I came from an ICE-power amp that was very similar in size (-10W). It cost more, but was older, too. That said, this little guy performs beautifully, it is the most honest amp I have ever had. An even earlier amp that I have enjoyed is the Parasound A23. Neither of the aforementioned amps comes close to what the little Ncore delivers. The channel separation makes me wish I could afford dual mono, but this one is great at it. The whole soundstage opened up a bit more and I thought that was one of the good aspects of my ICE power amp. Instrument separation improved, too. It seems as there is a bit more air around each one. That they are more localized across the stage.
As I listen in a near field setup, I don't have the depth I would like in my room, but again it delivers every bit that is there, almost to the point where there is the illusion that it goes a bit deeper than the wall. The biggest increases are twofold. For only 10 more watts than the ICE power the dynamics are far better than I have ever had... even with the Parasound that has almost twice the power. The biggest change, most dramatic, was what I call the honesty of the sound. It comes closer than any amp I have ever owned for its honest, natural sound. That also means that some work that I used to enjoy I avoid now- too unpleasant. The amount of honest, natural, unvarnished sound it delivers I find uncanny, for me a first. For the first time I have an amp that is neither warm or cold, it is delivering the music in a better, more honest manner than I am accustomed to hearing. All with an energy that amazes me given that it really doesn't have a lot of horsepower.
If there is a negative, it is as a review stated, the rounding of the leading edge of the notes. I take this to be a conscious decision by the designer, but that is just my guess. The problem, if it is not done exactly right, is that it can really annoy a guy like me immediately... if not sooner. Edgy, brittle I have no interest in, so while they are not there, even though the DAC I have does that little aspect superbly, it is not a deal breaker. The music still has a natural energy, life to itself that I find a breath of fresh air.
There is one real negative though and it has nothing to do with the sound, but rather the esthetics of the circle of light on the switch. Too raw, bright and thick... no finesse visually for a little amp that exudes finesse with its sound... oh well, can't have it all at this point... so I will settle for what counts- most of the great stuff and a very fair price.