OK, so i started with the Naim Superuniti. It was hooked up to the speakers (Sonus Faber Veneres).
Naim Superuniti - 80/120 watts
The naim was impressively detailed although the vocals in every song felt like they were being held back. i don’t know. it just felt boxed in. muted if you will. Definitely felt “warm” if thats the way people like to describe it. It was easy to listen to though and soft sounding. Not harsh at all which is something i thought Naim was supposed to deliver… more aggression is what I have heard people say but i really didn’t hear the aggression.
Bowie - Sound and Vision - The ridiculously low vocals of Bowie in parts of this song were controlled well. My Denon 1510 with 80/120 watts of power paired with B&W 683s were never able to control the lows.. they always sounded like the bass was rattling and ready to give…
Beck - Devils Haircut - I was especially surprised at how suppressed Beck’s vocals were. to me… it just doesn’t sound right.
Yes - Close to the Edge - about 9 minutes into the song there is a lull with drops of water dripping. it was very clear. i could place every drop that fell. The vocals kick in and harmonies. very soft harmonies and i could place every person around the room as they sang. Jon Anderson kicks in and sings in two different pitches one after the other and they are literally half a meter apart but i can hear the half meter difference. outstanding.
Yes - the clap - A part of the song i hadn’t really noticed before (a loud bang/drum hit) at about a minute 20. i had to rewind it cause i noticed it and thought someone had knocked the door.
Majik DSM - 56/100 watts (i believe)
Wow! wow did the vocals open up! its like a filter has been removed. Its trying on sunglasses and the first one is quite dull. not easy to see fully… then you get another pair and they are lighter and things become a lot brighter! it was quite a difference! With sunglasses you may want the darker ones of course depending on your situation so its not better or worse… although for me.. definitely better. The voices were free. the music was free! the music was harsher for sure but it felt more real. more energy. this is really strange. The Majik DSM sounded far more aggressive than the Naim!
The lack of power in the Majik was barely noticeable. It controlled everything perfectly other than when being stretched… however when being stretched it actually sounded great. its almost as if some chaos was introduced into the sound. the Amp was working hard to keep everything together whilst being stretched to its limits and all the time sounding just astounding. The bass was impressive too! and beats were louder.
Bowie - Sound and Vision - Incredibly, despite the supposed lack of power this also managed to control Bowies low voice excellently too! That pleased me! Additionally, and this is unique to this amp… .at the start of the song there is a swoosh every few seconds for about 45 seconds… thats all it has ever been.. a swoosh… a cool sound. but… and this just amazed me. at the end of the swoosh i heard detail… the swoosh sounded like it was separated. it sounds ridiculous but it sounds like a broom… the "swoo” part of the sound is the top of the broom/brush part of the broom which is all tied together and tight with each piece of straw (is it straw?) tight together…. the "sh….” part of the sound is the bottom of the brush where the straw are all separated because there is nothing tying them together and they are supposed to be ever so slightly apart so they can capture dust etc.
i could basically hear all the tips separated from each other…
Beck - Devils Haircut - His voice is free and again the DSM manages to play the various sounds and heavier parts with ease.
Yes - Close to the Edge - Like the naim i could place all the drops and all the voices.
Bowie - Quicksand - soundstage… very nice… there is a part after bowie is singing that some acoustic guitars are hit hard (strummed hard) and the guitar surrounds you.. the second time almost immediately after.. you hear it behind you.
Led Zeppelin - Bron Yar Stomp - great beat. great bass. so surprised by this supposed low wattage amp!
Yes - Starship troopers - there is a part that starts about 6 minutes and is a guitar playing the same tune over and over for a few minutes before building up into an electric guitar solo thats very loud. again the DSM had no trouble at all playing this and transitioning to the loud… What i hadn’t noticed before is that just before the guitar solo the drum beat changes. instead of a boom boom pow boom boom pow at about 8 minutes and 15 seconds it turns into a boom da da da boom da da da boom…. Anyway the da da da part is very fast and barely audible.. usually… the DS completely opened up the song. its the first time i have noticed this. This little detail is a joy for me….
