Will Flatcap2 on CD5x give me the sound I want?

I recently bought my first Naim item - a secondhand CD5x, to see how it compares with my Marantz CD17 MkII KI Signature CD player.  The rest of my system is Arcam A85/Arcam P85 bi-amped with Monitor Audio Gold Reference 20 speakers.  Good quality interconects and speaker cables.  I was hoping to prefer the Naim CD5x so I can sell the Marantz.

After a lot of A-B testing, I wouldn't say I find the CD5x "better" than my Marantz, just slightly different.  Although I like the famous musicality and PRaT characteristics of the CD5x, I find the sound of the Marantz has slightly more excitement, a bit more "zing", slightly brighter sound.  By comparison, the CD5x seems slightly too polite/boring with my particular system.  I wish I could combine the best characteristics of the two CD players into one!!

My gut feeling is to stick with the Naim CD player route, but what to do?........

Question;   If I get a Flatcap2 for the CD5x is it likely to give me that bit of extra "zing" (bit more brightness and attack) I get with the Marantz?  Or maybe a HiCap?   Or should I ditch the CD5x and try a CDX2 which I have heard has a more exciting sound than the CD5x?

Your advice on this forum would be very welcome!!

Thanks,

Nick

 

Original Post

Nick, From what you say, I think a CDX2 might be the simplest and best solution. This from someone who runs a later iteration of your CD player and a later Flatcap (see profile) with loads of life in it. Buying an old FC2 (very likely unserviced) is unlikely to give you what you want from a CD5x imo.

C.

I very cautiously try a useful reply. First, I have a CDX2 and have had I believe all  the Naim CDPs bar the 555.

Once, in a friend's store, we half-jokingly compared an NDX/XPSDR and a Marantz multi-format player whose model name I do not remember, around €900, into 282/HCDR/NAP250. We obviously used CD replayed live and their rip made on purpose via a UnitiServe.

Most of the time, I found it difficult to prefer one or the other, and a little number of times to tell which was which. The price difference was more or less 1 vs 11.

That said, first you should consider a Flatcap2 x, which is the equivalent to your CD5x ( a very capable player); it will probably (which means according to my own experience, and nothing more) add some sparkle, better focus and some dynamics. But don't expect miracles from a FlatCap: it is just the first minimum step over built-in power supplies of the corresponding CDP or power amp's PSU out for the pre, just dual-railing the 24V and with possibly larger capacitors.

Or you actually look for a decently recent CDX2, which - even without an external PSU – and at the right price, should give you what you're looking for. Two other CDPs I have had and which could fulfill your requirements are the reg Apollo (or Saturn) and the older Naim CD3.5.

Hope it helps,

Best

Massimo

A CDX2 would be great if you can afford it, but first, how long have you had the CD5XS for? If you haven’t already done this, I would suggest that you just use it for at least a couple of weeks to get used to it’s sound. Then change back to the Marantz and you will have your answer. 

Thanks for the feedback so far guys.  Yes, I am leaving the CD5x switched on 24/7.  I have only had it a few days, so will stick with it for a couple of weeks before deciding vs the Marantz CDP. 

I have had mixed opinions (here and elsewhere) ref adding a Flatcap2 to the CD5x. Some think it will add the "sparkle" I want; others saying no - it will keep the same overall sound but just add a little definition, separation, weight in the bass etc. 

The CDX2 option sounds interesting, but the price is high (especially if you add on an external PSU).  Not sure I want to open that Pandora's Box as regards escalating expenditure!  And it may not give me what I want anyway....

I still rate the Marantz player highly.  When I first bought it, I preferred it to Cyrus and Arcam players at a similar price point (£1200 in 2002).  It's just that I always fancied trying a Naim CDP.....

Anyway, will give it a few more weeks before deciding.

Further comments and advice very welcome!

The flatcap 2x will give the 5x added zip and drive. The Hicap will make it sound, to me, like a demented thing. I tried both and the flatcap was just right. I actually prefer the flatcapped 5x to the CDX2, which to me sounds a bit unnatural unless it has an XPS powering it. Others will, of course, disagree. 

Crazeenick posted:

I recently bought my first Naim item - a secondhand CD5x, to see how it compares with my Marantz CD17 MkII KI Signature CD player.  The rest of my system is Arcam A85/Arcam P85 bi-amped with Monitor Audio Gold Reference 20 speakers.  Good quality interconects and speaker cables.  I was hoping to prefer the Naim CD5x so I can sell the Marantz.

After a lot of A-B testing, I wouldn't say I find the CD5x "better" than my Marantz, just slightly different.  Although I like the famous musicality and PRaT characteristics of the CD5x, I find the sound of the Marantz has slightly more excitement, a bit more "zing", slightly brighter sound.  By comparison, the CD5x seems slightly too polite/boring with my particular system.  I wish I could combine the best characteristics of the two CD players into one!!

My gut feeling is to stick with the Naim CD player route, but what to do?........

Question;   If I get a Flatcap2 for the CD5x is it likely to give me that bit of extra "zing" (bit more brightness and attack) I get with the Marantz?  Or maybe a HiCap?   Or should I ditch the CD5x and try a CDX2 which I have heard has a more exciting sound than the CD5x?

Your advice on this forum would be very welcome!!

Thanks,

Nick

 

If possible could you try a Nait 5i or XS amp ?

