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Dancing with the big boys: the powerfully persuasive Peachtree nova300

Before you get stuck into the nova300 review below, check out DAR’s overview of Peachtree’s latest nova range as well as the my review of its baby brother, the nova150.


How many?

How many integrated amplifiers do you know of whose spirit of unification waves buh-bye to kabelsalat and a (potentially) costly hifi rack? Peachtree Audio’s nova300 invites us to connect loudspeakers and a source for a complete system, nothing more to add.

How many integrated amplifiers do you know of that include a hi-res PCM- and DSD-capable ESS 9018K2M Sabre D/A converter – bowel fed via asynchronous USB, coaxial or TOSLINK – whose performance rivals that of the AudioQuest DragonFly Red but dispenses with its interceding 3.5mm to RCA breakout cable?

How many integrated amplifiers do you know of that also include an MM phono stage that operates on par with Schiit’s Jotunheim module?

How many integrated amplifiers do you know of that offer a headphone output that isn’t resistor dropped from the main amplifier circuit but backed by a dedicated circuit capable of driving all manner of high-end headphones? This Peachtree’s 6.4mm socket is even more beefy on power than that found in the nova150. Peachtree themselves refer to the nova300’s as “high output”, the nova150’s as “standard output”.

In real world listening tests we get ample SPLs, robust dynamics and tonal satisfaction from a pair of high-impedance (and fussy) Sennheiser HD800S.

Focus not on the nova300’s minor tonal shortfall when compared to a dedicated headphone amplifier like the Schiit Jotunheim. This shortcoming is even harder to pick once the HD800S are swapped out for a pair of AudioQuest NightOwl. Instead, see the Peachtree’s glass as more than half full: the nova300 offers one of the finest headphone outputs to be found within an integrated amplifier this side of the Vinnie Rossi LIO.

How many integrated amplifiers do you know of that eradicate the need for a third party streamer with an iOS-talking, electrical noise-rejecting asynchronous ‘Dy-NEC’ port (which should have been greenlit by Apple by the time you read this)? Lasso any iOS device to the rear panel’s USB A socket to play anything that an iPad or iPhone will play. Most often used by yours truly here is Spotify Connect: a Peachtree-connected iPad is controlled from the listening position by iPhone and/or Macbook. An infra-red remote will do play/pause and previous/next if smartphone-over-wifi control isn’t your thing.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BPRvXP8AgR5/?taken-by=darkoaudio

How many integrated amplifiers do you know of whose high gloss wood effect or piano black rounded sleeve takes levels of aesthetic appeal and lounge room agreeability far beyond that of the pedestrian black/silver box? The nova300’s handsome attire wouldn’t be out of place sat atop a vintage Parker sideboard or next to an Eames lounge (listening!) chair.

How many integrated amplifiers do you know of that deliver 300 watts per channel of Class D ICEpower for US$2299? The nova300 is the way to eradicate any doubts about your loudspeakers’ thirst for go juice. The nova150′ bigger bro will push twice its output power into 8 Ohms – 300wpc – and 450wpc into half that.

Listening to deep cuts from Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ and The Blue Aeroplanes’ extensive catalogues and through a pair of the Euro-styled ELAC UniFi F5 loudspeakers, we net a clear and distinct elevation in detail and layer separation once a Rotel RA-10’s more modest 40wpc Class A/B power is swapped out for the more punctilious Peachtree. A squeegee clean midrange and taut, muscular low end control are two standout qualities of the incoming nova300.

Devialet’s Expert 200 remains a more finessed and elegant sounding piece – great for strung-out EPs like Kristen Hersh’s Strings – but also a a shade polite, especially when driving Daniel Avery’s DJ Kicks mix into a pair KEF’s LS50. The Peachtree serves up more hip thrust and 4-4 fistpunch than its French rival.

Music taste will determine preference here but how many US$2299 integrateds do you know of that can hold their own against the thrice more costly Devialet? I find the nova300’s greater headroom and more overt macro-dynamic shifts better suited to the KEF standmounts than the Devialet, especially with indie rock and electronica/techno. Want a little more warmth? Add a tube buffer to the nova300’s input/output loop (untested here).

Did I forget mention the nova300’s ability to play in unity gain power amp mode after a long press of an input selector switch (phono stage excepted)? Did I mention the nova300’s pre-amplifier outputs as primed for subwoofer hook-up? Its HT bypass? Its two analogue inputs?

I doubt that there’s a loudspeaker on the planet that this Peachtree won’t drive with sure-footed authority. Peachtree’s own nova150 aside, I also doubt that there’s an integrated amplifier out there with as much functionality for as few dollars.

