Signals 552/500 and Statement evening

ŴFSignals hifi hosted an informal Naim evening last night with Steve Sells head of electronics design, Jason Gould and Mike Heath. It was good too see Michael, Tonym, Nick and Dark Bear for a chat, and probably others?
Jason took us through music on the 552/500 into Dynaudio Contour 60,s, then the Statement S1 preamp with NAP 500, then full Statement amps.
It was easy for me to follow the improvements, not subtle to my ears. I am not good at putting words together to how things sound. But the first track,s female vocals on high notes got a little unpleasant at times on the 552/500, but this was not detectable with the S1. The Bruce Springstein track Philadelphia had his usual raw, raspiness this raspiness melted away with the full Statement system. Best i have heard his vocals on that track. Others please chip in as you please.
Steve Sells gave the design insights in between the tracks. Interesting discussion on the benefits of active operation versus the Statement mono amps power and headroom. I am sure others are more technically able than me to explain. I came away thinking that @darkbear is probably in a sweet spot with his system versus cost.
Question from Nick to Steve, was do you copy other designs. Answer not knowingly, if i had to, it would become just another job.

His passion for hifi design was so obvious. He has an old research Statement at home he plays with design wise…for Statement mk2!

Before most arrived i had a chat about my ND555 relay failure. Naim spent 3 weeks working to understand the failure, which was a few relays in one batch. The supplier used over many years are in denial about the problem. Interesting response from Naim…tried other supplier, they do not sound as good. We cannot have our high end products exposed to this in the future, so i am redesigning the circuit to take 2 relays from another supplier. These relays are used in a number if 500 series, if they have not failed early…they are good for 10 million switchings.
Apparently no Audio show east this year, but there will be a few hifi days instead with active Kudos and PMC new fact speakers coming up shortly. Thanks to Andy and Alistair and the Naim team, i am sure i have missed some important bits, so please chime in or disagree.
Gaz

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Thanks for the info
Those of us who haven’t reached the heady hights of 500 series didn’t get an invite …
Maybe in the future I might get there

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To be fair to the guys at Signals, even with that limitation on attendance it was a full house. I forgot to mention Steve Sells is currently using a 272 /SBL and subs system at home with his Muso,s. Apparently wife and kids like its ease of use , SQ etc

Good to hear that the Dynaudio Contour 60s come up to scratch in that lineup. Had mine for some months now and they are a lovely speaker.

These were not even run in, turned up the day before. Alistair thought they still sounded good. I really liked them👍

Great to hear. Mine improved significantly over 6 months of run in. No problem driving them and the sound fills the room. Placement is key though and like all Dynaudios they like a bit of free space behind them.

Andy and Alistair set them up, and then Jason, moved them around a few times until he was happy…while we were waiting outside the room😬

Good event and nice to meet and talk with people there. I had another long chat with Steve Sells and always good to get the opinion direct from the Designer about why things are done particular ways, what matters, works and fails. Previously I’d met Steve at an event a few years ago before Statement was released and when it was just announced as existing - since then it did its magic with me and the Demo did the same things as it did when I had mine.

The demo was 552-500 then S1 Pre-500 then S1 Pre-S1 Power Monoblocks.
You clearly hear every change-up and it was clear to me what each bring to the performance.
The baseline great performance from the 552-500 was beautifully opened-up with the swap to S1 Pre-500 with a richer pallet of musical detail in terms of both resolution of information and how it all fit into the musical mix and timed together with the whole - just better as you would expect for the financial outlay increase - you pay and you really do get it.

Then the move-up to the S1 Power Amps and for me this fleshed-out the scale and life of the presentation making the whole come to life in a more vivid natural way.
The latter effect can also be achieved by Active use of Amps but with a different effect - I’d not like to say which is ‘better’ as I think they both bring something along and I definitely hear what the better S1 Power Amp brings along, but given a choice of Passive S1 or Active 500 I’m still happy with my own path - but I’d love Active S1 Monoblocks.

