Supernait and streamer quality

admin_exported

New member
Aug 10, 2019
2,556
4
0
Hi there,

I've decided against getting a Uniti since I won't need most of the features (DAB, digital radio, cd player). Thinking of a Supernait + digital source + Neat Motive 2.

My question - if the source input is digital, it should be identical whether it's from a Sonos ZP90, Linn Slinky DS, Naim NDX or a PC right? The series of 1s and 0s is going to be the same after all...

Thanks all
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
556
9
0
amcluesent said:
>it should be identical<

Should be, but isn't. It's mystery!
I was going to say exactly the same thing.

It may be due to the quality of parts, power supply, isolation, shielding, jitter etc...but thats only a guess.

I'm afraid it's one of those trial and error things...either that, or just buy what suits and not worry about it.

Cno
 

Sospri

New member
Mar 23, 2011
28
0
0
I run an comparatively inexpensive Squeezebox 3 digitally into my Supernait and and it sounds wonderful to my ears and I have no wish to upgrade it..........
 

WinterRacer

New member
Jan 14, 2009
34
0
0
The device has to transmit 1 and 0s as a square wave at a specific rate. There's no clock data transmitted alongside the data, so the receiving device has to recover this specfic rate from the transmitted data.

Devices can differ in how well the 1 and 0s are represented, i.e., how 'square' the square wave is and how stable the transmission frequency is. However, the S/PDIF protocol includes specific information to allow a receiver to 're-lock' onto the transmitted data. These days, DACs are immune to normal levels of this error in transmission rate (jitter).

Basically, differences do exist, but good DACs cope with this. To add to this, I am unable to hear any differences between my Squeezebox duet, Squeezebox Touch and Cyrus XT-SE, so I'd go for whatever transport gives you the functionality and usability you need.

Hope this helps?
 

oldric_naubhoff

New member
Mar 11, 2011
23
0
0
funkysmile said:
The series of 1s and 0s is going to be the same after all...
in theory yes. but as it's often the case reality often strays far away from theory. basically a lot depends on the s/pdif coder-transmitter. for more info on the topic look here (if you're into tech side of it all).

with computers it's even more difficult problem. it's not only the case of just plugging a USB cable into a socket and connect it into a DAC to get great music. computer (PC and Mac) has a mind of its own and in order to bypass it you need to fiddle a bit with codecs and drivers to achiveve bit perfect data transfer into a DAC. for more info on that I'd recommend reading FAQ section on M2Tech's web site.

another thing is a DAC. some constructions use buffer stages to store data before it's sent to the DAC chip. Chord uses this technology for sure, also Hegel and possibly any other manufacturer who claims their DAC reclocks the input data. this is great solution because it greatly minimises influence of the transport on the overall performance of your digital source. what this technology does is not allowing the data to go straight to DAC chip but first the incoming data is checked for correctness against internal clock and only then is it send to DAC chip under clock's supervision. that way transprt induced jitter may be greatly reduced.

as for your system; I know little about Naim DACs, I was never too much interested in Naim's gear, but if the DAC implemented in SuperNait does reclock I would suggest that the only thing you need is for instance a Squeezebox Touch. just connect it to the amp's DAC using digital coax cable and you're ready to go. or if you prefer using a computer get yourself an usb->s/pdif converter, something like M2Tech's Hi-Face, and then connect to amps digital coax input.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Great thanks a lot for the replies.

I think the best combination for me is a Squeezebox receiver plugged in to a Supernait via digital optical (I take it there is no difference from digital optical vs coax?). Looks like I can even control it from my Blackberry which is brilliant!
 

Dan Turner

New member
Jul 9, 2007
158
0
0
I'm using a SuperNait with a Sonos ZP90 plugged into it via coax (the SN's DAC does re-clock by the way). It sounds great.

I get a little wobble every now and again and wonder whether I'm getting the best out of my amp and speakers from a £280 source, but I've never been able to tell any difference between the same material (or uncompressed rip thereof) played from my MacBook, my Sonos and my blu-ray player plugged in digitally. I've not tried a "high-end" digital source; one day when I've saved up enough money I will give it a try.

If you got an NDX you would obviously plug it in via analogue which would most likely yield superior results because it has a better DAC built in to it* and a high quality analogue stage (if you connected it digitally you'd have wasted a lot of money on buying those bits and then not using them). If you wanted to try a Naim digital-only source as a comparison to the Sonos or Squeezebox then the Unitiserve is the obvious choice if you can find a dealer to lend you one (although as a ripper/storage/server is it a rather different machine). The new Cyrus stream X would be a very interesting comparison as it is the direct equivalent in terms of function to the Sonos or Squeezebox (if they are connected digitally), but at a much higher price point.

