ND555 Impressions


#1

Thought it would be good to have a rebirth of this thread. As the source is so special, and we can share experiences with each other.

I am for instance now listening to this album of Matt’s Eilersen the depth of the lower sounds hits me with a rock, so well rendered…, I would even argue that my NDS would have lost some of this depth. I had now the ND555 running for quite some hours and it looks like I have arrived in audio heaven, or at least am just some steps away from it…


For those ones trying this with Tidal, you might not get the full pictures as compared to the high res recording…


#2

Hi Bertbird
Glad you restarted this thread on the new site. Prompted me to to (re)join and post.Hopefully others will do too, we need Darkebear giving his superb insites into his system and passing on tips for us all to try.


#3

Yeah very much interested in DarkeBears thoughts at this point in his journey


#4

I’m still here and enjoying my ND555 ‘journey’ - an appropriate description. A few weeks ago it all settled-in much more to what I expected after a few months of run-in use to more consistent performance with none of the big swings down in performance and just now gradual improvements in clarity of detail and transparency from unwanted noise.

I did do some more experimentation with Ethernet cables in the system. As previously mentioned I have been running my system with very old CAT5 (not even CAT5e) cables just because I had them about the place as my house was wired for a wired-LAN Ethernet many years ago.

I use a Melco Music Server connected via a short 1m length of CAT5 Ethernet and preferred that over an expensive HiFi Ethernet I tried which I found added HF glare and removed fine detail - but I was and am prepared to accept the old CAT5 Ethernet was not ‘the best’ way to do things, just better than the other cable.

I acquired a 1m CAT7 cable to try and found it was not better than the CAT5 - it made a superficial ‘clarity’ but at the expense of adding a lot of glare and removing nearly all low-level acoustic detail in the music.

Reversion back to CAT5 brought back the music again. But I then tried substitution of Ethernet elsewhere - from the Cisco switch to the Melco Server from CAT5 to CAT7 3m run - again it added a layer of ‘clarity-glare’ I’ll call it and although not as awful as the connection directly to the ND555 it was the same sort of distortion, so it went back to CAT5.

Then - as an experiment - I removed an Ethernet cable from the Cisco switch that was not feeding anything at the time - an empty run. This improved the warmth and bass clarity and my friend who was also listening with me as I did all these tests as a sanity-checker said ‘I like that - run it that way’ and that is presently how I have it.

My next test is to try a bit of CAT6 0.5m length between Melco Server and ND555 which arrived today, as I’m thinking it is the screen on the CAT7 that is breaking the otherwise excellent isolation of the differential fed Ethernet. I’ll report at some point on how that goes.

Other than the experiments I’m enjoying the music via the ND555. The run-in places the performance into a good place now and it just works with everything effortlessly. A beautiful fulsome musical presentation with any kick and dynamics very naturally rendered without exaggeration is what pleases me. Getting the cables right is what preserves this neutral presentation of all the music.

DB.


#5

I have now jumped on the bandwagon and am slowly running-in.
Yes indeed, the ND555 is a substantial upgrade from the beloved NDS.
I mostly have him on Core / 860 PRO 1TB via router and Meicord Opal. :relaxed:

Chag -


#6

I believe I reported on the previous forum my experience with Ethernet cables. Tried all sorts (including quite expensive ones) but ended up with very cheap German cable. I also liked the Meicord wires but couldn’t use this where sharpish bends are required in the cable run.

enjoy/ken


#7

Darkebear,
Are you minded to try the Melco N10? I’m pretty sure that with your system it would be a very cost effective improvement.

Rvr


#8

Bert
Where did you download the HD version from?


#9

Got it from Qobuz with Sublime it’s a good price


#10

BertBerd

Thanks for restarting this post. I missed it, and as I was also running in my ND555, missed the insights. I have some insights and questions and will post later on the subject of the volume control in the ND555, which I tried and agree with Naim and Richard and Perizoqui(sp?) that the SQ is much better with a good preamp than straight thru to the power amp, even if the input impedance of the power amp matches the 47K ohms that the Naim Preamps offer.
Bailyhill


#11

I’m first going to get the Ethernet cables correct, as I’m finding the results are getting optimized, for me, along different paths than were being suggested by others. I may try the N10 at a future time when funds have recovered to consider more significant upgrade changes as I’m sure that the separation of the PS from the Server module will be a real benefit.

But presently I’m enjoying the signature of the sound I’m getting right now and wanting to optimise on this going ahead. I find it is best to get best from what you already have before making changes as otherwise you don’t really know what you had limiting performance already.

The Ethernet cable is very cheap to try and I’ve already decided I don’t like what screened CAT7 does and that essentially eliminates all expensive HiFi cables that probably use that approach.

I’m trying CAT6 right now and initial results are a lot better than the CAT7, but the 0.5m length may be too short from what I’m hearing so will try some other cable-lengths of this type and also try some others types. These all cost a few pounds to try each and to me is worth finding what is best and training my hearing up to know what I prefer.

I used to think the cable would make no difference, but it does, so I will find what works best in my system.

After that then other things may be considered or I may just declare ‘done’ for a long while - which I’d prefer.

DB.


#12

Dropped-back to the old CAT5 after some time with the CAT6 and prefer the CAT5. I’m going to try some more cable experiments over the next few days once I acquire some more Ethernet cable to try. The CAT6 had a clean open sound to it but was more weighted to a brighter presentation which was less easy to listen too over longer periods and seemed to lose LF info and spatial information.

