Stageline N, am i doing something wrong?

Hi

Long time absent, i came back into the Naim game after more than a decade with a s/h Nait5 and Stageline N. The Nait is a real "funplifier", i goes incredibly well with my Metrum Dac and Totem Dreamcatcher speakers.

Vinyl playback through the Stageline though is a real disappointment. The Stageline is fed the signal from a Grado Reference Platinum2 (from a Kuzma Stabi S/Stogi S), is powered by the Aux2 input of the Nait (black Snaic) and sits far away on its own shelf. The sound from the Stageline does not come close to my digital frontend and is really miles away from my former analog frontend via a croft integrated phono. It lacks sparkle, lacks massively on bass extension, is uninspiring and pale and finally also kills the PRaT. I find myself listening for hours over my digital frontend, whereas i stop listening to vinyl after about 15-20 minutes...

It's a 3 years old s/h unit, certainly run in, and i let it warm up a few days without noticing any considerably improvements. Am i missing something here? Is there such a severe mismatch with the cartridge? Is the Stageline broken? (even though the sound doesn't sound technically broken)

Cheers.

Original Post

Hi Rock,

I’m afraid I don’t know anything off your cartridge but I think this is a mis-match simply because I used to have a Stageline S with my Dynavector powered off my Pre and it really was very good and would leave my CDX2/XPS way behind.  You can always call or e-mail and seek their advice.   

Good luck  

Lindsay

 

Hi,

Sorry to hear this is not good, did you get the stageline from a dealer? perhaps its not working correctly?

Although if its only 3 years old it should work fine & not need a service. Perhaps check the TT is earthed correctly?

I have a Stageline N fed from an LP12 with Adikt cartridge & it sounds great although it is powered by an olive HiCap. if you really consider the SL is at fault, perhaps consider taking it to a dealer to check it out?

Edit - is your cartdridge MC ? if so the stageline N is for MM cartidges & you need a stageline S 470Ω, K & E 560Ω, N 47kΩ

Frankly, I'm not that surprised that your vinyl setup lacks "sparkle".  The Stageline is quite dark and earthy in sound, so works best with brighter and sprightlier TT/arm/cart combinations than what you currently have.  The Kuzma is definitely on the warm/dark side, as is the Grado.  Put them all together and you likely have the recipe for a fairly murky and uninteresting result. So, it sounds like a mismatch all round. Either pair the Stageline and Nait with something more suitably matched, or else change everything else. FWIW, bear in mind that the Stageline running from the NAIT can sound a bit flat compared to running from a dedicated PSU.  For all that, a Flatcap 2/2x works wonders, but any s/h unit should be serviced by now.

Rocketeer (it's always a little weird for me to address people this way),

I have recently bought a s/h but very recent (405***) Stageline N, to go with my Pro-Ject RPM 3 Carbon, a Grado Prestige Blue 1, into a SuperNait and Ovator S-400s. Now, consider all that's been replied to you so far, especially by the usually balanced and cautious Richard: the SL is considered 'warm', the Grado is considered 'warm', my Pro-Ject TT is considered 'warm', the SN is sometimes called 'dark and bloated' and the S-400s are not poor in bass. I should have so much 'darkness' when I play LPs as to have to turn the lights on to see where I place the disc.

Yet, I have NOTHING to complain about the sound: the Stageline doesn't sound warm at all to me (but perhaps it is, in comparison to the clinical, merciless Superline), the Grado tracks well and I don't feel it's missing/skipping any high-pitched sound. The S-400s have gained an evenness and a civility that my CDX2/*XPS do not especially favour; and I notice that since I have resumed LP replay in my main (and now only) system, I have played much less CDs than LPs.

What I think is that the Nait5 is a delightful but not very sparkling amp (I have had at least two), and that very likely its internal power supply is now being asked a complex task: to power the Stageline, the preamp and the power amp section: all this, with a sound that I know well and is not particularly bright, albeit lovely and very musical. Not strange that if you plug a CDX2/XPS2 into it, the result is better. Plus, I suspect that the Stageline was thought for a type of cartridge like some Audio-Technica, which, as is known, were the base for most Linn re-branded models.

