Active NAP500 DR Upgrade

One of the largest upgrades in performance I've made. It takes me time to get past the run-in issues, which have essentially passed now, before I can take-in the full measure of what it has done and still doing.

I heard it in friends Passive systems and therefore expected good things, but was not sure exactly how it would pan-out in Active mode, until now. This DR update to the 500 makes it very special and once a few more Active users get to hear it I think they will be a bit shocked at how much more is on their old favored media.

The extra musical detail and acoustic depth is so smoothly rendered that it is a delight to hear. It is a bigger and more fleshed-out musical experience. I'm hearing so much more that was just not resolved before: things like shakers, little bells, feathering of cymbals and the like that was swamped before by the louder instruments now is exactly positioned in space 'there'. The high-frequencies are so much better rendered - as it you only heard the outline of them before and now you get the full body and harmonics beautifully reproduced - violin benefits - as do the higher parts of female voice.

DB.

 

MDS posted:

That your newly run-in 500DRs can dig out this extra detail must also be a testament to your source, DB.  The CD555 doesn't get much attention on here these days.  Nice to know this old-tech source still cuts the mustard.

Mike 

I feel you Mike, I am an Active Fan, and usually take notes, when major players Make a move. 

Once and a while Members like yourself, and others hit a home run, and explains something in such a way, that it can't be improved on.  Simon, Yourself, and the following Gent, I couldn't  help but to tuck it away! 

And I think, it may be,  one of the reasons why DB, and others have put off making that major transition into Streaming! 

Introducing Uniti, our revolutionary new streaming platform.

ADRIAN_P MEMBER

""A very impressive redesign and re-implementation of the Uniti range. The pictures look great.

I'd hazard a guess that most members of this forum (and certainly most regular contributors) are owners of Classic/Olive/CB separates systems, perhaps with a Uniti/Muso as a second system somewhere in the house, and probably sporting a grey hair or two. That certainly includes me. As far as "reimagining our music collections" is concerned, it isn't "our" collections Naim is referring to here. It's the new market of 40-ish year olds and younger who have grown up with streaming, without "hifi" and lots of boxes, and for whom great industrial design is as important as audio performance. It is this market that is going to power Naim's growth over the next decade. This unified product range launch provides a very sound basis for attacking that market.

While this announcement disappoints many here who were hoping for a Statement streamer, look at it like this -- what we can see here is a new streaming hardware and software platform with better wifi support, memory, buffering, firmware update and display technology that are all things that needed to be updated before focusing on the high-end audio performance that new streamers higher up the range will surely bring. I think we can expect to see all this platform groundwork carried forward into the next generation of higher-end streamers.''

 

Enjoy your System DB! 

BTW, its time to unload the TT, you don't use it! LOL....

Keep up the good work, I love hearing your description of the changes that take place in your System.

Allante93! 

 

 

 

 

MDS posted:

That your newly run-in 500DRs can dig out this extra detail must also be a testament to your source, DB.  The CD555 doesn't get much attention on here these days.  Nice to know this old-tech source still cuts the mustard.

Mike 

+1

However good the 500DR is, the performance on offer is based fundamentally upon everything 'upstream', and I imagine that NAC S1/500DR must be phenomenally revealing, so it's good to see that the CD555 seems to be performing so well under this 'scrutiny' (though I'm not surprised, given that it offers the best CD replay that I've heard... by far ).

As you say, however, sorely overlooked by many, with all this computer audio 'shenanigans'.   

To date the 555 is in a little league of its own. It does not seem lacking so far, but I'm not in any way saying it is the best source, just the best that I have heard.

