It really ties the room together

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markiteight
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It really ties the room together

Post by markiteight » 2019-02-23 06:39

I've been on this forum for about 7 years and figured it's about time I post up one of these. To be totally honest I haven't had a complete system, nor any place to set one up, for quite a long time. This situation eventually became untenable - headphones can only take you so far - and I decided to MAKE room where I could. This ended up being the bedroom...not ideal, but a damn sight better than nothing!

Image

Image

Image

Source:
Circa 1989 LP12/Cirkus/Tramp2/Lingo2/Ekos1/Lyra Dorian/Silver T-Kable/Linto on Audiotech floor stand.
HAKAI/HAK-NAS/GS108T (eventually...maybe...if my patience holds out)

Kontrol:
Linn ExotikDA/Dynamik

Playback:
Linn Klout
Zu Audio Omen Mk. II Dirty Weekend

Misc.:
Zoethecus equipment stand with standard MDF shelves
Linn Silvers (early version, factory terminated), Linn Blacks
Linn "K200" (wrong length, wrong terminations, but that'll get sorted eventually)
CablePro Integrity II power strip
Whatever power cords came to hand

Here's what it sounds like cold, no break-in, and no setup or tuning. Just plonked down in approximate locations, plugged in, and a bit of Billie cued up:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/cjq90zt9pd3ce ... 3.m4v?dl=0

This will act as a fun baseline for comparison against the system as it evolves over the coming weeks (months? years?) of break-in and tuning. I have to say in the room it sounds surprisingly alive and quite musical, albeit a bit bass heavy and "shouty" at high volumes (the 98 dB/W/m Omens fed by Klout can play LOUD!)...this despite the less-than-ideal current situation. I'm already enjoying the way this system plays music much more than anything I've owned in the past. It's going to be great fun hearing how it performs once optimized.

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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by beck » 2019-02-23 09:51

Hi markiteight

We are both enjoying our music in the bedroom then. Not a bad place for a music system I think and as you say a lot better than not having a system set up at all.

Lovely looking and sounding system you have here. I enjoy your setup very much as it is. I will be reading your posts! :-)
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Charlie1
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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by Charlie1 » 2019-02-23 12:12

Thanks for sharing the video markiteight.

I enjoyed listening to your system too.

Those speakers look ideal for my 13W Nait.

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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by ThomasOK » 2019-02-23 20:37

Interesting system and video. Thanks for letting us see the setup. The Zus are an unusual speaker, the pair you have certainly have a very attractive wood grain. I haven't had a lot of experience with the Zu units. We took a pair in on trade but they used a different tweeter than the newer models. It was a bit shouty so I hope that isn't a general characteristic of theirs. But they are certainly being driven by a good sounding setup. Have fun grooving your system.
The LP12 Whisperer
Manufacturer, Distributor, Retailer and above all lover of music.

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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by beck » 2019-02-24 00:36

Zu Audio Omen Mk. II Dirty Weekend

What a name for a speaker! :-)
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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by tokenbrit » 2019-02-24 04:02

Glad to hear you're still getting on well with the Hakai... :D

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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by markiteight » 2019-02-24 06:56

Thanks for all the positive comments. Its amazing how a healthy dose of good music lifts the spirits. I love the consistent high quality of the posts in this forum. Perhaps the two are related...
beck wrote:
2019-02-23 09:51
I enjoy your setup very much as it is. I will be reading your posts! :-)
'ya know what? So am I, and that is a bit of a big deal. I've never had a system that I could just sit back and enjoy without my mind at some point wandering off to wonder what I could do to improve things. Yesterday I played through 10 albums before I realized I should probably eat something. I still haven't done any sort of setup, and I didn't feel a burning need. It's a revelation to have a system that at least on initial impression appears to put the music first, the gear a distant second. A novel concept.
Charlie1 wrote: Those speakers look ideal for my 13W Nait.
Hey there's a thought. I haven't heard an early Nait but I've always wanted to give one a go. I shall keep an eye out for one. I bet Nait powered Omens would be a huge laugh.
ThomasOK wrote:
2019-02-23 20:37
Interesting system and video. Thanks for letting us see the setup. The Zus are an unusual speaker, the pair you have certainly have a very attractive wood grain.
Unusual they most certainly are! But the more I read about them the more intrigued I became and I found their unconventional approach compelling. I had to experience for myself if their unique approach actually works, especially from a tune dem perspective.

