Pass Labs XA30.8 vs NAD M22 (Hypex) with Avantgarde Acoustics Trios - AVS | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 97 Old 01-29-2015, 01:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Pass Labs XA30.8 vs NAD M22 (Hypex) with Avantgarde Acoustics Trios

To start with, I really liked the overall sound of the Pass Labs XA30.8 when used with my Avantgarde Acoustics Trio speakers (~50k retail horn speakers with a sensitivity of 109db). It has definitely been "tuned" to be a bit warmer and perhaps the 1% THD figure is indicative of why the amp sounds the way it does.

Horn speakers, especially speakers with such extreme sensitivity as these, are VERY difficult to find a proper amp for. Almost everyone you speak to will discuss SET amps for their specific warmer characteristics that so many find favorable. I understand why this is: the speakers are so big and efficient that most music is played with any treble "harshness" will magnify so substantially as to pierce your ears. This is the general complaint of horn speakers.

So ultimately, with horns, you wind up with a warmer amp OR use a down sloping curve for the higher frequencies such that DIRAC or Audyssey usually provide. Almost NO audiophile will typically do the latter while it is practically the norm in movie theaters.

Another reason why I like the Pass Labs is that it is solid state. I am NOT going to screw around with high distortion SET amps that have poor bass response. I am not going to replace tubs. I love music that is so crisp and clear that it sounds like heaven itself is speaking. I don't care how "musical" an amp is supposed to sound. I'm not even sure I know what half of the adjectives mean. I love electronic music as much as I like music soundtracks or opera vocals. I want an amp that can "do it all".

The XA30.8 costs $6500 retail approximately. At this point in my career and hobby, I almost couldn't truly care less what something costs. I will pay for results that are obvious to me, nothing more, nothing less.

Here is my problem with the XA30.8. With the extreme sensitivity of the avantgarde's, there is an audible hiss that likely reflects the 200 mV noise leakage that is printed on the amp's stats. During quiet passages in music, I can hear that hiss. In other words, the hiss on high sensitivity speakers represents an increase in the noise floor and therefore by definition a reduction of the dynamic range.

My goal is to have an AMP that is INAUDIBLE when no music is playing. This is a VERY tall order that 99.99% of all amps made in existence will not achieve. I HAVE AN EXTREME OBSESSION WITH NOISE FLOOR. All other characteristics of a music system are secondary to this for me. The obvious thing for me to do would be to buy 90db sensitivity speakers and call it a day... I know I am an idiot. A vast majority of "high end" amp brands would be perfectly fine with "normal speakers". I have NO IDEA why I like the huge horn sound as much as I do... they are like a magnifying glass with the best dynamic range you can possibly imagine.

So when I read that Hypex modules have a noise leakage of 50 mV... (1/4 that of the Pass)... I got really excited. The fact that the Hypex modules are load invariant also was exciting since these speakers are around 18 ohms. Also, the positive reviews and cheap entry price got my attention. I took advantage of the Crutchfield 30day guarantee and got my new NAD M22 in today.

You can pull up other pictures online, but I can tell you pics do not do the M22 justice. It is BEAUTIFUL industrial design work. It is truly stunning to look at, especially the top. It reduced my disappointment of it not being rack mountable.

I plugged this thing in direct to the wall and then plugged it into my speakers... so the moment of truth for me. FORGET what it sounds like, I want it first not to hiss.

I swear to baby Jesus and Buddha or whatever... this is the quietest amp I have EVER heard. I have to put my ear a few feet from a 109db sensitivity horn. Just as a reference for other class D amps: the Lab Gruppen PLM 10000Q (also in my rack) sounded like a freight train in comparison. The Crown XLS amps sound terrible in ambient noise also. The Pass Labs was definitely audible at the listening position about 15 feet away and at the door to my room about 20 feet away. The Pass's hiss can be heard through these speakers in my hallway about 25 feet away. The Pass Labs XA30.5 was a little better in this regard but still audible at sitting position. I have an old panasonic integrated with TI class D from 10 years ago... again a freight train of noise.

