It has been almost a year since I completed my new listening room, so I thought it about time to post an update here.
Having the space to explore my systems capabilities to the full has been a wonderful, and probably the most important upgrade I have made, as I have now realised how much my old room was holding the music back. It was never 'bad' and on most occasions I thought it sounded pretty good, but over the last year my enjoyment has deepened and I have spent more time totally absorbed in the musical moment.
I am very happy with the benefits of room treatment as the panels from GIK have tamed the bass response, and generally improved the acoustic ambiance. The room is not completely dead, but if you walk in during conversation the clarity improves noticeably. Well worth it for far less than a typical box upgrade.
So, what else?
Well, Naim seem to have been rather busy this year with both the introduction of the new SL cables, and the recent upgrade of the bigger power amps to DR status. In mid July I exchanged my trusty hi-line for a new SL DIN to DIN interconnect for the NDS to 552 connection.
The SL is a wonderful piece of engineering, drawing heavily on the hi-line, but manufactured to much tighter tolerances, with the vibration absorbing rings now metal, rather than flimsy plastic. The cable is very open and transparent, with more bass extension - a definite upgrade on the hi-line! With the SL still running in, I began to wonder how it would work with the new DR amp. Both products emerged from the development of the Statement, so it seemed sensible that there would be synergies.
In August I bit the bullet and traded in my 8 year old 300, for a shiny new 300 DR. I was expecting it to to be good... hoping it would be very good..., but what followed was a revelation! The DR amps are probably the most important upgrade to the classic and 500 series since launch over 15 years ago. We all looked longingly at the full Statement, but the financial outlay is significant, so only a lucky few will ever experience it in our homes. The DR upgrade brings a little bit of Statement to everyone.
On the 300 it brings a combination of control with finesse. The bass extension originally experienced with the SL interconnect now snaps into razor sharp focus. Drum beats are fast, deep and exceptionally well detailed. You can follow the rhythm intensely, hearing subtle changes in the force or position where the stick hits the taught skin. Steel strung guitars are rendered with absolute precision, and the gentle touch of a brush against a cymbal can be clearly heard. I really was not expecting it to be this good!
So, where next...
The experience of the SL and DR has clearly demonstrated the 'system synergy' that many of us love about Naim. The recent trickle-down developments from the Statement project have proven to me that Naim are at the forefront of musical reproduction. Not just Hi-Fi, but Music...
I am currently awaiting the rest of the SL 'loom', which I hope will establish a new baseline performance, that I can use to explore a few further options. I had previously followed the 'Source First' principle, which logically extends to pre before power amp, but having heard the 300DR, I now wonder what a 500 DR would bring? I have heard the S1 pre in a 3x300 active system and it certainly performs, but in terms of overall system synergy, I need to explore further. Options under consideration are:
Replace my beloved S600s with something better.. S800s or Focal Scalar V2 Utopia are possibilities.
Jump up to a 500 DR, to see how far the performance envelope extends above the 300DR.
Statement S1 Pre, is still an itch I may need to scratch some day.
Right now, I am not sure, but finding out will be a fascinating experience!
All the best fellow Tom Tom Club members.
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