"What a refreshingly honest blog about listening to music through hi-fi. So happy to see views based upon the enjoyment of music rather than so-called sound 'quality'." - Peter Comeau, Director of Acoustic Design at Mission / Wharfedale

Sunday 22 April 2012

Heard The New Naim NDS Today

Naim are touring their NDS at the moment in the UK.

Heard this playing at Acoustica in Chester. System as follows:

252 pre-amp with Supercap power supply
NAP300 power amp with its dedicated power supply
NAC speaker cable
Naim Ovator S-600 speakers

Streamers (all include an on-board DAC):
NDX (£3k)
NDX with 555PS power supply (£9k)
NDS with 555PS power supply (£11k)

First, I really do not like Naim speakers, so this needs to be borne in mind. Having said that, today was the first time (in 4 attempts) that the S-600s actually were tolerable. They have this strange "cardboard" quality to some sounds such as snare and fingers rapping on a guitar body. They also harden up quite quickly, which doesn't complement the immdediacy of the Naim electronics at all.

We heard the NDX stand alone (just OK), the NDX with the 555PS (note that the PS is about 50% more expensive than the streamer) which works very well, and then the NDS with 555PS which was clearly the better sounding streamer, but not such a big improvement as adding the power supply to the NDX.

Within the constraints of the speakers (I know, this is very much a personal thing), each step brought greater clarity, more depth, improved image width etc. etc. But, joy of joys, apart from the stand alone NDX, there was none of that Naim shoutyness that, IMHO, is very tiring and somewhat irritating. Until they played XTC's Making Plans For Nigel on the NDX / 555PS, which was just about excrutiatingly painful.

Would love to hear the electronics with some of the larger B&W speakers in the shop. Maybe we can drop back in again soon when the Naim guy's gone home!

Is the NDS / 555PS a Linn Klimax DS rival? Difficult to say as I've only heard them in the context of their own make systems. But I suspect it will be, as anything that can make a pair of Naim speakers sound tolerable is a major achievement in my book.

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