NuPrime-X MCX-2 stereo power amplifier.

NuPrime have changed the way we think about amplifiers. What they look like, how they work and even how they sound. The NuPrime-X MCX series are the latest chapter in this story, redefining our expectations of power and how this ties in with sound quality. Massively powerful – they range from 300 to 750 watts per channel  – the MCX power amplifiers are a series of 4 models all built on the same slim design platform.

In every case the MCX series represents unbeatable value at an introductory price of just NZ$2350 each including GST and delivery. (that’s the US$1295 price plus tax).  The MCX-2, which we review here in depth, is the stereo power amplifier within the range (the others being mono, 3 and 4 channel). There is a great technical story behind this design but for me – and I would also hope you, the sound quality comes first so let’s explore that initially then see how the technical explanation ties in with what you’ll hear.

This Nuprime amplifier has character with a capital C. I might not have been able to appreciate this before but it’s been my experience with the higher end power amplifiers – especially the new Evolution One flagship mono amplifiers, that once you hear music with all the additions and distortions stripped away, but also with a remarkable enhancement in transparency and detail, your listening is effectively recalibrated and it becomes possible to then better identify what other amplifiers are doing.

The MCX-2 makes an immediate impression with its power – the depth in bass performance, increase in volume and all round solidity cannot be denied. A part of this is due to the high sensitivity and gain so we have to be careful when comparing it too other amplifiers in this regard but as you take the volume up, it just keeps going. While Nuprime’s high end amplifiers strive for neutrality and accuracy, the MCX-2 casts a very distinct signature with both a midrange richness and almost brutal low-end. I’ve heard this sound before and love it – big tubed Marshall guitar amplifiers. But is this a colouration itself and how does this square with the goals of modern amplifier design?

The system is which the MCX-2 was first connected included the Monitor Audio Studio stand mount speakers. They just about leapt across the floor but the match of the NuPrime’s richness and weight gave an end result that was clearly the best I’ve heard from these monitors; the Studio’s metal cone drivers and ribbon tweeter can be un-nervingly fast and detailed so the balance provided by the MCX counters any overly analytical tendencies.

Over the first hours and days, the sound of the MCX-2 rapidly improves – it effectively ‘opens out’ becoming easier in its delivery, more communicative and balanced – but the power and depth remain as defining characteristics.

The more we listened to the MCX-2, the more we liked it. It’s just a coincidence but at the time of arrival we’d just booked tickets to see Alien Weaponry – te reo (Māori language), thrash metal may not be everyones chosen genre but the combination of this with the MCX-2 resulted in what must be the most ‘live’ sound we’ve ever enjoyed at home. I’ve got a theory of what’s happening here…

When many bands record in the studio, the sound from guitars is fed direct into the mix – the player may well get a lot of the sound from their monitor speakers but what goes onto record is an almost sanitised version. Then when you hear the band live and in full flight, it’s a far more compelling experience.

The MCX-2 brings back this character to the recording. In this way you get a more accurate version of the live band.

As the amplifier runs in over the next few weeks, the midrange gets especially good. This amplifier has ‘presence’. Vocals are tonally organic and full, projecting out of the speakers. What is most fascinating is the way in which the MCX allows distinct threads of the recoding emerge – it really feels like we are listening to a different mix and aspects of the music that were submerged before present with greater clarity. This is quite different to the Evolution Ones where everything is opened right up and the detail is quite scary – the MCX seems almost selective.

This is by no means a criticism – I don’t think there is a ‘perfect’ amplifier and this applies even more so when you remember that the amp is just one part of a system so it will often be matching with other parts that may well be less accurate. So an amplifier can either compensate for, or exacerbate issues. Where the MXC is unusual is that it has such a unique signature that makes music sound more like live with the power and concentrates both on being listenable and involving with it’s warmth. This is a very seductive combination.

NuPrime do hint that they are quite capable of tailoring the sound of an amplifier and I think they really have in this case.

