Naim Nait 5si, lost bass punchiness and PRaT

Hi,

Recently I have bought a Nait 5si amp. When I first connected it to my system I was really impressed. There was lots of bass, and it was tight, punchy and solid with great sense of PRaT.  Then, day after day this initial impression faded away. The bass became weaker, more loose and boomy. I also don't feel this sense of PRaT. I have the amp from 8 days. Initially I was using Neotech loudspeaker cables (2.5m length) and then switched to Chord Rumour 2 (again 2.5m). I thought it might be the Chord cable and turned back to Neotech. I had more bass than with the Chord but again the sound wasn't as good as the first day. I also found that the silver in the Chord Cable added a bit harshness to my system. The rest of my system is the following : 
Source: Google Chromecast Audio - streaming Spotify Premium and a Sony X5000 CD player used as a transport
DAC: Rega DAC-R
Interconnect cable: Chord Clearway
Loudspeakers: Zu Audio Omen Standard

I always keep the amp on. I've read that Naim gear takes some time to burn in properly but day after day I doubt the sound will return its initial form. Is this behaviour normal or something might be wrong? The reason might be the excitement surronding my new gear and getting used to it but who knows.. I have heard a few months ago a Naim UnitiQute2 in a local shop and I also experienced this wonderful bass response and PRaT as the first day I listened to my Nait 5si. The dealer there told me their amp was burned in for around 20 days. Do you think Naim NAC A5 cable can increase my bass response without being harsh?

Original Post

I would ask your dealer if you can borrow some NACA5, preferably a fair bit longer than the 2.5m you are using, to see if that solves the problem. Also ask him to listen to your system, and help you build a system you enjoy listening to. Some Naim dealers are very good at this, and they are not just there to flog you an expensive box and bank the cash. 

Power it down and let it sit for 30 mins 

the Nait could be going microphonic 

when you turn it back on and the bass comes back then let it play till it’s gone again.

If this is the case try putting something like cork under its feet and see if that helps. 

Loudspeakercable is indeed an important thing to fix but I've seen a similar thing with a friend of mine on his Cambridge Audio system and it was source related. If you have the possibility, I would also connect an old cd player and see if it behaves the same. Just to ensure you bet on the right horse.

HIFIFORUM, I tried your test. It doesn't seem the time of amp being powered on affect the bass much - probably the highs get a little bit stronger after some time, but I think the bass is constant

ARDBEG10Y, I connect the amp with the RCA outputs of my CD Player to see the difference. The bass was a little bit tighter but weaker and the highs and vocals less pronounced - as if the dynamic range and the soundstage were supressed. Still didn't get the sound from my first day with this amp.

As above I would get hold of some Nac a5 I know it seems expensive but buy it used on eBay for half of the retail cost. 3.5m pair of Nac a5 will come in at less than £100 as little as £70. 

This cable pairs so well with Naim amps and is tried and tested if you still have the same issues afterwards then I would have it look d at. 

8 days is too soon and it needs to be playing music throughout that time, not just be switched on. It needs more time. I am, though, rather surprised you were able specifically to identify the effect of the silver in the Chord cable; if the cables are also new, they will also need time to burn in and will certainly affect the system in the way that you describe when new.

Anyway, I don't think jumping onto Naca5 will necessarily resolve things as the Zu speakers can be quite "pronounced" in their character and I'm not sure that the Naca5 would be a great match - what does your dealer suggest? I do however agree that 3.5m is probably the minimum you should be using.

Is the interconnect RCA to Din and are you using the Din option on the amp?  If not, you might want to look at changing that as that will help, too.

JAMES IN, For now I left the Chord Rumour 2, since it's superior - more lively, detailed, I only need some more bass punch.

BOB THE BUILDER, I've red some posts for NACA A5 being a bit harsh on some songs and I find the Zus very pronounced in the upper mids/high region and I want more relaxed and mellow sounding vocals and highs. I'd first try to demo one. My dealer suggest going for Chord cables with proper length.

DAVE J, My Chord Rumour 2 is bought second-hand and even the text on it is faded so it should have  been fully burned in. I don't know if it's only because of the silver in the cable but I definitely hear more pronounced highs and better separation between the vocals and the instruments with it. It can also be because it's just on a different level than my Neotech. My interconnect is RCA to RCA. I have never tried DIN connection. I've read the DIN mainly fixes some grounding issues and removes unwanted noise. Does it also add other improvements?

