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This review first appeared in the June 2009 issue of hifi & stereo magazine You can also read this review of the Peachtree Audio Nova in its original German version. We translated it through a syndication arrangement with our German colleagues. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of or - Ed.

Reviewer: Martin Mertens
Sources: Analog - Thorens TD 160 HD with TP250 arm & Benz Micro MC Gold cart; digital - Creek CD 43 Mk II, Logitech Transporter
Amplification: Phono - Lehmann Black Cube SE II; integrated - Jadis Orchestra blacksilver, Exposure 2010 S, Myryad MXI2080
Loudspeakers: Expolinear T 120, Gaithain ME150
Cables: Low-level Vampire CC, high-level inakustik LS 1002
Review component retail: €1.299

Two souls in one body. Today's German households are 70% computerized, with private PC usage foremost for online shopping. Online tickets for vacations and other travels plus music listening share spot N°2. Music often means MP3 collections and downloads on iPods or ripped to hard disk. Mostly responsible for D/A conversion then is the on-board computer chip. A better scenario is a game- or film-optimized soundcard. Playback tends to be via small self-powered plastic computer speaker or complete desk-top systems.

To cater to the more ambitious, audiophile amplifiers are entering the market which take up less desk space and often contain built-in D/A converters. The relatively low output power of such mini amps is mostly of no concern in the extreme near field. Interestingly, such mini amps often are endowed with rather sound virtues to also pique the curiosity of hifi enthusiasts (consider the previously reviewed KingRex T20, Sonic Impact T-Amp or Trends Audio TA-10.1 units).

US firm Signal Path goes a step farther with their Peachtree Nova. It bundles a serious integrated amplifier to interface with PCs and other digital sources via a high-quality ESS Sabre DAC. To improve music data of lower pedigree, the Nova includes a tube to imbue harsh digital sounds with a modicum of audiophile civility. A further tuning feature is a selectable digital filter on the back that alters filter steepness.

Trim & concept
German importer Robert Ross Audiophile Produkte GmbH dispatched two packages, the bigger of which contained a Peachtree Nova, the smaller (!) two matching speakers dubbed Peachtree DS 4.5. A parallel e-mail advised to give the Nova plenty of break-in to properly form its "organic capacitors". Regardless, all testers get proper break-in and the two mini speakers served that function well. Meanwhile I took a closer look at the Nova. It's somewhat retro in style while the wooden casing with its rounded corners creates a fine contrast with the fashionable matte silver front. I somehow kept flashing on Lexus (not that the Nova resembles automobiles). Each time I see a Lexus, I question from just where the designers copied this or that element - er, had found inspiration in. A nose will recall BMW, lateral lines an Audi, the tail end a Mercedes. And I somehow felt that I'd seen specific design cues of the Nova before as well. Nonetheless, it ended up in a nice machine that spells quality.

Besides three analog RCA inputs, it offers digital connectivity of nearly all kinds. There's a USB port, two coax inputs and two optical links. The neo-retro chassis even has room to absorb a Sonos ZP80 or 90 compact network server. Such a box disappears inside a bay so completely as to merely leave its connector plate in sight. Alternately, the Peachtree Nova can shake hands with other network players like a Linsys Music Bridge or Logitech Squeezebox although those won't fit inside its 'garage'. The converters of such servers needn't be tapped with the Nova but merely deliver digital data streams which the advanced Nova DAC processes. This goes beyond streaming sources of course. Any CD player with the necessary digital output can leash to the Nova DAC which particularly for older players with outmoded silicon could be interesting. Aside from the aforementioned valve which can be taken in or out of the signal path by remote, the Nova's amplifier offers little out of the ordinary.

For reasons I'll get to, I also must mention the line-out and pre-out sockets. And finally, there's a 6.3mm full-size headphone port which is sadly no longer a standard feature on amplifiers. The Nova even runs its own dedicated headphone circuit. All in all, this was an interesting concept that I would approach from a grown-up hifi perspective. After the preconditioning period, the fashionably matching audiophile desk-top speakers thus disappeared back into their cartons and the Peachtree said hello to my Geithain ME 150s.

Source was my Logitech Transporter fed with music data from a NAS. Since the transporter contains both high-level converter chips and a quality output stage, it's an analog machine and server for streaming data which the Nova received via digital cable. This allowed comparisons between Transporter and Nova DACs.