I have been suggested an AT 95E by a friend (who, to be honest, hasn't heard my system) on the grounds of his idea that my Grado is a mismatch with the SL; I have read reviews of it and some found it excessively bright and forward: the circle is closing. My advice: look for a s/h Flatcap 2X, power the preamp of the Nait5 and the Stageline with it and try to reconfigure your expectations.

As an alternative, make a mix of all the previous suggestions which will bring you to a lot of change, experiments, try & errors and will steal time from your life.

Best anyway

Max

Robiwan posted:

Get another phonoamp or buy a second hand FC 2/2X for the Stageline and a bright/loud sounding cart like Audio Technica.

Bob the Builder posted:

Buying a Flatcap to power your stageline takes your phono stage into another price bracket where there are many, many better options. Get yourself one with switchable loading so that you may be able to try some other carts like the ATOC9 which will added a bit of brightness.

Quod erat demonstrandum. I hadn't read these posts yet, but I wouldn't buy a 'bright' cartridge before I am sure that my phono stage is ok and has, possibly, a PSU of its own. As you see, both suggest a FlatCap, which – more importantly – will also bring large benefits to the Nait5.

M.

Hi all

Thank you for your feedback.

Unless the SL is technically broken (still to be verified), i preliminary may conclude that i simply don't like it personally. I've heard phonopre-cartrigde (impedance) mismatches before, and also combinations of warm+warm=way-too-warm and the like, but never to such an unpleasant degree as i experience with the SL so far. I don't feel like experimenting with "bright" cartridges or additional power supplies to eventually make an phonopre sound just "o.k." when it doesn't sound any good to my ears in the first place.

I had the occasion to extensively listen to the Nait5 (NACA5-ed, of course) before i decided to buy it, whereas i bought the SL blind (both s/h from different private persons, not from a dealer). The Nait5, 17 years old and unserviced, sounds brilliant to my ears. Although i know that it is more than due for a service and it can benefit from an additional outboard power supply, it doesn't put me in the position to be in a rush for it at all. Contrary to this, my experience with the SL is quite puzzling and disappointing...

To come back to "technically broken": what in heavens name can break within an SL (Serial Nr. 393***)?

Cheers, Dimitrios :-)

 

I ran the same combination (Nait5 with Stageline N) with A Goldring 1042 and Dynaudio speakers for many years and was very satisfied.
As others have said a FC2 does take it to another level. Still kept the FC2 when the Nait5 was replaced by a SN1.  The Flatcap was only retired when the SN1 was backup up with a HCDR.
Stageline N is still doing sterling service and very happy with sound

 

rocketeer posted:

Hi all

Thank you for your feedback.

Unless the SL is technically broken (still to be verified), i preliminary may conclude that i simply don't like it personally. I've heard phonopre-cartrigde (impedance) mismatches before, and also combinations of warm+warm=way-too-warm and the like, but never to such an unpleasant degree as i experience with the SL so far. I don't feel like experimenting with "bright" cartridges or additional power supplies to eventually make an phonopre sound just "o.k." when it doesn't sound any good to my ears in the first place.

I had the occasion to extensively listen to the Nait5 (NACA5-ed, of course) before i decided to buy it, whereas i bought the SL blind (both s/h from different private persons, not from a dealer). The Nait5, 17 years old and unserviced, sounds brilliant to my ears. Although i know that it is more than due for a service and it can benefit from an additional outboard power supply, it doesn't put me in the position to be in a rush for it at all. Contrary to this, my experience with the SL is quite puzzling and disappointing...

To come back to "technically broken": what in heavens name can break within an SL (Serial Nr. 393***)?

Cheers, Dimitrios :-)

 

Can you return the Stageline to the shop, or otherwise sell it for a very good price. Try a Rega phono amp the Fono MM MKIII or the Aria if you have more money. They don't sound dark or grey like the SL and dont need an expensive external power supply.

