Uniti Atom/Nova/Star - New firmware - March/April 2018 Comments

Granthar posted:

So how could you possibly demonstrate this in a court?

and does everyone agree what the ‘Naim Sound’ is?

and wouldn’t listening in a dealers room with their cabling, mains supply and room dimensions give a different sound?

We could all go as expert witnesses 

dave-mac posted:

Am I the only one bothered by the output volume drop of ~20%? @Phil Harris @Trevor Wilson can you explain this, because putting aside the inferior (IMO) sound of the new firmware, why have you now throttled the units? 

dave-mac - did you have the prior firmware set at 100 (Nova default is 85), if you did then the upgrade (i call it downgrade in SQ) retains that 100 setting.

Or are you saying you find will 2.6 the volume is 20% less ?

Obsydian posted:
dave-mac posted:

Am I the only one bothered by the output volume drop of ~20%? @Phil Harris @Trevor Wilson can you explain this, because putting aside the inferior (IMO) sound of the new firmware, why have you now throttled the units? 

dave-mac - did you have the prior firmware set at 100 (Nova default is 85), if you did then the upgrade (i call it downgrade in SQ) retains that 100 setting.

Or are you saying you find will 2.6 the volume is 20% less ?

Thanks, but everything set at 100, before and after. What used to be my regular listening level of 30 (somewhere >1000 hours of listening), now has to be set to ~38-40 for the same output. I've measured this with an spl meter, using the same tracks, before and after the 'upgrade'. Others have reported the same finding, but I find it frustrating that it keeps getting passed over.

Dear All

We are targeting a New Uniti software update 2.6.1 (Mid June Provisional). The build is scheduled to address known issues & bug fixes. This release will of course be subject to our stringent listening tests. We have noted the feedback from a small number of customers experiencing sound quality issues on 2.6 release when compared with 2.3. We also note the majority of customers are very pleased with 2.6. However we will of course consider any adverse feedback during the sound quality testing cycle of 2.6.1. We would ask the few customers who are dissatisfied with the sound quality of 2.6 code in their situation to please be patient and re-evaluate with 2.6.1.

We have always had the philosophy that if there is a request to roll back to a previous code, we will support it if feasible, as it is in this case feasible to roll back to 2.3.  However with many 3rd party dependencies, such as our streaming partners, sometimes this may not always be possible to ensure future functionality/stability and approvals, further rolling back is generally not recommended, as vital updates are of course missing.

As ever,  we always encourage any customer with an issue to contact us directly so we can support appropriately. Contact details are support@naimaudio.com or telephone the main switchboard number on +44 (0) 1722 426 600 and ask for Customer Support.

Trevor

Obsydian posted:

DAVE-MAC - interesting, you appear to have a double whammy (SQ and Volume down).

I think the NDS owners reported the same. Personally i found the volume for the Nova was about the same, the brightness (shrill) did make it appear louder.

 

I too notice a drop in volume - I would previously run at around 40, now I seem to run around 45 (max set to 85 at all times).  I agree that the brightness makes it sound louder, but the overall volume is down - I also find I’m turning it up more to compensate for the reduction of “welly”. 

Trevor Wilson posted:

Dear All

....

We have always had the philosophy that if there is a request to roll back to a previous code, we will support it if feasible, as it is in this case feasible to roll back to 2.3.  However with many 3rd party dependencies, such as our streaming partners, sometimes this may not always be possible to ensure future functionality/stability and approvals, further rolling back is generally not recommended, as vital updates are of course missing.

...

This fact makes it even more compelling to keep updates that are meant to improve functionalities clearcut separated from updates that are meant to improve the sound quality.

This way, updates that are meant to improve the sound quality would almost always be revertable. Users who are not satisfied with the update would have no reason to complain: they could always roll back without impairing functionalities.

Welcome news, but I do feel now (if we are lucky) Naim will provide a superior SQ update to please all, alas I think people would end up more divided.

Those in favour of 2.6 upset maybe as happy and 2.3 original firmware likers still not happy as it is another sound change.

As Hungryhalibut says the two are intertwined, but in response I would say why do others brands (Linn, Daveliet, Aurliac, Chord) not have the same issues, the offer more frequent changes, allot more options and no dramas by changing the sound. 

I looked at other brands as very disheartened with how this has all been handled by Naim, also very aware more changes will come, so a moving target in terms of the Naim sound.

