NuPrime 9X series

The NuPrime 9X series are a complete eco-system of high performance, compact and affordable home audio components. They are all exceptional stand-alone models that will improve the sound and utility of almost any existing system and are even better when combined. The 9X Series exhibit both worthwhile synergy and compatibility, allowing you to progressively build and improve your home system.

The present 9X series family has evolved since introduction and we can trace the roots back to a range of NuForce components. This path of refinement and improvement has led to a broadening of the range with both digital and analogue paths to the point where they have replaced what was NuPrime’s original reference series. 

The gradual nature of this evolution means the 9 Series may have flown under your radar until now. NuPrime have also been active in pushing performance boundaries with other parts of their range – the highly regarded AMG and Evolution series being obvious. The good news is that much of the work and development in these high end ranges does find it’s way into the 9 Series with considerable benefits for you.

With 8 core components for you to select from, you are able to build an almost bewildering array of possible systems. That’s why we’re here to help you navigate to the best solution for your own circumstances.

Each component warrants a page in it’s own right and the NuPrime site provides these. The nature of audio review sites does mean that the more unique and possibly aspirational components out there will get more column inches – even within our own site it’s been difficult to keep pace with NuPrime’s steady flow of models and ranges. But in this section we’ve made a point of looking closely at what really is the heart and soul of the NuPrime range and will explain to you both why the individual components are so good and how best to match them to get an even better end result.

There are several core elements to the range; each piece is compact – about half the size or even less, than traditional components. They are simply as big as they need to be an no more. This has significant cost savings and creates economies of scale in terms of shared parts and packaging. All are electrically efficient – they don’t get hot which both saves money in both use and manufacture, and has long-term benefits in reliability.

The logic behind separate components is unarguable – performance, isolation, flexibility, upgrade-ability and reliability all feed into this.


NuPrime (and NuForce) have always been best known for their unique amplifier designs; The STA-9X stereo power amplifier encapsulates all of what makes them special and is a foundational  component within the range. A 130 watt per channel output would often be the product of a large, heavy and hot running design. NuPrime leave behind this old way of thinking with a hybrid ClassA/D design that gives you the best of all worlds; Class A for the input stage delivers a warm and harmonious presentation, Class D in the output section gives you abundant power, attack and bass control. Yet the STA-9X is cool running, and hence no large heatsinks or vents are required. The slim but large internal toroid power supply has a multitude of benefits – low EMF emission and noise, abundant headroom for the amplifier sections and because of the electrically efficient design, it again is no bigger than it actually has to be, which has further benefits in terms of the actual performance you get for the money.

With the STA-9X NuPrime have pushed their proprietary Class D design to it’s highest switching speed within the entire line up – at 750kHz the ‘9X stands above even the Evolution models. You can hear this in the speed and agility during complex passages.

Conventional thought is that amplifier output should double when you halve impedance. But when you consider that most speakers vary in impedance over a range of frequencies this is possibly not so great. Also distortion levels can vary over this range. The STA-9X has a completely stable output regardless of the speaker impedance it is connected to. This is one of the reasons the new STA-9X sounds remarkably coherent. 

If you want more power this NuPrime amplifier also has another trick up it’s sleeve – the STA-9X can be bridged with a flick of the switch turning it into a 330 watt mono power amplifier! A pair of these will rival any far more costly single chassis design. 

While the development of the new STA-9X was informed by the AMG STA, the 9X very much has it’s own character. The enhanced tube like fluidity of the AMG is hinted at but the 9X is agile and measured in a way that can better suit modern genres. Quite possibly easier to match with a wider range of speakers, the 9X may well be the best value power amplifier in the entire NuPrime range.

The improvements made over the original STA-9 are compelling when you hear them side by side. However this does nothing to diminish the original design and in fact for any existing STA-9 owner, you are far better off adding another STA-9 and bridging (they are still in production for this very reason) than changing for changes sake.


Just as the NuPrime power amplifiers are optimally designed as discrete components, your choices of front end models to match with them are equally purposeful. Let’s explore the digital side of life first, simply because there are more options. Streaming or CD, NuPrime have it covered.

NuPrime DAC-9X
The NuPrime DAC-9X close up.

The DAC-9X is the most evolved of the entire series being the third generation of DAC and by far the most refined and feature rich. The DAC-9X accepts a multitude of digital inputs and also includes a dedicated and carefully isolated analogue section. It is a highly capable preamplifier in it’s own right with both RCA and balanced outputs to send to your STA-9X (and subwoofer). Headphone jack, MQA, fixed and variable output switching all feature on the front panel and a remote control completes the comprehensive package. The digital performance and input array exceed the previous reference model (DAC-10H) yet the actual cost is considerably less. And like all 9X models there is a choice between black and silver finishes.