SB posted:

I ran the same combination (Nait5 with Stageline N) with A Goldring 1042 and Dynaudio speakers for many years and was very satisfied.
As others have said a FC2 does take it to another level. Still kept the FC2 when the Nait5 was replaced by a SN1.  The Flatcap was only retired when the SN1 was backup up with a HCDR.
Stageline N is still doing sterling service and very happy with sound

 

Very happy with my Rega RP10/Reson Reca through Supercapped Stageline N. I already had the Supercap the why not use it for the Stageline, but iilike the Stageline also powered by the 552.

Vincenzo

rocketeer posted:

To come back to "technically broken": what in heavens name can break within an SL (Serial Nr. 393***)?

For what I know, the Stageline makes no use of integrates but is fully discrete, meaning that only single passive components are employed. If you consider that it applies the RIAA equalization curve, and that tolerances of the components are critical and, in this case, all is chosen carefully for very strict values, it is possible that any capacitor or resistance may have gone wrong and compromised the linearity.

I don't know, it's just an hypothesis. But a good audio technician could fix it. Or else, as already said, it could simply not match your system and taste.

Best wishes

M.

Thanks for your replies. I'm misled somehow to open the unit and inspect it visually, just to see if all looks o.k. and untampered.

It was the Nait5 euphoria that made me buy the SL without listening to it beforehand. But also the convenience of Snaic5 cabling with ommision of additional power supplies and mains cables. Now, after reassuring myself that it is not knackered in any way, i will make some more thorough demo listening with alternatives.

Best Regards, Dimitrios

P.S. a bit off topic though, but let me mention again that listening with the Nait5 through my Dac is a joy! I can't attribute it to anything else but the PRaT thing :-)

 

Rocketeer,

Thanks for your topic. I have a Nait 5 as well, similar age as yours, and was planning to add in the far future a StageLine as well. I had the same line thinking as you. Nait 5, by Nait 5 fed stageline - simple and good solution. This setup already eliminates many problems like grounding / earth loops which are easily created in TT setups.

I like the Nait 5 as you do. I will not separate from it. Its currently hidden away under the TV table where it does excelent AV duties together with a Naim AV2. Really all I need and a very musical setup for the TV which I use to watch the Berliner Philharmoniker mainly. My kids misuse it for much more violent purposes though.

I copy and recognize your observation regarding the external Dac. I'm an happy user of a Raspberry Pi + DragonFly Black dac into the Nait 5 too. Cheap, simple and good solution. Everything sounds nice as long as not too much power is needed. The Nait 5 can run for a long time on full volume though (yes, I turn up the volume to 100% now and then since my speakers need it).

The Nait 5 responds well to external power supplies, but there is a small warning. I've paired it with a Hicap DR for a week or so, and when I was listening for many hours, the limitations in the preamp section became apparent by a slight harshness in the higher tones.

Ardbeg10y.

I opened the Stageline and all looks neat inside. However, i observed 4 electronic components (resistors?) soldered on the bottom side of the PCB. This looks somehow like the PCB was not layed out with these components in mind. While the soldering job looks clean and tidy, i ask myself if these comprise the factory design of the SL and are fitted by Naim this way, or if this was done later by somebody else. I would appreciate any comments on this.

rocketeer posted:

I opened the Stageline and all looks neat inside. However, i observed 4 electronic components (resistors?) soldered on the bottom side of the PCB. This looks somehow like the PCB was not layed out with these components in mind. While the soldering job looks clean and tidy, i ask myself if these comprise the factory design of the SL and are fitted by Naim this way, or if this was done later by somebody else. I would appreciate any comments on this.

Sounds like a mod to me, contact Naim as per Richards post above or your dealer. Found this pic of SL innards if its any help:

@NFG thanks for pic. This shows the top side of the board, while i‘m reffering to the bottom side.

I sent pics to Naim support and they just confirmed that my unit definitely is modded! Extremely frustrating, not because of the forthcoming cicumstances but more because of the precious time spent evaluating the Stageline and drawing misleading conclusions about its sound performance! Sorry Naim for blaming the product, thank you Naim for the exceptional support!

Folks use to mod the input capacitance of MM stages to accomodate very low capacitance turntable leads.  MM cartridges can be quite sensistive to input capacitance (particularly Shure cartridges) which resulted in upredictable high frequency response.  Were these resistors or capacitors that were added?

Add Reply

Likes (0)
×
×
×
×