It’s my first time on here, also a new Naim owner. Bear in mind, quite new to this hobby too.
I spent months reading about Naim and finally took a plunge on a Naim refurbished Uniti Star. It’s had the transformer and loader replaced, new CD mech, 39pf capacitors replaced and tested.
I’m using this to drive my 1.5m old B&W 705 S2, which I used to pair with a similar aged Marantz PM7000N with QED XT25 cables (on way out).
The Marantz had a nice warm sound to it but was clearly lacking with details, separation etc.
However, the Uniti Star sounds ‘thin’ in comparison and quite fatiguing to hear after few hours.
At this point, I don’t want to revert to the Marantz as I’ve been so obsessed with getting the Naim. What could possibly be the issue? Oh, when I turn off the main plug (unit on standby), I got a loud speaker pop. When my ears are next to the speaker drivers, I hear a faint hiss - both of which I never had with my Marantz.
Have a 2 week return window, so would appreciate any help and suggestions. Would:
Replacing my cables with the NAC A5 or possibly Tellurium Q Black 2 help?
Maybe burn it in further? Though I doubt it will change the sound characteristics.
Any other ideas? Sorry might be a rookie question but trying to navigate it all.
Welcome to the forum n20nine.
Assuming there’s no issue with the Star, with new caps, tx etc… it will need some running in, and a light low level hiss is quite normal with Naim kit.
Also double check to ensure you have speaker cabling correctly connected - i.e. not running one channel out of phase with the other.
I’m not familiar with the QED cables, but my past experience with other more recent offerings from QED have left me with the impression that they don’t go so well with Naim, or at least what you get is a bit brighter and a thinner than from something like NACA5. This may well be exacerbated if they have crimped &/or gold plugs on them. So, to that end, I would suggest trying some NACA5 - at least 3.5m per side, but a bit longer is better in my opinion - terminated with properly soldered Naim speaker plugs at the Star end, and whatever suits the B&Ws best at the speaker end. Have a word with your dealer and see what they may be able to lend you to try out.
Speaking of the speakers, paying attention to the connections here is very worthwhile. removing the metal links and replacing with short speaker cable lengths can bring gains. Ensuring terminals are really secure is also very worthwhile. And making sure that the stands are perfectly vertical with no rocking and the spikes properly done up. You should also experiment with some fine tuning on the positioning of the speakers with any major front end or amp changes.
Another thing; is the Naim plugged directly into a wall socket or are you using an extension block or similar? Some extension blocks have little anti-surge networks and these have a horrible effect on Naim kit. If you can give the Naim it’s own circuit or spur, all the better, but otherwise try to ensure it’s not sharing with other noisy electronics with cheap switch mode supplies etc…
The higher performance of the Naim kit will make greater demands on set up and any connected kit if it’s to perform at its best, so paying attention to the little things should bring great rewards.
Just to add to what Richard has advised, most of the reviews discuss the need to be a good 1 metre from the walls, and not to use the bungs provided to block the port. Using speaker links was also recommended.
As Richard mentioned, the cables are important with Naim stuff… Not sure what’s going on with those xt 25 cables but they are not normal in the way they are constructed. I’d get something more appropriate first up and then reassess.
That’s a very sensible setup guide which could be put in the FAQs
Hi @n20nine There are lots of good ideas in the posts above and I would at least try using NACA5 and repositioning the speakers, but once you’ve done those I would simply use your new setup for a few months, listening for short periods initially if you find long sessions fatiguing. You have made a very substantial change in your setup and, as well as the electronics burning in, I suspect your ears may also need time to adjust to your Star. If you’re still unhappy after a longer period living with it, perhaps it’s time to talk to your dealer.
Also you say the speakers are “1.5m old”. Is that 1.5 months? If so, the speakers are probably still running in. Not sure how long that takes with modern B&W, but it’s another argument for waiting. And are you using the dedicated stands? That can make a difference, too.
Hi and welcome,
I’ve never heard a Star but have heard both the Atom and Nova and neither were thin or fatiguing. I’ve also no experience of the BWs but wonder if this is a synergy issue, they just don’t like each other! And of course the speaker cable will be part of that equation so the suggestion to try some Naca or similar is a good idea.
