Review: APL Hi Fi NWO 4.0 Master Edition CD Player

Category: Digital

I just had my NWO 3.0 up graded to the 4.0 Master Edition. What an amazing transformation. I was very content with the 3.0 but, this upgrade made my system SING. I was able to hear information that I had never heard before. I can actually hear the placement of instruments in orchestral works with sonic focus and bloom. With the female vocals; I was able to hear the emotional nuances of the singer and even movement of the microphone in live recordings.The sound stage is well defined without being hyper-detailed. The lows are deep, tight and controlled. The midrange is to die for. Highs are on par with analogue.
With some of my live recordings of jazz, I almost felt like I was there.

This unit now equals and can beat my Saskia and Talea / Dynavector XVs 1T turntable system.

This by far is the best CD/SACD playback system that I have owned and heard.

The 4.0 Master unit configures the AKM DAC's specially with low noise transistors ( a new break-through from Alex ) and uses special Lindaul output transformers with Oxygen Free copper wires.
Alex actualy had tried Amorphous core transformers but ultimately felt that the OFC Lindauls are the best.

Not only is this a great stand alone CD and Universal Player. I have experimented with using it as a DAC with wonderful results using the M2Tech EVO USB adaptor and computer Laptop.
Using Media Monkey and Monkey Tunes , I can control my entire digital music collection with my IPAD while sitting on the couch if I am lazy.
If I want to get more exercise then I switch back to using it as a CD player.
Thank You Alex for this wonderful work !!!

Associated gear
ASR Emitter Blue ,
Saskia Turntable with Talea arm
Genesis 1.1 Speaker System

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Dear Hifirabbit,

Thank you so much for the nice words, I appreciate it!

Just to clarify, what you have is the new NWO-M. This is the Final Edition of the NWO series digital players. I also felt it is on a par with the best analog, so I've decided to stop here and concentrate on my other products such as DAC boxes, amplifiers, etc.

Thanks again!

Alex Peychev
My NWO-M has been breaking in over the last week. I am running it in about 16 hours a day.

With digital units I have owned, the sound demonstrates some inconsistency as the unit breaks in. Mercifully, the Master is showing me glimpses of things to come. My early impression is that there is more of everything - especially bass and midrange detail.

I had provided an upgrade deposit to Alex who ordered some parts and populated circuit boards. Then I shipped my NWO 3.0 GO to Alex. My downtime was just a little over 2 weeks including the coast to coast shipping time.

It appears that Alex has another winner. APL owners expect it.
My early impression is that there is more of everything - especially bass and midrange detail.
This is not meant as critical of you in any way, Dotsystem, but when I read that I thought, you know, a great many of the upgrades we audiophiles do seem to yield "more of everything." Is there an endless supply of everything, so that we can keep getting more of it?
I understand Drubin. I am not inclined to lengthy epic reviews. My comparison is with the NWO 3.0 GO which is a few models back. Until we have perfect components, there is room for improvement. I have no opinion of how the NWO Master may outperform the NWO 3.0 SE or NWO 4.0 SE models. I leave that to others.

Your commentary and this response should be moved into another thread since the issue you pose is generic to high end and not exclusive to the NWO-M.
I completey agree with Hifirabbit. The M is incredible. I was lucky enough to be able to compare my M to a 4.0SE in my system with the same cables, amps and speakers. It blew the 4.0SE away--completely. it has so much more musical yet has more detail, so much so that there rally was no comparison. It basically made the 4.0SE seem almost like a boom box. I really do not understand how Alex was able to find so much improvement in the 4.0Se but he did, and I am delighted!
I have always felt that Alex Peychev was and is a gifted individual.I have owned his creations from the APL 3910 Denon CDP to his latest and greatest CDP /DAC-The NWO-M.
This incarnation of his talent and love of music just "gets it right"
These thoughts are totally subjective and based solely on my opinion.
I listen to various genres of music in many different venues-the NWO-M in my system and to my ears just sounds"live"-if the recording is faithful to the music- the reproduction of the event via The M, has brought both a smile and a tear to my face.
If one wants to see/hear that it is possible for digital to equal vinyl then one should seek out an opportunity to listen to an APL NWO-M.
I have intentionally not gotten into comparisons or a discussion laced with terminology as I'm not seeking converts or proclaiming that the NWO-M is the unequivocally best-I have not hear all the SOTA pieces out there.
What I will say is that this product is incredible and has freed the soul of music from the 1 and 0 of digital recording-at least to my ears and my wife's

If I sound like a fan of Alex-I am and consider myself most fortunate to speak from 1st hand experience.
I must admit that when Alex Peychev announced the NWO-M upgrade, I hesitated because I have been very happy with my NWO-4.0SE and didn't feel a need for an upgrade. I expressed my satisfaction with the 4.0SE with many superlatives in an Audiogon review. However, Alex assured me the "M" version (M is short for Master) is a significant upgrade to the 4.0SE. In all previous upgrades I got from him, he always delivered greater sonic improvements than he promised. So, I sent my player in.....Got it back in less than 2 weeks....And once again Alex exceeded my sonic expectations.

