Audio-GD NFB-1 Head Amp Impressions

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by brencho, Sep 22, 2017.

  1. brencho

    brencho Friend

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    So @Bill-P stopped by today for some comparisons and listening of various kinds. One thing we did, for better or for worse, was compare the NFB1 to the MCTH and Jotunheim. It didn't take long to decide I wanted no more of that. Still, for the good of the community cause we are like super altruists, we powered through and listened to a few songs with the Code-X and his modded hd580. Here are a few thoughts (which Bill will undoubtedly elaborate on later):

    1. where the fuck did the bass go? The NFB-1 has no bass presence or impact whatsoever.
    2. where the fuck are the huevos on this thing? All limpdick and no impact make brencho a dull boy.
    3. where the fuck are the transients and dynamics? See above. Limpdick, smeary sounds, piss poor separation, plasticky or rubbery hits that have no definition and no crisp attack, no decay, no physicality to any instrument.
    4. what the fuck is up with the size of this thing? are they compensating for the limpdick sound by putting it in an oversized box? nobody knows.
    5. with hd580, it got a little bit better with some of the above but still, come on. i'd literally pick any other gear for the hd580 before this. a geek out, whatever. the andromeda out of an iphone shat all over this too.
    6. the above impressions were in relation to ... well, nothing as in, i feel those things in an absolute sense... but also in relation to Jotunheim and MCTH, both of which crushed the NFB-1 in every regard.

    @Bill-P had an interesting cross-cultural theory relating to dirty power in southeast Asia (cause he's kinda from there and hangs out there) that he can fill you in on, which might explain why you'd ever want to make an amp like this. But short of that theory, I have only questions, and no answers.

    AGD.jpeg
     
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  2. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    I blame Kevin Gilmore for making us waste our community funds on this POS.
     
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  3. brencho

    brencho Friend

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    So apropos of nothing, but apparently there's a new small balanced mini susy dynalo amp for ~$500 that might be worth trying out. I never heard the regular sized Dynalo so I have no sense of how it'll sound, but its a small balanced amp in the $500 range. Hoping to hear it soon through my pal @TMoney. Also not sure about availability and stuff like that, since i think its a DIY job.
     
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  4. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Yeah, the south-east Asia theory goes like... since their electrical grid is typically fucked up (like there's 220V main but no ground!), it messes with balance and treble a lot, and so people typically try to use amps and DACs in order to "calm" the overall sound down. I have heard the effect of unregulated 220V first hand so I know just how bad it can be.

    And that may in fact be how the treble of these Audio-GD devices are tuned.

    As for the bass being "light" or "limp dick", my other theory is that over there, people have a weird tendency to associate a thinner/whippier sound (a la Stax) to being more "detailed" or "resolving", so it may be that the NFB-1 is "trying to impress" in that sense.

    I dunno, I'd still take my black Jot over it easily any random day of the week. Will write up a new thread for the comparison to show off how much of a Schiit shill I am.
     
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    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
  5. brencho

    brencho Friend

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    I love this theory. You should take your Jotunheim there when you head back for a visit and do some cross-cultural research for the community :p
     
  6. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    This theory might compute, if it were not for this. This is a Taiwan Hi-Fi place. I know the stuff that they sell does not sound like the pooier AGD stuff, well at least most of it.

    taiwan place.png
     
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    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017
  7. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    The big shame is the relay switched resistor volume control of the NFB-1. A really nice thing totally wasted.
     
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  8. brencho

    brencho Friend

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    yeah i noticed that before i listened. i thought to myself "huh, nice". then i listened and totally forgot about this nice feature.
     
  9. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Okie, I just had instant ramen, and so I have more energy to type all this up now. Here are my impressions of the Audio-GD NFB-1. Presumably in a format that I hope will not offend anyone because I saw that people were really sensitive recently about us giving bad reviews to stuffs coming from Asia, even disregarding the good reviews that we had in some cases.

    So... to me, the Audio-GD sounds like so: compressed, smeared, blurry, lacking impact and dynamic, and somewhat elevated.

    Compressed: things don't want to "come out" from the background of the Audio-GD amp. It's especially bad with planar magnetic headphones like the HE-4XX and Code-X, and I'd consider those relatively efficient/easy to drive, so that basically means the Audio-GD amp is lacking power delivery IMO. Wouldn't be surprised if someone eventually measures the Audio-GD to have either high distortion when more current is drawn from the circuit and/or not enough current delivery. But this is probably just me, and I may very well be deaf, so please take this with a grain of salt.

    Smeared/blurry: things blend together in the soundscape of the Audio-GD to me. It's like being near/far-sighted with no corrective glasses. There is no focus to anything, everything was somewhat nebulous-sounding, with nothing sounding very specific. I guess this may also have to do with the fact that I do have eye issues (I need to wear glasses), so... maybe I have ear issues as well, and I need some sort of corrective device for my ears. Again, please take this with a grain of salt.

    Lacking impact and dynamic: like @brencho said, there ain't no bass. But then again, I also have a history of preferring headphones with a lot of bass. Refer to one such case where a headphone I modded was measured here. So yeah, please take this with a grain of salt.

