I need some advice on changing my audioquest speaker cables or even the interconnect of my naim system.
The cables I use are Robin Hood zero speaker cables and audioquest earth interconnect, the power cables on the NDX 2, Hicap DR and supernait are Naim HiLine, they are connected to a Niagara 3000 with an audioquest hurricane power cable.
The image is big on all aspects, very large and out of the speakers, great detail and placement, but the voices are not good even sometimes not good at all, lack’s body and the sound is sometimes uncomfortable lacking musicality and the is a little discomfort after some hours of listening causing fatigue.
I have a pair of NACA5, the voices and the bass are very good, the NAA5 is very soft and musical and addictive, but lacks everything else, dimension, clarity, details, depth, big and wide soundstage, air around the sounds, is more a comfortable wall of sound.
I could attenuate the sound of the Robin Hood a little with the lavender din cable but Is not the best config.
The speakers are the sopra n1 from focal, as there are many users who have upgraded from the NACA5 to other cables, if you can help me giving some detailed impressions on what I could expect from a super lumina upgrade or other cables that can give a powerful bass and great voices without losing detail, depth and big soundstage, I will be every grateful.
Hm, okay, so. I had a similar NDX2/SN2 setup. I assume the hi-line is on the NDX2 to the SN3 and you have Powerlines as the power leads? First I’d just try removing the Niagara from the set up as a quick A/B as to what that is doing. Is it adding clarity at the expense of dynamics and tight bass? For the speaker cable, I used Superlumina with a NDX2/XPS DR/SN2/HiCAP and found it very good, with much better bass and clarity - a natural presentation, but it is expensive. Maybe consider some of the forum favourites as alternatives? Witchhat and the Kudos one?
This sounds rather like the classic hifi vs musicality dilemma. The things you seem to be looking for - big soundstage, air around the instruments, clarity and details - are very much in the hifi camp, which while impressive often doesn’t lead to an enjoyable and immersive listen.
You have assembled a nice collection of mains stuff and cables. I looked them all up: a 4m pair of the speaker cables costs £1,960, the mains block is £3,300 and the mains lead is £1,400, then there are three PowerLines at £600 each. That’s an awful lot in the context of a relatively simple NDX2 and SN3 system and I’d question whether you’ve gone too far.
I’d try removing the AQ power, and using a simple Wireworld mains block, or a Chord PowerHaus, both of which are unfiltered and known to work well. Have you got dedicated mains? If not, that would be very wise.
Are you able to borrow some Kudos KS-1 speaker cables, or the Witch Hat Phantom? Both seem to do a lot of things better than A5, but without slipping into hifi theatrics. It’s also well worth trying a Hiline interconnect. By losing the Niagara and the AQ mains lead, SL interconnect and speaker cables are a viable option and proven to work well.
My last thought is whether the problem is actually the speakers. I’ve only heard them once but they were very bright, and I found them to favour hifi pyrotechnics over musicality. Are you subconsciously using cables to alter the characteristics of speakers you don’t really get on with? There is a lot to consider, but I’d caution against pointing the finger at a particular cable and thinking a change would automatically fix things. You’ve gone down a particular path and don’t seem to like the destination. Maybe you need to return to base - lavender interconnect, A5 and simple mains block - and try a different route. Maybe that route involves different speakers.
Got a similar setup sn3/ndx2/AQ 3000 but with different speakers dynaudio conf 20. Currently in process of selecting cables. Tested AQ William tell VS chord signature where AQ goes deeper in bass but more intensive to listen to and chord creates more fluent overall sound. Wanted the details of the AQ and dealer installs AQ thunderbird as interlink which added a lot of detail. In the coming weeks dedicated power cable will be installed. Then we continue cable testing (speaker/interlink/power).
My experience upstream of the power ampstick with Naim wires including power leads (if you can get a dedicated spur), for speaker leads I find this speaker dependent. With my 505s I found Chord Odyssey more organic than Naca but seek dealer advice and try at home.
Good advice from @HungryHalibut above. I think using cables and other accessories to fine tune a problematic system can be frustrating, expensive, and ultimately fruitless in many cases. Your speakers, and the way they interact with your room acoustics, are the first things I would investigate. See if you can get a home demo of some different speakers. Measuring and modifying your room acoustics may also be worthwhile, although it needs some effort to get this right.
If you bought your equipment from a competent dealer they should be able to help with this. A good starting point might be to go back to the standard Naim cables everywhere - power, interconnect and speaker cable. Then you will have a baseline, knowing that this is how Naim intended their equipment to sound. A dealer should be able to lend you some NACA5 and the other cables should have been supplied with the equipment.
That may improve the sound, but if the problem persists this would indicate that the speakers and/or room are the problem.
I’d be inclined to do as Chris suggests. Install all Naim cables first, and if you don’t like the sound, try other speakers, before trying to tune something you don’t like using cables as tone controls.
Why not sell all the cables you don’t need. You could use the money for an XPSDR or the new 300 power supply.
I meant to ask - do you have a good stand for the system? Something like Fraim, Isoblue or Quadraspire SVT can make a big difference, making things sound more relaxed and open, without changing the character in the way cables sometimes can.
I have a Pair of NACA5 also, I like what they do but miss also what they don’t do.
What the NACA5 offers is an engaging sound full of body, the voices are human and beautiful, and is amazing to feel the bass that a pair of sopra n1 can produce with this cable. It’s a beautiful sounding cable.
What the NACA5 lacks is the air around the instruments, the sound that floats around the room out of the speakers completely with pin point presence. The depth and dimension is not something that makes you feel in the space, is more like a wall of sound, the layering is also not great. The Robin Hood has all this but lacks the musicality and that bass extension that the NACA5 has in spades.
The NACA5 is really sweet and rewarding, but after seeing what can be archived with the supernait I look at the NACA5 as a cable that hides some of the virtues of the supernait. I need an in between solution for the speaker cable, something that has the musicality close to the NACA5 but with better layering, dimension and air around the elements in the mix.
But in the end I think I will deal with what I have removing the more problematic cables and trying to get the best compromise.
I have an NDX2 with XPS-DR, a SN2 with Hicap-Dr with powerlines on all Naim boxes. They are all plugged into an Audioquest Niagara 1000, and a Shunyata Sigma NR power cord goes from the Niagara 1000 to the wall.
I have none of the problems you describe. My speakers are Harbeth C7es3-XD, which are very very different than your Focals. I would suggest as HH mentioned, that you try other speakers. Focals in my opinion are more “Hifi” than “musical”.
As for speaker cables, I use Tellurium Q Ultra Black II. It has a similar sonic signature to NACA5, but is clearer and more detailed with better definition. I have had it for 3 years and will never go back to NACA5.
I use NACA5 and didn’t get the “air around instruments, the sound that floats around the room out of the speakers completely with pin point presence.” etc.
BUT that when I was using Naim Ariva speakers, although musical and engaging, not very refined and coherent.
Now with the same speaker cable and new Graham LS5/9f speakers, I very much get what you describe. A completely different soundstage and depth/width etc.
So I would say the NACA5 isn’t the limiting factor… To some degree perhaps, but the choice of Speakers are far more limiting.
I wouldn’t go try to fine tune with exotic speaker cables, NACA5 = the naim sound I love.
The black boxes provide the slam and with it’s intended cableing, the speakers should just be as neutral and accurate as possible by design and then it’s all good from there.
I like what the Powerlines do over the standard, I like the added weight and authority to the sound. Inkier blacks is just a bonus, lol