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Naim launches new XP5 XS slimline Power Supply

Naim announced that they would start shipping their new XP5 XS power supply today.

The XP5 XS which comes complete with Burndy lead is designed to significantly improve the performance of the ND5 XS network player as well as delivering a major performance upgrade to the Naim DAC, NDX network player, CDX2 (models with and without S/PDIF), CDX and CDS CD players as well as the multi award-winning HDX hard disk player.

More information and images here

xp5xs_03_front_50pc_2

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Musical Fidelity V-DAC versus the Cambridge Audio DacMagic

The Musical Fidelity V-DAC arrived early this morning so after about six hours running in impatience got the better of me and I tried my first comparisons. The Cambridge DacMagic was powered by the Maplin AC-AC converter, the snappily coded L54BR, and the V-Dac by a Maplin VN10L AC to DC adapter set to 12 Volts.  The reason for using the Maplin PSs is that the MF looked as if it was a SMPS and they really affect my system.  SMPS and Naim systems don’t really mix well.

The two DACs are pretty close; in fact I’ve not drawn a conclusion yet. The MF is initially very enticing, it has a very direct quality as if a veil has been removed from in front of the speakers but at the same time it wasn’t quite as cohesive.  The DacMagic – set to my preferred Minimum phase setting – was a little more relaxed, laid back in presentation but the bass was together with the rest of the band.  The MF, although it timed, somehow managed to sound a tad slow on bass lines.

Lots more listening to do with coax S/PDIF as today was with optical.  More soon.

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Another DacMagic power supply trial

Decided to use Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, but slightly more unusually, the DVD-A rip so the source is 24/96. Unlike quite a few DVD-As, this one appears to have some content above 22k. Amazing though, that given the total available dynamic range they still needed to ‘clip’ the recording.  Still sounds rather good though.
To start I compared the standard power supply with the Maplin L54BR.  Pleasant surprise, the Maplin delivers a subtlety of delivery that doesn’t emphasise any particular instruments. The original PS, in comparison, seems to make the bass line and the hi-hat a little more obvious in the mix of Dreams and decreases the importance of Stevie Nick’s voice.

Using track 7 , The Chain, showed the original as having a slightly ‘sharper’ delivery, more detail perhaps but certainly less music. The main difference was in the low end but this changed the overall presentation. The Maplin just delivered more music but in a controlled and balanced manner.

I then dug out the 500VA transformer I’d tried before – now in an aluminium box and with a ferrite on the output – in common with the original Dacmagic’s supply.  This PS delivered more power to the presentation, more extension apparently  but was slightly slower. It had better separation of instruments, but not really more music.

The more comparisons of power supplies I do with the Dacmagic the more impressed I am of the overall balance of the design.

I will carry on using the Maplin PS.  It is easier to hide away, as it isn’t a walwart, and more importantly it improves the performance making it just that little more balanced and even handed.

The music playback system was a HP2133 netbook running Foobar and ASIO drivers connected by USB2 to a M-Audio Transit sound card which was connected with a  Chord Optichord to the Cambridge.

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Another power supply for the Cambridge Dacmagic

I’ve been reading good reports on various fora of using a 240 to 12V AC transformer from Maplin as a relacement power supply for the Dacmagic. It’s a 36VA tranny in a plastic case with a captive 2 core mains cable and a selection of pluggable DC plugs. It’s Maplin part number L54BR. It costs £15.

I’ve picked up one locally so reports of some listening results very soon.

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Why 45rpm is essential

Elbow’s award winning album The Seldom Seen Kid is available on vinyl.  It’s heavy, split onto two records, and is 45rpm.  None of the reviews I read on Amazon mention that it’s 45rpm and neither does the album sleeve or even the Amazon details page.

Don’t get caught out like me wondering why the beginning sounded so odd.  Luckily my Funked LP12 with its DC motor and clever power supply can be switched to 45.

The album is truly stunning.  It has been mastered with care, it’s not compressed to hell, and its quiet.  What’s really wonderful though is the music.  It’s true poetry set to to music.  Maybe it’s not the most uplifting album in the world but it’s definitely the best album I’ve bought in the last couple of years.

Worth playing very often and very loud.

The Thorens 25th anniversary triple album is in the same class, but I didn’t have to buy that one, I’m glad to say.  More on that another day.

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The transformer for the DacMagic trial has arrived

A 225VA 12V toroid has arrived today for the “does a larger transformer improve the Cambridge DacMagic trial”.

Hope to add the necessary connections to do the first listening tests tomorrow – more then.

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Cambridge Audio Dacmagic

I’ve had a the new Cambridge Audio Dacmagic for maybe a couple of months now and its not disappointed.  For two hundred pounds it’s fabulous value.

I started off running it in and using it connected via a Chord Prodac Prodigital coax cable from my Squeezebox 3.  It’s a great match for the SB3, delivering increased clarity and drive over the SB3’s line out. Sort of seems in the right price range for an upgrade to the SB3 as well.

Next was connecting it via USB to my HP Note 2133 to play internet radio.  Using Radio Paradise’s 128AAC stream as the primary source – a great souce of quality music with great sound – it sounded flat and boring.  What was surprising was just how easily it connected and Win XP recognised it straight away.  Really plug and play.

Adding a M-Audio Transit sound card connected via USB and then feeding the output from the Transit via a Chord Optichord optical cable into the Cambridge changed the sound quality completely: dynamics returned, life and energy returned and music was fun to listen to again. Internet radio can sound surprisingly good.

I do have an even better internet radio player but I’m not free to talk about that yet.

Two or more things to try with the Dacmagic yet: a larger power transformer and changing to ASIO drivers as these are supported by the Transit. Might even try the three filters sometime.  I reckon that there is loads more to get out of it if only I had enough time to experiment.

More on these another day.

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The New Year and Computers

What is it about the new year and computers? The two weeks over the Christmas holidays is the time when I tend to try to stay away from computers as much as possible.

Somehow, however, they seem to feel that they are being unloved and one always fails over during this time.

This year it was a hard drive initially causing constant rebooting and then pulling down the power supply enough to kill it.
Even a new PS was stopped dead by the offending drive. At least the new PS survived the ordeal.

This was then followed by a Vista machine refusing to update itself. A problem I’ve yet to fix.

There are times I absolutely hate computers.