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Integrated Amp options up to €1000

 

New member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 1
Registered: Nov-06
My Creek 4040 has done sterling service for 20+ years but with my acquisition of some new PMC TB2+ speakers (replacing some venerable Heybrook HB1's) I think it's time for an amp upgrade, and I also definitely want remote control of my system.

I used to be a bit of a Hi-Fi nut but I'm completely out of touch with what's on the market these days - this Forum seems an ideal place to get up to speed!

Apart from a great sound (obviously), I have some quite specific other requirements...

1) Must be remote controllable
2) Can't be more than 9cm high including feet, or 40cm deep including connections, width up to 45cm (I have a custom built space for it)
3) Preferrably with BALANCED inputs to take the somewhat unusual balanced feed from my AMC CDM7 CD Player (excellent BTW). I realise this may be an impossible ask - I can't see any integrateds with Balanced inputs.
4) Enough muscle to properly drive a pair of PMC TB2's in my room of 6m x 4m - I want loud, clean power.
5) Available in black
6) Musn't run unreasonably hot
7) Headphone Out

My AMC CDM7 CD Player Player is already fitted with an optional valve output stage so an integrated solid state amp is fine, and besides I haven't really the room to leave enough breathing space for a valve amp as well. From a listening perspective I feel the valve outputs are already imparting a nice musical warmth to my CD's so I don't really need or want an amp with particular 'character' - clean and neutral is my preference.

I don't need or want any fancy features - min 4 inputs and a volume control is all I require! I don't need a phono stage.

Budget... hmmm... I guess €1000 ($1300 or £700) would really be the very maximum I want to spend on this, however I have been looking at what's available a little over that, ie Creek Classic 5350SE and Cyrus 8vs2 and it all looks quite tempting. My last amplifier lasted 20+ years and I am expecting my next one to do the same - for this reason could be persuaded to part with a little more if I felt that was reflected in sound and build-quality.

Your help in compiling a short-list of audition candidates would be much appreciated; from some hours of web research my list so far is:

Cyrus 8vs2
Creek Classic 5350SE
Rega Brio3
Rotel RA- not sure

I would have included the (obviously popular here) NAD C532 but at 10cm it's simply too tall to fit my space allocation. Same for the Music Fidelity A3.5.
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 3634
Registered: Feb-05
Rega Mira 3
Rotel RA 1062
 

New member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 2
Registered: Nov-06
I've also realised the...

Naim Nait 5i

...is only just above my budget and although it lacks a headphone socket, my local dealer has one in stock, so I'll be auditioning one next week. It's a perfect fit dimension-wise too and meets my requirements in most other respects. Interesting.
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 3641
Registered: Feb-05
It's an outstanding amp with the right system.
 

New member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 3
Registered: Nov-06
Another day of research and my search is narrowing to what's easily available locally and meets my other specs, especially size (see above).

Just a reminder my speakers are the PMC TB2+ which come in at around €1000 ($1280).

BUDGET OPTIONS:
Rotel RA-05 €540 ($680)
Rega Brio 3 €540 ($680)

MID OPTION
Rega Mira 3 €750 ($950)

'PUSHING THE BOAT OUT' (for me!) OPTIONS
Creek Classic 5350SE €1260 ($1600)
Naim Nait 5i €1170 ($1490)
Cyrus 8vs2 €1250 ($1560)

The question then becomes - Is the sound and build quality in the 3rd category roughly twice as good as the 1st, or would the 2nd be a satisfactory halfway house?

Right now I'm leaning towards splashing out on the Naim - I have to say the design and dimensions of it fit best with my exisiting gear, and I've yet to read a negative review or comment anywhere on the sound and build. It certainly inspires confidence in terms of lasting 20 years. Best of all it's available now in a very local dealer.

Anyway - I shall try to get auditions of all of these but it looks like it will be impossible to set-up a proper demo of all of them at once in the same room, let alone my own room.

Meantime please keep the suggestions and opinions coming...
 

New member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 4
Registered: Nov-06
Another MID OPTION would be the
Cyrus 6vs2 €900 ($1150)
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 3646
Registered: Feb-05
I did a little research on your speakers and came to this conclusion. They are very efficient well regarded speakers with considerablerespect in GB.

Best budget option = Rega Brio 3
Best amp = Naim Nait 5i
Best Compromise = Rega Mira 3

Have you considered Arcam or Cambridge? Another name that keeps coming up in association with the PMC speakers is Bryston. Remember that both the Rega's and the Naim have sound that some love and some hate. I think that the Brio has a lot of characteristics that might wor well with your speakers. What interconnects and speaker cable are you using?
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 1500
Registered: May-05
"Another name that keeps coming up in association with the PMC speakers is Bryston."

I believe that they're sister companies. Bryston makes the amps in the PMC powered monitors. Even if they're not financially related, I believe that they use each other's gear to voice their own products.

The Bryston B60R and B100 are phenominal products and should synergize best with PMC. I don't know about prices and dimensions.

I've also heard that Naim and Rega combine very well with PMC.
 

New member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 5
Registered: Nov-06
Hi Art and thanks for being so helpful so far!

You're right about the PMC's, which is why I'm anxious to give them every chance to shine with some decent amplification. It's true that PMC are closely associated with Bryston, but I think the only even vaguely affordable integrated option is the Bryston B-60 SST which seems to come in around €2000 ($2560) without the remote and that really is more than I can stretch to at the present time.

I am using QED 79-strand pink cable - I don't recall the exact specs but I remember being very impressed with the sound and value-for-money (it wasn't that expensive) at the time when I purchased it. All my interconnects I solder and wire myself using Belden cable and Neutrik jacks - I am a studio owner and fully used to doing this for all my cabling needs. Remember that my AMC CD player valve stage has balanced outs on XLR's which then require going to phono - it's not so easy to find this kind of prefabricated lead anyway!

