Munich

Just got back to the hotel, focal utopias made my head hurt, the smaller katas or whatever were more tolerable but still sounded forced with a papery colouration, which is quite odd as I doubt they contain any paper. Best sound of the day was the big MBLs which I’m still trying to forget but heard classical only, would need to hear them play some Motorhead, after I’ve won the lottery. 

I do think the Utopia's need an acoustically damped environment to work well. The beryllium tweeter is quite bright, which in the right room gives great detail and insight, but i have also heard them sound harsh and 'shouty' in many hotel room dems.

Alba1320 posted:

As for the inevitable (and some might say 'detrimental'?) presence of Focal loudspeakers, realistically, is there a 'snowball's chance in hell' that Naim would choose to use them, were it not for the 'merger'?

Perhaps worth pointing out that some of us here like Focal speakers and think they complement Naim kit very well.  Indeed, some of us were pairing Focal speakers with Naim before the merger occurred.   

MDS posted:
Alba1320 posted:

As for the inevitable (and some might say 'detrimental'?) presence of Focal loudspeakers, realistically, is there a 'snowball's chance in hell' that Naim would choose to use them, were it not for the 'merger'?

Perhaps worth pointing out that some of us here like Focal speakers and think they complement Naim kit very well.  Indeed, some of us were pairing Focal speakers with Naim before the merger occurred.   

Well said MDS.

I liked the 1007Be when I heard them but my Rega Maia couldn’t supply enough current. I had some 916 floor standers at home with the Maia but though they sounded great in the shop demo room they could strip paint in my livingroom. I’ve not enjoyed a Focal since. Maybe sopras would be OK but Focal don’t get an easy ride just because of the merger.

DaveBk posted:
MDS posted:
Alba1320 posted:

As for the inevitable (and some might say 'detrimental'?) presence of Focal loudspeakers, realistically, is there a 'snowball's chance in hell' that Naim would choose to use them, were it not for the 'merger'?

Perhaps worth pointing out that some of us here like Focal speakers and think they complement Naim kit very well.  Indeed, some of us were pairing Focal speakers with Naim before the merger occurred.   

Well said MDS.

It would be interesting to hear if anyone who likes Focal speakers has heard them, or even liked them, at any of these Naim show demos? I’m certainly not seeking to criticise anyone’s choice of speakers, just curious as to why opinions are so divided. 

I have owned my Sopra 1s for a couple of months,and could not be happier.I have a fully treated room,using Viscoustics panels.Head to head with Dyn special 40s,they were the clear winner.The new confidence standmount is way out of my price range,so I am glad I grabbed these while I could...a bargain.

ChrisSU posted:

It would be interesting to hear if anyone who likes Focal speakers has heard them, or even liked them, at any of these Naim show demos? I’m certainly not seeking to criticise anyone’s choice of speakers, just curious as to why opinions are so divided. 

The short answer is no, I haven’t. I thought the Grand Utopia EMs at the Bristol Show where the Statement was launched were really bad, just wrong for the room. When I was looking for new speakers to replace my Ovator S600s, my dealer suggested the Scala Utopias... I was sceptical, but took him up on the offer to listen to them in another customer’s room. A few weeks later I visted his house and spent a few hours chilling to some great tunes, and became hooked on what the Scalas could do - deep powerful bass, clear open mids, with fantastic detail at the top end. I bought my pair a few months later and have never looked back.

MDS posted:
Alba1320 posted:

As for the inevitable (and some might say 'detrimental'?) presence of Focal loudspeakers, realistically, is there a 'snowball's chance in hell' that Naim would choose to use them, were it not for the 'merger'?

Perhaps worth pointing out that some of us here like Focal speakers and think they complement Naim kit very well.  Indeed, some of us were pairing Focal speakers with Naim before the merger occurred.   

I was alluding to the, now seemingly commonplace, criticism of Naim's show dems in recent years, using Focal speakers, whereas systems using Naim with different speakers at the same shows, often seem to make a more favourable impression.

I don't recall much (any?) mention of Focal amongst Naim owners before the 'merger', so it's interesting to see your comment about using Focal prior to this.

And, to be clear, I wasn't giving my personal opinion of Focal speakers, and even if I was, so long as you, and other owners are happy with your choice, what's the problem?

