Weekend ramblings on how to fill an empty shelf

Hi all and apologies in advance for the lengthy post! I have been wondering for some time on how to best fill an empty shelf in my Fraimlite and this weekend I had the chance to try out a couple of black boxes thanks to my kind dealer… Please follow me through this short journey and hopefully you will find it of interest. Your feedback will be highly appreciated of course!


My system is located in our living room and consists of:

  • Allo Digione Signature (on RPi 3B)+ Allo Shanti
  • Blue Jeans BNC cable
  • Naim nDAC (middle shelf)
  • Lavender DIN interconnect
  • Naim SuperNAIT 2 (top shelf)
  • Naim NACA5 3.5m
  • Dynaudio C1 Platinum
    All boxes are connected to a MusicLine “Netzleiste” for electricity and placed on a FraimLite with 4 levels (one taken by the TV). There is also a NASTY room mode at ~45Hz IIRC. A pair of GIK monster bass traps stands behind the speakers but this is mostly decorative I would say! Distance from listening position to speakers is ~2.5m and the sofa is pretty much flush with the rear wall thanks to the logistics of Belgian housing…

Here is a photo to get an idea:

The gap…

I 've been wondering for some time what would be the ideal companion to this pair for the long term. As you can see going over the 3-box limit is not an option. The logic(?) says that a 555PS would be an excellent addition. At the same time, Dynaudio speakers are known to be power-hungry, so I was curious to see what a NAP 250DR would bring in the game, all else being equal. Some calls to my friendly dealer… and he very kindly provided me with the boxes for a weekend demo at home.

Day 0

In goes the NAP250 (bottom shelf), with the Powerline from the 555PS providing the juice. The NAP was connected to the bi-amp out of the SN2. Straight away the difference in the sound is clear. In the words of my 5-year old son: “turbo” and “loud”! Indeed the bass was much stronger and I had to use the foam plugs of the speakers to tame it. Then the sound was more balanced, very powerful and a tad more “mature”.

Day 1

I borrow the (better) ears of my better half. The difference is also clear to her, but not in a positive way, as she finds the sound too powerful and not so well controlled. (Maybe that’s why the pre-amps are called NACs after all…). She believes that it would work better in a bigger room. I (tend to) believe that it would work better with a better preamp as well.

Out goes the 250 and in goes the 555PS. In between we played a couple of tracks again with the original system to refresh our auditory memory. However I had to disassemble most of the system in order to manage the SXPS connection to the nDAC, so by the time everything was back up and running my memory was long gone. You can see below the rat’s nest behind the rack… I noticed that the rear Fraimlite leg gets marginally in the way of the Burndy by the way.

Better half comes back: Now that sounds better! :grin: :sweat_smile: At that moment my wallet started sweating as it’s usually her that guides us to the most expensive option in a purchase. After going through some “reference” songs we concluded that we could hear more details and possibly some instruments were more realistic. To be honest, however, it was not the night and day difference that I would expect. Please note here that I was using a USB stick to play ripped FLAC files directly from the DAC, to avoid any possible bottlenecks of my streaming setup.

The biggest improvement was actually by putting my TV on the side and gaining a much better imaging of the singer’s voice…

Day 2

With the TV on the side, I decided to “supercharge” the lot and connect everything. Here is the Full Monty, with the 250 on the top and with a standard mains lead this time:

This combination was actually the least satisfying in my ears! I would put it down to listeners fatigue and stress of comparing stuff rather than any technical issue to be honest. I understand that the comparison should ideally be made over a longer period of time, but I would assume that the key differences would become obvious straight away.


  1. No black box upgrade will fix your room acoustics.
  2. It seems that for this room, these cloth ears and the kind of music I am listening to (far from Classical or audiophile…) the current configuration is hard to be improved significantly by a PS for the nDAC. I think I just heard a sigh of relief from my wallet! :rofl:

Not so fast… the gap remains!

