hey all, i just started using a unitiqute. so what are the things i can tweak for SQ?
1. nas. is a nas certain to be better for sq than a hard disk hooked up to a computer?
2. ethernet cables. i saw chord company has some of these. anybody tried that?
3. since i can control the music through the naim app, i dont need a computer with a screen. any benefit in using raspberry pi or intel nuc? lesser interference, traffic, jitter etc?
4. is there an audiophile router or rather a router more suited by its features for streaming music?
5. i am currently using asset upnp. is there anything better than this?
Appreciate the insights.
Hi, I have been streaming one way or another since the late 90s and streaming with Naim pretty much from when they first entered the market. The main thing is to keep everything simple but effective.. and to get that balance right.
I would say tweaks fall into three varieties, which some interdependencies between the varieties.
1) Sound quality / sound presentation
2) Performance and usability
3) Bling and ‘feel good factor’
1 Sound Quality / Sound Presentation
Sound quality can be effected by electrical noise from some low quality switch mode power supplies, and so worth while looking into these. A quality SMPS powersupply can be as effective and clean as a transformer based powersupply or so called ‘linear’ power-supply, so don’t fall into the trap of assuming a linear powersupply is automatically better than a SMPS.
Local noise from the Ethernet leads can be an issue. This can be mitigated using better quality network equipment (see below), but can be also helped using certified Ethernet cable of Cat 5e or higher. Route the Ethernet lead away from signal and mains leads. Ferrite chokes around the Ethernet cables at the ends by the connectors can reduce common mode noise. You can experiment with different cable constructs and screening types... none of these need cost much at all, but anything aimed at the audiophile will have had its price multiplied by several factors. (See point 3)
With Naim streamers where one is using the inbuilt DAC many have found streaming WAV over FLAC or ALAC sonically prefereable, although when using the Naim streamer to drive an off board DAC this becomes less apparent.
Different media servers can effect SQ and for most this is going to be trial and error as measuring requires some expertise with WireShark and network expertise. I have found and measured a correlation between inter network frame consistency from a media server and sound presentation from the Naim NDX . It’s subtle like WAV / FLAC above but there none the less. Again physically decoupling the DAC from the streamer lessens this.
f you are connecting your switch to your streamer, which I would recommend for the Classic streamers or if you have a basic broadband router type Wi-fi setup (see below), then some of us have found than some switch architectures can sound better with Naim syreamers... this I believe is down to the quality of the physical layer clocks on the Ethernet send pair, which in turn produces less coupled intermodulation side effects on the streamer. The Cisco Catalyst devices seem to work welll such as the 2960. Some have founding improving power supplies for very basic consumer switches helps, but this becomes moot for the higher grade devices like the Catalysts.
2 Performance and Usability
This for me is essentially ensuring the streaming works effectively. Naim use UPnP and that needs to have a reliable wired, wireless or combined network. Many Home Wi-fi setups are very basic, and give rise to false assumptions Wi-fi is not optimum for streaming... invest in a Wifi solution using an ESSID (overlapping access points with same SSID name) and use commercial or ‘prosumer’ grade access points that you wire back to a switch / broadband router switch. This way you should be able to stream via Wifi whilst others use your Wifi, and have effective and responsive Naim app performance irrespective of what else is happening in your house.
Next is ensuring UPnP discovery works well. This used to be quite a nightmare due to limited capability consumer home network product, but has appeared to have improved with more recent consumer product as these capabilities are required more often. The important thing here is that multicast addresses are handled correctly... if you have issues with devices disappearing from the Naim app etc then try disabling a feature called IGMP snooping.. might appear on your Wifi and or switch... ideally you want enabled, but if there interoperability issue as above then disabling can help... but in some circumstances you might find your Wifi performance drops.
Then there is responsiveness of discovery, which builds on the above point... on tiny networks this may not be an issue, but on larger home networks, you might find annoying pauses for the Naim app to discover the media server(s)... setting up an IGMP Querier on a managed switch or router will massively improve performance here... this is advanced.. if you are interested let me know or use Googke.
3 Bling and ‘Feel Good Factor’
This is harder to quantify but psychological and time and effort factors come into play.... and many appreciate buying something like an Ethernet cable from an audiophile brand that looks impressive, performs at a known level for a premium... its not for me, but is certainly an option if one wants to remove some of the trial and error. The same exists for some media server types running on popular computer platforms like OSX, frame converters for audio such as USB to PDIF, NASs etc etc.