I am thrilled with the synergy the SIT-3 has with the Nenuphars and the SIT-2 should be even better from what Srajan heard with the SIT-1.
I think you'll be shocked at the difference between the SIT-2 and your other amps.
You're in for a treat.
Although I think I'm the newest Nenuphar owner on the block--just at 2 weeks--I'll chime in with my answer to your question regarding the speakers resolution making "below average sounding recordings sound less enjoyable or possibly bad?"
My answer, yes and no. Yes, their resolution reveals more about the recording space/method than any speaker I've owned. But not in a tipped up, etchy way. It's just a natural openness that brings me deeper into the recording. But that resolution doesn't necessarily make below average recordings sound worse. In most cases it made them more interesting, because at the same time the speakers are revealing the recordings quirks it's also revealing the strength (or weakness) of the music. For instance, a lot of Billie Holiday's work is poorly recorded. The speaker doesn't shy away from that but it also brings such tonality and nuance to her voice that you quickly forget the recording quality and are absorbed by what you've never heard before in her singing.
On decently to well recorded material the Nenuphars bring you into the recording space like no other. Listening to well recorded live albums can cause a virtual reality experience. On the Marian McPartland album 85 Candles (Live in New York) you not only feel like you're in the audience at Birland but you can hear the patrons clapping on either side of your listening chair! How's that for sound staging!
BTW, I just purchased your Acoustic BBQ Dueland 12ga IC for my system. Looking forward to the audition.
And, yes, thanks David for pointing out Srajan's latest (which is now finished). I now have the term for what I'm hearing from the Nenuphars driven by the SIT-3: Tuscan sunshine!
"...a bit lacking in warmth, a bit rough sounding in the upper midrange and had a pronounced peak in the treble range."
Interesting that the above accurately describes what I was hearing during the first 25 hours or so of playing the Nenuphars. (Also interesting that during the first 5 hours of play they actually sounded better.) I'm at about 55 hours now and will wait to 100+ to give further impressions.
Great news you like the synergy with the SIT-2. Look forward to hearing more.
My latest development is putting the Nenuphar's on Townshend Podiums (I've been using them under my speakers for a few years). toetapaudio listed the many benefits of this isolation device, so I"ll just say that the cumulative effect takes the speakers to another level I wasn't even thinking was there (the curse of the audiophile). Music sounds untethered to anything creating it, it just fills the space in the room quite effortlessly with no emphasis on transients or any part of the frequency range. Kind of a jaw dropper when you first hear it. My only complaint is that the foot print of the podium is fairly large and not wildly attractive. I'm sure Cube and Townshend could design something that was a more compact part of the speaker (purchased as an option?). Yes it would raise the speaker price by $2K or so, but the improvement IMHO is more than worth it.
The Townshend podiums are size 4 with load capacity E which starts at 85lbs so I put a couple of VPI bricks on top of each speaker since they are about 80lbs each.geoffkait
While I'm at it, I'm also going to post the results of the amplifier shoot out between the LTA Ultralinear and the PL SIT-3. Yes, I know, the Nenuphars are probably not fully broken in, but at around 75 hours I think the changes from here will be subtle and not alter the difference I hear between these two wonderful amplifiers.
Both these amps display terrific synergy with the Nenuphars. The difference being a matter of taste. To borrow from Srajan when he compared the Bakoon to the SIT-3 on page 6 of his Cube Audio Mini Basis review, the LTA was "a Nordic summer day" and the SIT-3 a "Tuscan afternoon, early fall." Which translates to many things having to do with detail, mid range, base and tempo. The LTA rendering detail more prominently, with a leaner mid range, a slightly more refined base and PRAT that was quicker, more forward. It made me sit up and take wonder. With the SIT-3 detail was more in balance, the mid range richer, the base deeper and rounder, and PRAT, well this is where it gets tricky, because there was something that made the SIT-3 more engaging, that pulled me into the music more, sometimes to a very emotional degree. My suspicion is it had something to do with PRAT, although none of those ingredients really called attention to themselves. Maybe it was greater second harmonic distortion? Bottom line: it would be nice to keep both amps to enjoy Nordic summer days and early fall Tuscan days as the mood struck me. But that seems a little excessive. I'm very happy here in Italy where "The light is softer. Edges are gentler. The breeze is warmer. Lunches are far longer."
How are your speakers setup on the Townshend platforms? Stock spikes / similar to @toetapaudio ’s OR some other arrangement? Did setting the speakers on the platforms ’force’ changes in positioning / placement? Thank you.
David--I am using the stock spikes in front and rubber feet in back. I centered them on the Townshend Podiums then leveled them on the side to side access by adjusting the Podiums’ feet. I used the placement I had found optimal before, about 36" from side walls and 20" from front wall (measured from back of speaker). I asked Jon what impact it might make to raise the drivers 1 3/8" off the floor using the Podiums. He said I might need to angle the speakers slightly more towards the listening chair, but I haven’t found the need to do this. (BTW I have found the angle of the speakers toward the listening chair to be the most critical set up adjustment. Very slight adjustments will impact tonality: the more toed in the more emphasis on higher frequencies. Since my listening is fairly near field (8’ from speakers 7’ apart) I don’t find the toe in impacts the soundstage as much as tonality. Even with the speakers facing straight ahead I get a strong, well defined central image.
