Review of TDSS Upgraded
NuForce IA-18 V3
BY Michael H.
(D.R.R.T. / LEVEL-1 Upgrade Only)
About a year ago, I had TDSS perform a Level 1 upgrade on one of my Nuforce IA-18s. For those not familiar with the IA-18, it was an integrated amp by Nuforce (now Nuprime) that combined two of the amp modules used in the Ref 18 amps with the preamp section from the P20 preamp. Bob from TDSS did the upgrade over a year ago, and I finally got around to setting it up and breaking it in for some extended listening.
Nuforce IA-18 with TDSS Level One upgrade
Topping D50 DAC
Elac UB5 speakers
Spotify streaming at 320 kbps from laptop computer with USB connection to DAC
No overhang or fuzziness in sound. Very well defined and detailed without any harshness.
Sounds seem to hang in air in their own clearly defined space
Broad and full soundstage
Amazing dynamics and impact
Very well-balanced, almost palpable sound.
Delicate and smooth, especially noticeable on the way sounds fade in and out
Bass is tight and well controlled
I find myself drawn deep into the music for literally hours on end. The Nuforce IA-18 has more power and impact then I will ever need. Even with small low-sensitivity speakers, in barely gets warm, like its not even breaking a sweat.
Where I really find myself sucked in is at low volume listening. There is just so much detail, and delicate smoothness at lower volumes, that I find there is no need to raise the volume up to hear the things that might have previously been missed. The other benefit of listening at lower volumes is that you can enjoy music longer, with less fatigue.
When I started in home audio, I was sure that watts/channel was the only thing that mattered when choosing amplification. Speakers were where I would put the big chunk of my audio budget. Over time, my opinion has changed, as my preconceived beliefs have been shattered. I got my first Nuforce product a few years ago, and since then I have been hooked on Nuforce/Nuprime. The TDSS upgrade has taken the incredible Nuforce amp to the next level. And I just cant believe I was missing so much in music, for so long.
I still find it it incredible that with the TDSS modded Nuforce amp, the $400 Elac UB5 speakers can sound so good! Of course I am curious of what a pair of $10k speakers would sound like hooked up to the unit. But, I’m just so happy with the current setup, I don’t feel to upgrade the speakers anytime soon.
The TDSS upgrade has taken the incredible Nuforce amp to the next level. It is a piece now that I never want to part with. Take my advice and put your largest chunk of money into a Nuforce (or Nuprime) amp, get it upgraded by TDSS, and then build the rest of your system around it, as budget allows.
Another very happy TDSS customer!!!”