Upgrading from Nad c352?


New member
Username: Frazzle

Post Number: 3
Registered: Mar-07
I have a Cambridge Audio NP30 streamer, a Nad c352 integrated amp, and Acoustic Energy Evo 3 speakers.

I have around £1k to upgrade and not sure where I need to spend the money most wisely.

I'm thinking that the amp may be the best place to start, possibly the Naim Nait 5si, but not really sure and so open to any advice.

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 18055
Registered: May-04

There is no way to advise you given your post and the lack of information you've provided.

We can't read your mind and we can't listen to your system. You need to help us understand what you find enjoyable and what you want from your music. You also need to give us some idea how you will go about this purchase; by on line ordering or auditions conducted in local shops.

At the moment, IMO, your system is a mix of mid-hi personalities. The NAD leans in one direction while your speakers and streamer move to another beat. How did you select each component? What qualities and values were you listening for? Did you rely simply on specs and reviews?

Over my decades of selling high end audio, I always suggested to my clients they establish a set of priorities. First, know what live music is all about to you. You don't have to play an instrument or even understand the fundamental rules of music, though this is certainly not harmful, but you must have a sense of what live music does. What it does in a real world venue vs a recording studio and what it does to you as a listener. Music is based on structure and those structures are what we respond to as a listener. Something so simple as the performer stressing a different beat in each measure will make our brains respond to the music in a manner not found when we hear another beat highlighted. Think of a march tempo vs a waltz tempo.

If you are not listening for "the music" but to the hifi, then you have your priorities in the wrong place IMO. There will always be another piece of equipment which can better whatever you buy at whatever budget. Music is timeless; styles change but the basic reason for music remains the same. A system that reproduces this style well can also reproduce that style well. If a style depends on a frequency shift, say, the heavy bass of certain modern styles, then you can make a system into a better music system in most cases. If volume is your main priority, then you should be listening with an ear toward the dynamic potential of the music. Not simply to how loud you can get the SPL's.

If you are focusing your attention on the equipment side; imaging, soundstaging, "inner detail", etc, then you are often missing what is the real reason for improving your audio system IMO.

If you are after a greater sense of immediacy to the music, a more definite sense of communication between artists and a flow and momentum to the music progression, then you must tell us what your system lacks at the moment. What does the system do well? What are you preferring the system did better?

Just throwing money at the equipment is somewhat useless if bottlenecks in the set up remain. A well set up mid-cost system can easily compete and even better the musical qualities of a higher cost system if the system is tuned to maximize returns. Speaker set up is the first step and, if you've not done such a rigorous arrangement of your equipment to achieve the very best from your speakers, start there. It will cost you nothing more than your time. Speaker stands and supports are generally needed for a smaller system and buying the correct accessories will up the ante for your next equipment upgrade. By first removing the stopping blocks present in your current system, you'll initially improve your system's musicality and subsequently open the door to a more complete understanding of what a "better" component has to offer. If you do nothing in the way of set up, every component upgrade will still hit that wall and that is still what you will perceive as "the sound" of any component you try out. So pay attention to the gear you have before you begin throwing money at something new.

All of this goes to building a quality system at any cost, not just buying more gear. Tell us more about your music and what you find appealing and what could stand some improvement. Explain steps you've taken in set up to maximize your payback.

Tell us why the Naim appeals to you. In other words, give us lots more information.


New member
Username: Frazzle

Post Number: 4
Registered: Mar-07
Crikey. Thanks for the full response. The detail of your response, and the experience you clearly have makes it difficult to respond on a like for like basis.

My set up tells you I'm no expert. My speakers and amp were purchased together 7 or more years ago. I found what I could afford, and read the reviews as best as I could. I bought the streamer last year having had a difficult experience with a squeezebox but wanting to retain the streaming capability. So I'll tell you what I can.

My room is approx 16ft by 12ft. The speakers are approx 1ft from away from the wall behind them. My music is either burned as flac or wav. I listen to a wide variety of music from Led Zeppelin to Hot Chip.

I suggest Naim because my father has a Naim set up with pre and power amps, and a set of Linn speakers. I can't tell you which models they are, I just know it sounds pretty good,and if I can make a small step toward my set up sounding that good, it would be a good step forward.

I have a store local to me that could arrange a test.They sell Creek, Cyrus, Naim, Roksan, Arcam. I'm just looking to get general view on where an experienced audiophile would recommend spending their money if they had my system.

