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darTZeel NHB-108 Model 2 - The Best Stereo Amplifier In The World Just Got Way Better

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  • darTZeel NHB-108 Model 2 - The Best Stereo Amplifier In The World Just Got Way Better

    The King is dead, long live the King.

    Originally introduced near the turn of the century, the darTZeel NHB-108 had long been considered by many as the finest sounding amplifier ever made. I know I did. The caveat had always been that you have to play by darTZeel's rules. One of the reasons the amplifier sounds so amazing is the extremely low number of output devices in the amplifier as well as the lack of fuses, switches or relays in the signal path. The downside is just like owning a tube amplifier your speaker cannot have a severe impedance drop. Anything near 2 ohms or lower, don't bother.

    In the time since it's original release there have been a few changes, but none that warranted a model name change. During this era most manufacturers, who shall go unnamed, have changed their models countless times. The darTZeel NHB-108 for the most part had remained unsurpassed. About seven years ago Hervé Deletraz, the owner and mad genius behind darTZeel, created his newest masterpiece, the NHB-458 monoblocks. The NHB-108 stereo amplifier had finally been bettered. However, the NHB-108 was still considered the finest sounding stereo amplifier.

    It has been about 18 years or so since most of you started hearing about the darTZeel NHB-108 and it is finally being replaced by a Model 2 version. Taking circuit improvements which were developed for the NHB-458 Monoblocks, Hervé has implemented major changes in the NHB-108 Model 2. Without going into extreme detail about the mechanical and technical differences, I will share the sonic improvements. Hervé told me to expect many of the sonic virtues of the NHB-458 monos in the new NHB-108 Model 2 stereo amp. He wasn't kidding. This new marvel has greater transparency, speed and dynamics while retaining the incredible delicacy, naturalness and ability to present musical nuances that the darTZeel NHB-108 has always been known for. It has a bit more power as well, but a noticeably better control over the bass. For the most part, the NHB-108 Model 2 is a miniature pair of NHB-468 monoblocks in one box. This thing is amazing! The cost of near perfection is about $44k.

    Consider this a tease. Go hear it for yourself.

    For you darTZeel NHB-108 Model One owners, the good news is there is an upgrade path directly with the factory. If you already have the SCNP upgrade the cost to upgrade is 12k CHF. If you do not have the SCNP network there will be an additional 1.5k CHF cost. The faceplate will not be changed but the "eyes" will be yellow instead of orange.
    Best Regards,

    Jonathan Tinn
    Blue Light Audio
    darTZeel - Importer
    Evolution Acoustics - Co-Owner / Founder
    Playback Designs - Co-Founder
    Wave Kinetics - Co-Owner / Co-Founder
    Wave Kinetics Records - Co-Owner / Co-Founder

  • #2
    Thanks for the info. How about Myles reviewing it?

    Comment


    • #3
      Wow, I remember when the original amp was less than 15k.
      it certainly is way ahead of inflation

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Metamatic View Post
        Wow, I remember when the original amp was less than 15k.
        it certainly is way ahead of inflation
        I remember when pizza was 10 cents a slice, gas was 23 cents a gallon and the Ford Mustang was about $2k.
        Best Regards,

        Jonathan Tinn
        Blue Light Audio
        darTZeel - Importer
        Evolution Acoustics - Co-Owner / Founder
        Playback Designs - Co-Founder
        Wave Kinetics - Co-Owner / Co-Founder
        Wave Kinetics Records - Co-Owner / Co-Founder

        Comment


        • siddh
          siddh commented
          Editing a comment
          In the early 2000’s????

        • Kingrex
          Kingrex commented
          Editing a comment
          I remember Bazooka Bubble gum going from 1 cent to 2 cents. That was a shock for a little kid.

        • DetroitVinylRob
          DetroitVinylRob commented
          Editing a comment
          Crap, me too

      • #5
        Thanks for the notice, Jonathan.
        Vbr,

        Sam

        Comment


        • #6
          How about I review it does it do 1.7 ohms lol.
          There is no best and the imp it powers matters almost as much as the amp.
          nice post
          speakers cust infinity IRS V , new caps and LPS , magnets etc.
          mark levivson pre no 26 amps no 33
          digital three cust servers , win ser 2016 , AO
          Dacs lampi various

          Comment


          • Kingrex
            Kingrex commented
            Editing a comment
            You need the monoblocks to drive your towers.

