Big stuff Vs Small stuff, a recent system comparison at my house.

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi and General Audio' started by dex, Sep 13, 2003.

  1. dex

    dex

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    Hello Folks,
    Well, this is my first proper post, so I hope it's of some interest as it involves a comparison and an evaluaton of various components in my system and a friends system at my house last weekend. (It took 2 days, lots of swapping of cables, components, ets, etc as well as lots of alcohol and take away food.) It involves old & new and large & small components and so makes an interesting insight into the components used.

    Anyway, fisrt the two systems involved.

    My System

    Nad C370 (Its Big) (Newish)
    Teac VRDS-T1 (So is this) (Old)
    Teac D-T1 (Average) (Old)
    Mordaunt Short MS 25i Pearl (Smallish for a floorstander) (Old)
    Gale Xl 160-2 Cable
    Qed 2 Interconnects
    Soundstyle 5 Shelf Rack Thingy


    My Friends System

    Naim Nait 5 (Small) (New)
    Naim CD5 (Small) (New)
    Monitor Audio Silver 8i (Medium sized) (New)
    Standard Naim Interconnect
    Chord Odyssey

    My Living Room 4.5 x 4.0m



    The first thing we did was set up both systems on the equipment rack at the same time, so that we could hear them side by side. The speakers were positioned about 2.8m apart (each pair side by side and we swapped them around).
    This involved the removal of my Project Dedut turntable and my Sony tuner followed by an awful lot of pissing around with cables (It was spaghetti back there)

    Initially we used we used two CDs of the same album at the same time, played both at the same same time and used the remote to "mute" one system, then the other.

    At this point, I should really list the music that was used to evaluate the two systems. (In no particular order)

    Beth Orton
    AudioSlave
    Judas Priest
    Morcheeba
    Nickleback
    Mahler 4th & 5th
    Limp Bixkit
    Fun Lovin Criminals
    Sibelius (Finlandia)
    Norah Jones
    Coal Chamber
    Rage Against The Machine


    Anyway the first impressions were that the two systems were radically different in their tonality and presentations of the same piece of music, stereo separation on soundstaging being of a similar capability.

    First the Naim, MA 8i system. This is the only Naim system I've ever heard, but compared to my system mid range drive and attack are simply superb. This is totally apparent on Rage Against the Machine. On my MS 25i, Teac, Nad set up the guitars in some parts are very much quieter. The Naim system also really does do rhythms well and drives rock music better than most (well mine anyway).

    The small Naim amp did not have any problems driving the MA 8is to decent volumes in my room and dynamics were never in question in either system. Womens voices were also presented without any hint of harshness, were well balanced and neutral.

    Part of this may be due to the fact that I found the treble of the MA 8is to be subdued compared to what I am used to. Cymbals on rock materail seemed to be less sparkly and crisp than on the MS, Nad, Teac set up.

    Bass power, extention and speed were OK but never really came to life, but some tweeking later on helped improve this.



    Now, my MS, NAD, TEAC setup.

    Well, this may be controvertial but there was more low bass power and extention on tap with this setup in my room than the previous set up. Now this really did come as a surprise as we were expecting greater extention and bass power from the MA 8is, but never really managed it. I think the MA 8is are basically a much trickier speaker to set up (with 3 bass drivers and 2 reflex ports).

    Treble performance I found to be superior on the MS, NAD, TEAC setup, but this may well be down to personal preference as my friend thought it to be harsh (although we sorted this later).


    The midrange performance of my NAD based system however simply cannot compete with the MA, Naim setup, which really does bring out the tone and the aggression of the guitars on Rage Against The Machine.


    Right, that was a basic summary of the two systems.

    Next we tried swapping the CD players, amplifiers, speakers, cables etc in various combinations.

    We got a wide range of sounds here but the overall impession was that the Naim had a much more cultured treble than the NAD and that it had more midrange bite. (I should bloody think so too given the comparitive prices and power ratings).

    Now, obviously with two amlifiers there is the possiblity of Bi-Amping the speakers). Did we do it?...... Well, read on.



    DAMN RIGHT WE DID, now this proved to be the biggest surpise of our 2 day experiment.

    Did we piss off the neighbours?

    DAMN RIGHT WE DID

    Based on our intuition of the sounds of the varoius components we did the following first.

    MS 25i Pearl
    Nad C370 for bass duties
    Naim Nait5 for treble
    Gale Cable Bass
    Chord Cable Treble
    TEAC stuff source.


    Results?... Simply astounding, Big soundstage, big rich bass, expansive midrange and simply stunning detailed yet smooth treble that left both of us in tears.

    I had never expected such a big improvment by using separate amplifiers for bass and treble, but the set up above represented the best sound we achieved over 2 days of experimentation with vastly varying types of music (Stunning). We also tried the Naim on Bass duties and the NAD on treble but the results were, in comparison poor. Also tried the MA 8is both ways, cables swapped etc but still couldn't get close to the setup above. Midrange still subdued compared to the all Naim source and amp but much improved.



