The port of the suplementary bass driver can probably be damped but I didn't check that at the time. Conversely, they probably wouldn't produce tight, punchy, low bass like a good 'piston' speaker but that certainly wouldn't bother me.



The big drawback for me is that I would never get them past my wife into the lounge. I didn't even try as I also think that they are downright ugly. If you can live with the appearance they really are very, VERY much worth an audition. They perform so well that I really do hope that Eminent Technology improve the appearance. They really do deserve success. If Eminent Technology can make them look good, I will buy some.

It would probably help if they gave them a more memorable name too. Just try remembering LFT-8B!
 

KLH007

New member
Mar 27, 2016
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nevalti, Have you considered trying the SI994 OP amps? The new input board with the 994s has been getting rave feedback from Nord owners.
 

Pedro2

Well-known member
Nov 29, 2010
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Just placed an order for Nord stereo UP version with the latest Sonic Imagery opp amps. The supply is back on track and hope to receive in 2 weeks. Very excited by the prospect!
 

Andrewjvt

New member
Jun 18, 2014
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Pedro2 said:
Just placed an order for Nord stereo UP version with the latest Sonic Imagery opp amps. The supply is back on track and hope to receive in 2 weeks. Very excited by the prospect!
Let us know how good it sounds.
 

iQ Speakers

New member
Feb 24, 2013
129
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Thanks for the honest write ups. I have had a few demos recently of customers who had Electrostatic speakers and they all raved about there imaging disapearing qualities. Just to point out our entry level basic amp uses the 3 exact same components as the Acoustic Imagery Atsah 500.

Regarding build quality we use high end CHK binding posts, Switchcraft sockets and Swiss Schurter Switchs with full ally Modu cases from Italy. We would love to build a bespoke custom case milled from a solid piece of Aerospace grade Aluminium but I'm guessing few would buy our amps if they cost £2500!

Pedro Im not sure who you are in real life but your amp has shipped or its one of 3 on test so you will be getting it middle of next week.

We had our first customer from Cheltenham come for a demo today he presently runs Linn Akurate kit he was suitably impressed. Anyway glad you are enjoying your Amps.
 

KLH007

New member
Mar 27, 2016
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How about some new owners with the SI994 input boards chime in on how the NC500 sounds. Maybe some owners who have changed to the 994 from Sparkos/Burson, let us know the changes. Come on, stop listening for 5 minutes and post. LOL
 

KLH007

New member
Mar 27, 2016
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Come on Nord NC500 owners, post some comparisons to other amps and your fun with OP amp rolling.
 

Coll

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May 4, 2011
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KLH007 said:
How about some new owners with the SI994 input boards chime in on how the NC500 sounds. Maybe some owners who have changed to the 994 from Sparkos/Burson, let us know the changes. Come on, stop listening for 5 minutes and post. LOL
The Sonic Imagery is best of all the op amps.

I have tried them all and it gives the most detailed reallistic sound by far.
 

Pedro2

Well-known member
Nov 29, 2010
42
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Coll said:
KLH007 said:
How about some new owners with the SI994 input boards chime in on how the NC500 sounds. Maybe some owners who have changed to the 994 from Sparkos/Burson, let us know the changes. Come on, stop listening for 5 minutes and post. LOL
The Sonic Imagery is best of all the op amps.

I have tried them all and it gives the most detailed reallistic sound by far.
I've only heard the Sonic Imagery op amps so cannot compare but this amp is superb. Will eventually get round to posting a proper review.
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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Pedro2 said:
I've only heard the Sonic Imagery op amps so cannot compare but this amp is superb. Will eventually get round to posting a proper review.
I think you are hearing just how good the Linn and ATCs can sound, with a bit of extra welly.
 

iQ Speakers

New member
Feb 24, 2013
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There is a huge amount of feedback in the Audioshark forums, they are even asking questions "which expensive amps have you replaced and how close do the Nords get to them"

There is also a review published over at HiFiWigwam.
 

nevalti

New member
Mar 30, 2016
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To KLH007 et al: If you would like to send me some recommended Op-Amps, I will try them with pleasure and post a review here. In fact if anyone lives near Romsey I would be happy to consider a joint audition.

Supplement to my review: One of my Nords has developed a minor problem that I really must contact IQ about. At switch-on there is often a 'pfutt' noise which sounds like a capacitor discharging. The 'pfutt' is definitely from the box, not from the speaker. It occurs before the muting delay is released.

It has no apparent effect on the operation of the amp which is still excellent.
 

Macspur

Well-known member
May 3, 2010
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I've been listening to one of IQ's Nord NC500 over the last week or so, using it as a power amp with my E470 and thought I'd share my thoughts.

Now bareing in mind the Accuphase costs about 5 times as much as the Nord, what I'm about to say puts it into context.

Firstly, build quality, there's no comparison, the Accuphase is built like a tank and looks gorgeous, but when it came to the acid test of SQ there wasn't a lot in it... strange it may seem I found the E470 a bit louder and the NC500 was definitely brighter which is not really to my taste, as I do prefer my music a touch on the warmer side. That's really being picky, I really would have expected a much bigger difference in the sound quality between the two amps.

If this amp had been around a few years ago, it would have probably saved me a lot! of money.

I do know IQ is working on improving his products all the time so I firmly believe he is going to be a big player in the industry in the not too distant future.

Mac

www.macsmusic.blogbubble.net
 

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