I agree - functionality should be changeable without impacting sound quality. I’ve no experience of other makes so can’t really comment on them usefully. What I have found though, from being part of the beta process, is that I quickly get used to the new sound, even one that initially I find less appealing. It’s just really, really, odd that there is such a divergence of opinion. It seems a shame that the new platform seemingly cannot separate SQ and functionality. But then I’m a simple soul and it’s very likely beyond me. 

Hungryhalibut posted:

I agree - functionality should be changeable without impacting sound quality. I’ve no experience of other makes so can’t really comment on them usefully. What I have found though, from being part of the beta process, is that I quickly get used to the new sound, even one that initially I find less appealing. It’s just really, really, odd that there is such a divergence of opinion. It seems a shame that the new platform seemingly cannot separate SQ and functionality. But then I’m a simple soul and it’s very likely beyond me. 

It is indeed interesting if it turns out that the new platform didn't evolve sufficiently to achieve that. Indeed I don't recall such a difference of view before over the SQ of a Naim streaming product after a firmware update. So the imperative for the designers to achieve that separation wasn't great.

There does seem some lack of repeatability about the impact of updating. I wonder whether for some reason the firmware update, although reporting successful in a technical sense, is not deterministic in terms of SQ. it will be very interesting to see what comes with 2.6.1 (and dare I say it, 4.6.1 for NDS in particular too).

best

David

I think it is imperative going forward that clear "WARNINGS" are given to users prior to updates. If as Trevor has indicated, the relationship between dependencies on 3rd party APIs and Naim's own code could very well mean there is no reversion or downgrade from an applied update some time in the future.

I'd hate to think having been prompted to update the system through the App I find I've gone beyond the point of no return if I've applied the update. No doubt given the advancements in API's for such streaming services as Tidal and Spotify an update will eventually be required to continue using such a service, but i'd at least like the information and consequences, clear and in front of me before I make the choice.

I also have to say, I was totally unaware or never envisaged the case where a firmware update would have such a sonic change on a modern high end streamer. As others have eluded to, I chose Naim based on rave reviews of the sonic (sound quality). I auditioned and accepted a pleasing sound which sat very well with me. Only to discover the touted Multiroom functionality was not there or working. I updated to 2.6 to fix that only to discover the sound characteristics had changed quite considerably for the worse.

Reading Naim's public responses, I'm led to believe I'm one of 20 or so users who have complained and 10's of thousands of users have indicated they are delighted with the updated sound quality .... I'll call bullshit on that statement (pardon my french), in fact at this stage I'll call bullshit on the whole philosophy of modern Naim Uniti systems if after any update the sound quality you had before is altered by an update.

Before anyone says this is an over reaction .... I'll just say an audio company knowingly makes a sonic change to a piece of relatively high end HIFI equipment through a firmware update and neglects to mention the fact in the supporting documentation, shows a lack of consideration to the listener at best or utter disregard to the consequences at worst.  

I'll wait patiently for the 2.6.1 update, but I won't be holding my breath given the length of time it took to finally release 2.6. I'll see what it brings and then take stock of what Naim's system ultimately delivers. I know my financial outlay is not huge relative to other Naim systems people own, but it was a starting point for me, dipping my toe into the Naim Audio world. But all I'm left with now is the unknown .... unknown if the sound I purchase now will be the sound I have in the future.

Maybe my fling with MuSo's and a Uniti Atom may very well prove to be the last and ultimately the least amount I spend on Naim's products.

 

 

What will be really interesting is what effect functionality updates - and there surely will be some - have on the SQ of the £12,000 ND555. Not that it’s more important than an Atom, but if someone drops that amount of cash to front up a £100k system after exhaustive listening tests, and the SQ changes in a way that isn’t liked, as a result of some functionality change. It would make the whole range rather vulnerable. Separating functionality and SQ seems to me really, really, important. 

David Hendon posted
There does seem some lack of repeatability about the impact of updating. I wonder whether for some reason the firmware update, although reporting successful in a technical sense, is not deterministic in terms of SQ. it will be very interesting to see what comes with 2.6.1 (and dare I say it, 4.6.1 for NDS in particular too).

best

David

This worries me quite a lot, I was either one of the lucky ones who got a good upgrade 1st time, or lack the discrimination to notice the downgrade in sound (or possibly have a system where the PMCs and the room balance out downsides).