The finish is called "Rustic Hickory" and it's their standard, entry level finish. On the Dirty Weekends where everything is a-la-carte this is the only finish that doesn't cost extra. Happily it was also my favorite regardless of price, and in person they are really lovely. I did pay a bit extra to have the FRD trim ring and tweeter lens finished in matte black as I felt the standard brushed aluminium was a bit too bling.
ThomasOK wrote: I haven't had a lot of experience with the Zu units. We took a pair in on trade but they used a different tweeter than the newer models. It was a bit shouty so I hope that isn't a general characteristic of theirs. But they are certainly being driven by a good sounding setup. Have fun grooving your system.
I'm more inclined to lay the blame for the shoutiness on the FRD, not the tweeter. The tweeter is high pass filtered at a very high 12kHz acoustic, 18kHz electrical crossover point. Even with a gentle 6dB/octive rolloff the tweeter is at least 12dB down by the time it reaches the upper midrange where shouty demons reside. I have read that excessive upper midrange energy was a characteristic that plagued early Zu designs, giving them that "cupped hands" coloration typical of full range dynamic drivers. Apparently Zu worked tirelessly to eliminate this coloration from their FRD and it has been reported that through a number of revisions they have largely succeeded.

Time will tell, but they're already starting to calm down and that harshness is now more like an incredibly vivid, raw, REAL representation of voice and instrument. Zu makes a big deal about their commitment to eschewing the polite, euphonic signature valued by so many audiophiles in favor of, for better or worse, an unabridged, unapologetic, and sometimes ruthless portrayal of the music. It's almost as if you can hear the speakers shrug their shoulders and say, "sorry...that's just what a harmon mute sounds like." And it's something I've felt has been missing from just about every system I've heard (which admittedly isn't that many).
beck wrote:
2019-02-24 00:36
Zu Audio Omen Mk. II Dirty Weekend

What a name for a speaker! :-)
The other day a friend remarked that he didn't understand why I wasn't using Linn speakers. Because then I couldn't say I have a couple Dirty Weekends. :-)

They are a bit of a conundrum in Zu's already confusing model lineup. Originally the Dirty Weekend was a creative way to repurpose older drivers that had been traded in for newer updated units. The returned drivers were refurbished, tested, and installed in new Omen enclosures, but without the whizz-bang machined rear name plate, ZuB3 connectors, fancy pants house made internal wire harness, and expensive Clarity Cap capacitor across the tweeter. So you got an Omen with new box and used drivers for less than half the cost of standard Omen. Dirty Weekends were only available when there was sufficient supply of drivers to make a production run worthwhile. Sometimes it happened once a year, sometimes 2 or 3 times a year. They almost always sold out in a day. Well, Zu hasn't released an upgraded driver in years, so the supply of trade in used parts has dried up. You'd think the Dirty Weekend would vanish, but no...it's still alive and well. Rather than used parts, they defy all rational reasoning and use the same brand new and current bits and cabinetry found in standard Omens. The only difference, as before, is the name plate, connectors (5 way binding posts in place of Neutrik Speakon based ZuB3 connector), internal wiring, and tweeter capacitor. Price remained unchanged.

The catch is their availability, which is almost nonexistent. They only release them for sale twice a year for one day at a time. The last time they opened the flood gates was November 23 (Black Friday...the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S.). DW production is also prioritized lower than other models that were sold at full price, so turnaround can take a while. I ordered mine at the end of the day so I knew I was at the back of the line and I wouldn't see them any time soon. It took 3 months. For the price, I'm not complaining!
tokenbrit wrote:
2019-02-24 04:02
Glad to hear you're still getting on well with the Hakai... :D
Yeah...about that. I haven't actually managed to get it working yet. In fact I haven't made any progress since you so graciously helped me get my NAS working. Other goings on have kept me from the project but hopefully I can make some headway in the coming days.

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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by beck » 2019-02-24 08:36

Great story about the speakers and their name.