The nova300 is an exceptional beast. Its combination of ALL of the above (read: real world flexibility) and serious output power, both into loudspeakers and headphones, comes wrapped in shell amply suited to luxury department store shelf space where its über high-end audio aspirations could end up obscured.

Now you, dear reader, know as much as – if not more than – your nearest Peachtree dealer. Wallop.

Further information: Peachtree Audio

Written by John H. Darko

John H. Darko

John is the editor/publisher of DAR from which he derives an income from its ad revenues. John is also an occasional contributor to 6moons and AudioStream and lives in Berlin, Germany.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
Instagram: DarkoAudio
Facebook: DAR

48 Comments

  1. I really like this stuff. Hifi that’s looks and sounds good. If I already didn’t owned the Devialet 120 I would have purchased the Peachtree directly. It would be great if you could give us some more pictures from your interior. You have some great ideas for displaying audio equipment. I’m curious about the table that the Peachtree sits on. I recognise the Ikea bambu board, have plenty of them myself. But what are the legs?

    • More internal shots will come once I sort a nice looking hifi rack (suggestions anyone?) and get the room treatments up on the walls. The legs on this photo platform are €5 ‘Sawhorses’, also from IKEA.

      • For a “reach” rack, I love the look of Box Furniture Co. Not real world prices but maybe worth a shot to see what you can get? I use media furniture from Room and Board bought used from Craigslist. It wasn’t designed to tackle vibrations like some pricy racks, but it’s solid, straight, and looks good. I think I linked out to a bamboo Quadraspire write-up on this website once (could be mistaken). That might work with your aesthetic (clean, minimal). I’m interested in hearing more opinions on audio racks.

  2. Was the digital comparison to the Dragonfly Red meant to sway us into buying this integrated?
    I would hope the digital section is better than a $200 stick.

    Maybe I misunderstood your comparison?

    • No – it was to point out that, in my experience, DACs are often dropped into integrateds as functional afterthoughts – weaker sounding than a DragonFly Red. This amp doesn’t run that way.

  3. John,
    Thanks for the great review on the nova300. Like your previous review of the 150, it is as close to poetry as a review can get. Even without ad support? This is much appreciated and high in integrity.
    Due to a change in USB regulations enacted right after the nova150 was released, the nova300 was delayed almost 9 months and just now has full MFI (Apple) approval.
    Because of this huge delay, Peachtree has been unable to do outside advertising, so reviews like this help get out the word out on the “New” Peachtree.
    We love the writing. We love the integrity. We will be a supporter!
    Thanks you again, John.

    David Solomon
    Co-Founder Peachtree

    • Thanks Dave – I have always been a fan of Peachtree gear and will continue to cover it, ads or no ads.

    • He’s always a good read, isn’t he? Even if half of it goes straight over my head, I plough on regardless…
      Wasn’t it Jagger who sang about ‘Dancin’ with Mr D’?

    • Hello David

      Any word on the WiFi streaming module being developed for the new nova150 and nova300? When are we likely to see it? Will it be dealer installed? If someone bought directly from you, how would one handle the installation?

  4. The Hegel line of integrateds is a pretty serious competitor to the Peachtrees in terms of features. They have built in DACs and also network based playback.

    They are more expensive than Peachtree, but they sound really good. I obviously haven’t compared them to the Peachtrees, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the Hegel line sounds even better than Peachtree.

      • Hegel doesn’t offer as many watts for the dollar as Peachtree, but is capable of driving difficult speaker loads nevertheless. It’s made in Norway

        • Hegel integrateds are designed in Norway, manufactured in China. I have the H160, sounds very nice, smooth yet detailed. While the dac supplied has been given kudos by many reviewers, owners and those who have heard it, I find I would prefer more detail over the smooth, somewhat expanded soundstage. It’s at least as good as many under $1K dacs, or less expensive source gear, but I have heard and preferred sources offering greater detail. Also, it does not do DSD which isn’t too important to me right now, but down the road DSD may become more accessible which would make a difference. Still no guarantee you wouldn’t buy an external dac for either unit.

          Preferred Hegel slightly over Parasound, but the new Peachtree is one to consider. Just wish it had one more analog input, and XLR as quality dacs can utilize it and perhaps sound better. The Hegel H160 has a pr of xlr inputs.

          • Also, the Peachtree offers double the power, probably with noticeably greater bass control at a grand less. Whether the long term value, reliability and repairability of class A/B vs class D makes a difference is something to consider. Although I see reason why class D amps won’t last for many years. I don’t know of class D power modules or whatever they are called can easily be repaired or replaced. Anyone know?

