Warning, longish posting:
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I will begin…
I was thinking about the poor sound of my NDS4.6 over the weekend and one thing struck me – that is, I was using a Lindy 31887 - 5m USB 2.0 Cable - Type A to Mini-B, that I bought from Amazon in August 2015 which then allowed me to update the NDS using my desktop (Dell Optiplex i7) as the USB would be long enough.
I have run the 4.6 update from this PC twice – and each time it ran to completion OK without error but as I reported, the sound quality, to me, was dire, extremely poor. As I have mentioned before, I simply didn’t believe my not liking this sound was anything to do with preferences – or speakers, or speaker adjustments, or Snaxo adjustments – or whatever. My view was that there was probably something wrong with the new firmware that had ended up in my NDS – some kind of ‘corruption’ -- just a guess of course.
I started wondering whether 5m USB cable was somehow problematic and so last Friday I decided to buy a much shorter one – less than 1m in fact – and this was duly delivered over the weekend.
This meant of course I had to use a different computer to drive the update and so I borrowed my daughter’s laptop – an old Dell Latitude E5420 – still running Windows 7!! – and with very few installed application on it. I had been busy with work till late last night when I decided to install 4.6 again – must have been close to 0100hrs - this time using the shorter USB and from the Dell laptop. It was a bit awkward to position the laptop relative to the NDS without disturbing cable dressing etc.,, but I somehow managed in the end.
I installed the USB driver linked to in the 4.6 update instructions from Naim and started the update process – the first part - updater application - installed OK and so I proceeded to the 2nd part where you start the NDS firmware update itself. But just before the screen where one selects the appropriate COM port – the software reported an error: ”CreateProcess failed; code 740”
A little panic here – but I noticed that the “Streamer Updater” was in my applications list anyhow suggesting that had installed OK – or so I assumed. So, I invoked that – and this ran through the process to the end OK.
When the process completed, i couldn’t really have a meaningful listening session as it was quite late (or early this morning). But I listened to play one of the tracks that I found unlistenable after the two previous 4.6 update attempts.
From this brief session I sensed something was different – very different. The somewhat plastic sound I had experienced after the previous 4.6 updates seemed cured and the bass seemed to be in tune and rather more integrated.
After sending a mail to Naim support about the error that I encountered, I retired to bed. Too tired to do anything else really.
This morning there was a response from Naim about the error. Provided the NDS thinks it has 4.6 firmware – and then all is OK – suggesting that the error was probably 'spurious' – dunno. In his message, the Naim support guy also included a link to the USB driver – in the 4.4(?) Update instructions document.
Purely out of neurosis, I uninstalled the one I had and instead installed this other one (apparently later in terms of create date) suggested by Naim. I ran the update again – by just invoking the ‘Streamer updater’ since this was already installed. I did wonder whether I should start from zero again – but decided there was no point in doing that. This ran to completion without any drama. Phew!
Then I did the superstitious voodoo “factory reset”.
I only intended to listen briefly as I was in the middle of work – but I ended up listening for much longer.
Seems the ‘draw’ is back.
My theory is that the initial firmware was somehow corrupt. My guess is that 2 things may have caused that: (a) my desktop has a LOT of peripherals connected to it via USB ports – so perhaps this got in the way and (b) perhaps the 5m long USB cable didn’t help.
You will of course appreciate this is pure conjecture on my part – I don’t know for sure. And it may be one or the other, and not both.
BUT: To anyone else having poor SQ from 4.6, I would suggest use the simplest update setup you can manage - from a laptop that is as ‘uncrowded’ as possible – and/or possibly using quite a short USB cable.
It may just work for you -- or it may not -- but worth trying anyhow.