Hi - this is my first time on the Naim forum and would be great to get some input from some experienced heads.
I’ve recently bought my first Naim, a Nait 5si and experiencing some inconsistent performance with it. I’ve had it powered up for around 8 days and it’s had around 50 hours of music played through it so far. Within the first few hours the sound was very expansive and detailed with an airy performance but reasonably dynamic. With a farily large soundstage and high headspace it had excellent detail across the higher frequencies and although low frequencies are clear they’re not always present. Also, there is generally a large hole at the centre of the soundstage where things get a little muddled and sink into the background. All standard stuff I felt for a new bit of kit and running it in.
But then things started getting a little strange. I noticed that the sound was becoming very flat, with a lack detail across the board. The only stand out was around the edges of the performance, cymbals, high hats - but everything else just became very flat. Bass was lacking, detail on strings and voices sounded awful.
I thought it maybe the speakers, Dynaudio Emit M20’s - so I disconnected everything, repositioned the speakers and tried again. Still the same, flat, uninvolving sound.
I then swapped out the amp for my Rega Elex-R and the difference was huge. Detail, dynamics, a smaller soundstage breadth wise but foreground to background was marked - performances were now in the room. Id kind of expect this with certain types of music, dance, metal, rock etc but it was with everything. Even Classical and Jazz suddenly seemed much more expansive than the Naim. At this point I’ve felt confused, as tracks I played early on with the Naim sounded a bit strangulated and confined, and I’d already heard them be expansive and expressive, some vinyl performances were wonderful with the Naim and now they felt flat and dull.
So I’ve been going back and forth between amps and the Rega has been more involving pretty much all the time. And initially I felt the Naim was much more naturalistic - piano and strings sounded real whereas the Rega is so focussed on dynamics and timing that sometimes it feels a little clipped on the notes in comparison to the beautiful sustain the the Naim had (but now feels as flat as a pancake).
What is really freaking me out is that of all the people i’ve spoken with who know both Naim and Rega well they’ve all described the sounds pretty much the same for both amps… and yet i’m experiencing the opposite. The rega is much more powerful and dynamic, more expressive, and textured. The Naim had more detail initially and a smoother delivery, but it feels underpowered almost like it can’t drive the speakers effectively. I’ve been assured the 4ohm Dynaudios are a great match for the Naim but I’m not getting that at all. It’s literally all or nothing. on or around the 9pm mark on the volume dial it’s now become flat and weak. Little bass extension (but seems to come back occasionally). If the volume dial is above the 10pm mark it’s ,much louder but this is louder than i’d usually listen to - and the Rega easily matches it but still retains much more detail and expression. (I’ve also tried the Naim and Rega through 4ohm Dali Menuets and 8ohm Monitor Audio Bronze 2 where their different presentations were apparent but not what I’m experiencing now)
The Naim also has a light transformer buzz (something I expected) but it started phasing in and out every 20 seconds with a very loud buzz… it would do this every 20 seconds or so and disappear. No nasty electrical devices were running at the time. The next day this loud buzz (easily audible above my TV volume) returned for about 15-20 minutes solidly. And i’ve had the loud buzz return intermittently when everything in the house has been turned off. The standard transformer hum is ever present.
I also hear how the build quality is great with the Naim, but I can easily move the front panel with a finger and it seems to click in and out of place, easily shifting position, whereas the rega has the kind of weight and finish that you feel you could drive a tank over. All of this seems opposite to others experience and I’m a bit stumped. I keep hearing how big Naim watts are, but they seem fairly feeble against the Rega. When testing the 2 amps all cables etc have remained the same.
I’ve heard the Naim can be a little temperamental but it’s got to the point where I don’t experience the same track via the same source in a consistent way. A Stan Getz vinyl pressing sounded wonderful, rich and detailed when i first ran it through the amp. It now sounds flat, and dull. Once or twice it’s opened up some notes but seems to go back to be reluctant to balance the instruments out at all. The same goes for streaming, Sammy Davis Jr or Erik Satie sounded close to being in the hall… noiw they feel like they’re hiding behind the sofa… yet the Rega has Sammy sitting on my lap. I can’t even play New Order or AC/DC through the Naim - they sound truly dreadul. Confused, lacking in low end, way too overlapped and very withdrawn on the complexities of center stage. The Rega is still holding its own, with a big punch low end and tremendous timing.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated because I know a good Naim sound is closer to my natural preference than the Rega but I’m just not getting it. I know theres a good amp in there, but either it’s hiding through something temperamental that I’m unaware of, or it’s just plain faulty.
My room is around 12ft x 12ft square but has 2 alcoves either side of a fireplace that are around 1ft deep. The speakers are positioned at the edge of a bay window and the tweeter is 0.5m away from the wall with plenty more space into the bay behind it. The outside of the speakers are 0.75m away from the walls. Hifi runs off a different main to TV. I’ve tried to upload a bad diagram.
My sources are a Project 2 Xpereince with Ortofon Kontrapunkt ll a cartridge going through a Black Cube phone amp. I’ve recently acquired a Bluesound 2i and yet to put it through a DAC as I want to get the issues with sound sorted first. Im running Chord Clearway speaker cable to obtain a baseline performance and Chord / Van Den Hul interconnects (i can’t recall which models off the top of my head). There is nothing else plugged into either amp.
I’d appreciate any input at all because I’ve never experienced something so inconsistent before.