I’m hoping for some of the group’s wisdom to help me possibly avoid a mistake.
I’m a new Naim owner as of about 3 weeks ago. Nova/B&W 805Ns/REL Strata III/NAC A5s. I’ve had all but the Nova for 20+ years. I know plenty will say the 805s are not well paired with the Nova, but I’m very, very happy with the sound.
The advice I’m asking for has to do with a media center I’m planning to make, but first things first. I bought the Nova for its simplicity. I plan to add the Innuos MK3 Zenith, which will make the streamer redundant, so I’ll move the Nova into my office/study and get a SN3 and DAC (could use some advice on this) and house those and the Innuos in/on the media center along with a TT that will come later.
Room specs. I live about 20 miles from Santa Fe, New Mexico in a home with 16” thick solid adobe walls, polished concrete floor and 14 foot pitched roof. The listening area is roughly ⅓ of an open room that includes a dining area and kitchen. Overall the room is 46 feet by 21 feet. There is a monolithic floor-to-ceiling two way fireplace with a 7 foot by 3 ½ foot footprint centered between the listening and dining areas. There are large area rugs in both areas. Speakers are facing the 21 foot width.
Now for the specific question. I’m an avid hobbyist woodworker and my retirement career is teaching furniture making at the local community college. My idea is to build a console roughly 54” wide, 24” deep and 36” tall. I plan to laminate natural cork veneer to an MDF substrate edged in solid wood around the perimeter for the top of the cabinet. The TT and Innuos would be placed on the cork top. Below that, centered, would be an isolated shelf for the SN3 and DAC, although the DAC may go on a separate smaller shelf to the side. Now the big question, I’d like to house the REL Strata III below the SN3 in its own isolated cubby that’s open on the bottom and the back so as not to be visible yet still be accessible. I don’t really have a better place to put it. To either side would be LP storage and drawers for various bits. The LPs would be enclosed by sliding tambours that would stop at the width of the SN3 shelf. TV will be wall mounted above it all but not connected. 805s will go to the side of the console.
I can easily mock up the cubby for the bottom firing sub to see if there are horrible repercussions, but would this plan, in your opinion, be foolish due to vibration and/or echo related issues? Again, the sub would not be in contact with the cabinet itself, just surrounded by it.
The alternative is would be to move the existing speakers with the Nova to the office and replace them with floor standers.
Having a great big solid box between the speakers is really not a good idea, and putting a subwoofer in the middle of it is a very, very bad idea. The best place for a sub is often on the side or the back wall. For best sound from a Naim system you really want a simple light rack rather than something big and heavy. Might you be better with something light and simple for the system, and then indulge your woodworking skills with a nice storage unit for elsewhere in the room?
Have you considered the option of putting the music on a nas that can be hidden away? That way the Nova would be fully utilised. It seems a shame to boot it out when you’ve only had it three weeks. If you do want a better Naim setup in the main room you may find the NDX2 and SN3 fits the bill.
The console, including the sub, would not be between the speakers, but to the left of them about 6 - 7 feet. The sub would be centered in the console. Because of the layout of the room, specifically doors, I have no other place to put it. The 805s are on either side of a 6 foot set of double doors and the master bedroom door is to the right of the right speaker. The console would go between the previously mentioned double doors and another set of identical doors to its left. So, large doors on left, console, left speaker, large doors, right speaker, bedroom door. Unless I run the sub cable across the floor there’s nowhere else to put it.
I’m not looking to improve on the sound of the Nova or to boot it. That’s not why I’m looking at the SN3/Innuos setup. I’ve fallen in love with the Nova. I spend a lot of time in the office and would love to have it here, as well as my main listening area. I have a NAS for system backups. However, the simplicity is what I’m after. I’d prefer to not mess with computers, network, etc. any more than I absolutely have to.
I made a small minimal open rack from hardwood and it had quite a big impact when removing the old cabinet style unit. Units like you describe are basically speaker boxes that will add to resonance heard in the room. Locking your sub into one place is also a bad move in my opinion. There is no guarantee that this is where it will sound best. I can’t tell on the impact the sub will have on the nova but I’d say it will be problematic. It’s a risk placing that sub there. If you can place your hand on the unit when Music is playing and feel it resonating then it is an issue. That’s why I ended up getting rid of mine. If you can build it to ensure it is solid and doesn’t vibrate then you might be ok. How you would do that I’m not sure. It sounds like you are good with woodworking. You should be making your own speakers!!
