Why I returned to S-400s (this is long, please do something else if you have spare time)

Max_B posted:

Tony2011,

I had to google soupy and I am not sure I understand what you mean. If you think it's been dragging itself for too long, we can ask Richard to move it to Padded Cell or to create a new forum, Speakers' (Amen) Corner, where we'll only discuss discontinued models in total and happy uselessness.

Or else, what did you mean?

Ciao, Max

I think 'soupy' was inferring sentimental - mawkish even.

G

Nothing wrong with being sentimental, and even less about trying to discuss and explain decisions in a well thought through way. It makes a refreshing change from the usual 'it's in the manual but I can't be bothered to read it - how do I connect my Hicap?', 'even though you don't want one, get a Chord dac' or 'I don't care if you said you have limited budget, spend £5,000', 'how do I stack my two boxes?' or 'should I leave my equipment on all the time, despite there being a thousand previous posts on exactly the same thing?'  

Well I'm glad that this thread was generally welcomed with fun and interest. At the chore of it all, my return to S-400s, which may have enthusiasts and detractors, but in the end turned out being the only visual/sonic/conceptual choices that could make a significant improvement over the Sats. I simply needed more mature speakers, and they had to be Naim. I must have written somewhere that I thought that Naim speakers were what, in my opinion, mostly embodied their concept and sound, and I still think so.

Good Sunday to all,

M

Hook posted:

Congratulations Max.  Hope you are enjoying your new system.

ATB.

Hook

I am, thanks. There must be something different in at least three factors: the S-400s (no-one will confirm or deny this, but I am sure that this second pair my dealer brought, and I brought by him, sounded a little different from my first one, immediately. Even he noticed it. Like if already run-in, or voiced slightly differently); the room/speaker interaction: they are positioned better; my final conclusion that it was the Sats or the S-400s. And since I already had Sats and they were not always 'enough', I gave S-400s a second chance.

I am not saying that they are perfect, but they come after Marten Design Miles II, Marten Monks, SBL, N-Sats, Arivas, Allaes, Credos, rega RS7s, clones of ProAc response 1, PMC Twenty 24, rega Kytes, AR4x, AR14s, Stirling LS3/5A, Sonus Faber Concertos had been auditioned here. It was the Sats or the S-400s, and now it's both. The only two speaker systems that have ever really stirred my curiosity. Heaven, if there's any, will be forgetting about the two extra PSU sockets on the rear of CD and SN, and it's not always easy to ignore the B-side of a lovely creature. But I'll do my best.

Max

Tony2011 posted:

Max,

I meant no offence and no need to move your post. I just thought, as Graeme pointed out,  that some of the comments were a little too sentimental, sugary for my palete? That's all.

Enjoy them!

ATB, 

Tony

Understood, thanks. Was palete for palate or for palette? I found it interesting both ways. 

ATB

Max

Max_B posted:
Tony2011 posted:

Max,

I meant no offence and no need to move your post. I just thought, as Graeme pointed out,  that some of the comments were a little too sentimental, sugary for my palete? That's all.

Enjoy them!

ATB, 

Tony

Understood, thanks. Was palete for palate or for palette? I found it interesting both ways. 

ATB

Max

Good. Now for the second English lesson. Try dick and deck. A little Australian accent might help. 

PS: avoyd using iPads with predicktive tits. They are a beat ova  noughtmare!

Dear Max.

I also did the S-400 move some weeks ago. I have had SBLs for about 6 years now, and in comes a chance to try out the S-400. They are different, indeed. But I Reading many wise recomendations about positioning, especially from mr Dark Bear. Elevating the front spikes, and giving them room, made everythin fall into Place. With my nac 12, hicap, 160 (With modified internal Cards), my Tiger paw Akulaed LP12 and my ndac it now sounds fabulous. The sound is bigger and fuller than the SBLs, at the same time it retains speed and punch. Low tones on the piano have such a lovely body. The SBLs has a more intense HF. It can sound more eager and PRATty, but playing my lp12 sounds even more engaging with the Ovator, for example playing Bowie, Solange (RNB), Dylan or M. Davis. Not as in Your face, but more engaging and emotional.

