Author Topic: I came late to the IDA-8 show  (Read 1543 times)

Offline naughty

I came late to the IDA-8 show
« on: December 04, 2018, 06:23:33 PM »
I know that not many people want to read anything that i have to say .... BUT thats not going to stop me from saying it ..... so here goes.

So for a long time I was after a Nuprime IDA-8 stereo integrated amplifier, and recently even though it was going to put me into more financial trouble than i already was, I decided to place a wanted ad for a second hand unit. This was not forthcoming, and so i decided to contact Joel and enquire about a new one .... so after a bit i received a package from Joel containing a shiny bright new IDA-8 .... thanks very much Joel

Many people on the forum have already tried this amplifier out but recently a buddy of mine purchased a Nuprime HD-AVP from Carel 1966 and he also had a demo model STA-9 from Joel which uses the same amplifier circuit board as the IDA-8, and we tried these out with my speakers, and i was so impressed with the results i decided that the onboard DAC with IDA-8 should be good enough for my purposes since it uses the same DAC chip as the uDSD which i already have so i am used to the Nuprime sonic signature

I'm not going to add any photos here because im sure everyone knows the IDA-8 by now, and it isn't too difficult to find pictures of these units. But in terms of the construction i was really surprised when i received it because for something so small it really had a bit of heft and weight to it. The general build quality is really impressive and you really can imagine the unit is going to last a long time even with premium heavy cables connecting it to ancillary equipment ... cables which could make the inputs and outputs on other less well constructed amps easily come loose and shaky.

Initially i connected it up to my Home Cinema setup since i could use the one single RCA based analog input as an HT bypass via my AVR. Now generally for this to work you need either a power amp or a stereo integrated with an input that has actual HT bypass functionality built which allows the amp to function as a power amp and volume control as well tonal functions are controlled by the AVR ... well the IDA-8 has a clever bit of functionality that works similar if not identically to an HT bypass - in that when you change the inputs via remote control it reverts back to the last volume settings of that particular input - so if you had the volume at 90 out 99 the last time and went to a digital input which was at 50 out of 99 .... then revert back to the analog input it will just go back to 90 on its own, hence so far so good

The big issue with using this method with the AVR that i have which is an Integra DTR 50.3 is that Integra want you to use their own power amplifiers instead of other brands, so they set everything to work at a pretty low output voltage ie the AVR has an output voltage of 250mv so it means a pretty low output on offer from connecting to other brands of amplifiers, and as a result i was forced to increase the front output levels on the AVR to almost full, even with the IDA-8 volume at 90 of 99 which to me is something that is not ideal.

So the amplifiers speaker outputs were connected to my Cambridge Audio Aero 6 speakers at this point and i also connected my Microserver to the amplifier via the USB input using a Prolink Pro series Cinema cable. and for a while i tried it out like this ie using the stereo directly from the USB input and then using the amp and speakers as my front speakers for my 7.1 setup. i wanted to let it run in for a bit before i seriously evaluated the sound quality of the amplifier and apparently from many reviews that i read this unit really likes a long "run in" period but my initial impressions were mostly favorable.

The biggest problem that i had with this configuration is that we all know that system synergy is important, and while in most respects the IDA-8 worked well enough with the Cambridge Audio speakers, there was one aspect that irked me. I think that because of the topology of the amplifier and also because of the totally irregular design of the speakers ... they do  not have a tweeter but are of a BMR design which uses a flat 2.5 inch driver from 250hz upward with 6,5 inch drivers for the the frequencies below 250hz ... the combination created a peak at around 8khz and caused a little sibilance which got exacerbated by female vocals. playing Stacey Kent or Melody Gardot had the system sounding cold and icey with lots of hissiness at one stage. even though i could fix this with a bit of EQ ie dropping 8 khz a tad bit this changed the sound in other ways so i i was hoping that with a bit more running in, it could sort this issue out.

In the meantime i was running a different stereo setup with my bedroom PC, it was a set of Tannoy M2.5 standmount speakers (they are a bit big to call bookshelf speakers) with a Denon subwoofer and a Pioneer A400x amplifier. Given that the amplifier was over 20 years old i decided to allow it to go to a buddy to see out the end of its life since it was on its last legs and I decided to instead try out the IDA-8 with the Tannoys instead. If this worked better then i could go back to just using the AVR in the lounge which wasn't bad and using the IDA-8 where it worked better.

To my absolute relief, this change brought about immediate improvements since the Tannoys are a totally different type of speaker to the Aero 6. So for now the IDA-8 has replaced that Pioneer A-400x as my dedicated stereo speaker, which means though that my bedroom setup is no longer entirely a budget setup worth under R5k in total since the amplifier alone cost much more than twice the entire older setup.