The contrast between the NuPrimeX MCX-2 and well proven NuPrime ST10 is fascinating – they are in effective competition with each other. The ST-10 is more refined – the higher switching speed (600 kHz vs 550 for the MCX) linear toroid power supply, more costly casework and connections all contribute to a greater sense of air, finer detail and a sense that the leading edge of notes are presented in a more immediate and accurate way. And up until now the depth and solidity of the ST-10’s 150 watts seemed more than enough. It was only the recent arrival of both the new ST-10M mono amplifiers and Evolution Ones that allowed me to look at the stereo ST-10 with more perspective.

Yet the MCX-2 brings things to the party that the ST-10 doesn’t. The power and dynamics delivered by the 550 watt rating can’t be argued with. The bass is thunderous by comparison. There is no sense of hardness and this is beneficial especially with rougher or lean recordings. And while the ST-10 gives the impression of being more detailed, I’ve still heard things on the MCX that didn’t seem apparent via the ST-10. There have been plenty of moments where previously indistinct vocals suddenly make sense.

Through larger speakers the MCX-2 really shows what it can do – it’s one thing to make a small speaker sound like a bigger one but it’s something else again to allow a floor standing model to fully unleash it’s potential. The first case is compensating for physical limitations but the later is where we really find the worth of this design.

If the MCX-2 was just coloured to sound warm, when used with larger speakers it could fall flat. But the enormity of the power delivered makes this a completely different proposition. The control of the bass drivers is nothing short of awesome. 

I never ever thought I’d find practical use for a 550 watt amplifier at home – previous experience with huge NZ made amplifiers made me wary of the opaque and unrelenting nature of  large banks of output transistors competing with each other to produce this kind of power. But the Nuprime is so different in the way it works and it’s obvious that music is coming though it in a far more coherent fashion.

While the power is there I was really appreciating listening at lower levels – the power creates space for the music to breathe and it never sound forced. I’m also thinking the high sensitivity of this amplifier (which makes it easier for any preamplifier), also contributes to this sense of ease at lower volumes. We can attribute many of the problems of high power amplifiers to the inherent complexity required when implementing Class A or AB – really high voltages and currents, many output devices that had to have longer signal paths in order to allow proper cooling.

This is exactly why, when Gary Morrison went from Plinius to Pure Audio, he dropped the rated output power in order to improve upon both quality and musicality.

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This is MY amplifier! Pyewacket likes his new MCX-2.

But the NuPrime approach allows you to have this quality AND higher power. And because of the thermal efficiency of Nuprime switching amplifiers and power supplies, the material costs are far lower. So better quality, more power, lower price.

I’ve hesitated to call the sound of the MCX ‘tube-like’ because when applied to home audio this carries quite a narrow definition that precludes the bass extension and control that the MCX exudes. But I come back to the connection to the live tube sound of Marshall guitar amplifiers. These are very much the amp of choice for many bands and with good reason – the performer on stage knows exactly what kind of sound they want and for many the Marshalls deliver – it’s both rich and searingly powerful with volume levels that I’m happy to risk hearing loss for. And this gets to the heart of what the NuPrime MCX does for me.

This doesn’t mean this amplifier is restricted to genre. There is a world of difference between studio and concert hall performance with classical artists and again, the MCX transmits the feel, scale and connection of the latter performance. There should be a real richness in the tonality of stringed instruments and in this, the MCX amplifier does what we attribute to Sonus faber speakers. Even when recordings are made live, I think what you hear is very much a cleaned up version taken from one spot in the hall and intentionally excluding much of the reverberation that is part of the actual experience.

It’s this concept of reverberation and resonance that’s intriguing me. The NuPrime switching amplifiers are described as ‘self resonant’ in terms of how they operate, modulating the signal. There was a school of thought that Naim used to do something like this in order to enhance the ‘foot tapping’ aspect of their amps rather than aiming for strict accuracy. But with NuPrime I think it runs much deeper in the design and is imbedded in the way in which the operate. So there is far more drive and yet we’re getting these previously unheard threads to the music revealed in plain sight.

