2 x NAP500DR service+upgrade...

thanks DB. very interesting explanation -- makes sense. lets see what other "edges" emerge and melt away over the period running up to week 3. i wasnt expecting the opening up to better and fuller tonality with truer instrument resonances this past week --so that was a pleasant surprise. helps focus attention away from the up and down edginess//overtightness.

lets see/hear what more surprises are around the corner...

enjoy...

ken

Week 3:

I would say this third week has been somewhat ‘eventful’.  The system has been rather "variable"  -- beyond the variability that we associate with active systems in general.

The tonality is still pleasantly ‘full’ and ‘true’. So it remains a lot easier to identify individual instruments and musical lines in a mix than before the DR upgrade.

However, over last Sunday and Monday – the system was sounding very strange – the only way I can describe it is that dynamic contrasts seemed wrong – the loud bits sounded really loud – such that I couldn’t play any source (NAT01, NDS and LP12) past nine o’clock. It wasn’t unpleasant but sounded uncomfortable – the sort of sound that brings one neurosis and has one looking behind the racks to see if all cables are free and loose. They were. So I satisfied myself that this was probably just the ‘roller-coaster ride’ I had been warned about.

Then last Tuesday, Bach B Minor Mass was playing on radio 3 on my NAT01 -  I was more or less forced to stop working and listen. This time the system was sounding dynamically correct and seriously enjoyable – and I found I could very comfortably play beyond 10 o’clock without any discomfort. I tested this with NDS and LP12 as well – the later was frighteningly good when I played Bob Dylan’s “Tell Tale Signs” – never heard it sounding this good before!!

I thought to myself – well, perhaps this is the end of the run-in?

Not too fast – the variability came back. And its been like that and also a little bit dull and not as “inviting” – even though I can still pick up the analytical  improvements to-date, (fuller tone, clearer nuances, etc) but the system is nowhere near as “drawing”, “dark” and “liquidly flowing” as it sounded like last Tuesday – when it sounded really “inky black”. Now you could say it now sounds a bit “(inky?) grey” .... :-)

After experiencing how it sounded like last Tuesday (and I swear I have never heard my system sound THAT good before!), it is of course a bit disappointing for the system to go off as it has done.

BUT, its not time to slash wrists yet – the underlying trend is definitely up, i.e. “improving” -- and, judging by what I heard last Tuesday, with a lot more performance to come. I can sort of sense that the system is progressing steadily to something really rather special and I am looking forward to that – hopefully in the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime – I just need to be patient and accept all this bumpy ride as part of the settling down process -- something that comes with the territory...

Oh my, what fun(?)

Enjoy

ken

J.N. posted:

Thanks for the update Ken. Sounds promising. I found that the peaks and troughs became less pronounced as time passed. You should have a better and more consistent performance after a couple of months.

Good luck.

John.

Thanks for chiming in John --- yeah -- i am hoping for more constancy during the next few weeks (hopefully) but i have a fairly good idea that things are heading in the right direction.

enjoy

ken

Sensible words from Minh. I hope life is treating you and your loved ones well my friend.

All this flippin' angst over something for which we pay very handsomely, to give us pleasure ............ allegedly.

Ken - Whack on Bobby McFerrin 'Don't Worry, Be Happy'.

John.

J.N. posted:

Sensible words from Minh. I hope life is treating you and your loved ones well my friend.

All this flippin' angst over something for which we pay very handsomely, to give us pleasure ............ allegedly.

Ken - Whack on Bobby McFerrin 'Don't Worry, Be Happy'.

John.

I'm good John. I hope your visit to the opthalmologist went well.

Life has changed for me ever since I started studying acupuncture. It's all about qi/energy and I now realise that we are energetic beings (some may disagree but each to their own). I spend one day a week in clinic manipulating the movement of qi. In essence, I work on the subtle to influence the material.