This amp amazingly met my first criteria of low noise beyond every pro amp or other solid state amp in my arsenal to date.

The sound could be described as audibly more "transparent" than the Pass. It sounds harsher at higher volumes than the Pass as a result. I think I am more likely to use an attenuation EQ curve with these speakers compared to the Pass. If you want sound that is crystal clear, NAD M22 based on Hypex is the unit for you. Certainly for home theater, it is the superior choice in every regard.

Those that like a warmer sound will definitely prefer the Pass Labs, especially for less sensitive speakers (around 100db sensitivity) where you won't actually hear any hiss. I am NOT claiming that the Pass is a bad amp... in fact it sounds phenomenal overall and likely is perfectly fine for most other speakers except mine.

The NAD is a very reasonably priced amp for what it does. A DIY hypex kit is likely to beat anything with an equivalent price. I love the 12 volt and signal trigger on the NAD... very convenient.

NAD definitely hit it out of the park with Hypex's cooperation. I am extremely likely to buy a trio of NAD M27's to finish of the other 19 channels in my system. The M27 is a SUBSTANTIALLY better value per channel while not being quite as powerful per channel. Most folks will not need the high power of the M22, assuming you have sufficiently sensitive speakers.

My wish list: A "pro version" with Neutrik Speakon connectors and rack mount kit.

Blazar!

Last edited by blazar; 01-29-2015 at 04:33 PM.
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post #2 of 97 Old 01-29-2015, 04:58 PM - Thread Starter
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After several hours more of listening to the NAD M22 with my Marantz 8801, I have some additional thoughts:

1. The extreme low noise floor definitely matters. Everything sounds more accurate and holographic, especially at lower volumes. What I initially misinterpreted as "harshness", was actually me turning up the volume too high. The clarity of sound tempts you to turn up the volume, and with horn speakers it is easy to exceed reference volume too easily and simply hurt your ears.

2. Listening late at night with a quieter ambient environment outside the house, the noise floor of the room drops even further than it already is during the day. My room is seriously overbuilt for noise reduction to begin with. In extreme quiet, even if I close my eyes and listen close, I still can barely hear the subtle hiss/hum of the NAD through the speakers at the listening position.

NAD/Hypex should be on your short list of products to own. I am going to have to agree with Bruno Putzey, that measurements reveal a great deal to do with what you actually hear.

The "all amps sound the same" thread is of course pure nonsense, especially when it comes to high sensitivity speakers in an extreme low noise environment. I will concede however, that beyond hypex, it is going to be very difficult to further "improve" amplifiers by much more. Hypex technology is sufficiently easy to copy/replicate/reverse engineer that it is quite possible that within 10 years, most amps will in fact sound "the same". With hypex out there, if you are still willing to pay for $10000-$150000 for an amplifier... then you are either officially insane, or haven't heard a hypex amp yet.

Do yourself a favor and order a M22 and compare it in-house to whatever else you want buy or already own. Crutchfield's 30-day guarantee makes this worth taking for a spin. I suspect you will end up keeping it if you have an actual chance to compare its sound and price to alternatives.

I think Kal Rubinson's article in Stereophile is dead on... The M22/M27 make great sense for any home theater but the NAD's pre-pro makes no sense due to its lack of Audyssey XT32. For the mainstream Atmos customer, the Marantz 8802, with its new output stage, seems like a great consideration to pair with NAD amps. For the non-mainstream Atmos/DTS:X customer, Trinnov and Datasat look like compelling products.

I can't for the life of me justify doling out megabucks on the boutique versions of Hypex implemention or other very low S/N options such as the Datasat amps (made by ATI). In other words, I don't doubt that Theta's new amplifier sounds great, I just don't see myself spending that much for an amplifier again. I would SERIOUSLY doubt my ability to hear an actual audible difference. I am pretty sure I would not need a double blind ABX test to realize that I can't tell the difference in quality at these already extreme high quality levels.

