A bit too bright

I ran 252/SC-DR, NDX/XPS-DR and 300/300PS non-DR through Sopra 1s for about four years and was really happy with the sound. I listen to a wide range of music but loud rock (Rush, Led Zep) was especially dynamic and engaging in my 5m x 4.5m room.

Then upgradeitis struck and I factory-upgraded the 300 to DR spec. This took ages because of Covid and meanwhile I managed to buy one of the glut of second-hand NDSs (following the ND555 launch) plus a CD555PS. I also fitted Powerlines.

There’s lots of good stuff coming out of the new system but it is notably brighter in balance, where the kind of rock I listen to sounds edgy, with cymbals and bright synth effects much higher in the mix. I prefered the tonal balance of the old system.

If you had to get back to the tonal balance of the old system what would you do? I understand the truism that “you need to put yourself into the hands of a good dealer” but I’m an impulsive auction buyer who lives 150 miles from a decent dealer so I’m looking to practical suggestions of steps I can take of upward/downward or sideways changes. Thanks in advance for your inputs!

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How many hours on the system?

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And what interconnects/cabling, rack/supports and server do you use?

The 252/SCDR are very sensitive to set-up, the DRing of the 300 will take time to bed in and the NDS/555PS is a much more revealing beast.

I have just clocked your avatar name so I won’t bother asking about your LAN. :wink:

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Reevaluate the acoustic treatments in your room.

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I have found that brightness can be slightly attenuated by speaker positioning/repositioning. If you have changed equipment all you might need to do is fine tune the position. It can just make the difference.

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As Mark says, moving the speakers slightly may help. If they are pointing towards you, try less toe in. You’ll find that the NDS with its metal feet is more sensitive to the system support. Are you using a really good stand? Do you you have dedicated mains? If not, that and supports is where I’d look. Maybe a picture of the system would help here.

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As others have said, pay attention to setup, stand, cable dressing etc. I have the same system bar speakers and it’s not bright at all.

I went from an NDX/XPS DR to NDS/555DR and for me it had the opposite effect. In fact a forum buddy visited and his first words to describe the sound was ‘mellow’.

I’ve heard it said that the 300DR (and 250) upgrade takes away some warmth in return for dynamics and insight so that could be the reason for the change in balance.

Having said all this, Sopra’s wouldn’t be my choice as I find them too bright so maybe they are showing their true colours now.

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I’ve always attributed that most severe type of edginess to speaker presentation and often just inherent attributes of some speakers. We’re listening to a lot of speakers lately and many respected and not-cheap models have a mid/treble presentation that doesn’t suit us and we’d use that adjective. But I’ve not heard Focals.

If it’s drastically different now something else may need attention. I’d definitely not chalk it up to a characteristic of the 300DR vs the original 300 however, nor of the NDS per se. Both of which I’ve had in my home system.

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Hello! As someone powering Sopra (albeit Sopra 2) with 300DR, I hope I can help.

I remember when we moved from 250 to 300DR - we were suddenly getting more of everything as we drove the speakers to new levels of performance. Some careful positioning and consideration makes a huge difference.

Firstly some questions: which speaker stands and speaker cables are you using?

How are the speakers positioned - distance from wall; toe-in etc?

Where are you sitting in the room - distance from speaker etc.

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Once you’ve double checked setup, and assuming you have a Fraim, maybe see if you can home dem an Isoblue rack. You’ll likely lose some resolution but notes have a lovely natural decay and it has a softer/warmer sound than most racks. A lot of Naim dealers stock it.

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I’ve had the system powered up continuously, but in terms of actual listening, probably 100 hours or so.

Interconnects are standard Naim, with the exception of a HiLine between NDS and 252. My rack is Quadraspire with toughened glass shelves. Speaker cable is Tellurium Q black. I listen to Tidal via a hard-wired Ethernet cable to the NDS.

I’m using a Quadraspire rack with toughened glass shelves. For domestic harmony reasons Fraim is out of the question :smile:

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Wooden Quadraspire shelves should help. There’s not a big difference between Isoblue and the basic Quadrapsire with wood shelves. Quad is a bit cleaner sounding

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I’d definitely be looking at getting wooden shelves. The basic Quadraspire is quite, well, basic and I’d suggest you look into something better. The Quadraspire SVT in bamboo is excellent and I’ve used it in the past, though it’s deeper than the standard, which may not work for you.

I’m currently using Isoblue Special Branch, having swapped from Fraim. Having owned various racks I’d say it was the most Fraim-like. It’s small, a doddle to set up and dust, and looks very nice too.

Bits may be bits but stands really are quite different, and a glass Quadraspire is doing you no favours.

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In that case I would play around with speaker positioning first, as it costs nothing.

I however suspect the glass Quadraspire rack could be a culprit of the brightness. The 252 and NDS are very sensitive to set up. If Fraim is out of the question, can you try Isoblue? And also pay attention to cabe dressing, especially the Burndies.

You may also have to look at your room and if there are many hard, unbroken surfaces you might consider adding some soft furnishings and rugs, assuming you don’t want to go down the road of full room treatment.

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I don’t think there is any rational reason to assume that the frame material on which an amplifier rests has any influence on the brightness of the sound it produces.

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When Naim developed the Fraim, they experimented with different materials for both the shelving, mounts and upright supports. Different materials had a significant effect on SQ and it took some experimentation to arrive at an optimum, affordable solution.

So both rack design and materials used have an effect on SQ IMV.

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Really interesting that your NDX to NDS transition made your system more mellow.

Forget rational reasons and theory. You only need to try it to hear the impact. Glass stands and make the sound really bright. I know Fraim has glass but it’s used in conjunction with wood and steel, so different.

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