There is also convention in audio that tubes sound as they do because while they can distort quite heavily, these distortions are even order harmonics which are ‘good’. Conversly odd order harmonics are seen as a ‘bad’, and often digital form of distortion. Could it be that NuPrime are intentionally letting the even order harmonics become part of the design, and that this places an emphasis on parts of the music we haven’t noticed before?

This could imply that the MCX-2 might have a character that impinges of the quality of transparency. Yet in practice the MCX lays bare the difference between preamps and DACs. We’ve used 3 different source preamps – the NuPrime HPA-9, DAC-10 and Evolution DAC – in each case there was an astonishing step up in performance which didn’t seem that obvious before. Likewise with both analogue and digital sources, the resolution is stunning – and if anything it enhanced the classic richness of analogue sound.

We can also draw some similarities in what we hear with different breeds of DAC to how the MCX amplifier sounds. As a DAC reconstructs the original signal from the digital stream, the algorithm used will always have some form of character – you have to have listened to an array of models to start to understand this but I’m finding different chipsets can give quite distinct versions of a recording – they can go as far as to make it seem that you are listening to a differently mastered version despite knowing it is the same digital file you might have heard the day before.

I’ve also recently listened to a prototype phono stage that intentionally deviates from the RIAA standard to give what the designer feels is a more engaging version. Again, different threads of the music were made more obvious and I felt we were getting something that was both distinct and better, without quite being able to identify exactly how.

So it’s perfectly possible to have different interpretations of the same source material. Is one more accurate than the other? And is accuracy the only criteria on which to judge performance? How do we even tell what the original performance was like.

Which brings me almost full circle – I love what the NuPrime MCX does because it sounds more like the bands I’ve enjoyed live. The MCX gives you a performance rather simple rendition.

And it does this while retaining all NuPrimes virtues – it’s a class leader in terms of the real power offered at the price. It’s efficient, cool running and no bigger than it has to be. The sound quality stacks up on every level. And with the modular design and model choices there is an option to suit almost any system. So what’s not to like?

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Rear panel of the NuPrime-X MCX-4  – 4 channels with both balanced and RCA inputs.

Inside the MCX series

The MCX-2 stereo power amplifier  which we have reviewed is the closest to conventional – a slim standard width box, with two channels, RCA and balanced in, 2 pairs of binding posts for the connection of speaker cables, on switch on the front. Oh, and output of 550 watts RMS per channel.

The MCX-4 is, not surprisingly, a 4 channel version in the same box with obvious applications in surround sound systems, bi-amping and multi-room, and is specified as having 180 watts RMS per channel. But this jumps to 280 watts into 4 ohms.

The MCX 3 is, a 3 channel power amplifier which makes sense for centre and either front or rear speakers with 550 watts for the centre and 180 each for the remaining pair.

The MCX-1 is an awesomely powerful mono amplifier – with 750 watts of output you might question it’s utility but if you are in for a few surprises if you read on.

There is a compelling logic behind the NuPrime amplifier design which becomes self evident once you understand it. Yet we can struggle with the conceptual jump required to get to this point so let’s step through the basics of the design without getting too technical but also allowing you to learn the fascinating story of why the Nuprime amplifiers sound as good as they do…

For a few years NuPrime insisted on calling their designs ‘Analogue Switching amplifiers’ rather than Class D – in part to distance themselves from the idea that ‘D’ stood for digital. It doesn’t – there’s just Class A, B, C and… D

So if you have any preconceptions of what Class D is, just set them aside for the moment.

Class D is the name given to an amplifier design that works of the principle of very rapid switching to achieve exceptional electrical efficiency – which in practice means that these amplifiers run cool with up to 90% efficiency possible. This delivers huge advantages to a design because many of the parts of a conventional amplifier are there to do little else than to produce and dispute heat.