  5. Nice review John – certainly more information here than can be provided by my local dealer! Eyeing the attractive white Uni-Fi Slim mentioned, is a review forthcoming soon? I think I am still maintaining the path to get the wireless KEF LS50’s but if my budget allowed for it, would opt for the Nova300 and either the passive LS50’s or Uni-Fi slim (or Spatial M4’s given more discretionary income).

  6. I doubt that there’s a loudspeaker on the planet that this Peachtree won’t drive with sure-footed authority.

    Ruh-roh ….

    http://hometheaterreview.com/apogee-scintilla-loudspeakers-reviewed/

    It was the second Apogee product, the Scintilla, that put the brand on the map because it was smaller and less-expensive than the Full-Range. Crucially, it bore no transformer. As history won’t let us forget, it was also the speaker that marked Apogee with the single-ohm curse. ‘Amp killers’ they would be called, and so they were, but it was a red flag before the bull that is audio. The Scintilla set a near-impossible performance parameter that amplifier manufacturers are still trying to achieve, even though it applied to very few speakers other than the Scintilla. That genuine 1 ohm impedance has become the litmus test for every amp purporting to be the King of the Hill.

    (note to potential flamers – I’m merely channeling notorious hairshirt audiophile and misanthrope Arthur Salvatore with that quote, but John *did* throw out the challenge)

    Artie

  7. Great read and finally an integrated that has it all !Alone for that the price is a bargain one unit can do it all . Guess Berlin is a bit cold around this time right time for a Glühwein, and good music ?

    • Glühwein time vanished with Christmas but yes, very cold this week (and next). Snow comes and goes. I’ve got the AudioQuest NightOwl Carbon and Rupert Neve headphone amp, fed by an AURALiC Aries Mini, keeping me warm. 🙂

      • John, if possible, in a future write-up please let us know how the Night Owl seals off external noise from creeping in. I’m also looking at oppo pm-3. I’m aware of the price difference. I live and work in an apartment in a great location but with a lot of street noise during the day. Using Bose QC-25 and dragonfly black now.

  8. You’re timing was perfect . They released the apple approved version the same day . Maybe mine will finally ship !

  9. Beyond John’s obvious skills in the audio and literary departments, I’m impressed with the interior design and the photography. Mixing multiple kids of wood in a harmonious way? Tasteful greenery? And speaking of green, that rug!

    • Thanks Geoffrey – the new place in Berlin is coming together but slowly. These snaps were shot upstairs where I have more natural light and where a headphone listening station is coming together. I can sit and listen as I gaze out over the (presently snowy) rooftops of Mitte towards Potsdamer Platz.

  10. I’ve recently sold my Nova 125SE and 220SE to try something else but I loved reading this review and will continue to recommend Peachtree while they keep putting out great products like this !

  11. Hey John,

    could you tell me please what kind of rach the Peachtree is standing on?

    I recognize the IKEA kitchen board, but I dont know the steel frame.

    Thanky for your assistance.

  12. A friend who comes to me for audio advice is looking for a super-integrated for Maggies. He needs a dac, mm phono, and obviously lots of power, for US $2,500 or less. Looks like he will have a winner with the Nova 300. I also suggested he check out the Parasound Halo Integrated. Not as much power on paper, but reportedly works with Maggies and is packed with features. Have you had a chance to check it out? I told him to try both. He can’t be bothered and essentially wants me to choose for him.

    • Given I’ve used words like clean and punctilious, would you not readily infer (what you call) ‘neutral’? 😉

  13. John,
    Well written review. Question: If you were to ignore the functionality and the features, would you recommend the Nova 300 as a DAC+Amp with stereo sound worth USD 2300?

    • Absolutely I would. Ideally, however, I would have other 2500ish amps to directly compare to the nova300 but such is the life of a reviewer with a rolling ‘inventory’, I can only work with the gear presently in my possession; hence the comparisons to the Rotel and the Devialet.

      • Hi,

        I have owned bit andlike the Peachtree better. I always
        Come back to Peachtree. This is probably my 7-8 th
        Peachtree amp.

        Bob

  14. Hi,

    Currently running a Rogue Pharoah with Maggie 3.7i’s, and wondering if the Nova 300
    Would be an upgrade or sideways move? Loved my Nova 150 and 220 and wondering
    If the Mags might like the little extra power from the 300?? I know it’s hard to tell without
    Direct comparison.

    Thanks,
    Bob

  15. I just love Peachtree. After using my Nova 150 for some months I will now upgrade to the 300 in a couple of days. Can’t wait. Peachtree and my Klipsch RF – 7 II will be the love of my life so far, and I have tried a lot during the years.
    Greetings from Norway

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