That said, I recently tried some VoVox cable on my microphones and was extremely impressed so I may well give this a run out in my hi-fi system too. If I go for the Naim Nait 5i I may follow convention and grab some of their cable as well if the dealer is feeling generous!
 

New member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 6
Registered: Nov-06
Summary so far (taking into consideration what I've been able to source locally and fits into a height slot of <9cm!)

BUDGET OPTIONS
Rotel RA-05 €540 / $680
Rega Brio 3 €540 / $680

MID-RANGE OPTIONS
Rega Mira 3 €750 / $950
* Cyrus 6vs2 €900 / $1150

UPPER LIMIT OPTIONS
Creek Classic 5350SE €1260 / $1600
Naim Nait 5i €1170 / $1490
* Cyrus 8vs2 €1250 / $1560

OUT OF SIGHT (for me!) OPTIONS
Bryston B-60 SST €2000 / $2560

* = not actually available yet
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 1501
Registered: May-05
James,

I didn't know exactly how much Bryston gear costs. If you're going to run Naim equipment, which is phenominal BTW, the best cables to use are Naim's own and/or Chord. I've heard that Chord's stuff is an improvement at times, but may not be worth the increase in price.

Also, if you're using your AMC CD player, you may want to look into Chord's DIN to RCA cables. The DIN inputs on the Nait are reportedly far superior to the RCA inputs. If you don't know much about DINs, they're similar to XLR in terms of sound quality and electrical properties.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 1502
Registered: May-05
Our posts keep crossing, sorry.

The Bryston integrated is probably the best of the bunch, but I don't think it's that much better than the Nait 5i. For about $1000 less, the Nait 5i would be a no brainer for me. IMO, their are very few intergateds that sound better, regardless of price The only better ones I've heard are Bryston and McIntosh, and they're significantly more money.
 

New member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 7
Registered: Nov-06
Thanks for the input Stu!

I should add that I fear a really good amp will probably reveal weaknesses in my (essentially fairly budget) AMC CD Player so I am looking at amplifiers with half an eye on those with matching CD players that I could upgrade to at some point in the future when funds allow.
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 3647
Registered: Feb-05
I think that the Creek and Cyrus are more similar to Bryston than Rega or Naim which bear some sonic resemblance to each other. Obviously I think that the Mira 3 (or Brio 3) Apollo combo are fabulous so to is the Naim Nait 5i and the matching CD player. The Naim combo costs considerably more and yields just a bit more performance (principle of diminishing returns and all that you know). I'm not sure that the Cyrus and Creek wouldn't more closely resemble the gear that the speakers were voiced with...hmmm.

Cabling is key with Naim and Rega. Stick with Naim (or Chord) cables with Naim and Chord with Rega. I found that the $25 Naim power cord really enhances the performance of the Rega Mira 3 and so it would likely have a similar effect on the Brio. The Brio really is a giant killer. If I didn't have a store credit to use I would likely have bought it and not the Mira 3 and saved a few nickels.

You really need to hear your speakers with several of these amps to make an educated decision. If that's not possible then check their return policy.
 

New member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 8
Registered: Nov-06
>> If you don't know much about DINs...

LOL! I know all about DINs Stu as my original Creek 4040 has them!

I just never imagined that after 23 years I might be upgrading to an amp that still has those!

Anyway, so I already have DIN-RCA adapters, good QED ones too - one more reason I am perhaps pre-destined to become a Naim owner!
 

New member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 9
Registered: Nov-06
Hmm... the picture just got a little cloudier, but kind of in a nice way!

I have just inherited a practically new NAD C370!

I've hooked it up and it sounds simply great - at least a mile better than I'm used to as the bass in particular has tightened up no end and the PMC's seem much happier with more drive behind them.

However, in terms of my keeping it there are two problems:

1) It's far too big (tall) for the slot I have for it
2) It's waaay more power than I need really in my small apartment - if I twist the volume to 9 o-clock the walls start to shake and the entire neighbourhood reverberates!

Given that it cost me precisely nothing it seems a shame I can't take advantage somehow.

Decisions, decisions...
 

Gold Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 4510
Registered: Dec-04
JL, make space for it!
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 3653
Registered: Feb-05
Ditto...after all you control the volume, better too much power than too little.
 

Bronze Member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 11
Registered: Nov-06
Well - thanks to the extremely comprehensive design of the NAD C370 I've found a way to deal with the overpowering issue. The C370 has a parallel Pre-Amp 2 output with a continuously variable attenuation pot (down to -12dB) at the rear, designed for use with bi-amping or a sub. So I just switched the jumpers over from the default Pre-Amp 1 output to the Main Power Amp input, engaged some heavy attenuation and voila - I can now use the main volume knob over 50% of it's travel instead of 10% which gives me much more resolution, finer control and doesn't blow the windows with the slightest tweak!

I don't think this amp is going anywhere soon - it's just far too good on both sound and features to pass up, especially when I got it for a song! My PMC's seem to love it too!

The only 'problem' left is having to rebuild my bookshelves to accommodate it, but somehow I think I'm gonna find a way now!
 

New member
Username: Cbowkett

Post Number: 5
Registered: Oct-06
James -- sorry for the newbie question -- but how do you "engage heavy attenuation" and why does that provide finer resolution at lower volume?

I find I have low resolution at low volumes on my Cambridge 340a combined with MA RS6s, and wonder if this may help me.

Thanks
 

Bronze Member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 12
Registered: Nov-06
I thought I'd update anyone who's listening how I'm getting on with all this...

I now have in my room:

- AMC CD7 CDM7 Player (with optional MD5403 Vacuum Tube DAC Module stage)
- NAD C370 Amplifier (inherited 2nd-hand)
- PMC TB2+ Speakers
- QED 79 Purple speaker cable (very short runs, ie 1.5m) and home-made inter-connects

Now the PMC's are starting to loosen up and the NAD is warming up (after having sat unused for at least 3+ years) the sound is just getting better and better! What I am hearing is a crystal-clear sound that has a really nice tonal balance across the whole spectrum - nothing stands out or seems over-pushed. The bass is full and extremely well-controlled while the highs are smooth, smooth, smooth even on some really difficult and screechy Swedish pipe music - this has much to do with the very nice new PMC tweeter, as well as an amp that is not pushing anything in any way. My 8yr-old AMC CD player has certainly never sounded better and I am in much less of a hurry to upgrade it than I was a week ago!