Chris,

I doubt you'll get any definitive or meaningful answer to that. I would guess that it comes down to speakers being a very personal choice.  Interestingly I think that the "better" the speaker, the more divisive and extreme the opinion.  Take Naim speakers; some love them and would consider little or nothing else, others hate them and wouldn't give home to a pair even if paid to do so. I'd imagine it's similar for some others too - on the evidence of this forum, B&W springs to mind, oh and Focal too, as just two of a number of other speaker makers who divide opinion one way or the other.

Having previously heard the speakers being used in Munich, I did wonder if the SP 1 would have been a better bet to portray the quality of the new streamer. But Naim have decided otherwise, but speakers are very divisive, so we need to understand that people hear differently, have different  music tastes.

Interesting question Chris,  I'm not sure people who like Focal speakers necessarily like (or dislike) them all,  or for that matter like/dislike all aspects of them.   I like the Focal Sopra-1's but I dislike the looks, truth be told I dislike the look of all the Sopra look speakers. I recently heard the new Kanta's & realy liked them.  I also recently heard the Scala Utopia's,  horrible, unnatural & weird.

yeti42 posted:

Just got back to the hotel, focal utopias made my head hurt, the smaller katas or whatever were more tolerable but still sounded forced with a papery colouration, which is quite odd as I doubt they contain any paper. Best sound of the day was the big MBLs which I’m still trying to forget but heard classical only, would need to hear them play some Motorhead, after I’ve won the lottery. 

They also sound good with heavy music, Thriller sounded very good some years ago.

Richard Dane posted:

Chris,

I doubt you'll get any definitive or meaningful answer to that. I would guess that it comes down to speakers being a very personal choice.  Interestingly I think that the "better" the speaker, the more divisive and extreme the opinion.  Take Naim speakers; some love them and would consider little or nothing else, others hate them and wouldn't give home to a pair even if paid to do so. I'd imagine it's similar for some others too - on the evidence of this forum, B&W springs to mind, oh and Focal too, as just two of a number of other speaker makers who divide opinion one way or the other.

Point taken, Richard. Personally, I would never own a pair of Focals because I dislike the way they look, so this is of purely academic interest to me. Out of perhaps 6 or 8 Naim/Focal systems I’ve heard at shows, I have never detected any enthusiasm amongst listeners for any of them, so divisive is not a term that springs to mind. 

Still, it feels a bit mean to harp on about this too much on a forum hosted by Naim, so I’ll leave it at that. 

Richard Dane posted:

Like myself, the few people who have been lucky enough to hear the ND555 up until now, have agreed to keep their powder dry until it's absolutely ready and shipping.  Which is fair enough, as until then it's always work in progress.

As for Munich, it's ostensibly a trade show that lets in the public for the weekend.  The trade and public alike go there to see what's new, what's what, and talk to likeminded and similarly interested people.  It's not the place to make serious judgements on kit by listening under show conditions or to conduct comparisons or reviews. For one thing, whatever speakers are used they will doubtless divide opinion (have we really forgotten the amount of hate Naim used to get when they used their own speakers at shows?).   A proper dealer demo or a home demo is far better for this. Which may be why there are no reports, or at least no reports that anybody would take seriously, on the ND555.  Once it starts appearing in dealers shops, then I have no doubt we will have reports.

Oh, and as for placing an order on something like an ND555 before it's ready to go.  I've got no problem with that.  It's called having faith in a company and its products to deliver the highest level of performance, based upon a track record of having repeatedly and successfully done just that.

This is expectation management  done expertly, Richard.  Congratulations !

Alba1320 posted:

What caught your attention on Day 1, Bert?

I will write a longer report later. But the following thing impressed me....

1. The ND555 - will explain later as it was a bit more difficult due to the Focals, but my 2nd audition worked better, much more to follow.

2. As always the topend MBL system is always a joy to hear under all conditions, but also close to 400K so even cheaper then the naim setup :-)

3. Atohm while I only heard a drum solo and couldn’t return for some real music.

4. Van der Steen speakers sounded very insightful with classical.

5. Lindemann DAC with direct streaming from high res audio from Tord Gustavsen, very nice VFM.

 

I guess I will add some things on the 2nd day and will come with a broader reporting on everything.

And an apology to William who I met at the show. I went on quite quickly as I wanted to hear the next demo.

I have really enjoyed my Focal 1008be IIs, however there have benn a number of tracks/albums where I had issues, as MDS can confirm. However, two days ago I solved the issues I was having. Played all those usual suspects without issue. My system is now singing. The moral of the tale? If your Focals are not sounding good look at what is happening in front of them, room acoustics, etc.