*Interestingly a chap who posts on the Naim forum mentioned that he had done comparisons between a ZP90 plugged digitally in to his SN, and a Naim CDX2 (£3k+ cd player) connected via analogue and he felt there was very little to choose between them.

Good luck finding the right solution and please do post your findings if you do any comparisons!
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
So i've finally got my system:

Sonos ZP90 > QED coax > SuperNait > Naim NAC A5 > Neat Motive SE 2

This is my first decent hifi set up... and now I know how so many people here class hifi as a "hobby" - I'm listening to CDs I've had for years and discovering detail I didn't know was there. Just listening to the clarity of voices and instruments is great - can't see myself getting bored of this!

As for comparisons, I tried:

Naim Uniti + Neat Petite SX - good but probably wouldn't have worked in my room (6mx6m)

Naim Uniti + Neat Motive SE 2 - didn't feel like it had much punch, but wasnt a bad combo by any means

Realised I am not going to use the CD player from the Uniti so then tried:

Naim Uniti Qute + Nait 5i + B&W CM8/Neat Motive SE2 - sounded much better with the Neats than B&W. Sound was brilliant - very detailed and punchy. Quite a bit of redundant circuitry though.

If you are not going to use the CD player, DAB etc from the Uniti, a ZP90 and SuperNait is a great alternative. I also found the Sonos control system (across PC, iPhone etc) more user friendly than the Naim app.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
funkysmile said:
(I take it there is no difference from digital optical vs coax?).
Technically if you opt for optical the signal will undergo a conversion from digital to optical (Capt. Obvious) and then back from optical to digital.

While transporting sound we'd ideally have the least transformations possible so that our bit stream reaches the DAC as precise as possible.

Despite this, optical have some (one?) great features: being the signal optical, it doesn't suffer interferences during the trip from the source to its destination.

Although, most people agree that coax, with a good shielded, low resistance cable, is superior to optical.

Obviously, if possible, you should try both and then decide which sounds better to your ears.
 

noogle

New member
Jul 29, 2010
29
0
0
Optical has the additional benefit that it electrically isolates the (electrically noisy) PC from the DAC.
 

mitch65

Well-known member
Dec 16, 2003
52
0
18,540
funkysmile said:
So i've finally got my system:

Sonos ZP90 > QED coax > SuperNait > Naim NAC A5 > Neat Motive SE 2

This is my first decent hifi set up... and now I know how so many people here class hifi as a "hobby" - I'm listening to CDs I've had for years and discovering detail I didn't know was there. Just listening to the clarity of voices and instruments is great - can't see myself getting bored of this!

As for comparisons, I tried:

Naim Uniti + Neat Petite SX - good but probably wouldn't have worked in my room (6mx6m)

Naim Uniti + Neat Motive SE 2 - didn't feel like it had much punch, but wasnt a bad combo by any means

Realised I am not going to use the CD player from the Uniti so then tried:

Naim Uniti Qute + Nait 5i + B&W CM8/Neat Motive SE2 - sounded much better with the Neats than B&W. Sound was brilliant - very detailed and punchy. Quite a bit of redundant circuitry though.

If you are not going to use the CD player, DAB etc from the Uniti, a ZP90 and SuperNait is a great alternative. I also found the Sonos control system (across PC, iPhone etc) more user friendly than the Naim app.
Sounds like you came to a similar conclusion to me, I've had the Uniti and felt that it was wasted as I rarely listened to CD so sold it. I am now looking at the supernait as a long term goal as I do like the Naim sound.
 

Dan Turner

New member
Jul 9, 2007
158
0
0
funkysmile said:
So i've finally got my system:

Sonos ZP90 > QED coax > SuperNait > Naim NAC A5 > Neat Motive SE 2

This is my first decent hifi set up... and now I know how so many people here class hifi as a "hobby" - I'm listening to CDs I've had for years and discovering detail I didn't know was there. Just listening to the clarity of voices and instruments is great - can't see myself getting bored of this!

As for comparisons, I tried:

Naim Uniti + Neat Petite SX - good but probably wouldn't have worked in my room (6mx6m)

Naim Uniti + Neat Motive SE 2 - didn't feel like it had much punch, but wasnt a bad combo by any means

Realised I am not going to use the CD player from the Uniti so then tried:

Naim Uniti Qute + Nait 5i + B&W CM8/Neat Motive SE2 - sounded much better with the Neats than B&W. Sound was brilliant - very detailed and punchy. Quite a bit of redundant circuitry though.

If you are not going to use the CD player, DAB etc from the Uniti, a ZP90 and SuperNait is a great alternative. I also found the Sonos control system (across PC, iPhone etc) more user friendly than the Naim app.
Nice one, glad you're pleased with it - you've actually opted for a very similar system to me. I'll bet it's not long before you get some other Sonos zones.....
 

