Preambulatory setup. Certain class D propaganda proposes ultra-low output impedance with three zeroes behind the decimal as the ultimate high damping factor. Whilst such published numbers tend to disregard the resistance of the connecting cable and plugs which seriously deteriorate the shiny paper figure, it is true that certain types of speaker thrive on extreme amp control. An example I experienced was the Mark & Daniel Maximus Monitor MkII. It's a compact 2-way monitor with auxiliary super tweeter and very ambitious low-bass specs. Those are realized with an ultra-excursion woofer that's loaded into a ported synthetic marble enclosure to withstand the enormous in-box pressurization from an F3 at 32Hz. What class D nCore did for those stoner boxes was spectacular. Yet the very same amps on more normal loads dry out more and more to get antiseptic: all detail and mechanical sewing-machine precision, zero gush, give, redolence or elasticity. It's why with our resident speakers, our Nord Acoustics nCore-500 based monos never show up. They're benched in the utility closet for occasions when speakers demanding their iron grip come through. That's not often.
Though specified as just 93dB sensitive to suggest soundkaos kinship, the Polish Nenuphar's personality profile belonged squarely into the 100dB class of Rethm and Voxativ. As such it was extremely allergic to output impedances that clocked in too low. With a flux density of 2.4 Tesla in its 9mm underhung gap, this driver with phenolic spider damps itself brilliantly. Additional damping from control-freak amps acts like a lead foot on the brake. It cuts out a good octave of bass which literally disappears. It dries out the overall gestalt and makes the reading front-heavy on transient perspicacity. That causes highly tensioned pins-and-needles timing instead of relaxed ease. Finally it upshifts the dynamic response into the bandwidth's upper half. That gets dominant by accelerating harder. Timing feels prickly and tonality presents as forward and bright. For a widebander, it's all wrong. But it plays directly into the bias against the entire breed. If that's how you heard a widebander, you too might write off the genre as seriously skewed. And it could really have been a poorly designed widebander to justify your reaction. But it could also have been a brilliant example driven by the entirely wrong amplifier to behave badly crippled. Making this entrance, you won't be surprised to learn that the SIT-1 and SIT-3 were the perfect antidotes; better than the F5 and F7, very much better than the Pass Labs XA-30.8, radically superior to 200-watt class A/B specimens of the 1MHz ultra-bandwidth persuasion.
With a damping factor of just 2 due to SET-ish 4Ω output impedance, the SIT-1 looks like a bad joke to the 0.0001Ω believers. Yet on Nenuphar, the joke would be on them when powerful 30-cycle bass suddenly shows up out of nowhere from a solitary driver loaded into a quarter-wave box; when the timing relaxes; when the dynamic and tonal skewing vanishes as though you'd imagined it before. With a damping factor of 30, the SIT-3 still fell into the ideal happiness window of this load whilst the F7's figure of 100 already caused some drying out, some rigidifying of that freely gushing breathing gestalt. These were signs of the onset of overdamping which continued to escalate with other amplifiers that proved perfectly unfit for this job. On voltage gain into Nenuphar, the SIT-3's sat actually lower than the SIT-1's to enable an easy ten extra clicks on the preamp's attenuator. With high-gain sources, that was useful by expanding the window of relevant volume gradations into such exceptionally responsive speakers.
Unlike with all other amps I had on hand including the Kinki Studio EX-M1 and LinnenberG Liszt, the two SIT models were truly ideal Nenuphar mates. What distinguished them—perhaps because the SIT-3 applies higher damping—was a more light-filled/skybound attitude with the even freer float for the monos, a slightly darker earthier more robust direction for the stereo. To quote Muhammad Ali's famous "float like butterfly, sting like bee" mantra, the SIT-1 was floatier, the SIT-3 punchier or more gathered. These distinctions were sideways differences, not vertical better/worse scenarios. The soundstage coordinates and mapping precision remained unaffected even though the SIT-1 felt a bit more unmoored, the SIT-3 grippier and more anchored. Whilst I ultimately favoured the SIT-1 into this particular load because it felt even more lucid and startling, another listener could easily cast the opposite vote, explain their reasons and have my compliments. We all tend to value specific performance aspects different even if we hear exactly the same things. And in many ways this comparison was academic when the SIT-1 has long been discontinued. It's turned unobtainium except for the rare trade-in op. More saliently, the SIT-3 demands 60% less yet scales up from 8w/4Ω to 30. Though power brokers wouldn't even notice said difference, in actuality and on the right speakers, it will be a decisive advantage. For all practical intents and purposes then, the SIT-3 on a Nenuphar type should be viewed as a virtual SIT-1 stand-in (not identical but equally compelling) whilst its lower output impedance and higher power expand the circle of copasetic speaker options which would elude the far pricier monos.
And that means that AER, Cube, Rethm, Lowther and Voxativ fans can add the SIT-3 to their list of prospective amp options. Ditto those speakers with steeper drive requirements that live in the neighborhood right adjacent. Happy days with another precious gift from master Nelson!
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