If anyone is looking for the perfect example of a first world problem, I think I have it here: Bumptious hi-fi dealers (us) riddle their newly refurbished ‘pad’ with umpteen reasonably chunky 6mm individually protected radial power feeds to several Crabtree unswitched outlets.
Said dealers revel in the new found clarity that this brings to their listening experience.
High quality mains blocks, such as the ones from Music Works achieve great things, particularly the genuinely special ultra G3 ones. But we have a quandary. We also know that with the Naim systems, it often sounds best if you can connect the power amp or integrated amp directly to the wall. With our Statement mono-blocs, this means that we have two of them to connect in addition to the block, a problem easily overcome by using one of the two radial feeds just for them. This is what we did.
Over the past few months, though, we’ve become ever more dissatisfied with what we get from our ‘epic’ system. It has seemingly become ever more analytical, more and more keen to revel in flaws than than to flatter. We’ve been experimenting with a variety of digital sources but it has become a process of frustration, rather than joy. Quite unsettling.
A visit on Saturday from respected Naim Forum contributor, Ken C led to the inevitable playing of the ‘star’ system, albeit with a certain amount of reluctance because as I put it ‘something just seems off’. In fact, this was Ken’s second visit. We had somehow avoided playing it the first time.
He listened to a few tracks and confirmed that, whilst it was on one level spectacular, there was something amiss in terms of the ’emotional connection’. His immediate focus was on our use of two radial mains feeds. It transpired that Ken had some experience in this area and even had a message for us from the late Julian Vereker in the form of an old forum post the the effect that multiple radial feeds would lead to a reduction in overall sound quality.
Too true, Julian! Feeding everything, including the power amps from one radial, via the G3 block brings considerably more ‘ease’. Suddenly, the system is playing music. What on earth were we thinking?
Actually, ‘earth’ is almost certainly the issue here and it’s not inconceivable that something has changed, leading to more resistance on the relative earth paths than when we first committed the sin.
It’s certainly rather humbling to realise that we’ve got something so fundementally wrong. Still, it doesn’t half sound good now and a kick up the backside is no bad thing!
I am possibly guilty of dragging ourselves through the mud on this. My desire to share the good and bad learning experiences has a down-side of its own,
Truth be told, we’ve a similar twin radial feed in an adjacent room and, used with, say, a pre and power amp on one and source on the other, results lead us to feel that this is a better way to spend out than on expensive mains distribution. Active and mono bloc systems are quite feasibly more vulnerable to the split earth feed approach. Anchoring both to a common ground is probably the cure.