NDX and Supernait 2 - setup advice

Hello all,

So… I have now received my ex dem NDX and Supernait 2.

After 4 years of living with a DAC V1 and a NAP100 I finally decided to place myself on the Naim upgrade path and replaced the system in one fell swoop.

Current room is large open plan (10m x 4m) and gets a metre wider behind the listening position (kitchen). I use Harbeth P3ESRs. I like the speakers, even though they don't "rock" I am very fond of their sound. The speakers are against the short wall firing into the room. 75cm from side wall, 50cm from rear (2.5m apart). They can move a bit although I would like to keep my small sofa between them if possible (pretty adamant). Stereo is in the corner of the room, next to a speaker.

Room is carpeted except the kitchen area, 3 sofas, dining table (usual stuff). oh, the wall behind the speakers is french doors (glass) with full height/width curtains.

I accept the limitations of the small speakers for their bass response (although with certain tracks they do seem to belt it out). I have never really understood speaker positioning and placement of equipment relative to the speakers / room.

After a rather arduous hifi journey, I know that I do not want aggressive / forward sound or peaky treble. If detail is there, fine, but I don't want it thrown in my face, I would rather listen for it. I like the control and dynamics, the rhythm and pace of the stereo / music, I don't want to analyse it. I'm definitely happy sitting on the back row with the music meters in front of me.

I am currently reading about the C7s or the m30.1s online but have heard neither (and realistically quite a while away). Likewise XPSDR and HICAPDR (both probable but equally far away). In the mean time, I would like to optimise what I already have and try and maximise the sound of the current system.

After a while music becomes a bit wearing. Is this down to speaker position and / or cables etc. or is it purely the limitation of these little speakers in a relatively large room?

I have read endless threads about power supplies / cables, ethernet upgrades and the like. I am left wondering how much difference these things make or are they just minor tweaks that will not make a great difference?

Anything I can do to improve "smoothness" would be appreciated.

Synology NAS
Netgear switch
Ethernet patch cable NAS>Switch>NDX (1m+3m)
Tellerium (blue/purple colour) speaker cable (7m each side)
Target speaker stands (very heavy).

James.

Original Post

Before making any more changes to the system, experiment with what you have; in particular, try some experimentation with the speaker positions e.g. bring them a bit closer together, say 2m, which means that they will be slightly further from the side walls; alternatively, and perhaps more worthwhile, can you try them on the side wall, firing across the room? This would bring them much further from side walls, reducing potential problems from 'early reflections'?

Also, are they toed in? I think Harbeth recommend this, but I always seem to prefer speakers firing straight ahead, no matter what the manufacturer's recommendation might be.

Having anything between the speakers generally seems to be frowned upon; While you seem keen to keep the sofa there, and I'm guessing that a small sofa isn't the worst thing in the world that could be sited there ?, it might be worthwhile at least trying with it removed, if for no other reason than to rule it out as a problem.

Having the electronics next to one speaker probably isn't ideal, either.

Has this problem come about since the change to NDX/SN2? Were you happy with the DAC-V1/100?

These are just a few suggestions, but I would reiterate the fundamental point - experiment with what you have, before looking at 'upgrades'.

 

I appreciate the advice and will try that when I get home. I did wonder why people would place the speakers against the long wall - early reflections - interesting.

Unfortunately though, if I place the speakers on the other wall, the TV will be in between them. I only have the one room - open plan. Very limited in the way it can be arranged.

As I said, I'm keen to maximize the current system... but bigger speakers are on my mind...

James, how old is the SN2? Has it had a lot of time on it? I have no experience with the NDX, however I remember SN2 having a tortuous run in (months) from new. Harsh/brash were some of the words i would use to describe how it sounded it at times. I wonder whether it may bed in and settle down a bit with the rest of the system after leaving it on running for a good few days before doing some serious listening.

Hi, I missed the question before, the "problem" was far worse with the old set up. I'm amazed at the difference. However, it's not so much fatigue, the sound is quite smooth. I'm wondering if it's just missing some lower end. 

The supernait is well run in I believe, 8 months I believe. The ndx is newer.

it may be worth saying that the 2 units have only been running a week. I'm not sure how long they will take to stabilise and warm up properly?

Some support and cable question:

* What type of support do you use for the SuperNait and the NDX? Both are top quality components and will reward with decent support racks.

