Arcam rDAC/NAD/B&W combo a little too bright.

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Today I have just installed a wireless Arcam rDAC into my system to finally release my music collection from the shackles of my macbook. After firing it up I immediately noticed the improvement in sound, absolutely phenomenal piece of kit. After an hour or so of listening however I can't help but think my ears have had a bit of a workout, its quite an effort to listen too if that makes sense?

Earlier this week I replaced my faithful and wholly enjoyable Arcam A65+ with a silver NAD C355BEE I bought on eBay nice and cheap that is in great condition. The sound is not as warm as my Arcam, but the extra 40w/channel is handy as I listen to a lot of Techno, House & Dubstep.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0069S93KA/
My speakers are an ageing set of B&W DM602 S2's, the positions of which are far from ideal but they have solid bases nonetheless.

I use Atlas Equator mk3's between the DAC and the NAD and QED silver anniversary speaker cable (knocking on 13 years old now that cable!).

My dilemma as described in the 1st paragraph is the system now sounds too bright. I realise that I have introduced a lot of change in a short space of time (new amp/DAC) so I'm not sure where to turn next to tone it down for fear of changing the wrong thing.

I loved the sound of my Arcam, I had an Alpha 7 before that and I supposed I've grown accustom to that warm Arcam sound. What would you guys suggest changing to dampen things down, without losing dynamics and low end control? The speakers or the amp? The NAD is powerful, but I'm conscious that its cheap power (like a marantz) and you sacrifice overall control in favour of wattage.

I think the B&W's have seen better days, they have been abused all through uni and for the last 6 years on top so 11 years all in all. Ive got a budget of around £600 to either change the speakers or the amp and am open to suggestions. On another note I need 60-70w plus with an amp as I use it at wildlife bothering levels when DJ'ing (Arcam at 40w cut out all the time).
 
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Anonymous

Guest
P.S Ive heard the rDAC's need a certain amoutnb of run-in time before they work to their full potential?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
P.S Ive heard the rDAC's need a certain amount of run-in time before they work to their full potential?
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Walkzinho said:
Today I have just installed a wireless Arcam rDAC into my system to finally release my music collection from the shackles of my macbook. After firing it up I immediately noticed the improvement in sound, absolutely phenomenal piece of kit. After an hour or so of listening however I can't help but think my ears have had a bit of a workout, its quite an effort to listen too if that makes sense?

Earlier this week I replaced my faithful and wholly enjoyable Arcam A65+ with a silver NAD C355BEE I bought on eBay nice and cheap that is in great condition. The sound is not as warm as my Arcam, but the extra 40w/channel is handy as I listen to a lot of Techno, House & Dubstep.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0069S93KA/
My speakers are an ageing set of B&W DM602 S2's, the positions of which are far from ideal but they have solid bases nonetheless.

I use Atlas Equator mk3's between the DAC and the NAD and QED silver anniversary speaker cable (knocking on 13 years old now that cable!).

My dilemma as described in the 1st paragraph is the system now sounds too bright. I realise that I have introduced a lot of change in a short space of time (new amp/DAC) so I'm not sure where to turn next to tone it down for fear of changing the wrong thing.

I loved the sound of my Arcam, I had an Alpha 7 before that and I supposed I've grown accustom to that warm Arcam sound. What would you guys suggest changing to dampen things down, without losing dynamics and low end control? The speakers or the amp? The NAD is powerful, but I'm conscious that its cheap power (like a marantz) and you sacrifice overall control in favour of wattage.

I think the B&W's have seen better days, they have been abused all through uni and for the last 6 years on top so 11 years all in all. Ive got a budget of around £600 to either change the speakers or the amp and am open to suggestions. On another note I need 60-70w plus with an amp as I use it at wildlife bothering levels when DJ'ing (Arcam at 40w cut out all the time).
Most components need a run-in period, but given your Nad is a recent addition to your system and the rDac is new I think you'll need a period to acclimatise to the new set-up.

BTW, I owned the Alpha 7R and later the A65+ for about 6 years (14 years for the two). Absolutely loved the A65, so it's interesting to hear you describe it as warm. With MA RS6s it is (was) a pretty neutral sounding amp. The Alpha range was slightly richer in presentation (still have it in my attic).

