Moving on from Naim - slight return

Having been impressed with everything about the Enleum AMP 23-R except the quality control and the sound, I’ve now found something else which has caught my eye. The English Acoustics Stereo 21c. Seems a great fit for my DAC and speakers but who knows. Home demo sorted for mid February.

I did take seriously the efforts of a certain forum poster - you know who you are - to persuade me that a Nait 50 would tick all my boxes in terms of speaker compatibility; downsizing my box numbers but upgrading the sound quality. Found a dealer local to me with one in stock and, interestingly, they very much disagreed. They were firm on their believe that it was very much a sideways move. This was what I really suspected so it was nice to hear it from elsewhere.

Anyways, go find yourselves some pics of the Stereo 21c. On looks alone it’s quite something.

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Very nice

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Basically a retake on the old Leak stereo 20. I had a long look at these when they were launched two years ago and the price was £3995. Shocked to see they now start at £7700. I sometimes think they’re all just taking the mick out of us.

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There are many nicer pictures than that @frenchrooster :slight_smile:

And yes, it’s built on the Leak Stereo 20. As my Zu speakers were loosely based on a 1950s Briggs design there’s a certain potential synergy with having an amp based on a 1958 amp.

There were many people bemoaning the cost of the Enleum and arguing that it didn’t represent value unless you had use for both headphones and speakers. Whilst the sound was not for me I definitely disagree with that. Had I loved the sound I would have only used it with speakers and would have bought it on the spot. If something does the job you want it to then its value is spot on.

It’s an interesting conversation to have on this forum as new Naim costs are largely beyond my means at this point and rightly or wrongly have moved upwards in terms of market focus. For me, even if affordable, they represent poor value - bar the Nait 50 - because there’s the cost and a whole host of stuff I don’t need such as more than 2 inputs; screens; automation etc. For others, those very things represent excellent value and I would never be critical of that.

In the case of this sort of product I doubt there are economies of scale and feel the same about the potential purchase. If the sound appeals then it gives me 1 input (my Chord Hugo TT2 DAC).

It enables me to move on 4 Naim boxes. That enables the removal of an entire column of Hutter Racktime. The sale of all that reduces the cost of the amp purchase by about £2k. The extra space afforded in the living room enables me to push the remaining rack behind one of the speakers and pull the latter out into the room more without intrusion on people space. We will nevertheless be able to move from a 3 seater and 2 seater sofa to 2x3seats.

The only additional costs will be 4m of new speaker cable and some expense replacing an analogue cable from the TV with a digital one into the DAC and bedding that back in the existing wall space. If we like the sound then it represents excellent value on several fronts.

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One thought, I think Zu are very efficient? Some people connect the TT2 directly to efficient speakers with good results. Could be worth a try?

I looked this up and see that it comes in a massive range of colours. It must be quite hard to choose; this blue one looks rather nice.

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Chord quiety suggested this was possible initially but then backtracked after reports of issues and they now absolutely don’t recommend connecting the TT2 direct to speakers. I’ve spoken to several users who did this and none of them seem to have found it a desirable end point. Several concluded that better sound was to be obtained by using an integrated or power amp. I’ve had enough issues with my Naim system in recent years. Part, but only part, of the motivation for attempting to move on, to know that I want a straightforward solution with minimal chance for further issues. So that’s a hard “No” from me.

@HungryHalibut the demo we’re having is of a racing green one. Coincidentally Mrs. H. said she liked the look of said colour before we knew what was being brought up. This was largely because it was the colour she wanted her Jag in. She turned out to be joking. I’m waiting my moment to exact revenge by declaring my interest in the red and white of Wrexham AFC :slight_smile: Given that they will do any colour you want it seems almost wasteful to go for matte black to match what I hope will be the remaining two boxes but we’ll see. Sound first. Looks second.

Sounds a bit contrary to me, what were the good bits?

DG…

Struggle to see any contradiction, but anyway…

Positives:

The amp is beautiful industrial design in terms of shape. The quality of finish, when achieved, is exemplary. The attraction is increased because it’s petite albeit rather heavy.

The gain control and its associated clicks are addictive.

The remote control is simple and again brilliant industrial design.

Sat in your living room it is both discreet and a little attention seeker. It attracts comment.

The noise floor is superb. Absolute silence.

In terms of timbre and PRaT it’s all there.

Headphones and speakers use the same circuit.

Negatives:

First demo copy came with superficial damage to the amp and very clear damage to the isolation feet.

Second demo copy was a sealed box and yet came with dreadful gauges on the remote and even more damage to the isolation feet. Raises serious issues about quality control.

The V shaped nature of the sound signature meant the sound was detailed but unengaging. Most reviews described a superb wide deep soundstage. Whilst my speaker setup is sub-optimal, the soundstage felt narrow. Moving the amp to a friends system demonstrated this perception was not a fluke. Same issue on headphones.

The gain control is not consistent. A single click on the renote sometimes moved things up or down by a single click and sometimes more or less. Even using the gain on the amp itself could not produce consistency. It absolutely wasn’t a deal breaker but in the context of other issues it was an additional irritant.

The description of how to mute; change inputs and move between high or low gain make it sound far more complex than it actually was. When you get used to it it was very straightforward. However, it was also unnecessary. There are simpler ways to achieve such simple tasks.

The amp is unstable and can tip if cables are too heavy and slide without using the adhesive pads which can be placed under the isolation feet. You simply shouldn’t have to do this. Enleum should ensure that Takt provide isolation feet with the pads already attached.

The amp runs warm. No issue with that but I don’t expect to feel warm speaker cables at the back nor warm DAC inputs. I don’t know if there is any potential harm there but why hang around to find out given the other issues.

It was a mesmerising device to look at and operate. Musically everything was there you’d want but it lacked any midrange warmth and consequently lacked a little body and a lot of engagement. Didn’t tap my feet once in a fortnight’s worth of listening.

Interesting review, thank you.

DG…

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Gauges? On the remote?

I’d love to see a pic, just out of curiousity. I tried searching online, but was unable to find any pics of the remote.

Hey FR, are you out there bettin’ on the ponies again?

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Mike mentioned damage to the amp, so I’m presuming there were gouges, rather than gauges on the remote.

@mikehughescq . The English Acoustics amp is a rather lovely piece of kit. My local dealer stocks them and the build and finish on their demo amp was very impressive.

Good luck with your home demo.

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Hoping to offer a similar but more positive outcome with the English Acoustics demo.

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lol. That makes more sense.

Too bad, though. A remote with mini analog gauges would be steampunk cool.

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Yes, the joys of autocorrect :slight_smile:

I believe HFi Rose have cornered the market in steam punk hifi. Matter of time before they produce a steam punk remote.

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