How well do the NX-Otica MTMs scale?

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mlundy57

How well do the NX-Otica MTMs scale?
« on: 17 May 2020, 06:49 pm »
First a little background:

I've had my NX-Otica MTM/dual sub combo for over three years now. I have driven them with a number of different DAC/preamp/amp combos and they have sounded exceptional with all of them. DACs have included an OPPO 105, Geek Pulse X-Infinity, and PS Audio Stellar Gaing Cell DAC (GCD). Preamps have included a DODD Audio tube buffer and the PS Audio Stellar GCD. Power amps have included a PrimaLuna Prologue 4 stereo amp, DODD Audio EL84 battery powerd stereo amp, and a PS Audio Stellar S300 stereo amplifier. The 'Oticas have sounded spectacular with all of this equipment as attested to by coverage of my rooms at the Lone Star Audio Fest.

In January I decided to take a step up and move from the PS Audio Stellar S300 Stereo amp to their Stellar M700 monoblocks. This resulted in a distinct improvement in sound quality. The improvement was large enough that when PS Audio offered a Beta test of their new hybrid Stellar M1200 monoblocks, I decided to get in on it. The results of that move are discussed in my thread "New Toy Time"  https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=169079.0   

An unintended consequence of being in the beta test and adding the M1200s to my system was that I then wanted to upgrade the DAC and preamp to be on par with the new power amps. So, over the past month I have replaced the Stellar Gain Cell DAC/preamp with a PS Audio DirectStream DAC Sr. with the Network Bridge II and a PS Audio BHK preamp. I have also swapped the stock tubes in the M1200s for NOS Mullard CV4003/12AU7s and the stock tubes in the BHK preamp with NOS Tungsram PCC88/7DJ8s. Also, due to nasty problems I have with DC offset and EM/RF interference in my power line, I have added a PS Audio Stellar P3 power plant to drive the front end gear (sources, DAC, and preamp). My system now consists of:

Windows Xeon based music server running Fidelizer Pro set to audiophile mode, ROON and JRiver 26,
PS Audio Stellar P3 power plant,
PI Audio Group Digi BUSS,
OPPO 105 universal disc player,
JWM Acoustics Karen 6 turntable with Ortophon 2M Black cart,
Lounge Audio LCR-MKIII Gold phono preamp,
Marantz SR7009 AVR,
PS Audio DirectStream DAC Sr with the Network Bridge II and Windom OS,
PS Audio BHK preamp,
PI Audio Group Uber BUSS,
PS Audio Stellar M1200 monoblocks,
GR-Research NX-Otica MTM/Dual OB sub combo, and a
GR-Research sealed sandbox sub for HT duties.

Now to the original question of how well do the NX-Otica MTM/sub combo scale when fed by better equipment. In a nutshell, phenomenally. Holy Smokes!!! Each step in this upgrade path has given me more of what I had before. Oh! My Word! How this system has transformed! Don’t get me wrong, it was exceptional before with the Stellar GCD and M700s but now, everything is so clear and detailed that instruments like cowbells, triangles, chimes (things that are usually obscured by the louder music) sound like you are standing next to them when they are struck. High, powerful, female vocals sung directly into the mic which still had a touch of harshness even with the GCD and M700s are smooth and clean.

I can’t really describe all the changes, especially the changes in feelings when listening.  Where I used to kick back and relax to the music for a while, I find myself getting lost in classical and jazz while almost dancing in the seat with faster paced music and not wanting to stop listening for hours. Then I find myself thinking about when I can get back to the man cave for some more tunes. Especially before my wife goes to bed so I can turn it up.

The bottom line is, the NX-Otica MTMs (and by extension the NX-Oticas) sound fantastic with less expensive electronics, but the higher up the electronics food chain you go, the more the ‘Oticas reward you. While like Ron said, “the NX-Oticas are the best speakers you will never hear” [with any given level of equipment (my words here)], I doubt they will ever be the limiting factor in your system.

Whether it be baby bear (NX-Otica MTM/sub combo), momma bear (NX-Oticas / sub towers), or poppa bear (NX-Tremes / sub towers), the NX series OB speakers will continue to pleaase well into the future.

Mike

Peter J

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Re: How well do the NX-Otica MTMs scale?
« Reply #1 on: 17 May 2020, 07:08 pm »
Well damn, Mike, you've been dropping some coin in your gear lately. Looks like you've taken a shine to PS Audio and I have to admit, they seem to be on a mission lately. Not that long ago, power regenerators seemed to be their focus.

The BHK preamp has caught my eye recently. In no small part because of Bascom King's legacy and no bullshit way of doing things. One can find them used now around 3K or I've considered using some excess gear and use their "trade-in" to get $$ manageable.

I know your thread was about speakers, but can you speak to the preamp a little? Initial impressions, tube rolling etc? Anything you'd do differently a second time around?

mlundy57

Re: How well do the NX-Otica MTMs scale?
« Reply #2 on: 17 May 2020, 07:54 pm »
Well damn, Mike, you've been dropping some coin in your gear lately. Looks like you've taken a shine to PS Audio and I have to admit, they seem to be on a mission lately. Not that long ago, power regenerators seemed to be their focus.

The BHK preamp has caught my eye recently. In no small part because of Bascom King's legacy and no bullshit way of doing things. One can find them used now around 3K or I've considered using some excess gear and use their "trade-in" to get $$ manageable.