M

Always nice as well, Gauder speakers and the unsurpassed Thomas Hintze playing the DJ. Go and see him when you can. The system was less impressive as usual as well they had less expensive speakers while still good. I personally liked the combinations of the earlier yeas, with the top electronics of AVM with the Berlina’s while the current electronics where also quite special. From Westend ....

 

 

Avant-garde Acoustic had again some impressive horns. While it’s always impressive at first sight, it was a bit bass heavy. Not so much with Oscar Peterson, but the Dire Straits was to heavy in my opinion. I also have the feeling that horns can sometimes be a bit edgy, like seen with another brand, not the case with Avant-garde, who come close to perfect....

 

Will have some more pictures of the ND555 later. Two things puzzling me. As we go for ultimate performance. Why this big WLAN attena’s, wouldn’t they interfere with the absolute highest quality of music. And the same question for the screen. I always got told for the current devices to swithch of the Displays to be a t the absolute best performance...... while I by the way couldn’t complain about the performance...

The screen was something they have paid great attention to, the problem was not so much affecting the sound. These screens are being developed so fast that they are now on the 2nd or 3 rd generation since they started the project. They will have purchased enough of the launch ones to cove future sales and warranty.

You don’t have to fit the wifi and  bluetooth antennas.

Gaby ( my wife) thought the Utopuas were good with dance music, there was no acoustic music played, unless they made it unrecognisable. She also thought the room too large for the kantas, volume on the 202 was at 11 o'clock.

The Kondo room sounded good but only played jazz. Magico and Wilson had a good sound.

Heard some good scandi jazz/folk in the vitus room but fail to hear how they suduced some Naim owners away from their 500s.

So let’s talk about the main events. First the ND555 and later the NDX. 

First thing to say was that they had organized the entry into the rooms into an odd way. You had to register yourself on a not very well working French keyboard. At the NDX one I couldn’t even find the dot and it crashed. The idea as such was ok, to ensure no overbooking at not people popping in an out, but the result was rather cumbersome.

The first demo was a problem, they had some technical issues in the first demo and the stuff wasn’t yet at it’s peak, so I had something I need to go again and hear it properly.

which I did after lunch. The demo worked and was much better moderated. So besides the odd effect that the Focals are not my favorites, I found them in this setup much more digestible. They had a good set of demo pieces to show prat and detail, so as such it gave a good impression. So if I tune out the effects of the Focals and the Statement, what did I notice about the ND555

1. Massive PRAT, incredible and very enjoyable. The transcends of notes are working perfect. 

2. Soundstage is incredible. You don’t hear so often that type of sound stage

3. Detail retrieval, you could hear things happening which I wouldn’t hear in other setups. 

4. Tonality was right on the spot, sometimes a bit bloat in bass, but I had the feeling it was more the speakers given the rest of the accuracy, or perhaps still something to improve.

5. It sounded sometimes so perfect, so effortless.

now of course - I am not sure what effect the other components had on the picture. But I have heard the statement with Wilson Benesch and Linn streamer. And in comparison I would say , much better PRAT detail retrieval similar or better.

So while I don’t know the CD555 - I can belief the claim that’s Naim’s best source. Let’s see if I am right in real circumstances with less accomplished other components.....

 

More photos to follow. And I do understand that people might be less positive as they get too much taken away by the effects of the speakers. While I had the feeling that the speakers had some negative effects - but that it was okish. Also a point to remark the sound in the morning was by far not so good as the demo I had after lunch, and no it wasn’t me....

Why on earth Naim haven't put the ND555 with the 552 / 500, I don't understand... well I do, they are dem-ing their very best kit, but that doesn't show the ND555 in its proper place.  There are just many more 500 series customers than Statement customers (and I'm one of them).

Playlist of the demo as far as I have it right..

 

The Wheel by Sohn, great

Use Me by Junior Wells

Dance of the Tumblers of the Snowmaiden by the Minnesota Orchestra

casino Nation by Jackson Browne

Louie’s Lullaby by Beats Antique

and Urban Flow by Thomas Siffling

 

at the NDX I also heard the great Halleluhjah by Espen Lind

and Song for Strayhorn by Garry Mulligan and Chet Baker

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Bobby72Yetizonefernar
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