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post #3 of 97 Old 01-29-2015, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by blazar View Post
I can't for the life of me justify doling out megabucks on the boutique versions of Hypex implemention or other very low S/N options such as the Datasat amps (made by ATI).
Hypex by Theta/ATI, not Datasat.
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post #4 of 97 Old 01-29-2015, 05:37 PM
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I am happy your expectations were met with M22!

I also have very quiet close to zero environment and I cannot hear my NC400 absolutely further than 1" (literally) from my 90dB tweeter. A 27dB fan in an adjacent room sounds like a helicopter if working
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post #5 of 97 Old 01-29-2015, 06:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Hypex by Theta/ATI, not Datasat.
Hypex is used by Theta in Prometheus. ATI just happens to owns Theta which is really kinda funny since they are an amp manufacturer using another companies technology when the parent company is an amp maker...

Datasat's product is an OEM amplifier from ATI, correct? The only reason I mention it is because the Datasat guys are VERY impressed with its extreme high quality crystal clear presentation. The S/N stats are very similar to Hypex stats as well.

In either case, it it's good enough for Theta...

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post #6 of 97 Old 01-30-2015, 03:37 AM
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Good info on the new NAD. Would the reviewer care to comment on whether this new amp is a departure from the typical NAD house sound?

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post #7 of 97 Old 01-30-2015, 09:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Good info on the new NAD. Would the reviewer care to comment on whether this new amp is a departure from the typical NAD house sound?
Certainly a great question, I have never heard or owned NAD before. My only interest in this was for the hypex modules and their well know low noise.

No way I would use prior NAD amps with big horns...

Hypex is the only class D that has worked well with horns up until now... And even that was something I had to discover by testing one out for myself.

i have seen no extensive reviews of noise floor with Hypex with horns previously. I just took a gamble because of Crutchfield's return policy. I am going to reward Crutchfield by keeping the amp!
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post #8 of 97 Old 02-01-2015, 05:06 AM
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Now that you have probably the best (most transparent) amp available, the next step should be better (measuring) horn speakers and good room treatment.
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post #9 of 97 Old 02-01-2015, 06:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Now that you have probably the best (most transparent) amp available, the next step should be better (measuring) horn speakers and good room treatment.
My room was actually setup very nicely with the furniture handling a lot of absorption duty. Had perfect reverb time actually. I should be able to solve most of my problems with an area rug and a couple of pieces of decorative furniture in some bare areas.

The room otherwise is extensively set up
To preserve diffusion characteristics.

As far as horns go... These speakers reach the near physical limits of what a speaker is capable of. The drivers barely move and the horns are the perfect geometric size to avoid a crossover for the midrange.

Avantgarde trio omegas are extremely impressive speakers and only the rest of the setup really matters. Now I am happy with the amp as well, so I am just about done.

The marantz 8801 is the "weakest link" in that it doesn't have the lowest noise floor in the world nor does it have dolby atmos / X to run all my channels. Perhaps a Trinnov Altitude pre-pro once it passes new adopter phase and more content is out there.
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post #10 of 97 Old 02-01-2015, 01:24 PM
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I once had a mixed bag of PSB POLK and DIY. for HT. One of the best things I ever did was use PSB stratus line for everything. Every thing matches perfectly. Level and timbre are flawless.

Those speakers are very specific in their capabilities. What are you using that can keep up or even come close to matching them in the HT setup?.

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post #11 of 97 Old 02-02-2015, 04:36 PM
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My room was actually setup very nicely with the furniture handling a lot of absorption duty. Had perfect reverb time actually. I should be able to solve most of my problems with an area rug and a couple of pieces of decorative furniture in some bare areas.

The room otherwise is extensively set up
To preserve diffusion characteristics.

As far as horns go... These speakers reach the near physical limits of what a speaker is capable of. The drivers barely move and the horns are the perfect geometric size to avoid a crossover for the midrange.

