What fish will this make me...

Hi all,

Not posting too often around here, and when I do, it's usually to complain about how tiring I find my system, with a sound that has too much "urgency" and doesn't let me relax. System is:

Synology NAS -> rPi+Hifiberry Digi+ -> Cambridge Audio DacMagic 100 -> Nait XS+FlatcapXS -> Linn K20 -> Dynaudio X36

The room is 4.5m x 4m, with plenty of soft furnishings. In the quest to make the system more bearable over the years, I have added bass traps, auditioned nDAC, tried out balanced isolation transformer, played with speaker placement etc. I could notice some small changes, but the essence of the sound remained the same. Measurements with REW don't show any significant issues. Therefore, after some long thought, I came to the conclusion that the speakers are simply not matching my room and I should try out some standmounts instead.

Long story short, after auditioning Dynaudio Contour 20, Confidence C1 Platinum and PMC twenty5 22, I have now borrowed and been demoing the C1s at home... WOW!

Living room turning into HiFi shop
Living room turned into HiFi shop

 

The transformation of the sound is impressive! Darker balance that I have been looking for, with amazing level of detail, especially when things get complex. In comparison, the X36s sound much more "congested" and "smeared" and "bright" and in the end annoying!

Now, I am imagining that most of you right now are shivering at the thought of "wasting" such fine speakers with such "poor" electronics! Where did "source first" principle go? Am I going nuts? Should I be burned at the stake for ignoring the comments saying that not even a 250.2 is good enough for C1s? 

The reality is that these speakers are giving me the sound that I have been looking for. I am not playing at loud volumes and these creatures are so enjoyable even at low levels. And obviously having such speakers can only open the appetite for further upgrades upstream... 

Please excuse my long ramblings. I've been so excited since yesterday that I had to share it with you.

So... what fish will the C1s make me?

Original Post

If the sound is what you want, then no, it's not a waste.  Clearly you are a person who's badly affected by HF distortion or HF peaks - the sort of thing you get with some tweeters.  The normal REW plots won't show those problems well without using an anechoic chamber (do you perchance have a large concrete shed and a spare £100,000 or so to build one?).

Anyway with the C1s, your system is a classic mullet - but mullet can be a very tasty fish!

If you like it, stick with it, and enjoy the inevitable upgrade path!

Certainly a mullet, but if the speakers give you what you're looking for, and you can afford them, who cares. Besides, speaker/room matching is as important as speaker/amp matching. If you intend to upgrade your electronics, the speakers will be plenty good enough to show the benefits. 

From now on, start with the source, though!!

Congratulations on being rewarded for your perseverance and finally achieving a sound that feeds your soul.  Who honestly cares if you have had to spend a disproportionately high share of your budget on the speakers?  If they make the music flow, then not only are they the ones for your room, they will also be future proofed for many a year of electronics upgrades. Enjoy!

Thank you all for your kind words! Mullet it is then!

Mocca (the one that we happen to be demoing) fits nicely in the room. I would need to see the bordeaux in flesh before choosing probably. However as it is too much of a stretch to go to the full price, I'll probably need to look around in the 2nd hand market, or wait for the next generation of Confidence to show up and grab a good deal in a demo pair! We shall see...

In the meantime I will try to audition a couple more standmounts (B&W, Sonus Faber come to mind). Having seen (or rather heard) the light however, it's hard to go back!

Source is then another tricky question. I cannot (and do not wish to) reach the heights of NDS, so I am aspiring to an nDAC at some point. Given the limitation of 3 fraimlite levels, it's hard to combine it with a 250 (another end-game aspiration). Any chance for a NAC-DAC please?? 

sihctr posted:

Given the limitation of 3 fraimlite levels, it's hard to combine it with a 250 (another end-game aspiration). Any chance for a NAC-DAC please?? 

I have a self-imposed 3-box limit, and ended up with NDX/282/200DR. A close second place was 272/XPS/250. Or maybe give the NDAC another chance with the new speakers.

