Typically, when audio enthusiasts hear the term "monoblock amplifiers," they immediately think of massive, heat-sink-laden behemoths that require a few strong friends to position. Lights flicker when they are powered on and they produce enough heat to turn your living room into a sauna. Most enthusiasts fortunate enough to afford them gladly accept their inconveniences in the pursuit of audio nirvana. Having a dedicated amplifier for each channel inherently offers many advantages over traditional two- or multi-channel offerings. These include complete isolation from the other channels, providing a cleaner signal chain, a dedicated power supply that needs to only feed one circuit and a coolness factor that is off the chart.
is a relative newcomer to the world of high-performance audio and video. The company agrees that monoblock amplifiers represent the absolute state of the art in amplification, but they don't believe there need to be so many downsides associated with owning them. Imagine an amplifier so small and light that you can carry a stack of them without needing a chiropractor afterwards. Imagine an amplifier so efficient that, after playing at high volumes for hours, it's barely warm to the touch. Now imagine that this amplifier also sounds fantastic. Imagine no longer. The NuForce Ref 9 V2 Special Edition is such an amplifier.
NuForce uses patented Class-D analog switching technology, which is so efficient that it doesn't require massive toroidal transformer power supplies or banks of transistors to generate big power. Each amp is rated at a healthy 190 watts at eight ohms, but can produce peaks of 325 watts when this is required for dynamic musical passages or home theatre explosions. The Ref 9 V2 SE is the latest iteration of NuForce's mono amplifier, which debuted several years and many revisions ago and can be purchased as a pair for $5,000. To my ear, they have gotten everything right with this. It has an iron-fisted grip of low frequencies that is tight, punchy and quick. The midrange is open and transparent, while upper frequencies are fast and detailed. Soundstaging is also excellent. The NuForce creates a stage that is wide and deep, allowing each note to hold a distinct place in space and time. What more could be asked of an amplifier, especially one that comes with so few downsides? While $5,000 may seem like a lot of money for a pair of amplifiers that weigh only eight pounds each, this is a true bargain when one considers that they perform close to some of the very best amplifiers costing exponentially more.