Published on September 23rd, 2015 | by Greg0
Peachtree Nova65SE: Everything You Want In An Amp/DAC
I remember my father’s enormous speakers- several feet tall, perfect for playing Dylan or Heart. And I can’t forget the mysterious giant black box that no one was supposed to touch, that helped connect it all together with cables running between the various components. The speakers in a modern apartment or office are almost certainly smaller and sleeker, the vast majority of the sources are digital, and the music itself has definitely changed. But finding that all-important black box is still critical.
The Peachtree Nova65SE Amplifier aims to be your modern, updated version- the ideal blend of power and features in a smaller and more attractive form factor. Wooden accents help warm up the metallic, almost futuristic form, with softer rounded edges than those older dark monsters from earlier decades. Available in sustainably-sourced rosewood, high gloss black, or cherry, ours was the latter, and it elicited oohs and ahs from folks who normally wouldn’t allow a piece of audio equipment to be visible in a Manhattan interior. At 21 pounds, it’s comfortingly heeavy- you should always be suspicious of audiophile gear that is ultra-light, as quality capacitors and cabinetry obey the laws of physics, where some density is essential.
One nice touch on the front panel is the visible tube amp, which can be bypassed for a more neutral sound but adds a nice element of warmth (and a mellower almost-fuzz) to your music. Interestingly, there is a button on the remote that pops out the tube (a decent 61NP model). We’ve seen Peachtree gear before- their iNova was our favorite iPhone audio-centered amp, and their deepblue2 impressed us earlier this year. And we had already seen some of the awards and raves for the Nova65SE, which is actually an update of their decco65. For those in need of something bigger, they have options as well, but this is the perfect unit for all but the largest systems and environments.
Combining 65 watts per channel with an integrated DAC, you don’t need to worry about matching or pairing separate components, and can enjoy extremely high-quality digital conversion courtesy of the chips from SabreDAC, with no jitter. Plenty of connectivity options meant we used the Nova65SE with everything under the sun- there’s four digital ports with USB, coaxial, and dual optical inputs, along with a pair of analog RCA inputs. The Nova65SE performed (maybe even over-performed) as a headphone amp too, able to drive anything we tried, via the front-panel 1/4-inch headphone jack. One downside of the Nova is that it made our portable headphone amps, even the most expensive ones, sound a little strained and a little less full, especially on more subtle bass lines or staccato notes. We never heard distortion, even at the edges of the volume range. For those with an amplified subwoofer, a separate preamp output is provided on the rear of the unit as well.
Peachtree claims that the Nova65SE combines a “the musicality of Class-A design with the muscle of Class-D amplification”, capable of playing files up to 192kHz/24-bit natively. Now, there’s no wi-fi built-in, or even Bluetooth, but you can grab their Bluetooth module if you want, and most folks will simply want to connect an Apple TV, Sonos, or other media streaming device along with their analog sources. A front panel USB port might have been nice, but no drivers seemed required for Linux use (or OSX). From the blue LEDs to the form factor, you can’t beat the Peachtree look, and we’re happy that it sounds every bit as good as it appears. It’s likely the most versatile unit it’s class, easily earning top remarks from listeners, and well worth the price. Not everyone has the speakers or headphones to appreciate it- but if you do, then you might have a brand new friend. The Peachtree Nova65SE is available now, online and in stores, for around $800.