Sonos Connect causing ground loop buzz


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I just bought the Naim because it was the best-sounding amp I could afford. I didn't realise there was such a cult of quirkiness around the brand and its unorthodox approach to electronics! :D
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Kumar wrote:

ratty wrote:

I'd be looking for something external to tie the CONNECT's ground down.


Digressing to understand this: how come that using the 2 pin US style socket that came with the Connect cable, I don't see this problem? I thought that the 3rd pin is the one that does earth? All my Sonos kit including play units use the same 2 pin plugs.


Must've missed this post. I think the third pin on my Connect is a 'dummy' - it's just plastic to fit into UK sockets, but doesn't actually earth the unit. At least, I think that's what the hi fi man said. Sometimes I wish I'd paid more attention at school, then I'd understand these things better. :)
My understanding is that units that don't draw a lot of current can do without the third earthing point and still be safe in use. Connect fits into that category very comfortably. What this means to causing hum or not, I don't know.

That all well made amps - which almost all modern name brand amps are - sound the same in a controlled sound level matched blind test is something the amp makers desperately haven't wanted anyone to know for decades now - perhaps five decades.

A 60-70 wpc Marantz/Rotel/Yamaha/XYZ....will deliver the same sound quality. Just make sure that any you choose delivers the features you need and you ought to save significant money if you can get good value for the Naim in return. All you will lose is bragging rights about having a Naim...and the hum. But test for that in the shop with your Connect.
Ted Maul wrote:

I think the third pin on my Connect is a 'dummy' - it's just plastic to fit into UK sockets, but doesn't actually earth the unit.


Well, yes. The connector into the back of the CONNECT is a 2-pin 'figure-8'.
Kumar wrote:

you ought to save significant money if you can get good value for the Naim in return.


When I wrote this I thought the Naim was for close to a thousand pounds; I was shocked to later see that it sells for twice as much. For just 70 wpc of amplification.
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Kumar wrote:

Kumar wrote:

you ought to save significant money if you can get good value for the Naim in return.


When I wrote this I thought the Naim was for close to a thousand pounds; I was shocked to later see that it sells for twice as much. For just 70 wpc of amplification.


Thanks, Kumar. Really making me feel good about my purchase, man. :)

Nah, if it the problem can't be solved, I'll take it back to the shop and get my money back. I love the amp - far better than anything else I auditioned, and I tested a lot of amps before settling on that one. But it has to work with my existing setup, or all that quality sound isn't worth a damn.
Lol. Trust some of us here that have used high end - read expensive - HiFi kit for decades before realising we have been gulled.

Whatever you buy has certainly got to work with your set up, and it has to be reliable with after sales support available as well. Modern tech and manufacturing economies of scale means that "budget" kit can now offer that and all the sound quality that the much more expensive audiophile kit can. For a much lower price. But the high street HiFi shop is not going to tell you that. Nor will What HiFi. One has to pay the rent and and staff salaries, the other has to stand by its advertisers.

I could make a case why even a Connect Amp that functionally does what the Connect + Naim do, will serve just as well in some cases with easy to drive quality speakers and just one source other than streamed music.

I could even go beyond that and say the same thing about a Sonos play 5 pair + Sonos Sub. Or at a lower price point for a smaller space, a 1 pair + Sub. Or even either of the two minus the Sub.

Leaving all that aside, I would say that the biggest mistake you could now make is to look for and buy another streaming solution because the Naim and the Connect don't like each other.
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I'm hopeful that there's a solution to this problem out there - whether it's something that'll make the Naim and the Connect play nicely, or swapping the Naim for something else.

But on the topic of high-end gear vs budget stuff, I'm not really interested in 'name' brands or high end for the sake of high end. I fancied a step up from my Rotel - a very fine amp - and tried many things at various price points, and just fell in love with the sound of the Naim. Basically, it did what my ears wanted it to do. So it'll be a shame if it has to go back to the shop in favour of something that'll play nicely with my existing setup, but if that's how it has to be, well...
I have used a lesser Rotel model than yours for years and it still gives flawless service at my daughter's home. Excellent amp maker, Rotel, and I have not read poor reports of any of their models. I have used the legendary Quad 99/909 pre + power amps as well for many years. But the sound from them was just as it was from the Rotel because I did not need the higher sound levels that the 140 wpc 909 could deliver. The Rotel went as loud as I needed it to go without distorting, so the 909 was overkill; it could go a lot louder, cleanly, but at the same sound levels as the Rotel, I could not say which one was playing; both were excellent. After all, as the founder of Quad said decades ago - a good amp should be just straight wire with gain. All it should do is amplify the source signal without adding anything to it, or taking anything away from it. And it does not now take much to make amps that are such wires whose non straightness is small enough to not be audible. Even if it can be seen on a test instrument. If it cannot be heard, it is meaningless progress to being more straight.

But any stereo salesman that wants to sell a 2000 pound amp has been taught how to have the sound from it come across better than from functionally equal but cheaper kit; or even from other kit at the same price point. There are too many tricks of the trade to narrate here, so I will stick to the simplest and most common one practiced: louder sounds better, even when the difference is as small as 0.2dB.