Markiteight wrote:
Time will tell, but they're already starting to calm down and that harshness is now more like an incredibly vivid, raw, REAL representation of voice and instrument. Zu makes a big deal about their commitment to eschewing the polite, euphonic signature valued by so many audiophiles in favor of, for better or worse, an unabridged, unapologetic, and sometimes ruthless portrayal of the music. It's almost as if you can hear the speakers shrug their shoulders and say, "sorry...that's just what a harmon mute sounds like." And it's something I've felt has been missing from just about every system I've heard (which admittedly isn't that many).

This really makes me want to hear them live at some point. Like you I love the unconventional approach.

Well, focus on music is to me what it is all about. You seem to have hit the spot. Congratulation. :-)
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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by markiteight » 2019-04-16 04:42


beck
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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by beck » 2019-04-16 07:31

markiteight wrote:
2019-04-16 04:42
Oopssss. I did a thing.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/89dhdmeh6wmy8 ... 9.MOV?dl=0
That works just great. This should interest Charlie1! :-)
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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by Charlie1 » 2019-04-16 09:33

Cool! :)

How are you getting on with it?

It was designed for 3.5m+ of K20 so if it's a keeper then you might want to try that. I certainly prefer it to K200 / K400 / NACA5.

I found a service helped too. Bit more tuneful after that.

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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by beck » 2019-04-16 11:27

I still think the Linn with Linn works better but that might change with different speaker cables (see Charlie1’s comment above).
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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by Charlie1 » 2019-04-16 12:39

Yeah, I'm not really hearing the Nait benefits that I hear at home but it's not already clear with these recordings. Perhaps a recording of each option would help confirm.

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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by markiteight » 2019-04-16 22:15

Charlie1 wrote:
2019-04-16 09:33
Cool! :)

How are you getting on with it?
Swimmingly! I only had a couple hours last night to play around with it and its performance was all over the map. Sometimes it wasn't doing anything for me, other times it held me absolutely spellbound. But mood swings aside, it's FUN! The amount of music that can come out of a 36 year old flea watt shoebox with tired caps that I snagged for $350...it's a cheeky little sod.
Charlie1 wrote:
2019-04-16 09:33
It was designed for 3.5m+ of K20 so if it's a keeper then you might want to try that. I certainly prefer it to K200 / K400 / NACA5.
I read with interest the discussion about your search for ideal speaker cables over on the playground thread but unfortunately the links to the clips no longer work so I couldn't hear for myself. I'll keep an eye out for some K20. I wish I hadn't sold off all my K20 years ago. Who'd a thunk I'd ever want it again?

I noticed that the Linn Knekts are a bit loose in the Nait. Would you recommend Naim connectors at the amp end or are Knekts still the best bet?
Charlie1 wrote:
2019-04-16 09:33
I found a service helped too. Bit more tuneful after that.
I specifically wanted a Nait that was all original for a number of reasons. It's cheaper, most of the units for sale that had been serviced were done so in questionable ways, I get to experience and appreciate the benefits of a good service myself, and I get to choose how to go about it. I may even do some of it myself.
beck wrote:
2019-04-16 11:27
I still think the Linn with Linn works better but that might change with different speaker cables (see Charlie1’s comment above).
You're right. The all Linn system is much better at the moment. Considering the Linn gear was an order of magnitude more expensive when new, I would hope so! But outside of dealer demos I have never truly experienced the Naim sound and felt a need to satisfy that curiosity. I feel like I'm beginning to understand this whole PRaT thing, and it's not what I imagined.

It's obviously way too early to draw any conclusions, and at the very least I'll seek out some K20 and give it a try. Speaking of which, I found this:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Linn-speaker-c ... Sw2idbP8XQ
LOL! Now I REALLY wish I still had my old K20.
Charlie1 wrote:
2019-04-16 12:39
Yeah, I'm not really hearing the Nait benefits that I hear at home but it's not already clear with these recordings. Perhaps a recording of each option would help confirm.
Can do. I'll try to post some up tonight or tomorrow, iff'n I have time.

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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by Charlie1 » 2019-04-16 22:53

markiteight wrote:
2019-04-16 22:15
I read with interest the discussion about your search for ideal speaker cables over on the playground thread but unfortunately the links to the clips no longer work so I couldn't hear for myself. I'll keep an eye out for some K20. I wish I hadn't sold off all my K20 years ago. Who'd a thunk I'd ever want it again?