So now on to how i feel the IDA-8 sounds. Well, it is totally a different animal to the Pioneer since it is warmer and slightly darker than the crisp insightful sound of the pioneer. The major difference now though is that i can listen to the IDA-8 Tannoy combination for longer periods now, which goes a long way to show that the IDA-8 probably is a better long term solution. The combination is just as detailed but not as hard hitting or as crisp, but in having said that i do hear more detail because with the IDA-8 i do have more of those "hey, I did not hear that particular sound before" moments.This has convinced me that the IDA-8 is the keeper amplifier but i probably will eventually look for a newer speaker to match with it which might cause a difference since the Tannoys are very old speakers with an old fashioned sound quality. So to be fair to the IDA-8 it works more than acceptably well with the Tannoys whilst having as many different pro's and con's as the Pioneer amp.

So no it obviously does not match the HD-AVP used as a DAC with the STA-9 combo with my Cambridge Audio speakers but it was not intended to, it was merely meant to get close to that which it easily does .... and it isnt perfect by any means when compared to the Pioneer but it has different strengths and weaknesses and in the overall picture i have no doubt that it is the better long term solution since the Pioneer amp was slightly on the bright side, and this one less so, so it is an improvement in certain respects.

I do want to wait till I have at least another 100 hours of playback on the amp .... its at about 100 hours currently and then i want to try it out with the Cambridge Audios again to see if the longer run in period eradicates the sibilance issue or whether those two items are mutually exclusive to each other. Once again to be fair the issue is not really a problem with the Tannoy speakers so it is very likely that the IDA-8 and Cambridge Audio just don't gel together.

The one other thing that fascinated me was the inclusion of the BTR-8 Bluetooth dongle bundled with the amplifier which is Apt-x capable so i had to get myself a new phone which was Apt-X capable to try this out  and while Bluetooth is by no means comparable to the wired audio equivalents it is more than good enough for casual listening and possibly playing FM radio on the phone as well as streaming from streaming services via the smartphone .... though the obvious better method for streaming is to use a WD-100 and use Wi-Fi for an experience that provides uncompressed wireless audio instead. But for the person who has to use Bluetooth in the absence of better alternatives, this amp provides a very workable and more than decent well working alternative.

One thing is definitely clear ie in Build quality and construction the Nuprime is a very respectable unit and its probably going to last as long as the Pioneer which gave me a fair amount above 20 years of service. The amp is not the last word in sound quality but it is a very respectable and enjoyable sound given the amps price and size but it may not gel with every speaker which is one of the negatives i have found but the same can be said for most bits of equipment, so it isnt an issue for most people who in my opinion are going to pair these amps with speakers that are considerably different to the Cambridge Audio Aero 6 and the much improved performance with the Tannoy speakers bears out that this amp can sound terrific with the right set of speakers. The only other drawback with the amp is that I have a tendency to leave my amplifiers on (not on standby but switched on) and this amp does tend to get pretty hot if you do this so you do have to keep it on standby when not in use or it does get pretty toasty so i have stopped leaving it on, moreso because of load shedding ie i dont know how stable the amp will remain if it is suddenly just deprived of electricity while kept on during load shedding so i have to keep it off and only switch it on when i want to use it.

This is now going to be my own personal endgame amplifier because i want to see if i can create a totally killer endgame system at a very low budget so now that i have found the amp i am going to turn my attention to a pair of speakers that works perfectly as possible with this amplifier and i will report on whatever progress i make in this regard.

« Last Edit: December 04, 2018, 06:41:31 PM by naughty »

Offline JonnyP

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Re: I came late to the IDA-8 show
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2018, 07:11:26 PM »
I have an STA-9 with HPA-9 as the pre, which sounds great with Tannoy 611s, I reckon NuPrime and Tannoy just work well together.  The HPA-9 has the benefit of a built in phonostage which internally switches (donít know how, donít really care) between MM and MC carts too.  Impressive kit (and also well built)
When the sun is dying, we'll cross the causeway of no memory.....

Offline naughty

Re: I came late to the IDA-8 show
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2018, 09:36:33 PM »
wow - time is definitely this amplifiers friend because as more of it passes the better the amp gets  :thumbs: i'm definitely getting more impressed with this amp as time passes and it settles in more

Offline Kemosabe

Re: I came late to the IDA-8 show
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2019, 07:57:54 AM »
Those ears of yours and brain are breaking in really well. Keep it up  ;)
DIY hi-fi: the journey is the destination.

Offline naughty

Re: I came late to the IDA-8 show
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2019, 08:06:09 AM »
Those ears of yours and brain are breaking in really well. Keep it up  ;)

this probably is true ..... still doesnt stop the IDA-8 from being a good bit of kit though  ;)