Avantgarde trio omegas are extremely impressive speakers and only the rest of the setup really matters. Now I am happy with the amp as well, so I am just about done.

The marantz 8801 is the "weakest link" in that it doesn't have the lowest noise floor in the world nor does it have dolby atmos / X to run all my channels. Perhaps a Trinnov Altitude pre-pro once it passes new adopter phase and more content is out there.

Blazar


Thanks for your thoughts. VERY intriguing that you ranked the new amp better than a .8 series Pass Labs. I've just signed on with NAD as a dealer and have yet to conduct extensive experiments but it did sound better than the other similar price amps in the showroom I had on hand. Not a huge difference, but one of those 5% type differences. My impressions were a clean and crisp sound. Especially vocals seemed extremely clear and low grain. Also noticeable was ability to resolve very low level sounds. I heard stuff on some recordings that I have not heard before.


The 8801 is surely the weakest link. Get yourself a Datasat RS20i with Dirac Live or a Trinnov. The Datasat is amazing. Basically it is the thing that turns a very, very good room into something better than a commercial cinema. Plus the Datasat has been out for a long while and they are well past early adopter phase.


I do wish like you that NAD had thought about how to add a rack mount to the unit.


One other lower cost unit people might consider is the new Parasound Zonemaster. I have not picked up an evaluation unit yet but the specs are extremely promising. The thing is hugely flexible, has 12 channels and uses the top Anaview class-D modules. Some of the hardcore diyaudio.com guys are rating Anaview above N-Core!

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post #12 of 97 Old 02-02-2015, 07:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Nyal Mellor View Post
Blazar


Thanks for your thoughts. VERY intriguing that you ranked the new amp better than a .8 series Pass Labs. I've just signed on with NAD as a dealer and have yet to conduct extensive experiments but it did sound better than the other similar price amps in the showroom I had on hand. Not a huge difference, but one of those 5% type differences. My impressions were a clean and crisp sound. Especially vocals seemed extremely clear and low grain. Also noticeable was ability to resolve very low level sounds. I heard stuff on some recordings that I have not heard before.


The 8801 is surely the weakest link. Get yourself a Datasat RS20i with Dirac Live or a Trinnov. The Datasat is amazing. Basically it is the thing that turns a very, very good room into something better than a commercial cinema. Plus the Datasat has been out for a long while and they are well past early adopter phase.


I do wish like you that NAD had thought about how to add a rack mount to the unit.


One other lower cost unit people might consider is the new Parasound Zonemaster. I have not picked up an evaluation unit yet but the specs are extremely promising. The thing is hugely flexible, has 12 channels and uses the top Anaview class-D modules. Some of the hardcore diyaudio.com guys are rating Anaview above N-Core!
As far as the rack mount for NAD M22 and M27, I have discovered that dealers of Middle Atlantic products can provide a rack shelf plus the appropriate cutout for the amp for about $140. I contacted a company called customavrack.com and ordered one of these custom shelves for the M22.

You can actually check Middle atlantic's website to see if your particular amp or other gear is in their database.

They actually sell a bracket that can keep the amp or other device in place but I did not order this.

Blazar!
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post #13 of 97 Old 02-02-2015, 07:11 PM
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Wow middle atlantic already has a custom faceplate. Awesome.
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post #14 of 97 Old 02-06-2015, 10:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok here are some pics of the middle atlantic rack mounting and face plate:

The first pic shows the back with clips to hold the amp in place.

Overall clean look but you have to careful not to scratch the amp.
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post #15 of 97 Old 02-07-2015, 08:44 AM
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Thanks, that actually doesn't look bad.
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post #16 of 97 Old 02-07-2015, 07:49 PM
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Blazer is there any way you could get a pic of the rack back about 8 feet? I want to see what it looks like as a whole amongst your other gear. That oppo will be what I have. Along with oppos rack mount. Now I have the 105. I have the Krell Foundation as my processor.
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post #17 of 97 Old 02-08-2015, 12:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blazar View Post
My room was actually setup very nicely with the furniture handling a lot of absorption duty. Had perfect reverb time actually. I should be able to solve most of my problems with an area rug and a couple of pieces of decorative furniture in some bare areas.