I noticed that the Linn Knekts are a bit loose in the Nait. Would you recommend Naim connectors at the amp end or are Knekts still the best bet?
K20 cable itself is very cheap. It's the Linn Knekt connectors that are expensive.

My dealer has made up two pairs of 5m K20 runs in recent months. The one with Knekt connectors sounds better than the one with Nordost gold speaker connectors, shown here:
https://whybuynew.2dimg.com/10/1490282118_4585.jpg

However, the Nordost connectors are much easier to use (and cheaper). The Linn ones have a coating that seems to wear away quite easily and then they can be quite loose. Mine are quite loose in some amp/speakers now.

To be honest I am happy with both. I am less of a perfectionist when it comes to cheaper HiFi like the Nait. It's just good fun, both to own and to enjoy music through.

I seem to recall that the speaker cable somehow forms part of the output stage of the amp. I really don't understand electronics very well. I tried low powered NVA amp that takes a similar approach so it's not just the Nait but still, it seems quite rare. The NVA couldn't touch the Nait btw - not in terms of what makes me tick anyway.

Glad you are enjoying it. I guess I'm a bit like you in that I've not been that impressed by most other Naim amps, except the Nait 2. The Nait 3 was a bit screechy and odd, Nait 5i was a bit mundane at times, Olive NAC72/NAP140 too relentless and tiresome. I've not tried the really old stuff though which I probably will at some point so anyone with a NAC12 and NAP110/NAP160 for sale then please let me know :) Matteo loves his much more modern NAC152/NAP155 so I would like to hear that combo one day as well.

Good idea about the servicing.

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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by markiteight » 2019-04-18 05:08

As promised here's a couple clips comparing Exotik/D with Klout to Nait1:
Linn: https://www.dropbox.com/s/bvptj5cfqv3v9 ... 6.MOV?dl=0
Naim: https://www.dropbox.com/s/au27n8m524uwd ... 6.MOV?dl=0

Please note this is unfortunately not a controlled comparison. Multiple variables changed between the two recordings, but it'll give you an idea. I'll do another one once I have speaker cables ready made for both setups.

The all Linn clip was made while I was optimizing speaker distance from the back wall. They're not in the best position, but close. Also I had installed the ball-end footers on the speakers to make them easier to move. These lower the speakers almost to the floor, thus blocking the vents for the ZuRG bass loading system and effectively turning them into quasi-sealed enclosures. In the Nait clip they're on their spikes so ZuRG is back in play, and they're at ideal distance from the wall.

In the Linn clip I'm using the Exotik's internal MC phono stage rather than the Linto, and interestingly I'm doing the same in the Nait clip. Yup that's right, you're hearing a low-ish output MC cartridge feeding directly into an MM phono stage and amplified by just under 10 Watts. The Omens are that efficient.

Finally, I noticed today that I had inadvertently set the VTF 0,1g too high the last time I fiddled the Ekos' sticky adjuster, so the Linn clip is 0,1g above optimum, Nait clip is at optimum.

Enjoy!

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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by Charlie1 » 2019-04-18 08:01

Certainly a lot of differences in setup between the clips. I don't really think it tells us much about the amps.

I preferred the all Linn clip. It seemed better balanced too.

I'd like to hear both amp options via Linto though. I use one of these on my Nait with main Urika LP12:
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Kontak-Audio ... Swfp9bJALj

I tried a couple of others but this one sounded best to me.

The Nait does surprisingly well considering you're using an MC into it's MM phono.

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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by beck » 2019-04-18 17:53

There is something that annoys me with your two last clips even though they sound great. I think it is the mc phono of the Exotik. I like the Linto better (said the man that uses one himself!). :-)
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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by markiteight » 2019-04-19 01:44

Charlie1 wrote:
2019-04-18 08:01
Certainly a lot of differences in setup between the clips. I don't really think it tells us much about the amps.

I preferred the all Linn clip. It seemed better balanced too.

I'd like to hear both amp options via Linto though.
Your wish is my command! I managed to find enough connectors to make up another set of cables, so more clips are forthcoming. The Linto is VERY robust. I first fired up the Nait with the Linto in situ and I was practically blown out of the room with the volume barely cracked open. In the Andreas Vollenweider clip above the volume control is at about the 8 o'clock position. In the Dead can Dance clip using the Nait's MM phono stage the volume is wide open.
Charlie1 wrote:
2019-04-18 08:01

I use one of these on my Nait with main Urika LP12:
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Kontak-Audio ... Swfp9bJALj

I tried a couple of others but this one sounded best to me.