I also have power - loads of it - obscene amounts actually, given that I live in an apartment block - more than I will ever, ever need unless I move into a warehouse! However, once I figured out the trick of switching the jumpers feeding the C370 Power Amp to the attenuatable (is that a word?) C370 Pre Out2 circuit I am able to maintain a more sensible range of travel on the volume knob - a clever little trick indeed, that basically means you can effectively match the massively over-specced and robust C370 to a much smaller system. (One tiny note - the heat dissipation increases slightly because as you attenuate the pre output the power amp has to work harder.)

The C370 is extremely quiet both operationally and acoustically, which cannot be said of all gear - comes with the vast power transformer I guess. Other pluses are the comprehensive remote, the headphone output and the tone controls which for the time being I do actually need to engage on some types of music for reasons I give below. It does run rather hot and thus needs plenty of dead space above it, in fact you are not recommended to stack this monster amp with anything else at all - see below for more on this.

I'm really aware now that the principal remaining problems in my listening experience have FAR more to do with my room than anything to do with the gear. I don't think I'm going to be upgrading anything else now until I've solved a boomy bass problem by getting some better stands and adding some bass traps in the corners of the room. Until then I'm quite glad of the NAD's bass-cut control, although there's a clearly audible difference when it's engaged and I'm looking forward to the day when I won't need it. I have also added some pricey Linn Skeet 'feet' for my current (and wholly inadequate) speaker stands, as the floor in this place is parquet and obviously won't take a spike.

I also still have a slight ergonomics problem in that I was originally seeking an amp that would fit into a slot of <9cm tall and the C370 is 14cm+ and also needs a significant amount of ventilation space above it (in fact there's an announcement on the NAD website about potential over-heating problems of this amp.) However - I'm rethinking things and I have a feeling I'll be able to make this work somehow as I am loathe to downgrade the superbly balanced (and free!) amplification upgrade I have now in favour of pure convenience and looks.

I still plan to head on down to the dealer and check out some Naim gear and have a general chat about perhaps a longer term upgrade. He's also a Pro-Ac dealer so I'm quite interested to see how my PMC's stack up against these too!
 

New member
Username: Quaintdreamer

TrivandrumIndia

Post Number: 7
Registered: Nov-06
hi, has anyone tried wharfedale 9.6 with naim nait 5i?
 

New member
Username: Mitch_manning

BrightonUnited Kingdom

Post Number: 1
Registered: Oct-07
hi,

i am a newbie in the ways of "good" hi-fi, but after hearing a pair of Totem Hawks driven by some nice naim equipment, needless to say i am now hooked:-)
i have a fairly reasonable HT set-up in my living room but want to set up a dedicated listening room, i was thinking:
naim cd 5i £725*
naim nait 5i £625*
Totem Hawks £2000

i know that choosing the entry level naim equipment limits my upgrade options but that said this is all i can afford to spend on "toys" right now. i have also heard very good things about some of NAD's intergrated amps, the C-352 in particular, how does this stand up to the nait 5i?

Any help suggestions would be greatly appricaited:-)

*prices agreed with local dealer
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 2183
Registered: May-05
The 352 is completely different than the Nait. The Nait is light years ahead of the 352 IMO. While the 352 is good in its own right, if you're hooked on the Naim sound, NAD will be a big let down.

I don't know if the Nait is powerful enough for the Hawks. Does you dealer suggest the combo? Frank Abela who is a regular here and a Naim guru (he's a part-time dealer) should have some very good insight, as he knows both lines very well.

Have you tried the Totem Arro?
 

New member
Username: Mitch_manning

BrightonUnited Kingdom

Post Number: 2
Registered: Oct-07
thanks Stu,

haha thats what i was thinking everything i've read about the nait seems to be very good. I think my mind is pretty set on the naim set up, well while i gather the funds for the hawks i will be using the nait with a pair of dreamcatchers, if the nait won't be powerful enough would you suggest getting a power amp to go with it? i have heard the arro's they are impressive specially for the size!! but i'm pretty set on the hawks after hearing them.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 2184
Registered: May-05
You can't run an external amp with the Nait. It doesn't have a pre-out/main in loop. The Nait 5 did, but the current Nait 5i doesn't have this provision.
 

New member
Username: Mitch_manning

BrightonUnited Kingdom

Post Number: 3
Registered: Oct-07
ah i wasn't aware of that, as i said i'm new to this but keen to learn!! u really think the nait will not be powerful enough to drive the Hawks, i know the nait is only 50Wpc the room they will be in is quite small (4m x 6m) and as i live in an apartment i won't be able to drive them too hard anyway, the arrows may end up being a better choice, i was really impressed by the hawks though:/
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 2185
Registered: May-05
I'm really not sure. I know very little about the Hawks. I've heard them once or twice, but don't know what they require as far as power is concerned. Totems in general aren't very easy to drive. I'm not sure what type of load they would present to a Nait.

If the same dealer carries Naim and Totem, ask them their opinion. I'm sure they've tried the combination a few times.

Frank Abela should be around some time to give an opinion.
 

Bronze Member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 15
Registered: Nov-06
I've held off upgrading my system until I'd put some acoustic treatment in my room. I did this with the aid of RealTraps USA and the difference has been remarkable, but it consumed most of my last year's hi-fi budget!

But with my room acoustics sounding a whole lot more under control, I'm confident that a hardware upgrade is now much more worth it.