So… the shelf is still empty… I would still like to improve my system and make it more warm sounding, as despite my efforts over the years (Excite X36–>Confidence C1 / DacMagic100 --> nDAC / Nait XS -> SN2), the sound is usually too “in your face” and relatively fatiguing when sitting in the sweet spot. It is usually more enjoyable if I listen from a different room. …Maybe it’s the music I am listening to or there is just no hope for this room arrangement…

Anyway, there are more things I am planning to try out in my room and see if they make a difference. As long as my dealer doesn’t get pissed off!

  • (REL) subwoofer: I think this would have the greatest impact on the sound and maybe help with room acoustics as well.
  • Removable sound diffuser to place in front of the TV when not in use. I have tried a pair of cushions but they didn’t make any difference.
  • HiCap DR: That’s an obvious thing to try and fills (half of) the empty shelf.
  • ND5 XS2 instead of the Allo stuff: I will wait for the conclusions of @nbpf first! :blush: I wouldn’t expect a huge difference but at least I would have Chromecast functionality which is handy and missing from the RPi solutions.
  • The ideal combination would be a Shoebox NAIM transport feeding the nDAC side by side with a HiCap… alas… nowhere to be found!
  • Top up with (second-hand) cable upgrades (Powerline(s), HiLine) whenever the opportunity shows up. Then again, they will probably be wasted with my cloth ears!

That’s all folks…

Congratulations if you made it to the end! :slight_smile: This audition has shown clearly the importance of well-balanced components and a clear end-game target to avoid getting into a spending spree with no way out! :scream:

Happy to hear your comments and any suggestions that might prove beneficial. (I am afraid that a dedicated power supply is not an option though…)


My thought as to why it’s fatiguing is that the source and amp aren’t up to the speakers.

1 Like

Try moving your speakers out a bit and put the rug back

I would try a NDX 2. Maybe trade in your nDAC and slot in a HiCap DR as well.

1 Like

Wow long post! I have a ND5 xs2 and am very happy with it. Have you considered a better DAC for your shelf? Chord quetest or Hugo tt2 ? That’s my next step and I’d consider that before adding a sub.

It might be so… Dyn Confidence are really top notch and should be matched with top electronics. However they were already much better and less fatiguing compared to my previous speakers (Excite X36) with an even lesser source & amp (DacMagic & NAIT XS). SN2 and nDAC also have moved things to the right direction. But in principle the issue remains…

So maybe the proper solution would be completely different speakers that work close to the rear wall, no matter how much I adore the C1s…

Thank you all for your feedback. Please keep it coming… (even though you might notice below that I am a bit stubborn!)

The carpet is out for cleaning and will return soon. It does have a beneficial impact indeed.

I’ve tried indeed different positions for the speakers (and keep measuring with REW), but I couldn’t achieve any meaningful change by bringing the speakers more into the room.

The root cause might be that these speakers simply don’t work in this room… but I am still in love with them! :blush:

Apart from the Dynadios, did I mention I am in love with my nDAC? I know I am probably prejudiced and emotional, but I would like to remain with a multi-bit DAC, in a black box with a green logo… So my only upgrade path could be NDS with 555PS! :grimacing:

1 Like

Pet peeve that is easily corrected and almost always help - get the rack out from between your speakers. Ideally the speakers would also be placed where the fireplace is not between them, but no idea how the room is set up. Assuming only the rack is moved to one side, I would also expect the speakers to improve if moved further from the rear wall, not just imaging, but bass would be better controlled. Neither costs anything but time and some degree of social graces (drink & food) for whoever gets roped into helping to re-arrange everything. NO amount of black boxes can (at this time) overcome room acoustics, in the future digital may ( but doesn’t yet). One more easy to try fix would be to toe- in your speakers, despite being relatively close to each other, a bit of toe-in should make a difference.

I was going to suggest that lighting the fire to create a nice relaxing atmosphere would be a good start, but perhaps your suggestion should be tried first.

