Need Integrated amp upgrade advice for Focal 936s

Hear Here

Active Member
Regarding NAD, I’d google them. The M33 has a lot of software problems. I’m not saying all people have problems, still I google it anyway. Good luck.👍
Yes NAD encountered teething problems with software of the M33 plus one minor hardware problem that affected a few 240 Volt units.

My M33 experienced a couple of these software problems but both were quickly resolved by NAD issuring a downloadable firmware fix kit for one and a new software release for the other.

Although one expects new products to work perfectly when released, I've given NAD the benefit of the doubt in that they were perhaps unable to do all the beta testing they'd normally do as a result of Covid.

Depite these small annoyances, the M33 is a brilliant box of tricks at a good price. Another advantage of buying these big name brands is the much greater budget they can spend of research and development as it can be distributed over sales of tens of thousands rather than perhaps hundreds of units.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Yes NAD encountered teething problems with software of the M33 plus one minor hardware problem that affected a few 240 Volt units.

My M33 experienced a couple of these software problems but both were quickly resolved by NAD issuring a downloadable firmware fix kit for one and a new software release for the other.

Although one expects new products to work perfectly when released, I've given NAD the benefit of the doubt in that they were perhaps unable to do all the beta testing they'd normally do as a result of Covid.

Depite these small annoyances, the M33 is a brilliant box of tricks at a good price. Another advantage of buying these big name brands is the much greater budget they can spend of research and development as it can be distributed over sales of tens of thousands rather than perhaps hundreds of units.
I see your point. It’s just that I’m very nervous if I buy-as an example the M10, M33. Back in 2003 I listed to my first NAD amplifier at my local hifi pusher (who haven’t 😉), and the sound was glorious (NAD C350)-took it home, then after a few weeks it started acting up.... The pot meter started giving crackling sounds from my speakers. Annoying! Then start up issues. Same issues with the two other NAD amplifiers. Still the new models look nice, and sound very good. But they are too neutral for me to enjoy in the long run. Listing to Leonard Cohen deep voice sounds thin. The bass however is deep, precise. Still in that price I want the bass to more forward, fuller sounding. The treble is just as good as any other brand, but at times it can be harsh. But regarding the issues I mentioned about NAD stability problems-that is my experience. Others may be perfectly happy.
 

Hear Here

Active Member
@spacequad, if you’re consent about power. How about buying separates? One pre amplifier, one power amplifier. But as mentioned before Yamaha’s little brother to AS2200, the AS1200 we’ll suit the Focal speakers very good. That is if you can stretch the budget to brand new amplifiers, perhaps you even can found some used. NAD before used to sound very warm, powerful. Today they sound way more neutral, but still powerful. I have had bad luck with three NAD amplifiers in the past. But I have only listed to the M10,M33 at the store. They sound very good, still they sound to polite in my opinion. Yamaha has way more fun sound. Regarding NAD, I’d google them. The M33 has a lot of software problems. I’m not saying all people have problems, still I google it anyway. Good luck.👍
All I'd say is try an M33 at home for a week or so. I home tried a doxen amps before settling on the M32 (almost as good sounding as the M33). I like dynamic, exciting sound, the sort of experience you get at live performances and the relativley low cost M32 offered this consistantly. The M33 is even better in subtle ways, plus the streamer is built in and it includes Dirac Leve DSP. Other amps tested (bought used or dealer demo units) were from Benchmark, GamuT, Lyngdorf, Micromega, Mark Levinson, Accuphase, Sugden, Bakoon and others. The NAD is good enough that I feel I don't need to spend more extravagently to get more from my Avantgarde Duo XD speakers - it's that good.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
All I'd say is try an M33 at home for a week or so. I home tried a doxen amps before settling on the M32 (almost as good sounding as the M33). I like dynamic, exciting sound, the sort of experience you get at live performances and the relativley low cost M32 offered this consistantly. The M33 is even better in subtle ways, plus the streamer is built in and it includes Dirac Leve DSP. Other amps tested (bought used or dealer demo units) were from Benchmark, GamuT, Lyngdorf, Micromega, Mark Levinson, Accuphase, Sugden, Bakoon and others. The NAD is good enough that I feel I don't need to spend more extravagently to get more from my Avantgarde Duo XD speakers - it's that good.
I did seem to understand you didn’t have much luck with Dirac. I get the impression that many people don’t like digital room correction software, because it alters the soundstage. In what way exactly?
 