My oh my, my 500 which will be DR'd and serviced is due back from the mothership over the next fortnight or so. Lots to look forward to and not look forward to initially. Currently have a newish 300 (non DR)  on loan from my great dealer. Despite a different presentation, I miss what my wheezy old 12yr 500 did in comparison to 300s which was more akin to my 135s before I made the leap to a traded in 500. So a rebuilt DR 500 should be amazing!

ayisgroovy posted:

My oh my, my 500 which will be DR'd and serviced is due back from the mothership over the next fortnight or so. Lots to look forward to and not look forward to initially. Currently have a newish 300 (non DR)  on loan from my great dealer. Despite a different presentation, I miss what my wheezy old 12yr 500 did in comparison to 300s which was more akin to my 135s before I made the leap to a traded in 500. So a rebuilt DR 500 should be amazing!

good luck. all will be well judging by others who use passive 500s. i suspect the active setup that i am running my bring in extra run-in challenges. last night my daughter burst into my office and said "wow, your system is sounding much better than last week" -- so i guess i am getting "there"

enjoy

ken

Thank you Ken C.  Judging from the number of inputs re 500DR upgrade, the wobbly journey to Nirvana is worth it!  I also spoke with the Naim guys at the recent Windsor show and got good advice to re-organise my stacking of units.  I have ordered longer legs (I use HiFi Racks) to allow my 500 to go on lowest shelf (was on top) and the rest is stacking PSs on one stack and Pre/power/source on the other.  It goes like this:

Left Stack                                       Right Hand Stack

NDS                                                500PS             

552 head                                        552PS

<space>                                         555PS (non DR, for NDS)

NAP500                                          555PS (DR, for NDS)

 

I was assured (encouraged) that this will give the units their best chance to shine as compared to my mixture of head units on top of PSs etc.

Fingers crossed!

 

 

ayisgroovy posted:

Thank you Ken C.  Judging from the number of inputs re 500DR upgrade, the wobbly journey to Nirvana is worth it!  I also spoke with the Naim guys at the recent Windsor show and got good advice to re-organise my stacking of units.  I have ordered longer legs (I use HiFi Racks) to allow my 500 to go on lowest shelf (was on top) and the rest is stacking PSs on one stack and Pre/power/source on the other.  It goes like this:

Left Stack                                       Right Hand Stack

NDS                                                500PS             

552 head                                        552PS

<space>                                         555PS (non DR, for NDS)

NAP500                                          555PS (DR, for NDS)

 

I was assured (encouraged) that this will give the units their best chance to shine as compared to my mixture of head units on top of PSs etc.

Fingers crossed!

 

 

interesting. setup of my amp stack (and rightmost) is (top to bottom)

snaxo242, HF 500 headunit, LF 500 headunit, 500PS, 500PS.

this was suggested by Naim also quite some time ago -- dictated by a balance of factors -- including cable dressing, which certainly works well in this set up.

i guess in a passive setup, your setup is perhaps optimal also for the same reasons.. dunno...

enjoy

ken

If you have two Fraim then things are easier to optimise - I have four Fraim!

My own experiments in my own and other peoples systems found the 500 Head unit does not perform at its best on the base shelf and sounds far more detailed and funky on any shelf but the lowest base level. Paradoxically I found the 500PS was fine on the base level.

Also very good to have the 500PS not next to anything in the same fraim rack - or use a bigger spacing, I find Medium levels are the minimum separation needed from a 500PS.

In your system I'd probably go:

Left (Top to bottom): NDS (on medium level -or with a spacer) - 552 (med) - 500 (on std level) - empty base.

Right(Top to Bottom): 555PS(med) - 555PS(med) - 552(med)- 500PS on base level.

Then separate the fraims so that all cables reach ok and are off the floor.

Space between the power supply boxes was a recent discovery from about a year ago and made one of the largest upgrades I have had in my system in terms of openness and dynamic clarity.

DB.

Ken,

Good to hear your run-in journey is somewhat similar to mine. I'm a few weeks ahead of you and mine are still obviously improving and radically altering presentations of some music that I thought I knew well. Like listening to a new album or super-released version.

Bass timing and separation is really stunning now and some previously 'thick' recordings are resolved as clean bass lines for the first time. Generally when you have Bass guitar, bass synth notes and drums all at once you are asking for trouble - but not now and the music grooves along far better as you hear all the things the musicians were doing that was lost in a murky cloud before. Radically changes the presentation and perceived timing queues.

