Modern day Hi-Fi is often jam packed with features, wireless streaming, integrated DACs and digital processing abound and that is truly fantastic. However none of these things come close to the importance of the quality of sound itself and if anything can prove this it’s the new Nytech CA352.
We’ve waxed lyrical in the past about Nytech’s fantastic Pre and Power combination the CP202 and CPA402, in fact over the last few years they have barely left our demonstration room, becoming our point of reference when reviewing new loudspeakers and other components. However there is certainly a trend recently of setups having fewer boxes and taking up less space, reducing those two boxes down to one in the form of an integrated amplifier was the next logical step.
The CA352 is not officially released until the 24th of May (more on the launch event later) however as it is developed and built right here in Cardiff we have been lucky enough to hear it a few times through its development and have had it in the demonstration room before its release.
Build quality is excellent with the CA252. It keeps the same brushed black aluminium front panel and simple nicely laid out controls including a motorised volume control. Buyers are treated to some customisation as well, as Nytech offer you a variety of choices when it comes to their signature wooden side checks, which gives a real sense of ownership and uniqueness to your amplifier.
We sat down with Phil Balaam, the designer and engineer behind all of the modern Nytech creations and asked him a few questions about his new product:
When did you first get interested in Hi-Fi and how did you get involved in the industry?
I was interested in Music from about the age of six and I built my first amplifier when I was 12, but it wasn't until I joined Nytech Audio in 1978 and met Richard Hay for the first time that I started to get interested into what makes electronic equipment sound the way it does. I learned an awful lot from Richard about why HiFi sounds the way it does and what factors can influence the sound in what way.
What is your philosophy when it comes to the sound and design of your products?
Music first! - No matter how good your equipment is on paper, it’s not until you start listening to music emotionally on it that you appreciate the difference between equipment. Music is a collection of mathematically related sounds designed to produce an emotional response in the listener. If the emotion disappears in the recording and reproduction of the music then its meaning is lost!
Value for money - Anyone who knows the HiFi business knows there are some very high priced items out there! Some justify their high price but many do not! One of the things I learned from Richard Hay was how to make music without spending a fortune and passing that onto the customer.
Nytech amplifiers are by no means "cheap" but they offer very high musical ability without the astronomically high price tag of some of the more "esoteric" alternatives. It’s up to the customer can decide if they are getting value for money.
Talk us through the new integrated, what was your reasoning behind releasing this product?
The first requirement of the integrated was that we deliver the emotion, detail and focus as would be expected of a modern amplifier but make sure that we kept the distinctive musical sound of the classic originals.
The second requirement was to concentrate every single penny of cost into musical performance.
The whole point about HiFi separates is that you choose the components you want to give you the most enjoyable musical performance
The Integrated amplifier has one job. To amplify and control analogue audio signals. Doing anything else in the box would either have compromised the sound, or made the integrated far more expensive adding features that the customer may not want.
That’s why there are no "add ons" like Phono stages, DACs, Bluetooth streaming or any other gadgets. To add these either the price had to be increased and customers may not want them or we sacrifice the quality of the amplifier to pay for the "extras." We also felt that putting a phono stage inside the box with all the interference and noise from the power electronics would reduce the quality of the music so we decided not to do it.
We set up a system in our demonstration room we felt was appropriate for the price point and function of the CA352. This consisted of a Cyrus Stream X signature into Chord Electronics new (and marvellous) Qutest DAC for our streaming alongside a Rega Planar 6 with Ania MC cartridge through Rega’s Fono MC phono stage as our sources. For our loudspeakers we employed Spendor’s brand new A7 floorstanders (more on those in the coming months) which the CA352 modestly rated 35 watts drove effortlessly.
We spent a lot of time and listened to a huge variety of music through this setup and could provide an essay on our findings but we thought we’d share a few of our highlights. One of the surprising moments came from the intro to Queen’s classic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, the harmonies at the start of the song are of course instantly recognisable but we were blown away by the separation the SA352 provided. On a song we have between us heard hundreds of times before we could recognise each individual voice as if there were a choir stood right in front of us, it really was staggering detail.
Another standout was Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, the realism with which the orchestra portrayed was incredible with all instruments presented in their proper positions and sounding as close to how they would in a concert hall, and of course when the cannons go off it makes you want to run for cover! The CA352 really showing how it can access that extra power that is needed instantaneously to give you that kind of impact. We know from previous experience that Nytech excel in providing the dynamics and soundstage needed to reproduce classical and jazz but what was surprising about this little amp is how well it well…rocks! Listening to ‘Take the Power Back’ by Rage Against the Machine provided all the muscle the song demands, the slap bass thundered, the drum kit hit you full on the chest and the vocals felt rhythmic and snappy just as they should but quite often don’t.
You don’t just have to believe our opinion though as on the 24th of May at 7pm there will be a great chance to hear the CA352 at our event at the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay. This fantastic building has hosted plenty of our events in the past and this time we will be showing off the CA352 playing through Spendor’s new A7 loudspeakers. There will be talks from both companies on their new products as well as a live performance from Cardiff based Jazz trio ‘Cool Soup’. This will be recorded and then played back through the system so we can compare between the live and recorded experience.
The bar will be open as we listen to a range of music to really show you what this amazing equipment can do. Entry is free and tickets can be reserved here . All are welcome and we hope to you there, if you can’t make it of course you are always welcome to have a demonstration in the shop any time after the day of the event.
Nytech products are currently only available at the Cardiff store