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TheUndeadCowboy
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Integrated amp upgrade from NAD C326BEE, is it worth it?

Hey all, picked up a NAD C326BEE integrated amp about a month ago, but I've found that connected to my Wharfedale Diamond 10.2 speakers, there is a bit too much bass presence, and the treble can be a little harsh and fatiguing at times. I found a Creek Evo amp for $500, which is supposed to be a little leaner on the bass. I wouldn't get a chance to demo it, but it retails for nearly three times what my NAD goes for, and I'm wondering if it would be a good buy, or if I should rethink my speakers.  Any input would be appreciated.

TheUndeadCowboy
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Also, just for reference, I

Also, just for reference, I definitely lean towards clear, neutral "British" sound.  It's why I settled on the Wharfedales (still not sure if that was the right call) and why I'm a fan of KEF.

Demondog
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Have you given any thought to

Have you given any thought to tube amps? I hear some of them can have lighter bass/ mellower highs. I have no real experience with tubes.

I also have no experience with the Creek Evo, but I'd be willing to bet it would be a noticeable improvement for you over that particular NAD.

jackfish
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What is your room like?

I'd look at perhaps taming room acoustics first. Bass traps in the corners and broadband absorption at the first reflection points sidewalls and ceiling.

TheUndeadCowboy
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Hey Deomondog, tube amps are

Hey Deomondog, tube amps are a little out of my price range, but from what I've heard their sound is right up my alley.

And Jackfish, I think my room is pretty well set up, but I'll look into treatment, thanks for the advice.

commsysman
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AND YOUR SOURCE IS.....

I had that amplifier for several years in one system, and that is NOT the sound of the amplifier at all. I very much doubt whether the amplifier or speakers could be the problem.

Garbage in...garbage out.

You need to question the quality of the signal you are putting INTO the amplifier IMO!

What signal sources are being used?

As far as the bass is concerned, I think you need to experiment with speaker placement; that is usually the critical factor there.

 

TheUndeadCowboy wrote:

Hey all, picked up a NAD C326BEE integrated amp about a month ago, but I've found that connected to my Wharfedale Diamond 10.2 speakers, there is a bit too much bass presence, and the treble can be a little harsh and fatiguing at times. I found a Creek Evo amp for $500, which is supposed to be a little leaner on the bass. I wouldn't get a chance to demo it, but it retails for nearly three times what my NAD goes for, and I'm wondering if it would be a good buy, or if I should rethink my speakers.  Any input would be appreciated.

TheUndeadCowboy
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That thought occured to me,

That thought occured to me, I'm running a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon with the Ortofon 2m Red cartridge, as well as an older JVC XL-V161 CD player, both of which are a bit on the darker side. Until I upgraded my amp though, the bass was never so noticably boosted. I'll keep working on the speaker placement though, I've tried bringing them into the room more with significant toe-in, but there's lots I can fiddle with there.

Anyway, I just figured the amp may be the issue because the problem became immediately apparent the second I introduced it to the system... maybe I just never realized how dark my components were.

commsysman
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SYSTEM

I think that you would make a HUGE improvement in the sound of your system if you replaced that player with an OPPO BDP-103, which runs $500. Your old player uses circuits that are 3 generations old, and has very low D/A conversion accuracy compared to the best current technology. It is a dinosaur, and I also see a couple of old online references to it as having a "dark" sound...whatever that means...lol. It probably means that they used some intentionally low-resolution analog output circuitry to "hide" the digital nasties that those old players put out, which needed some hiding.

For CD and SACD playback, the 103 is better-sounding than anything you can get for under $1000 IMO, plus it plays BluRay and DVD to boot.

For $1000, you can get the BDP-105, which is arguably the best-sounding for under $10,000, and pretty much state of the art (it sounds better than my $6000 Ayre C5 player, which WAS the state of the art 6 years ago.). It totally embarrasses almost any other player in the $1000-5000 range.

You also do not say what phono preamp you are using; that is a big issue. The Musical Fidelity V-LPS runs $200, and is a steal at that price; highly recommended. You might have to spend 3 times as much to find one that sounds as good.

Demondog
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You've gotten some really

You've gotten some really good replies from the others here. I agree that the NAD 326BEE should not really have an excessive bass issue by itself, but in synergy with your other equipment?

I also did not realize you are using an entry level turntable as source. The frequency balance of a lower end turntable/cartridge combination can vary quite a bit from the ideal. I would not use this kind of source to make evaluations of associated equipment. I am not knocking the Pro-Ject TT, you should see what I'm using. I suppose the CD player is questionable as well. I understand that it points the finger at the amp when the bass problem appeared with the amp, but consider what if the bass problem was lying in wait, residing in the remainder of your system, but only became apparent (audible) when you acquired an amp with sufficient low frequency power. Not sure you mentioned what amp you previously used, so I'm just thinking.