I am not up on my fish,but I am interested as to what you thought of the C-20 versus the C1’s.I owned the C1’s for a couple of years,for home theatre...tried them with the SN2 I had at the time,but felt that they needed more power to get EVERYTHING out of them.As you say,great at lower volume,but I like to listen loud.Anyway,I have not heard the C 20s yet,but most people that have,seem to think they are right up there with the C1’s,and probably better at bass.I did end up borrowing a pair of C1’s from my dealer when I got the 272/250DR,and it was much better than with the SN2,so they do benefit from more power.

The C1's may have benefited from the separates, but the perceived improvement wasn't from more power, as the two amps, SN2 and 250-2, have the same exact output and rated watts into 8, 4, 2ohms. Other factors came into play.

I have heard the C20's driven by both amps, SN2 and the 250-2, and neither are lacking in power.

As to the mullet question, as long as the OP is happy, that's all that matters, there is really no such thing as a mullet systems if they work for the individual buying the equipment.

I have always stated that speakers make the biggest change to the overall sound of the system, and I personally would have no problem with the system that the OP has purchased. The C1's will only get better if and when you decide to upgrade your electronics, and very well could be the last pair of speakers you buy. They are that good!

Like any doctrine you ignore the exceptions to the rule at your peril. You have found a solution to your problem and are clearly delighted so enjoy. I am an ardent source first fan, but it’s only Hi-Fi. Always do what you want and please yourself.

nice looking room and system too!

I'm curious, though - what made you consider such an expensive speaker in the first place? I can't help thinking that these could be other, more reasonably priced speakers out there that would work in your room, although finding them available for home demo is not always easy. 

Happy (and penniless..) fish indeed! But who needs food anyway! 

Regarding the comparison to rest of the speakers, it was done at the audio store with NDX->SuperNAIT 2. The C20s are gorgeous and I was hoping that they would be the answer to my problems. Clearly better than my X36, but they maintain the overall neutral character of Dynaudio, so I expected that they would also be potentially tiring in the long term. Bass must have been OK, but I have forgotten everything after listening to C1... The kind dealer then suggested the C1s which have a darker presentation and indeed they were so much closer to what I (and SWMBO) were looking for. And the bass is so good! I tend to believe that the positioning of the tweeter at a lower level than my ears is probably the main reason for such a good match. Mind you, directly after the C1s I tried the PMCs out of curiosity and I had to stop the music immediately. It was so much more "metallic" sounding.

Of course all this is valid for my (and my wife's) ears, as well as the kind of music that we listen to (not audiophile type at all). So it's all relative. Please don't take it personally if I have "offended" your speakers!

The most realistic targets for the electronics are either nDAC/SuperNAIT or 272/250.2. nDAC is so good for the money (at 2nd hand market), that I will probably not resist if I find one in the neighborhood (Belgium)!

The moral of the story is to find helpful dealers that are willing to give proper advice rather that simply sell boxes, spend a month doing literature review in the forums, audition as much as possible and finally demo things at home. Unfortunately when I started my Hifi journey I didn't follow any of the above, with a result of having spent 5 lost years of not fully enjoying music. Hopefully I will be quickly back on the correct path!

Cheers to all!

ChrisSU posted:

I'm curious, though - what made you consider such an expensive speaker in the first place? I can't help thinking that these could be other, more reasonably priced speakers out there that would work in your room, although finding them available for home demo is not always easy. 

Well, I wasn't considering it at all when I went to audition speakers the other day. In fact the target of the audition was to compare several brands (Dynaudio, PMC, Neat) and see if something fits my taste. I didn't get to listen to the Neats, but out of what we listened that day the C1s were just perfect.

Indeed I am planning to keep auditioning other brands as well. So it's not a done deal yet. Sound is first priority, but the aesthetics should much the room. So no Wilson Audio speakers on my audition list! I plan to check out some B&Ws as a next step, maybe Sonus Faber as well. I need to find first some friendly dealers around who stock these brands. But the C1s entice our inner vanity as you can imagine!