A little story: I keep an ear and eye out for the streaming system that will give me that 'Aha' moment when I hear the 555 comprehensively beaten without reservation. I'm sure it can be done - probably has been - but I've just not heard it yet. Back to the recent demo - while lingering at my Dealer the other day to get a little job done, another customer was there also and the subject roamed onto streaming and all that seems to impact on this. We were demonstrated, using NDS source into Statement Pre and Statement Power Monoblocks driving the new Titans, the difference made by trying two different 'isolation network boxes' feeding the NDS - they radically and fundamentally altered the presentation to the extent the new product being tried sounded dull and lifeless and the existing product my Dealer had used for many months now was clearly superior. Then - on the preferred network 'box' - we streamed the content from a networked Server using two alternative server software types (installed on the same physical NAS storage box) - and one of the two different server software types (from different manufacturers) sounded clearly superior to the other.

We were a little amazed, but the thing I like about my Dealer is he has an open mind and actually tries these things and gets the opinions from visiting customers. There is a view that the Server box is all that matters if the network is otherwise correct. My background in my last job was to design install LAN and WAN business systems for video conference customers and have the relevant certifications to do all that, so it is not that I don't know what I'm doing - but this demo made very clear that when I do again try to see if I can better my simple 555 CD Player, there are many things to be considered - and not just the obvious technical ones.

When I last home-demoed the NDS vs 555 about two years ago the NDS was close to the 555 but not better in terms of clarity and dynamics, although it had an alluring seamless quality I did like, but not enough to make a change, as I wanted it non-nonsense better. Now I'm aware that several significant improvements have come along that will give the NDS a boost and I will at some point try the demo again. I may also try other DAC-Servers but probably prefer Naim's voicing in the context of my system. When I hear it better - then that is it. I'll not part with my 555, as it does its job superbly, but I'm open to adding other sources when they open-up other worthwhile musical windows for me.

DB.

tonym posted:

I wouldn't dare call you old, Dusty. In fact to me you're a young whipper-snapper! 

Bless ya Tony. Hope that hip has gone all Bionic (see showing my age!), and you are on the road to recovery. You can leave that frame behind and join me in a jig round The Fraim....see what I did......!

tonym posted:

Time you revived that dusty old LP12 DB! Go on, you know you want to...

I did borrow a line-stage box from the Dealer and have had the old LP12 playing through the system! I was amazed it still works as I use it so rarely these days - the last time was a few years ago.

The situation is that I may buy something to get it going again to spin some old vinyl that I don't have good CDs for, either as they don't exist or they have ruined the transfer to CD. I do prefer the CD version when the transfer has been done right - it is not even close, but for when it has been messed-up the Vinyl trounces the CD every time.

Paradoxically the qualities I admire from Vinyl, the low-level linearity, are usually thrown-away by many popular line-stages that tend towards wanting to emphasis the things CD does so well, so I will probably choose one that preserves what I like from a good Vinyl source. It will probably happen.

So I aim to have in addition to my CD555 both Vinyl and Streaming at some future date.

DB.

An interesting little story, DB, and another example of the importance of keeping an open mind. For some time I have been expecting that once I had heard a good streaming solution I would, reluctantly, have to contemplate giving up my four-box CD source on the basis that the advances streaming has made would trump my source on performance.  Specifically in the context of my system I thought the NDS, once heard, would trump my nDAC.  Last year, while at my dealer's listening to a very close clone of my (then) system, I had the opportunity to listen to what an NDS would do in my system. The first trial was trying the NDS as a straight replacement for the nDAC being fed by the digital output of a CDX2.2. Much to my surprise I preferred my system. The second trial was using the NDS in streaming mode (from a US, I think). Still I preferred my system.  I left my dealer's still surprised but at the same time rather uplifted at the discovery that the performance of my CD solution more than stood up to Naim's top streamer.  There's life in the old CD dog yet.

I've come to the conclusion that, in practice, there's really not that much difference in the performance of top-notch streaming, vinyl and CD sources, and those there are are about taste and fancy. The far bigger and qualitative differences are to be found in the quality of the recordings.    

Mike

        

I replaced my CD555 with a new NDS about two months ago and it is significantly better than the CD player. This with 2x 555PSDR into 552 and active DBLs. 

