What is Carina?
Carina is Peachtree Audio's new flagship integrated amplifier. It combines several of the sound quality enhancements introduced in the nova500 with the power and price point of the nova300. It is Peachtree Audio's first product with the critically acclaimed Hypex N-Core amplifier technology built-in. Carina also brings several new features to a Peachtree amplifier for the first time.
Why we made Carina
Very simply, to establish a new benchmark for integrated amplifiers at its price. Our ongoing testing of available technologies identified a combination of DAC, preamplifier and power amplifier technologies that worked extremely well together to create an exceptional listening experience at a reasonable price. Carina is an easy-to-use, highly transparent integrated amplifier that drives a wide range of speakers (and headphones!) with ease, and accepts up to 6 digital inputs including Bluetooth.
- Two ESS 9068 DAC chips, dual mono (one for the left channel, one for the right channel)
- Accepts HD audio input up to 768k PCM and 512k DSD
- Selectable digital filter settings including oversampling on/off
- Full MQA decoding on ALL inputs
- I2S input
- Fully balanced analog circuitry from the DACs to the power and headphone amplifiers
- High-performance, hybrid volume control (combination analog resistor ladder/digital attenuation)
- User selectable all-digital volume control option
- Bluetooth 5.0 input with HD audio decoding
- 300 watts-per-channel Hypex NCore power amplifier driving the speaker outputs
- Fully-balanced headphone amplifier with a 4.4mm T/R/R/S output (1/4" unbalanced output also provided)
- Timeless Peachtree Audio industrial design crafted out of aluminum, wrapped in real wood, and finished in gloss ebony mocha or piano black
- High-quality OLED front panel display with an intuitive dual knob user interface
- Trigger input for power on/off control from another device
- Hand-held remote control with integrated commands for Bluesound devices (NODE, VAULT, etc.)
How does Carina sound?
It is our best sounding integrated amplifier to date, period. Even better than the highly regarded nova500, the Grand Integrated and the classic nova and decco amplifiers that have come before. To celebrate this achievement we have broken with tradition and given it a unique name: Carina. Carina is a name in the Italian language that roughly translates to “pretty" and is derived from the Latin word Carus that means “beloved." We are confident that Carina looks and performs better than anything else in its price range - and many products that cost significantly more - and that Carina will earn a place in your heart and mind, too!
How does Carina compare to the nova300?
Simply stated, Carina is better sounding. It has a superior DAC, preamplifier, power amplifier and headphone amplifier. Each of these functions has been upgraded to take advantage of recent technology advancements and integrated in a design with several small but significant enhancements to achieve remarkable sound quality.
Features in Carina that are not available in the nova300
How does Carina compare to the nova500?
Again, Carina is the better amplifier but the difference here is narrower. The nova500 sounds terrific but Carina edges it out slightly in terms of absolute sonic clarity and transparency in our listening tests.
How does Carina compare to the preDAC+GaN 400?
The GaN Stack is our benchmark for sound, but Carina gets closer to that benchmark than any of our integrated amplifiers. The GaN400 power amplifier is one of the best power amplifiers ever made (regardless of type) and the GaN Stack stands as our best sounding amplifier solution. But if price is a critical factor, Carina is the answer.
Dual DAC and Balanced Analog Design
Carina utilizes two ESS Technology 9068 DAC chips in dual-mono mode with one chip dedicated to the left channel and the other to the right channel. ESS is a leader in audiophile DAC design and manufacturing and their 9068 is the successor to the 9038 which, in turn, is the successor to the venerable 9018. The 9068 achieves excellent THD+N (120dB) and DNR (128dBA) and is also the world's first audio DAC with a built-in MQA hardware renderer. The 9068 DAC chip performs exceptionally well on its own, but when two are used in dual-mono mode, the measured performance and sonic transparency is elevated to an even higher level. Peachtree Audio was the first premium audio brand to implement ESS DACs in its products beginning with the original nova in 2009 and has continued to use their DACs ever since.
