nOrh Multiamp Amplifiers

Multiamp

100 watt stereo amplifier

User Reviews (6)

Showing 1-6 of 6  
Jim F   AudioPhile [Apr 06, 2003]
Strength:

Their ability to go loud in no way diminishes their ability to reveal and portray the most subtle levels of detail. Not at all harsh in the upper ranges like many solid state amps, in fact when coupled with the Modulus 3 is very sweet indeed. Deep solid bass that in the words of the old "flat earthers" plays tunes, i.e., it's not just a dull thump but clearly articulated notes. They can play loud, they can play quietly with a tremendous blackness between the notes, no background noise at all.

Weakness:

At this price, you've got to be joking. No competition as far as I can see. If you find better value please let me know.

As a long time user of Linn and Naim equipment (a "Flat Earther" if you will), I purchased a pair of Norh's Le Amp monoblock power amps, intending to use them in a second system. At almost the same time I bought an Audible Illusions Modulus 3 pre-amp (tube or valve to the UK folks). Guess what, the Modulus 3 and Le Amps have replaced my Nain NAC 72/HiCap/NAP 250, which are now all on sale on eBay. Over $5000 worth of first class Naim gear replaced by $1000 worth of nOrh and Audible Illusions. Does it blow the Naim stuff away? No it doesn't, but it sure as heck sounds just as good with my Naim CD5 and Castle Howard speakers. A true bargain. No if's, no but's just sheer value.

Similar Products Used: Naim, Electrocompaniet
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
OldMarine   Audio Enthusiast [Dec 16, 2002]
Strength:

see above, and for those of you who need to be told what is best for you..check out the review @ 6moons.com

Weakness:

ummmmmmmm. ahhhhhhhhhhh.. none

This review is for the Norn LeAmps, Greatest product I have ever used. Been in this hobby since 1978, have owned literally dozens of amps...these amps do everything perfectly. No overblown bass, no tin, no midrange bloom..just nirvana...smooth, adds no flavor at all, well maybe a touch of sugar, but I swear, what great sugar it is.

Similar Products Used: way too many and way too much money, and these amps are indeed Giant Killers in every sense of the phrase.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Jack   Audio Enthusiast [Dec 16, 2002]
Strength:

Please see above, and check out the review (for those who need to be told what to listen to) @6moons.com

Weakness:

uhhhhhh....ummmmmmmmm... none

First off, I have been in the hobby since 1978, and laid off for several years due to having four children..so am I an audiophile? I dont know...I do love recorded and live music a great deal. Having said that.. here goes.. This review is for the Norh LeAmps..all the BS aside, these are remarkable in every way. I have owned literally dozens of amps, but these are the most uncolored I have ever heard...no bloom, no tin, bias isnt set to the point of no return. Absolutly damn near perfect. For the money these jewels put 90% of the other brands to shame..no joke..Every time I put on the tunes...nirvana...smooth, articulate, no overblown anything..just music...

Similar Products Used: the rest are worth mentioning..
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
TKP   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 10, 2000]
Strength:

High Frequency, Midrange, Sound Stage, Imaging, Value for Money, etc...

Weakness:

A little bit weak in bass when compare to the very best amp. NONE if money is taken into consideration.

I still remember five years ago when I first entered the world of high-end audio. I was looking for a two-channel amplifier that would be small, lightweight and sounds great. I wanted to be able to move the amplifier without breaking my back. I wanted it to run cool (so it will not heat up my house after a few hours of play), and I wanted it be to be priced reasonably (I work for a living and support a family of five). After trying approximately a dozen of amplifiers (Adcom, Parasound, Sunfire, Proceed, etc.), I settled for a Plinius SA100 MK III.

The Plinius SA100 MK III sounds great. I believe it is one of the best amplifiers in the world for the money. The Plinius, however, has some serious drawbacks in my book. First, it runs very hot in class A mode. Unfortunately it sounds best in class A so I always ended up using it in class A mode. Second, it weight 70 lbs. (not too heavy but not too light either, and I am getting old). Third, it is big, and it is hard for me to find a rack that provides proper ventilation. Fourth, it consumes a lot of power in class A mode (1000 watts at all time). It could heat up a small room in no time. I live in Houston, TX where the summer lasts 9 months. Even with all these caveats, I still love the Plinius because it provides the best sound for the money, and not to mention its beautiful look and build.

