The unity gain bypasses the amplifier's own volume control and allows you to use it (effectively) as a 2 channel power amplifier if you we're to connect the preouts of a compatible AVR to one of the analogue inputs.
You can set the level in the configurator.
A good mid-range system that I enjoy. Some good mid-range head-fi for when I get banished to the spare-room.
Oh, and access to true high-end 7 days a week.
Thanks, Ali. That sounds most useful (though I'm strictly an audio person).
What classical music are you listening to?
I'm heading back that way myself to be honest. Multichannel seemed to have a five year boom and has given way to soundbars now. Myself, I've been stocking up on lp's recently and remembering how to appreciate some cracking albums. What's first on your list when your 170 arrives? (I know you must have a first album lined up)
Two channel definitely seems to be a more rewarding hobby.
Also, apologies for my grammar in that last post. I've been struggling away typing on my iPhone.
What's first on your list when your 170 arrives? (I know you must have a first album lined up)
Ah, now I have a bit of a fetish for Janacek. So first up I'll be loading Act 1 of 'From the House of the Dead' at full throttle. Probably followed by some solo piano (Haydn, Beethoven), electronic stuff (Yello), jazz (Stan Getz in samba mode), and inevitably some live Springsteen. Eclectic? Confused? Downright bonkers? Take your pick ...
Continuing my search for speakers to work with my Dev 170, today was Neat day. As a Neat owner (Iotas wall-mounted in my dining room), for a while I’ve had my eye on the Neat Ultimatum XLs standmounts. A comparison with the Ultimatum Xli floorstanders seemed to make sense.
As my Dev hasn’t arrived yet, I was demoing with other amplification. The system was: ALAC files on a USB memory stick streamed by a Naim NDX into a Rega Osiris integrated. Not ideal, but not entirely unworthy either. My hunch is that most of the negatives in the demo were the fault of the amp, and the positives were to the credit of the speakers … which might be wrong …
The Xli and XLs are peas in a pod. Same drivers, same configuration, only the XLis are in a floorstandy box. So why buy the floorstanders? That’s one issue. The second is: these are plain-looking speakers, but the money has been spent on the drivers, five of them: a tweeter, two woofers in 'isobaric' configuration and a pair of supertweeters mounted on the top of the box.
So lots of drivers, but can they produce a cohesive sound?
My first impression is that they pack a huge punch. These are proper full-range speakers. The bass goes fantastically deep in orchestral pieces and brings a full, rich tone to male voices that’s simply missing with smaller speakers.
The tone is highly tuneful, as you’d expect from Neat. It’s a pretty natural-sounding speaker.
However, the initially positive impression didn’t last long. The imaging seemed perfectly good but nothing special (maybe the fault of the amp). Throughout the demo I had a problem with the middle and top end. There was just something woolly about it, perhaps veiled. Not only that, it also felt a bit artificial: almost like a small sound that had been stretched to make it sound bigger. Muddled too, and without the drama you get from a fast speaker.
The standmounts might be different, I thought: faster, more precise. And perhaps they were, but the overwhelming impression was of the same speaker in a standmount format.
Now, getting this much bass extension out of a box of this size is immensely clever. The XLs’s are still proper full range speakers, and quite unlike any standmounts (of this size) I’ve heard before. So credit to Neat for this.
There are some other positives: the supertweeters do provide a bit of ‘air’ which is more evident with the standmounts. They’re capable of real delicacy in quiet passages. The XLs’s have a hint more definition on voices. But like their floorstanding brothers they get clumsy when driven hard. They’re a bit boxy, artificial sounding.
I’d take the standmounts over the floorstanders, no question: there’s a touch more definition in the former (and they’re £2K cheaper, or £1K when you factor in the dull-looking Neat stands).
The design is complicated: lots of drivers and crossovers. Do you buy the bass extension at the cost of definition?
How well would they play on the end of a Dev? No doubt better than on the end of the Osiris. But how much better?
I've only ever heard one model of Neat, apologies can't remember which one, a stand mount with Croft amp and they didn't do it for me at all.
I suppose it's a little hard for you to make a
proper informed judgement without hearing these speakers without the Devialet... do you think it might be best to wait until yours arrives?
Accuphase E350 amp, Electrocompaniet EMC1UP CDP, Siltech 25th Classic anniversary 330I XLR Harbeth Super HL5 on Sound Anchor Quod ELS63 stands, Chord Odessey2 speaker cable. Grado SR60 headphones.
