Review of TDSS Upgraded NuPrime IDA-16 by Paul H.
I took a chance by ordering a NuPrime IDA-16 and having Bob give it the TDSS treatment fresh from the factory. Although there were almost no reviews of work done by TDSS available at the time, I was pretty confident that the TDSS mods would be worth the risk. Once I received the amp from Bob and started burning it in, I felt happy with my choice. It is now a year later. I still feel extremely pleased with the amp. For context, my system consists of an Aurender A10 music server, the TDSS modded NuPrime IDA-16 and YG Acoustics speakers, tied together with KLEI gPower cabling and powered through a Core Power Tech Equi=Core 1200 balanced power conditioner.
Because I had Bob mod my amp from new, I cannot compare my IDA-16 to a stock model. I cannot say the mods improved my amp by X%. What I can say is that I think my system sounds fantastic. In fact, I feel more and more happy with it as time passes by. A couple of audio industry professionals have listened to my system and seemed to be genuinely stunned. I think it has improved since then. Both pros (who visited separately and several months apart) raved about the Carmel speakers, but I am convinced that my TDSS modded IDA-16 is just as important as the speakers (and the other components) in creating an organic, compelling illusion of music actually being performed in the room. To be honest, I still browse audiophile magazines and websites, but I feel increasingly uninterested in most of the products being discussed. My current system in my current room sounds so good to me that my audiophile nervosa is falling away. I love my Carmel speakers and Aurender A10 and I just cannot imagine being able to better my TDSS modded IDA-16 for any remotely affordable price. I know NuPrime is now preparing a new IDA-32 and I'm sure it will be a fabulous product, but my TDSS IDA-16 sounds so good to me that I doubt I will do more than cheer NuPrime on from the sidelines.
As terrific as I believe the TDSS IDA-16 is, I think it can be improved by some further tweaks. I think the KLEI cables do very well with NuPrime products (as the good people at www.totallywired.co.nz suggest on their very nice website: if you are interested in NuPrime products, this site has some very interesting product reviews). My whole system got a major boost from the balanced power coming through the Equi=Core 1200. I also got another major boost when I added a Gutwire Ultimate Ground grounding cable to the IDA-16. This cable is stiff and heavy and requires careful routing and support not to pull down on the IDA-16's input connector, but I have found that this tweak really helps to relax the sound of my system and make the music feel more organic. I also found that supporting the IDA-16 with Stillpoints Mini Ultras (ideally, four rather than three) added additional improvement. I would also recommend experimenting with an upgraded fuse.
Finally, I want to give a shout-out to NuPrime and Bob at DBA TDSS/Coyote Sound for their excellent customer support. When I had an issue with the internal DAC of my IDA-16 clipping with some DSD tracks (tracks which pushed the limit of the DSD spec or, in the case of Michael Jackson's 'Thriller', outright exceeded the spec), Bob and NuPrime had my amp shipped back to the factory, where the DAC chip was replaced with a current production model. It was tough to be without music for a couple of weeks, but NuPrime and Bob stood by their product and solved the problem without cost to me. That is how customer support is supposed to work.