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View Full Version : Looking for perfection. Help!



Gadget
2008-02-01, 16:19
I currently have a very good quality Naim amp, preamp and CD (CDX) player.
Although I am very pleased with my SB3, even when using flac files, the quality doesn't come close to the Naim setup.

From the existing forum entries, I have concluded that by using "EAC with flac files", there should be no loss in quality from the original source right up to the point the SB3 starts to play the track.

Therefore, am I right in believing the components that then effect the output quality are just:
1 Quality of the SB3 inbuit amplifier
2 Quality of the SB3 DAC
3 Quality of the SB3 Power Supply

Now if I spend a lot of money on a very good DAC and power supply, would I be able to match, or even surpass the quality of my Naim CD player?

Secondly, if I went for one, which of the 2 would give the best gain?

Thirdly, when setting up the Volume level on the SB3 using the analogue output, for best quality should this be set to 100%, or should I reduce this to match the line input of my amp, perhaps by matching the volume level of the CD player?

I look forward to your responses

Balthazar_B
2008-02-01, 17:51
If you're looking for perfection, you might find it in this forum: http://forums.slimdevices.com/forumdisplay.php?f=7

:)

SuperQ
2008-02-01, 22:40
Or you could just buy a Transporter and have the best without all the hassle. :)

ModelCitizen
2008-02-01, 23:10
Ha ha ha!

Your set up sounds very similar to what I had. If you search for CDX and Naim on this forum you'll probably come across me saying exactly the same thing!

I tried loads of things with the SB3 (linear power supply, various dacs etc) then got a Transporter and stuck with it. I was never satisfied with the sound from the SB3.

MC

peter
2008-02-02, 02:25
Gadget wrote:
> I currently have a very good quality Naim amp, preamp and CD (CDX)
> player.
> Although I am very pleased with my SB3, even when using flac files, the
> quality doesn't come close to the Naim setup.
>
> From the existing forum entries, I have concluded that by using "EAC
> with flac files", there should be no loss in quality from the original
> source right up to the point the SB3 starts to play the track.
>
> Therefore, am I right in believing the components that then effect the
> output quality are just:
> 1 Quality of the SB3 inbuit amplifier
> 2 Quality of the SB3 DAC
> 3 Quality of the SB3 Power Supply
>
> Now if I spend a lot of money on a very good DAC and power supply,
> would I be able to match, or even surpass the quality of my Naim CD
> player?
>
> Secondly, if I went for one, which of the 2 would give the best gain?
>
> Thirdly, when setting up the Volume level on the SB3 using the analogue
> output, for best quality should this be set to 100%, or should I reduce
> this to match the line input of my amp, perhaps by matching the volume
> level of the CD player?
>
> I look forward to your responses
>

If you use an external DAC I'm not exactly sure why the SB3's power
supply should still influence the sound. By the same logic (IANAA) the
power supply of my server should influence the sound. But perhaps
someone could explain to me the mechanism by which the SB3's supply
should influence the sound.

Regards,
Peter

Phil Leigh
2008-02-02, 02:44
Gadget wrote:
> I currently have a very good quality Naim amp, preamp and CD (CDX)
> player.
> Although I am very pleased with my SB3, even when using flac files, the
> quality doesn't come close to the Naim setup.
>
> From the existing forum entries, I have concluded that by using "EAC
> with flac files", there should be no loss in quality from the original
> source right up to the point the SB3 starts to play the track.
>
> Therefore, am I right in believing the components that then effect the
> output quality are just:
> 1 Quality of the SB3 inbuit amplifier
> 2 Quality of the SB3 DAC
> 3 Quality of the SB3 Power Supply
>
> Now if I spend a lot of money on a very good DAC and power supply,
> would I be able to match, or even surpass the quality of my Naim CD
> player?
>
> Secondly, if I went for one, which of the 2 would give the best gain?
>
> Thirdly, when setting up the Volume level on the SB3 using the analogue
> output, for best quality should this be set to 100%, or should I reduce
> this to match the line input of my amp, perhaps by matching the volume
> level of the CD player?
>
> I look forward to your responses
>

If you use an external DAC I'm not exactly sure why the SB3's power
supply should still influence the sound. By the same logic (IANAA) the
power supply of my server should influence the sound. But perhaps
someone could explain to me the mechanism by which the SB3's supply
should influence the sound.

Regards,
Peter


One theory: Noise from PSU is transmitted to SPDIF connection, causing DAC to have a harder job recovering the clock = jitter = worse sound.
However this is easily fixed by using toslink which would not transmit such noise to the DAC. But then again PSU noise could affect the quality of the interface at the SB end, causing the spdif/toslink signal to be sub-optimal at the point it leaves the SB.

Just for the record, I can't hear any difference to the signal coming out of my external DAC with different SB PSU's.

ModelCitizen
2008-02-02, 03:16
Would I be able to match, or even surpass the quality of my Naim CD player?
The CDX has it's own sound. If there is such a thing as a "perfect" source, this is not it. IMHO is has a great and individual sound and I think you'll never "match" it using a network plasyer (or any CD player for that matter... even the later Naim ones sound different).

I pretty soon got a Dac (and linear PSU, the Elpac, I think it was about 20) for my SB3, finding the sound of the stock unit a little flat, uninvolving and 2 dimensional when compared with the CDX. The various DACs improved the sound but the sound never came close to the CDX (other people of course, may have considered the sound of a the SB3 Dac combo better than the CDX though!).

If I was you I'd not bother fiddling with the SB3 and look at the Transporter or even Patrick Dixon's SB+ (www.at-tunes.co.uk). Relegate the SB3 to the kitchen! :-)

Oooh, I'd be interested in what you thought of the sound of the SB3 going straight into your amp without the pre-amp, as compared with including the pre-amp. I know which I preferred.

MC

Gadget
2008-02-02, 07:54
Many thanks for all your responses. I have considered the Transporter, but was slightly concerned at a few posting that mention lack of build quality, particularly with the knobs. Although, I probably wouldn't use the knobs, it does leads to you to wonder what other compromises may have been made.

MC - If I were marking the quality out of 10, then I would give 10 to the CDX, 6.5 to the SB3 playing MP3’s, and 7 with the SB3 playing flac. As you now have a transporter, how would your comparisons score?

Can you also tell me where in the UK you got your SBT from, and did you get to listen to it beforehand?

I haven’t plugged the SB3 directly into the amp, since I use the pre-amp for other sources also. With your SBT, what did you set the volume level to? I found the SB3 gives about 20% higher volume than the CDX, and I am not sure whether I should reduce the SB3 volume, or pre-amp for best quality

BTW - I have a very similar setup: SB3 > Naim NAC102 + HiCap + Naim PSC > Naim NAP 140 > Naim Credo

Regards
Gadget

ModelCitizen
2008-02-02, 08:28
I don't think there is anything wrong with the Transporter build quality. I've never had any trouble whatseover with mine and it's always worked perfectly. However, I do not use those knobs and buttons or the Digital Inputs.

I can't rate hifi on scale of 1-10. The CDX just made music sound good in a way that nothing else I've tried seems to. I think the Transporter is a league above the SB3 even with the various esoteric Dacs I tried with it, but it doesn't sound like the CDX.

One thing I've been thinking of trying (but unfortunately I don't have bottomless pockets) is the new Supernait: http://www.naim-audio.com/products/supernait.html.
I'd be very interested what a Transporter or a SB3 would sound like using the Supernait's Dac.

As for volume of pre-amp/SB3, as I had a third party DAC most of the time I disabled the volume control in the SB3, so it's not really relevant. I'd just experiment and see what sounds best... I imagine matching the CDX output would probably be best.