I am also wondering why someone should spend so much money when he asks relatively simple things from his HiFi system. Probably if I had started my journey with a €200 B&O speaker (and not visited the Naim forum), I would be content with what I have and not felt the urge to move on. But here I am now... 

As CHRISSU suggests, "over-spending" on the speakers sets you up well for upgrading your electronics.  

My XS2 drives PMC 25.23, which work really well in my room -- well, at least to my ears and my wife's ears too... According to conventional wisdom in the Forum, I didn't allocate resources (monies) well. And at first I thought the PMC were too bright (in the dealer's room), and we sort of ruled them out. But our favourites, Neat SX1, were "boomy" in our lounge. I am so glad we gave the 25.23 a second chance. A mullet? Probably yes, but I was so content when we had them in our house. And I know they will sound even better when I get a SN2 or even 250DR... 

Ah, if it's not a done deal then I suggest looking at (listening to ) at least two of the following:
Harbeth (C7ES-3 or M30.1)
Spendor (particularly the SP2/3R2 & A4)
Graham Audio (Chartwell LS6 and LS5/9)
Stirling Audio (SB88 and LS3/6).

They all tend to have a smooth detailed presentation while still being fairly easy loads to drive.

Harbeth and Graham Audio were also strongly recommended by the audio dealer, however they were rejected a priori due to the looks. That takes most of the list out of the game I am afraid!  In fact, I did listen to a pair of large Harbeths some months ago at another dealer, using a (cold) 272-250DR. Nice in terms of HiFi, a bit harsh due to the cold amp, but in the end they didn't impress me.

The modern Spendors look decent. I will try to audition them if I find them around.

Interesting stuff about the fish and birds! I'm learning a lot through this topic!

Cheers all! Now on to some more songs before the C1s leave at the end of the week... 

You might also consider the special 40 from Dynaudio,I own those,and have owned C1’s...not quite at C1 level,but damn close,at about half the price,and easier to drive.The C1’s would not be out of place with a 552/500 in front of them for sure,so lots of room to upgrade.The main reason I traded mine in on XD 600s,was I was using them in a dedicated home theatre,and they are somewhat limited with Big Dynamic swings of a lot of movies,so I was always worried I would damage them when big explosions etc. Would happen.

Special 40s were also in my audition list, and available at the store, but after listening to Contour 20 and discussing with the dealer, we felt that the character of the speakers wouldn't be too different from what we are already used to by Dynaudio and therefore wouldn't solve our problem. As a result we didn't bother to audition them. So the main issue is not really about the overall quality of the speaker, but about the overall tonal balance and character.

This is an ongoing trip, so if you have more suggestions from other brands, please let me know!

Except for the BBC type of speakers whose cabinet materials, thickness and dimensions are combined to wipe out box coloration in the critical frequency zone, speakers from firms who have a professional background should be auditioned and that include ProAc among others.     

I'd say that would make you a snook (yes, it's a real fish - imagine a barracuda with a bit more of a football shape and lacking the toothy grin): excellent taste and one of the most intelligent fish in the sea.  I tried for 20+ years while living in the FL Keys to catch one and while I saw plenty they were all too wise to take the bait!

I've had my C1 Platinums for almost 3 years now and have loved them from the first minute.  BTW I found that while the sound improved incrementally every hundred hours or so for the first 300-400 hours they didn't get fully run in until 1000+ hours.

Source at first was a 172 into a 200 amp, but ASAP I upgraded to 272 + XPSDR and 250DR.  They love power: not necessarily watts up front but deep reserves of power really make them come alive, even at moderate volumes.  I'd love to hear them with a 300DR or, if the lottery ever goes my way, a 500DR.