        • #7
          Originally posted by Jtinn View Post

          I remember when pizza was 10 cents a slice, gas was 23 cents a gallon and the Ford Mustang was about $2k.
          20 cents you must be older
          speakers cust infinity IRS V , new caps and LPS , magnets etc.
          mark levivson pre no 26 amps no 33
          digital three cust servers , win ser 2016 , AO
          Dacs lampi various

          Comment


          • #8
            on Saturday I visited my friend Andrew, who has the Evolution Acoustics MM3 with the EXACT crossovers, the NHB-108 stereo amp (I owned for 7 years) and same NHB-18NS 'version 2' pre I have. he has the new 108 Model 2 in his system right now, and we did some head to head comparisons with his original 108.

            first off, I love Andrew's system with the original 108. it's one of the better overall systems I've heard and I know it well. I hear all the amazing things from his 108 that I've always enjoyed in my system. that said, the Model 2 version of the 108 is a clear step up in a few ways, and a more satisfying amplifier to listen to. it is more full bodied; more meat on the bones and weighty sounding, and has more authority and punch.....greater ease. it has the same transparency and refinement, and is also very extended in the highs and that extremely smooth top end that the 108 is known for. i'd give the original 108 just a hair more top end air in direct comparison.

            we were using vinyl, plus 1/2" 30ips and 15ips tape on an Ampex ATR-102 with Aria output electronics, as sources. both sounding amazing. Andrew is an ATR-102 expert.

            when I heard the Model 2 on Saturday, Andrew had only had it for a couple of days and only put 3-4 hours on it at that point, and it is quite new. I know from my experiences that the 108 is an amplifier that takes some serious time to fully break in. yesterday I talked to Andrew and he said it was sounding even better than Saturday. I would not be surprised if it opened up a bit more and matched that top end air for the original 108.

            the original darTZeel NHB-108 has always been my second favorite amplifier to my 458's. now that rank on my favorite's list goes to the Model 2. and it's going to be an option for more systems with it's greater ability to control more speakers in bigger rooms. and I think now an even more attractive alternative to a tube amplifier lover wanting solid state advantages.

            Best Stereo Amplifier? i'll leave that label to my friend Jonathan. the 108 Model 2 is my favorite sounding stereo amplifier that I have heard.

            Bravo Herve' for these improvements!

            Comment


            • #9
              Originally posted by Alrainbow View Post

              20 cents you must be older
              Hahaha not was I was thinking
              speakers cust infinity IRS V , new caps and LPS , magnets etc.
              mark levivson pre no 26 amps no 33
              digital three cust servers , win ser 2016 , AO
              Dacs lampi various

              Comment


              • #10
                Would love to know what the differences are in terms of being able to drive more speaker types. If the original 108 wouldn't drive a pair of Magicos, what are the chances the new 108 would be able to?
                Magico M-Project, CAT JL7s, CJ GAT/darTZeel 18NS, Kronos Pro Limited Edition/Black Beauty/Atlas SL/Opus-1,CH Precision P1, Schiit Yggdrasil, KS Elation ICs & SCs

                Comment


                • #11
                  Originally posted by Madfloyd View Post
                  Would love to know what the differences are in terms of being able to drive more speaker types. If the original 108 wouldn't drive a pair of Magicos, what are the chances the new 108 would be able to?
                  There are so many Magico models. Is it your impression that darTZeel will not drive any of them? I can attest to hearing the best sound I ever heard from Magicos with the darTZeel NHB-108 Model One. Which model are you specifically talking about?
                  Best Regards,

                  Jonathan Tinn
                  Blue Light Audio
                  darTZeel - Importer
                  Evolution Acoustics - Co-Owner / Founder
                  Playback Designs - Co-Founder
                  Wave Kinetics - Co-Owner / Co-Founder
                  Wave Kinetics Records - Co-Owner / Co-Founder

                  Comment


                  • Madfloyd
                    Madfloyd commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Sorry for not being more specific, Jonathan. The M-Project (or the M6) is what I was specifically wondering about, but any info about any difference in power and ability to drive more speakers (the 108 is known for running out of steam on lots of speakers) would be helpful to us all.

                • #12
                  Ian,

                  Unfortunately I could not find much information in terms of impedance curves or minimal impedance on your speaker. If the load is benign the darTZeel will have absolutely no problem with it.

                  it is my understanding there is about 50 W per channel greater power. I can tell you sonically it feels like a lot more than that.
                  Best Regards,

                  Jonathan Tinn
                  Blue Light Audio
                  darTZeel - Importer
                  Evolution Acoustics - Co-Owner / Founder
                  Playback Designs - Co-Founder
                  Wave Kinetics - Co-Owner / Co-Founder
                  Wave Kinetics Records - Co-Owner / Co-Founder

                  Comment


                  • Madfloyd
                    Madfloyd commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Thanks for looking, Jonathan!
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