Inevitably my thoughts (and available budget) are turning back to the Naim, especially as my AMC CD Player is becoming increasingly unreliable. My local dealer is 'strongly encouraging' me to go for the Naim 5i/CD5 combo so let's just say I'm seriously thinking about it again as an early Christmas present to myself.
 

Gold Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 2448
Registered: Sep-04
Mitch,

I'll be honest and say I've never tried Hawks on the end of a Nait5i since we would not normally put together that combination on the source first principle. Of course, since you've fallen for the Hawks (and who wouldn't?) and they're actually not that difficult to drive, I imagine the Nait5i should be able to drive them reasonably well. The 5i can drive both Dreamcatchers and Arros pretty well, and Hawks are not that easy to drive but not a million miles from Arros...

You're really going to have to listen to the combination to see what you think.

Regards,
Frank.
 

New member
Username: Mitch_manning

BrightonUnited Kingdom

Post Number: 4
Registered: Oct-07
thanks frank,

I dropped past my local dealer, they had the 5i connected to some naim floorstanders and it seemed to drive them well enough, he thinks for the relativly small size of the room (4m x 6m) there shouldn't be any problems at all. He is setting up the system for me to hav a listen on saturday(luckaly the demo room is almost the exact dimentions of my room), i will make my decision then, think i'm going to get the new cd5i (with the italic "i"lol) aswell.

Many thanks
 

Gold Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 2454
Registered: Sep-04
Mitch,

Enjoy. Naim's speakers tend to be easier to drive than Totems. All Naim speakers are 8 ohm impedance and rarely go below 5 ohms. See what happens in the demo and try those floorstanders again. Incidentally, if they were Allaes (curved top) you should defniitely compare them to Hawks. Very fast, very entertaining and real power to boot. They're a little more expensive than the Hawks but not by much I think.

Regards
Frank.
 

Silver Member
Username: Chicomoralessxm

Dutch islesCaribbean

Post Number: 196
Registered: Feb-07
Well just wondering guys is the Vincent Audio brand any good? Wondering how it compares to something like creek? or rega
 

Bronze Member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 17
Registered: Nov-06
Well, I started this thread over a year ago and wrote:

>> I still plan to head on down to the dealer and check out some Naim gear and have a general chat about perhaps a longer term upgrade.

So, after much scrimping and saving last year I am now in a position for that 'longer term upgrade' so I have ordered not only the Naim Nait 5i but the companion CD5i as well (my existing CD player has more or less died). I'm getting a good deal on the two together.

Needless to say I am breathless with anticipation for the arrival of my new Naim source/amp combo to drive my wonderful PMC TB2's. I've been interested in Hi-Fi for 20 years and always bought the best system I can afford, but I've lacked the funds to go truly high-end - for me, Naim has always represented that so I hope that my substantial investment in them will last me for the next 20 years.

I will say once again, for anyone still reading, that the borrowed NAD C370 amp I've been making use of this past year has been nothing less than very impressive. I am now obviously moving up a level to my new all-Naim system, but all the same I can't honestly say I have out-grown this beefy and very clean-sounding old NAD amp that I shall endeavour to find a good home for!

I've done a lot of reading on this Forum, learned a lot and have found you all extremely helpful - please all still be around in 20 years when I'll be upgrading again! ;-)

Watch this space for my reactions once my new gear is delivered and safely installed here!
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 2392
Registered: May-05
I'm looking forward to it James. I'm in the same boast as you are with saving up money for what seems like forever for upgrades.

Since you've started this thread, I've bought a Rega Apollo and Bryston B60 (used). Currently saving up for a pair of PMC TB2+.

After that, perhaps a Rega P5? It never ends.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 9601
Registered: Dec-04
Very good, James!
Keep posting.
 

Gold Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 2642
Registered: Sep-04
James,

If you've only just ordered the pair and they're coming to you brand new from Naim, you should receive the newer italic upgraded versions. Both CD player and amp have been reworked. The CD5i player is a significant upgrade o the older CD5i and the new Nait 5i seems a bit cleaner and more capable. As a pairing they're really very good indeed. I got a wonderful sound of them into a pair of Rainmakers the other day. If you're wondering how to tell, they're marked up as the CD5i-2 and Nait 5i-2 on the back I believe.

One caveat however, please buy Naim's own speaker cable to finish the job properly. It really is a lot better than QED 79-strand in pretty much any way you can think of. The amplifier comes with a pair of Naim SA8 speaker plugs so all you need to pay for is termination and a set of plugs on the speaker side. Also, and this is much more important than may appear, I believe the TB2+ is a biwireable speaker. Don't biwire (naim recommend against this), but do take off the brass links and replace them with little snips of the Naim wire, or if you're really broke, little snips of your now defunct QED cable (but that's really only if you're absolutely skint).

Regards,
Frank.
 

Bronze Member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 18
Registered: Nov-06
Yes - just to confirm, my dealer said I'd be receiving the v2 of both these products but at last year's prices which makes me smile!

I do plan on upgrading my cables, but I may not be able to afford what I want just yet. The dealer is doing a 'home-install' for me and he's bringing some different cables along to try out, with a view to me ordering some within the next month or so.

Will report back.
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 5978
Registered: Feb-05
Congrats on some very awesome gear James!
 

Gold Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 2648
Registered: Sep-04
Well James, there are only two options in my view. The Naim CD player comes with its own interconnect so that's sorted. It's an itzy-bitzy cable but it is the best cable musically other than Naim's own HiLine at just ... wait for it ... $1000. To me there is only one speaker cable option and that's Naim's NACA5 which is not cheap at the equivalent of $20/m but not exactly expensive either. That said, I know that a lot of dealers in the US try to use after market cables such as Chord, Kimber, Siltech etc. It may be because the US musical taste is generally different, preferring a warmer presentation, but it could also be just a matter of economics. Over here in the UK, I never sell any Naim system (including the top of the range amps at $40,000) with anything but NACA5.
 

Bronze Member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 19
Registered: Nov-06
Thanks Frank and everyone for the advice.