Design features that most manufacturers use as selling points such as large, heavy and expensive transformers, massive heat sinks, sheer size and even banks of glowing tubes reinforce the belief that this is the way to build a good sounding amplifier. And to some extent this has been true in the past – the sonic virtues of Class A operation and high capacity power supplies have been proven and brought us to a point where conventional amplifier design has effectively peaked. Only by ever more rigorous component selection, painstakingly incremental circuit refinement and more costly engineering is progress made. So high end amplifiers become increasingly expensive.

This is a complete anathema to me – I want as many people as possible to be able to experience great sound, and reject utterly the elitism of audio being commodified like a stupidly expensive watch or pointlessly extravagant car. 

The new MCX power amplifiers are the product of several unique threads of design and even within NuPrime’s rapidly expanding portfolio of models, stand out as being quite a departure – so much so that they have given them a separate identity – NuPrime-Xand have looked to market them outside of the conventional ‘audiophile’ channel. In fact, if these were made by a company other than NuPrime, I’d be starting to get worried as they would represent direct competition.

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Internals of the NuPrime-X MCX-2 stereo power amplifier.

The heart of the MCX power amp is the Class D or switching amplifier circuit boards. You don’t have to be an expert to pick this section out in the picture above – you can see two identical ‘NuPrime’ branded boards, one for each channel. It looks deceptively simple. If you look closely you’ll also see some quite small black bits of heatsink on each board. In a normal amplifier this would suggest a very modest power rating which is completely at odds with the actual power rating; 550 watts per channel.

It’s Class D that makes this possible but it’s Nuprime’s unique design that makes it sound good. The MCX series amps haven’t come out of nowhere. NuPrime (and the previous NuForce incarnation), designed some wicked multichannel amplifiers that culminated in the NuPrime MCH-K38 which was a seriously powerful 8 channel amplifier that could be bridged and used in several different configurations – I wrote about it here – and my conclusion was that it was ‘NuPrime’s best sounding single box power amplifier’

The MCX series builds on this work. Here’s the real trick – by combining a Class A preamp section feeding into the Class D power amp NuPrime aim to deliver the best of both worlds – a warm tube like sound quality backed up ample (and in fact devastating if you want), levels of power and control. The MCH-K38 demonstrably delivered this. Yet it was a somewhat daunting proposition with so many channels and a relatively high price which kept it off the radar for many listeners.

I really did think the NuPrime MCH-K38 was better than their ST-10 stereo power amplifier but in order for this to be so, it had to be correctly configured – ie bridged and bi-amped so combining the higher cost both of the amp and associated cables it really should have been anyway. The arrival of the ST-10M mono amplifiers neatly leapfrogged this option last year but now the MCX-2 has added something completely unexpected to the mix.

The MCX both simplifies and refines the design giving even better sound quality again. In the first instance the main amplifier boards are an enhanced version of that used in the MCH-K38 but obviously there are less of them in a two channel power amplifier when compared to eight. What I have picked up on is that each board is still essentially two channels but is operating in a ‘half bridge’ configuration – this is significant as with many Nuprime amplifiers, when bridged, operate with less distortion as well as more power. I don’t know enough about this but suspect that ‘half bridged’ operation may share some of the better qualities of balanced designs and of course those inputs are catered for.

In the MCX-2 there is more spare space because of this which means better channel separation and less noise. And also room for an enhanced array of storage capacitors with underscores the increase in power.

Another major departure from almost all other amplifiers is the power supply. The MXC power amplifiers use a switched mode power supply which is fundamentally different from the conventional arrangement of the transformer and rectifier.

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The MCX power supply section.

As you’ll be aware our  New Zealand AC power has a frequency of 50 hertz – it flicks from 240 volts positive to negative 50 times every second. This is why florescent lights flicker and you can often feel a buzz or hum coming from an amplifier – you may even hear this via speakers which is not so great. If you had a normal power amplifier with an output power rating of 550 watts you would expect it to be seriously big and heavy because there would have to be a correspondingly large transformer – it’s a brute force solution.

