Saturday, 12 April 2014

Chester Show 2014 - Naim and Focal

 
Thankfully, Naim's top end system (on display today) did 2 good things.  It avoided the Ovator loudspeakers and it wasn't in the massive vaulted roof barn building that the hotel uses for events such as weddings and parties.
Here we had a formidable pile of boxes from Naim.  Streaming provided by NDS / 555PS DR, control by NAC252 / SuperCap, power from the NAP300 and NACA5 speaker cables.  This lot was piled up on the (well to me anyway) attractive Naim Fraim rack.  Fed by about £2000 worth powerline mains cables and some fancy Perspex transparent distribution blocks the signal went off to drive a pair of Focal Scala Utopias.  Not as big and imposing as the Grand Utopias, but pretty substantial all the same.  They were in piano gloss black and exhibited a bit of orange peel effect in the paintwork, which would've been a reason to reject them back to the manufacturers if it'd been my money buying them.
 
I think this was easily the most expensive of a range of reasonably expensive systems on offer this weekend.  So it should've been the best, you'd be right to expect.
 
I'm going to make this clear again - I've yet to hear a Focal speaker system from their upper ranges (so the Diablo and above then) that I've got to grips with.  They just sound so technical and hifi to me, not really flowing with music that I'd want to listen to.  And we have the same story here too.  This system was massively better than the big Naim / Ovator rig from the 2013 show, but they did have a much much better room to work in.  Even then, there was a high frequency ringing in the room - its a fairly large room and apart from the carpet and the small number of lightweight curtains, there wasn't any soft furnishings in there at all.  So bearing that in mind it wasn't a bad sounding system, it just wasn't to my taste.  A touch boomy as it was, perhaps the speakers were too close to the rear walls, but they weren't that close.  The system also sounded better from the 3rd and 4th row of seats.

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