Fortunately, my system ergonomics mean my cable runs are very short - like 2.5m per side - so I think I can scrape together the extra $100 for 5m of the Naim NACA5 cables.

For some reason I thought I'd probably need to spend a lot more on cables but $100 is indeed manageable, even though I'm already seriously stretching my finances in treating myself to this rather special system.

Oh well, whatever else 2008 holds for me, it's sure going to be full of some pretty awesome Naim sounds!

The Gear should be here by the end of the month! :-)
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 2396
Registered: May-05
Another way you'll be saving money is on interconnects. Naim includes a DIN cable with all their sources. As Frank stated, they're really only improved on by Naim's HiLine.
 

Gold Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 2663
Registered: Sep-04
James, I don't want to push you too far, but if you could manage a little more length on the cable (3.5m per side) it seems to improve the sound that little bit. If it's a step too far then so be it, but if you can, do it.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Scorpio1

Philadelphia, PA USA

Post Number: 52
Registered: Nov-07
Frank, Stu, Art, Everyone....

Can you offer some suggestions higher up the JM Labs Focal line that would match up very well the new Nait 5i-2 integrated?

I could probably stretch my budget to no more than $2500-$3000. Thanks.
 

Gold Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 2679
Registered: Sep-04
Ed

Some people like the Focal 800 series but I have difficulties with that range because it seems to set off our demo room. Therefore, you'd be looking at the larger Focal 716V. I would not go to the 726V because it has a bit of a nasty dip in impedance.

Other speakers that work well with this amplifier would be:

Totem Rainmakers (a very good match)
Dynaudio Audience 52 and 52SE (again a very good match)
B&W 684 and possibly 683 (but demo before you buy)
Neat Acoustics Motive 1 or 2 (big following)
Neat Acoustics Momentum 3i (I haven't tried them but intrigued)
Naim's own n-Sat (involving but limited bass, needs rear wall)
Ex-demo Naim Arivas (recently discontinued but good fun)
Something from PMC
Something from ProAc
Something from ATC (entry level)
Something from Monitor Audio (if you have to)

Regards,
Frank.
 

Bronze Member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 24
Registered: Nov-06
Well, I'll post here, in the unlikely event that any of you have been following and are still interested in my epic, year-long upgrade quest.

I now have in my living room:

Naim Nait 5i.2
Naim CD5i.2
PMC TB2+

I am going to refrain from posting too much hyperbole right now because of two principal factors:

1) The Naim gear is cold and right out of the box and needs up to a month to run-in - a definitive sonic judgement would therefore be premature;

2) Dealer says he'll come back in a month when the system has been run-in and we'll select an appropriate cable then (probably Naim but he says I should listen to Chord as well before choosing). So I'm listening with my old QED purple cable for the time being.

As I have upgraded both my source and amplification simultaneously, whatever I post in future about my new system will try to be mindful of this, ie I won't be able to speak too much about the effect of the individual components. I can't be certain whether the already apparent extra 20Hz of bass extension and the very nicely rounded highs that have suddenly appeared in my PMC's is due to the CD5i or the Nait 5i or more likely a combination of both.

Meantime here's a selection of my 'critical listening' list FYI:

Morph The Cat - Donald Fagen (Reprise)
Quite simply one of the finest recordings of any genre I've heard lately

Kare Sol - Per Gudmundson, Ale Moller, Lena Willmark (ECM)
Fiendishly difficult music to reproduce - screeching Swedish bagpipes and fiddles - a real torture-test for any gear

Damned If I Do - Ursula Rucker (iK7)
Fantastically well-produced spoken-word grooves

Subterranean Homesick Android - Radiohead (Parlophone)
Do I need to say anything more about Nigel Godrich's amazing production on this all-time rock classic?

Kai Gleusteen & Catherine Ordronneau (Crear Classics)
Lovely Violin & Piano duet covering Grieg and Dvorak recorded in a lively space (and on a piano) I know extremely well first-hand so this is a great reference CD for me particularly

Desolation Path - Vangelis (Universal)
From the new 25th Anniversary soundtrack release - the usual dreamy synths and cavernous reverb from Vangelis in a quite beautifully atmospheric soundscape

Baba Drame - Bill Frisell & The Intercontinentals (Nonesuch)
An amazing hybrid world group I've seen live several times - the CD is never as good as live but it's a good reference and beautifully recorded as always with Mr Frisell.

The Dawn - Erik Truffaz (Blue Note)
A far from perfect recording but I know it really well so it's a good reference for a system to try to make sense of - jazzy hip-hop

Cruel - Kate Rusby (Pure)
If Ms Rusby's wonderful voice makes the hairs on my neck stand-up I know I'm hearing something special

Nocturn - Kate Bush (EMI)
Stonkingly good production here from Mr Bush - the bass and drums on this track have to be heard to be believed - fat fat fat!

Salvador nao inerte - Virginia Rodriguez (Natasha)
I melt, I melt - make it stop please! Hauntingly beautiful and highly unique vocal from Brazil.

Friskiss & Svettis - Tsuumi Sound System (Alto)
Lively, melodic and dense Finnish folk-rock

Won't Get Fooled Again - The Who Remaster (Polydor)
How did they make anything sound this good in 1971?

Funeral Tango - Scott Walker Remaster (Fontana)
I love these big band arrangements and they still sound simply incredible FORTY years later!

Imidiwan Winakalin - Tinariwen (Independiente)
Hypnotic desert-funk from Mali that I've seen live several times, so again a good reference CD for me - does it get me jigging?
 

Gold Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 9744
Registered: Dec-04
JL, visit 'music selections for the speaker guys' in speaks.
You must contribute.
 

Silver Member
Username: Stryvn

Post Number: 648
Registered: Dec-06
Perhaps the 'Reference' thread as well?!?
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 2424
Registered: May-05
And the System Pics thread?
https://www.ecoustics.com/electronics/forum/home-audio/377431.html
 

Bronze Member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 28
Registered: Nov-06
OK - here's my modest new set-up, now centred around the Naim CD5i.2 & Nait 5i.2 driving my PMC TB2's.