When I put the SBLs back after Three weeks my wife, who prefer the SBL because of its retro look and descreet placement up agaings the wall, looked at me and said "the Ovators sounds much better". I agree. It was like something was missing going back to the SBLs. 1/3 of the information was removed from the scene. Allmost anemic (hope I do not offence anybody here). I can not understand that the Ovator did not sell more. It feels like a 6000 pund loudspeaker in sound, finnish and quality. But, like so many has written, it needs carefull placement.

I allways enjoyed Your post, Max. I remember Your first date With the Ovators did not og well, but I am glad to see you two have gotten together on together now.

From another Ovator-fan.

Fred

Guys

I have my eyes in direction for Ovators for a year now. I like them for estethical (explained perfectly by Max) and practical reasons.  Practical also, since my 9 year old has damaged my midrange driver of my beloveth BW CM1 when I was explaining him the concept of soundwaves / hertz etc... He just tried to feel the vibrations and my Supernait 1 mercilessly hammered the midrange in full control against his finger. It will be the third repair of my speakers upcoming. So, the practical reason for Ovators is that they have metal grills ...

Question. If the Ovators are that good, why are they so cheap? They are s/h cheaper than some designer bag bought on Camps Elyssees.

What is the magic to have them sound good?

How is their bass extention?

Do they prefer to stand in a smaller room or a larger room? (I have 4x3 meters and 11x4.5 available)

Thanks from a potential Ovator owner

Ardbeg10y posted:

Guys

I have my eyes in direction for Ovators for a year now. I like them for estethical (explained perfectly by Max) and practical reasons.  Practical also, since my 9 year old has damaged my midrange driver of my beloveth BW CM1 when I was explaining him the concept of soundwaves / hertz etc... He just tried to feel the vibrations and my Supernait 1 mercilessly hammered the midrange in full control against his finger. It will be the third repair of my speakers upcoming. So, the practical reason for Ovators is that they have metal grills ...

Question. If the Ovators are that good, why are they so cheap? They are s/h cheaper than some designer bag bought on Camps Elyssees.

What is the magic to have them sound good?

How is their bass extention?

Do they prefer to stand in a smaller room or a larger room? (I have 4x3 meters and 11x4.5 available)

Thanks from a potential Ovator owner

Hi - I use mine in a 5m x 12m x 3.5m open plan space and with a 250DR.  They visually don't overpower the room and sound glorious top to bottom. Probably about 2.5m apart and just over that to my seat - Bay window behind so no boundary bass 'enhancement' either.

Firing straight ahead, no tilt. 

Hope that helps,

G

Ardbeg10y posted:

Guys

I have my eyes in direction for Ovators for a year now. I like them for estethical (explained perfectly by Max) and practical reasons.  Practical also, since my 9 year old has damaged my midrange driver of my beloveth BW CM1 when I was explaining him the concept of soundwaves / hertz etc... He just tried to feel the vibrations and my Supernait 1 mercilessly hammered the midrange in full control against his finger. It will be the third repair of my speakers upcoming. So, the practical reason for Ovators is that they have metal grills ...

Question. If the Ovators are that good, why are they so cheap? They are s/h cheaper than some designer bag bought on Camps Elyssees.

What is the magic to have them sound good?

How is their bass extention?

Do they prefer to stand in a smaller room or a larger room? (I have 4x3 meters and 11x4.5 available)

Thanks from a potential Ovator owner

They are some of the fastest, most detailed speakers I've heard. Suitable for all sorts of rooms - difficult to predict how they will fare in each, as there are so many variables.
In my case they happily reside in space of approximately 18 sqm.

Max_B posted:
Hook posted:

Congratulations Max.  Hope you are enjoying your new system.

ATB.

Hook

I am, thanks. There must be something different in at least three factors: the S-400s (no-one will confirm or deny this, but I am sure that this second pair my dealer brought, and I brought by him, sounded a little different from my first one, immediately. Even he noticed it. Like if already run-in, or voiced slightly differently); the room/speaker interaction: they are positioned better; my final conclusion that it was the Sats or the S-400s. And since I already had Sats and they were not always 'enough', I gave S-400s a second chance.

