Difficult to find a thread that can concentrate on listening so here is my attempt!
It has been a week since I received my 5 box 300 series. It has been running 24/7 and today I actually powered up the NPX300 for the first time, attaching it to the 332. To share my experiences so far, I won’t claim bass is cleaner, more extended or that the middle is better or any other such descriptions.
It is difficult for me to know if the sound is improving due to use or the addition of the fresh out of the box PSU and to be honest I am not too concerned. I stream from Qobuz on Roon (no DSP) plus rips from a USB SSD attached to the iMac core. I sometimes listen to Qobuz via the Naim app and rips on a USB SSD attached to the 333.
Rather than deciding if a recording is good or bad, I now get an insight into variations in recordings like voice effects etc. Probably for the first time as well, there is insight to the ambience of the studio or live setting.
All tracks that I have listened to for many years now give something extra. I have never really experienced ‘laser precision’ soundstage before and still don’t! Instruments and voices are clear, detailed and with realistic timbre. Depending on the recording, some instruments are easily discernible and locked in place within the soundstage. Sometimes less locked but still easy to follow (usually overdubs).
Bass guitar or upright is easy to follow and usually it is easy to discern it from a kick drum for example.
Although it is easy to follow individual aspects/instruments, the sound is always very musical and presented as a whole rather than the stark individuality heard on leaner, detailed HiFi.
I am getting very used to this and would not want to take a step backwards!
While my experiences are based on the NC 300 series, I would be interested to read about other people’s listening experiences regardless of kit but maybe keep it real and have at least one item of Naim within the kit.
As I have moved up the Hi Fi ladder, I have found that the listening experience just becomes more involving. Separation of instruments and the finer details become more obvious, visceral low end frequencies are more difficult to replicate and the addition of a REL Sub has made a very real difference here. In terms of Naim equipment, I now have a CD555 and dual 555 power supplies from the 500 Series, having previously owned CDS3, XPS’s and CD5 with Flatcap 2. The 500 Series components are the best of anything I have personally heard, detail but not fatiguing, everything just has more presence and control, to my ears this is delivering all I will ever need from CD playback which is and will remain my format of choice.
I found that over the years there were certain aspects of the music reproduction that I craved. Detail, soundstage, attack, decay etc. once my system got to the level that I could easily perceive all these aspects, I lost any desire to take my system further. I’ve tweaked a few things but I would not spend big bucks any more. I’ve heard high end systems that take things to the extreme and they sound most impressive but they just give more of the same and I don’t crave that. I compare it to craving HDTV, then enjoying HDTV, being really impressed by 4KTV but being more than happy to stick with HDTV.
With you on this except for HDTV. 4K is great especially with HDR - so much more enjoyment from the picture particularly with top source like 4K Blu ray. 8k would have diminishing returns.
For music enjoyment I feel that my system is the equivalent of full 4K and Dolby vision HDR with an MLA panel. What proper improvements are actually possible?
I particularly notice that complex or busy mixes make a lot more sense now. I am listening to Hackney Diamonds at the moment and there is a lot going on but I can hear guitars and piano lines reasonably well. It would have been more of a wall of sound before.
It’s an interesting topic that begs the question, what is enough? Having had a variety of systems from Naim and others they all emphasise different approaches to reproduction. As the OP says, the 300 system sounds real. I had a SN3 system that sounded real at the time, until a 500 system showed me a new reality. Timbre and tonality or visceral power, or both. Tunes or detail, or both. All these terms mean different things to different people anyway, all of whom have different expectations and imagine ‘the original sound’ in different ways, as most of us will never really know.
I loved my SN3 system and thought I was missing nothing, now my 500 system shows nuances that I hadn’t heard before and seems to make complex music easier to follow. The difference sounds sometimes like a remix and sometimes a remaster.
In the end our systems transport us, not to the real recording, but a place that we choose to be happy. I sometimes feel that this hobby encourages change because, as music lovers, we actually enjoy hearing how different equipment replays our favourite tunes, but over time I’m getting more enjoyment by sitting back and accepting that I have a nice system that isn’t the best, but pleases me, and exploring new music instead.
Well said @Monkey_Jim , I too was happy with my NDX2/SN3 system for about 5 years with no inkling to add PSUs or change in any way. there were a few shortcomings that I just lived with, a hard sound at times and not very insightful, but I always felt that separating out within the classic series would cost a lot of money but really address the problems.
The release of the 300 series got me to thinking that it may be worth considering as a potentially last time buy. I pitched in at 5 boxes knowing that I will add the 2nd NPX at some point. I could afford it now but justification is not easy. My better half has been very tolerant of my current spend (she has no interest in HiFi) and I do not want to push it.
As great as my new system is, and it is only a week old, I don’t feel that I have been missing out on the extra detail and enjoyment. Rather it is great to explore my music collection again!
Haha, yes, a 500 system is hardly slumming it I realise, but it hasn’t stopped my helpful dealer suggesting how much better an S1 could sound. At the moment I’m a very happy listener with what I have.
They re so much like another kind of dealer, I am surprised they don’t give unitis away for free as a gateway
I’ve always had trouble with listening, largely because I like to do other things whilst music is playing, mostly reading or performing domestic chores. What still grabs me is hearing an instrument or voice that I had not noticed before when listening to a well loved/played piece of music.
I could be more clinical in my enjoyment of music, but it’s rare for me to immerse myself, turning off the lights and avoiding distractions. Having said this, my system allows me to enjoy tv and talk radio so much more: it’s a matter of clarity of sound.
You may not sit down and concentrate but it is obvious that you really enjoy your music all the same. Surely the mark of a good system?
It might be beneficial to know what you upgraded from.
@Bjm i really resonated with what you wrote. You captured what I hear for the most part, with my SN3, ND5XS2.Hicap DR,RP9,Spendor A4,CD5si system. Your system is at a higher level than mine. I did not want to spend more to get to the 300 level. My greatest joy is listening to music that I have been listening to for more than 30 years and discovering new things.
That’s exactly what it is all about @Jaybar !