I’m sure you’ve heard about the NuForce Reference series class-D amplifiers as they’ve been very proactive with sending them out to magazines and anybody else that’s interested. Hence we were a little surprised that they refused to send us two of their Reference 8 amplifiers when we contacted a local supplier. It could’ve been because we indicated we’d be going the extra mile and measure these amplifiers from front to back. That little bump in the road didn’t do much to weaken our resolve as two weeks later we had two Reference 8 amplifiers in from a different source.
The front of the NuForce Reference 8 amplifier, featuring a single blue led.
My initial impression of these amplifiers, without even having switched them on yet, is that they’re really light weight. This is mostly due to the switch mode power supply used in the design and the anodized aluminum casing. That’s a bit of a deviation from the usual way amplifiers are built in this industry where a bulky reinforced steel chassis, heavy torodial transformers and thick aluminum front-panels have become the de-facto standard for top-of-the-line amplifiers, especially mono-blocks.
The back of the Reference 8 amplifier, featuring all in- and output connectors.
Besides its light weight the chassis is very compact and void of any frills and buttons with just a single led on the front. The in- and output connectors, as well as the power switch, are located at the back of the amplifier. NuForce actually ships two versions of their Reference 8 amplifier, one with an unbalanced cinch input and another, the Reference 8b, with balanced XLR input. Besides the choice of either an unbalanced or balanced input you can opt for a natural anodized brushed aluminum case or a black anodised one.
Obviously looking at the outside of an amplifier will not give you much of an impression of what it is capable of. As mentioned a bulky reinforced steel chassis, heavy torodial transformers and thick aluminum front-panels might make an amplifier look impressive in the end it is the performance that counts. So without further ado let’s hook these amplifiers up and get a first impression of what these amplifiers are capable of.
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