For example, when I run a frequency sweep through my speakers, @ 30hz and with some volume my glasses/drinks cabinet starts shaking and the glasses start rattling. I would definitely not want any of my equipment placed on that unit.
The only way I have found over the years to mitigate this is to build units as open as possible so they don’t act like speaker cabinets.
@anon4489532 Thank you again for your input. You guys have convinced me that the sub inside the console is a bad idea.
@Mark84 Thank you as well. Making my own speakers does not fall into my simplicity picture. As for the cabinet, I had a Fraim-type triangular open setup for years and am going for a different look this time. Aesthetics have overtaken optimal configuration. I’m fairly certain that with a little study and a little experimentation I can keep the components well enough isolated that it won’t become a speaker box. I will heed your advice about the sub, though. Much appreciated.
If you read the last post he has already agreed that the sub in the cabinet is not the best way forward. Instead deciding to make the rack for his system only with absolute performance not being preferential over aesthetics.
@opus You called…
Sorry, I was asleep… Typically it happens about once per day.
I’m pleased you have accepted that putting a sub inside a box supporting the electronics is not a good idea. It would be disastrous, the pressure waves from the sub would be powerful enough to shake the whole structure, even if the sub is mechanically isolated. @anon4489532 and @Mark84 are absolutely right.
My next serious concern is mounting the TT on a large resonant box. TT’s are ultra sensitive to vibration, the cartridge can respond to movements as small as 20 millionths of an inch!
Even the electronics (Nova or SN3 + DAC or whatever you end up with) are gong to be affected by vibration and energy absorption characteristics in the support structure you provide for them, and a large box like structure will respond to air pressure waves by resonating… to it’s own rhythm, out of time with the music, so badly muddying the signal.
Would it be possible to build the box like structure to conceal a much smaller, light but rigid open rack WITHIN the box, but mechanically separate from it? This can give the aesthetics you want without passing ‘box like’ vibrations on to the HiFi equipment.
I feel confident that I can design and build something that will incorporate enough of the critical design elements used in the engineering of the Fraim, as well as the Isoblue used by @anon4489532 to sufficiently minimize the unwanted negatives you’ve mentioned.
For instance, the top of the unit could easily make use of the same cone in cup technology used in the Fraim systems to rest on top of the legs, yet still look as though it were attached. Couple that with the use of cork laminated to MDF as the substrate for the top and I believe the TT while work to the satisfaction of my old ears. The box within a box is exactly what I envisioned for the shelves. Open (for the most part) in the back and completely in the front, similar to the Isoblue. The only parts of the carcase that would be enclosed are the left and right stacks for LP storage and the drawers, and even those could easily be open in the back and would be closed in the front only when not in use.
I know a picture is worth a 1000 words in this case. Once I’ve thought through this a bit more I’ll draw something up in CAD and post it. I would value your feedback.
Hopefully I’m not coming off as argumentative. I can easily recognize Xanthe’s expertise in the area, as well as that of others who have contributed. I’m here to learn.
Having said that, I know what my priorities are and what I will be able to accept. As stated above, I’m not looking to get the absolute best sound quality from my system. I recognize that my efforts will result in compromise.
As I write this, due to space restrictions in the area where my system is located, my CD player is sitting directly on top of the subwoofer which is centered between my speakers and in front of a glass door. In short, everything about is is wrong. The sound I’m getting is better than I’ve ever heard from these speakers in the 20+ years I’ve had them. It’s for that reason that I asked about placing the sub within an enclosure.
When we moved here 7 years ago my wife objected to the appearance of the system where it now is and asked that I move it upstairs to a second living area. She passed away last summer and I’ve since moved it back down. There is currently a huge armoire, a 4 foot by 8 foot floor to ceiling mirror and a small table where the new console will live. Until those things are gone, that’s how it will be.
It can only get better.
You certainly aren’t coming across as argumentative; rather genuinely interested in obtaining the best balance between sound and the aesthetic of your living space. Have you tried running the room simulation in REW (Room Equalisation Wizard) - it’s a piece of shareware that allows you to simulate rooms and also measure them accurately using a microphone. The simulation mode can be very useful in working out the best position for speakers, and seeing how adjustments to position may affect the sound. It’s particularly useful for working out where to position subs!
In terms of 'Fraim cups & balls", this thread is well worth reading, it describes something similar that can be done using materials that are easier to source for DIY (the Fraim cups are a very particular machined shape and the balls are not a common bearing steel)