A switched mode power supply takes the incoming AC but kicks the frequency up far beyond 50 hertz. The trick is that the higher the frequency used, the smaller the transformer can become. Likewise when making the conversion from AC to DC the parts can be much smaller and higher in tolerance and specification. So when you look at the power supply section, if you can even recognise the transformers, they are tiny.

NuPrime aren’t the first people to use switched mode power supplies and for may of their earlier designs used off the shelf units. There have been 2 downsides to SMPS units – they are difficult to design properly and if not well thought out they can produce radio frequency interference, and because of the complexity and voltages involved, can be less reliable. This never stopped Linn with their ‘Brilliant’ power supplies, and there are a number of other specialist audio designers who have used SMPS units to good effect.

What sets the NuPrime MCX power amps apart is that they have produced a dedicated SMPS – it’s a complex board that I don’t pretend to understand in full but you can see it in the internal pictures. Again, this appears to be derived from the original MCH-K38 and what previously pushed 8 channels is now fully allocated to two.

I want to also re-iterate that both the amplifier modules and power supply sections are all Nuprime’s own work – most class D amplifier employ some variant of the Hypex or ICE amplifier modules and either an off the shelf torrid or SMPS. So while these ones don’t have to re-invent the wheel, they are limited to what someone else’s technology can do; the slower switching speeds – 300hHz are an obvious limitation.

Going even further

The modular nature of the MCX series is obvious so you can see how easy it has been for them to produce four distinct models.

The MCX-1 is a 750 watt mono power amplifier that takes the MCX formula to the logical conclusion. So NuPrime now have 3 mono amplifier options – MCX-1, ST-10M and Evolution One.

I have previously experienced 750 watt mono power amplifiers – there were the Perreaux Monos and you could bridge the Plinius SA-250. Both options were back-breakingly heavy and frighteningly costly.

Yet with the NuPrime MCX-1 we have this same power but in a compact, cool running and affordable box (or two). And as I’ve discovered in my listening to the MCX-2, the power can be remarkably benign.

Once we get up to numbers such as 550 and 750 watts I think we have to qualify them. The NuPrime design operates somewhat differently from other amplifiers, especially with the switched mode power supply and high efficiency.

You may be surprised to learn that there are quite different conventions for specifying maximum power in home theatre products and audiophile or music playing amplifiers.

Audio Video surround sound receivers are sold on the basis of a peak power rating with 10% distortion. And this is often contingent on the number of channels driven at any one time as these amplifiers can have 7 or more speakers to run.

In our world stereo amplifiers are rated with peak power delivered at 1% distortion – that’s a big difference.

Because NuPrime X is aimed at the AV market they follow the first convention. Before you get too worried make sure you read the specifications carefully – the MCX-2 and MCX-1 – the ratings are RMS rather than peak. But the key point is this –

At either 550 or 750 watts you are never likely to use the full output and even if you do this will only ever be for short peaks of music – so in practice we never get to the distortion levels that would normally worry us. But as you might imagine with an AVR rated at say 125 watts it would be very easy to get to distorted sound levels.

Also remember that we’ve looked at the different kinds of distortion – a tube amplifier can audibly distort at quite low levels but the result can often be seen as a positive contribution. Whereas the very low measured distortion of many solid state amps doesn’t always guarantee great sound – it’s just one number. Everything I have heard with the MCX-2 tells me that it’s working like a tube amplifier but with much greater power on hand.

The power supply itself is rated at 1000 watts – so the MCX-2’s 550 watt per channel rating may be qualified, there is no such constraint on the  MCX-1s 750 watt figure. In both cases they are specified as being into 8 ohms and the rating into lower impedance speakers isn’t included. I suspect given how most of the other NuPrime amplifiers work, the rating remains stable rather than doubling into 4 ohms and I’ve found no issues with such speakers in practice.

The idling power consumption is 30 watts – so the MCX runs very slightly warm. Our new cat has quickly discovered this and spreads his rather ample and fluffy body over the amp. And in use, the heat coming from the amplifier doesn’t seem to change at all.

