Tone Color Nova

i bought my speakers t + a criterion s 2100 ctl half a year ago. b & w were too bright for me on the uniti star. now i have bought the nova, which plays more adult, more powerful and with more space. with some records the music seems dull and a bit as if there was a thick curtain in front of it. E.g. tower of power t.o.p … speaker cables are high quality from t + a.
is this issue the result of the nova tone color or does the device simply show the weaknesses of the recordings more directly? would a SN3 / nd5xs2 be matched differently? What about other speaker cable?

The speakers are a lot for the Nova and the system isn’t ideally balanced. I tried a Nova on Naim SL2s and the results were far from satisfactory, and I suspect your speakers are a lot more demanding.

It would be a good idea to try some Naim NacA5 speaker cables as they are perfectly matched to the Nova and would give a known reference.

The NDX2 and Supernait 3 is a very significant step up from the Nova. However your speakers may really need amplification at least at the level of the 282/250, or better still. I’d suggest you either spend a lot on electronics, or you get more modest speakers that are a better match for your Nova.

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While I in principle would not necessarily disagree looking at the specs, the OP does seem to suggest not having had issues with the Star. And I would certainly not expect the SN3 to bring improvement with these speakers, to the contrary.

They’re a 4Ohm design, and the SN3 has significantly less power than the Nova into that kind of load. The manufacturer states 200W minimum. I would take that with a grain of salt, but it does indicate they probably like power.

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Does it? The SN3 product page says in the Specifications:
80W per channel into 8 ohms (4mm sockets), 130W per channel into 4 ohms

The Nova product page only says:
80W per channel into 8 ohms

The SN3 doesn’t double it into 4 Ohms, but it does have a healthy increase. Does the Nova have more (and is it documented somewhere)?

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in test’s, 130 to 140 watt at 4 ohms are usually spoken of. Nova, SN3 and NAP250DR therefore have the same performance values ​​on paper.
A well-known dealer has privately owned the Nova on B & W803 and says that fits perfectly. Naim recommends the Focal Kanta No.2. I think these speakers are just as demanding as my T+A. when i changed the star from the dynaudio contour 1.3 to the T+A it was a great improvement.

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What it says on paper and what Naim recommend in terms of Focal speakers needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. The SN3 is far more capable than the Nova and the 250 is far more capable again. In my humble opinion your electronics are insufficient for your speakers. Why not try them with better electronics and see for yourself what difference it makes. Then you will know if I’m talking nonsense.

This is so difficult to say. The recommended Watts and minimum impedance don’t tell you all, and phase behavior is rarely published (but some reviewers measure it).

One would assume that if the Kantas are recommended for the Nova, they tested it. The same cannot be said about the T+A.

From the data I found:

Recommended: 40 - 300W
Nominal impedance: 8 Ohms
Minimum impedance: 3.1 Ohms
Sensitivity: 91 dB

Recommended: no info
Nominal power: 200W
Nominal impedance: 4 Ohms
Minimum impedance: no info
Sensitivity: 88 dB

From this, one cannot say for certain that “these speakers are just as demanding as my T+A”

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So why are we talking about OP having to buy new (and more expensive) equipment, when we don’t know much about the current circumstances? That seems like putting the cart before the horse a bit.

For instance:

  • How long has he had the Nova?
  • What is the source playing?
  • Does it affect only certain tracks or music?


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I, for one, am not, I was just saying that one of the assumptions don’t necessarily hold
(Edit: though if the Star drove the T+A well, I also don’t know why the Nova wouldn’t)

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There’s measurements by Stereophile. In there it’s quoted as 160W (not doubling as they also measure a bit more than the 80W at 8Ohm), but they mention that Naim says 155W. So assuming that’s correct the Naim quoted numbers are 80->130 for the SN3 and 80->155 for the Nova.

OK, thanks, but this does not seem to be such a huge difference that it would cancel out all other considerations

Measurements from a review showed 3.5Ohm from memory. I think the reviews are linked on the T+A website.

OK, I didn’t dig very deep, just went by the spec section on the product website. Shouldn’t be an issue in itself, then

What are you basing this on? Would you recommend the OP try a top of the line tube amp with these speakers, simply because it’s “better” / more expensive? An amp needs to be matched to speakers, the manufacturer data here suggests they want power, so a more powerful amp might well bring more of an improvement than a weaker, but better one.

I agree that listening will tell for certain, but from the evidence there is an SN3 is perhaps not the most logical direction to start experimenting with.


I heard a SN3 + ND5XS2 vs a Nova recently and didn’t think there was too much difference in sound quality.

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Just listened to T.O.P. on my Nova and it sounds very poor, compressed and veiled. Nova, in my experience, tends to be extremely sensitive to older, analoguely recorded music and will only sound at its best with high bitrate and digitally recorded or remastered music. My guess is that the “lesser” uniti models may have been voiced with a slightly boosted bass or treble, hence, such content will sound more exciting with Atom and Star. Before throwing your hard earned money at more expensive models, I’d strongly recommend a side by side listening test to ensure you don’t get disappointed with more expensive gear (as I wouldn’t be surprised if more expensive models put an emphasis on details as opposed to musicality). We all have different preferences concerning the sound, therefore, you can only trust your ears!

I made it clear in my first post what I meant by better. Recommending a very modestly powered tube amp with those speakers would be daft. I can only suggest things based an my experience. It might we helpful for you to provide details of your system in your profile so the OP knows a bit more about where you are coming from.

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I don’t know what T.O.P. is, but you seem to be drawing quite a conclusion from some individual recordings. Maybe this one was a poor, compressed, and veiled recording. I have certainly heard the Nova not at all like this with older, analog recordings (streamed or fed by P8)

Though yes, maybe for some reason the sound that the Star makes with poor recordings may be preferred, so the recommendation to audition before buying is sound :slight_smile:

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I guess T.O.P. stands for Tower Of Power. Regardless the setup, I would never be able to enjoy that music. :smiling_imp:

I got that :slight_smile: but seemed to be a band, so wasn’t sure what to do with that. Realizing now that there is an album T.O.P. I wouldn’t say it sounds so veiled or horribly compressed here (NDX2/252/300) that I’d write about it