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Almost too good to be true: The Peachtree Nova65SE integrated amplifier

Pair the Peachtree Nova65SE amp with a great set of speakers, and you'll be in for a treat.

Peachtree Nova65SE Peachtree

I love that the Peachtree Nova65SE integrated stereo amplifier doesn't look like any other brand's amplifiers or receivers. The Nova65SE's 6mm thick aluminum faceplate and round cornered medium-density fiberboard cabinet, finished in gloss black, real cherry or rosewood veneers sets this amp apart from everything else.

Beyond design considerations my reasons for selecting this particular Peachtree at this time were twofold, it's the least expensive integrated in the line, and I wanted an amplifier that might sound great for my upcoming Magnepan .7 speaker review. Magnepan speakers are always among my favorites, but they tend to be fussy about amps -- would the Nova65SE be up for the challenge?

It features a Class A preamplifier stage with a vacuum tube buffer, and a 65 watt per channel into 8 Ohms, 95 watt per channel into 4 Ohms Class D power amplifier. The Nova65SE's digital converter works with up to 192kHz/24-bit files. I also like that you can take the 61NP tube in or out of the preamp circuitry by pushing a button on the remote control. The tube made a very small difference in the sound, it's slightly sweeter with the tube in circuit.

Connectivity is limited to four digital sources: USB, coaxial, and two optical inputs. There's one set of stereo analog RCA inputs, a 6.3mm headphone jack, and stereo preamplifier outputs that can be used with powered subwoofers, or drive a separate power amp. Measuring a trim 5 by 14.8 by 13.5 inches (126x377x343mm) the Nova65SE is pretty compact, and yet it weighs 21.4 pounds (9.7kg) -- that's heavier than many supposedly more powerful receivers and amps. It comes with a 2-year parts and labor warranty.

Listening to the bass lines coursing through Kraftwerk's "Tour De France" album over the .7 speakers was a real thrill. The deep synthesizer bass lines were extremely fast and bass oomph was beyond my expectations for a set of affordably priced flat-panel speakers ($1,395 in the US). Moving onto music with a more acoustic flavor with the Fleet Foxes' "Sun Giant" EP, the .7 speakers unerring sweetness shined through. With the Kronos String Quartet's "Early Music" CD the sound was big and spacious. String tone was spot-on, you get true high-end sound for a down-to-earth price (by high-end audio standards) with the Nova65SE and .7 speakers combination.

Switching over to my KEF LS50 box speakers the Nova65SE again proved its mettle. The little speakers projected a huge soundstage, and rhythmic pacing was exemplary. Any music with a pulse really came alive over the LS50s, the amp is a natural with that speaker.

Next, I plugged two of my favorite high-end headphones in -- the Audeze LCD-X and AKG K812 -- and I really thought the amp was so good, few Nova65SE owners will ever be tempted to buy a separate headphone amp.

US buyers purchasing direct from Peachtree can try the Nova65SE at home for up to 30 days, or get a full refund (less return shipping) if not satisfied with the amp. Peachtree also has a number of brick and mortar dealers. The US price is $999 with the gloss black finish, $1,099 for real rosewood or cherry finishes; in Australia it's AU$1399 for the Nova65SE in black and AU$1549 in either cherry or rosewood; and in the UK it's £799 and £849 for the Nova65SE in black and wood finishes respectively.