New Naim Nova owner.. Some observations

So I have the Nova for 5 days now, connected to my Special 40’s… Before the Nova, I had Yamaha AS 2100 and Hegel DAC with the same speakers.

After reading many reviews and comments in internet on the Nova, specially with positive reviews on the synergy with S40s, I bought the unit together with 4 meters of factory terminated NACA5s and frankly I had big expectations after reading how amazing it sounds but now that I have the unit, I have some mixed feelings. I was also considering Yamaha AS3200 since I am accustomed to the sound signature with a separate dac and streamer but that would have cost me considerably more than the Nova. Nova being the complete package seemed better solution and I also wanted to get into the Naim sound. Sometime ago I heard a Supernait 2 with ATC 40s and it was amazing.

My initial impressions of Nova compared to Yamaha, the soundstage seems to be between the speakers whereas the Yamaha spread the sound to the sides of the speakers with better depth… It had more expansive and holographic soundstage where the speakers would disappear. With Nova, the speakers doesn’t disappear. But I knew soundstage is not the strongest feature of entry level Naims… As expected the timing, pace, dynamism and attack is better on the Nova. Yammy has smoother, more laid back delivery but I guess it deals better with busy and complex music or badly recorded music. It’s more forgiving. The mids and upper range is much smoother, refined, and detailed on the Yamaha. Treble is sweeter whereas on the Nova can be rougher around the edges sometimes. Nova is great with acoustic tracks but seems to be more forward and sometimes tiring with busy tracks. Feels more congested.

In general, I realize that for some reason the Nova does not pull me into the music they way I was expecting or the Yamaha did. With very good recorded acoustic music, it sounds very good… For example Allan Taylor’s Looking For You album is pure joy on the Nova but with most of the other albums on Qobuz, or Spotify it sounds too neutral should I say ? mostly dark and congested. Like there is a veil… Therefore I always seek for good recorded music that sounds crisp and rich on the Nova to find the enjoyment and this is bugging me at the moment.

I would like to read comments for similar experiences, comments if any ?

A question ;
Screen display always switches back to cover art album but sometimes I want the detailed album info screen to stay on. Is there any settings to enable this ?

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Judging any Naim box 5 days in isn’t a good idea. There is a burn in/warm up period and also a period of adjustment.

That said, very few Naim products at any level soundstage especially well and even less, if any, will make your speakers disappear.

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It can take several months for Nova to bed in so you will need to be a bit patient. I have a Nova and there are a few things you can do to optimise it. Firstly, you can get a significant improvement by changing the supplied power cable for a decent one. I am assuming you have a wired connection via Ethernet and aren’t using a Powerline adapter? The other big improvement came from using a switch between router and Nova - I use the English Electric 8 switch and found a big improvement. Neither a decent power cable or a switch are particularly expensive upgrades

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Though the unit is playing since the day I bought it, I agree there maybe further small improvements, refinements further the time. But I am not expecting these changes to be huge frankly. I am also considering a powerline cable but for any further investment, I need time for adjustment to the unit I guess.

I am using wifi. The location of the unit unfortunately is not practical for switch plus ethernet cable at the moment.

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Another question is how is the DSD handled in Nova ? I read that DSD files are converted to PCM in the Nova, is that correct ? if so, what is the logic in that, why not it plays native DSD since it supports the format ?

Wi-fi is absolutely fine - it was use of Powerline adapter that I was worried about. The good news is that I noticed a much bigger effect from changing power cable than from use of a switch. Nova is a really good piece of kit so I would just sit tight, let it bed down and get used to it. All the best

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A one-box solution will generally not outperform separates at this price point, i’m not sure why you are comparing a Nova to them?

  • Yamaha power amp + Hegel are completely different brands with different sound signatures than Naim.

  • Same for Supernait 2 + ATC SCM40. Those ATC speakers are completely different from the Dynaudio Special 40’s in terms of timbre and style, you can’t compare them to each other.

See this post:

Thanks, powerline is in my plans for sure.

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Yamaha AS2100 which I had and Hegel DAC together was at the same price point with the Nova in my country. Maybe even less. Not sure why it would be unfair to comment on the experience I had with the two ? And within the reviews I read, it was mentioned how good the Nova compares against separates even more expensive than it is.

I guess I expressed it wrong. I did not meant to compare the speakers, I tried to emphasize how I liked the sound signature of Nait 2 with those speakers.

Well maybe you just don’t like the Special 40’s and would be better off with ATC’s? SN2 and Nova are not that far apart from each other in terms of sound, but those speakers are very different for sure.

Hmm i am not so sure about soundstage - i have the feeling that my soundstage with the SN3 is really good. Good speaker placement will surely compensate and difference in amplification regarding soundstage. Did you adjust your speakers after changing your electronics?

Also that holographic sound the op seems to be missing - is not a realistic reproduction of live music. Live music is not holographic but presents a soundstage in front of you. And Naim does that very well. So maybe give your Nova a month,adjust speakers to your liking and make a judgement after that. I would avoid changing cables now.

I bought the S40s after I listened the ATCs. I loved the ATCs, more then S40s… but for my room I was afraid they may be too much with uncontrolled bass and I was also not confident that my Yamaha would drive them efficiently. I thought I might also need to change the amplifier as well to drive them better and I did not have budget at the time. So the S40 seemed better idea… Now I am not sure if I need to consider other speakers with Nova, or change the Nova… I need to give Nova some time to decide.

Yes, my speakers are at the best optimal location they can be within the space they are.

Agree, holographic soundstage is not realistic representation of live music but I find more pleasure in listening to richer soundstage.

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thanks for the info on DSD, now clear.

Considering this:

The Nova is not a particularly bright sounding amplifier, and the Special 40’s are not bright/crisp sounding either. The combination between the two is often described as ‘warm’ sounding, and many people like that, but others may find it too dark for their tastes.

If you look for more crispness or clarity, this may not be the ideal setup for you. I don’t suspect that different cables would change the sound signature enough in this case. You could give it a bit more time and perhaps you will get used and start to appreciate the combination. But i wouldn’t rule out that you would enjoy a bit more bright sounding speakers with the Nova, judging from what you wrote in your opening post…

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Maybe. I will give more time for sure and then decide which path to go if still not satisfied. I like the form factor, design and practicality of the Nova so maybe I might consider other speakers that might be a better match with it for my preferences.

Cannot confirm this for 252/300

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I reckon you’ll need to give it a month or so before the Nova will really start to sing.

The Nova driving Magico A3s delivers a spectacular soundstage. Wide and deep. Practically holographic.

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I guess that is more to do with the A3’s than the Nova. Does the Nova really doing justice to them, delivering enough juice ?