What then surprised me is that somewhere in Naim the ban on mentioning Active seems to have been lifted or failed under its own obvious innate truth - as there ensued an unprompted presentation of the merits of doing things Active in terms of removing the large modulating LF signal from the Power Amp for the Mid/HF Amp(s) and hence running them more in their linear range and getting better performance from the Amp than when it is trying to do everything Passive.

A little surprised as although all this was Naim lore of old I’d not heard it mentioned in many years so nice that an old truth is now discussed again. Can’t hurt Naim to tempt people to buy more Amps may be the business case logic - or perhaps the present range of Focal Speakers may get Active versions soon?

Thoroughly enjoyed the session - Naim should do more such short one-off events.
My thanks to Signals for hosting it all.

DB.

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Thanks DB, much more eloquent than myself nice to see you again😁.

Correction to this the speakers used were the brand new Confidence 60, s at circa £35 k…sorry for the confusion.

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Gaza, does this mean that Naim now prefer Dynaudio to Focal speakers as I think Signals are stockists of both brands?

Don,t think so. These are a brand new range and they had literally just arrived, unpacked and the Signals guys liked them, so took a bold move of using them with no run in. But they still sounded very good. I would imagine Signals did not have any Focals in stock that would do the Statement amps justice, and probably not worth Naim shipping to Signals for a 2 hour demo.
As DB mentioned perhaps a change of heart around supporting other speaker brands with SNAXO such as Kudos. So perhaps it has softened a little?

Supporting Active and Passive makes good business sense for Naim IMO, as otherwise Naim abandon their previous track-record of experience and excellence in providing Active solutions to interested customers and other Manufactures will have an opening.

The demo was not of Active to be clear, but it was mentioned as another path when pushing the performance envelope. I’d imagine that by now Focal will be at least Active-ready with their designs and so capable of offering product.

The neater-looking system is still the Passive speaker with the Statement Pre and matching monoblock Amps so given what it showed capable of it allows a far greater choice of big expensive Passive speaker to be chosen to match with it to taste. Speakers are a very individual preference.

Active is more boxes but in my opinion more ultimately capable at certain musical things some will want done. It is wonderful to hear what the S1 Monoblocks did to add the scale and life to the system and remove any feeling of restraints.

DB.

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Gazza - £35k is a bit beyond my ball park (by about £30k). I’ll bet they were damn good though.

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I’ve had to hastily open an account on this version of the forum to respond. Can I convert to ‘trade’ please Richard?

Thanks, Gazza for the kindly ‘match report’. It was an interesting evening.

As for the speaker choice, there was no ‘side’ to this. Over the years, we’ve demonstrated Naim with loudspeakers from Naim, Kudos, PMC, Neat, Focal, ATC, Dynaudio and more. This was a dealer event using all our own kit and we like to support all the brands that we do. Jason and Steve were there to explain the development of Statement and to show what the S1 pre and S1 power amplifiers do. End users have a whole host of different speakers.

As for active operation, yes DB, Naim have finally agreed that facilitating active operation for other brands is a good way to sell more electronics! We, along with other dealers, now have the Naim SNAXO for and will be able to demonstrate Titan 707 and 808 in active configuration. Another SNAXO is on the way for 606 + 505. You can also place an S1 pre in front of that for enhanced enjoyment :slight_smile:

Alastair

Welcome to the new forum Alastair. I’ve given you a Trade Member title.

Just before Alastair gets lots of questions regarding non-Naim products, please note that as a trade member forum rules prevent him from discussing these in any detail, so if anyone has any queries regarding other brands, especially speakers etc…, then best contact Alastair directly at Signals. Thanks.

Err yes

I could not work out if they were queuing to order the Statement amps, or the food. As i don,t like queuing i thought i would order mine later😉

@Gazza nice update, i’d love the hear the Statement

@Gazza thanks for the great write-up and the insight as to what happened to “our” ND555’s. You and I won the lottery on those! My new ND555 is spot on and fully behaving, and the US distributor and my dealer stepped up at the time to take care of it hassle-free. These things CAN happen; it’s what the trade does when it does that separates the great brands. Naim and the US distributor = great brand.

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