The Nait does surprisingly well considering you're using an MC into it's MM phono.
Interesting. Thank you for the suggestion. I've been trying to figure out a good solution to the interconnect conundrum as the cable supplied with my Nait is questionable at best. I had heard that Naim strongly recommends against using adaptors in favor of cables with appropriate connectors at either end. Have you compared such cables to your solution using a good set of Linn cables?
beck wrote:
2019-04-18 17:53
There is something that annoys me with your two last clips even though they sound great. I think it is the mc phono of the Exotik. I like the Linto better (said the man that uses one himself!). :-)
I'll post up some clips comparing Linto to the internal phono stages in both the Nait and Exotik later tonight but I think you're right. I wanted the Exotik's phono board to perform well enough to justify selling the Linto. One less box, one less set of cables, and more money in the hi-fi fund. The Exotik's phono board is surprisingly good (p'raps it's a lesser design benefiting significantly from the Dynamik power supply), but I'm not convinced it's good enough.


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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by beck » 2019-04-19 06:47

Great clips!

I got my suspicion confirmed by your clips. I like the mc phono of the Exotic the least.

I like the rest of your clips and find the musical differences small. I prefer your last clip (linto, exotic, klout) but the Nait1 is a fantastic piece of kit.
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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by Charlie1 » 2019-04-19 08:22

Thanks for the clips Mi8.

Not sure I prefer the Linto to Exotik in all respects. There is something I like more about the Exotik. I couldn't make up my mind up though. Probably need to try again later when children's TV programmes are not intruding. At the end of the day, people vary in what makes them tick so ultimately your ears need to decide. Good to get other peoples opinions though.

How are you currently connecting the Linto to Nait? I am not sure this is the level playing field I was hoping to hear. Agree with beck and this set of clips sound really good though.

I have not tried purpose built RCA-to-Phono leads - I think Chord make them. I use a Urika and don't have a jig so it's difficult for me to access the Urika and swap cables around. I also thought that source first might rule and therefor Silvers+adaptor would be better than a less tuneful purpose built cable.

Somewhat related, the Nait 3 has both Din and RCA connectors so I was able to compare my Silver ICs straight into the amp vs Silvers+Adaptor into the amp. The RCA inputs sounded clearer but there was something I liked about the Din input despite having to use an adaptor. I did clips for a couple of members and one also felt that the RCA input was worst. I suppose this just shows that the adaptor isn't the end of the world and not degrading the signal too much.

I have the same volume control issues using a Nait. My main LP12 with MC Urika is line level (I guess) and hard to adjust. By 9 o'clock it's very loud and tiny inputs make a big difference. Whereas, my office MM LP12 is much easier to adjust. By 12 o'clock it's not giving much more volume but small changes make little difference.

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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by andy2 » 2019-04-19 10:39

Interesting clips Mi8!

To me the Exotik>Klout is the tonically ;) superior clip.
It achieves this through being more both rhythmically and tuney-wisey tighter and together.
So, much easier to follow the progression of the beat and the syncopations than the Linto>Exotik>Klout.

Yes there is better bass extension w the Linto as well as more oomph, but I am seriously puzzled at how musically muddled and confused it sounds.
The architecture of the song is sacrificed on the altar of sound!
(Sorry, got carried away on that Sting wave of pretentiousness...)

What type of interconnects are you sporting there?
Is everything kosher at that end?

-a2

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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by Charlie1 » 2019-04-19 17:14

andy2 wrote:
2019-04-19 10:39
It achieves this through being more both rhythmically and tuney-wisey tighter and together.
So, much easier to follow the progression of the beat and the syncopations than the Linto>Exotik>Klout.
Had another listen and I hear the same things you describe.

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Re: It really ties the room together

Post by tokenbrit » 2019-04-19 19:46

I'm with beck. Elements may be easier to follow via the Exotik's mc stage, but they sound separate and less interesting to me. Through the Linto, there is better interplay between more energised musicians resulting in more enjoyable music - the Linto just makes more sense, to me, and more fun.
Funny how we hear different things :)

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