* Power cables - have you plugged them directlyt into the wall or a non-filtered, star-wired distribution block? Is there a chance for a dedicated mains circuit? Naim PowerLine is a decent upgrade, but that will be a cherry on top of a well-iced cake.

* What type of speaker cables are you using? NACA5 with a minumum 3.5 meters would be a good start. Possibly TQ Black and up - again 3 meters is a recommended minimum.

* Interconnect? Perhaps my sound silly, but make sure you use DIN-DIN - it just sounds better. HiLine is a natural upgrade from the lavender. Tellurium Q and Chord also offer good upgrades.

I purchased an NDX and Supernait 2 combination some months ago and have them paired with my old PMC FB1 speakers via 5 metres of NACA5 cable. The system is in a 6m by 4m room with the speakers in the middle of the long wall, 2m apart, with a tv and radiator between. There's some slight toe-in with the "crossover" just behind where I sit to listen on a comfortably large sofa. ( Used to call it a settee in the dim and distant past.)

Initial impressions were slightly disappointing, compared to my previous system, 122X/150X amplifiers, Flatcap and CD5X. I guess it improved until a relay blew in the Supernait, killing one of the speaker outputs. Whilst it was away for repair under warranty it was replaced with an ancient Kenwood amplifier. The sound was a little thin, light on bass and lacking space around the instruments, voices, etc. but was interesting as a comparison. Since getting the Supernait back I've been unable to stop listening. It's beautiful as it is and I'm appreciating its worth over both the Kenwood and my former Naim system.

I've spent countless wasted hours perusing the forums, thinking about this and that. Now, I just listen to the music and spend my money on CDs and downloads. I'm in nirvana. 

If you want to improve the sound do as someone else on this forum advocated, buy a nice bottle of something, relax and luxuriate in the wonderful system you have.

Neither the SuperNait 2 nor NDX are renown for being overly forward and wearing, infact probably the opposite. I suspect this is down to speaker placement and room attenuation and possible perkiness through reflections is making quite hard work for your brain to listen hence why tiring. I really would try and experiment on positioning... I don't think bigger speakers will help.. yes they might be able to go lower and be more dynamic but they can't cure tiresome reflections or in room attenuation.

I agree with Simon,  the NDX is nothing if not detailed & neutral,  I can't speak for SN2 as I only listened a few times in dealers,  but my Supernait is much the same.  What sort of volume level (dB) are you listening at - tablets & smart phones have free apps for measuring this -  I ask because a while back I heard of a similar "tiring" complaint & it turned out the guy was listening at around 90dB or more.  (not a Naim I hasten to add)

Simon, your reply interests me. I sat in a different place last night when on the phone and noticed the room acoustics. I tried a "clap" and there is an almost metallic ringing that takes a while to die down (I've never noticed this before). This may be what I am hearing during music replay. Like I said, I like the tone of the system but something isn't quite right.

Simple vocals sound amazing, as soon as more "noise" is introduced to the track, enjoyment dips. I wonder if its the room I'm hearing. Its also worse at louder volumes.

The right wall has a sofa on it, the left wall has a TV on it, other than that they are bare (4m apart). I will try to upload a photograph tonight if I can, after tidying up obviously!

Stand: small oak coffee table (Snait on top of NDX)
Power: standard power leads into the wall
Interconnects: standard DIN
Ethernet patch cable NAS>Switch>NDX (1m+3m)
Tellerium (blue/purple colour) speaker cable (7m each side)
Target speaker stands (very heavy).

The dealer is helpful when I call but I bought from my old dealer and they're 400 miles away! He says to let the system bed-in, it's been switched on (from stone cold) a week now.

 

What you are hearing are uneven reverberations (reflections) off bare and hard surfaces.
There is nothing wrong with reverb as such, as long as sound emitted from each speaker resonates in a similar way.
Further - hard surfaces (bare walls, wooden floors, wooden furniture) will always produce vastly different sound reflections.

In your case you seem to be having different reflections from each speaker - sofa and TV most likely generate unique and dissimilar reverbs, due to their surface nature (soft vs hard, etc).

My strong recommendation, that will not cost anything (except for several hours of your time) is to change the speakers' position (as an experiment). Try to have them both on the same wall, firing say at a sofa. See how that changes the sound in your room.

Any other 'tweaks' to the system at this stage will probably yield frustration rather than desired results.

Good luck,

Adam

I've a similar size room and use BW CM1's. Also tiny speakers. What worked best for me is to put them in my solid oak custom build shelves which are part of my french doors as well. Bass reflex ports plugged.