To help ensure that the high quality analog signal from the DACs is preserved, the current to voltage converter stage features ultra low distortion op-amps, along with a balanced, class-A, discrete output stage to drive the volume control with a low source impedance. The volume control in Carina is designed to preserve the integrity of the sound even further by utilizing a high-performance resistor ladder (with .1% tolerance resistors) and digital attenuation hybrid design. This type of sophisticated volume control circuit is rare in a product in this price range, but provides ultra-precise control of the output level while maintaining exceptional channel balance throughout the volume range. With such a high quality DAC and preamplifier design in front of them, the power and headphone amplifiers are able to perform while providing greater transparency, less background noise and. ultimately, remarkable sonic clarity.
New Digital Features
Carina utilizes precision femtosecond crystal oscillators (digital clocks) to minimize phase noise and jitter. A custom designed FPGA with clock management and an additional phase lock loop reduces jitter even further, providing a level of control typically reserved for stand alone DACs. The DACs in Carina are capable of supporting PCM up to 768kHz and DSD up to 512kHz via the USB-B and I2S inputs. These are the highest input sampling rates we have ever supported in our products and are available for users that want to experiment with sample rates. Carina also includes a digital filter setting for fine-tuning the sound of the DACs with 3 settings; L-FAST, H-FAST and M-SLOW. Each filter has an objective (measurable) and subjective (audible to most) effect on the sound. We encourage people to audition all three settings to determine the one that sounds the best to them. Most people will hear the differences in the high-frequency reproduction where they are most readily heard. There is also a no oversampling (NOS) setting in Carina, which sends the original digital signal straight to the modulator without any oversampling. This mode is useful for users to experiment with software-based oversampling features in products such as Roon.
Carina supports full MQA decoding on ALL of its inputs. For users of Tidal and Paradise Radio, this is a welcome addition to be able to fully decode the signals streaming from these services. If you do not use those services, Peachtree Audio recommends using a Bluesound NODE or similar in conjunction with Carina and streaming high-resolution audio from services such as Qobuz, Apple Music and amazon music HD. In our experience, the sound quality of all of these streaming services is impressive. The libraries are huge and the convenience is unmatched!
Carina provides an I2S digital audio input. This type of connection is not commonplace, but some high performance digital audio source devices offer them. This connection provides a potential upgrade path as source device preferences continue to evolve.
Carina has a built-in Bluetooth 5.0 receiver with HD audio decoding. It provides a convenient way to stream wirelessly from any Bluetooth enabled device. Carina also has a setting that only turns on the internal Bluetooth receiver when the Bluetooth input is selected. This minimizes the amount of RF inside the unit when using any of the wired inputs.
Carina utilizes a 300 watts-per-channel stereo Hypex NCore power amplifier that provides power to drive virtually any speaker with ease and authority while maintaining low noise and terrific dynamics. The speaker outputs are high-quality CMC 5-way binding posts. Carina also provides a high-performance balanced headphone amplifier with a 4.4mm T/R/R/R/S output, plus a 1/4” unbalanced output for regular headphones. The power and clarity of the headphone amplifier is remarkable for an integrated amplifier and the balanced output is typically only found on dedicated headphone amplifiers!
Peachtree Audio prides itself on making products that not only sound great, but look great and are easy to use. All of our products are meticulously crafted out of metal and wood and integrate with a wide range of interior designs from traditional to contemporary to post-modern. Carina introduces a high-quality OLED front panel display with large characters and a dual-knob user interface that retains the ease of use our products have always been known for along with the visual feedback many have requested. This display provides more information than our previous amplifiers and can be easily viewed from most listening positions.
- Hand-held wireless IR remote control with integrated commands for Bluesound devices like the NODE, VAULT, etc.
- Stereo preamp output for connecting a powered subwoofer or an external power amplifier like the GaN 400
- Trigger input (1/8”) for power on/off control from another device
- 5V DC output (USB-C connector) for charging and/or powering another device
Audio Pursuit reviews the Carina
"While $2499 is no small amount of change, the Carina is an absolute bargain."
"I cannot rave enough about the DAC section."
"Simply put, the Peachtree Carina integrated amplifier is insanely terrific."