Naim SuperUniti / Chord SPM 1000B Power Amp / PMC Fact 8

LordHill

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Mar 7, 2014
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I recently acquired a second hand Chord SPM 1000B power amp on eBay. It was a bit of a punt because I could only find one short review from a private user and so I thought I would record my experience here as this may be of interest to someone in the future. Owners of SuperUniti's and PMC's may also be interested with the results.

Prior to purchasing the Chord I was running only the SU and PMC's and whilst I enjoyed listening at the time I now realise it’s not a great combination. I have seen it described as a lean sound and would say that's generous. It’s a very unforgiving combination that only came to life with the very best FLAC recordings and vinyl.

I paid about £850 for the Chord which is a bit more than the current market rate but it’s tough to find a s/h good quality 200w power amp for under £1,000 (the Bryston 4B-ST was also on my target list). The amp dates back to 1990's but I figured I couldn't go far wrong with Chord's reputation.

I set the SU to operate as a pre-amp only and connected it via a balanced xlr to the Chord. The sound that then emerged from the speakers was a revelation. Every aspect of SQ (imaging/bass/mid’s and treble) all improved and by considerable amounts. I had no idea the PMC’s could sound this sweet and finally understand what all the hype was about. A totally engaging and immersive experience. Wow that does sound pretentious!

This does raise some questions about the SU performance as an all-in-one system Perhaps with better speaker matching it performs better but I am surprised by how much the power amp transformed things. I would also have to conclude that the DAC and pre-amp in the SU are excellent.

It’s also interesting to see how much better the Fact 8's respond to some extra power. I had not considered them particularly difficult speakers to drive and so thought the SU would have been up to the job but obviously not.

The other benefit of this new set up is that it can even make Spotify sound good (well most of the time anyway) and I believe Naim’s system in the SU for streaming Spotify direct from the servers also helps here.

Perhaps my experience here is more down to the fact that the previous system was such a poor match it’s like removing a stone from my shoe. Or, perhaps it’s because Chord made an absolutely brilliant power amp almost 25 years ago.
 

matt49

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Apr 7, 2013
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Interesting post.

I suspect two things are going on here, or rather one thing with two facets.

The Naim SU is 80wpc, and the Chord is 200wpc. You've increased the power driving your speakers quite considerably. Also in my experience PMC speakers can be quite hard to drive. Although the claimed sensitivity of the Fact 8s is 89dB, wihch is good-to-average, I think they really benefit from being driven hard.

Anyway, it's great that you've achieved such a big step up. And on the second-hand market. What's not to like! :)
 

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