The latter might benefit of a FC2

I once tried biamping and its was terrible

A complete Rega setup would no doubt be great too

The FC2x, indeed originally designed for the 122x pre and the CD5x, will bring air and more definition at both ends of the spectrum for a more relaxed presentation. The HiCap will give a more forward and driven sound that may be more tiring for some. 

It could very well be that the HiCap is the answer to the OP. I would be careful with the DR version and can only suggest to try it here more than ever, in situ. 🤓

Chag -

Nick

My experience (with a CD5XS) rather echoes what HH reported.  I found that adding a HiCap was too much for me.  It changed the nature of the player to something one poster described as “manic”.  Others seem to like the effect, but if you intend to explore this route, I would recommend a demo first or buying pre-loved at a price at which you can sell on without significant loss.  OTOH a FlatCap gave a subtle but significant and, to my ears, well worthwhile lift in performance.  However, it was really more of the same and I'm not fully convinced it would give you the change you’re after.

There's also something to system synergy and I echo Perol in wondering if replacing your Arcam amp with a Nait might bring out the best in your CD5 and give you the sound you’re looking for.  When I had my XS system (Nait, CD5, FlatCap) it took a SN and nDAC to give a significant improvement.

Roger

Interesting summations. We all hear things differently with different expectations. The CD5x has been my sole digital source for seven years now. I've used it with a FCXS and HCDR. The FCXS plumps the bass and provides more air. The HCDR even more so and better in both regards. Neither PSU ended up staying for me as they detracted from the natural, pleasing, balanced sonic character of the 5x. I play a lot of HDCDs and found the bass on the 5x became overbearing with a PSU. Plus I don't think the additional shelf space, cabling, and costs of a PSU are warranted with the 5x.

Yes, a bare CD5x is a bore.  It was a huge disappointment for me.  The flatcap saves this player - I consider it essential.  It improves PRAT and detail significantly.  It's still no CDX2, but good enough not to feel cheated.  But 10 years on, there is better performance out there;  if the Marantz has digital out connections a dac seems to be a better way forward.  Also, I can't help but lay some of your dissatisfaction with the Arcam amplifier.  It feels like you are between systems and at this point the way forward is far from clear.

My last CD player was a CD5x (with FC2).  I also used to own a Marantz CD17 MkII KI Signature c. '99 for ten years.   I think its a cracking player for the money and, in my opinion, the CD5x is not a night-and-day upgrade.  The biggest change in character I noticed is that the Marantz is a brighter, leaner presentation.

I thought the difference more profound connecting the FC2 to the Naim preamp (122x) over just to the CD player.

Paul:B - that's very interesting!  You will know what I mean when I say the CD5x on its own is slightly on the "dull" side compared to the Marantz. I am hoping to get a Naim CD player setup which gives the famous "PRAT" musicality & rhythmic abilities but a slightly brighter sound (as per the Marantz).  I had hoped that adding a FC2 to the CD5x would achieve this.  Do you think it does this, or do you think it will still just sound like the bare CD5x?

Have you ever tried a CDX2?  Some people seem to think this will give me the sound I am hoping for.

I may yet end up just sticking with the Marantz and selling the CD5x!

Crazeenick posted:

Paul:B - that's very interesting!  You will know what I mean when I say the CD5x on its own is slightly on the "dull" side compared to the Marantz. I am hoping to get a Naim CD player setup which gives the famous "PRAT" musicality & rhythmic abilities but a slightly brighter sound (as per the Marantz).  I had hoped that adding a FC2 to the CD5x would achieve this.  Do you think it does this, or do you think it will still just sound like the bare CD5x?

Have you ever tried a CDX2?  Some people seem to think this will give me the sound I am hoping for.

I may yet end up just sticking with the Marantz and selling the CD5x!

I thought that the CD5x paired with the 122x/150x combo (inc. FC2) sounded pretty balanced but in a A-B test I particularly noticed that the KI-sig was leaner sounding.

I've never tried a CDX2.  I've got a Naim streamer / DAC combo which is a good source.  From my own experience after every upgrade I've done the most profound difference has always come from a speaker change.  Not necessarily better but always different.  Next up I've noticed the second most profound change comes from a change in power-amp (actually this has, in my mind at least, always been better).  Your mileage may vary.

I would strongly suggest you borrow one from a dealer before forking out any cash as you might find its a different component that will give you the sound you are looking for.

FWIW, I recently visited my Naim dealer looking to sell some vintage AR-2 speakers.  We hooked them up to a Marantz PM8005 and CD6006, and played Diana Krall “All For You”.  Gobsmacked!  Mesmerizing combo.  

As a result, I bought stands, and took my speakers home for further consideration.

I will not be trading my CD5X in; but I have renewed respect for Marantz — best I heard in the shop that day (not mentioning any names).

Nick

Just to update my story;

I got a Flatcap 2x and added it to my Naim CD5x.  Although it certainly improved it, I still wasn't getting the sound I was after.  So I bought a used CDX2.  Wow - I am very pleased with it - just what I was after!  

I am now thinking to add an XPS2 when I can afford it. 

Moderated Post:  Nick, please note forum rules - discussion of unauthorised modifications to Naim kit (which includes non-Naim PSUs, "SNAICs" etc.. ) is forbidden here. Thanks.

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