Hear Here

Active Member
@Hear Here, how did the Lyngdorf amplifier fare against the M33? Did you try Room Perfect?
Helix - My problem with Dirac is actually nothing to do with NAD. I've now used 4 DSP systems so far and none has for me "improved" the listening experience. I'm sure the frequency response is more "accurate" but always at the cost of a little loss of the excitement factor that one looks for in reproduced music.

I've use Dirac Live (NAD M33), RoomPerfect (Lyngdorf TDAI-3400), MARS (Micromega M100) and Anthem (Martin Logan 13A speakers). For me Roomperfect was far the worst - all the life was sucked out of the music and ended up like "elevator music". MARS was OK but I didn't prefer it to no filter, Anthem (via the ML's XO and built-in bass amp) was a slight improvement, though the speakers were not for me so I didn't spend more time taking additional readings - the UK distributor visited and took these readings.

Dirac is probably the best though I'm far from convinced the supplied mic is good enough. It comes with no individual calibration, so it's presumably an averaged calibration that’s available to the software when you accept the supplied mic option. My first few readings resulted in grossly unbalanced music - one side was much louder than the other. This is one of the software bugs that needed sorting out before I got better results. I needed to reboot my M33 and load latest NAD software. Also I had earlier used Dirac's own software on my PC rather than download it from NAD's link. Once this was done results are quite good, BUT -

The supplied version of Dirac Live with the M33 only corrects the sub-500 Hz frequencies although the measuring sweep and resultant graph covers the entire range. Only the sub 500 can be adjusted, either by simply accepting the straight line offered by the software or by your own adjustments done by manipulating the straight line - I've only done the former.

OK, now if I listen to a familiar piece of music switching between No filter and Dirac filter, there is a significant change in the bass where (with my speakers / room) a high around 30-40 Hz is supressed and a dip a little higher is boosted. So it's no doubt more accurate. But now if I listen carefully to the top end (the frequencies that Dirac doesn't adjust but the area where the life and sparkle of the music is generated) there is a slight dullness of the music and this is something I don't want to put up with. I buy costly sparkling speakers because that's how I like my music - as far as possible as exciting as live music. I've no doubt that Dirac is not adjusting these higher frequencies but all the frequency range goes through the Dirac filer so suffers extra signal processing compared with direct. Rather similar to old "tone" controls - listen when they are level and the music is slightly dulled compared with the tone controls bypassed by a switch.

This seems to be a common difficulty with all amp-based DSPs - the additional signal processing may add to measured accuracy but inevitable at the SLIGHT cost in fidelity. Several professional reviewers of DSPs have noticed this too.

Fortunately in my system I have an alternative room correction system - one built into my Avantgarde Duo speakers. This system applies to the woofer amps only and the signal for the mid and top horns goes directly from the main amp to the horns with no processing whatsoever. Although my subs only handle below around 140 Hz (I can adjust this), this is the area that needs correction.

Although AG doesn't provide a microphone or the means to measure the response at listening position, dealers / distributors do have a measuring kit that can be used. Once measured, the downloadable AG software can be used to move the straight line theoretical response curve to match the inaccuracies found by measurement. I hope that makes sense - I've not done this yet as I've been messing about with the speakers and have only recently finished this process. Now I can either use Dirac to MEASURE but then switch it off and use these reading to adjust my speakers via the AG software, or I get the job done by a dealer using the Avantgarde kit.