The DAC-9X can easily be upgraded with streaming capabilities by adding NuPrimes’ little ‘Stream Mini’, but for the best sounding solution, go straight to the matching Stream 9. It’s the perfect route into high definition streaming for every NuPrime owner and ticks all the boxes. The Stream 9 is a network transport so connects to any of the NuPrime DACs or Integrated amplifiers.

What it delivers, is stunningly lucid and engaging sound from many sources; music stored on your home network, Tidal, Qobuz and Spotify, any smart phone or tablet via both Wifi and Bluetooth, with additional inputs for optical and coax. Mac users will love that Apple Airplay is included.

The NuPrime Stream 9 competes directly with the undisputed champion of streaming – Lumin. The Lumin U2 Mini is the bench mark for a high performance affordable network transport and is both functionally and aesthetically similar to the NuPrime Stream 9. There are important feature differences, notably that the NuPrime has both wifi and bluetooth built in. The control apps for each are also distinct, and Lumin have the benefit of a greater range of seriously high end network players and transports to draw from. But competition is a wonderful thing and for around half the price the NuPrime Stream 9 mounts a credible challenge, has an engaging and lively presentation and will be the first choice for many.

If you need a CD player there’s no equivocation; NuPrime have you covered with both the well proven CDP-9 and the new CDT-9 transport. We reviewed the CDP-9 in 2018 and found ‘The NuPrime CDP-9 clearly better than any CD Playing system we have sold previously over the last decade with the exception of the top end Meridian products. And even then it does bring something unique to the party.”

Since then the CDP-9 has sold steadily and is still our first choice as a stand alone player. And it has a well featured DAC and preamp section so can run directly into the STA-9X

The CDT-9 is newer and simpler – because of improvements in the 3 generations of NuPrime DACs, the CDT-9 is the optimal choice with the DAC-9X. This gives you an appreciable performance lift over the original CDP-9 on all inputs and disc playing, plus greater flexibility. With upsampling and the IIs cable connection this combination delivers stunning CD replay for anyone who still appreciates their large disc collection.

Pure Analogue

NuPrime (and formerly NuForce) have a significant history with analogue preamplifiers. The PRA-9X carries on this tradition and adds some unique twists. There’s a built in phono stage, headphone output and both balanced and RCA inputs and outputs. This would suggest that it’s an upgrade of the HPA-9, but in reality it’s a complete and comprehensive reworking.

NuPrime PRA-9X and STA-9X with the Consonance Wax Engine turntable.
Pure analogue – the NuPrime PRA-9X and STA-9X combination with the Consonance Wax Engine turntable and Bassocontinuo rack.

The phono stage illustrates this perfectly – vastly improved and focused on MM, the turntable input now competes with any serious separate phono stage, many costing as much as the entire PRA-9X itself. From the first notes I’ve been struck by the clarity, verve and agility of the presentation.

A well designed preamplifier brings a system to life and the new PRA-9X is a real case in point. Power amplifiers also vary quite widely in terms of what it takes to bring them to full potential and even within NuPrime’s own selection, there are significant specification differences when it comes to sensitivity, gain and impedance. A case in point being the newest model, the Evolution STA; of all the NuPrime models, this benefits the most from the PRA-9X and at an educated guess I’d suggest the same designer was behind both. That I can recommend the 9 series preamp with the reference series power amp speaks volumes about both the performance and value of the ‘9X.

The PRA-9X also has some rather useful and friendly smarts – it remembers the last volume setting use for everyone of the 4 inputs and always goes back to this when you switch – and rather than coming on instantly at this level, mutes between switches then smoothly ramps up to this level. Needless to say there is a remote control but I’ve been enjoying the more tactile experience of front panel operation.

I’ve previously reviewed NuPrime’s AMG PRA preamplifier. Despite being outwardly similar the two options are quite distinct in both character and intent. On a purist level, the AMG has the performance advantage to justify the difference in price but this would have to be in the context of a seriously transparent system. By including the phono stage and headphone output the PRA-9X holds broader appeal and gives very little away – in fact the higher output is immediately apparent in the form of more punchy dynamics. All these factors make the PRA-9X a simply awesome preamplifier at a highly competitive price.

Matching with the STA-9X power amplifier is the obvious choice; the small footprint of both units combined and the high performance and power make the combination more than a match for any of the ‘super integrated’ options out there. But the PRA-9X also stands as a fantastic upgrade for many existing systems, especially NZ made where, to be brutally honest, the original preamps were costly but never up to this standard.

And while the STA-9X is the first recommendation, NuPrimes own giant killer – the STA-100 with 100 watts at around half the cost can make for an amazing combination with any of the 9X series front ends – analogue or digital.