If it’s that there is a non-deterministic upgrade then I feel a bit uncomfortable about 2.6.1, I have a system I enjoy very much (Houses of the Holy sounding excellent at the moment), do I want to take the chance of losing this? I have a quite high level of faith in the Naim engineers producing a good SQ, although I’ve only been using Naim sources for 5 years I’ve never had a bad experience, and I’ve had Naim amps for 34 years. But if the update process is flaky and the 2.6.1 might land on my Nova in a poor state, that isn’t a chance I’m happy with. 

One thing that confuses me is that I’d expect the 2.3.x and the 2.6 firmware updates to use the same process, but yet nobody has yet reported (here) unhappiness with the 2.3 backward revision step, yet these people have had multiple tries at loading 2.6 unhappily. So is it deterministic  and Just system/person/hardware incompatibility?

dave-mac posted:

Am I the only one bothered by the output volume drop of ~20%? @Phil Harris @Trevor Wilson can you explain this, because putting aside the inferior (IMO) sound of the new firmware, why have you now throttled the units? 

I don't think it's a case of throttling power output, but I too felt that 2.6 needed you to turn the volume up and I think I've mentioned this elsewhere and certainly recently when giving Mercky info on how to revert using his iPad - see last comment there.

I've a feeling it's related to the overall tonal balance of the new DSP 'sound' of 2.6 and 2.3.1 - the fact it seems bass/low mid light in tone makes you want to turn up to get the same sense of scale/power with certain recordings, and perhaps that's why vocals then seem shouty/shrill as those frequencies may be too loud at that level.

I'm pretty certain speakers/other factors will also affect user perception of the upgrade - I've always felt my Epos speakers handle bass very well (using them currently with Nova), perhaps they're not that well controlled, but when I upgraded from Epos to active SBLs about 20 years ago despite the sound quality being much better, I felt I'd lost an octave or more of low end frequency response.  Perhaps those with well controlled speakers or that might not have as good a low frequency response don't notice the sound level issue as much.

As I say I think it's the DSP not 'throttling' just as though you were reducing output of low end frequencies using an equaliser it would seem quieter.

EOINK You shouldn't worry about my musings! I'm probably wrong anyway.

But I could imagine how an installer design fault in the 2.6 update could give non-deterministic results, whereas the 2.3  installer didn't have that issue. If I'm right, then Naim will sort it out in 2.6.1 and all will be sweetness and light again.  And you can always wait a while before doing the update before committing yourself. That's why my iPad is still on IOS 10.3.3, because Apple haven't yet sorted out IOS 11 to my satisfaction!

best

David

Everyone tries to gravitate back to it sounds better or worse, it is different a clear marked change.

I still feel also there was an opportunity to balance the range maybe making the old line and new uniti more HiFi and the new Ndx2 and NDS555 shine.

Let's compare Linn, just take time to see how many software updates the have released, the detailed and lengthy changelogs, none changing the sound or DSP and also no owner dramas. So what are they are others capable of doing, that Naim states is almost impossible.

Either their software and skills are superior, or their hardware setup is such SQ is unaffected, I don't know, but it is clear it is possible.

I struggle to see the logic in Naim downgrading the SQ of their big-selling Uniti range to make the newer systems more attractive. To risk losing the Uniti market on a gamble of people buying the separates seems very high-risk as a commercial call, as far as we can tell from Naim’s comments this is a high volume range in the context of multi-thousand pound hifi. My personal preference in SQ is for my NDX/olives over my Nova 2.3 or 2.6 by quite a margin,so I’d be surprised if they needed to sabotage the Unitis’ sound quality  to make the new range (which they presumably think outperforms the NDX) more distinct.

Eoink posted:

I struggle to see the logic in Naim downgrading the SQ of their big-selling Uniti range to make the newer systems more attractive. To risk losing the Uniti market on a gamble of people buying the separates seems very high-risk as a commercial call, as far as we can tell from Naim’s comments this is a high volume range in the context of multi-thousand pound hifi. My personal preference in SQ is for my NDX/olives over my Nova 2.3 or 2.6 by quite a margin,so I’d be surprised if they needed to sabotage the Unitis’ sound quality  to make the new range (which they presumably think outperforms the NDX) more distinct.

I do not mean sabotage, as all the product line is now ready, the NDX2 and 555 are read for launch, then all of a sudden we get a SQ update so maybe a balancing exercise.