Many of the other specifications are noticeably different from the ST-10. The gain is x53 which is effectively twice that of the ST-10 at x28. The sensitivity goes the other way being 1.2v vs the ST-10s 0.89v – the fact that the MCX 2 sounds markedly louder when connected tells us the former number has more significance.

Both series are rated up to 50kHz in their frequency response -3dB points but the MCX (perhaps wisely), tails off the really low frequencies at 10Hz whereas the ST10 rates to 0 Hz Which is effectively DC.

There is a slight – 4dB – improvement in the signal to noise ratio with the ST-10 which we could attribute to the linear power supply.

In practice the noise floor performance is greatly enhanced over the MCH-K38 from which the MCX is derived – the 8 channel amplifier was very busy and this, combined with the multitude of connections in many surround systems did mean any noises were amplified. We also found that the MCH-K38 wasn’t happy with after market mains cables – the supplied NuPrime AC cables feature solid ferrite suppressors to filter out incoming mains hash. The MCX has much better noise rejection and certainly does sound better with the KLEI mains cables. It’s also highly likely NuPrime’s AC-4 filter will further improve performance.

From what I have heard with the MCX-2 I’m now very keen to get my hands on a set of the MCX-1s and I can see these will be the subject of a future review.

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Matching the MCX in systems – music, cinema, gaming.

NuPrime have targeted the new MCX series at the home cinema and gaming market. And I have no doubt that anyone looking to use any of the models will be blown away – they are that good. We’ve looked at them more in the context of systems that are primarily set up to play music, and through this lens the MCX is quite unique and holds real appeal.

In the cinema or gaming context, the high power and gain, rock solid bass performance and (relatively) low cost are huge plus factors. Most AVRs (Audio Video Receivers) have pre-out sockets and so any of the MCX series can simply be added in – the MCX-3 as a solution for the Left-Centre-Right array of speakers, the MCX-2 for just the fronts (or even surround), The MCX-4 for fronts and surrounds or the LCRs as you can bi-amp or bridge with it. And the MCX-1s if you really want to take it to the max.

There are very good reasons for adding an MCX power amp to an AVR. No matter what brand you have, all AVRs are complex beasts with multiple channels, audio and video processing, digital and analogue. Because of this complexity, intense price and feature competition it’s inevitable that there will be compromise made to sound quality. This will be manifested in the single power supply that has to run all the parts.

By adding any of the MCX power amplifiers you first improve the quality and power of amp driving your speakers. But just as importantly, by taking the load off the power supply within the AVR, its performance also lifts. And this then feeds into the MCX. So you can see that it is a win-win option with both improved power AND quality.

Speaker matching and safety are always the things that people are always going to think about first. Any amplifier of this power has to be treated with respect but this doesn’t mean you are needlessly risking your speakers – as you have read, all my initial listening was done with small 100 watt speakers and at normal listening levels all the qualities of the MCX amplifiers shine through. At no stage have I heard the amplifier sound even slightly strained and it has been quite something to hear what the speakers can do with the headroom. Having the power on tap is great and I most certainly have pushed things along with sessions that are up with anything I’ve heard live. And all our speakers have remained happily intact. Let’s just call this an amplifier for grown ups. It’s not power that damages speakers – it’s distortion caused by pushing amplifiers beyond their limits, and in the case of any of the MCX series you’ll get everything you want without ever having to do this.

Matching the character of the MCX is much easier to explain – the rich and solid sound lends itself to lively sounding speakers and the ample power means low efficiency models will light up in a way you’ll love. Smaller speakers will be fine but just be sensible. Bigger speakers are awesome.

The only situations I’d suggest caution with are very high efficiency speakers or near field listening – the very high gain and power means that any introduced noise in the system will be apparent. Every cable, component and connection can add noise so paying attention to these aspects is important.

In a music system the matching options are rather more varied than the examples above for cinema.