Cheers, Mac. I have indeed postponed a bunch of demos, however in this case (and one more later this week) the dealer had already gone ahead and got demo speakers in from the factory for me before it became clear that the Dev was going to be delayed. So I thought I might as well give it a whirl. The dealers are local anyway.
I'm minded to give the XLs a run at home once the Dev arrives, not least because it's just so different from any other standmount I've heard.
Ah, I understand... keep the posts coming!
The dealers are local anyway.
Oh, I envy you! For me, every demo takes quite some traveling.
Then again, it's my mistake. I shouldn't have been born in Belgium!
We have some nice beer, though...
OK, no Devialet again in this report, but this is, I sincerely hope, my last Devialet-less demo.
On Friday 13th I headed down to Infidelity in Hampton.
It’s becoming a theme in my speaker demos that something in the set-up isn’t right and one of the speakers disappoints. In this case the thing that didn’t work was the Linn Akurate system that was meant to be driving the speakers. For some reason the dealer chappy wasn’t able to get the Akurate DS to play the files I’d brought along. So after 30 mins of faffing, we switched to an all Naim system (which was perfectly happy to play my files). So the system was ALAC files via USB into Naim NDX + NAC 252 + NAP 250 + Supercap.
First up …
Kudos Cardea Super 20
These sell for £4250. They’re a 2-way floorstanding design, bottom ported onto a black plinth. As such boxes go, these are attractive in their light oak veneer and very nicely finished.
On the plus side, I enjoyed their good dynamics and punchy, cohesive presentation. The soundstage was wide and precise. Plenty of atmosphere too. Nice fast response. The bass was sufficiently extended for my tastes, but also tuneful and tight. Very nice speakers.
On the minus side, I found a touch of muddiness in the top end, and some voices could sound slightly artificial and thin.
Next up the rather overwhelming …
These I found to be a mess of contradictions. On the one hand, they convey massive scale. The sound is as huge as the speakers themselves. Great soundstage and phenomenal dynamics.
BUT … all of this, impressive as it was, felt as if it were contained within a weirdly boxy stage. It was a bit like sitting at the back of the theatre watching some grippingly dramatic action on a distant rectangular proscenium arch stage. Great in a way, but unrealistic and uninvolving, because you’re separated from the action both by distance and by the stage’s ‘fourth wall’.
Well, I couldn’t listen to them for long. Not my thing at all.
Next up, a rematch with the Vivid V1s plus some Benesch-Wilson action – this time with a Devialet 170
Thanks again Matt for your vivid impressions of these speakers.
I heard some stand mount Kudos myself a couple of years ago and quite liked them, very musical and easy on the ear.
Interesting what you say about the Focals, they are supposed to be a good match for Accuphase, but from what you describe, they wouldn't be to my taste.
This was pretty much what I heard when Naim and Focal were mixed, as reported on my Belfast Show thread.
FWIW. I'm not sure how much you can learn from the other dem either, as Naim is totally different from Devialet........at least Linn would have been closer (being a form of Class D), so shame it wouldn't work.
"Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again." André Gide
I don't think you'd like them at all, Mac. Shouty speakers.
FWIW. I'm not sure how much you can learn from the other dem either, as Naim is totally different from Devialet........
The Kudos made the Naim system sound very good; that's something of an achievement in my book, ergo they must be good speakers and are worth a demo with the Dev.
.....at least Linn would have been closer (being a form of Class D), so shame it wouldn't work.
Yes, it was a shame the Linn system couldn't run (though it makes you wonder, when a Linn dealer can't get their own streaming system to operate ...). However, I don't think it would have been "closer" in any meaningful way. Devialet isn't Class D, it's Class A, both in sound and technology. The signal is produced by a pure Class A amp, and the extra power output from the Class D module is 100% slaved to the Class A signal. It really sounds nothing like Linn at all, at least in my experience.
However, I don't think it would have been "closer" in any meaningful way. Devialet isn't Class D, it's Class A, both in sound and technology. The signal is produced by a pure Class A amp, and the extra power output from the Class D module is 100% slaved to the Class A signal. It really sounds nothing like Linn at all, at least in my experience.
I agree with that. I was only meaning that it would have been a better choice than the Naim.
The first time I actually enjoyed a Linn amp was driving the R Series. The second time was bi-amping the Blades. I have yet to hear a recent Naim amp making a sound that I like, which is a very personal thing.
I would love to hear the Devialet.
I have yet to hear a recent Naim amp making a sound that I like, which is a very personal thing.
Ah, well that's a personal preference that we happen to share, though I can also see why other people like Naim amps. They are really very good at presenting things in a certain way.
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