Edge NL Reference Monoblock Power Amp

Is the NL Reference from Florida-based Edge Electronics just another high-power, high-priced monoblock power amp? I think not.

The beautifully sculpted, pyramidal NL Reference stands nearly 3 feet tall, weighs 220 pounds, provides both balanced and unbalanced inputs, and outputs up to 800 watts into 8Ω, 1600W into 4Ω, or 3200W into 2Ω. The "N" in "NL" refers to the exclusive use of NPN output transistors to provide greater linearity than NPN/PNP complimentary designs, decrease crossover distortion, and reduce heat. The result is said to be class-A biased performance without class-A biased heat.

Like Edge's other NL-designated power amps, this flagship incorporates the company's proprietary Laser Optical Bias Circuitry, in which 630nm diode lasers are bonded to the bias transistors, shining directly on the silicon substrate—hence the "L" in "NL." The lasers are part of a servo-feedback network, and their output increases and decreases along with the signal level. According to Edge, this affects the flow of electrons through the transistors and keeps the bias at the optimum operating point, allowing a tenfold increase in gain while maintaining exceptional linearity.

The NL Reference is currently undergoing a redesign, and the availability and pricing have not yet been established. The original carried a price tag of $140,800/pair, and I imagine the new version will be in the same ballpark. I haven't heard this amp, nor have I read any reviews of it, but reviews of other Edge amps, including Stereophile's review of the NL-12, have been glowing, so I don't doubt that the new NL Reference will sound spectacular.