I have noticed using other speakers on the Townshend Podiums that I could hear no difference between placing the speakers without feet on the podiums (Townshend’s recommendation and obviously not possible with the Nenuphars given it’s bottom port and back slant) and using feet, whether they be spikes or cones. But that may vary by speaker.
An interesting early impression of the Nenuphars on the Podiums makes them sound more forgiving of recording technique, although there is no doubt they are also more resolving. Kind of a conundrum. The entire presentation is just more relaxed and open.
I have about 100 hours now on my Nenuphars and just recently noticed another notch of improvement in the high register.
At what point did you feel the speakers were fully broken in?
Interesting recent posts by all addressing synergy of Nenuphars with various amps. Good to hear reinforcement of the AC Genus magic--it received a rave from AVShowrooms. The LM 845 Premium is also a pairing I would love to hear--although I believe it uses some negative feedback in its circuit, but don't quote me. I recently got to try a Tektron 2A3 which impressed me with it's purity. But I preferred both the SIT-3 and the LTA Ultralinear--more grip and meat on the bone.
In fact, not to drive everyone crazy (anymore than it's driving me crazy) but I've taken another turn with my amp preference. David_ten was right on (no surprise) about speaker break in. Somewhere between 125 hours and 200 hours the SIT-3 began sounding a little thick and slow--I kept thinking it was cables and began swapping things out. Then I put the LTA back in and voila, the veil disappeared and we had dynamics galore plus stronger base (the LTA remember has a much lower damping factor). Obviously the speakers are continuing to open up and reveal everything in their path. Don't get me wrong, the SIT-3 makes great music with these speakers but as you get to know them better--i.e. as they break in--you (or at least I) tend to want more of what they do best which can be so life-like and unrestrained. But of course nothing's absolute. There are those flavors ranging from the 2A3 type low wattage SET's to the relatively burly 845 and SIT-3 type amps with perhaps the classic 300b SET somewhere in the middle. Wish I could try them all!
Thanks, David, I missed your post in the thread. Hard to imagine there is more to come from these wonderful speakers as I reach the 100 hour mark.
If anyone has heard of or experienced the Nenuphars being driven by 300bs, please let me know. Curious about that tube's synergy.
I am about to join the Nenuphar circle: on order with Jon at RefinedAudio to arrive in a couple of weeks. I actually made this decision before finding this thread, but it's contents have corroborated what I have read elsewhere and provided helpful hints re set up. Thanks.
I will be driving the Nenuphars with a Linear Tube Audio Ultralinear amp, a 20 watt per channel Berning ZOTL with 1.6 ohm out put impedance--a key number in determining capability. Gregorz assures me it will be a good fit--in fact, he mentioned he is working on his own design of an OTL amp.
After break in, I'll come back and give you impressions.
I just listened to the recently posted AVShowrooms video https://www.avshowrooms.com/cube-audio-nenuphar-loudspeakers.html
and for the first time in my experience I actually thought I could hear something of the quality of these speakers coming through on my cheap earbuds. I then listened to the video review of the Tekton Moabs also on AVShowrooms and sure enough could hear the difference distinctly between the two speakers.
Since I'm getting my Nenuphars on Tuesday, this is no doubt anticipatory-audiophilia-I-just-invested-a-car-load-into-speakers-I've never-heard-syndrom (but with a generous 60 day return policy). So take what I say with a bigger grain of salt than usual.
I've added a First Watt SIT-3 to my system in the mean time to compare against my LTA Ultralinear. My pre is a Western Electric Shindo Giscour
and sources are a Shindo 301 with a Hommage T1 and a Totaldac D-1 and Anthem music server.
My speaker cables are Clear Day Double Shotgun which might be a weak link. Love to hear some thoughts about any speaker cable synergy Nenuphar owners have discovered.
Thanks for your feedback, David.
Once things have settled in, I'm going to audition the Sablon speaker cables, the Synergistic Research Foundations (a relatively new cable getting some good buzz) and one other, depending on what I can get either through Cable Company or with a decent return policy. I'll research Scott Sheaffer's cables but the Allnics I believe are out of my price range.
And thanks Charles for your encouragement.
Just FYI, these are the boxes I wanted to check during my new speaker search (started a couple of years ago) that lead me to the Nenuphars:
1. high efficiency to work with lower powered SET "type" tube or ss amps
2. relatively small size and not too finicky about room placement
3. will sing at low volume levels
4. suitable for standard near field listening
5. accurate base down to 28HZ +/- 3db
6. holographic sound staging
7. tonally rich but accurate tone without unnatural warmth or roundness
8. priced under $12K
The Nenuphars miss slightly on items 5 and 8, but I was surprised how few speakers came that close, i. e. none. The NSMT Model 100 (reviewed by Terry London for 6Moons) were the closest runner up, but the manufacturer recommended at least 50 watts per channel (despite being 91db efficient) and they had a separately amped bass driver which I've always been wary of seamlessly integrating. I'm sure I missed some other possibilities out there but also sure the Nenuphars will fit the bill!