For example an old favorite by Mylene Farmer 'Alice' which has well recorded and powerful percussive bass notes now really shocked me tonight when the usual merging of the fast riffs was clean and with an obvious gap and 'floor' between notes in the timing - sounding totally different and bemusing my small brain.

An the less said about what it did to Slade's 'Come on feel the noise' the better perhaps - but wow, some evil-good bass going on.

But the improvements are everywhere - mid-band on voice incredible opening out and top-end clean smooth crisp and detailed.

And a huge stereo image with greater depth and out of the speakers in the room in a way you can place things in 3D.

So more to come for us Active System strange people!

DB.

DB, i'm very jealous that you are a few weeks ahead of me in the run-in process! i already have hints of whats to come  -- i just need more stability -- fortunately, i can sense this is coming already.

Sounds like you are enjoying your system  thoroughly DB -- and long may it stay so...

next report late Friday/Sat.

enjoy

ken

I too have my pre amp (252) on the top shelf of my single Fraim stack above my NDS as it was my understanding that it was the pre amp that appreciated the open space, more than the NDS.

I would be interested in your thoughts on this.

Ken - glad to hear things are moving in the right direction with your DR'd 500s.

kevin J Carden posted:

Interesting info gents, thanks.

I have been running 552 head unit on top and NDS in the middle. Are we all agreed I should switch that around?

Agreement? On an Internet forum?

Seriously, though, I was under the impression that when a source does not have to occupy the top shelf, it was likely better to have the pre-amp on top?

Ultimately, I suppose it's a case of 'suck it and see'?

So, in answer to your question, no (probably ).

You have to try it out. I once a few years back spent nearly a day re-configuring my system to what I thought would be better - a lot of boxes with 3-way Active. The result was that I was horrified and nearly called the Dealer to get help on what I'd broken, as it sounded so awful I though I had a broken box somehow. I learned a few things though on reflection, but spent the rest of the day into the night putting it all back how it was to start with and was relieved it was not broken.

Set-up makes a huge impact and the more boxes the more ways to get it wrong. The suggestions I made earlier are based on what I learned and further experiment. I learned and proved that so-called 'brawn' boxes containing large power transformers radiate a field that messes with not only the 'brain' boxes but other 'brawn' boxes.

When I summoned the courage to reconfigure it based on separating the boxes handling the most power and radiating the most powerful dynamic magnetic fields from both sources and other supply boxes I achieved a far higher level of performance that had been latent but not expressed for years of ownership, so worth the effort.

But in the final analysis - if your system puts a smile on your face when playing music then you possibly should leave well alone!

DB.

nigelb posted:

.....

Ken - glad to hear things are moving in the right direction with your DR'd 500s.

thanks nigel. hopefully more consistency and stability ahead! the hint is that when it is on its up, it sounds extremely good and i can then appreciate what the DR upgrade is about.

enjoy

ken

Thank you Darke Bear, apologies for late reply. Like you've always said, try different configs keeping in mind the effect from the PSs. I have initially reconfigured to what I had listed earlier and will try yours with effectively the 500PS and 552PS lowered next. Currently, I hear for sure a cleaned up sound with better timing. The slight downside is ever so slightly lighter bass weight. There is a caveat here in that I'm using a dealer-loaned non-DR 300 whilst my 500 is away for the service and DR update. Whilst the 300 is good my initial reaction after swapping out my wheezy 500 was the same step down (all relative of course!)  in bass weight.  I will wait for the 500 to return, and settled somewhat, before trying the DB config. Only slight concern might be the 500 and 552 burndies will sit on the floor/on top of each other whereas now ALL the cable/burndy "hanging" is just right (in the good sense). Just waiting for that call from the dealer now........

6 weeks now. So, an update...

System is now much more stable –so the ups and downs are much less discernible.

With that, an extra characteristic has surfaced – the system is now much “deeper”. I don’t just mean more bass (although in fact his is also the case, but I tend not to look out for such…) – what I mean is that the overall musical acoustic is now much stronger – and for those records that have a prominent recording venue ambience – this is now coming through very clearly. I am picking up more instrument characteristic tonalities and resonances – trombone on big band jazz sounds emphatically swingy and just fits into the mix. Last night I listened to recordings with viola da gamba in the mix – and I can honestly say I don’t think I have ever heard this instrument sounding so true and so solidly anchored.