I got the nOrh Multiamp about a month ago. The nOrh Multiamp is the creation of Werner Hartinger of Audioform. It comes as close to fulfilling my dream amplifier as any I have previously auditioned. First of all, it is small (11" width, 16" deep, and 6" tall). It is lightweight (around 35 lbs.). It runs cool and consumes very little when idle (5Watts in idle, and maximum power consumption of 270Watts). Obviously, all of this would mean nothing if the sound is bad. I am here to tell you that it approaches the sound quality of the Plinius for 1/5 of the price.

I chose to compare the nOrh Multiamp in passive amping mode (the nOrh Multiamp. has a built in active crossover) with a Proceed HPA2 (MSRP $ 3250.00) and the Plinius SA100 MK III (MSRP $ 4500.00. After extended listening between the three amps. I got the following results:

a) High frequency

The nOrh Multiamp. beats the Proceed HPA2 by a good margin, and edges out the Plinius SA100 by a little bit.

b) Mid-Range

Both the nOrh Multiamp and the Plinius SA100 MK III beat the Proceed HPA2 by a wide margin (no surprise here). However, the nOrh Multiamp tied the Plinius SA100 in this category. The nOrh Multiamp sounded lean, clear, and detailed where as the Plinius SA100 sounded lush, clear with little bit less detail. I could live with either one, and it would be up to the listener to decide which one is better.

As for me, I could live with both. The reason is that there are times I like to listen to music where the female vocal breathes life and lust into the music. Sarah McLachlan's "Surfacing" CD is a good example of this. The Plinius managed to convey the lust in her voice more so than the nOrh Multiamp. On the other hand, there are times I like to listen to human voice in a more realistic manner. The Eagles "Hell Freezes Over" is a good example. The Plinius does not sound as realistic as the nOrh Multiamp for this type of music. It is very close however. We are talking about splitting hairs here.

If I absolutely have to pick one over the other, I would choose the Plinius because I am a sucker for the lust in female vocals.

c) Bass

The nOrh Multiamp. put out good bass, but it cannot compete with either the Proceed HPA2 or the Plinius SA100 MK III. Out of the bunch, The Plinius puts out the best bass, and has the best control over the woofer. It has a lot of guts. I think Peter Thompson designed the Plinius SA100 to be both a racecar and a dump truck where as the nOrh Multiamp. is primarily built for speed. As a result, the nOrh Multiamp beats out the Plinius in speed but falls short in power.

d) Sound Stage

This parameter is very important in music reproduction because this is where a good amplifier will embrace the listener with music. A mediocre amplifier will play the music away from the listener. The nOrh Multiamp sound stage is wider than both the Plinius and the Proceed HPA2, but not as deep as the Plinius. The Multiamp managed to edge out the Plinius in width (I did not think this was possible), and beat the Proceed HPA2 by a good margin. I would rank the Plinius to be the best in this category since it has both width and depth. The nOrh Multiamp. second since it edges out the Plinius in width but falls short in depth The Proceed HPA2 placed last since it falls short in both categories.

e) Imaging

All three amplifiers produced excellent images and were very close in performance. I rank the Plinius is in first place. The nOrh Multiamp is second and the Proceed HPA2 is last.

f) Musicality

This is the criteria that I use to separate an excellent amplifier from a good one. What do I mean by musical? There are amplifiers that produce the entire audio band, but sound cold and un-involving. The Proceed HPA2 is a good example of this. The HPA2 puts out good detail, image, and power. However, it sounds cold and un-involving to my ear. It does not bring the music to me, but instead, it is as if I am looking at the music from a distance. After about an hour of listening to the HPA2 I grew tired and did not want to listen to music any more. There are amplifiers that embrace the listener with the music and breath life into the sound. The Plinius is such an amp. There is another amplifier that equals Plinius when it comes to musicality. That amplifier is the 300Watts LLANO Trinity. The nOrh Multiamp came close to the Plinius when it comes to being musical. I can live with the nOrh Multiamp on a long-term basis and not miss the Plinius.