To me the C1s are a lifetime speaker: I'm sure there are better out there - there always are - but I have no desire whatever to look (or pay) for ithem.  The C1s tick every box that is important to me in a stand mount speaker and the only weakness I could possibly mention is in the sound staging.  They image very well and spot performers left to right beautifully but are not the most "3D" I've heard.   But oh the smoothness of the crossover - NO holes or dips here - and the depth and realism of the bass in a cabinet this compact... it's truly remarkable.  I can listen for hours and hours (and do) with zero fatigue which tells me distortion is vanishingly low and while maybe a bit shy on realism presenting symphonic music (their size and the sound staging again) they can rock and are just outstanding on vocal, acoustic & traditional, jazz, electronic and chamber music.

You are a smart fish indeed. 

Eoink posted:

Instead of a fish, how about a bird? You could say the skylark has a mullet, but it sounds wonderful.

Good choice. Messiaen did use the tune of the Skylark in his Petites esquisses d'oiseaux #6. He never composed any music based on a singing fish.

Olly posted:

If you haven't already done so, do yourself a big, big favour and get a proper power supply for your DAC-Magic. I can recommend Sean at Custom Hi-Fi Cables. It will be the best vfm upgrade you can make to your system. 

Olly

Thank you Olly for your suggestion!

My plan is to have linear power supplies for my music chain, but as I am planning to definitely upgrade the DAC at some point, it doesn't make much sense to change it now.

On the other hand, I should probably upgrade the supply for the RPi, and I am also considering going from the Hifiberry Digi+ to the Allo Digione. This way I'll also get a BNC SPDIF out.

Tallan posted:

I'd say that would make you a snook (yes, it's a real fish - imagine a barracuda with a bit more of a football shape and lacking the toothy grin): excellent taste and one of the most intelligent fish in the sea.  I tried for 20+ years while living in the FL Keys to catch one and while I saw plenty they were all too wise to take the bait!

I've had my C1 Platinums for almost 3 years now and have loved them from the first minute.  BTW I found that while the sound improved incrementally every hundred hours or so for the first 300-400 hours they didn't get fully run in until 1000+ hours.

Source at first was a 172 into a 200 amp, but ASAP I upgraded to 272 + XPSDR and 250DR.  They love power: not necessarily watts up front but deep reserves of power really make them come alive, even at moderate volumes.  I'd love to hear them with a 300DR or, if the lottery ever goes my way, a 500DR.

To me the C1s are a lifetime speaker: I'm sure there are better out there - there always are - but I have no desire whatever to look (or pay) for ithem.  The C1s tick every box that is important to me in a stand mount speaker and the only weakness I could possibly mention is in the sound staging.  They image very well and spot performers left to right beautifully but are not the most "3D" I've heard.   But oh the smoothness of the crossover - NO holes or dips here - and the depth and realism of the bass in a cabinet this compact... it's truly remarkable.  I can listen for hours and hours (and do) with zero fatigue which tells me distortion is vanishingly low and while maybe a bit shy on realism presenting symphonic music (their size and the sound staging again) they can rock and are just outstanding on vocal, acoustic & traditional, jazz, electronic and chamber music.

You are a smart fish indeed. 

Thank you Tallan for your comments. It seems that your opinion regarding the C1s matches very well my (short) experience with them. I'm absolutely in love with them! Even though I plan to audition more speakers for the fun of it, mentally I have purchased them already...

I've been listening to them as much as possible and indeed zero fatigue is induced. That would have been impossible with the X36. I stayed up until 2am last night as I am enjoying them so much! Indeed the staging is not too "3D", but I cannot give an opinion about this, as the fireplace between the speakers is probably killing the image, while the music that I listen to is most likely not mastered with such considerations in mind.

I am also pretty excited about the prospects of upgrading the electronics, since, according to all the comments, there is a lot of untapped potential. Right now, I am so satisfied with this system combination that I could live it as is, but I am sure upgraditis will kick in soon! My wallet will not be so excited then... 

Why stop at 500DR when you win the lottery? That's what Statement is for! And with a bit of a green marker it would match the rest of the Classic components nicely. 

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