It took around a month to come on song. At first it sounded digital and artificial with a lot of detail but no real connection with the music and a wall of sound with no real soundstage. Over the next few weeks the digital edge disappeared and music sounded more realistic, the soundstage also improved so it is now possible to locate instruments individually in the mix. I'm discovering the CD555 was missing quite a bit of detail and is less dynamic compared with the NDS. It does sound different to the CD player but just as musically engaging I'm now finding

The NDS seems particularly sensitive to placement on the Fraim, more so than the CD player and also benefitted from an update to my switch,NAS and the use of Chord C stream Ethernet cable.

Although I was in two minds about making the change as the CD555 is such a good player, I'm happy I did because not only does the NDS sound better but has they added convenience of easy access to albums rather than having to keep 1000 + CDs within reach.

As a footnote I had a Chord Hugo on home demo and compared the NDS to the Linn Klimax streamer before buying the NDS, neither the Chord or the Linn had me as involved in the music, the main criterion.

MDS posted:

An interesting little story, DB, and another example of the importance of keeping an open mind. For some time I have been expecting that once I had heard a good streaming solution I would, reluctantly, have to contemplate giving up my four-box CD source on the basis that the advances streaming has made would trump my source on performance.  Specifically in the context of my system I thought the NDS, once heard, would trump my nDAC.  Last year, while at my dealer's listening to a very close clone of my (then) system, I had the opportunity to listen to what an NDS would do in my system. The first trial was trying the NDS as a straight replacement for the nDAC being fed by the digital output of a CDX2.2. Much to my surprise I preferred my system. The second trial was using the NDS in streaming mode (from a US, I think). Still I preferred my system.  I left my dealer's still surprised but at the same time rather uplifted at the discovery that the performance of my CD solution more than stood up to Naim's top streamer.  There's life in the old CD dog yet.

I've come to the conclusion that, in practice, there's really not that much difference in the performance of top-notch streaming, vinyl and CD sources, and those there are are about taste and fancy. The far bigger and qualitative differences are to be found in the quality of the recordings.    

Mike

        

Mike -  the last words are so right. I've recently listened to a high spec LP12 and a 555 playing the same music (across jazz/female vocal/rock). Sometimes the vinyl is far better and then vice versa.  

There is much merit in having two or more sources, and having the choice. Vinyl brings something special to the party, and if, like DB, you've a good collection of LPs, there's much pleasure to be gained by having a good session playing them exclusively.

Despite not intending to, I parted with my 555 when I realised the DAC I had recently bought was better. Maybe I didn't give an NDS a fair enough trial, but that wouldn't have been sufficient for me to ditch the 555.

 I listened to the NDS a couple of years ago but wasn't that impressed. The latest version with the software update does seem to have made a big difference. I think as well that care with set up, shelf position, cable dressing, server, network etc pays dividends.

For example, I'm listening to Tom Waits Rain Dogs at the moment and the drumming really drives many of the tracks along, something I hadn't noticed with the CD555 which sounded more pedestrian from what I remember.

Chris- it is tweaky alright but as I'm sure you have discovered everything makes a difference. Have you tried playing from a usb device. I have my music on a 6tb Western Digital drive connected to the Nserv with a Chord Sarum super array usb cable. I had been using super array for the Ethernet connection from NDS and serv to switch but a couple of weeks ago tried the new Music cable on the NDS. It does what it says on the tin. There is no going back. Every thing is fraimed. Heck I have 7 levels of Fraim over two stacks just for my single source

And I thought I was going too far with my 555 atop two Medium Fraim (left above) with the two 555PS in their own stack.

But I did find that the 555 performed so much better when isolated on the double fraim that it had to stay. Also the gap between power supplies makes a very large difference that you have to hear before you will believe it.

DB.

Empty shelves can cause problems, but I've found they can work ok - the main thing is to ensure the glass shelf is pressed firmly into the holding rings to bed them into the wood sockets in the Fraim shelf. I discovered that cures the 'ringing' effect that happens when you don't do that first and just sit the empty glass atop the fraim ball-holders. So you carefully place a very heavy object onto the shelf for a few seconds then carefully remove it and the rings are then pushed into the wood and it works - otherwise you get problems.

