Review: Peachtree Nova150 Hi-Fi Amplifier

At first glance, you’d almost think the Nova150 was a well-maintained amplifier from the mid-20th century. Like so much of the stereo gear from that era, the Nova150 has a plain aluminum panel on the front, panoply jacks on the rear, and a brown wood case; the only things missing are a pair of VU meters and an AM/FM radio dial.  A closer look reveals that its rounded wood housing has been polished to a high gloss finish, its brushed aluminum face is flush-mounted to the wood as if it grew that way naturally, and its volume knob is very clearly digital. This retro-futuristic design is one of the things we like most about the Nova150; it deserves to be displayed front-and-center, rather than stuffed into a cubby in a media center. We like the character of the Gloss Ebony Mocha model we received for testing, though it’s likely that the Piano Black version might “gel” better with other modern electronics. If anything negative could be said about the Nova150’s physical design, it’s that the high-gloss finish will likely be more susceptible to fingerprints and scratches; the care it demands can serve as a reminder that this amplifier isn’t just a commodity.

The Nova150’s interface is deceptively minimal, with a gray aluminum face broken by nothing but eight buttons for selecting inputs and a companion LED for each. In sharp contrast to the Brooklyn DAC we reviewed earlier this year, the Nova150 has no LCD to display volume or other information. Peachtree has, however, hidden more functionality behind the buttons. When adjusting volume, the eight source LEDs light up to show volume level, and long-pressing any of the input buttons can toggle “volume control bypass” mode (more on that later). Though this setup keeps the interface clean, we think it may go a bit too far — there’s no way to tell exactly what volume level the Nova150 is at without changing it, and the number of steps between the LEDs seem to vary depending on where you are in the…

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