This gives some controled 'booming' effect, but since it is solid wood which is glued against my brick walls there is no unwanted resonance and the Amp stays in control. The effect on the sound is that my speakers have a good bass response and does not sound overly bright or harsh.

When I move my speakers in my room (on the official BW sand filled heavy stands), the treble gets more dominant and the bass response is not as good as in my shelves. For detailed listening quite nice (I do this now and then), but I don't get that back row listening experience which I also prefer. (when I sit on my sofa, I am 9+ meters from the loudspeakers).

Like you, I don't need the front row experience where I can distinct all the instruments. Just want to have the total picture and I got addicted to Dynamics. This works very, very well when the loudspeakers are against my wall. I have no stereo gap despite the almost 4 meters space between the loudspeakers.

I think my room has 'something' which makes it magic - however when I tried different floorstanding speakers the result was not even 50% as good as my current setup.

In your case, I would start to move the speakers completely to the back wall. Next, put them even behind the curtains and see how this changes the experience.

Positioning as others have mentioned before ...

Try taking the sofa out between the speakers ( if I have read your description correctly). Or try the set up with the speakers either side of the TV. A win win situation in that the telly will sound better if plugged in for movies and programs and will look better and have better chi flow - in that you only have one hot spot of interest, rather than two opposing hot spots - which could be an esoteric source of fatigue.

All interesting points, thanks for your replies. Will move the furniture when I have a spare evening and try it. The room needs to work when I have my kids over though. So there will be limitations. At least the wife can't complain (any more!).

Yes, the supernait is currently sitting on top of the ndx. Not ideal I know but I can't afford everything in one go.

i was hoping to find a solution to my current layout but perhaps a compromise is in order... I hate compromising!

Not all of us can use a dedicated listening room, or even a dedicated zone. I have a small house with a small main living room that has my Hi-Fi and TV and speakers all bundled ( although correctly fettled) within one corner firing out towards the opposite corner.  Perhaps a compromise - but after many attempts at the solution my ears have found the right voice regarding position and set up. You admit that you don't know as much as you'd like about this aspect, so a good opportunity for you to learn for yourself what works for you.  

I had similar problems with NDX + SN2 (and HCDR) combo some time ago. I changed my Naim DAC to NDX and while everything sounded exciting and fun first, the sound became fatiguing in longer runs. I tried every tweak imaginable but couldn't get rid of this annoying trait. Then I decided to give Naim DAC another try and found out that it performed better overall. NDX is more fun and more forward sounding device but Naim DAC digs deeper into the recording with smoother yet more detailed approach. I guess you could call it more refined and more analog sound. Anyway, I hope you find a cure to your problem. Try tweaking power cables, maybe new power block or cables? I've noticed that fatiguing elements in sound has often something to do with tweaks that are related to powering the equipment. Though I'm not sure if HiCap DR is an answer here and XPS is little bit overkill at this point I think? 

FYI, the pics aren't showing on this site (for me), but can be viewed by opening in a new tab (after I tried a few different browsers!)

Initial thoughts: I would try the speakers on the side wall, either side of the TV - technically not ideal, but worth a try, in comparison to the leather couch (which will likely be rather reflective) that's between them at the moment. It also looks quite 'congested' around the speakers in their current location.

The electronics sat on top of one another isn't ideal either,  but whether this is of a 'make or beak' situation, only experimentation will show.

 

 

100% all that HH said.  plus do you really use the black settee ??  it would sound so much better with nothing other than only that removed

I approve the Ekornes Stressless chair,  we have two,  Mayfair Classic large frame,  the high back/headrest makes for a super listening chair.   

Just to add a halfway decent hifi rack does not have to cost the earth for between 100 - 200 pounds you can get something that will sound infinitely better than the nest of tables you have at present.  It does not have to be a 1000 pound Fraim despite what you may have read a halfway decent rack made from metal and glass will even sound better. 

Thanks for the replies guys, I'm loving the look of the room. Just wish the sound matched it.

I've only had the stereo a couple of weeks, a rack will be on the agenda. The components were initially on the shelves under the tv (but... it has to be plugged into one of the 2 8-gang adaptors that power the TV, router, house phone, Mac mini, NAS etc. housed in the little cupboards in the unit AND little feet have a tendancy to kick it when lying and playing on the floor).

The black sofa can move to the listening position but will need to move back at times of visitors (its ekornes too).