If money is not taken into consideration, then I would pick the Plinius first, the nOrh Multiamp. second, and the Proceed HPA2 last. That is right, I would pick the nOrh Multiamp over the Proceed HPA2 even though the Proceed HPA2 is listed at $ 3250.00 versus the nOrh Multiamp sells for $900.00.

If money is being considered, then there is no contest. The nOrh Multiamp gives me 95% performance of the Plinius SA100 MK III at 1/5 the cost.

Some people look at the weight of an amplifier to be an indication of good sound. This is true to certain extent because heavier amplifiers usually have larger transformers. However, some manufacturers figured out that some consumers use the weight of the amplifier to be a criteria for buying amplifiers so they put more weight in the chassis and charge the end user more money. Let's compare nOrh Multiamp and the Proceed HPA2 as examples:

The nOrh Multiamp weights 35lbs. However, I guess less than 5 lbs. is chassis weight while the rest is in the circuitry (30 lbs. for two channels or 15 lbs. per channel). The Multiamp employs a pair of R-core transformers are better than toroidals of the same weights. The only caveat is that R-Core transformer is more expensive. I have not seen an R-Core transformer in any amplifier I have auditioned including the Plinius. You can go the nOrh website to see the internal construction of nOrh Multiamp (www.norh.com) to appreciate the work to ensure the signal paths are as short as possible. Most of the cost is put into the circuitry not the chassis. The chassis, however, is solidly built.

The Proceed HPA2 weights a whopping 100 lbs. shipped. However 60 lbs. is in the chassis and shipping material. How do I know that? Well the HPA2 is a dual mono design, and it is upgradable to the HPA3. The HPA3 weights 120 lbs. Shipped. It has one more channel than the HPA2. I subtracted the weight of the HPA2 from the weight of the HPA3 to get the weight per channel for the HPA amplifier from Proceed. In this case the number came out to be 20 lbs. The heat sink of the HPA2 is a lot larger than the heat sink of the nOrh Multiamp. If we take the heat sink out of the circuitry than the weight per channel of the HPA2 is very close to the weight per channel of the nOrh Multiamp, which is 15 lbs.

This means nOrh put the money where it counts and gives the customers value for their hard-earned money. It is refreshing for me to discover a company such as nOrh where they care more about providing good value to consumer more than getting rich quick.

As I mentioned early in the review that the comparison was done with the nOrh Multiamp in Stereo mode (using the speakers passive crossovers). The nOrh Multiamp has an integrated 24db/octave Linkwitz-Riley active crossover. This means I would need two nOrh Multiamps to use it in active biamping mode.

Many audio enthusiasts are not aware of biamping. Most of the ones that are aware of biamping become confused between active and passive biamping. I am not going to explain the differences because it will make this review too long to read. You can contact me if you want to know the differences.

If I have the money, then my choice of amplification would consist of a pair of Plinius SA100/SA250 and an active crossover such as the Bryston 10B (MSRP $ 1500.00). The cost for this configuration would be $ 10,500.00 for a pair of Plinius SA100 MK III/Bryston 10B or $ 18,500.00 for a pair of Plinius SA250 MK IV/Bryston 10B. Even with 25% discount from dealer (most dealers won't discount this much) we are taking almost $ 8,000.00 and $ 14,000.00 respectively.

I am not made of money therefore I would choose the path that I believe most of us would, a pair of nOrh Multiamps with a price of $ 1,700.00 per pair. I believe this choice of amplification would give me at least 95% of the sound of the Plinius SA100/Bryston combination or might be even better. The reason why I say it could be better is because the built-in active crossover of the nOrh Multiamp is a 24db/octave Linkwitz-Riley where as the Bryston 10B is only 18db/Octave. You can get a 24db/Octave at a fixed frequency from Bryston at additional cost.