The IA-9X integrated analogue amplifier is a newer and even more intriguing model. The preamplifier section is similar to the PRA-9X and includes a phono stage which appears identical. But it’s in the power amp side that the real action happens. This model has more in common with the flagship Evolution STA than it’s ‘9X series counterpart;

Up until recently NuPrime have pursued higher switching speeds as the way to advance their Class D amplifier designs and this reaches it’s ultimate expression in the STA-9X. But with the new Evolution STA they have taken a new track with their ‘Only Distortion Cancellation (ODC) circuit for ultra-low distortion for neutral and detailed sound’

So here we have Evolution level power amplifier in an affordable, entry level even, integrated component. The IA-9X isn’t a cut down version of the PRA-9X and STA-9X – it’s a serious component in it’s own right and quite distinct in both internal design and sound.

But the story doesn’t end there. With almost every other amplifier design, the sonic character you get is effectively set. Maybe you have old fashioned tone adjustment or switching for speaker impedance but this  doesn’t fundamentally change anything and often is a step backwards. The IA-9X has a second circuit which works in tandem with ODC – the Harmonic generation circuit utilising Class A transistors for a warmer, richer sound similar to that of a vacuum tube amplifier.

So you are able to fundamentally change the character of the sound while still enjoying the benefit of the detail and accuracy delivered by the Evolution level ODC section. You may still be asking why you’d want to do this;

While NuPrime suggest that the IA-9X is intended for analogue systems, you can connect some stunningly good digital source components which the IA-9X provides an ideal platform to combine the best of analogue and digital. Yet most would agree that digital and analogue still have distinct characters. The same applies to music genres. And every speaker system has it’s own voice, every room it’s own acoustic. While maybe not the complete answer to all these variations, the ability of  the IA-9X to be fine tuned is a significant plus. Even better you can just do this with a flick of the front panel switch.

Given the compact size, affordability and rated output of 90 watts per channel, you can see that the IA-9X can be ideal for smaller rooms and near field listening. It can be especially good with monitor level speakers where the serious listener can aim to get the most out of any recording.

Putting it all together

As you can now understand there is almost a NuPrime 9 Series component to fit any application and you can take this even further with combinations. Every system is unique and every listener deserves the best possible combination of performance, value and utility. With the 9X components we’re very close to fulfilling this ideal. 

We want to build upon this ideal when we connect a NuPrime 9X based system together. While it’s possible to go wild with cables there quickly comes a point where the cost of many are actually greater that the components they are connected to. The price/performance levels of the NuPrime 9X components make a compelling case to simply invest more here – for instance adding a second bridged STA-9X to effectively triple the power will make more of a difference than any cable we can provide for the same price.

In this context our Kimber Kable options make the most sense; even more so when you see that in many cases, balanced inputs and outputs are provided for. The recently improved entry level 4PR speaker cable offers just the right balance of performance and overall sound to let you hear exactly how capable the NuPrimes are and when terminated with the new KLEI banana plugs they sound even better and can easily be bi-wired.

Every system and room is unique so what you’ll hear will be your own experience but in every case the NuPrime constants are there; High resolution and transparency – you’ll simply hear stuff that wasn’t there before. Low noise – that’s an absence of hiss and hum getting in the way of the music. Great dynamics and power – quite simply the NuPrime 9X’s all sound exciting and involving. Music should be fun. 

The more subtle aspects that fit under the ‘audiophile’ label are very much in play and to a large extent it’s in these areas that the new generation X series components improve upon the original 9’s. The precision of stereo imaging, the subtle textures of performances and intelligibility of vocals are all there with improved fluidity and accuracy, directly attributable to the development of both the AMG series and the latest Evolution models.

These improvements in the quality of all the individual components build on one another so the further you choose to go, the more you get. Outside of the legacy CDP-9, every 9 series component falls below NZ$2500. The performance of each and every one exceeds anything we’ve previously had at this price no matter how far we go back. And often components that cost considerably more, even within the previous NuPrime and NuForce ranges. This stands in stark contrast to many other brands where slow iterative change just leads to ever increasing prices. 

If you’ve followed us this far you’ll understand how NuPrime have done this; there’s smart engineering and design with compact components, common elements across the range leading to economies of scale, the willingness to use technologies from the most costly models, and not being afraid to try new and innovative circuit designs.

The NuPrime 9X series components hit the sweet spot in performance and affordability. Each design deftly balances comprehensive features with remarkable sound quality and the entire range has a track record of exceptional reliability. Music enthusiast or audiophile, there’s a place in your system for the NuPrime 9X components.

IA-9X  integrated analogue amplifier $2450

DAC-9X  fully featured DAC and preamplifier $2500

PRA-9X analogue preamplifier with phono stage $2250

Stream 9 network streaming transport $2250

CDP-9 CD player with multiple digital inputs $3250

CDT-9 purist CD transport $2350

STA-9X 130 watt per channel, bridgeable stereo power amplifier $2350

STA-9 120 watt per channel, bridgeable stereo power amplifier $1700

All prices in NZ$ as at July 2023 including GST and delivery.

NuPrime STA-9X and DAC-9X
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