As we’ve already detailed, the MCX-2 made the difference and improvements between a series of NuPrime sources, from the little all analogue HPA-9 preamp, right through to the flagship Evolution DAC, more obvious than I’ve previously heard. But in every case, the MCX also made them sound better.

I’ve also gone back in time and tried a trade-in NuForce DAC-80 (introduced in 2103 but still actually a current model), and have been quite stunned by how well the combination worked. I can’t remember the DAC-80 sounding like this when we first got it. Given this experience I’d suggest that there would be very few systems that the MCX won’t work its magic in.

I haven’t yet investigated the performance with the balanced inputs. These could certainly be very useful in systems where noise is an issue and also allow you to place the MCX power amplifier at a distance from sources but much closer to speakers. There are some very good affordable balanced cables out there and we will shortly have a KLEI option so this avenue is certainly worth going down. Especially when all of the NuPrime DACs have balanced outputs.

Stepping through the NuPrime hierarchy.

Up until now there has been a clear path through the NuPrime models where cost, quality and power all stepped up in a logical fashion. The NuPrime X MCX series disrupts this.

On paper the MCX-2 has more power than any of the NuPrime Reference series products including the flagship Evolution One mono power amplifiers. In practice it is best compared with the ST10Ms in terms of driving ability but this is only one part of the equation.

The departure in terms of the character of sound is as great a difference as you might expect from a completely separate brand – yet many of the key NuPrime qualities are evident and the engineering could have come from no-one else. The liveness I’ve described, richness and power of this design is stunning. It does give away the last 5% of accuracy, resolution and transparency to the Reference level components but this is not without compensation, especially in the critical midrange.

In terms of build quality, the MCX is equal to the NuPrime 9 series and if compared to a pair of the STA-9 power amplifiers, operating in either bridged or bi-amped modes the MCX-2 for the same end cost is clearly better in every regard.

The ST-10 comparison is a little tougher – especially when in both series we have mono options. The build quality, transparency and accuracy of the ST10 and ST10M are better. Yet if you were just basing the choice on what you heard, and I’m working on the assumption that my own listening isn’t too far from the norm, you’d most likely opt for the MCX. But I wouldn’t suggest that any ST10 owner suddenly swops to the MCX-2, rather that you look at either the 750 watts of the MCX-1, or ST10Ms. Or the Evolution Ones.

The Evolution Ones still tower above all else – this is where Nuprime have gone to the limit in switching speed, input impedance and real power and if you do make this comparison, I’ll warn you that it’s a one way street. The ST10 options and MCX both point you in this direction but from quite distinct starting points.

But the really exciting thing I’ve found is that the MCX 2 when combined with the Evolution DAC somehow delivers the best of all worlds  – unparalleled resolution, almost insane power with a remarkably warm and accessible character. At a price which, while not exactly entry level, still makes a mockery of many ‘super integrated’ amplifiers that at best, are cut down versions of the pre and power options.

Conclusion.

Here is a power amplifier that breaks all the rules and is the better for it. The NuPrime X MCX-2 is massively powerful yet compact, cool running and affordable. It sounds quite unlike any other power amplifier with a ‘live’ sound with presence and detail that makes us question the conventional approach to accuracy in audio design.

Easy to match, enjoyable to live with and energy efficient, if this amplifier had come from any other company, NuPrime would have good cause to worry. Instead they have created their own competition and in doing so have opened the door for audiophiles, home cinema owners  and enthusiastic music lovers to get that much closer to the sound we crave.

NuPrime MCX-2 550w stereo power amplifier NZ$2350 including GST and delivery.

Other models – all $2350 – MCX-1 750w mono, MCX-3 2x300w + 1x500w, MCX-4 4x300w (bridgeable)

Not in New Zealand? NuPrime have authorised Totally Wired to supply you in countries that are not presently covered by resident dealers – we arrange direct shipment of new models to you and payment is in either Euro or US$ depending on where you are. Contact us to find out more. 

John Ransley – Totally Wired.

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