The room otherwise is extensively set up
To preserve diffusion characteristics.

As far as horns go... These speakers reach the near physical limits of what a speaker is capable of. The drivers barely move and the horns are the perfect geometric size to avoid a crossover for the midrange.

Avantgarde trio omegas are extremely impressive speakers and only the rest of the setup really matters. Now I am happy with the amp as well, so I am just about done.

The marantz 8801 is the "weakest link" in that it doesn't have the lowest noise floor in the world nor does it have dolby atmos / X to run all my channels. Perhaps a Trinnov Altitude pre-pro once it passes new adopter phase and more content is out there.
Reverberation time doesn't exist in a small room. What you have is specular reflections, flutter-echo and modes. Flutter-echo is easily taken care with furniture. However, specular reflections and room modes are only dealt with proper broadband acoustic treatment. The difference between only furniture and treatment is huge.

No pun intended but Avantgare has serious flaws. They are resonant which is very audible, they use mediocre drivers and have much vertical lobing. A good horn design is miles ahead.

You have much more to achieve and an AV Marantz processor is certaintly not the weakest link.
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post #18 of 97 Old 02-08-2015, 07:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by omholt View Post
Reverberation time doesn't exist in a small room. What you have is specular reflections, flutter-echo and modes. Flutter-echo is easily taken care with furniture. However, specular reflections and room modes are only dealt with proper broadband acoustic treatment. The difference between only furniture and treatment is huge.

No pun intended but Avantgare has serious flaws. They are resonant which is very audible, they use mediocre drivers and have much vertical lobing. A good horn design is miles ahead.

You have much more to achieve and an AV Marantz processor is certaintly not the weakest link.
The room is actually custom built, 18'x24'x13' (5600 cu ft), to include about as much treatment as is aesthetically reasonable in a home environment. I don't assume that there aren't better horn designs out there, but there are only so many manufacturers of spherical horns. The pricing for other manufacturers becomes quite stratospheric as well. It also requires a major field trip to Europe to hear most of the brands. Even then, it will be impossible to tell what sound characteristics are specifically the speakers vs the room they are in. There is no place I know where you can listen to all the horn brands one after another in the same room. "Shopping" is more or less reviews and hearsay.

At least one Danley Soundlabs owner states that his Danley horns are better than his Avantgarde Trios. I have no reason not to believe him. I just have no way of confirming this without a lot of work.

I do agree, the Marantz is not the weakest link. It's a pretty good device overall actually. Speakers and room are always the weakest link, which is why my room cost is around $250k. Even with that high price tag, at least the room is something I can sell one day.

Blazar!
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post #19 of 97 Old 02-08-2015, 08:21 AM
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250k wow that is awesome. How about some pics including the new new Nad gear in your rack. From a distance.
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post #20 of 97 Old 02-08-2015, 01:36 PM
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Sounds like you have a great room.

The best horn designs are DIY where size, weight and WAF aren't the most important factors. A good DIY horn design doesn't cost much either. With DIY, I'm not talking about building everything from scratch. One choses what's already developed. No need to invent the wheel over again.
One commercial horn that's great but few know about is the Klipsch Jubilee. The mentioned Danley Synergy horn is another.

The Klipsch Jubilee offers much better constant directivity then Avantgarde, which leads to less coloration from the room and the sound also is great everywhere. There's very little beaming from a constant directivity horn, something a round horn can't offer. And when using a quality compression JBL driver with Truextent Beryllium or a TAD driver, the distortion is much lower. They benefit from using a sub though.
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post #21 of 97 Old 02-08-2015, 01:59 PM
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Congrats on finally finding an amp for your speakers!
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post #22 of 97 Old 02-08-2015, 06:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by omholt View Post
Sounds like you have a great room.

