The need to 'play away' from home once in a while is a human failing, and why not? It does us good to go exploring from time to time, if only to re-confirm our current choices.
Following a recent advertising email from that Scottish company, I booked an individual listening session with an Exakt DSM and Exakt 350 speakers... so a significant box reduction from my own NDS/2x555PS, 552, 500, B&W Diamonds, and if one believes the incoming email, a significant improvement in SQ.
Here's what I wrote to the dealer who hosted me for half a day earlier this week:
Thanks for your time on Monday, I found the experience very enjoyable.
One possible explanation for my ‘understated reaction’ is that my Naim system comes very close to what I heard in your dem room, another explanation may be that at my age my hearing is beginning to diminish (OK, is well diminished! ) and the subtleties that are apparent to younger folk are nowadays lost to me.
I did, as I said I would, listen to my system soon after returning home; in particular to that track from the album ‘Trio’. You are absolutely right, there are all three ladies on there – I’d previously missed the one on the right of Dolly (is that Emmylou?), but on careful listening she’s there OK. It was also quite clear that the bass rendition on the Exakt 350 system outperforms my own by a significant margin. However, the Naim system seems to enable more precise placement and separation both laterally and in depth of the components of the performance. Whether this is an accurate portrayal of the original recording engineer’s intention, or whether, as you suggested, the Exact system is giving a more ‘natural’ portrayal, it’s difficult to discern without having been in the studio at the time, so when I’m sat listening to the Exakt system, I’m judging it by what I’m used to hearing – that must be a perennial obstacle for you, but nonetheless, one you’re accustomed to !
You asked and I didn’t answer fully, what system I’m listening to at the moment: it’s mostly Naim, an NDS streamer with 2x555PS feeding a NAC552DR pre through Chord Music interconnect, feeding a NAP500 power amp through Chord Sarum Super Array, driving B&W 802 diamond speakers through Naim Super Lumia cables. There’s other peripheral analogue and digital sources too, as I mentioned.
As I see it, then, the advantage to me of the Exakt system is a reduced box count; I don’t hear a significant uplift in sound quality. This being the case, I shall stick with what I have for the time being.
So, I've ventured out and scratched the itch, as they say, and returned very satisfied to live with my Naim setup. It's an exercise I recommend to you every few years... it's actually about 30 years since I owned a fully active Scottish system and in between that and my current Naim system, I dabbled with some American and Canadian options, but I'm happy now and can return to my listening pleasures, satisfied that what I have is the best for me right now.
Note to Richard - not sure if I'm supposed to mention model numbers in the Scottish heirarchy, but since this is very close to their top-of-the-line setup, it serves to put my comments in perspective, I hope.