Another characteristic – dynamic range now seems much more balanced than before. when I turn the volume up – the first effect I hear is not just increased loudness – but instead increased dynamic range – which allows me to hear much deeper into the mix. There is now a certain increased ‘liquidness’ in the presentation – and this is very pleasant and involving as its now capturing any emotion in the music, in spades.

One aspect I worried about initially was an apparent lack of slam -- i had almost resigned to the DR500s sounding somewhat 'softer' -- how wrong, how very wrong!! This aspect has opened up in the past week and the system is now ‘kicking arse’, seriously. I first became aware of it when  I wasn’t even looking for it – I was just playing Osibisa’s “Mintumi” and I just felt the percussive elements were much more obvious, sharper and natural – and this was confirmed emphatically later when I played Keith Jarret’s ‘Tribute’ CD (and other recordings, Simon & Garfunkels 'America', RLJ's 'Pink Flamingos' etc). Phew!

OK guys, this has been a truly fascinating (if sometimes fristrating) journey. I am told there is more to come by those who have had 500DR upgrades running for longer. I suspect I am now on the asymptotic part of the run-in curve, where changes will hopefully still be monotonically positive – but perhaps more subtle, even though still significant, reportedly.

Looking fwd to it all…!

Enjoy

ken

ken c posted:
Another characteristic – dynamic range now seems much more balanced than before. when I turn the volume up – the first effect I hear is not just increased loudness – but instead increased dynamic range – which allows me to hear much deeper into the mix. There is now a certain increased ‘liquidness’ in the presentation – and this is very pleasant and involving as its now capturing any emotion in the music, in spades.

A good observation and description I agree with. The greater linearity and lower noise subjectively reduce loudness and project a far more even dynamic window into the performance.

Loudness is when you actually lose dynamic range and raise the level of the reduced dynamic range signal, so there is less depth of loud to quieter parts of the performance - similar to what is done to most modern music to enable it to be listened to on poor playback equipment with limited dynamic range capability.

The 'liquid' comment is also apposite in that there is a more seamless presentation, without dropping into more distorted time-segments around the transients and more difficult musical sections where a lot of different things are happening at once. These are just done right now and so much better that you hear the surrounding lower order harmonics around the fundamental notes as a better rendering of timbre and a subjectively richer presentation - it is fuller as there is more there resolved to hear than before when it was relatively masked.

That's what I'm hearing.

DB.

Darke Bear posted:
ken c posted:
Another characteristic – dynamic range now seems much more balanced than before. when I turn the volume up – the first effect I hear is not just increased loudness – but instead increased dynamic range – which allows me to hear much deeper into the mix. There is now a certain increased ‘liquidness’ in the presentation – and this is very pleasant and involving as its now capturing any emotion in the music, in spades.

A good observation and description I agree with. The greater linearity and lower noise subjectively reduce loudness and project a far more even dynamic window into the performance.

Loudness is when you actually lose dynamic range and raise the level of the reduced dynamic range signal, so there is less depth of loud to quieter parts of the performance - similar to what is done to most modern music to enable it to be listened to on poor playback equipment with limited dynamic range capability.

The 'liquid' comment is also apposite in that there is a more seamless presentation, without dropping into more distorted time-segments around the transients and more difficult musical sections where a lot of different things are happening at once. These are just done right now and so much better that you hear the surrounding lower order harmonics around the fundamental notes as a better rendering of timbre and a subjectively richer presentation - it is fuller as there is more there resolved to hear than before when it was relatively masked.

That's what I'm hearing.

DB.

Thanks DB. I cant claim to understand the technical details, but very well put! Sound like we have trodden similar paths in the run-in journey, and i am also picking up common experiences from Chris Bell's 'early days' with his 500DR.

Its good to know there is more to come -- hard to imagine what -- not surprising as the run-in journey so far has been somewhat different from other black boxes, for example 552PS DR.

fascinating!

enjoy

ken

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