New member
Username: Frazzle

Post Number: 5
Registered: Mar-07
Trying to add bit more info in a beginners language...

- the bass can be a blur rather than punch
- the treble can be too harsh at times
- the mid-range can lack detail and I would like to pick out the contribution that the instruments make to the song more easily.

I suspect my system is average at each component level and my cabling is very poor. So the whole thing is up for grabs. I want greater clarity and more punch, and enough power to fill the room.

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 18056
Registered: May-04

"I listen to a wide variety of music from Led Zeppelin to Hot Chip."

That pretty much covers rock to pop, right?

Do you listen to any music that does not require amplification? Jazz? Blues? Folk? Acoustic rock? Classical?

Do you attend live music performances? If so, how often? What sort of music? What types of venues? Doesn't matter if it's just live buskers playing on the street corner. Live music is not the same as recorded music. Do you have a tuner which can pick up any live broadcasts?

Have you discussed this change with your father? What sort of music does he prefer? Has he expressed an opinion of your present system?

Cabling doesn't need to expensive, just properly constructed and well suited to your system and musical values. If your father is an "audiophile", I'd get his take on this.

I can't remember the last time I met someone in a position similar to your own who had done a proper speaker set up. You have a basic problem of dimensions with your room. Whenever the basic measurements of the length and width can be divided by a common number, standing waves can be introduced. If your ceilings can also be divided by that number, the problems become more obvious.

It's very difficult to work around standing waves other than to try various positions for your speakers and your listening chair. The real answer is either some room treatments (or digital room correction) or, in some cases setting the speakers across the diagonal of your room can benefit the situation. Whether your speakers are set up on the long wall of the short wall makes a significant difference in your perception of tonal balance and more hifi related values such a imaging and soundstaging.

I generally ask that you perform a basic speaker set up first. Try using the WASP system;

This system typically provides the best overall balance between speaker placement and traffic patterns in a smaller room. If you find you can't permanently leave the speakers out into the room, mark their position with some tape and push them back when you are not listening to music. As you become more critical of your system's performance, small, incremental movements in position will make a larger improvement in sound quality.

If you don't have good speaker stands, these are a bit of a must have before you can enjoy the best performance form your system. Stacked cement blocks make good stands for temporary set ups but aren't great over time and do tend to be pretty ugly. Plus they'll scratch your floors of you don't have carpets. You'll want a stand that places the tweeters at approximately "ear height" which, for most chairs/sofas will be about 36" (plus or minus) from the floor. So first measure your average "ear height" in your favorite chair (A), then measure the distance from the base of the speaker enclosure to the center of the tweeter (B). Subtract B from A and that's the approximate height of the stands you'll want to buy.

When you first begin your set up, you'll want the listening chair placed equal distance from each side wall and about at an equilateral triangle from your speaker position. Do not place the chair in the exact center of the room, however, Centered between the side walls, yes, but not centered between the front and back walls. Possibly, start with your chair about 20-30% into the room measured from the wall behind your listening position.

Tweaking the chair position after you have the speakers located is always a good idea. Spiking the stands will gain tighter, more rhythmic bass lines and an overall cleaner presentation. Once again, as you become more critical, small alterations such a securing the speakers to the stands with a pliable adhesive will make for an improvement in most systems. Though, in some systems, raising or lowering the tilt of the front baffle will require alternative supports. So just get the speakers set up well for now. If you need longer cables to experiment with speaker position, ask if your father has some spares. If you must by some speaker cables, Naim, Kimber and AudioQuest all sell very good basic cables for not a lot of cash. Some audio shops will loan cables for a weekend. Ask before you spend for now.

Do the speaker set up and let me know what changes. We can go from there.


Gold Member
Username: Dakulis

Spokane, Washington United States

Post Number: 1381
Registered: May-05

Just so you know, I followed Jan's advice about two years ago when I was considering an upgrade to my integrated amp. After making the necessary changes in room set up, adding some cut up tennis balls to further isolate my CD player and a few other tweaks Jan recommended, I opted to keep this system awhile longer. . . As any audiophile will tell you, though, upgraditis will eventually set in, I'm afraid. Good luck.

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 18058
Registered: May-04

At least you've removed a few bottlenecks, eh, Dak?
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