I am not saying that they are perfect, but they come after Marten Design Miles II, Marten Monks, SBL, N-Sats, Arivas, Allaes, Credos, rega RS7s, clones of ProAc response 1, PMC Twenty 24, rega Kytes, AR4x, AR14s, Stirling LS3/5A, Sonus Faber Concertos had been auditioned here. It was the Sats or the S-400s, and now it's both. The only two speaker systems that have ever really stirred my curiosity. Heaven, if there's any, will be forgetting about the two extra PSU sockets on the rear of CD and SN, and it's not always easy to ignore the B-side of a lovely creature. But I'll do my best.

Max

Like you Max, I've tried lots of different speakers in my small, heavily damped listening room (~4x3m). Quite a few sounded fine at shows or in dealer demo rooms, but none sounded better than the 400s once I got them home.

It is possible your first pair had a flaw, or that later models have been quietly improved by Naim. That has certainly been their practice with electronics over the years.  What vintage is your current pair? I bought mine in mid-2011 (s/n 306889).

Hook

PS - Mine sound best with a very small amount of toe-in, but definitley no tilt. Last I heard, BMR drivers liked to kept as level as possible.

GraemeH posted:
Ardbeg10y posted:

Guys

Question. If the Ovators are that good, why are they so cheap?

G

 

Graeme,

when the Ovator S-400s were introduced I remember that their website page included indications that they had been made to replace the Allae. In some of the few remaining 'suggested systems' pages that can still be found, they are ideally coupled with the 155/152 combo, or with the Nait XS. They are not ideally matched with a 500 series. The 600s, if I remember correctly, had a Supernait as natural partner. So, perhaps they are not cheap, they are well designed, well built, properly priced and very cleverly marketed – although history has proved that keeping the prices low hasn't paid: Ovators and Sats are extinct while Statements (or, for that, CD555, NAC552, NAP500, SuperLumina...) sell. 

Let's start wondering if the discontinued products were, in part and really, just the ones we now consider 'cheap'...

Max

Hook posted:

Like you Max, I've tried lots of different speakers in my small, heavily damped listening room (~4x3m). Quite a few sounded fine at shows or in dealer demo rooms, but none sounded better than the 400s once I got them home.

It is possible your first pair had a flaw, or that later models have been quietly improved by Naim. That has certainly been their practice with electronics over the years.  What vintage is your current pair?  Mine are early 2011 (s/n 306889).

Hook

PS - Mine sound best with a very small amount of toe-in, but definitley no tilt. Last I heard, BMR drivers liked to kept as level as possible.

Hi,

mine are 337195. I use a small amount of toe-in mainly because I love to see the black panel and the two thin lines of the visible strips of the sides... Very elegant. Sounds good too, luckily.

M

Max_B posted:
The 600s, if I remember correctly, had a Supernait as natural partner.

202/ 200.

(Apologies Max, my contribution adds almost nothing to your thread except that a newbie 202/ 200 owner who is looking for new speakers and had previously discounted S-600s as being unsuitable, would now know that Naim think otherwise and might look for a used pair).

Glad the S-400s are good for you.

C.

 

GraemeH posted:

Hi - I use mine in a 5m x 12m x 3.5m open plan space and with a 250DR.  They visually don't overpower the room and sound glorious top to bottom. Probably about 2.5m apart and just over that to my seat - Bay window behind so no boundary bass 'enhancement' either.

Firing straight ahead, no tilt. 

Hope that helps,

G

Thanks, G.

I've a house build in the twenties, and it has a bay windows too, just behind the sofa. Currently, I've only BW CM1's in the bookshelves (yes, really) which are next to the french doors at the other side of the room. I have the feeling that this bay windows is having a positive impact on the sound. Don't know why, but the room sounds good when having speakers which have a pretty forward 'pushing' sound - but the room makes it round and enjoyable. Same speakers, different room, no luck. Previously, I had some floorstanders having side speakers too. These speakers did not fire properly in the room, but sound was more hanging around them.

Thanks to others too for this great topic.

Max_B posted:
 

mine are 337195. I use a small amount of toe-in mainly because I love to see the black panel and the two thin lines of the visible strips of the sides... Very elegant. Sounds good too, luckily.

M

How much toe in exactly ?

