Supernait - Are my ears kidding me?

Was trying real hard to find an integrated amp that could do better justice to my humble Vandersteen 2CEsig2. Ex Amp was MARANTZ PM15S1. Liked the way this MARANTZ dealt w vocals so much that was prepared to over look its limited bass extension and thin sound.

Mean time auditioned
- Ayre 7xe
- BAT vx300
- Marantz PM11S1
- NAD M3
- Luxman L-590u Class A
- Luxman L-505u Class AB
- Musical Fidelity A5.5
- Musical Fidelity A1

Somehow ALL (IMHO) could not justify the hudge jump in budget. Until my dealer called me in for the supernait audition - I was sold after 2 times audition. Now my system config as below -

CDP1: Vintage MARANTZ CD15


SPEAKERS: Vandersteen 2CEsig2
Interconnects/SPK cables: Nordost Wyrewizard+Dreamcaster

1. Supernait too loud
Aware tis sound like a no brainer but its not about the volume knob. just that right now, its really difficult to listen to a whole song completely ie. everything sounds so so loud BUT nice. It seems all the instruments, back grounds, vocals are occupying the same presence in the music. Something I never experience before. Its almost 3 dimensional ie. sound stage has dramatically expanded but compared to my MARANTZ PM15S1, I can usually go all the way past 60% of the volume BUT Supernait - max I can go is 30% before it really gets too loud. (come one 30%??) Mindbearing MARANTZ PM15S1 is 90w per channel at 8ohms - above Supernait!

Observations below made against MARANTZ PM15S1 only. Sound stage has dramatically expanded ie. music now fills the whole room. Rythmn has intensified ie. Has never heard my jazz pieces sound soooosooo fast. There is a 'POP' colour to almost all my CDs now. Maybe this is the PRAT symptoms that many forums have used to describe NAIM sound.

3. A little volume goes a long way
75mv of input sensitivities goes a really long way compared to 240mv in MARANTZ PM15S1 but its a little too fast too furious. One wld be suprised at how much the initial adjustments from 6 to 9 o'clock actually increases the volume. Dealer informed me that this actually a good point as eqpt like MP3 wld do well under such competent volumes.

Can't put a thumb to it ... but the initial impact that DRAWS me to the supernaim ie. the way it presents the music (i hv never come across such presentation) seems to be lacking something...I dun know what. It SURPASSES much to the MARANTZ PM15S1 in many aspects of displaying music but somehow it appears COLD in the way music reaches me. The same CD (the song that I hear so many times) seems to be more competent in all instruments but the vocals just does not connect in the same way the MARANTZ did. EACH INSTRUMENTS/VOCALS/EFFECTS IN ANY SONG SEEMS TO BE FIGHTING FOR ATTENTION AT THE SAME TIME - COMMING TOGETHER AND HAVING THE SAME LOUDNESS (yes i mean certain effects that i could only hear in the back ground in the marantz pm15s1 can now be heard very clearly with supernait but ... its like all the notes/instruments are fighting for the listerner 's attention albeit in an orderly yet forceful manner...)

I reflected the above to the dealer and the intial suggestion (to my suprise) was to plug the power directly into the wall socket and not via the transformer which am using for my 100volts CDP. To my suprised again, tis indeed cured the loudness issue somewhat BUT not all -dun know why.

Am seriously pondering if Supernait and Vandersteen 2ceSig2 r really a good match. I love these speakers and not gonna change them and the amp shld compliment them instead!

Perplexed now....and also read many forums on NAIM and many owners of NAIM products actually claim that putting the AMP away (not in between) the speakers will actually improve the sound of teh speakers? huh... any way attaching the pictures of my set up as below....
Not sure it matters too much where your volume control is as ong as yu get enough control to get the volume you want. I wonder if the Super Nait is optimized for the voltage of the Naim CD players.
Volume knob is one of the drawbacks of Naim in general.
Do a search on the Naim-Audio website forums. Much is written about volume knobs not going past 9-10 oclock on the dial w/o being too loud.
I don't know the equipment but your new amp may have a lot lower actual distortion level than the you are hearing the benifits...soundstage and perceived power gain. it's probably a combination of higher output and the lower THD.
10-28-08: Wavetrader
I don't know the equipment but your new amp may have a lot lower actual distortion level than the you are hearing the benifits...soundstage and perceived power gain. it's probably a combination of higher output and the lower THD.

Thanks Wave Trader - Can u elaborate more on this DISTORATION LEVEL? Do u mean marantz PM15S1 is distorted?
The NAIM has a lot of gain so a typical digital source proabably can drive it to full volume pretty fast. With all the preamps I have owned (CAT, ARC, Joule, Lamm, Dodd) I could not turn any of them past 10:00 on the dial - gain + sensitive amps. Only with a passive could I turn to 12-1:00 - I don't think this is of any concern as lons as you have the ability to control the volume level to the way you like it. I can't imagine any reason the Naim would not be a good match for the Vandersteen. It should, on paper, be an excellent match. The homegenization of relative volume levels of the instruments is odd, nit sure why that would be happening - I think that is what you are describing.
Vol knob position aside, it seems all you need now are the right interconnects to add a touch of finees to the sound.

Everytime I've made a change in amp or preamp, or elsewhere for that matter, a change in ICs or power cords is usually required.
had a similar problem with the volume getting too loud too fast> someone recomended i purchase a pair of -6 db attenuators which attach to the interconnects. Bought them from parts express. cant explain technically what they do but it solved the problem. cost around 25 bucks a pair worth a shot
My suggestion is not to buy it until you are sure. If there is ANYTHING about the unit that bothers you, it will really be grating in a short time. In truth, it does not matter where the volume control is, provided the sound is good. That being said, you must absolutely be comfortable with the sound before purhase

i think u hit the nail right on the spot BUT pity that we dun really have dealers like what u guys have there. Its imposisble to bring teh unit back and get all that home feel and normally, u have to make decisions based on what u hear trhere with their sources and CDP. the closest that i can manage is to get the same speakers at least to teh ones i have at home and use the same brand cdp ... thats all,,,,

and i found that (after 3 days) MARANTZ and NAIM are 2 very very different animal and to comapre which one is better is a little meaningless and to compare which one i like better is equally meaingless cos they both have their strengths and its up to teh listener to decide if they wld want which one to be in their living room with the vandys...

its a hard choice but i am gld to be living thru this experience...
Try cheap Music HAll Maven or Mambo with your speakers. It is the best natural sounding amp that has not been broken by : "I tune amps by ear dudes".
I own the supernait, but I have not heard the MARANTZ DV4001. Agree with Pubul57, it also seems to me that the supernait has a lot gain especially used with other none-naim sources. Wattage or specs in general provide little information on actual performace. I am a fan of the Naim sound, audiophiles call it PRaT (pace, rythem, and timing). The supernait is versatile with built-in DAC and headphone, so you can connect your computer digital output directly into it and you can upgrade the amplifier with Naim's power-supply. I highly recommend that you try a Naim CD player with DIN connection to the supernait, your vandys would play music like you have not heard before. You can also try the Naim's NACA5 speaker cable on your vandys, could be rewarding.