Is my amp supposed to sound like this?

Hi All,

Before I write anything I’d just like to say that I’m new to Naim and am certainly no audiophile, but none the less I’d very much appreciate your help and advice. I currently have a Naim Supernait 3 on home demo and have been running as many different types and genres of tunes through it to get an idea of if it’s for me.

First impressions are that I love it! The build quality, the design, the zing and separation (I kind of get what this means now) when listening to certain tunes is amazing. The issue I have is that when I listen to softer tracks that in my opinion should be more relaxing, the mid to upper base range seems to be punchy and overpowering which to my ears makes them hard to listen to and tiring! To the point where I can only listen to half a dozen or so tracks before I have to have a rest!!

I have this amp plugged into some kef Q7 speaker (which at some point I would like to upgrade) and feed it via analogue outputs from my sonos connect. I am also streaming from either tidal or from my NAS drive that holds my CD collection ripped in lossless format.

Now I know this setup isn’t ideal but my old sony 777ES amp has gone pop and these are my first steps into the Naim world. I understand that I will require a better DAC and maybe also upgrade my streamer, it’s connected to the sonos for now as that is what is in the rest of the house. I suppose my questions are these; is this punchiness/mid upper base forwardness to be expected with my setup as it is? Is this just the Naim sound? Will any of the upgrades I’ve mentioned improve this particular aspect of the sound in my setup and allow me to enjoy these softer tunes in a relaxed manner?

For the record, and I know everybody’s music taste is different but two of the softer tunes I’ve listened to are “sail away” by David Grey (or most tracks from the white ladder album) and “spinning the wheel” by George Michael. Whereas one of the tunes that stood out as amazing was “money for nothing” by dire straits.

I have this amp on demo until Friday morning of this week and as mentioned I would be very grateful for your thoughts, I’d hate to have to take this back full stop but especially if I haven’t explored all avenues to make it work for me. Thank you in advance.

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Welcome to the Naim Forum. Firstly, the SN3 is a fine integrated amplifier. The problem you have is that you don’t feed a Naim with a Sonos and expect great results. If I were you I’d try to borrow an NDX2 from your dealer and see what it’s capable of. Your speakers must be questioned too, but at least you are used to them and they are probably not that bad.

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You could always try an xs instead. You might just prefer the balance of it.
Did you listen to anything at a dealers before bringing the sn home?

As HH has said it’s going to be the source that’s letting things down and a speaker upgrade will probably bear fruit too.

All this depends on your budget. The NDX2 is excellent but adds over £5k to the cost.

Have you considered a Nova instead? This is an all in one streamer/amp at a similar price to the SN3 which may fit the bill nicely and allow you to lose the Sonos.

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I’d concur with all of the above replies. The Supernait 3 needs a source which complements it and the obvious partner is the NDX2. You don’t mention what type of speaker cable is connected at present. That may also be a factor.
If the NDX2 is beyond budget then perhaps consider the XS series ? (Both amp and streamer). Of course that still may be out of budget so if that is the case the Nova might provide a good solution.
I personally would want an NDX2 as the bare minimum for the SN3. I guess it will all come down to budget but hopefully you can find a combination which gels for you and stays within budget.
I’d add the caveat that staying within budget in my experience is almost impossible! :thinking:
I am editing this after realising I said the word “budget” so many times. I must be trying to send myself subliminal messages!

Yes I tried a direct comparison between the Nova and the the Supernait, I was really surprised by how good the Nova sounded for an all in one but I thought the highs were ever so slightly harsher than the Supernait and that the latter had a more rounded sound that would be more enjoyable to listen to over a longer amount of time.

Interestingly I went with a friend of mine who produces electronic music for a profession and he preferred the highs of the Nova and thought they were closer to his Adam studio monitors.

Thank you, I read many posts on here already but it’s good to be involved. I did ask my dealer for a home demo streamer or separate DAC but they never had one available, do you think this would make the improvement in the specific area I mentioned?

I do know my speakers require upgrading but they sounded ok with my old amp, although that was nowhere near the same quality as this SN3. Do you think the improved signal from this new amp would highlight the dificiencies in my speakers in the way that I’ve described?

My budget isn’t limitless but I can spend more on something that is going to improve/soften this overpowering punchiness but I’m unsure what to start on.