David Hendon posted:

EOINK You shouldn't worry about my musings! I'm probably wrong anyway.

But I could imagine how an installer design fault in the 2.6 update could give non-deterministic results, whereas the 2.3  installer didn't have that issue. If I'm right, then Naim will sort it out in 2.6.1 and all will be sweetness and light again.  And you can always wait a while before doing the update before committing yourself. That's why my iPad is still on IOS 10.3.3, because Apple haven't yet sorted out IOS 11 to my satisfaction!

best

David

Thanks David, I was one of the people earlier who suggested a non-deterministic load process, so you aren’t the one who scared me. But your point  about the updater is a good one, if that were the issue it’d be anive 

Obsydian’s point below is also a fair one, the sound has definitely changed. But I didn’t get the massive change others are hearing, I have fairly minor changes in top-end clarity and separation, and slightly deeper and better controlled bass, with no loss of PRAT and involvement and no nasty high-end. So I wonder if we’re getting different loads leading to different impacts, different systems/rooms or just different ears.

Obsydian posted:
Eoink posted:

 

I do not mean sabotage, as all the product line is now ready, the NDX2 and 555 are read for launch, then all of a sudden we get a SQ update so maybe a balancing exercise.

Sorry sabotage was the wrong word, but I took your meaning to be that they were downgrading the Unitis to give a bigger gap to the new nd*s and used a bad choice of words to reflect that, apologies again.

Eoink posted:
Obsydian posted:
Eoink posted:

 

I do not mean sabotage, as all the product line is now ready, the NDX2 and 555 are read for launch, then all of a sudden we get a SQ update so maybe a balancing exercise.

Sorry sabotage was the wrong word, but I took your meaning to be that they were downgrading the Unitis to give a bigger gap to the new nd*s and used a bad choice of words to reflect that, apologies again.

Morning EIONK - no need to apologise, if anything my wording was poor, as balancing could suggest something under handed, maybe benchmarking ...

 

Hungryhalibut posted:

As has been said before, the functionality and sound are intertwined. The functionality changes and then it’s the case of trying different build options to get the best sound. I don’t understand why, but apparently that’s the way it is. 

If adding functionalities for metadatd editing or fixing artwork bugs can have any significant impact on the sound quality, it means that the software+hardware system is brittle. This can be the case, for instance, when a software is very poorely designed or when it is forced to run under very tight memory and/or CPU resources. Neither should be true for the new Naim system. Thus, I do not buy the notion that functionality and sound are intertwined. They certainly do not need to be, as standard Linux systems based on alsa-tools, mpd and upmpdcli demonstrate. If functionality and sound happen to be intertwined, then there is something fundamentally wrong with the new platform.

Did anybody notice sound quality change after going from 2.3 to 2.3.1 (HDMI and S/PDIF Occasional Dropout Fix)? There was a big discussion about HDMI dropouts some time ago. Some suggested, that it can be NOT software, but hardware related problem and argued if it is possible at all to fix this with software updates. Naim somehow fixed this problem with update 2.3.1. But nobody knows what was the cost for this. Maybe fixing HDMI dropouts required some serious interventions to hardware processes and that could change sound quality.

Firmware Update 2.3.1 was released in 3/19/18. And 2.6 somewhere in the beginning of April. I think some people even didn't notice update 2.3.1 and went straight to 2.6 and thought that 2.6 update ruined sound quality. But maybe all fixes associated with 2.6 update are NOT related to sound quality, maybe only 2.3.1 update is responsible for this.

I did ask for a downgrade to pre 2.3.1, was advised that change did not affect sound, i started a thread saying it did, then 2.6 rolled on.

So Naim need to decide and be clear, you can't say making firmware changes impact sound, then say 2.3.1 was no SQ, it was.

tony123 posted:

Did anybody notice sound quality change after going from 2.3 to 2.3.1 (HDMI and S/PDIF Occasional Dropout Fix)?

See the first post on page 1 - 2.3.1  was the point things went bad for myself and a few others - Obsydian started an older thread at that stage.

Could 2.3.1 have installed something which is not corrected if you apply 2.6 afterwards, or reverted if you go to 2.3.1 I wonder?

Sadly I didn't note the DSP version for 2.3.1.

EoinKav posted:

When Naim send you the link to downgrade the firmware it is FW 2.3 build 8574 which pre dates the 2.3.1 firmware update. So they are even going back beyond 2.3.1 for some reason?.