Right out of the box, the NWO-M sounded more relaxed than my fully burnt-in 4.0SE. My lady friend and I were totally captivated by the more natural and effortless flow of music. I do not recall hearing such magical fluidity produced by any audio system I had an opportunity to listen to.

It now has about 150 hours of playing time and I continue being astounded at the increased level of realism and beauty.

The highs are sweeter....much sweeter....cleaner, more delicate and with greater sparkle. If there are other digital or vinyl systems that can match or better M's natural sparkle and shimmer, I have not heard them.

The bass is simply awesome. Cleaner, tighter and more tuneful. The harmonic texture is more palpable and has more nuanced sonic hues.

The midrange is also significantly improved. In a word: glorious. On the NWO-M, the human voice is smoother, warmer and more expressive.

I am continually amazed at the naturalness of the transients, the improved focus, the overall cleanliness, and the expanded soundstage floating effortlessly....very solid yet wispy when called for.

The NWO-4.0SE took 500 hours of playing time for each format to burn-in. That suggests the NWO-M may have more room for improvement and refinement....Stay tuned. In the meantime, Alex's masterpiece has already lived up to its name, the Master.

Kudos to Alex!
After a number of years, I finally decided to upgrade to the latest APL 1-box digital solution, in this case, the NWO-M. It replaces my 3 box Esoteric Ux-1pi Transport/ Esoteric Rubidium clock/APL prototype NWO-4.0 Super-DAC.

Totally unbroken-in, out of the box, its not really even close to what I had - voices and instruments have an even more palpable weight - as lifelike as I've ever heard, anywhere at any price. Pretty special, since I know its just going to get lots better as the different formats break-in. Won't be doing any critical listening for weeks, but it sure is fun to listen to NOW!!

SACD also benefits from the asynchronus upsampling at 195KHz/32 bit. While I don't pretend to understand even a fraction of the engineering that went into this piece, I DO know what I'm hearing, which is quite nice, even at this very, very early stage.

There is also now a facility outside of Chicago that has done and will do repair work for APL, both in and out of warranty. I've talked to them to confirm this and they do lots of warranty work for the major brands, so they are real. This helped my decision to finally do the 1 Box ultimate APL NWO upgrade. So far, this seems to be a very wise decision :-)
This is an update to my first impressions of the NWO-M upgrade to my APL HiFi NWO-4.0SE.

Out of the box the NWO-M was impressive. (See my first impressions above.) At about 140 hours the upper bass and lower midrange began to open up, creating greater fullness and warmth. Around 170-200 hours, the top end began to open up to create a better spectral balance. Past 300 hours, a new level of resolution began to unfold. The SACD format has about 500 hours of burn-in now and this is how it compares to the NWO-4.0SE:

The NWO-M is more relaxed, there is no strain. Simply put, its more natural, more real. As a sonic bonus, it is sweeter, and much more emotionally involving.

The bass is even better than on the 4.0SE. It's tighter, and has more subtle texture. The highs are more open, much more open and airy.....And the resulting delicacy is magical and seductive. The midrange has more presence and charm.....In a word, it's glorious.

There is a new level of resolution of detail: subtle harmonic textures, micro transients, and subtle dynamic gradations; all of which create greater realism. Transients are cleaner, crisper and more real....And the decays are to die for. All the additional resolution of low level information has created a greater fullness and coherence. Some of this increased resolution is the result of a quieter back improved signal to noise ratio.

The sound stage dimensions are better defined, especially the front to back dimension which has gained in clarity and cleanliness. The images are more focused, better scaled to real instruments. And the outstanding ambient information together with the above qualities teleports you in time and space to the venue of the recording.

For me, the M also has a quality that is hard to verbalize: it's in how the music now unfolds in the time domain....You sense the performer's creative process in that unfoldment....The emotional impulses that create the subtle nuances in the sonic flow....The M captures not only the music but also the magic of music making. Overall, it's much, much more enjoyable.

Based on my burn-in history of the previous versions of the NWO, I think the SACD format is almost burned-in. I will then turn my focus on breaking-in the Redbook format.
Forgive an perhaps stupid Q, After 1000 H burn in time is the 2 small NOS tubes on the back ready for replacment? Whats the lifespan of this tubes? What do they cost?