It may be worth saying that the way the amp sounded when it was brand new is not the way it will sound when it is fully run in. Initially it will sound very perky and impressive, but then will change over time. After a few weeks it will be much more musical and enjoyable. So just play music - you can leave it playing the radio or music on repeat while you are out - and it will come good. 

2.5m cables are too short, and you’d be well advised to get some longer ones. I’ve used Rumour in the past and found the sound a bit thin and weedy. The A5 is more solid sounding and as it’s designed for Naim amps is a safe bet. 

I don’t know if those speakers are easy to drive and whether the Nait is up to the task. You could try moving the speakers around a bit as well. 

HUNGRYHALIBUT, Thank you for sharing your experience! On the first day of playing I found the sound even too lively and dynamic. The tempo was so fast I had a hard time following it. The bass was very explosive and solid. Then it started sounding more and more relaxed - probably soon it would reveal its true signature as you suggested. Probably everything is OK, I just should fine the right cables. Soon I'll demo some Chord interconnects and speaker cables. I really like their sonic signature, I just should pick the right ones and have them with longer length.   

The ‘relaxed’ that you describe can border on ‘boring’ and it’s easy to worry about what you’ve bought. I’ve had Naim since 1983 so have learned to just roll with it. I changed my power amp in the autumn and it took ages to sound right. Some days it really sounded pretty bad. 

Don’t get hung up on getting Chord cables. As well as the Rumour I’ve tried Odyssey. I loved it initially but after a few months was listening a lot less and it seemed that the cable was sucking the life from the music. It’s not what your dealer recommends that’s important - it’s what you like that matters. 

You don’t mention your source - that may be relevant too. 

I included the source in my first post. It's the following:

Source: Google Chromecast Audio - streaming Spotify Premium and a Sony X5000 CD player used as a transport. With both sources the situation is the same.

@Hungryhalibut, what cables do you use as interconnet, power cable and  for the loudspeakers? Yes, I agree that too much relaxed is not good at all. It sucks the life from the music. There's a big difference in the tempo and dynamics since the first day. Initially it was too fast, now I find it a bit too relaxed and the bass kind of boomy. It was very very well controlled and cohesive on the first day. I hope to get something in the middle after a couple of months - but a bit more on the fast and dynamic side. 

Spotify via the CCA is always going to sound bad, but the CD player should be fine. I had thought that if it was Naim you would already have the required lead, that was all. You may want to consider finding a used Naim CD player though, which can be found for a good price.

As to what I use, I have Super Lumina and Powerlines, which cost me rather more than I suspect you are looking to spend. I’ve previously used Naim A5 speaker leads for donkey’s years and they are very good. I also like Tellurium Q Black, but I’ve never heard a Chord cable that I really like. Others love them though. It’s all down to personal taste.

@Hungryhalibut I see, you've got a really serious system and yes it's outside my budget. I have connected the CCA via Toslink cable to my Rega DAC and the CD via coaxial cable also to the DAC. I've done direct comparison between the two (switching the DAC inputs from the remote control) playing the same album - one from Spotify and the same release of the album on CD (with 3-4 different albums). The sound was exactly 1:1 without any difference. I doubt my source or the DAC are causing any problems.

Hi,

It may be worth contacting your dealer and drawing from their experiences. When I purchased my Nait 5si from new my experience was the opposite to yours in that it all started off a bit flat, lifeless & edgy with a loose detached bass. However, as the days went by everything gelled together into a coherent musical whole and with plenty of punch and a deep taught bass.

I too recommend using NAC A5 speaker cables professionally terminated at the required lengths. 6 meters of NAC A5 per channel sound sweet as on my 5si!

Hope you get it sorted.

 

 

@Stephen Tate, it's really strange. I observed exactly the opposite. Very dynamic, lively and deep bass representation. On low level listening it has almost no bass, only voices. Now the amp produces bass even on low level but the whole representation is more bass light. I should find NACA 5 for test.

@Hungryhalibut Yes, that's another mystery. Not only spotify uses lossy format my CD transport is of a very high quality. Neverthless, the sound is exactly the same. No difference in details, treble, bass, nothing. Probably the Rega DAC make the two sources equal or I just can't hear the difference between lossy and lossless even on a decent hi-fi system. I'm using a cheap coax cable for the CD player but I doubt better cable will improve the sound in the digital world - sending digits.

Hungryhalibut posted:

It’s a little odd that Spotify and the CD player sound the same. Spotify is a lossy format and while ok for casual listening is really pretty poor. 

I guess if lossy Spotify and CD sound the same, one has reached the end of the upgrade ladder... A lot of money saved... 