Hi @Richard.Dane , thank you for the warm welcome and thorough advice - much appreciated. I checked with Naim and my Star was refurbished 2 weeks ago, so assuming it passed all the checks without any issues.
As for the cables, they are connected correctly and not out of phase. Indeed, I have gold banana plugs on both ends, maybe exacerbating the ‘bright and thin’ sound. I have somehow, not had much luck in finding NACA5 from dealers near me. I thought of going with the Witch Hat N2 or Phantom but was told both will now take 6 weeks to manufacture. Tellurium Q Black 2 is my other consideration. I am in search of the ‘warm analogue sound’ many speak about. Dealers quite limited in what they have these days, sadly.
I will get jumpers for my terminals. Currently have no stand due to space constrains but that will change in few months, however will do my best to play with speaker positioning as you suggested.
My Star is connected straight to my wall socket, nearby sockets power my console and wifi router (which I’ve tried to keep far away).
I should add that I spoke to my dealer again and he mentioned that he has not set-up/used the Star since refurbished two weeks ago by Naim - so will have to go through the burn-in process, which I hope will tame the harshness on the top end. Any tips also appreciated.
Richard, once again - thank you for your thorough advice. As suggested by someone, this should be pinned as a guide.
Hi @Gazza , thank you - I have them about 0.4m from the wall, far from ideal however this will change when I have more space down the road. I experimented with the bungs when I had my old Marantz, found that it altered the sound signature significantly. Re speaker links, hoping to change them to match new cables when I do get them.
Hi @Mark84 , thank you. On my list are the Witch Hat N2, Phantom or Tellurium Q Black 2. Just need to get my hands on one soon, so might be the latter. Have not had much luck in getting NAC A5.
Hi @PeakMan, thank you. You brought a good point which I will consider in my assessment. For now, as you and the rest suggested, will go new cables and try to optimise speak positioning. I still have faith I will love the Star, have been so obsessed about getting it for months now!
Yes, the speakers are 1.5 months old. I have no room for stands now, unfortunately.
Hi @LindsayM , thank you for the welcome. From what I have read online, B&W’s should pair well with the Naim’s. In particular, have come across reviews that say the Atom and Nova take the 705s to another level. I hope my plans for the new cable will solve the issue.
What are your speakers sitting on?
I don’t know where you are but several suppliers in the UK sell new NAC A5 on eBay, both terminated and unterminated.
Also you can often buy pre-loved lengths with plugs for half of, or less, the new price. I have done this myself twice now.
Hi @Svetty at the moment they are on a AV stand. My TV is mounted and the Uniti Star comes between my speakers. Not much space. Let me try and share a picture soon.
Hi @davidhendon , thank you. I am London based. I’ve seen some terminated ones on eBay that are used but much longer (i.e. 5, 10m) than I need and have a few days to go before the auction ends. New ones mostly are from within EU. I am keeping an eye on eBay too. I should say I was hoping to get something tomorrow, maybe Saturday if not; however looking ambitious at this point.
And if you feel that you’d just like to try something more appropriate for your Star without committing to such a big cable investment then you could look for secondhand NACA4, or similar types such as K20, Cable Talk etc… just to try. Make sure you get 3.5m or more per side though, even if you feel you need less - I found that with longer lengths of NACA5, Naim amps gave a fuller, less edgy sound that seemed to “breathe” and flow more easily with the music. I found that over 5m was particularly worthwhile. However the critical thing is to use ensure the bananas at the amp end are soldered with the Naim SA8s that came with the Star.
A nice upgrade for the future that will also put a good deal more “flesh on the bone” as well as muscle, is the Powerline mains cable. Right now I’m guessing you have the Lite version - the full-fat one is very good indeed and worth trying.
Is there a shortage of speaker cables at the moment? I know the price of copper has gone up a bit recently but I’m surprised you can’t find a Naim dealer with any of this stock item in store.
When I bought a Superuniti some years ago my dealer shoved a demo pair of NACA5 cables into my hands without a second thought and just said, “try these and see what you think”.
Thanks @Richard.Dane I will keep that in mind. The PowerLine is something I’m thinking of doing towards year end, after I sort my speaker cabling. Using the Lite version now. I didn’t get the Naim plugs in the box. Might need to source them elsewhere. Will also keep in mind of cable length.