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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Audio

Rational high-end audio: The Peachtree Nova150 integrated amplifier

Rarely has an audiophile integrated amp covered so many bases, and excelled at most of them.

Peachtree Audio is one of those brands I take for granted. Their amplifiers and digital converters have always sounded good, but the company's recent refresh sparked my interest, and I was eager to check out their all-new, feature-packed Nova150 stereo integrated amplifier.

This seriously potent Class D amplifier design belts out 150 watts per channel into 8 ohms, 250 watts per channel into 4 ohms, and Peachtree even claims the Nova150 can drive speaker loads as low as 2.5 ohms, a rare feat for amps or receivers in the Nova150's price class. No AV receiver I'm aware of can do that.

The amp's connectivity choices include two analog inputs, the moving-magnet phono input can be converted to line input, one loop output, one set of stereo preamp outputs, one coaxial and two optical digital inputs, a 6.3mm headphone jack, and a pair of extra beefy speaker cable binding posts.

The Peachtree Audio Nova150 integrated amplifier

Peachtree

One unusual and possibly unique feature, the Nova150 has a dedicated iPhone USB input, plus a standard USB input for computers. The Nova150's digital converters handle up to ultra-high-resolution 384 kHz/32 bit PCM and 5.644 MHz DSD digital audio formats. An optional Wi-Fi, AirPlay, Bluetooth plug-in module will be available in the near future. The Nova150 is made in Canada.

Pairing the Nova150 with my KEF LS50 speakers seemed like a good idea, and it was. The LS50's razor sharp imaging was a treat, and the speaker seemed a little clearer and more dynamic than I usually give it credit for with digital sources. Spinning LPs with a Rega Planar 3 turntable the Nova150's sound was invitingly rich and full, but I wished it summoned up a tad more detail.

The Nova150 was an even better match with my Magnepan .7 flat panel speakers. The .7s crave power, and the Nova150 delivered gobs of it. Bass definition and oomph were truly exceptional, better than I've heard from the .7s mated with other integrated amps. The speakers transparency shined ever so brightly, and since the .7s are almost five feet tall their sound was closer to life-size than any bookshelf speakers, or even most comparably-priced tower speakers could produce.

For home theater stamina trials I popped on ZZ Top's "Live From Texas" concert Blu-ray, and the Nova150 could do no wrong. Power was plentiful all right, so the band's non-stop boogie felt right, this two-channel system with my Zu Druid V speakers was a rock and roller dream's come true.

Elvis Costello and Steve Nieve's live box set from 1996 never sounded better, because Costello's vocals were believably realistic. I never really noticed how good this album sounded before, too bad it's long out of print.

The Nova150 is available in piano black or a downright gorgeous ebony mocha wood finish, direct from the Peachtree Audio Web site or through its brick and mortar dealers for $1,599. If you need more power, step up to the 300 watt per channel Nova300 for $2,299 that will be available soon.