The alternative is to use medium levels - you will definitely hear an improvement in your system that is worth a lot more than the price of a fraim shelf, but better to loan one from a Dealer and try, which is what I did first.

DB.

Hi DB,

I have had my 500Drs driving my new 800's with new snaxo bmr for 5 months now (all from new) and its all settling down nicely and still improving. I had a little advise and now have the speakers pointing straight into the room, the soundstage opened up and the sound became crisper. I am now starting to think of the Statement pre to replace the 552 dr. Do you think this upgrade would be bigger than the 500 dr upgrade or how would you describe it?

thanks

Rich

 

Darke Bear posted:

Empty shelves can cause problems, but I've found they can work ok - the main thing is to ensure the glass shelf is pressed firmly into the holding rings to bed them into the wood sockets in the Fraim shelf. I discovered that cures the 'ringing' effect that happens when you don't do that first and just sit the empty glass atop the fraim ball-holders. So you carefully place a very heavy object onto the shelf for a few seconds then carefully remove it and the rings are then pushed into the wood and it works - otherwise you get problems.

The alternative is to use medium levels - you will definitely hear an improvement in your system that is worth a lot more than the price of a fraim shelf, but better to loan one from a Dealer and try, which is what I did first.

DB.

DB - I have one spare shelf in my single Fraim stack and I removed the glass, ball bearings and holders from this shelf for fear of them ringing. Do you feel it is better to retain the glass shelf on empty shelves using the holding rings embedded into the wood sockets of the shelf as you describe?

nigelb posted:
Darke Bear posted:

Empty shelves can cause problems, but I've found they can work ok - the main thing is to ensure the glass shelf is pressed firmly into the holding rings to bed them into the wood sockets in the Fraim shelf. I discovered that cures the 'ringing' effect that happens when you don't do that first and just sit the empty glass atop the fraim ball-holders. So you carefully place a very heavy object onto the shelf for a few seconds then carefully remove it and the rings are then pushed into the wood and it works - otherwise you get problems.

The alternative is to use medium levels - you will definitely hear an improvement in your system that is worth a lot more than the price of a fraim shelf, but better to loan one from a Dealer and try, which is what I did first.

DB.

DB - I have one spare shelf in my single Fraim stack and I removed the glass, ball bearings and holders from this shelf for fear of them ringing. Do you feel it is better to retain the glass shelf on empty shelves using the holding rings embedded into the wood sockets of the shelf as you describe?

Retain the glass - but as I said, do ensure that a heavy object has fully-embedded the rings into the fraim wood, as otherwise it rings like a bell. If you do it properly then the glass is clearly superior in terms of a removal of a 'bloom' of mid-band coloration you get without the glass and better detail-retrieval - and just sounds 'right' musically.

Easy to try and confirm. In my system it works wonderfully well.

DB.

RICHYH posted:

Hi DB,

I have had my 500Drs driving my new 800's with new snaxo bmr for 5 months now (all from new) and its all settling down nicely and still improving. I had a little advise and now have the speakers pointing straight into the room, the soundstage opened up and the sound became crisper. I am now starting to think of the Statement pre to replace the 552 dr. Do you think this upgrade would be bigger than the 500 dr upgrade or how would you describe it?

Yes pointing nearly straight bit with a minute toe-in of a few degrees is what works well with my system. They have sat there like that since I installed and did the tests and still working fine.

The Statement S1 Pre is bigger than the 500DR. Conceptualise the change the 500DR did over the non-DR then map a larger quantitative and qualitative change that the S1 Pre makes over the 552 to get an idea. It is so silly-better that there is no comparison. I did do and A-B comparison of a very well run-in DR 552 vs a spanking-new un-run-in S1 Pre and the latter slaughtered the 552 in all reproduction aspects - not even close. Better deep-tight weighty natural bass, and far better high-frequency performance that when you hear it is a shock - as the 552 is very good itself here, but the S1 Pre shows how much more is there to be had. The main thing I found is that there is a sense of 'rightness' and 'ease' with the S1 Pre that suffuses the system performance and initially sounds almost frighteningly neutral.