The best horn designs are DIY where size, weight and WAF aren't the most important factors. A good DIY horn design doesn't cost much either. With DIY, I'm not talking about building everything from scratch. One choses what's already developed. No need to invent the wheel over again.
One commercial horn that's great but few know about is the Klipsch Jubilee. The mentioned Danley Synergy horn is another.

The Klipsch Jubilee offers much better constant directivity then Avantgarde, which leads to less coloration from the room and the sound also is great everywhere. There's very little beaming from a constant directivity horn, something a round horn can't offer. And when using a quality compression JBL driver with Truextent Beryllium or a TAD driver, the distortion is much lower. They benefit from using a sub though.
Excellent setup, thanks for sharing. I am always open to new ideas!

I am planning on buying a Danley Center SM96 to go with my setup within the week if I can get a hold of the dealer. My subs are all DIY so they do in fact sound epic. I just don't plan on getting into DIY for my mains.

On the whole I really love the Avantgarde sound in my room, so I don't plan on chasing even more refinement at this point. I really don't doubt that you have great sound out of your DIY units. It really sounds like heaven to me at this very moment!

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post #23 of 97 Old 02-08-2015, 06:46 PM - Thread Starter
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My dealer that I ordered M27's from said that NAD has run out due to high demand. He was able to get me 2 out of 3 of the amps I need.

Crutchfield also shows no more stock on the M22, and "few left" on M27.

I think that these are selling very fast or they didn't produce enough.


I got a large rug for my room, and now the acoustics are perfect. What I initially considered might be some brightness in my amp was actually more attributable to the changes in furniture that I made. All I needed to do was reduce the ceiling to floor flutter echo against my hard floor. The problem is now solved and the NAD / Speaker / Room sounds excellent with no fatigue after hours of listening today.

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post #24 of 97 Old 02-08-2015, 07:41 PM
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Is it possible that the gain structure of your system is responsible for the hiss you are hearing? Do you hear the same level of hiss if all of your equipment is off except for the amps?


I had to switch the jumper in my Trinnov ST2 in order to get max output from my active ATC speakers (using analog sources into the Trinnov). The added gain was responsible for a little more hiss (which can only be heard a foot or so from the tweeters). In the lower gain mode you'd have to be within 6 inches or so from the tweeter to hear any hiss.


I think I read something years ago about this in Stereophile. In any case, congrats on your success with the NAD. I recall NAD from the 80s being really good for the money.

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post #25 of 97 Old 02-08-2015, 08:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Is it possible that the gain structure of your system is responsible for the hiss you are hearing? Do you hear the same level of hiss if all of your equipment is off except for the amps?


I had to switch the jumper in my Trinnov ST2 in order to get max output from my active ATC speakers (using analog sources into the Trinnov). The added gain was responsible for a little more hiss (which can only be heard a foot or so from the tweeters). In the lower gain mode you'd have to be within 6 inches or so from the tweeter to hear any hiss.


I think I read something years ago about this in Stereophile. In any case, congrats on your success with the NAD. I recall NAD from the 80s being really good for the money.
The gain structure did have to adjusted between the pre-pro and the amp. I have a -10db XLR pad inline. This pretty much does the trick since most pre-amps don't have a switch for this sort of thing and neither do most amps. Of course, I could use the unbalanced connections which have less gain as another option.

The XLR pad works great, great advice from some others AVS members in the past.

The NAD itself extremely quiet and the 50 mv noise leakage figures from the hypex stats looks accurate. The hiss is just about 1/4 the volume of the Pass XA30.8. It is essentially inaudible unless I get closer to the speakers.

The music now sounds like it emerges from total blackness. It really does sound heavenly. My feeling is that most likely I would have achieved the same with DIY modules but the NAD is a nice clean package.