I can't for the life of me work out how to add a reasonable size photo in a post so I'll just give you a link...

http://web.mac.com/jameslehmann/jameslehmann.mac/Misc2_files/IMG_4096.jpg

I designed and built the simple, functional and extremely solid main furniture unit out of 19mm MDF around the dimensions of the TV. I live in a two-room apartment so economy of space is the key!

I also have a bad back and thus dislike bending down to change a CD, as you need to do with a lot of low-level equipment stands, so the shelf with the CD player on is at a comfortable standing level to do change discs easily.

You can see a Realtraps MondoTrap basstrap in the right hand corner (there's another one in the rear corner plus two MiniTraps behind). I can tell you these puppies solved a massive bass problem I had previously as well as helping open out the soundstage - highly recommended!

I have a parquet floor so the spikes on the PMC Tube60 stands are sheathed in Linn Skeets, which appear to work extremely well.

You can see bits of my percussion collection I've brought back from various parts of the world perched here and there; I probably shouldn't have a Malagasy Djembe on top of one of my speakers but there you go!

And yeah - that's an 80-year old Kurdish carpet!

One question - the Naim user manual says the CD5i shouldn't be placed on top of another piece of gear. Would I be better off building a middle shelf halfway up in the space I have them in now? - it'll only raise the CD5i by 5cm or so but it would separate them I guess.
 

Gold Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 2690
Registered: Sep-04
James,

That's a very smart looking solution indeed. In response to your question:

1. If you do nothing else, place the CD5i under the amplifier. The amplifier gets warmer than the CD player and cools by convection so placing it above the CD5i is better, even if the amp doesn't get that hot.

2. Yes, it would be a fine idea to build a middle shelf. Again, if the amplifier was further up this would make reaching the CD player easy and you would have no worries about controlling the amp since it's remote controlled anyway.

Now, to the more important issues. I'm not surprised you had a bass problem - the PMCs are transmission lines exiting if memory serves at the back. The bass boom was caused by the proximity of the speaker to the rear wall. You've fixed it with the traps which also help other things that are going on in there most probably, but the primary cause of the bass problem was the proximity to the rear wall.

I have a real problem with the Malagasy Djembe on the right speaker and to an extent with the flowers on the left one. Do me a favour. Play a couple of tracks, one fast and one slow. Remove said offending items and place in another part of the room (particularly the drum). Play those tracks again. If there's no difference I'd be surprised. the majority of the difference would come from the drum, but it's possible to get some difference from the flowers too. My speakers are unbelievably sensitive to things placed on them. They just sound awful with anything on there. If there's no difference then TB2s don't mind, butr generally I'd be surprised if you didn't find a difference. In my opinion, this is more important than placing a shelf between the Naim components at this stage (always with the proviso that the CD player is under the amplifier).

Regards,
Frank.
 

Bronze Member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 30
Registered: Nov-06
Cheers Frank.

Believe me, if I could have avoided spending $3,000 on bass trapping I would have done, but the way the rest of my (small) room is arranged there was no other viable layout. The TB2's simply have to be relatively close to the wall. It's far from ideal, I know, but given this, I'm still amazed at how efficient my RealTraps Mondos are and how effortlessly they solved a major acoustic problem!
 

Gold Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 2700
Registered: Sep-04
I'm impressed someone lets you put them in the room! My wife won't let me, even though she's the main recipient of bass in her corner! And she doesn't like bass!!

I can certainly believe you had a major bass issue. So are you going to try the A/B comparison with the things on those speakers and not? Surely there's another surface you can place them on?
 

Bronze Member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 33
Registered: Nov-06
Well, obviously it helps if the traps match your wall-colour. In my case the sort of off-white cream ('wheat' they call it) actually looks fine against the existing apartment walls - quite smart in fact.

Mind you, I don't have a significant other who might not quite understand that room aesthetics should always come second to optimum placement of the music system, rather than vice-versa!
 

Bronze Member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 34
Registered: Nov-06
Perhaps I should just add...

I suspect that for many of us here room aesthetics and optimum placement of the music system are one and the same thing!
 

Gold Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 2711
Registered: Sep-04
Ah my mistake - sorry!
 

Bronze Member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 49
Registered: Nov-06
OK guys, I need some help with cables to fill in the final link of my wonderful new Naim 5 system.

My dealer has just dropped off the following two cables for me to try over the weekend:

Naim NACA-5 $25/m
Chord Odyssey 2 $52/m

Here are my thoughts so far:

Naim - transparent, punchier, excellent all-rounder, presumably my system has been 'voiced' with these so should be very good synergy

Chord - more extended extreme highs & lows, more 'polite' than the Naim, very beautiful and musical presentation, perhaps not 100% flat but doing something very nice to the sound, possibly digging out slightly more detail and separation than the Naim, twice the price!

Both cables exhibit a broadly similar and wide soundstage and nice depth that I like very much. And both leave my rusty old QED's in the dust - a veil has been lifted!

I think I'd be happy with either of these. The extended bass of the Chord is actually more of a problem than an asset in my room where it's all I can do to keep the bass under control. But... I'm maybe wondering whether I kinda prefer the subtly more involving musical colour?

I appreciate that this is all getting down to the highly subjective subtleties of personal taste but any thoughts, comments or advice before I cut the wire?

Cheers,

James
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 6416
Registered: Feb-05
It sounds like you have already made a decision...or have voiced a preference. Think about which one you would prefer over the long haul.
 

Bronze Member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 50
Registered: Nov-06
I definitely haven't made a decision yet.

It seems to come down to different cables suiting different types of music slightly better, plus how I'm listening, emotional response, etc.

And I wish I had a complete clone of my system and doubles of my test CD's so I didn't have to keep getting up to switch the cables around!

