Shootout with Music

Sometimes you just want to know: Is there anything better?

I have owned two NuPrime Evolution One monoblock amplifiers for some time. I am very satisfied with them, but every audiophile who has taken up the hobby will have to face this question at some point. I am in search of the holy grail. The question is: Have I already found it? There may be better amplifiers out there, but am I getting more sound quality at the same price point? That is the real challenge! The mission to be accomplished is to find a brand that works well both stereo and in combination with a multichannel amplifier for home theater use.

Of course you can combine different brands of power amplifiers, but this is an approach that does not appeal to me. That’s how I came across the well-known Stereo & AV brand Anthem. Through a local dealer I had the opportunity to test their flagship, the Anthem STR Power Amplifier at home. The STR is a monster. Based on a dual-mono design and equipped with two massive toroidal transformers, it delivers 600W into 4 ohms (impedance of my speakers).

Anthem STR Power Amplifier – Inside View

First, I simply connected the amplifier directly to my DAC, the NuPrime HD-AVP which, controlled via USB, is based on the award-winning NuPrime DAC-10. The STR played very powerfully. And although this is an absolute top device, I immediately missed something. I just couldn’t sort it out right away… I always use my own reference playlist for such comparisons. And as I worked my way through the various pieces of music, I realized that I had already experienced these titles much more intensely.

Combination Anthem STR Power Amplifier & NuPrime HD-AVP

So I immediately plugged in my Evolution One monoblocks to realize that these power amps are in a whole different league! How is this possible? OK, the Evolution One are still a bit higher priced, but not really that far away. I switched between the two configurations several times after that, to make sure I wasn’t wrong in my perception. Finally, I connected my preamp between the DAC and the power amplifiers, since the mission was a mixed operation of stereo and multichannel.

Fully stacked setup: Anthem STR Power Amplifier, NuPrime Evolution One Monoblocks, NuPrime HD-AVP, Emotiva RMC-1L

Even though the Emotiva RMC-1L is “just” an AV preamplifier, the stereo signal from the DAC (NuPrime) in “Reference Stereo Mode” provides absolutely pure audiophile sound with no processing whatsoever. If there is an AV preamp with true stereo qualities, Emotiva is right up there. It features high-quality analog resistor ladder volume controls and audiophile analog circuitry.

I wanted to give the Anthem amplifier a fair chance. Therefore, I let the configuration play for a few days and then invited a good friend to hear his verdict. I wanted to rule out the possibility that I might be so extremely deluded. Well, my buddy was shocked. He could not have imagined that two such high-quality power amplifiers at similar price level would show such an audible difference. His clear verdict: The NuPrime Evolution One power amplifiers are extremely sovereign and incredibly musical. The Anthem doesn’t stand a chance. And that’s exactly how I see it too. Wow, what a surprise! I can spin it any way I want… But I absolutely have to keep the NuPrime Evolution One. The holy grail has been in my living room for quite some time. Search completed.

Cheers,
Alex

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