R.

rsch posted:
Max_B posted:
 

mine are 337195. I use a small amount of toe-in mainly because I love to see the black panel and the two thin lines of the visible strips of the sides... Very elegant. Sounds good too, luckily.

M

How much toe in exactly ?

R.

I also use a small amount of 'toe-in' -
If you imagine a parallel line (with speakers in a full frontal position), the inside spikes are moved by 1 cm away from that line.
That's what works for me, in my room.

I encourage experimentation - best if you get a tape measure and use it when moving speakers - to get the distance and the toe-in precisely the same.
I must have moved my Ovators at least 5 or 6 times until I found a good spot for them.

Adam Zielinski posted:

I also use a small amount of 'toe-in' -
If you imagine a parallel line (with speakers in a full frontal position), the inside spikes are moved by 1 cm away from that line.
That's what works for me, in my room.

I encourage experimentation - best if you get a tape measure and use it when moving speakers - to get the distance and the toe-in precisely the same.
I must have moved my Ovators at least 5 or 6 times until I found a good spot for them.

Bit off topic ...

By speaker positioning I learned how sensitive human hearing is. I have 2 speakers about 1.8 meters apart and between it a TV in my TV room. There was an very audible unbalance. So I thought that my Nait 5 was broken or needing a service or the balance internally changede. It came out that 1 of the speakers was 1 centimeter closer to the listening position than the other.

This is in my case 0.3% difference in distance - and sound travels by about 300 meters per second ...

... never thought that ears are that good! (and I think I have 'normal' (however well-trained)) ears.

Ardbeg10y posted:
Adam Zielinski posted:

I also use a small amount of 'toe-in' -
If you imagine a parallel line (with speakers in a full frontal position), the inside spikes are moved by 1 cm away from that line.
That's what works for me, in my room.

I encourage experimentation - best if you get a tape measure and use it when moving speakers - to get the distance and the toe-in precisely the same.
I must have moved my Ovators at least 5 or 6 times until I found a good spot for them.

Bit off topic ...

By speaker positioning I learned how sensitive human hearing is. I have 2 speakers about 1.8 meters apart and between it a TV in my TV room. There was an very audible unbalance. So I thought that my Nait 5 was broken or needing a service or the balance internally changede. It came out that 1 of the speakers was 1 centimeter closer to the listening position than the other.

This is in my case 0.3% difference in distance - and sound travels by about 300 meters per second ...

... never thought that ears are that good! (and I think I have 'normal' (however well-trained)) ears.

It's not even the absolute position of the speakers. The human ear will compensate for the differences you've described (in an evenly laid out room).


I'm pretty sure it was the uneven reverbations that were causing the perceived difference.

rsch posted:
Max_B posted:
 

mine are 337195. I use a small amount of toe-in mainly because I love to see the black panel and the two thin lines of the visible strips of the sides... Very elegant. Sounds good too, luckily.

M

How much toe in exactly ?

R.

Roberto,

it's difficult for me to quantify the amount of toe-in. I'll try to take a pic from my sitting position to show you what I mean.

I can see the front of the 400s from my sitting position, which is 3 mt from the front panels, and barely the sides. My idea is to have exactly the same cm or so of visible side of each speaker 'framing' the front. It may be a more aesthetic than technical approach, but it seems to work acoustically too.

For a more detailed info, here are the distances of the corners of the speakers from the rear wall: inner, 26 cm; outer, 32 cm. Someone with a geometry-gifted mind could easily calculate the amount of ° of my toe-in. So far, I haven't experienced any excess bass. They get better each day, and I sincerely think I have found the right compromise between a 'domestic' and a 'Naimistic' presentation.  

Max

Haim Ronen posted:

Max,

Is the left speaker more toed in? I am able to see some of its wooden panel (facing out) while the same panel is invisible on the right speaker. It's probably only my photographer's eye but I feel obliged to report.

H

Parallax at play Haim. Look how much higher the right speaker sits in the photo.

G

GraemeH posted:
Haim Ronen posted:

Max,

Is the left speaker more toed in? I am able to see some of its wooden panel (facing out) while the same panel is invisible on the right speaker. It's probably only my photographer's eye but I feel obliged to report.