Speaker and room setup may be your best answer, but it's all about the big picture when it comes to system building, so a new amp might be a part of it. I noticed you also mentioned harshness in the high frequencies. I'm starting to think you have very good hearing when it comes to Hi-Fi. You might have to spend big $$ to get satisfaction, haha

Bill B
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Amp probably not the problem

I kinda doubt that the amp is the problem.  The NAD may not be the ultimate but it's good quality and as far as pure frequency amplitude response, it's probably as flat as any other amp.  Perhaps your previous amp was weak in that area and this "excess" is what you should be hearing?  And of course it is worth it to play around with speaker placements and room factors.

The turntable is nice and an excellent value.  I think maybe possibly that Ortofon Red might be a little harsh in the treble?? Think I heard that somewhere.  

TheUndeadCowboy
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Hey, thanks all for the

Hey, thanks all for the advice.  The vibe I'm getting is that I definitely need to look into my sources rather than my amp (commsysman, I actually do have the V-LPS phono preamp, good call), as well as my room layout.  I think the idea that the new amp revealed rather than accentuated the bass issues is definitely worth looking into. I'll have to rethink my cartridge, and especially my CD player (it was just something I found laying around, no money lost there). Anyway, I've got a lot more to consider, thanks again for the input!

jackfish
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Its not just your room layout...

it is its acoustics.

http://gikacoustics.com/acoustic-primer/

http://www.atsacoustics.com/page--Free-Online-Room-Acoustics-Analysis--ora.html

http://www.realtraps.com/articles.htm

It is likely that the minimum of room treatments I described above will tame both your bass and treble issues. It did in my room.

For speaker placement consider: http://www.cardas.com/room_setup_rectangular_room.php

TheUndeadCowboy
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I haven't bought anything

I haven't bought anything yet, but I tampered with the positioning of my speakers quite a bit, and the improvement is startling.  The soundstage is nearly twice the size it was, and the tone, while still a little bass heavy, has evened out noticably.  Looks like I won't need to buy that Creek amp afterwards!

Cheers on the great advice, everyone!

Bill B
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which

What changes did you make (how/where you moved things)?

TheUndeadCowboy
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I brought the speakers in

I brought the speakers in closer together, and further into the room. I also got rid of almost all of the toe-in, which made the most difference. Plus, I put the grills back on, which seemed to help take the edge off the brightness, and helped with the stereo cohesion.

Stephen Mejias
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speaker placement, etc.

Hi Undead.

Sorry I'm coming to this a bit late. You have a great system, and I'm glad you didn't change anything! Speaker placement, as you've found, will have a profound effect on the sound. I suspect the bass has smoothed out and become better integrated since you revised the speaker placement.

You mention brightness. How long have you had the Wharfedales? They like a LOT of break-in before settling down and sounding their best, which is smooth, coherent, and nuanced with a really lovely balance of warmth and detail. They shouldn't sound overly bright, and I don't think you'd need to keep their grilles on. They may just need more time.

Are you biwiring? If not, try connecting the speakers at their topmost terminals. They like that better, for some reason.

Congrats on a great system!

teegood64
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Great system!

I have a very similar setup using an NAD 356BEE. When I first hooked up the NAD to my PSB Image6B, I was just the opposite of what you were thinking...too little bass!! Two things made a big difference, one is a subwoofer (of course) but the biggest being an upgrade to my CD player as commysman suggests. I went the way of cheap, purchasing a Yamaha CDS7000 ($300), but wow what a difference. I listen via USB thum drive, 192K WMA files, and for source purposes, it blew away my turntable/record collection. Now I have to upgrade my turntable because of it! One problem, when solved, will most assuradly create another!! (nothing money cant fix~!)

TheUndeadCowboy
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Hey Stephen, Thanks for the

Hey Stephen,

Thanks for the encouragement, I definitely wasn't sure it was going to work out at first.  I think the Wharfedales have had plenty of time to burn in (I've been putting them through the ringer since December), but I hadn't thought of bi-wiring. I'll give it a shot, if I go back to one cable that hint about the terminals is pretty handy.

Thanks again to you and everyone! Good to hear I've got a solid system going.

hcsunshine
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hey i just can't believe...

that the NAD integratd amp has too much bass. i switched from NAD integrated amps to emotiva mono block amps because the NAD sound is lacking bass in my opinion. strange tales indeed. 

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