If you look at cost wise, a fixed frequency 24db/octave Linkwitz-Riley active crossover from Bryston would cost as much as a pair of nOrh Multiamps and you get a pair of world class amplifiers for free from nOrh.

I will evaluate the performance of the nOrh Multiamp in active biamping mode in a few months, and put a follow up review on the performance.

Associate Equipment:

Custom built tube preamp.
Rega Planet CD Player
Proceed HPA2 2-channel amp.
Plinius SA100 MK III 2-channel amp.
nOrh 7.0 speakers
nOrh 4.0 speakers
A pair of nOrh subwoofers
Monitor Audio 705 PMC
nOrh Silver Interconnects
nOrh Silver Speaker Cable
Power Wedge 116 MK II
Audiodyne Power Cords

Similar Products Used: Plinius SA100 MK III, Proceed HPA2
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Michael   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 26, 2001]
Strength:

Fast, Accurate, Enormously flexible

Weakness:

None

Unpacked my Multiamp about a week ago and have about 10 hours of listenng time in. It replaces a Bryston 4B-ST. I have enjoyed my Bryston and was hesitant to order the Multiamp site unseen, however, I have had occasional dealings with Mr Barnes as I am the proud owner of several of his wood drum speakers ( the 5.1 and the 6.5's) and I have found his description of his products capabilities to be right on. So when he told me his Multiamp should be "much better" then the Bryston (this from a customer who had had both) I took the plunge. I am not disappointed! Right out of the box the Multiamp had better soundstaging and imaging then the Bryston, and the Bryston was prety good in its own right..The Multiamp isn't even properly broken in yet! I am even more impressed with what it does for my HDCD collection. What to my ear were subtle musical differences betwwen HDCD recordings and regular recording now jump right out at me. What a pleasure to be enjoing all my CD's again. Eventually I would like to take advantage of the Multiamps capabilities by getting a second one and utilizing its built in X-overs, but for now I will simply enjoy the beautiful music it makes. I will write a follow up after I have over 100 hours on it. Anybody want a used Bryston?

Equipment
Theta Data Basic II CD tranport
Dodson 263 DAC
Thorens 320 MkIII TT
Audio by Van Alstine Pas 4i hybrid pre
Audiomagic interconnects
PowerWedge 113 conditioner

Similar Products Used: Bryston 4B-ST, NAD (various), ATI
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Tyson   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 27, 2000]
Strength:

High resolution, pure mids, very strong bass, smooth highs, snappy transients, slightly warm.

Weakness:

Without question will mercilessly reveal weaknesses in upstream equipment. If your source and pre are not up to par, better get ready to spend some money

After living with the nOrh multiamp for several weeks, I wanted to set down my thoughts on the amp while using it in a standard stereo application. I say "standard stereo application" because the multiamp is rather unique in that it incorporates a 24db electronic crossover internally and can be used to bypass the passive crossover network in a speaker between the woofer and a tweeter. But you need 2 multiamps in order to do this. I have 2 multiamps, but 1 was damaged in transit, and nOrh is sending me a replacement. For now I have been using a single multiamp in stereo configuration with my Bryston B60 used as a preamp, an Acurus ACD-11 as a transport, MSB Link III as the D/A converter, a pair of nOrh subs, and a pair of nOrh 7.0's for my main speakers. Cabling is Pure Silver Sound through out the whole system - PSS Quartets for interconnects, and PSS Octets for speaker wire.

As you can tell, I have purchased items from nOrh before, in fact it was the quality of the amp in the nOrh subs that convinced me to give the multiamps a try - the sub amp was far beyond anything I had ever even seen before, let alone owned before. Plus the ability to use a phase correct electronic crossover was very appealing, as was the $900 price tag for each amp.

So, the amps show up at my doorstep (shipped separately, they arrive at different times) & they are very well packed - encased in foam, boxed, then the box is put inside a very stong crate. Regardless, one of the amps is damaged by RPS. When I hook the first one up, I get a very loud humming/buzzing noise from the amp through my speakers. nOrh sends me a replacement audio board with new output devices attached, I have a local tech replace it, still no go. So, rather than have me dicker around with more techs fiddling with the innards trying to isolate the problem, they are just sending me a brand new amp - how is that for service? That is one of the main reasons that nOrh continues to get my business.

