‘ The S1 Statement Pre in my view has the genome of the classic Naim Nac52 sprinkled with up to date finesse and sophistication’.
I shall try not to make the OP too long promise, but I feel the need to put you in the picture fully. After I finally managed to get my acoustic room treatment finished to my satisfaction and the system improved further with the Townsend podiums under my Fact 12s, something became apparent which I hadn’t really expected.
Before I start talking about the 552 I will state, that it has been a fantastic preamp for 17 years in my system. I’m not here to tread on anybody’s toes about the qualities of the 552 for sure, but I have to simply report what I’m now hearing. Clearly this will also only be my subjective view, so please be gentle
There has been some off-Forum chatter as of lately re the 552 possibly initiated by myself. My 552 was serviced in May of this year, but once listening to my system however there was an aspect of slight compression or forward shoutiness on close miked vocals once the voicing got naturally raised and became more forceful in the recording. This slight weakness also clearly became apparent as the wick reached say 10 o’clock, which my room due to acoustic treatment can now withstand. JN ( sadly not active on the Forum anymore) and myself were in this respect beginning to question and speculate, whether the 552 was simply beginning to act a little bit like a bottleneck, something I’d never thought I’d be saying tbh.
So hence the old gremlin of the S1 increased its presence again on my shoulder and the shaky phone call to Signals was finally made. The demo was booked in for last Saturday with their existing dem unit with 3-4 months of being powered up and ‘some ‘ music having been put through it over that time.
Good old Happylistener helped me simplifying the Fraim set up in preparation for the day in the week leading up to the dem.
This much lower set up allows for less cancellation on the left hand side of my listening room, but also enabled a full 50mm thick 60x120 panel to be mounted on the wall to manage 1st reflection points from both speakers .
So the time came, where Andy and Mike arrived and of course due to the peculiar circumstances of Covid everything was managed beautifully with face masks, social distancing and elbow bongs .
They also brought a little discreet crate btw. :
Yep, it aint subtle…
Finally after some huffing and puffing the impressive S1 got shoe horned into its prepared position:
Due to the low plug-in location on the S1 and the lower Fraim set up the cable dressing proved a bit of a challenge, but has been subsequently sorted.
We spent a jolly few hours together with sandwiches/ coffees thrown in for good measure, of course also listening to the S1 doing a warm up, but tbh. although good it did unsurprisingly sound somewhat stilted.
I hence decided to hold back with a report in this mad old place till I was fully happy/ confident, that it had warmed up to produce good sonics and thankfully there hasn’t been much pressure from the likes of Dusty etc… much!
Assuming it is not fully run in I have also managed to stick roughly 10 hours of Yello ‘Toy’ through it daily the last week at moderate level with the door closed. My wife has been incredibly understanding bless her.
A week in this morning I sat down pipe and slippers with a supplementary coffee hoping it wasn’t going to be as volatile/ temperamental as it has been all week except for a few glimpses of potential grandeur:
Less than 30 seconds in I just about managed to not spew the coffee all over the show and I was beginning to observe a somewhat uncontrollable giggle to the point, where I was dreading a full Herbert Long-tick would ensue. This thankfully didn’t happen.
From reading a few Audio reviews ( Roy Gregory’s is excellent in my view) and Forum-archive inputs I could have been better prepared. Lots of clever things have been said already but nevertheless I’ll throw in my 2 pence worth:
Sorry to TimopNorth but a mullet it aint. To me it is working extremely well within the confines of a passive 500DR system with no weaknesses propping up either upstream nor downstream.
It is simply an amazing preamp and although having opened the window very wide, so far no muck has flown in.
A few highlights that takes the pre into its own league:
Soundstage is as Jon Honeyball stated simply stupendous ( and frighteningly I know this aspect will become further enhanced with time… and bring it on!).
Bass is so well resolved, deep, weighty creating a fantastic foundation for everything else above.
Music is coherent and everything sounds just right.
Vocals have real natural tone, highly resolved and lovely airiness of recorded surrounding space whether in a studio or a real concert.
Top class separation allowed by a highly decreased noise floor and the ensuing amount of details is most impressive. This also leading to a substantial increase in actually hearing/ understanding the words from background vocals or instruments for that matter- all rich in tone, texture and everything decays extremely naturally.
BUT maybe most importantly in the PRaT department is where the S1 really shines. The speed is astonishing and this combined with its transient attack ability the music has real rhythmical drive.
There is immense CONTROL and yet a lovely EASE in delivering the musical message.
I’m hoping others may chip in with their findings re the S1, but in simple terms I have come to realise that it is a complete game changer… and hey it may be even better tomorrow! Enough said tonight ATB Peter