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There are dozens of reviews on the net and in print magazines that describe the quite advanced technology used in the NuForce amps. 6moons alone has at least three. I won’t tire you with regurgitation safe to say that their class D technology is stated to be proprietary and unlike any other. The Ref 18 takes this already sophisticated technology and enhances it by way of increased power supply capacitance and circuit refinement/reconfiguration.

I asked Jason if he could expand a little on those internal changes which separate Reference 18 from Reference 9 SE V3. He told me there were three main changes:

• The new cross matrix array (CMA) capacitor bank design provides faster energy delivery than the SLA design in the 9V3SE. See here for further details.
• Change of op amp in the Ref 18 V3 board. Without the additional improvements in the Ref 18, this change by itself won't make a difference in the Ref 9V3SE platform.
• Extra shielding of cables and specific placement of the power supply and V3 boards further improve the sound as does the more rigid chassis.

What were the specific sonic aims of the new amplifier in light of the Reference 9 SE V3’s previous flagship status? Jason explained this with an analogy.

"Take a look at an automobile. The Ref 18 is like the BMW M5 and the Ref 9V3SE like the M3. Sonically the improvement between Ref 9V3SE and Ref 18 is incremental. We are looking at diminishing returns. It is not the same as going from V2 to V3 or from 9V3 to 9V3SE. We started the 17-inch wide series mainly to provide a more refined series for customers who demand the best in everything, not merely sound quality. But obviously a bigger budget allowed us to make further changes in parts that ultimately also resulted in better sound quality. Both series will continue their developments and upgrades utilizing the same amplifier technology."

Was the Reference 18 a true balanced design? "Yes. All our high-end power amps are true balanced designs." Of course the question begged... will there be a matching flagship preamplifier?

"A P-18 is under development and we hope to show the early prototype at the High-End Show in Munich from May 19th to 22nd. The same digital and volume control platform will eventually be shared by the entire NuForce product lines all the way down to the Icon Home series."