So there you have it, Corsuse. You’ve got the wrong source, the wrong speaker cable in the wrong length and it looks like no one here, apart from me, has heard Zu speakers. Welcome to the Naim forum! 

Seriously though, don’t get too concerned about naca5, there’s nothing in any way special about them and, given the range of different equipment you use, the outcome would be unpredictable. A friend, Alex, who used to post here many moons ago, uses Zu speakers and he swears by Mogami cable. There are lots of alternatives.

As Mangomonkey suggests, give it more time.

@corsuse

 I think that you need to let the system run in.  Is the Rega DAC new also?  Do you leave the Rega powered on all the time?  I find when I used a  Rega DAC, it  sounded better after a week of being left powered on.  

For the two of you who have heard Zu Speakers 

Are they a good match with Naim?  I have been considering a Omen Dirty Weekend to replacd my Dali Zensor Speakers.  I'd be using it with a UnitiQute.  

 

@Dave J, yes, first I'll give the system more time. Zu are really different speakers and seem to be picky with the source, amp, cables. However, they really have a big room-filling sound. They disperse the sound sideways and give sense for a larger soundstage. 

@Brubacca I bought the Rega DAC exactly two months ago. I don't leave it powered on and I use it about 3-4 hours a day. I suppose it should have been fully burned in for 2 months. I can try leaving the DAC on to see if something changes. By the way, I've heard changing the power cable of the Rega makes a big difference, have you tried it?

About the Naim and Zu - I'm new to Naim and haven't found the perfect cables and probably source so I can't give a proper opinion but I think they are a good match. The speakers are very dynamic and detailed and the Naim more forwardness to the soundstage which is already a big one. I like the combination. On some recordings I experience lack of bass and some sound a bit harsh but that can be caused by not having the DAC and amp fully burned in.  I agree with DAVE J that Zu are very different from the others and very distinctive. You should first like their own signature and then decide if to buy them. Powerwise they are easy to be driven so you won't have problems with the UnitiQute I think. But there is one peculiarity. Since the speakers are 12 ohm the UnitiQute would have less efective power. I've been told by the Naim support team that the 60W of my Naim actually turn to be around 35W with the Zus due to the higher impedance. If you don't listen to a lot of heavy bass and on party levels powerwise probably the match would be OK but try to audition the speakers first. 

My experience with the Rega DAC was that it sounded bad when first on.  It definitley hit its stride when left on continuously.  If anything to me the Rega DAC sounded tipped up a bit in the bass so its surprising that you are bass shy with it.  Also the Rega was always harsh in the trebble until it had been on a couple days.  Kind of like, why did I buy this dac.  

If I were you I wouldn't stress to much about cables until after everything has burnt in.  

Personally I use all copper.  I tried a silver interconnect and didn't like it.

I always used the stock rega power cord.

 

Corsuse,

On what does your gear sit?  Have you a proper rack?  You say the sound changed after a few days.  Has anything changed in your sytem?  Anything at all?

I think you you would really benefit from having your dealer stop by to take a look and have a listen.

Charlie

Are your Zu speakers also new?   From a reviewer:   “Be forewarned: the Omen require — nay, demand — an extensive run-in period, well beyond any 30-day home trial. Forum chatter reflected my experiences – up to 400 hours…and an agonising, send-them-back-at-once run in period.”

could it be the speakers running in?  Or maybe everything...

@Brubacca, I listened to your advice and started keeping the Rega always turned on. After about 24 hrs of being powered on I listened to the system and I noticed an enormous change! I haven't changed anything in the system so the only change is the Rega being powered on. I had a lot of more bass. I can hear a lot more bass even on a very low listening level. The amount of bass now is as much as my first listening to the Nait and even a bit more - I hope this tendency to continue and is not a one-day-miracle . The only difference I find between the sound now and on the first day with the Naim is that at first the tempo a was a bit quicker, even exaggerated and now it's more balanced but not too relaxed and laid back. My founding was when being with the Neotech cables (with which I was also on the first day when I bought the amp). Then I decided to switch to the Rumour 2. I didn't find so much difference as previously between the two cables. The vocals and highs were tamed and there was a lot more bass even with it. I felt that some details are a bit muffled and blurred but with every song it seemed the sound to open up without being very harsh as I've found it previously from time to time. I'll see how it goes today. If this behaviour continues the inconsistent behaviour and the lack of bass probably have been produced by the Rega. I find the Rega a little bit warm on the top now and previously it was super cool, even a bit cold. I probably have never left it powered on for long enough and it has never reached its optimal state. I assume it will open up even more after a couple of details and more details would be revealed.

