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Thread: Neurochrome 686 Mini Review

  1. #1
    Join Date: Oct 2016

    Location: London

    Posts: 290
    I'm David.

    Default Neurochrome 686 Mini Review

    I was intrigued by reports of how good these Neurochrome modules are and also had a few requests to build some, so I thought it was time to try some out and evaluate the amps. The build was fairly straightforward and I used a chassis from Modushop who supply most of my cases. Tom the designer provides drawings for this chassis and suggests the large chassis shown in the accompanying photo.

    The amp has a slow start module, and includes a sophisticated output protection system to protect your speakers. In practice, it turns on and off without a thump or buzz, with a small click as the relay clicks over. Construction is fully dual mono, and fully balanced with inputs by XLR. So far Iíve fed the amp with single ended source from my own brand ESS9038pro valve DAC, but I will try with a fully balanced source later.

    Residual background noise is almost inaudible, even with my 96db sensitive JBLs, and sensitivity standard at 2v.

    Iíve run the amp now for some 16 hours so itís fair to start judging its sound quality. Overall, Iím very impressed. I should confess here Iím a valve man through and through, with 845, 805 and KT120 monoblocks in the house and studio. But I do get quite a lot of high end
    Solid state gear through my workshop and also tried the Nord Class D amps a couple of yearsí ago and have built Hypex-based amps for clients, but both of the latter left me cold.

    This amp on the other hand is very musical. Itís neutral and revealing, but without robbing music of its soul. Bass is powerful and tuneful, and soundstage wide and deep. Higher frequencies are convincing, unlike IMO Class D amps that Iíve heard. Itís not going to make me sell any of my monoblocks but for anyone who has an aversion to valves, young children or mischievous pets this could be the amp for you. I would rate it above the large Krell or Mark Levinson amps if you want a comparison. Tom the designer makes a lot of the need for a lot of heatsinking but with my 90db and 96db sensitive speakers the heatsinks hardly rise above room temperature. [IMG][/IMG]
    Last edited by AD Audio; 11-03-2021 at 19:03. Reason: add

  2. #2
    Join Date: Sep 2009

    Location: west mids, UK

    Posts: 2,889
    I'm Phil.

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    Very interesting that hypex left you cold , I have never heard any but my icepower is rather good. Looking forward to trying the 686 one day, at least 2 nearby audiophiles use neurochrome

  3. #3
    Join Date: Oct 2012

    Location: The Black Country

    Posts: 5,688
    I'm Alan.

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    In my experience the Icepower modules give a 'warmer' and less clinical sound than the hypex units.
    I love Hendrix for so many reasons. He was so much more than just a blues guitarist - he played damn well any kind of guitar he wanted. In fact I'm not sure if he even played the guitar - he played music. - Stevie Ray Vaughan

  4. #4
    Join Date: Jun 2015

    Location: London/Durham

    Posts: 4,752
    I'm Lawrence.

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    Verging on the boring I found. But then I listen at low volume, perhaps their attributes shine relative to other amps when you turn the volume up a bit.

    Sent from my BKL-L09 using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    Join Date: Sep 2009

    Location: west mids, UK

    Posts: 2,889
    I'm Phil.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firebottle View Post
    In my experience the Icepower modules give a 'warmer' and less clinical sound than the hypex units.
    That's very interesting FB , I am so surprised my icepower are warm sounding, still here after ianlenco made them !! They really gel well with the tannoys although no doubt the neurochrome would sound good too

  6. #6
    Join Date: Sep 2009

    Location: west mids, UK

    Posts: 2,889
    I'm Phil.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lawrence001 View Post
    Verging on the boring I found. But then I listen at low volume, perhaps their attributes shine relative to other amps when you turn the volume up a bit.

    Sent from my BKL-L09 using Tapatalk
    The ref 500s I had recently had amazing zing and verve , listening to rodrigo y gabballa was spellbinding , very live sound

  7. #7
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Gerrards Cross

    Posts: 2,689
    I'm Tony.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Firebottle View Post
    In my experience the Icepower modules give a 'warmer' and less clinical sound than the hypex units.
    A very astute observation Alan

    As you also are aware not all PWN switching amps are created equal!
    Coherent Systems
    Real high end sound with musicality not hifi

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