    Naim Nait5 (Superb Midrange, smooth bass, very nice treble, tonality and soundstaging excellent)

    NAD C370 (Lots of power, Good bass, average midrange, slightly less than average quality treble)

    Naim CD5 (Tremendous midrange drive, attack, not too neutral)

    Teac VRDS-T1, D-T1 (Very Neutral sound, not the most rythmic, good reference source)

    MA Silver 8i (Big dynamics available with the NAD C370, difficult to set up, probably need a larger room to shine, hollow boxy bass in my room, not convinced by the treble) (Erm ...Look nice)

    MS25i Pearl (Nice big bass )contrary to reviews on audioreview.com), detailed sparkly treble, could do with more midrange, they sound poor in larger rooms, i.e. 5m x 6m and above) (Erm... Look like shit without the grill).

    Chord Cable (Smooths off the slight aggressivness in my system without killing the detail or dynamics)

    Anyway it was an intesting combination of large vs small components and old vs new. Bi-amping really does seem to work and I can only think its because each amplifier has to deal with a much more simpler electrical load over a narrower frequency range. Blah,... Impedance,.... Blah,.....Phase angle,..... bloody resistance, capacitance, inductance, reactance and other electrical stuff)

    Anyway mine cost
    TEAC VRDS-T1, D-T1 £400
    NAD C370 £250
    MS25i Pearl £100


    My Friends cost
    alot more

    Well, I suppose it's time for another smooth sounding amplifier for the top end in my system, then I'll be in heaven.


    Anyone else done this kind of stuff?, and can anyone recommend a suitable power amp for the top end? cos that's my next purchase, along with cable for the speakers.
     
    dex, Sep 13, 2003
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  2. dex

    julian2002 Muper Soderator

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    dex,
    nice post, funnily enough i'm also starting to experiment wiht bi-amping, also using a nait 5 for the treble but with another naim amp for the low end.
    if you like the way the naim handled the treble why not look there for a suitable amp? there are various olive fronted (old style) naim amps available at silly prices (campared to the new cost) at the moment thanks to the new range. for example:
    nap 90 - 30 wpc - 150 - 350 ukp
    nap 140 - 45 wpc - 300 - 450 ukp
    nap 180 - 60 wpc - 400 - 600 ukp
    nap 250 - 70 wpc - 600 - 1200 ukp

    or you could look for a rarer but newer and possibly closer to the sound you heard nap 150 - 50 wpc - 400+ ish ukp.

    if you can;t stretch this far money wise there are a number of other amp manufacturers who produce similar sounding amps to naim.. those being...
    creek, rega, crimson and i'm sure there are others. if i was going for one of these it'd probably be the crimson (see if the emporium has still got one second hand).
    good luck in finding your perfect sound.
    cheers

    julian
     
    julian2002, Sep 13, 2003
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  3. dex

    Robbo

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    Dex,

    I biamp in my system with 2 dpa power amps and find that it works very well. the soundstage opens out nicely and I get more detail and dynamics compared to monoblocking or using single amps.

    If you are going to biamp with amps from different manufacturers, you will need to make sure they have the same input sensitivities, otherwise the bass/mid and treble will not be integrated properly.

    Cheers, Robbo
     
    Robbo, Sep 13, 2003
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  4. dex

    wadia-miester Mighty Rearranger

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    Dex, we do understand the Teac's1 lack of rythymic drive and pace but they can be completely cured and turned into a serious music maker, the dac not had any experinace with. WM
     
    wadia-miester, Sep 13, 2003
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  5. dex

    michaelab desafinado

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    Sound the alert! A piece of kit that Tone has never heard :eek: :eek: :yikes: :D

    btw dex, this post might interest you ;)

    That's not my T1 but it has been similarly modified by Tone. Will post results when I get it back in my system :cool:

    Michael.
     
    michaelab, Sep 13, 2003
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  6. dex

    dex

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    Upgrading soon (Again)

    Thanks for the feedback guys. You are all more or less confirming what I already think I have to do to improve the sound. I'll probably do it in this order. Cash ain't really tight, but I am (being Scottish)

    1) Speaker cable (Any smooth but detailed suggestions welcome). Price range £10 - 20 per metre.

    2) Another amplifier to enable bi-amping. Looking at all you guys suggestions

    3) Upgrade the TEAC power supply and clock circuit. But who does it? Tony? What are the specs of the replacemant components in terms of Jitter and Regulation? More importantly, does it sound much better?................HOW MUCH WILL MY WALLET HURT?

    4) I've left out interconnects because, for the money I really can't imagine a big enough jump in performance compared to that afforded by Bi-Amping (in the £300 - 400 range for a treble Amp)


    Dex

    P.S. Where the f**k can I get Crimson amplifiers in Scotland to demo?
     
    dex, Sep 14, 2003
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  7. dex

    julian2002 Muper Soderator

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    dex,
    have a talk to the guy at the emporium. he may do a sale or return thing. also if you are looking at naim amps have a talk to james at tom-tom ( http://www.tomtomaudio.com ) he's a little more expensive than the norm but he let me have a months trial on my nap 250 and they come with a no quibble money back guarantee if it breaks - not bad for 2nd hand gear - and he's got a bit of a sale on at the moment.
    cheers


    julian
     
    julian2002, Sep 14, 2003
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