The intent of this isn't to be a wet blanket; I wish you all the luck in having a Connect work minus hum with the Naim. But the intent is to convey that if it does not, and you have to get a different amp, this need not involve any sound quality compromise other than psychological. Indeed you may end up having your cake and eating it too - the Connect working fine and a lower investment in the amp.

Good luck!
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Thanks, Kumar! You've been a big help, and it's been a pleasure chatting to you. Have a great day!
Ditto; I would be interested in knowing how the hum issue gets resolved.
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Kumar wrote:

Ditto; I would be interested in knowing how the hum issue gets resolved.



I'll update this thread whenever there's a resolution. If there's no update, you can assume I've electrocuted myself.
Lol. If you use chamomile tea, you should be ok:-))
Curious though - what speakers are you using with the Naim? Nothing to do with the hum, just to have a better handle on the sound signature you are getting, having used many makes in my audiophile past life.
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Kumar wrote:

Lol. If you use chamomile tea, you should be ok:-))
Curious though - what speakers are you using with the Naim? Nothing to do with the hum, just to have a better handle on the sound signature you are getting, having used many makes in my audiophile past life.



B&W CM1s, which have survived a few changes of setup. But I may be upgrading those in future too - I have my eye on some floor-standing Spendors.
I had Harbeths once, and they are worth a serious audition. The C7 or the SHL5. Both stand mounted, but the latter can go head to head with floor standers.

I have found that much of the premium that is paid for floor standers is for expensive cabinetry.
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Kumar wrote:

I had Harbeths once, and they are worth a serious audition. The C7 or the SHL5. Both stand mounted, but the latter can go head to head with floor standers.

I have found that much of the premium that is paid for floor standers is for expensive cabinetry.



Worth a look - thanks for the tip re. Harbeths. I was able to audition the Spendors against a pair of CM1s and they really were outstanding. Mind you, I haven't tested any stand-mounted Spendors yet - I might hang on to my speaker stands yet...
I had used Spendor stand mounted speakers for some years, but I found the Harbeth C7 to be in a different league on the first listen. The SHL5s were too rich for my budget, but you may have an opportunity there with a Naim transaction that comes to mind:-).

You will need new stands for either of the two Harbeths; they are taller than most stand mounts, the SHL 5 is half a floor stander in its height and with their tweeters needing to be at ear levels, that pretty much dictates custom stands that achieve this.

By the way, Harbeth has a excellent user forum as part of their website. Alan Shaw, the owner, is an active participant. For years now he has also actively promoted a amplifier agnostic approach of the kind I have spoken about, and an objective, sensible approach to all things audio - with the sole exception of his expensive speakers! He pays for the forum, so one can excuse that little foible. Worth a look around in what is called the Harbeth User Group on the Harbeth site to get insights into home audio fundamentals, even if you buy/own a different speaker. Be warned that the place has a bit of Harbeth cult feel to it, though. Since you are in the UK - presumably - even a visit to his factory to meet him and take a look might be a good idea.
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My friendly neighbourhood hifi shop stocks Harbeth, so I'll definitely take a look.

Surprisingly quick update/resolution to the buzzing amp problem. Today I popped in to see if the guys at the shop had any ideas for solving the problem. One guy suggested that testing a component with a fully earthed plug (my Rotel RCD12 has a dummy earth pin) might be worth trying, to see if it helped.

I've been waiting for ages for the Naim CD player the shop uses for demos to become ex-demo. They boxed it up for me to borrow to test at home - and, lo and behold!, the buzz was gone. Completely gone.

So, long story short, a very good deal has been made and my Rotel is being traded in for the Naim CD5XS. They're even being extremely reasonable about paying the not-too-terrifying cost over a couple of instalments.

So the buzz is gone, the Naim amp and CD player are in place, and the Sonos Connect sounds terrific and buzz-free.

Now I just need to get my mitts on those Harbeths....

:)
Good for you. Though I note that this means that Naim is doing all in their power to sell more Naim kit. The entire concept of HiFi separates where one can pick and choose the system components from different makes is not something any make is happy about, but this way of ensuring that this does not happen to them seems drastic and even unscrupulous.
Ted Maul wrote:

I've been waiting for ages for the Naim CD player the shop uses for demos to become ex-demo. They boxed it up for me to borrow to test at home - and, lo and behold!, the buzz was gone. Completely gone.


So maybe my initial comment about a shortage of earthing was near the mark. It's somewhat worrying though, since it suggests the amp is not well grounded via its mains lead.
But if the amp is not well grounded, it is a mystery why only the Connect as an input was causing the hum and not any other input source when attached to the same socket via the same interconnects. So said Ted.
Maybe the other sources Ted tried were also themselves well grounded, as the CDP appears to be. It's not inconceivable that the circuit ground in the amp floats free of the chassis, and hence the mains earth.
Hmm...so if one did not even need any CDP because one had ripped all CDs to a NAS accessible via a Connect, but wanted only Naim amplification?
Given the references you located on the Naim forum... hmm indeed!
Given that budget is always a constraint, this raises the question of whether one would better off in the sound quality stakes with an equivalent/higher power delivery amp and even a CDP if one has to still have that, from a lower price point, and divert the savings to a better, more expensive speaker where there is a somewhat better chance of the "pay more, get more" rule applying. Using commodity interconnects and speaker wire of course:-).

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