Rich27

New member
Apr 19, 2009
1
0
0
The Supernait is a fantastic amp but I am not convinced the dac inside it is getting anywhere near the best out of it. Sonos is fine as a convenient source but the amp imho deserves a much better source. Think NDX (for streaming) or CD5XS as a longer term goal, as always auditioning is key as these options are a serious financial commitment and only worth spending the money if the difference is worth it for you.
 

Dan Turner

New member
Jul 9, 2007
158
0
0
)
Rich27 said:
The Supernait is a fantastic amp but I am not convinced the dac inside it is getting anywhere near the best out of it. Sonos is fine as a convenient source but the amp imho deserves a much better source. Think NDX (for streaming) or CD5XS as a longer term goal, as always auditioning is key as these options are a serious financial commitment and only worth spending the money if the difference is worth it for you.
No doubt something like the NDX is where it's at for ultimate quality (i'm jealous
), but you have to look at what you get with the ZP90 for less than 10% of the price of an NDX - you get a streaming source capable of streaming CD quality files in bit-perfect quality, (anecdotally it may suffer from a bit of jitter, but no one has quantified or compared this it seems), internet radio, integrated Napster and Spotify services, the market leading user interface, it takes 5 minutes to set-up and it's relatively inexpensive and equally simple to add other zones.

Going in to the SuperNait DAC, my experience suggests that this combination is at least as good as a £1000-£1500 CD player. I've not done any direct comparisons in my current system as it stands because I did my comparisons of CD players a while back and a while later did some comparisons and elected to go with a streaming source and DAC, and only later got the SN, then the Sonos, but based on the fact that quality has improved all along the way, I think the comparison stands.

I even saw a post from someone on the Naim forum who actually said he couldn't tell the difference between a ZP90 into the SN DAC and his CDX2 - now that's just one person's experience, and I got the impression it was not an extensive comparison, so I'm not going to accept it unreservedly, but it at least suggests that the ZP90/SN DAC combo really is very competitive.

I would just love an NDX, and I've no doubt that connected via analogue it would be superior to a ZP90/SN DAC (and via digital it would be better than the ZP90, but there would be no point doing that), but spending £3k on my hifi is unfortunately a very long way off. I also struggle with the idea of taking a backward step in terms of user interface, and I just know that half the time when i started listening to something using the NDX in the lounge, my girlfriend would pipe up and ask me to put it on in the bedroom as well, then I'd have to stop playing it on the NDX and switch to playing it on Sonos anyway.

Anyway I guess what I'm saying is that a ZP90 via digital is far better than it has any right to be for the money and the user interface and general convenience is market-leading. It may be bettered for ultimate sound quality, but value for money is simply astonishing.
 

Rich27

New member
Apr 19, 2009
1
0
0
Dan Turner said:
)
Rich27 said:
The Supernait is a fantastic amp but I am not convinced the dac inside it is getting anywhere near the best out of it. Sonos is fine as a convenient source but the amp imho deserves a much better source. Think NDX (for streaming) or CD5XS as a longer term goal, as always auditioning is key as these options are a serious financial commitment and only worth spending the money if the difference is worth it for you.
No doubt something like the NDX is where it's at for ultimate quality (i'm jealous
), but you have to look at what you get with the ZP90 for less than 10% of the price of an NDX - you get a streaming source capable of streaming CD quality files in bit-perfect quality, (anecdotally it may suffer from a bit of jitter, but no one has quantified or compared this it seems), internet radio, integrated Napster and Spotify services, the market leading user interface, it takes 5 minutes to set-up and it's relatively inexpensive and equally simple to add other zones.

Going in to the SuperNait DAC, my experience suggests that this combination is at least as good as a £1000-£1500 CD player. I've not done any direct comparisons in my current system as it stands because I did my comparisons of CD players a while back and a while later did some comparisons and elected to go with a streaming source and DAC, and only later got the SN, then the Sonos, but based on the fact that quality has improved all along the way, I think the comparison stands.

I even saw a post from someone on the Naim forum who actually said he couldn't tell the difference between a ZP90 into the SN DAC and his CDX2 - now that's just one person's experience, and I got the impression it was not an extensive comparison, so I'm not going to accept it unreservedly, but it at least suggests that the ZP90/SN DAC combo really is very competitive.

I would just love an NDX, and I've no doubt that connected via analogue it would be superior to a ZP90/SN DAC (and via digital it would be better than the ZP90, but there would be no point doing that), but spending £3k on my hifi is unfortunately a very long way off. I also struggle with the idea of taking a backward step in terms of user interface, and I just know that half the time when i started listening to something using the NDX in the lounge, my girlfriend would pipe up and ask me to put it on in the bedroom as well, then I'd have to stop playing it on the NDX and switch to playing it on Sonos anyway.