Yes - the Clap - The drum beat that sounded like the door knocking is even clearer and louder on the magik
Akurate DS + Akurate Pre Amp + Akurate Power Amp - 110/200 watts
The Akurate, again, like the Majik opened up the vocals so no change there. the music was much much more controlled…. I can’t explain it fully but it felt like there was a top on the high ends to control them and ensure they don’t get too out of control. basically everything i said about the magic being slightly chaotic when driven hard or playing hard has been removed.. no chaos. just control. I felt it was too much control. I had just listened for an hour to the magik and been so excited. almost adrenaline rush. i ended up listening to songs and singing along to them instead of studying them when listening to the majik. i was completely pulled in. The power in these amps were clear. nothing was being pushed here.
However… i started thinking to myself. Would the Majik tire me out? it was quite harsh… the Akurate, i could tell within minutes, would never wear me out. i could listen to it for hours easily. What was interesting is that i could listen to this much louder than the Majik and it still didn’t feel TOO loud. it wasn’t hurting my ears. this was very impressive. Now i don’t know if it was because my ears had been listening for 2 hours and at reasonably loud levels but i felt that i COULDNT listen to the Akurate without putting it up loud. i felt i was missing detail or couldn’t quite hear the music properly unless i put the volume up a bit.
I liked it but not as much as the majik for my kind of music. I don’t generally listen for long hours so when i do get to listen i would like the adrenaline rush thank you.
Bowie - Sound and Vision - same great control of the voice but i DIDNT hear the same separation of the SWOOSH noise like i did on the majik
Yes - Close to the Edge - surprisingly i struggled a bit to place all the voices and water drops. was it because i had it on too loud? if i put it down a bit then i couldn’t really hear it properly. frustrating but maybe as a result of my ears struggling to adjust and having had 2 hours of progressively louder listening already.
Bowie - Quicksand - soundstage… the best out the lot.
Led Zeppelin - Bron Yar Stomp - bass was well controlled but overly controlled. didn’t enjoy the song as much as when i heard it on majik
Yes - Starship troopers - the da da da part was much less audible than the majik… until it was turned up louder.
Yes - the Clap - The drum beat that sounded like the door knocking was similar to the naim although when turned up was more impressive
So i had tested everything and loved the Majik.. but why? was it the Dac? was it the Amp? what made the Akurate less interesting? and the Naim so boxed in vocally? I decided to listen to a couple of other options with the Majik to see if it would change the sound of the Majik. I paired it with the Power amp of the akurate as well as the Naim’s Supernait.
Majik DSM + Akurate Power Amp - 110/200 watts
The Akurate sound appeared. the songs were generally much more similar to the Akurate DS i heard earlier. not a good choice for anyone. people who like the magik sound lose the magik and gain some of the akurate whilst people who love the akurate sound miss out on a FULL akurate sound.
It seems the Akurate Amp has a large part to play in the sound of the Akurate DS system.
Majik DSM + Supernait 2 - 80/135 watts
I actually quite liked this pairing. The vocals were clear like the Linns, whilst the sound was very very pleasant. I enjoyed listening to the music. it sounded smooth. very smooth but open (so not warm like the superuniti)
I am surprised how much the amp changes the sound whilst it is also clear that the DAC also plays an important role.
Naim dac and amp = warm, smooth but muffled vocals.
Linn dacs and amp = open, overly controlled and reserved or polite
Linn Majik and naim amp = open and smooth
I LOVE the Majik DSM
I really liked the Majik DSM + Naim Supernait. I think this means I could try it with other amps until i find the exact match i am looking for.. IF i even need a power amp.. which i don’t at the moment cause the majik performed so damn well!
Akurate - really wasn’t too keen on
Naim Superuniti - definitely out of the running.
I will go back in a few weeks to hear the majik vs Akurate one more time starting with Akurate so my ears aren’t tired.