I’ve no doubt that in many systems the room correction improvements will outweigh the slight loss in fidelity but with my speakers and in my room and with my listening preference, I prefer the filter off. Peter
 

spacequad

Novice Member
The 1120, 2170 and 3400 have a zero noise level. Speakers are silent.
So I found a 2170 being sold here locally at $1500. It's the base model (no balanced or USB inputs) but I could always upgrade using the module that has the balanced inputs. There's also a PS audio stellar S 300 being sold for $900 which has tons of power, is 2 ohms stable and has balanced inputs. I am thinking I should decide between one of these two and right now I am leaning towards the PS audio because of all the flexibility it would give me in terms of preamp options But the 2170 seems like a real deal at that price and should have plenty of power to drive my 936s with the benefit of already having room correction and preamp.
 

spacequad

Novice Member
It may appear to be outside your budget, but consider adding the NAD M33 to your list. Because it includes DAC, streamer and DSP room correction, it is true digital all-in-one but also offers phono in for vinyl users and headphone output too. Perhaps other kit could be sold to add to the budget.

I was also hugely impressed with the earlier M32. It offers all the M33 (and the less good M10) does apart from streamer and DSP. If looking at used, look out for an M32 with the optional streamer module - it could be within budget.

Regarding DSP, I now have the M33 that includes Dirac Live, but I prefer the sound with no Dirac filter. Dirac makes it more accurate but a little of the music's life is lost, despite the fact that Dirac is only adjusting sub 500 Hz. In my view the entire signal requires additional processing and the music suffers a little across the entire frequency range. However those with less good speakers or very tricky rooms may think the improved accuracy outweighs the slight loss in lifelikeness. Peter
Believe me, if the M33 was in my budget range I would not be asking this question on this form because I would've purchased it already! Little too much money for me.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
What about the the Ki Ruby from Marantz? Apparently it is on sale the uk right now. Many people rave about it here on avforum. The Yamaha AS1100 might also be on sale now since Yamaha has released the new model AS1200 on the market. If tone controls are not essential for you then perhaps the Rega model over the Brio R model might suit you. Or you have the PM8006 from Marantz. From my understanding it is your budget new. Used you can of course get both the Marantz PM14-S1, PM14-SE, Marantz PM11-S3. They can probably be had around the same price that the PM8006 cost brand new.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
So I found a 2170 being sold here locally at $1500. It's the base model (no balanced or USB inputs) but I could always upgrade using the module that has the balanced inputs. There's also a PS audio stellar S 300 being sold for $900 which has tons of power, is 2 ohms stable and has balanced inputs. I am thinking I should decide between one of these two and right now I am leaning towards the PS audio because of all the flexibility it would give me in terms of preamp options But the 2170 seems like a real deal at that price and should have plenty of power to drive my 936s with the benefit of already having room correction and preamp.

However good the PS may or may not be, it does not have RoomPerfect.

The price for the 2170 is very much a bargain. I’d snap it up fast.
 

Saabas

Novice Member
Interesting. You're the second to recommend it. Had never really heard of it until this thread. It has a lot of features and has decent amount of power with 120 [email protected] ohms. If it drives your Aria 948s I'm guessing it should have no problem driving my 936s. How big is your listening room and at what levels do you listen at? Also did you have success using the room correction?

Well it has a crap-tonne of power at a ridiculous price but I thought I had heard that these amplifiers have a really high noise floor and it might get annoying with high-sensitivity speakers like mine?

Sorry for the late response. I can definitely guarantee that you dont have to sorry about TDAI 1120 having not enough power for your Focals. Eventhough my room is rather small (maybe about 15-20 M2) I never need to turn the volume even half way to max, did try a couple of times going half way but it was a bit too loud for my taste.

I am ashamed to say that I STILL havent even tried RoomPerfect. I think that Lyngdorf sounds so wonderful on its own, that everytime I have told myself today is the day I will set the RoomPerfect I have just ended up listening to music. 😅
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Sorry for the late response. I can definitely guarantee that you dont have to sorry about TDAI 1120 having not enough power for your Focals. Eventhough my room is rather small (maybe about 15-20 M2) I never need to turn the volume even half way to max, did try a couple of times going half way but it was a bit too loud for my taste.

I am ashamed to say that I STILL havent even tried RoomPerfect. I think that Lyngdorf sounds so wonderful on its own, that everytime I have told myself today is the day I will set the RoomPerfect I have just ended up listening to music. 😅
What speakers do you use? The Focal’s?
 

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