The other problem is that I've got quite long 5m demo runs here when I'm only actually planning to buy 2m lengths - anyone know if this will make a difference and if so what is it likely to be? I know Naim recommend a 3.5m length minimum but I really don't want or need all that extra.

This is much harder than I thought it was going to be!
 

Bronze Member
Username: Lamcam

Stanton, Ca Usa

Post Number: 43
Registered: Nov-07
It's fun to read this thread, learned something.
 

Silver Member
Username: Luxendel

Gondelsheim, Baden-Württe... Germany

Post Number: 127
Registered: Oct-07
Interesting discussion...food for thought...

But I will stay with the NACA5...

http://forums.naim-audio.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/48019385/m/3132989207
 

Silver Member
Username: Luxendel

Gondelsheim, Baden-Württe... Germany

Post Number: 128
Registered: Oct-07
Do not go below 3,5 metres...

I talked to different people at NAIM, including my dealer...
 

Bronze Member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 53
Registered: Nov-06
Well, a weekend flipping cables like a 1940's switchboard op and here's what I'm finding:
(marks out of 10)

Naim NACA-5
Transparency 10
Clarity 10
Detail 9
Neutrality 9
Warmth & Emotion 6
Musicality 7
Separation 10
Soundstage 9
Depth 9
Punch 9
Timing 8
Bass 8
Mid 10
Treble 7
Malleability 4
Aesthetics 5
Value for money 10

Chord Odyssey 2
Transparency 8
Clarity 7
Detail 9
Neutrality 6
Warmth & Emotion 9
Musicality 9
Separation 8
Soundstage 8
Depth 9
Punch 7
Timing 7
Bass 8
Mid 7
Treble 8
Malleability 8
Aesthetics 7
Value For Money 8

Notes:

There seems little point in doing a total because clearly some categories count for much more than others - it would need a complex weighting system to sort that out which is more than I can be bothered to do!

I've given both cables an 8 for bass but in reality their respective bass responses are quite different - the Naim is punchier and more neutral while the Chord has a lovely smooth round bass and perhaps goes a bit deeper.

No such ambiguity in the high end - Chord has an extended high end that on some CD's was gorgeously silky and others was almost too harsh, but we're talking shades here not quantum leaps.

3.5m runs of Naim will be an absolute pain to bundle up as I only need 1.5m of reach (see photo above) and it's ugly, black and bulky - I far prefer the colour and malleability of the Chord which I can easily tuck away behind the bookshelf.

Clearly the Chord is delivering the music with more of a warm, musical sound with a healthy emotional component but at the cost of neutrality and I think I'm hearing a very slight congestion in the mids as against the incredible clarity and separation of the Naim.

I do feel I'm hearing the sound of the actual CD as interpreted by Naim electronics through the NACA5. The Chord is definitely changing the sound - often in a good way, but do I really want that? Hmm...

I should also be quite clear in saying that different cables definitely suited different types of music better. In fact I'll go further than that and say that one cable suited one CD by the same band better than another; this was Steely Dan where the Chord reproduced "Aja" with more feeling but was firmly trumped by the jaw-dropping clarity of the Naim on "Gaucho" - go figure!

Both cables leave my 15 year-old QED Purple in the dust - a veil has been lifted!

This is a very difficult choice but having initially been seduced by the Chord I think it might be better to stick with the Naim cable for now, and maybe play around in future with something really significantly better as and when I can afford it.
 

Gold Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 6444
Registered: Feb-05
Nice write up...sounds like you've made a wise choice (if you've chosen). Now stop fussin' with cables and listen to some music...lol!!!
 

Bronze Member
Username: Lamcam

Stanton, Ca Usa

Post Number: 44
Registered: Nov-07
you can buy both cables. Listen to one cables for a few months and swicth to the other for a few months, so you will always have something new...
 

Silver Member
Username: Luxendel

Gondelsheim, Baden-Württe... Germany

Post Number: 129
Registered: Oct-07
Cool work James...

I too am more and more liking the real honest sound of the Naim products...sure, some CD's weaknesses are easily recognized...

True sound versus "made-nicer-smoother"-sound, right?

But like you said, the separation and the soundstage are incredible...especially paired with NAIM electronics like you and me have...

Also, I love the fat punch the NACA delivers...Sure, some like smoothy bass, I love PUNCH!

I also admit that placing the NACA really SUCKS big-time...its so hard and strong...nearly refusing to bend...but some bending and kneading led me to place it somehow acceptable...

Good choice...
 

Gold Member
Username: Mike3

Wylie, Tx USA

Post Number: 1143
Registered: May-06
James, Nice effort, but unfortunately short of having Thor and I sit in back of your gear, he at the source, me at the CD input on the back of your Nait, feverishly swapping out the cables, there is still a good deal of subjectivity in your process.

I certainly appreciate the effort you went through, most of us have had that experience at least once or twice. You did a fine job of recording what you thougth you heard.

One thing you might not have considered in your weighting is how long do you sit and listen too for an average listening session?

The Chords from what you report will never fatigue you, probably not at even levels I listen to at times, whereas he NACA cables probably will have you either turning down the volume or leaving the room after a period of time.

Just to echo what is already stated above, only you know what qualities are important to you. I only added this if it was something you might have overlooked.

I always thought it would be nice to have a second system with MC2275s, so at leat you're only wrestling with 2 cables.
 

Silver Member
Username: Luxendel

Gondelsheim, Baden-Württe... Germany

Post Number: 130
Registered: Oct-07
Hmmm, I do not feel like leaving the room from the effects of the NACA...rather from badly recorded CDs...

Sure, the NACA is not so much ear-friendly...but in terms of rhythm/punch/timing...

Yesterday I went down memory lane and listened to Iron Maiden-classics...

"Aces High" (Powerslave) = I NEVER heard the inherent power of that recording...how fast and accurate all work together...especially Steve Harris on bass...fantastic.

"Seventh son of the seventh son" - very good sound. Awesome bass...very punchy...especially the faster tracks I re-discovered...