But the best thing with the S1 Pre is that after about 9 months its' performance just takes-off and it becomes even more silky-transparent and dynamic - it pleasantly surprised me, even though a Dealer reported that this happened, I was not sure I believed it.

But it is a lot of money and a home-demo is a must I think to settle your mind on it. Make sure you have it for a few days as it really likes to warm-up to slip into its best performance, but it will be immediately better than the 552. You get what you pay for in this case is true.

DB.

I thought you might say that ! And I don't doubt it for a second. Statement is a gloves off, no cost consideration project by a group of experts in the field. If they've had free rein in design and materials, it ought to be in another league. Enjoy the ride!

i have to say a big thanks to you and everyone else who guided me towards 552. It was a big enough reach for me, but worth every cent. 

552 is a great Pre that I though I was going to see-out my days with - had it all DR-updated and it sounded superb. Then I was made aware of the possibility the S1 Pre could work apart from the rest of the Statement matching Monoblocks and hence with my relatively more humble Active system components.

For a number of reasons, including financial, I did not want to convert my system back to Passive to go down the full Statement Pre-Power path, so tried it in the context of the Reference range I already had. It worked very well and had me hooked after a short time. I fully-respect the alternative Passive Statement approach and have heard at my Dealer's what that system does - enough to know the Statement Mono-block Power Amps are in a different league from the NAP 500, even with DR, but I hear some of the Statement Magic in their sonic signature and I think the NAP500 DR is a splendid  working partner for the 552 and S1 Pre.

The 500 DR brings a huge lift in performance over the non-DR in terms of resolving things that were indistinct before into a new musical presentation and representation of music I know well, or thought I did. The S1 Pre does more of the same - and I'm sure (although I cannot afford them in Active mode) the Statement Power Amps would do more of the same again.

DB.

I am 6 months in now from new (running in the s800's and bmr snaxo too) and I have to say that over the weekend it really sounded excellent, really for the first time I was totally overwhelmed. It has been good or very good before but not as good as I had hoped. But slowly it has moved closer to where I had hoped, with a few set up tweeks along the way. The additional textures off the vocals and instruments were like I have not heard before, so involving.. Really excellent. So hang in there, it just gets better.

Indeed - I'm very pleased with the overall system sound and presentation now. The 500 DR has opened out the performance incredibly and it is pleasing I'm getting all this from a 'humble' old 555 source. The most sensitive item seems to be the Snaxo box, but it can be got right and then everything snaps into place beautifully.

The recent 12 week opening-out had added a lot more top-end and bottom-end extension and precision. There is an awareness of the different sonic levels of instruments in the mix as well as their timing, as both the amplitude and timing resolution has increased. The lack of noise in most recordings is a pleasing revelation, as now the dynamics and power that perhaps caused problems before does not now - a clean clear open window to the performance.

Also it does run cooler - not that it ever got hot before.

DB.

Darke Bear posted:

Less distortion Energy = Cooler.

With an Active system distributing the load over three Amps and without any Passive crossover losses ... if you are running hot I would not want to be your neighbors.

DB.

just as well i decided to have my 500s DR'd and one of them serviced -- this must have reduced distortion significantly, evidently...

no problem with neighbours as my listening room doesnt share a common wall with them -- just as well since i sometimes play my system quite loud 

enjoy

ken

 

DB, 

16 years ago I replaced my active 135 six pack + Snaxo/Supercap (powering NBLs) with a single NAP500, passive.  The sound difference was remarkable in favor of the 500/passive.  I'm curious if the new Statement amps running your S800's passive would out-perform the active 500 setup?  

Chris

 

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