Anyway I guess what I'm saying is that a ZP90 via digital is far better than it has any right to be for the money and the user interface and general convenience is market-leading. It may be bettered for ultimate sound quality, but value for money is simply astonishing.
Absolutely agree with you Dan which is why I said the only way is to audition and see if the difference is justifiable given the not insignificant investment required.

I use Sonos myself and for the money it is great kit.

I used to own a Naim DAC and to be honest the ZP90 into the DAC was very close to a CD5XS into the DAC. The Naim DAC is better than the DAC in the Supernait in my opinion. I have listened to the ZP90 into SN DAC and a CDX2, the later is clearly superior (again only in my opinion). Everybody hears differently and attaches greater value to different aspects of a musical presentation. As always what is "better" is a very subjective thing and to be honest once you have a decent level of kit, the "better" that you end up paying £1,000's for can often be very subtle and largely down to personal preference.

I would only offer a view on actual items I have heard in my system. I would only buy something after extensively auditioning it in my own home, and yes you need a good relationship with a good dealer to enable this to happen.

In my experience I would rate the sources I have heard from "worst" to "best" as follows: ZP90 - SN DAC < CD5XS < ZP90 - Naim DAC < CD5XS - Naim DAC < NDX < CDX2. Putting things in context here "worst" still sounds absolutely stunning!

All the above is only from my personal experience, I clearly enjoy the Naim sound so my opinion is biased towards that. I recently borrowed the very well reviewed Leema Tucana II for a week at home (before settling on the SN) and absolutely hated it!
 

Rich27

New member
Apr 19, 2009
1
0
0
p.s. You are right the user interface on the Sonos is fantastic and streets ahead of the Naim app to control the NDX (see extensive discussion on the Naim forum). This distributed audio stuff is still in its infancy and dlna, upnp etc. is a right pita and not for everybody!
 

SteveR750

Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
560
33
18,920
Any comparison between the DACmagic and the Supernaits onboard DAC?

Source is J River MC17 set to WASAPI event, which means the DAC pulls and reclocks the data. Am using one of the cheaper but WHF recommended optical cables to minimise jitter. I am assuming that upgrading to the SN means I can offload the DACmagic....
 

mitch65

Well-known member
Dec 16, 2003
52
0
18,540
SteveR750 said:
Any comparison between the DACmagic and the Supernaits onboard DAC?

Source is J River MC17 set to WASAPI event, which means the DAC pulls and reclocks the data. Am using one of the cheaper but WHF recommended optical cables to minimise jitter. I am assuming that upgrading to the SN means I can offload the DACmagic....
I don't think you could offload it quick enough :)
 

SteveR750

Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
560
33
18,920
mitch65 said:
SteveR750 said:
Any comparison between the DACmagic and the Supernaits onboard DAC?

Source is J River MC17 set to WASAPI event, which means the DAC pulls and reclocks the data. Am using one of the cheaper but WHF recommended optical cables to minimise jitter. I am assuming that upgrading to the SN means I can offload the DACmagic....
I don't think you could offload it quick enough :)
Didn't get this comment - as in easy to sell, or it's crap get rid of it..? It's not the latter, so I suspect the former.

Unless you meant the SN DAC is way better.
 

Dan Turner

New member
Jul 9, 2007
158
0
0
I have not done a direct comparison, because I had a whole different amp when I had a dacmagic, but moving from DAC-magic> creek obh-12/Arcam p35/Arcam p38 to naim supernait, the latter is superior in every way, so the DAC can't be letting the side down.
 

Dan Turner

New member
Jul 9, 2007
158
0
0
I also should say that since my earlier posts on this thread I have got myself a second hand CDX2 as my main source and there are some differences between this (connected analogue) and the zp90/SN DAC. looking objectively at each individual attribute of the sound the differences are pretty tiny, however taken as a whole the CDX2 does produce a more organic and musically satisfying sound.

Taken as a VFM prospect a digital-only front end like the Sonos or squeezebox is unbeatable, but ultimelyi suppose it should be no surprise that if you get a well chosen £3k source it's going to beat it for SQ.
 

SteveR750

Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
560
33
18,920
Dan Turner said:
I also should say that since my earlier posts on this thread I have got myself a second hand CDX2 as my main source and there are some differences between this (connected analogue) and the zp90/SN DAC. looking objectively at each individual attribute of the sound the differences are pretty tiny, however taken as a whole the CDX2 does produce a more organic and musically satisfying sound.

Taken as a VFM prospect a digital-only front end like the Sonos or squeezebox is unbeatable, but ultimelyi suppose it should be no surprise that if you get a well chosen £3k source it's going to beat it for SQ.
Is there any reasoin why it should? Howe many CD players are bit perfect?
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS