272 + 555 DR... again

Hi everybody. This is my first post on the forum, even if I have been an active reader for quite a few years. I am not from UK, so not a native English speaker, so excuse from the start any strange use of the language.
I started my journey 10 years ago, with a XS and a CD5i2, changing and upgrading on a more or less constant basis all the way to the current 272+555DR+250DR, SL full loom, Powerlines, Focal 1028, Rel T9i, Viablue UFO absorbers under Naims, Viablue QTC spikes under speakers. Basically I could squeeze out of a 3 box system.
Which brings me to my topic today. The last upgrade was moving from XPS DR to a 555 PS from 2006, but upgraded to DR and recapped in 2013 (confirmed by Naim). I bit a very hard bullet, both from taking it solely on what I read it should do the the 272, as well as from cost perspective (since UK is no longer in the EUR, that meant paying the local VAT on top).
The problem I am sharing is that the impact is hardly the one I expected. Indeed it’s only been one day, but since we shouldn’t be talking about a new unit, and therefore breaking-in required, I wonder if what I’m hearing is permanent or it should still change in time, for better or worse.
So what am I hearing, replacing the XPS DR with the 555 DR, first impressions:

  • less bass, thinner sound. I was expecting a warmer, more fuller impression, that’s not the case. Can’t tell if it’s deeper or not, anyway the room won’t allow for that low frequencies to form a stable wave
  • indeed more detail, but at the expense of sounding more bright
  • voices more upfront, more into the room
  • can’t tell if there’s more separation of instruments, nor more natural sounding
  • slightly wider stage, with more sounds coming from outside of the speakers from both left and right
  • not necessary a deeper stage, but that my be because of the huge mirror (aka TV) that sits in the middle
  • apparent lower volume, like I need to turn the dial more to get the same sound level
    The room is fairly small and square, 4.5 x 4.5 m, speakers at ~1 m from the back wall and ~2.3 m in-between. No Fraim and no plans nor place to put one, all units sit on a custom furniture, also hosting the TV, but each one on its own shelf: 555 on the bottom, 250 middle and 272 on top, no chance for decent cable dressing. “Serious” listening done from a NAS in the local network (wired), casual listening from Internet radio and of course TV.
    In conclusion, I will continue to see how/if the sound evolves in the next period, I could also use some encouragements from your side.

Hi and welcome. First question, do you know how long since the 555 was last used, Naim equipment if not used can take sometime to get back to peak performance normally a couple of days.

Regards,

Lindsay

It may also be worth checking a couple of things on the Burndy cable

1 The locking rings should be done up properly until they ‘click’ into place (unlike the locking collars of 5 pin DIN connectors that are often better left loose).

2 Tension in the Burndy cable: since you’ve moved it to replace the XPS with the 555, it may well have gained a bit more internal stress, and it may well be beneficial to give it a relaxing massage (yes, really, this actually isn’t a joke!); this can also help the sound.

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Hi randi
I have the same system ie 272/555dr/250dr.
I found a brand new, in jy case, 555dr brought an immediate improvement to my bare 272/250dr. Having said that the sound quality did fluctuate for the first few months.
Could it be your cabling? The burndy cable could be an issue if it is not relaxed and draped correctly. It could be worth getting the cables sitting as well as possible and the give the whole kit and caboodle a month or two to settle in.

I can only estimate it as at least 1 month, since I started the conversation with the re-seller, a used equipment dealer. How long has he had it in stock before that, no clue.

Can you take a picture of the burndys at the back and post?

Not really, it’s extremely tight in the back. Indeed all of the cables are quite twisted, but they were like that before. I will try a “Burndy massage” as recommended, though when it goes back it will be squeezed again.

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One more point: the Focal 1028 have WAY too much bass extension for a 4.5m square room; you’ll be getting massive excitation of the fundamental 38Hz room resonance mode. It may be that what you are perceiving as being “less bass & thinner sound” is actually the system behaving better at low frequencies and better controlling the bass resonance of the room. This reduction of the excessive bass back to ‘normal’ proportions may also be why you have an apparent lower volume.

A rough and very approximate way to detect this is to use a frequency analyser on a 'phone. It’s important to note that the bass response of 'phone microphones is usually quite poor, so instead of looking for a rising bass response, a problem with the bass resonance of the room may be shown by a peak in an otherwise falling bass response.

To do this measurement accurately you need to use something like REW (or other software) and a UMIK-1 microphone (or another type of calibrated instrumentation microphone). Using this setup you can identify many acoustic faults in a room (not just bass resonance) and work out what measures are needed to improve the sound of the room. It’s also by far the best way to calibrate the crossover frequency, level, placement and timing of a sub.

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Roughly the same in going from SN2 to SN3. 250DR to 300DR. XPSDR to 555PSDR. At first it’s easy to miss the former but give it a couple of weeks and you won’t look back.

What’s the optimal life of a recap now? 10 years for optimal performance?

12-15 years on black boxes recommended by Naim.

Wow, I didn’t realize it was that long now. Is there any linear drop off in performance?

The 555 is getting on for 8 years old. It could be getting ready for a recap?? Not all people think 500 series can last as long as Naim recommend.

If 5 series degraded to a level where it perform bad to the extent that people think it’s something wrong after 8 years they would of course claim service earlier. They don’t. I would trust Naim recommended levels that repair these products all day year after year and have done so for many many years. The range 12-15 I would assume is due to how it has been treated, environment (heat etc) and such that could push it towards 12. I’ve heard Naim dealers claim there is no reason doing service earlier than 14-15 years in general. So 8 is no problem at all IMO.

@Slamdam fair point. Not all use conditions are equal though and some people on here have reported a service interval of less making quite a difference to the sound.

There are also people here claiming the humidity levels in the room change the sound performance. In this hobby one must chose what to believe in or forever remain insane :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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There are improvements from the description. It might be a case of expectations exceeding reality :flushed:

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It’s also possible that the 300 is simply too much for the small room. I have a larger listening room and gone for a 250 over the 300 with a 252 for this very reason. System balance that is matched with the room is really important at this level of gear.

What seems curious is that 272/555dr gives thinner sound vs 272/ XPS dr.
Normally the sound should be fuller.
Something is wrong, my impression.

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I use a 300DR (with 272 / 555DR) in a room 3.75mx4.25m, and have a very even frequency response: so it’s not a problem with power amp / room matching (however, I do use bass traps to deal with the fundamental room modes).

On the other hand, could be a problem with speaker / room matching & listener expectations - i.e. having got used to an overblown bass peak due to room modes (which has now reduced with better control from the electronics).