 

That's I assume because we identified 2.3.1 as the point went sound went bad.  I'm assuming the DSP for 2.6 first appeared in 2.3.1 but I may be wrong as I no longer have a method to find out.

I've mentioned it a few times but I am still unclear why it would seem 2 firmware versions were in development in parallel - 2.3.1 for the issues it fixes and the later 2.6 released only 2-3 weeks later.  Perhaps people were clamouring for the fixes in 2.3.1 and at that point 2.6 was nowhere near ready for release and it could have taken months.

Add me to the list requesting downgrade. I've sent my email in.   Atom. 2.3_> 2.3.1 no issue. 2.3.1->2.6 SQ degradation.

- app<->uniti UI responsiveness quicker

- thinner sounding, feels more compressed, tinnier, not as much low end. Didn't notice any better detail.

- requires higher volume adjustment to 'fill it out' a bit, but never really gets to where it was. pre-update: 30, post update:50 but thinner.

- headache inducing

- as I noted in my email to support, grape juice now versus a heart warming Barbaresco.   I'd say it's knocked at least 3/4 off the $$ value of my purchase.  Feels like I bought a (put your big-box-receiver-name here).  Wouldn't recommend now, for the money.

Hope to hear from them soon.  Nothing like being held hostage by bureaucracy.  

 

 

 

but
but I am still unclear why it would seem 2 firmware versions were in development in parallel 
 

And you'll remain so..

Generally, industry accepted, is that development teams are striving to get 'value' to market as fast as possible.  This increases revenue and creates competitive distance. New feature coding is balanced against coding required for escaped (from testing) bugs, code standardization and general (reusability) cleanup (which is called refactoring), etc.  Usually, much of the code is shared between products, which is preferred.  Multiple code branches may be required to maximize the 'value to market' objective where it wouldn't make sense to hold up product 'A' while product 'B' finishes. Code branches may also fork in response to risk of not achieving release readiness.

The overall code merge, fork, release strategy is a huge headache for the coding team management, and is constantly adapting to marketing team, upper management, or support team priorities.  A thankless job in the centre of the hurricane.

 

 

 I wonder if anyone else has deliberately tried the procedure of downgrading to 2.3 without resetting, then upgrading with resetting, which was mentioned first by Simon Peter Arnold. Mercky commented about going back w/o reset. Has anyone else done this and noticed an improvement in SQ?

Robert_F posted:

 I wonder if anyone else has deliberately tried the procedure of downgrading to 2.3 without resetting, then upgrading with resetting, which was mentioned first by Simon Peter Arnold. Has anyone done this and noticed an improvement in SQ?

Yes, I did on my Atom and it improved somewhat on the sound. But it’s not on level 2.3 by far. I joined this forum after upgrade to 2.6 with annoying result. You can add me to the list requestioning downgrade also. Now waiting for 2.6.1.  and hoping to get the sound back where I bought the Atom for.

Trevor Wilson posted:

We have noted the feedback from a small number of customers experiencing sound quality issues on 2.6 release when compared with 2.3. We also note themajority of customers are very pleased with 2.6.

Hi Trevor, can you point me to the survey so I can add my name to the minority?  Can you share the survey outcome please.  It's not that I don't trust you, but have you really, honestly, surveyed your customers to back up what you say, or is this just bullshit?   This sounds like pseudo-statistics to be honest.

 

SB, it's likely not a "survey" as such but I'd guess more of a log of people who have either contacted Naim directly, or from Naim's dealer and distributor network (have you contacted Naim about this?). Naim realise there's an issue for some customers.  The question is why?  If I were Naim I'd want to have a unit with reported poor sound back in the factory to listen to. This is what Naim usually do when a unit comes back from a dealer with reported poor sound. At least then they can understand whether it's performing as intended, or it really is sounding poor.  I know Naim are keen to get to the bottom of it, so let's see what, if anything they find.

Robert_F posted:

 I wonder if anyone else has deliberately tried the procedure of downgrading to 2.3 without resetting, then upgrading with resetting, which was mentioned first by Simon Peter Arnold. Mercky commented about going back w/o reset. Has anyone else done this and noticed an improvement in SQ?

I suspect the reset thing is a red herring to be honest, my Atom is still sounding good albeit different back on 2.6, listening to some Martin Nonstatic right now and it’s excellent, I’m just interested to see if it holds 

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