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post #26 of 97 Old 02-08-2015, 08:35 PM - Thread Starter
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250k wow that is awesome. How about some pics including the new new Nad gear in your rack. From a distance.
I will get some better pics for you soon, I'll do them once the M27's arrive and all the Crown amps are basically gone. The NAD's blow the Crowns away sonically... no double blind testing needed. You can tell one amp from the other based on the very high noise leak from the Crowns.

250k is kinda the entire price of the part of the physical structure of the house btw, not the price of equipment.

Expensive stuff includes:
concrete tile roof
double pane tinted argon filled glass (energy efficient) and seals the house from noise well
High efficiency multi-speed AC system for more efficiency and quieter airflow
Hydronic high efficiency floor heating system which incidentally is an absolutely quiet way to heat a home
motor shades for the windows for controlling light
stone and woodwork inside the room, with every surface designed to add diffusive surface area
bass traps all around the corner edges
travertine stone floors
spray-in foam insulation which incidentally soundproofs the house a LOT.
A lot that is a bit larger than usual so that I am not too close to neighbors, plus no neighbors near me. The lot is also a good distance away from main roads while also being shielded from the main roads by a very hilly area
mass loaded vinyl, staggered stud walls, 2 feet of space in the walls to do speakers and subs and whatnot, air gaps
A big closet to house my clothes while blocking sound from entering the master bedroom
A big cast stone / cinderblock fireplace on the outside of one wall which further soundproofs the room from the rest of the house

The cost of the room is somewhat proportional to the rest of the house in terms of price per square footage. The effort made on this room was the culmination of ideas I have had for about 20 years. I drew/designed the whole house from scratch to accommodate this particular media room. It was really a labor of love and dreams.

I could sell this house for every penny I built it with and maybe more. I believe in building good investments in case of a "rainy day".

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post #27 of 97 Old 02-09-2015, 08:40 AM
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So I picked up the last in stock M22 from Crutchfield last week and it was delivered this past Friday. I've been playing it non-stop since then and it's been settling in nicely. The harshness at the high end is starting to smooth out as it breaks in and hoping it settles in even more this week. It does exhibit a bit of glare in it's sound right now, but that has also improved as I've been breaking in the amp. I bought it mostly out of curiousity and I'm not sure at this point that I"ll keep it. My current amp is a First Watt Sit-2 which is an absolute amazing amp. It's certainly a hard act to follow for the NAD.

I'm driving a pair of Zu Audio Definition Pro's with the new driver upgrade kit installed. Front end is a Perfectwave DAC II + SB Touch. My only other real experience with Class D was a TACT/Lyngdorf Millenium MK3 which I owned for about 10 Years. I had both a fully modified version and stock version. Preferred the stock version as the modified one was just too much detail and too analytical. Neither really worked with the ZU's which is why I sold them. The NAD falls somewhere in between the two Milleniums I owned so far.

On the topic of hiss, I am getting a noticeable hiss from the NAD both coming out of the super tweeter and main drivers of the Zu's. I get absolute silence from the First Watt. Zu's are rated at 101dB/W/m. I'm wondering if I got a bad copy of the amp?
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post #28 of 97 Old 02-09-2015, 09:50 AM - Thread Starter
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So I picked up the last in stock M22 from Crutchfield last week and it was delivered this past Friday. I've been playing it non-stop since then and it's been settling in nicely. The harshness at the high end is starting to smooth out as it breaks in and hoping it settles in even more this week. It does exhibit a bit of glare in it's sound right now, but that has also improved as I've been breaking in the amp. I bought it mostly out of curiousity and I'm not sure at this point that I"ll keep it. My current amp is a First Watt Sit-2 which is an absolute amazing amp. It's certainly a hard act to follow for the NAD.

I'm driving a pair of Zu Audio Definition Pro's with the new driver upgrade kit installed. Front end is a Perfectwave DAC II + SB Touch. My only other real experience with Class D was a TACT/Lyngdorf Millenium MK3 which I owned for about 10 Years. I had both a fully modified version and stock version. Preferred the stock version as the modified one was just too much detail and too analytical. Neither really worked with the ZU's which is why I sold them. The NAD falls somewhere in between the two Milleniums I owned so far.