My apologies for posting such a first blush reaction after just two days of listening to the Nenuphars, but the experience has been so extraordinary that there is an irresistible need to share--although I know there are some here who've already inhaled.
My first response was an unexpected sense of relief, not just a letting go of my concern over making the right choice, but a relief of years of searching for something I hoped was out there but hadn't yet found. Well, I heard it once when I spent a few hours auditioning a pair of Sonus Faber Aidas (the original version) in 2014. But trying to find something that did all that in my price range and able to work in my room with my preference for low watt amps seemed to be futile. Lots of good experiences a long the way to be sure, but not this sense of having arrived, of hearing the music so powerfully that it overwhelmed any considerations of doubt, of wanting more of anything, of something missing. No, I'm not claiming the Nenuphars sound like the Aidas (or even that that's an appropriate comparison). What I'm saying is listening to the Nenuphars brought on the same feeling I had when I listened to the Aidas: a holy-cow-kind-of-transportation, a feeling of encountering the real thing, an immersion into where the recording is taking you, like the struggle is over and there's nothing left but to face the music.
It seems contrary to single out something when I'm really trying to convey a sense of "completeness", something Shindo gear owners (c'est moi) have been known to brag about, but the human voice through the Nenuphars startled me with nuance, color, and pitch I never knew was there. I first twigged to this listening to the channel identification track on the Stereophile set-up CD. This is always one of the first listens with new gear--mainly to get the balance spot on. Through the Nenuphars I heard layers of nuance in the gentleman's voice who says, "The fender bass guitar you are about to hear should appear to come from the left loudspeaker only," that made him sound like someone I had never met standing in my room. My thought was, "if this loudspeaker can bring that level of truth out of a simple speaking voice, what will it do with song, with strings, with..."
Until the last hour of listening, I've been driving the Nenuphars with my LTA Ultralinear. I just put in a First Watt SIT-3. So far I'm still lost in the music and can't tell you which one I'm going to keep.
Ok, I know, calm down. I'll give the speakers a chance to come into their own and then I'll tell you how I really feel.
I've got about 35 hours on my new Nenuphars, swapping between First Watt SIT-3 and LTA Ultralinear amps. The break-in changes to SQ have been subtle and what you would expect--increase in depth, smoother highs, tighter bass. But the difference between the two amps is not subtle. SIT-3 is more mid-range and mid-bass oriented, slightly darker, earthier. A tunefully dense, very engaging sound. The Ultralinear is like switching to a brighter bulb, recording space more visible, more air and dimension to instruments and voices, better dynamics. I find this openness to be even more seductive than the SIT-3, delivering a heightened sense of you-are-there. Bass is very similar, tuneful, tight and deep with both--interesting since the two amps have very different damping factors (LTA being about 1/5th of the SIT-3). Maybe the distinction in bass will become greater once the speakers have had a chance to break in more. If I had to make the choice right now--more a matter of taste because they both are a great match--I would pick the LTA. To me it just offers more of the magic these speakers make. Which begs the question: "Would a 2A3 or 300b amp often even more?" I've put the word out locally for a loaner...but that's just audiophilia curiosity talking. I'm a totally enthralled camper with the Ultralinear.
Just exchanged emails with Grzegorz. He said they use multi conductor copper cables in their speakers and that he prefers copper speaker cables.
@cal3713 What brand of silver speaker cable did you purchase?
Interesting because with the SIT-3-Nenuphar combo, I prefer the WE 14ga vintage copper cable (similar I would imagine to your Dueland tinned copper). Bunch of improvements over the silver Clear Day Double Shot Guns I had been using.
But I'm just approaching 50 hours of break in and already things have changed since my last post. My preference between the LTA Ultralinear and the SIT-3 has swung more towards the latter. Something has changed, opening that amp up. The previous owner of the SIT-3 told me it had low hours on it and I believe it is breaking in along with the Nenuphars. More on that when I get to the 100 hour or so mark.
I wonder if anyone knows what type of wire runs from the driver to the speaker terminals inside the Nenuphar cabinet?
Charles, indeed the Nenuphars have remarkable transparency, in fact the most of any speaker I've ever heard, including electrostatics which I owned for many years. It is a totally relaxed, natural kind of detail that doesn't seemed forced, just part of the music. Hard to describe, but it is unique to me. They make comparing cables--or any component I would imagine--very easy.
Cal, thanks for the info on your silver cables. They sound special indeed. I have the Clear Day as mentioned and also some Dueland silver. Both impart a slight ringing to high key piano notes being struck sharply and a little fatigue listening to massed strings--to my ears anyway and in my system with speakers that no doubt still have a ways to break in. Right now I like the copper although I can't even figure out which amp I like better. Maybe this is why some folks have more than one amp?
But boy do these puppies sing.