IMHO, the A65+ is pound for pound one of the best sounding Arcam amps, as long as you take the modest output for granted.

Going back to your original question, I would also change the speaker cables to Chord SilverScreen. They have a wonderful solidity that lacks in QED cables.

The overall message: Give it more time. See in about a fortnight whether the brightness is tamed or not.
 
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Anonymous

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Yes I'm quite aware I'm probably being a little quick to react. My nakamichi banana plugs should arrive today, the speaker cable is just clamped into the posts and hasn't had a fresh part of the insulation cut off for years. Another variable that I may need to think about is file quality, 90% of my collection is 320kbps mp3, so I may be expecting too much of the DAC in the first place. I've listened to .WAV's and they sound superb, but still with that overriding brightness. One of my friends in Dubai who is also moderately into hi-fi has said that upon changing from his marantz to a NAD he noticed the sound being 'hollow'. That is a good way to describe how I feel about this NAD, it performs well but there just isnt the depth of sound there. I'm having to listen hard to pick out detailed electronic rhythms in my techno collection whereas the Arcam would communicate these with aplom.

Im not averse to persevering with it, as you say, so I'd like to try out some different speakers.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Yes I'm quite aware I'm probably being a little quick to react. My nakamichi banana plugs should arrive today, the speaker cable is just clamped into the posts and hasn't had a fresh part of the insulation cut off for years. Another variable that I may need to think about is file quality, 90% of my collection is 320kbps mp3, so I may be expecting too much of the DAC in the first place. I've listened to .WAV's and they sound superb, but still with that overriding brightness. One of my friends in Dubai who is also moderately into hi-fi has said that upon changing from his marantz to a NAD he noticed the sound being 'hollow'. That is a good way to describe how I feel about this NAD, it performs well but there just isnt the depth of sound there. I'm having to listen hard to pick out detailed electronic rhythms in my techno collection whereas the Arcam would communicate these with aplom.

Im not averse to persevering with it, as you say, so I'd like to try out some different speakers.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Yes I'm quite aware I'm probably being a little quick to react. My nakamichi banana plugs should arrive today, the speaker cable is just clamped into the posts and hasn't had a fresh part of the insulation cut off for years. Another variable that I may need to think about is file quality, 90% of my collection is 320kbps mp3, so I may be expecting too much of the DAC in the first place. I've listened to .WAV's and they sound superb, but still with that overriding brightness. One of my friends in Dubai who is also moderately into hi-fi has said that upon changing from his marantz to a NAD he noticed the sound being 'hollow'. That is a good way to describe how I feel about this NAD, it performs well but there just isnt the depth of sound there. I'm having to listen hard to pick out detailed electronic rhythms in my techno collection whereas the Arcam would communicate these with aplom.

Im not averse to persevering with it, as you say, so I'd like to try out some different speakers.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Walkzinho said:
Yes I'm quite aware I'm probably being a little quick to react. My nakamichi banana plugs should arrive today, the speaker cable is just clamped into the posts and hasn't had a fresh part of the insulation cut off for years. Another variable that I may need to think about is file quality, 90% of my collection is 320kbps mp3, so I may be expecting too much of the DAC in the first place. I've listened to .WAV's and they sound superb, but still with that overriding brightness. One of my friends in Dubai who is also moderately into hi-fi has said that upon changing from his marantz to a NAD he noticed the sound being 'hollow'. That is a good way to describe how I feel about this NAD, it performs well but there just isnt the depth of sound there. I'm having to listen hard to pick out detailed electronic rhythms in my techno collection whereas the Arcam would communicate these with aplom.

Im not averse to persevering with it, as you say, so I'd like to try out some different speakers.
What's your room acoustics like? By that I mean is reflective or is it well damped with soft furnishing, carpets, curtains etc.?

Also, do you still have the Arcam?
 

ISAC69

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Mar 13, 2012
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I think the problem is with your NAD amp , I am not a fan of NAD amps its lacks the whorm and detailed sound presentatipn of other companies such as CAMBRIDGE AUDIO , ROTEL or ROKSAN act. . regarding the DAC it needs a "run time" period of 100-200 hours .
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Well, I took one of my B&W's in for a new tweeter today after it gave up the ghost. Ended up walking out with a P38. Using the A65+ as a pre-amp and the NAD is going on eBay.

Back in the land of blissful listening.