On the topic of hiss, I am getting a noticeable hiss from the NAD both coming out of the super tweeter and main drivers of the Zu's. I get absolute silence from the First Watt. Zu's are rated at 101dB/W/m. I'm wondering if I got a bad copy of the amp?
Yeah you really should not have a hiss... I would send it back. My 109db sensitivity speakers are barely... and i mean barely.. audible. You have to REALLY pay attention closely to notice it.

The NAD is not so much harsh as I think Pass specifically listens to his amps and develops a smoother sound. I think the NAD is delivering the more pure signal that is recorded while the Pass products serve as a sort of top end EQ.

I did have to increased the absorption in my room to account for this. Once I dropped in a big 10x12 run from another room in here for testing, it dramatically improved this issue for me.

If your room is already treated, I would imagine you have already gotten used to the "Pass" sound which is decidedly warmer.

I see two schools of thought on this: The NAD is a cleaner overall presentation which allows you to hear more details... but they could be so refined as to sound harsh... in which case you might be distracted/fatigued over time if that isn't your thing.
Conversely, The Pass might have less high end detail and sharpness, but since it isn't distracting to you ... you hear what detail is there (even if there is technically less accurate sound) because you aren't distracted.

Pass likes to tune amps like an instrument while Bruno likes the purest sound that is actually recorded. The trouble is at least partially with the recordings themselves. The Pass is more forgiving for bright recordings.

Since I really love extreme accuracy, super pinpoint imaging, and extreme transparency... I have gotten used the NAD very quickly with a touch of room treatment helping reduce the room augmentation of those higher frequencies. I am pretty sure I am not hallucinating the fact that the Pass felt warmer. Now that my room is setup better however, the extreme accuracy of hypex modules is something I really love besides the amazingly good noise floor.


One suggestion: disconnect the pre-amp and make sure your hiss is not from there. Perhaps you need an XLR attenuator pad of around 5-10db between your pre-amp and amp if you are hearing hiss coming from the pre-amp.

The first watt is a MUCH lower wattage amp and I have used First Watt product before. I did not get hiss our of that amp because the amp itself is so lower powered I think. I did not need an XLR PAD between my pre-amp and the First Watt.

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post #29 of 97 Old 02-09-2015, 11:11 AM
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So when I read that Hypex modules have a noise leakage of 50 mV... (1/4 that of the Pass)... I got really excited. The fact that the Hypex modules are load invariant also was exciting since these speakers are around 18 ohms. Also, the positive reviews and cheap entry price got my attention. I took advantage of the Crutchfield 30day guarantee and got my new NAD M22 in today.
Please except my advance apology if this sounds like a commercial, but....ATI's Signature amps are quieter than the Hypex modules.

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post #30 of 97 Old 02-09-2015, 11:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Please except my advance apology if this sounds like a commercial, but....ATI's Signature amps are quieter than the Hypex modules.

Jeff
Yes they also measure extremely well and I believe the ATI Signature was rebadged and inputs changed for Datasat's amplifiers. I did investigate these amps as well.

Noise and distortion for both hypex and ATI devices now are very very low as to be considered negligible. They are both just shy of perfection (since such a thing is asymptotically unattainable). For all practical purposes there is little difference sonically, I would imagine. I would expect both to have extremely good bass while having subtle differences in the high frequencies as is often the case with amps.

All else being very close, I do like the fact that NAD/Hypex are more compact, cooler, and energy efficient. Doing 23 channels of amps in my closet space would require substantial increased ventilation to accommodate for the ATI amps. The cooler amps means I don't need to deal with more airflow and subsequently more dust issues.

In other words, with all other issues being near equal, I want class D to win in the long run.

I had to do a lot of extra cooling stuff to accommodate the Pass Labs class A device in my setup... I don't want to repeat this again.

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