After a hiccup - mentioned elsewhere - the ND555 is again sounding excellent and I’m very tempted to leave it as it is but suspect there is a better compromise between the Ethernet I’m using now and others I’ve tried. The fact they make such a difference is surprising to me in the first place.

DB.


#13

Hi DB, I am no EMI/RFI expert but am in the middle of shortlisting possible streamers to demo.
In the process, lots of reading being done.

Could it be as simple as the following:

  • Older ethernet cables had plastic connectors, so had no screen to act as an interference aerial
  • CAT7 cables have posh metal connectors, so the screen can act as an interference aerial

Hence, counter-intuitively, the older cables input less interference into the ND555? Other dac & streamer developers have mentioned this phenomenon.
Health warning: I could be completely wrong here!

Best regards, BF


#14

I go by empirical results - what works, works!

I suspect the CAT7 screen forms an electrical connection that does not add to audio SQ but adds noise along the screen between the cases being connected by the cable. Without the screen there is more isolation.

It is about perspectives - Ethernet screens are to protect the digital signals from cross-talk and other introduced noise and not intended to have any HiFi benefits other than possibly reducing noise from the Ethernet cable radiation and getting into other cables.

I’m suspecting it is more complex and that increasing HF edge rise-times actually could increase radiated noise. faster edges are great for higher-speed transmission but you don’t need this with the connection to the ND555.

I’ve got some ideas from trying the CAT7 and CAT6 to the extent that the CAT6 was better than CAT7 and had some better clarity than the old CAT5 I used but also introduced an emphasis towards the top-end I found fatiguing over time and detracted from LF timing and sense of ease in the presentation.

I’ve heard similar effects when auditioning loudspeaker cables of different lengths and the shorter runs were brighter and ‘shouty’ whereas the longer runs of 5m or more were far more neutral and still longer runs seemed just better with better bass articulation.

I’m not saying it will be identical with Ethernet cables but I suspect the 0.5m of CAT6 I tried was too short and a longer run may work better - it is not expensive so I will try it in the next few days. I recall Naim doing a lot of testing on getting the right lengths of interconnection leads as there seemed to be optimal lengths for sound quality - with no obvious reasons given what would cause any differences.

I have tried HiFi Ethernet interconnects and may try some more and if they work then that will be great. But I suspect I may also prefer a different and more neutral presentation to many, as these cables all seem to have a ‘character’ to them I’d not call neutral and tending toward or overtly too up-front presentation and obliterating low-level detail in background acoustic.

The ND555 is very revealing I’m finding and getting the right interconnects seems a good idea.
I remember in a Naim demo of ND555 at my Dealer Naim were emphatic about NOT using any special cables and only using standard Ethernet leads - I now understand why.

DB.


#15

Interesting, but do I take it that these CAT cable changes are of the ‘relatively minor’ variety?
Also, it has been my assumption that the length of a CAT cable was irrelevant. Your emphasis on <0.5m seems to suggest otherwise?
R.v.r


#16

A year or two ago, there was a forum fad for using a ‘Lindy adapter’ to connect your RJ45 plug to the streamer. Its intended purpose is just as a 90 degree cable adapter, but being unshielded, it breaks the connection between a shielded cable and the Ethernet port. Some people claimed a small sound quality improvment, so maybe it’s an area that merits experimentation.


#17

Hi @BertBirdand @Darkebear, you both use Melco Music servers. Did you consider any of the Innuos range? They have the same dedicated streamer port on all models. The models differ by the effort they put into the design of the power supplies, noise isolation and vibration upto the staggering price of £10k.

I’m mostly at the Zen Minmk 3 versus Zen Mk 3.

Interested to hear your thoughts. Even the Mini is a serious contender to the CDX2 into nDAC. Curious about whether uPnP into a streamer could be better.

Phil


#18

I have to balance the enjoyment of my system against any cumulative stress when tweaks don’t go as planned - against possibly finding a nice improvement I can consolidate.

Time is what I use to mediate the balance and I generally like to end-up at the end of a tweaking session at least back where I began or with something a little better.

Presently I’m back to where I started but with some ideas to try in future another time. The music working with minor interruption works best for me and my tweaks tend to be a few minutes every few weeks or months these days.

I find the ND555 very neutral and revealing of the music in itself with excellent open dynamic range and what some call ‘micro-dynamics’ or really good linearity in playing loud and quiet strands of music at the same time and not losing the quieter strands.

The fact I’m finding it has some sensitivity to fine-tuning the installation is not a surprise to me and I’m pretty happy with it apart from the feeling that there is a bit more to be had yet. But I’m inclined to get back to playing music for a bit.

DB.


#19

Back then I had more than the recommended grounded connections in my lan (the connectors on my NDS, switch and UnitiServe are all metal. So I stuck a Lindy converter into my UnitiServe to break the grounding and managed to convince myself of a small but detectable improvement. However I am not even sure if all my CAT cables at that time were shielded. Anyway, I have left the Lindy in as I am pretty sure it won’t sound any worse that way, and might, just might, sound better.

Oooh……I think I am coming down with a touch of Audiophilia.


#20

Very much yes as far as cost is concerned. The CAT6 Ethernet cost me £3.
As far as the sonic differences, they are fine-tuning the voicing or the system to taste in some respects - worth getting right and you know it when you find you are playing a lot of music and have it wrong when you find you are not so much.

I tend to prefer a rather full but definitely not overblown presentation - so neutral but in no way clinical sounding. Some cables make it a bit clinical clear to me and I prefer a everything just being there but not etched-out as can happen - that is what I’m avoiding. But many like this effect so it is personal taste.

DB.