XS2 vs Sonneteer Alabaster

So, I started looking at my components again. Today I had a Sonneteer Alabaster delivered on loan from McKenzie Hifi in Northants. 

I'm waiting also on:

Naim Dav V1 & Chord Hugo.

Plan to try an Orton, Sugden A21SE, SN2.

Current: 2Qute (+ TP 12/2) + Nait XS2 + Proac 118.

Chord Shawline RCA (Despite what people say about cables last, this has made my system much, much better. To the point I almost cancelled the trialling other things. Recently tried TQ Black cables and they made my system sound irritiable like a kid on crack (I know many rate them but it didn't help here).

I've also moved my system round after advice from Nigel at Chord and that's helped further. By the way, Nigel is fantastic chap. A credit to the Chord Company. 

Chord Silver Plus USB. Chord Odyssey 3m. Tried NAC A5. Didn't appreciate it ... (Lambast me!) 

Anyway, back to the Sonneteer. (In the context of my current system).

I read the Sonneteer was sweet, warm and musical. So I thought this might suit my ear'oles. 

It's already run in (demo version). And now been on 1 hour and 30 minutes. It's already feeling like a radiator on level 3. And there's no remote (long story). It's built like a tank though. Quality finishing.

Sound wise on the few tracks I've had chance to listen to so far;

It's MUCH more obvious, forward and jovial that the XS2. Saturday night versus the XS2's Thursday night feel. It's much wider than the XS2. More surrounding. I want to say it's smoother and rounder but it doesn't feel as moody or sophisticated as the XS2. Actually the things I were hoping to solve actually sound more obvious here. It darts around the room much more. Vibrancy is the word.

It's not as grippy, clean & snappy as the XS2 (but the size of it sort of masks that). I find it less together. Just doesn't seem to have the same tightness and cohesion. But it's not lacking liveliness. If you like that sort of thing. 

I'm finding it's drawing my attention more but not in the same way as the XS2. The XS2 draws me into a transfixed state of stare more when I am following the basslines and the mood. XS2 is darker/drier. The Alabaster is unmissable but it doesn't have the mystery and darkness of the XS2. 

Voices are softer and more present like they are floating on clouds but feel less knitted into the mix - stand out more. They feel also, dare I say a bit more 'ssss'. 

All of the strings and orchestral stuff in the background are more obvious and present. 

So far, it's a quite different sound to my ears which is bigger and more lively but I'm not enjoying the music near as much as my XS2 at the moment (Maybe need to adjust a little). It's very very open. Things feel a tiny little bit splishy and sploshy by comparison (Perhaps perceptive due to what i am used to). A spot less solid. We'll see how it settles. I've been known to go full circle! Ha

Will report back as it progress. 

The remote (or lack of) is niggling slightly. 



Moderated Post: I have had to remove reference to a company who have requested that they and their products are not mentioned or discussed here.

Original Post

The Alabaster is already back in the box and ready to ship off back to the dealer. Just wasn't working for me. Can see why some might like it. But I think I'm a Naim man. I just miss the Naimness when I try other amplifiers.

Got the XS2 back on and Everything But The Girl - Language of Life on and it's jiving away again with authority. 

 

After reading several favorable comments regarding the Alabaster I had pinned it as a potential replacement for my XS 2. I finally had a chance to listen to it lately and, while it was OK, I left somewhat disappointed. Could have been the setup, source, etc so I'll give the benefit of the doubt to those who gave it high praise but, at least for now, I won't be trading in my XS 2 for one either. Remote control, headphone output and no heat are other pluses that the XS 2 has over the Alabaster.

Iconoclast posted:

After reading several favorable comments regarding the Alabaster I had pinned it as a potential replacement for my XS 2. I finally had a chance to listen to it lately and, while it was OK, I left somewhat disappointed. Could have been the setup, source, etc so I'll give the benefit of the doubt to those who gave it high praise but, at least for now, I won't be trading in my XS 2 for one either. Remote control, headphone output and no heat are other pluses that the XS 2 has over the Alabaster.

I'm a bit at a loss regarding the reviews/comments I read about. 

The main problem I had with it was the lack of tightness of the sound. I just couldn't find any groove in 3 hours of listening.

3 hours is a enough with my favourite tracks.

Unit was fully run in. 

its perfectly OK to experience what you did but its just that one hears the system and not the amplifier alone.

This is certainly not a reflection on Naim or Sonneteer - just a reflection of the musical preferences of the buyer alone.

As good a reputation that any brand has ( including Naim ) - it takes the System and the Room.. to make magic and not just 1 component...  Wayne Rooney fails to score in many football matches  and only scores the odd goal in a few matches... 

regards

I to auditioned the Alabaster and the much loved Exposure 3010S2 Integrated Amplifier against the Nait XS2.

Both the alabaster and exposure where great integrated amps, although I found the exposure closer competition for the Nait XS2.

The Nait XS2 has a speed, punch and rhythmic agility other integrateds at its level cant quite match.

 

The Alabaster is a different beast when using one of the direct (DIR) inputs, which feed a passive preamp section. In this mode, it took me further into music (depth of insight) than the SN2. If you do audition it, be sure to compare the passive (direct) and active inputs. When not using direct, I would agree with the OP.

There's a review on the web ; search for 'sonneteer alabaster review canuck audio".

Jan

I think I've been unfair to a few things.

I've since found that my 2Qute has been the source of a very digital, harsh, shouty sound and in replacing this with a Hugo on loan everything sounds unbelievably better amd more natural.

Maybe the Sonneteer amps could be very good after all. 

At least I know where my problems are. Mac is going next. Melco or Zennith. 

ohh !!

but now that you have realized the problem - maybe you may want to have the Alabaster over once again and give it a longer run and maybe see if you can understand what it does.

Look forward to your notes on it - whenever and if ever it happens - and on the Exposure 3010s2 too..vis a vis the Xs2 ( with and without Flatcap )

I did read on the net - shoot our between the Rega Elicit-R , Naim XS2 ans the Exposure 3010s2 - and it was an interesting conclusion.

But hey.. YMMV..

regards

You should try the Orton. I demoed one against my XS2 only earlier this month and found it to be a massive improvement. It had bucket loads of drive and rythm but was also extremely smooth and musical. It's back at the dealer now, but I have pretty much set my heart on it.

The rest of my system is Ndac/XPS and Proac D20Rs.

Likes (0)
×
×
×
×