H

Parallax at play Haim. Look how much higher the right speaker sits in the photo.

G

A polite way to say that my picture is badly executed... I know, I am not good at it. 

Anyway, Haim is right: I measured again, and although the quotes I gave are approximated by a very few mm, the left speaker's inner corner is 1 cm closer to the rear wall than the right one's. Haim's photographer's eyes are working well.

As a sign of good will – and in homage to my renovation spirit – I'll now go to the living room with a meter and correct the difference. I can't promise I'll be able to report any audible difference. But I have a question: supposing I place the two 400s in exactly the same position relatively to the wall, by mm's; what with my position on the sofa each time I sit down, unless I am immobilized like Hannibal Lecter on the same precise spot each time?

Thanks

M

 

Why is this precise / sweet spot so important? In my living room, I don't want to have a clear point where all the sound concentrates and should give the feeling that you are on the location of the mic in the recording (and put the same designer chair as many people have). I just want good music in all of my room and one of the reasons why I (theoritically) like Ovators is that they have wide-dispertion and therefore should be less prone to fail creating a stereo image or so. For 4 part Jazz I could imagine that this is important, but for orchestras etc, what is the relevance of knowing the location of the piccolo?

Maybe I should get Shahinian Arcs ...

The Ovators are the least fussy speakers I've had. Mine are positioned all wrong at the moment pending an extension across the back of my house. They almost face across each other and still manage to sound good. I can sit eating a meal in my kitchen with one speaker on view through the serving hatch and they still get me tapping my feet. It's one of the advantages of the BMR.

I love them, both of them equally, even though I can only see one through the serving hatch. 

I've been asked about my 400s' toe-in; I measured it, Haim noted a discordance and I corrected it. Dark Bear once used to suggest trying changes in mm to find the perfect spot for the speakers. Now we discover Columbus's egg – the person's perfect spot has no sense and is not possible. I've read of soupiness and of Halleluja-ness; I like to post but I hate to cross the line. Maybe it's time to call it a day. For me, the subject is close. What's more, I fear falling back into perennial dissatisfaction and regulation paranoia and itch to change like the plague.

I had begun saying, basically, I have tried again with the 400s and I'm satisfied. That's it. But thinking of it, it was like coming to Caesar's funeral to praise him. There's no 400s anymore, after all. My three Naim units are all discontinued in the versions I have. Even if I had posted enthusiastically about 272/250DR I'd be late. Shall we close the thread and go to have a walk in the sun?

M

(Richard, I'm glad my Björk thing made you smile, I hoped it did)

Richard Dane posted:

Thank you Max.  What a lovely post to read after a fairly chilly day baby-sitting a Bentley at the Acoustica show.

I also liked the IBLs, but never had the nerve to buy some – I mean, would you date Björk lightheartedly?

Very nicely put. It made me smile. Many an IBL admirer would be nodding their head at this...

Much head nodding here. Even though I've moved the main system on to Isobariks I'll not be selling my IBLs. They will end up in a second system.

Ardbeg10y posted:

Why is this precise / sweet spot so important? In my living room, I don't want to have a clear point where all the sound concentrates and should give the feeling that you are on the location of the mic in the recording (and put the same designer chair as many people have). I just want good music in all of my room and one of the reasons why I (theoritically) like Ovators is that they have wide-dispertion and therefore should be less prone to fail creating a stereo image or so. For 4 part Jazz I could imagine that this is important, but for orchestras etc, what is the relevance of knowing the location of the piccolo?

One potential issue with wide dispersion speakers can be the negative effect of increased early reflections from side walls, depending of course on the room. But certainly, unless you only wish to listen aLone and confined to the same spot, a larger good sounding area is desirable.

I actually often move my speakers in my room, and their non ideal position allowing use of projector screen they sound best when not sat in the prime listening position, while when positioned for the latter they don't sound so good in some other pars of the room - but actually that is quite reasonable, even if it does mean walking them about from time to time. The penalty for an awkward room, but gets around the tricky acoustics and dual room use.

 

incidentally, I think the piccolo player thinks it is pretty important to know the location of his instrument, especially  when the score is just coming up to his bit: its a small enough instrument to lose!

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