Anyway, the 2nd amp arrives, I hook it up and everything works fine. I put on a disc and prepared myself to be blown away. I wasn't. The sound was so different from any other amp I had heard that I really didn't know how to get a handle on what I was hearing. On the one hand I was dissapointed because the overall sound was a bit thinner than I had anticipated it would be. On the other hand, it was obvious that it was much more transparent than my Bryston's amp section. I figured I needed to let it "burn in" for a while before making any firm conclusions. Now, I don't know if burn in is an actual physical phenomenom that takes place in the amp, or if it is one of those psycho-acoustic phenomena where the listener simply acclimates to the new sound. All I can say is that the sound I was hearing from the amp did change as I played it more and more. At first the soundstage seemed to stay lumped toward the speakers themselves, which is odd since the 7.0's are about as non-boxy sounding as a dynamic speaker could ever hope to be. Also, vocals, particularly female vocals, sounded a bit thin and distant, violins sounded a bit steely, etc. . . After about a week the soundstage started to expand quite a bit, both laterally and front to back. But the thin sound remained. Finally, after 2 weeks of almost constant usage, the midrange started fleshing out quite a bit and music just became much more inviting (it was a rough 2 weeks, let me tell you - I second guessed my purchase many times).

So, now after a month of ownership, I have to say that the amp, like the speakers I bought previously from nOrh, is pretty close to my ideal for stereo reproduction - almost dead on neutral, with just a hint of warmth to make my CD's sound a bit more enticing. Soundstage is pretty amazing too - I have only heard 1 amp that threw a better one, the ARC 100.2. One thing I want to comment on is the nOrh claim that this is a "fast" amp. I am not exactly sure what they mean by fast, but if they mean mean resolution, then their claim is 100% accurate. This is by far the most transparent amp I have ever heard. And transients are just incredible - they snap out with such authority, that many times it is literally startling. Michael Barnes, the owner of nOrh, says it sounds like an SET on steroids. Maybe, but I have never heard an SET, so I cannot comment on the accuracy of that statement. I CAN say, however, that I now hear things on my music collection that I have never heard before on ANY other system, regardless of cost (and I have listened to some pretty darn expensive gear).

But, there is a price for the absolute clarity of the amp - your source components must be very good, or they will be quite exposed. In my case, the Bryston preamp section is quite good (and I have the new nOrh ACA preamp on order, which should be even better), but the real weakness of my system is my MSB DAC. It is a stock unit, very little modification to it. I have 2 choices, either get a completely new DAC, or go in for some heavy duty aftermarket mods to the MSB. I am going the 2nd route. The main place the MSB falls down is a graininess in the upper mids/lower highs (just where it is the most irritating), and I am told that the mods will smooth that out entirely. It is funny, but I never heard this with the bryston amp in the circuit. But, it is just like going from a standard NTSC television to an HDTV - feed a less than perfect signal to the NTSC, and its inherent softness or lack of resolution will help to cover the problems with the source. But with an HDTV, you have so much more resolution that the source material had better be up to snuff or you will see it very clearly, and it is quite annoying. Now, if you like the (overly) lush presentation of most tubed amps, the multiamp is probably not for you. To me, most tube amps sound a bit blowsy (not all, and not all of them to the same degree - the ARC 100.2 is excellent in most regards - the Cary, Conrad Johnson, and BAT amps I have heard all sound a bit stodgy and earthbound, at least to my ears anyway). But if you tend to like the higher end SS amps, but find yourself unhappy with their weaknesses (can be grainy, thin, lack ultimate resolution, not getting the mids right, tipped up top end, etc. . .), the multiamp may be for you. Personally I can't wait to get in the next multiamp & give it a good listen in "active" mode. Should be interesting. . . . .

If I had to use one word to describe the sound of the multiamp, it would be "pure".

Similar Products Used: Bryston B60, 3bst, 5bst, ARC 100.2, Krell KAV 250, Levinson 336, Classe CAM 350
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 1-6 of 6  

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