The guitar certainly does play its own music lol, the tissues slotted under the strings stop the vibrations and leave it sitting reasonably quietly.

Electronics on separate shelves and room rearranged  I'm still not convinced...

So after lots more reading, I think it's the speakers I'm not getting on with. From what I gather although the harbeths are smooth and have good mids I think it's the "presence" that I'm not getting on with.

From what I've read I believe I'll like the sound of spendors, and I've narrowed it down to the a6r. However. I've always like standmounts and am therefore looking at the sp2/3r2. Are these stand mounts a level too high for the supernait? Would I be better off spending less to avoid feeling the need to upgrade further in the future? Hi cap I might consider but don't want to go pre and power.

Its a 300 miles round trip and the shop currently  only have the a6r's on demo. 

I'm going to audition proac too (this is what I heard initially when buying the electronics). 

Any pointers of advice before I make the journey would be appreciated. 

James

Hi Plyfold,

I've been using Spendor SP2s for the last 30 years, so I have a wee bit of experience with them. 

What is it about the Harbeth 'presence' that you don't like?
What stands are you using?
Have you experimented with moving them around the room (and moving furniture and/or your listening position) - it could easily be your room that's giving the problem not the speakers: Room / Speaker interaction is one of the more complicated aspects to get right.


The A6r and SP2/3r2 are quite different animals, auditioning one won't tell you all you need to know about the other.  The SP2s are very subtle; not in your face at all but give great insight into the music.  Also don't expect the bass extension or firmness that the size of the box suggests - they're a midrange optimised speaker as are all BBC monitor style speakers.

One of the great things about the SP2 is that they're an extremely easy load for an amp; even a Nait 5i will drive them with no problem (I used to drive them with a Nait XS 2).  Sure they won't mask the limitations of the amp but they won't make it struggle either, they 'll just show the rest of the system for what it is (with a CD 5i it's a good lower mid-range system) and they'll present it honestly.  The SP2s will work very well with a SN, and they'll clearly show the benefit of the HiCap when you add it later.

I would also unplug your NAIM equipment from the same power strip that your other household appliences are plugged in.

Trust us (as in Forum members) - it does make a huge difference.

Your system is still in a suboptimal setting, so any discussion on speakers is very premature.  It's like discussing which tyres work better on a F1 car and their impact on shaving 0.5 second off a laptime, but somehow the aerodynamics of a car is all over the place / someone forgot to fit front and rear wings etc etc  Tyres (like speakers) are vital, but need the rest of the package to work to its full potential first.

Huge,

I'm aware of your system... I've read many of your posts and was secretly hoping that you would be the one to reply. I definitely don't want in your face sound. I don't want to be "impressed" by the obvious level of detail delivered. In fact, it's your system that's making me wonder if I should have gone 272/250 and not ndx/sn2!!

I enjoyed my old arcam set up many years ago when I had it but the rhythm of the naim systems just won me over. That said, I want it as least in your face as possible. Warm and smooth but with foot tapping.

I've moved furniture and each component is plugged directly into the wall. I am not on here to ask for advice and then ignore it. ;-)

Current stands are heavy target stands. I'm not sure which model but they weigh a ton, not ideal for these harbeths I imagine. 

I like rock (and pop) music but my taste in music stretches further. To use Huge's terms, I want it as "out my face" as possible.

Hi Plyfold,

Did the Arcam system also have the Harbeths?

If you listen mainly  to rock and pop I don't think the SP2s will be the best speakers for you, to make them work particularly well for these genres needs the softer low bass of the speaker curtailing, you then replace this frequency band using a sub to get sufficient attack to get the foot tapping effect.  To a fair extent the same is true of Harbeth speakers (and all BBC monitor style speakers).

I also suspect that trying lighter stands may improve matters (mine weigh 7kg including mass fill).  What are your stands standing on, it needs to be rigid, but for lighter stands it can have high mass.


In the intermediate time how about trying to change the interface between the stand and speaker - you can try any of these you haven't already used...

Blu-tack (or another way of close coupling)
Sorbathane pads (or any other similar visco-elastic material to decouple them)
Upward Spikes
Downward Spikes

These different interfaces can have significant effects on the sound.

 

Huge, I certainly will try a different compound beteeen the stands and speakers. Good advice! Never occurred to me. What's the most significant difference between the a6rs and the sp2's? I really don't want a sub. Perhaps proacs then. I'll be going for a listen a week today so I should have formed my own opinion this time next Saturday.

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