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Edgar Kramer
Financial Interests: click here
Source Digital: Metronome T-1i CD player with DAISy HE Remote Control
Preamplifier: Supratek Sauvignon with NOS RCA and Bendix tubes; NuForce P9, Wyetech Labs Jade
Amplifier: NuForce Reference 9 V3 Special Edition monoblocks; Cymer Audio Southern Star SE-35 monoblocks; Ancient Audio Single Six monoblocks
Speakers: Wilson Audio Specialties Sasha W/P
Cables - Digital - Cerious Technologies; Harmonic Technology Magic; NuForce digital cables; interconnect - Bocchino Audio Morning Glory; Cable Research Laboratory (CRL) Gold with Bocchino XLR and RCA; Cerious Technologies; DanA Digital Reference Silver; Eichmann eXpress 6 Series 2; Harmonic Technology Magic and Truthlink Silver; MIT Giant Killer MPC; PSC Audio Monolith AG; PSC Audio Pristine R30 Ribbon; NuForce IC-700; speaker cable - Cerious Technologies; MIT Giant Killer GK-1 loudspeaker cables; NuForce SC-700; power -Cerious Technologies AC; Eichmann eXpress AC power cables; Harmonic Technology Fantasy; PSC Gold Power MKII; Shunyata Research Diamondback
Stands: Finite Elemente Pagode Signature equipment racks
Acoustic treatment: Fonic Designer panels and StudioCel bass traps
Sundry accessories: Burson Audio Buffer, Bright Star Audio IsoRock Reference 3 and BSA IsoNode feet; Bocchino Audio Mecado isolation diodes; Black Diamond Racing cones; Stillpoints ERS paper in strategic positions, Shakti On Lines; Densen CD demagnetizer; Auric Illuminator CD Treatment
Room size: 17' w x 35' d x 12' h in short wall setup, opens to adjoining kitchen
Review component retail: US$7600/pr

In a class of their own
The NuForce range of amplifiers and the ever growing stable of ancillary products from this US company need no introduction to these electronic pages. I’ve personally reviewed a number of iterations of the Reference line of amplifiers. I found that with each version the company managed to wring out more performance from their diminutive class D amps while in the process ironing out some technical issues like RF interference and turn-on/off noise. Certainly the latest Reference 9SE V3 is not only dead quiet at power up/down (aside from a very low ‘click‘ heard only on efficient speakers) but will not present any issue with your nearby tuner in terms of RF interference.

But whilst having achieved critical recognition and market success with a remarkable product at a fair price, the lads at NuForce—Jason Lim and Casey Ng—still had creative urges flowing through their veins. They wondered what more could be achieved with their now perfected circuit if a stouter power supply, higher capacitance and a roomier chassis for a more spacious circuit layout were optimised for it.

Such ideas soon developed into the concrete production of a monaural amplifier that was to encompass all of the considerable knowledge and engineering experience the company had gathered in the previous generations of products. The NuForce amplification family of products was thus further extended and is now headed by the flagship Reference 18 under review today.

The Reference 18 comes attired in a full-size full-metal jacket of exacting fit and finish. The gorgeous brushed anodised aluminium top cover has the NuForce logo engraved into it and all paneling is of high gauge and superb quality. Ditto for the rear panel connectors which feature a WBT NextGen RCA, Neutrik XLR and a switch to toggle between them, WBT speaker posts that can accept banana plugs or spade lugs, a 12V trigger and an IEC connector with dedicated power on/off switch.

The front and beautifully chiseled fascia sports zero knobs, switches or buttons. The Ref 18 has a unique method for power (on and off/standby) which borrows from the ubiquitous iPhone. You simply swipe your finger across a touch-sensitive front panel window from left to right to turn on and from right to left to turn off. Very cool (watch the YouTube demo here). Also cool is the swipe window’s red-lettered NuForce-logo’ed display upon turn-on. Yes chassis, connectors, ergonomics and overall feel of the Reference 18 are of high quality and appear very durable.

The chassis is available in clear and black anodized.