    Elevated: the soundstage is somewhat elevated up, like... certain songs, like Buena Vista's Social Club's Chang Chang sounded like someone buried me in the sand and had a band play all around me, so I'm like... 5-6 ft (read: 1.6 - 1.8 meters) lower in comparison.

    In fact, this amp sounded like I had my head buried in the sand. Maybe that would explain all of the above. I dunno. I need to try that at some point and see if the effect is the same, but I highly suspect it may be.

    Then again, I'm guessing we didn't have a gold-plated silver power cable, gold-plated silver RCA cable, or a super rare discontinued-but-not-really DAC that Audio-GD made, and we weren't using a stock HD800 either, which some in Asia would consider to be the greatest thing ever created so... yeah, please, again, take all of that with a grain of salt.

    Not gonna name-drop any Schiit amp or amp made by any other company here as being different/superior/inferior/whatever because I don't think people from Asia like comparisons. All in all, I will simply say this much: this amp just isn't for me. I prefer something that's more relaxed in the upper mid, with more bass impact, more bass grip, more treble control/finesse/refinement/sharpness/precision, etc... though admittedly, this amp was not bad with my HD580, and judging from the sound, I can "guess" that this amp might have been happier driving a stock HD800, since its sound seems to be a "compliment" of what I think the stock HD800 misses.

    But I don't think many of us here like the stock HD800, so there's that. Friendly reminder to all our Asian friends.

    Edit: it's NFB-1, not NFB-11, that I heard. I was most likely trippin' over the naming convention...
     
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    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
  10. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

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    Nearly dead on to my recollected observations from two years back with this giant heap of steaming feces of an amp.
     
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  11. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Interesting as I had the same sense. I probably liked this effect more than you did though and I think most people would find this preferable to the 2D like headstage of the Jotunheim, if that's a priority for them. It's just that the NFB-1 does everything else so poorly.

    I don't even worry about this anymore. The important thing is that we are honest with ourselves and that we put forth effort (money) into discovering how this stuff actually sounds like rather than just outright dismissing it. It's not like I (or others) haven't had past experience with AGD gear. Personally, I think we've gone pretty far out of our way to give AGD products and their Stans a chance. It should have stopped right after the S19, considering my prior experience with Compass, Phoenix, Master 1, Master 7, Ref 1, NFB-whatever, maybe a few others I don't remember. AGD stuff is hit or miss, and most of the time, a miss.

    As for our Asian friends, I doubt most of them care for AGD. No one I know from Taiwan gives a rats ass about AGD.

    If people don't like what we have to say, then it sucks to be them.

    There are different kinds of shit. S19 was like soft brown shit. NFB-1 is like black tar shit. On a good day, maybe some colors.
    rawpoop.jpg

    I'm just very angry right now that I even let the AGD Stans get to me for us to even go this far. The two worse things I have heard this year are from AGD.
     
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    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017
  12. winders

    winders Know-it-all boomer, prob racist

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    Hey, I think I see a Baby Ruth in that stool!
     
  13. SDVJCN

    SDVJCN Rando

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    Hey, have you guys heard the audio gd nfb-11?

    Theres a lot of hype on audio gd products going on and nfb 11 is one of the main products that people hype about all over reddit and the web.

    The general consensus of SBAF is that audio gd products are shit and I really have no way to know that like schiit or massdrop products, they dont have any place in my country to try and audition.
     
  14. Ice-man

    Ice-man Friend

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    There are some nice parts on this amp. I can't deny that. It was tempting given the choice parts and nice looking build. Damn, I'm sure glad that I didn't pull trigger on this one about 6 six months ago. So it comes down to implementation in the end.
     
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  15. SineDave

    SineDave Friend

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    EDIT: I thought you were referring to this amp.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2017
  16. spwath

    spwath Hijinks master cum laudle

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    Isn't this thread about the nfb-1, not nfb-11?
     
  17. GanGreinke

    GanGreinke Friend

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    There actually is an older audio gd nfb-11 DAC/Amp/preamp combo (vs. the AGD nfb-1 amp being talked about here), which is apparently very popular on reddit (the usual "this is the last amp/DAC you'll ever need"). It looks like it's been replaced now by the nfb-11.28 and the r2r 11, but it is in that family of $400 DAC/amp combos. I think someone in the other thread may have heard the nfb-11 and confused it for the nfb-1 too (and who could blame him; the naming system isn't intuitive at all).
     
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  18. SineDave

    SineDave Friend

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    Good catch! I didn't even realize that was different.
     
  19. JustAnotherRando

    JustAnotherRando My other bike is a Ferrari

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    I would have thought that the main Asian market would have been China, where Audio-GD is based. We've got ground here (I thought every system in the world had ground though?)

    Having lived here for more than half my life now, I'm firmly of the opinion a lot of things out in this part of the world become popular for other reasons than actual performance.
     
  20. Daveheart

    Daveheart Friend

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    It's part of the confusion with their product line. The NFB1 is a balanced headamp/preamp while the NFB11 (NFB11.28) is a DAC/headamp/preamp that's SE only. They've got so many models that I can't really blame anyone for confusing one for another.
     

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