:)
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Walkzinho said:
Well, I took one of my B&W's in for a new tweeter today after it gave up the ghost. Ended up walking out with a P38. Using the A65+ as a pre-amp and the NAD is going on eBay.

Back in the land of blissful listening.

:)
Nice one - I was going to suggest a power amp for the Arcam. I do think the A65 is a very underrated amp on here.
 

ISAC69

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Mar 13, 2012
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Walkzinho said:
Well, I took one of my B&W's in for a new tweeter today after it gave up the ghost. Ended up walking out with a P38. Using the A65+ as a pre-amp and the NAD is going on eBay.

Back in the land of blissful listening.

:)
:rofl:

I told you the problem is with NAD amp !!!

You made the right choice now !

:dance:
 

Big Chris

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Apr 3, 2008
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I read the first post but skimmed the rest, so if I missed something, I'm sorry.

I too would look at your QED Silver Anniversary cable. I too used this for nigh on 9 years, but I then traded up to Atlas Hyper 2.0. This cable is more natural than the QED with no loss of detail. Should be a good match to your Arcams & B&W speakers... It is with mine.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Im thoroughly chuffed with it, brand new in the box, black, guess what I paid? ......... £600 inc. some Chord Company Crimson.

One thing I have noticed even at 105w per channel, that NAD had a hell of lot of weight behind its bass compared to this Arcam arrangement. This is very soft and not intrusive in the slightest, but still very clear and punchy nonetheless. The NAD sonically was poor, but my god it could chuck out bass, controlled too and not flabby.

I think my ears have grown accustom to the Arcam sound over the years, using the A65+ as a pre-amp made perfect sense when the guy in the shop suggested it, and at that price I couldnt refuse. I think he even made a loss but he just wanted to get rid of it!
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Walkzinho said:
Im thoroughly chuffed with it, brand new in the box, black, guess what I paid? ......... £600 inc. some Chord Company Crimson.

One thing I have noticed even at 105w per channel, that NAD had a hell of lot of weight behind its bass compared to this Arcam arrangement. This is very soft and not intrusive in the slightest, but still very clear and punchy nonetheless. The NAD sonically was poor, but my god it could chuck out bass, controlled too and not flabby.

I think my ears have grown accustom to the Arcam sound over the years, using the A65+ as a pre-amp made perfect sense when the guy in the shop suggested it, and at that price I couldnt refuse. I think he even made a loss but he just wanted to get rid of it!
The welter of bass is the prime I dislike Nad.

I've noticed the entry-level Arcams, due to their low output and current do benefit from a power amp. I was tempted to do the same before I, reluctantly, moved away from the brand.

Enjoy!
 

ISAC69

New member
Mar 13, 2012
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Walkzinho said:
Im thoroughly chuffed with it, brand new in the box, black, guess what I paid? ......... £600 inc. some Chord Company Crimson.

One thing I have noticed even at 105w per channel, that NAD had a hell of lot of weight behind its bass compared to this Arcam arrangement. This is very soft and not intrusive in the slightest, but still very clear and punchy nonetheless. The NAD sonically was poor, but my god it could chuck out bass, controlled too and not flabby.

I think my ears have grown accustom to the Arcam sound over the years, using the A65+ as a pre-amp made perfect sense when the guy in the shop suggested it, and at that price I couldnt refuse. I think he even made a loss but he just wanted to get rid of it!
The only advantage of NAD is its huge bass I considered to buy the 375BEE it was an aggressive amp no details at all , sound stage was very poor only bass and bass and bass... :cry:

For good quality sound I will look at other places .
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
ISAC69 said:
Walkzinho said:
Im thoroughly chuffed with it, brand new in the box, black, guess what I paid? ......... £600 inc. some Chord Company Crimson.

One thing I have noticed even at 105w per channel, that NAD had a hell of lot of weight behind its bass compared to this Arcam arrangement. This is very soft and not intrusive in the slightest, but still very clear and punchy nonetheless. The NAD sonically was poor, but my god it could chuck out bass, controlled too and not flabby.

