Review of TDSS Upgraded
NuForce Ref-18

by Bret Miller

(Level-2 Upgrade)

From: Audiogon Review

"Bob Smith worked with NuForce (Ed: as Support Manager) during the years that I bought 5 NuForce Ref-9V3 and a pair of NuForce Ref-18V3's. I have a multi-channel system, and they are mixed in with some other amps. I have a tri-amped system for my front end with horns/super-tweeters and enough speakers/amps to do 7.1, but I only do 5 channels.

Bob was the guy who knew all about this digital switching tech from years in the medical imaging field (Ed: Techron Division of Crown International( before NuForce. He designed speakers and has a great personality, and always exhibited integrity. It is no secret that NuForce amps would sometimes overheat and burn up their main circuit board. (Ed: Among other reasons) This is why the company folded and reformed as NuPrime for their high end. Bob had the contract servicing NuForce amps for many years. He talked me into his upgrade as he repaired my amp, as the reliability issue and the sound improvement are both addressed with his upgrades. A real no bullshit technician who knows his stuff, he will take a very great NuForce amp (easily available used) and makes it a new machine that is stable and worthy of the most expensive gear.

I love tube amps, but the heat gets too much in the summer. Solid-state is fast and has bass slam, but puts off a lot of heat in a class A, warm sounding amp can be very heavy if you need to ship it for a repair. The NuForce put out amazing bass and run cool, leave a modern and small footprint in your sound room, and have detail like the best solid state. Many solid-state amps sound etched, synthetic and/or digital on the higher frequencies. I have to admit that I prefer an OTL SET tube amp with horns for the highs as compared with the stock NuForce Ref-18V3's.

Now that I got the upgrade, right out of the box they sound more relaxed and smooth, natural on the highs. The noise floor is non-existent with my balanced cables. I use a...

Blue Circle BC3000

... with outboard power supply that uses 6922 tubes for a preamp and then it runs to Marchand active crossover (solid-state version). The amps sound so natural and relaxed that they make Miles Davis SACD sound like melted butter.

My turntable, by...

Expressimo Audio

… is world class. The vinyl that Brian Calaio recommended to me to showcase his tt (Patricia Barber-Cafe Blue) just sings on the upgraded amps. They pair so great with my Legacy monitors, that I really do not miss my OTL SET/horns on top during these hot summer days.

If you own some NuForce amps already - unlock their potential with Bob's wizardry. If you are never quite happy with your amp choices and want simple and reliable audiophile sound, Bob can be your man. TDSS has multiple options, and I did Level-2 upgrades. I use sub-woofers so I felt I did not need the extra power that level 3 would afford. I might just have all my NuForce upgraded to Level-3 when money allows. Bob is up to new things so expect a roll-out of new products by him as well. Review by…"

Bret L Miller