Country of Origin
Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz, Tidal, Denafrips Terminator+ clock-synced to Gaia/Avatar, Soundaware D100Pro SD card transport; Preamp: Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature with Elrog ER50; Power amps: LinnenberG Liszt monos; Headamp: Kinki Studio; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Cube Audio Nenuphar; Aurai Audio M1 [on loan]; Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 4 x 6m with high gabled beam ceiling opening into 4 x 8m kitchen and 5 x 8m living room so no wall behind the listening chairs
2nd system: Source: Soundaware D300Ref SD transport; DAC: Denafrips Terminator; Preamp/filter: Passive Preamplifier icOn 4Pro SE w. custom 4th-order/40Hz hi-low pass; Amplifier: Crayon CFA-1.2; Loudspeakers:sound|kaos Vox 3awf, Zu Submission sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~4x6m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win7/64; USB bridge: Audiobyte Hydra X+; Headamp: Kinki Studio Vision THR-1; Phones: Audeze LCD-XC on Forza Audio Lab cable; Powered speakers: Fram Audio Midi 120
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: Soundaware A280 SD transport; Integrated amplifiers: Schiit Jotunheim R or Bakoon AMP-13R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a, Audeze LCD-2, Final Sonorous X & D8000, HifiMan HE-1000; Loudspeakers: Acelec Model 1
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; DAC: Kinki Studio; Preamp: Wyred4Sound STP-SE II; Power amp: Pass Labs XA-30.8; Loudspeakers: German Physiks HRS-120; Room: ~6x4m
Review component retail: €17'900
Nagra and classic. If ever words were meant to meet, it's those two; and strawberries'n'cream. Today's INT suffix isn't INTeresting or INTentional—though it's both—but INTegrated. That means a preamp and power amp under one hood so 4:1 RCA:XLR, remote control, 0/12dB preamp gain and a menu-based¹ display. Nagra and modulometer still tango like Fred and Ginger once did so their trademark dual-needle VU meter features with the signature sun and cloud. Their toggle brightens or dims it across 7 stages including off. This preference writes to memory so survives power cycles. Inside the case lives a class AB non-paralleled push/pull circuit with two lateral not vertical Mosfets per side generating 100wpc into 8Ω and 200wpc into 4Ω (first 10 watts in class A). -3dB bandwidth is 80kHz and A-weighted S/NR 110dB. Input impedance is +100kΩ, output impedance just 60mΩ. Casing out the joint hits 35x27x17cm DxWxH and 18kg. That's 4kg more than KEF's KC62 micro sub so no purse snatch though an original Hermès Travel Birkin could have contained it. A used such bag today could set you back more than €20K. Brand new, the Nagra will still cost you less. Audiophile logic wins.
¹ In the menu one selects between English/French, names inputs alphanumerically in any order of capital/small letters, tracks usage hours like an odometer and monitors the chassis temperature where 41°C is the default. Even the serial number captures in software to be tamper proof. A red LED embeds in the modulometer to light up in protection mode when a fault arises to power the amp down. 'SAT' for saturation will appear on the display when the amp clips momentarily to suggest that you turn down the volume. After continuous clipping beyond one second, the amp engages protection mode. Likewise for short circuits, DC in excess of ±2.5V or overheating.
To learn more, we turn to INTernals then INTerview. Nagra's director of marketing Matthieu Latour to the rescue. Even without his INTel, we're fully aware that in many of their product, Nagra fancy tubes. Even where price or power prioritizes transistors, the same aural aesthetic informs their tuning. A shopper of Nagra's Classic Line could bolt on actual glowing glass with the Tube DAC. With its analog volume control doubling up on the INT's, they'd simply be better off with a Classic Amp. That even looks like an INT without display, controller or volume. Unless bridged to require two units, it just won't produce any more power than today's single box does with five inputs and infrared volume control.
In the 'Pro' setting the XLR inputs can digest up to 10V input signal and RCA 1 will handle 3V signal in its 'hi' setting. 'Normal' anticipates 2V. The toggles are deliberately recessed to elude finger mistakes.
So the proven appeal of the Classic INT—and why it remains current despite having launched in 2016—is to combine linestage functionality with speaker drive. Add a source with fixed gain and speakers plus the necessary cabling. Keep it simple without the stupid.
Classic Amp: switching power supplies with toroidal power transformer.
Words to live by particularly for reviewers who don't cluster luck. To be sure, INT is a classic integrated. As Swiss Germans would put it to make a report—Ich mues öppis mälde—it contains no digital so no DAC, streamer/server or hard drive. Bluetooth and WiFi are likewise out. Nagra do have numerous DACs to add digital. They simply put that into its own box; or two if you pursue their flagship HD DAC X. The Classic INT remains pure analog. That's different also from the genre of super integrateds which may bundle up to 6 items like phono, streamer, Roon, DAC, headfi and speaker drive. In that lingo, our Classic INT is a 2-in-1 for multi-tasking at its most basic. But that was already in the name.
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