@CharlieP Zu speakers require really lots and lots of time to fully burn in.  According to the Zu support team the Omen especially require around 1000 hours for proper burn in but around 600-700 is OK. I've bought the speakers 5 months ago and I think they have at least 450 hours of playing at home but on a low and moderate levels. So the process in my case might take even longer.  Since I bought the amp the only changes I've made is to play with the toe in of the speakers and moving them back and forth for 1 cm. Really small changes in speaker position. But now with the Rega being  powered on I have a lot more bass than before however I move the speakers. 

I tried a Naim powerline on the DAC-r, absolutely horrible, thin and weedy sounding, the stock cable works just fine. There’s no earth pin on the DAC and only a 2 core cable.

I’ve also had chord clearway and found it rather dull, the Belden 4794R with a BNC to RCA connector at the DAC end at a fraction of the cost was much more satisfying but I feed the DAC from a Naim Core which has a proper 75Ω BNC out, I wouldn’t use it with RCA both ends.

Experiment with the filters on the DAC I found a definite preference.

 

@yeti42 Interesting, maybe the DAC doesn't benefit from changing the power cord so much. I should test a RCA to DIN connection to see the difference. Personally, I haven't found any difference in the 3 filters so far but I should test them again. 

@CharlieP I forgot to mention that I don't have a special a rack. The gear sits on a regular living room furniture, next to my TV .

corsuse posted:

@yeti42 Interesting, maybe the DAC doesn't benefit from changing the power cord so much. I should test a RCA to DIN connection to see the difference. Personally, I haven't found any difference in the 3 filters so far but I should test them again. 

@CharlieP I forgot to mention that I don't have a special a rack. The gear sits on a regular living room furniture, next to my TV .

Corsuse, I asked about the rack because the sound of gear can be influenced by that.  Since the sound changed a lot (for the worse) did the amp get moved during that time?  We are trying to find what changed to cause the problem.  More important is that the speakers might be the cause of the change. 

@CharlieP, yes, I know that the rack can influence the sound. Unfortunately, I don't have a special one. I've moved the amp and inch towards the wall but not moving it on another piece of furniture or on a different height. The speakers are stable and I'm using Soundcare superspikes for them. Today, when I listened to the system, again it had a lot of bass with pleasant balanced vocal and highs. After about 3 hours, the bass gradually faded a bit and the vocals became harsher as before. Again, a different behaviour. The worse thing is that, really, the speakers, the DAC and amp could not have been fully burned in as a whole, not only one of them. I'll wait patiently and play them to see how they behave after a couple of months.

Hi all!

I seem to have found a solution for my problem. I demoed Chord Anthem Reference as an interconnect cable and a 3m of Chord Epic Twin for the loudspeakers. The improvements were really big - more openness, detail, bass extension and more bass weight. I really liked how it sounded. The bass was considerably better with these cables - Naim seem to really shine with the right cables. Now that I've bought the interconnect which I really enjoy I'm looking for new loudspeaker cables. Although I really liked the Epic Twin I wonder if Chord Signature (the old plain version) would be an improvement over the Epic. Unfortunately, as far as I know the old Signature is not produced anymore and I can't demoed it from a local dealer. I found a good offer online and that's why it I started considering it as an option. It has a bigger gauge over the Epic Twin - 10 vs 12 which I assume can bring even more bass, however the Signature is not silver coated as opposed to the Epic Twin. Have someone of you experience with the two cables? Would the Signature be an overall improvement over the Epic Twin and would the lack of silver coating can have some impact on the details and the highs extension?

FWIW I preferred my 5 mtr lenght Epic agains a 3 mtr pair Signature

Perhaps the lenght played a role

Epic has the same copper cable as Odyssey but with other surroundings

Again your Rumour is similar but slightly less cores

Plugs and solder are important

Any Nait 5 need a good volume to sound best, they are a bit muffled at low level but indeed a great amp

The original Rega Klotz interconnect were great on my Dac, available cheap from Bay with other plugs, an excellent uncoloured cable I sometime prefer against my Cobra

@Perol, Thank you for your opinion! I tested Chord Clearway, Shawline and Epic Twin speaker cables all of them with 3m lengths. All of them had a more relaxed feeling and better bass than my 2.5m Rumour 2, with Epic Twin being the one with most details and bigger soundstage.  

And yes, the Nait 5si likes to be a bit cranked up to really shine and open up.

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