Is this overpowering punchiness in the midbass and upper bass of the SN3 in direct comparison to the Sony 777ES with the same speakers and source?

Welcome

As @hungryhalibut and others know I think we can over estimate the importance of the source components(s) but I suspect you are asking a bit much of the Sonos. A ND5XS (works brilliantly with the SN3) or NDX2 is obvious but I’m sure a good DAC would help no end.

Don’t know Kefs anyone with experience of the Naim/Kef synergy?

Good luck.

I would go first to a dealer, maybe two, and listen to a Naim system, from sources to electronics. See first if the Naim sound is on your taste.
If you like a sound which has drive, authority, grip, and prat, you will be satisfied. But if you search a sound on a soft, nice and refined sound, a bit laid back, then I would search outside Naim if I were you. More Accuphase or Luxman.
In my opinion it’s the first step, before thinking of upgrading the source.

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Thank you. Certainly the tracks in this album sound softer, perhaps more forthright than I am used to but that is not a negative reflection on my new amp but probably on my old one.

Ideally though I would like my HiFi equipment to bring the best out of any recording to make all of the tunes I’ve loved over the years more enjoyable, am i asking too much or just barking up the wrong tree?

Yes, but not side by side as the old amp has stopped working.

I did listen to two in shop demos and this amp sounded great, I think for me though there is a difference to a 1 hours demo in a shop and hours of listening at home.

Thank you, I think this sounds like good advice.

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Thanks for the response. It’s fine if the comparison is not side by side. Apart from the earlier suggestions, I think you have to listen to all options to determine if the Naim will suit you. In my opinion, speakers come first then only the amp. If you plan to upgrade the speakers in future, the SN3 will need to match the speakers. In essence the whole combination of the system will need to match your listening preference.
As Frenchrooster had mentioned, the Naim sound is more to punch and drive which may partly explain the overpowering midbass and upper bass if you compare the SN3 with the laid back or flat sounding Sony, relatively speaking. The Nait XS as suggested above may be worth a look as it sounds more laid back with reduced punch and drive in comparison to the separates and possibly the SN3.

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What was feeding the SN3 for this demonstration, and what loudspeakers were in use?

I’ve never had the opportunity to hear a Naim amp, but your experience doesn’t surprise me given all I’ve read about the “Naim Sound” over the years, a design focus seemingly being to get the listener to tap their feet, which to some is apparently a measure of engagement in music…

So why are you here? :thinking:

Where?

But learned nothing…
:roll_eyes:

Since you ask:

  1. I had an ND5XS, which was good, and led me to the forum. I would like to hear a Naim power amp - 300 or 500 - but to do in a meaningful way requires a couple of days and several £hundred, and as I’ve always been happy with the amps I’ve had nothing has pushed me to take that step, it waiting until some time when I am at or close to a dealer with time to spare. Meanwhile advice seems to be that Naim power amps should really only be used with Naim preamps, and my system no longer has/needs a preamp, so it is debatable whether worth bothering.
  2. A lot in this forum. Lots of snippets. Some people say there’s no Naim Sound, but plenty of others (Naim users) have said there is. I don’t recall anyone defining it, but comments lead to impressions. It also appears that the ‘Sound’ diminishes going up the range and over decades of development, and I postulated an explanation in a previous thread. Out of curiosity, how would you describe the Naim Sound?
  3. I can only go on the impression given in this forum - are you suggesting there isn’t a prevalence of wanting feet to tap, and Naim achieving it, among Naimites? It is certainly a very common expression denoting the poster’s satisfaction with some component or system…
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It’s certainly true that Naim recommend using their pre-amps to be partnered with their power amps but there are a few people on the forum who use who use a third party pre-amp with a Naim power amp.

All amplification will have slightly differing characteristics and some people will prefer different amplifiers. There isn’t a “wire with gain” amp.

Naimites is just an insult as if these people are brainwashed rather than making a considered decision. I can tap my foot to a Bush valve radio!
:slightly_smiling_face:

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Naimites was not meant in that sense at all, but simply meant people who have Naim systems. (Their choice I assume is because that gives them the presentation they like.) Your comment about Bush radio highlights my point that it is a not a measure of sound quality, however it certainly appears to be a common measure used this forum at least, suggesting it as an indication of engagement particularly arising from better sound with a new component or tweak.