I think my ears have grown accustom to the Arcam sound over the years, using the A65+ as a pre-amp made perfect sense when the guy in the shop suggested it, and at that price I couldnt refuse. I think he even made a loss but he just wanted to get rid of it!
The only advantage of NAD is its huge bass I considered to buy the 375BEE it was an aggressive amp no details at all , sound stage was very poor only bass and bass and bass... :cry:

For good quality sound I will look at other places .
Nad produce decent amps: They have good treble and detail but the bass just unbalances the whole presentation IMO.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Well, the shop where I took my speakers to be repaired is a bit of a gem. Ive known of it for years, but until now ive never been able to afford anything in there! I rang him as I was having rouble tracking down a new tweeter for my faulty 602, he said he could get one in and fit it for me. When I walked in the first thing that presented itself was an 802 Diamond in all black then next to that were more 800 series in a range of different colours. he's got pretty much the entire B&W range, the entire Naim arsenal, plus Arcam/Quad and lots of more obscure brands ive never heard of.

As soon as I mentioned what amplfier I had he just cut me short and said swiftly "I dont sell NAD", with a funny look on his face. I told him about the A65+ it replaced and he (admittedly, he is a salesman) quipped "Ive got a new in box P38 in the back that I wont be able to sell now?" Whilst not perfect for most its ideal for my situation, I feel like ive got a genuine one in a million bargain here!

So im about 5 hours into listening to the whole setup now, the DAC is marvellous as is this new amp. Even my ageing B&W's (complete with 1 new tweeter) sound like they've been given a fresh lease of life. I cant describe how good this whole system sounds (to me anyway) and im very fussy, my ears dont feel tortured like they did with the NAD and the midrange is superbly detailed. As mentioned before, even with an extra 25w the bass doesnt feel quite as weighty as the NAD, but I prefer clarity over neighbour/wildlife bothering bass levels.

Ive managed to engage the cutout once or twice when testing its limits, im guessing thats the amp stopping the speakers from blowing? I could get the NAD to go louder strangely..
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Walkzinho said:
Well, the shop where I took my speakers to be repaired is a bit of a gem. Ive known of it for years, but until now ive never been able to afford anything in there! I rang him as I was having rouble tracking down a new tweeter for my faulty 602, he said he could get one in and fit it for me. When I walked in the first thing that presented itself was an 802 Diamond in all black then next to that were more 800 series in a range of different colours. he's got pretty much the entire B&W range, the entire Naim arsenal, plus Arcam/Quad and lots of more obscure brands ive never heard of.

As soon as I mentioned what amplfier I had he just cut me short and said swiftly "I dont sell NAD", with a funny look on his face. I told him about the A65+ it replaced and he (admittedly, he is a salesman) quipped "Ive got a new in box P38 in the back that I wont be able to sell now?" Whilst not perfect for most its ideal for my situation, I feel like ive got a genuine one in a million bargain here!

So im about 5 hours into listening to the whole setup now, the DAC is marvellous as is this new amp. Even my ageing B&W's (complete with 1 new tweeter) sound like they've been given a fresh lease of life. I cant describe how good this whole system sounds (to me anyway) and im very fussy, my ears dont feel tortured like they did with the NAD and the midrange is superbly detailed. As mentioned before, even with an extra 25w the bass doesnt feel quite as weighty as the NAD, but I prefer clarity over neighbour/wildlife bothering bass levels.

Ive managed to engage the cutout once or twice when testing its limits, im guessing thats the amp stopping the speakers from blowing? I could get the NAD to go louder strangely..
I've found Arcam very hard to beat, and I've heard an awful lot of sub-£1000 integrateds over recent years.

There are some amp that impress immediately or as I call them: "Instant impact" amps: Cyrus, Naim, Nad. But if like me, I want a combo that has lasting appeal - easy listening without sacrificing excitement and the essence of the music...
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Not moved from this spot.. still listening haha :)

Got radio 1 streaming and loving every minute, one happy customer.
 

matthewpiano

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Nov 23, 2007
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The A65+ is the better than any of the equivalent Arcam amps that have come since. Enjoy.

Regarding the comments about NAD, yes their amps can sound a little bass heavy but it all comes down to how you partner them and set them up. My system sounds beautifully balanced. I couldn't live with over-the-top bass but I don't have that problem. Partnered with the Dali speakers the bass is perfectly in proportion and there is loads of detail, openess and control throughout the frequency range. One thing I would say is that changing the supplied steel links between the pre and power sections with proper jumper leads makes a significant difference.
 

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