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NDP preamp/headphone amp+ Focal Utopia headphone

Time:2017-08-22      Source:Wenje audio-visual equipment Co. Ltd.      Browsing times:1254      

NSR NDP preamp/headphone amp + Focal Utopia headphone

As of writing this review, the whole set of NMT media transport + NDP preamp/headphone amp + Focal Utopia headphone was standing right in the middle of my listening room. The captivating music stream kept flowing around, bringing me into different dreamlike scenes in old times where I started my visual masterpiece. Utopia was the best and most vibrant headphone set I’ve ever heard. The Sennheiser HD800, HiFimanHE1000 headphone, let alone the Focal Utopia headphone all exhibited unusual vigor by joining the NMT + NDP combination.

I’ve had several different headphone amplifiers on hand like the Auralic headphone paring the EMT 986R CD player---yet only brought everyday, dull sound. I also used Meixing MC-sooEAR headphones to pair with the Linn Unidisk 1.1 player. The sonic result was soft, warm, and palatable. Over time, these headphone amp sets gradually did not appeal to me that much anymore. The moment I got Focal Utopia headphones, I instantly matched it to my AuraLic headphone amp. The sound was sweet and neutral, yet fell short of detail and dynamic. While having changed with MC-3000EAR, my Focal Utopia offered a full-bodied tone with more gain and sensitive mids. At low and high frequency, however, I was not entirely impressed by its speed and subtlety.

Well, here is the question---what headphone amp is entirely within the league of my Focal Utopia headphone? The NSR NMT + NDP is the definitive answer. One track after another, I played different music from the well-known pop music Exotic Dances from the Opera to the symphony conducted by Minnesota symphony orchestra Red Devil and Bolero. Let’s see, the Minnesota symphony has just appeared in front of me, and the precise position and rich ambient detail were all there right before me. Also, the soundstage transparency, features, and airy feeling embodied the ultimate state of sonic art.

Focal Utopia represents the first Beryllium diaphragm headphone through some four years’ painstaking efforts of research & development. The 25mm diameter of the large voice coil increases the contact area of the voice coil and diaphragm. And the long voice coil and the magnetic engine combine to improve the magnetic linearity. I exclaimed as I’ve never heard such vibrant and vigorous sound in a headphone system with such rich yet dynamic lows. I think now is the time to introduce the hero behind the scene --- NSR NDP preamp&headphone amp.

About a year ago, I had a conversation with NSR founder Kevin Wu (often referred to as the Feng Brothers) to discuss my suggestions for NSR's new headphone amplifier. After the discussion, Kevin was excited about the idea and rushed home for a strategy meeting, and this was when the New Democrats were ready. A year later, Kevin brought me more than just a pure headphone amplifier, but a whole set of super decoders integrated with digital preamps and headphone amplifiers. I'm afraid this is the most solid headphone amplifier in the world. Its colossal size and weight of 20 kg (including packaging) almost made me have a heart attack. The pressure does not come from its transformers or various components, but from a tank-type chassis with strong armor. NSR engineers chose the TI L49710 op-amp wisely in their NDP design. As a result, the THD of the operational amplifier is less than 0.00003%, the slew rate reaches 20V / μs, and the CMRR and PSRR both reach 120dB at 26 mA output current. The problem is that although they also use op-amps, these impressive results have become what other headphone amplifiers dream. Why is that?

The reason is simple. NSR NDP has only a small circuit inside, which can directly amplify the voltage, thereby saving complicated analog preamplifier configuration. NSR engineers believed that the signal was due to the analog-to-digital conversion process and therefore eliminated the analog input. NDP has two ESS9018 chips and a dedicated HDMI interface built into a rugged DAC module to receive local I2S and DSD music data so that NDP has the smallest short signal path. The result, of course, is the unparalleled audio experience of playing back the highest resolution music.


The first-class decoder NDP, combined with a robust power system, became my best partner for Focal Utopia headphones, which can display incredible sound! When the volume of Utopia headphones is adjusted to -40dB, the ears will be intolerable. The advent of NDP directly took me out of the shadows of many other headphone amplifiers, causing various flaws such as lack of detail, transparency, and power, which made me even more upset. So, is there any other headphone amplifier in the world that can compete with it? I do not know.





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