That is what I love about NAIM...true transportation of the musicality...the speed, rhythm, the power, the incredible timing...so cool.

I hear and react to things I never realized...

Some German HIFI-mag claimed:
"Listening to NAIM-stuff is like drinking good espresso. Taste-intensive and enlivening..."

Me, bouncing up and down on the friggin couch...

YEAH!
 

Gold Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 9843
Registered: Dec-04
Thats what I'm talkin' about!
 

New member
Username: 8inch

AucklandNew zealand

Post Number: 4
Registered: Mar-08
Cambridge would sort it.
 

Silver Member
Username: Luxendel

Gondelsheim, Baden-Württe... Germany

Post Number: 131
Registered: Oct-07
Cambridge (?!) would sort what, please???

 

New member
Username: 8inch

AucklandNew zealand

Post Number: 5
Registered: Mar-08
Here's one that might be of interest.If you would like further options you can browse Cambridge Audio site.
Azur 840A Class XD amplifier features
Patent pending proprietary Class XD technology.
Oversized low flux toroidal transformers
120 watts per channel (8 ohms)
200 watts per channel (4 ohms)
Completely separate pre-amp and power amp toroidal transformers and circuits make the 840A effectively a pre and power amplifier combination in one chassis
8 audio inputs - including 1 with balanced connections
Sophisticated resistor ladder and relay based attenuator for volume/balance control
Two pairs of very high current output transistors per channel
Twin rectifiers and separate transformer taps for dual mono operation of the left and right power amplifiers
RS232 port, IR emitter In and Control Bus In/Out for seamless integration with custom install systems
A-BUS / Incognito Ready connections compatible with Cambridge Audio's new Incognito multi-room keypads or other A-BUS compatible keypads allow the 840A to form the hub of a simple but highly effective 3 zone multi-room system
Fixed level inputs allow the 840A to provide the front channel amplification when integrated with home cinema systems that use an AV processor
Cambridge Audio proprietary CAP5 protection system
Nameable inputs, backlit LCD screen
Extruded aluminium side panels and solid aluminium front panel plus an ultra rigid, acoustically dampened chassis
Navigator style Azur remote control which also controls Azur CD players plus the Apple Universal Dock
Available in silver or black
 

Bronze Member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 54
Registered: Nov-06
Right... progress report!

I've ordered 2 x 2m lengths of white Naim NACA5 fitted and soldered with Naim plugs etc!

Having established, to the best of my understanding, that the 3.5m minimum isn't technically critical for the Nait5i (in the same way that it is for the larger power amps), I am going to stick with shorter cable runs for now to suit my very limited, ergonomic space (see above).

2 x 2m runs of NACA5 doesn't cost too much, so I'm going to go ahead and use this until I indulge in the next round of cable-itis.

Meantime, if I install the 2m runs and feel that the sound is in any way compromised from what I have heard with the demo 5m runs I've been testing, you can be sure I will eat humble pie, apologise publicly and order some replacement 5m runs immediately!

I'm also going to refrain from passing judgement until I've 'run-in' my new NACA5 cable and the whole system has 'settled'. This is one reason I haven't posted any over-the-top euphoria about my whole system yet - I'm waiting until the thing is set-up and installed perfectly to my liking before summing up my overall feelings about my maiden voyage into the world of Naim. As you can see from the date I started this thread nearly 1.5yrs ago, I am not a man to rush things in the quest for perfection! "Patience, young Skywalker!"

Meantime I have constructed an extra shelf in my book-case which means the CDP is no longer sitting on the Nait - photos to follow.

Now the only problem is I've got a 10-day wait for my new cables to arrive, during which time I have to temporise with my old QED rubbish, which having heard what NACA5 can do with my source is under-whelming in the extreme!
 

Silver Member
Username: Luxendel

Gondelsheim, Baden-Württe... Germany

Post Number: 133
Registered: Oct-07
Wise man, James!!!

Congrats, good decision...

Yep, my set-up is still running in...getting better each day...

I was a bit more euphoric since I plunged into the High-End-world from practically nowhere...no offense to NAD, but what I am hearing up til today really blows my old NAD-combo straight away...LOL
 

Bronze Member
Username: James_lehmann

Post Number: 63
Registered: Nov-06
It's fun to read back over my 2-year quest for upgrading.

Still delighted with my Naim stuff, which has been giving me constant listening pleasure for the last 2 years - can't imagine life before Naim now!

But in the interests of completeness I'm going to add a happy postscript to this thread...

My upgrade path to Naim left me with a sadly unused NAD C370, a pair of ancient Heybrook HB1s and my old QED 79-strand cable.

Well, I'm glad I hung on to this gear instead of flogging it for next to nothing on fleabay as I have now resurrected this as a second system for a total cost of $20!

The Heybrooks woofers were completely shot and although replacement woofers can still be purchased, at $250 for the pair this was hard to justify. FOAM SURROUND REPLACEMENTS to the rescue! A quick $20 purchase on eBay and a morning spent refoaming the surrounds (tedious work but extremely rewarding) and the Heybrooks have taken on a new lease of life being driven by the NAD C370. I'm sure they don't sound totally optimal and I'm still running them in, but it's certainly not less than 85% of capacity and I effectively have a new pair of speakers for my second system. I'm even thinking of giving them decent stands and some better cable!

So every upgrade story has a happy ending (well, nearly!).
 

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 15296
Registered: Dec-04
Good stuff JL.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Nuck

Post Number: 15297
Registered: Dec-04
Naim/PMC will have Stuie drooling, haha!
That is a high energy setup, man.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 3931
Registered: May-05
Naim and PMC together are a fantastic combo. If I didn't have what I've got now, that would probably what I'd get.

Glad to see you're still enjoying what you've got James. That speaks to the investment you made in quality and knowing what you wanted. Your combo is very hard to beat. I'm sure it'll take multiples of what you spent to better it.
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