1 Like

A man after my own heart!
I’d consider a ND5XS2. It’s another black box however but it’s really good in DAC or transport mode to feed the nDAC. Granted it’s pricey compared to the Allo stuff but I’m sorry it’s really worth it IMHO. The nDAC really comes to life with a good source.

All my empty shelves have been filled by Naim power supplies. Have you tried one with the nDAC? If you could try one, you should.

1 Like

If you want to stick with the nDac, I suggest adding the HiCAP to the SN2 and going to a Hi-line or Superlumina interconnect would do the job and add the cohesion that should resolve the fatiguing nature of the current set up.


I have an NDS feeding my SN2, but if I already had an nDac, I would add something with the new digital tech like an ND5XS2. The nDac is a great piece of kit, and you wouldn’t get much for it at the moment.

And like Miks_S said, a PS and a Hi-line really smooth things out.
Best of luck.


1 Like

I would try Sonus Faber stand mounts . Softer and less in your face vs Dynaudio.
Hicap dr on SN2 will be a more spacious and refined sound.
Same for Xps with Ndac. But apparently the 555 ps gave little results already.

Some like this maybe? :grin:

I have indeed tried rotating the system by 90 degrees in the room and it was indeed much better in terms of imaging, even without an attempt to optimise the position of the speakers. The overall character of the sound didn’t change too much to be honest. Given that we need to combine the speakers for both music and movies, it would be a bit tricky to put the TV screen in front of the window!

I am aware that the rack between the speakers is suboptimal and putting it somewhere else would give me an extra shelf to play with… Moving it away from there would mean to put it on the left of the left speaker (however that is a room corner, so it’s also a pressure build up point). Otherwise it can go in front of the window as you see on the picture. I am afraid I don’t have long speaker cables at the moment to try it out, but it is something worth considering. As long as the room doesn’t start looking like a HiFi shop due to cables running around the place! It is our living room after all and I need to optimise both how the system sounds and looks like…


Day 3 (Work from home lunch break)

I will return the boxes on Wednesday, so I still have the chance to play a bit more… Going back to the Full Monty combination (nDAC/555PS/SN2/250DR), I mentioned that this was the least satisfying. Actually, listening to it again today, it sounds pretty balanced and pretty similar to my existing system (but probably at several notches of details and realism higher).

I got a bit curious because the “turbocharging” effect of the 250 had disappeared from my first trial on Days 0 & 1. So I moved the Powerline to the NAP and, lo and behold, the overwhelming bass is back! What the bloody hell… I am not a cable believer but the effect seems to be pretty obvious to ignore…

Now the 250DR is off and the Powerline on the SN2. I feel that there are indeed obvious differences vs the stock cable (more bass and “mature” sound). Intriguing!

Back to work now, I hope…

1 Like

I’m no expert, but I would think that having the cabinet to the left of the speakers would make for a big improvement and may have the unintended effect of breaking up the bass from that corner (that is really not too likely but it might) and I doubt the sq will suffer from having it in that corner. Seems all you really need to try that is longer speaker wire, if your dealer is loaning you boxes, seems likely he may be able to drum up a longer speaker wire. The tv could be mounted (?) and perhaps a curtain for when music is being played and removed when used with tv

I might be able to make it with the existing cables… I smell trouble at home when the wife comes back from the office though! :scream:

Indeed tried out the 555PS and it’s not a huge improvement.

Initially I was going to ignore this option, as the opinions of the Forum were divided. But it might be the most sensible black box to try.

I should indeed try out a pair… My dealer has got some in the store and I like their design (my wife not so crazy about most of them), but I smell trouble at home if I bring this point up… :slight_smile: In any case I noticed that one of their standmounts is bottom ported which might help with room acoustics as well.

Decisions, decisions…

1 Like

I’d be tempted to try a 282/200 combo instead of the SN2…


Nice thing about moving the rack off to the side is the only addition of cable just has to go past the fireplace ,on the ground. Doesn’t really add too much cable that is visible and I would definitely try a bit of toe-in. Most speakers seem to benefit from that change.

1 Like