jorjen Posted March 7, 2014 Share Posted March 7, 2014 (edited) Well, now that I have had some time with this AZZ kicker of a component (should I have prefaced that with a spoiler alert? ), thought I would share some thoughts. I am not accustomed to doing this kind of thing. I felt making an exception was warranted in this case. You can see the current make-up of my system in my system profile below. I ordered the NBS optimized for use with the 6H30 tube. It is also available optimized for the 6922/6DJ8 family of tubes. First off, I have dealt with Craig many, many times over the years and have enjoyed the experiences immensely, no really, I’m serious, no BS . A true professional that knows his shite. Each and every time we have worked together on something he has far exceeded my expectations. My hat is off to you Craig! Second, I am no polished reviewer. I do know what I like and do not like and think I can put it into words that make sense to me. Whether or not they make sense to you fellas is another matter altogether but I will do my best. My initial interest in the NBS sprang from a desire to simplify my system. Being a LOMC cartridge fan, the thought of a one box solution greatly appealed to me. Less space needed in the rack, less cabling, fewer tubes to fret over always wondering if I could roll something better in, etc.. You know the drill. One thing that had me concerned and had kept me from making a move was the fact I would be going from a linestage and phono stage with a combined MSRP of about $9000.00 to a component one-third the cost. We all know this point can many times be a non-factor but something I believe crosses most our minds at times. I did not want to regret the move as this was going to be one heckuva combo to compete with. Obviously I finally made the jump and will NEVER be caught looking back or second guessing the decision. After I ordered the NBS, I ordered the Duelund Cast Copper Coupling Caps and had them shipped to Craig. I cannot speak to the difference they make in the NBS as I have never heard another NBS. I can however speak to the difference they have made in other components like pCats, VRD’s, etc.. Suffice it to say I will never use anything else in a capacitor coupled device. They are truly amazing in how they can transform the sound of a piece of gear. And the beauty and simplicity of it all is that they achieve this fete by doing absolutely nothing at all. How cool is that? Received the NBS after completion expertly boxed and packaged. It is a beautifully simplistic looking component in a clean, classy, understated way. Great fit and finish, controls feel very nice and it is much heavier than anticipated. The workmanship and attention to detail inside the chassis is evident. Clean, simple and well thought out. Tubes and phono board are easily accessible. Craig sent a supply of various loading resistors to try out for my LOMC cartridge. I am a “phono only” guy and the versatility regarding loading options is critical to the success of this component swap. It is amazing to me how a small difference in load impedance can make such a huge impact on sonics. However, thus is the life of a LOMC cartridge. I have settled on loading my Dynavector XX2 MKII cartridge with a 5K1 resistor for 65 ohms loading. Perfect balance from top to bottom. I tried every resistor Craig sent plus other values. Now it is time to solder them in place. You can just plug/pull them in and out until you have made a decision then solder in. As far as tubes go, they as we all know can make a significant difference in just about any component. The NBS is no different. I have gone from the stock compliment of Sovtek to an all NOS Mullard array. 5AR4, V1, V2 and V3. Not essential that one do this but it is a nice improvement. Changed the Sovtek 6H30 to a Gold Pin EH for a nice difference as well. Experimenting with the 6DJ8 a little right now. Even though my NBS is optimized for the 6H30, you CAN experiment with the 6922/6DJ8/7DJ8, etc. family of tubes. You cannot however experiment in reverse with this position if your NBS is optimized/setup for the 6922/6DJ8. Okay, okay, I know, time to talk about the sound. Once again, I thought there was no way in the world that the NBS could best or even equal my TRL Dude Linestage and Allnic H-1201 phono stage. Holy Mother of Pearl, I could not have been more wrong! Obviously, the ultimate sonic characteristics of the NBS will largely be tube selection dependent. Also loading resistor dependent if you order the phono board. However, in my current configuration: Bass/Mid-bass – Deep, tight and smooth as silk with loads of authority. No bloating or false/added roundness. Very natural to the point of eerie realism. The best I have ever heard from my system. I like Standup Bass and with for example, Patricia Barber “Café Blue” the darn Bass is in the room! No politeness here, the NBS delivers in Spades. The NBS also lends a nice palpable growl, substance and visceral nature to the Mid-Bass that I have heard missing from a lot of systems. This is a very welcome addition to the sonic landscape in my system. One could truly not ask for more. If you do, look elsewhere in your system. Midrange – REALISM, REALISM, REALISM! I enjoy female vocals, horns, classical/jazz guitar and Piano probably more than anything else so this is the most important for me as for many others I suspect. You can FEEL it all, the NBS is dripping with it. It hangs in my room. It has a haunting effortlessness to it. There is an air and an ease to it to a level I have not heard in my system. Piano work on the Diana Krall album “The girl in the other room” for example is absolutely played in the room right in front of me. I have been attending live shows for 45 years now so I know what I am hearing. My TAD TD-4001 mid drivers will take AND show-off everything they are given in this part of the spectrum and the NBS really, really shines! This is a deal breaker for me and I am far more than thrilled. Exuberant would be a more accurate description. I am listening to everything for the first time all over again! Treble – Let me preface this one by stating that my hearing is pretty rolled off. Too many years of loud music and unprotected shooting. Too late now I’m afraid. Anyway, with that being said I can actually hear the nice, smooth high-end coming from my JBL tweeters without being hot, edgy, irritating or exaggerated in any way. Upper end of cymbals and brushes have an accurate attack and decay and sound real not splashy and undefined. The JBL’s can be a little hot (even for my ears) if you do not watch them. I do not even have to consider this now with the NBS. No tweeter attenuators in the circuit, nada. The highs are just “spot on” somehow. The NBS really pulls all this together in a nice, tidy sonically blissful bundle of joy. Did I say I Love it! Well, I know that was pretty long winded. However, once in awhile something comes down the pike worthy of the sufferings of long windedness . From top to bottom the NBS truly fits squarely in this category. My system has never sounded this good and that fact all rests on the shoulders of the move to the NBS. Thanks Craig, home run does not even come close Buddy! Edited March 7, 2014 by jorjen Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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