I know your thread was about speakers, but can you speak to the preamp a little? Initial impressions, tube rolling etc? Anything you'd do differently a second time around?

Peter,

Yes, this beta test has turned out to be rather expensive  :shake: but worth it  :dance:

I bought my BHK preamp from a PS Audio dealer. It was their demo model so it had some burn in time but they described it as lightly used so I figured it would need some more burn in, especially since I put the new matched pair of NOS tubes in before putting it in the system. I was right. Sure enough, after swapping the BHK preamp for the Stellar GCD and letting things warm up for half an hour, it sounded good but some of the detail was missing and it didn’t generate the almost irresistible urge to tap my feet with the music I had been getting with the fully broken in GCD. So, I set music playing continuously, closed the door, and left it alone for a day. What a difference those 24 hours made. If the preamp was completely new, it would have likely needed 4 or 5 days of burn in like the M1200s did. I'd say the preamp itself was burned in, I was just burning in the new tubes.

The trade in program is great, I took advantage of it with the M1200s. Since PS Audio did away with US dealers (they are customer direct in the US now), I was able to pick up the lightly used dealer demo for $3k. I bought the DirectStream DAC with bridge used (about 2-1/2 years old) for $3,600 though most of them are listed around $4,400.  For $3k I'd likely go with a used BHK pre as a new one with a max trade-in would be around $4,200 unless you wait for a sale when you could get a new one with a max trade-in for about $3,600. If I had to pay $4,400 for a used DirectStream DAC w/Bridge II I would strongly consider the trade in program. Under normal circumstances, you can get a new DirectStream DAC w/Bridge II for $4,900 with a max trade in and $4,200 with trade during a sale. The everyday trade-in is up to 30% of the cost of the item you are buying and during a sale it is up to 40% of the new item's cost.

Both the DirectStream DAC and BHK preamp are well worth the money. Especially if you take advantage of the trade-in program or buy used. I learned this week Bascom is working on a BHK phono preamp.

As for the tubes, I'd say either listen to the stock tubes first then try Basom's favorite NOS Tungsram PCC88/7DJ8s or just go straight to the Tungsrams like I did. Then again, the only reason I did that was because I had the Tungsrams on had. I had bought them thinking I could use them in the M1200s before finding out the M1200s don't have switchable heater voltages the the BHKs do. Since I already had the designer's preferred tube on hand, I put them in from the get-go so I can't speak to performance differences in the preamp.

What I'd do differently the second time is go straight for the BHKs. It would have been less expensive in the long run. But if I'd done that I may not have appreciated how good they are.

Mike

mkrawcz

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Re: How well do the NX-Otica MTMs scale?
« Reply #3 on: 18 May 2020, 10:32 am »
I just got my BHK preamp this weekend to go with my BHK 300 monos. Traded in a Parasound JC2. They are powering NX-Oticas and holy hell is it amazing. The preamp keeps sounding better and better as it breaks in.

mlundy57

Re: How well do the NX-Otica MTMs scale?
« Reply #4 on: 18 May 2020, 04:21 pm »
I just got my BHK preamp this weekend to go with my BHK 300 monos. Traded in a Parasound JC2. They are powering NX-Oticas and holy hell is it amazing. The preamp keeps sounding better and better as it breaks in.

I haven't heard the BHK 300 monos. Since they are a level above my Stellar M1200s your experience confirms my thoughts that I haven't heard all the NX-Oticas have to offer. Makes me wonder what the pinnacle of their performance is.

I've been thinking about my earlier limiting factor comment and realized it's not really accurate. It seems to me that saying they are not the limiting factor means you can't get better sound from your current gear with a different speaker. Since the NX-Tremes and Line Forces can do just that it makes the limiting factor comment incorrect. Maybe a more accurate way to look at it is what I alluded to above, that regardless of how good the NX-Oticas sound in your system, you probably haven't heard all they can do.


mkrawcz

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Re: How well do the NX-Otica MTMs scale?
« Reply #5 on: 18 May 2020, 07:44 pm »
I am sure I have not reached the limit of improvement with my NX-Oticas. I still need to improve my source. I am currently running a Cambridge Audio Azure 851n which is a fantastic DAC/Streamer, but I doubt its in the same league as the PS Audio Direct Stream. I am still undecided if I want to go with the Direct Stream DAC or the Auralic Vega. I was using the 851n as a digital pre. and that gave me much more clarity and resolution than when I had the Parasound JC2 in the chain. However, with the Parasound, the Soundstage just opened up a lot and the music was more powerful and holographic. With the BHK Pre., I have the clarity I heard without a pre and the soundstage with one.

Early B.

Re: How well do the NX-Otica MTMs scale?
« Reply #6 on: 18 May 2020, 09:59 pm »
Many audiophiles claim that changing speakers will make the biggest impact on sound. However, they probably didn't hear what their previous speakers could actually do.

About 20 years ago, I was selling my speakers to a local buyer. He came over my house to listen to them, and for some reason, I pulled them out from the wall and they sounded 10x better. I sold them before I had a chance to really appreciate them. Taught me a valuable lesson about speakers -- they're rarely the weak link.

Mike, hold onto those NX-Oticas for dear life.

BTW -- have you upgraded the crossover as far as you can reasonably go?

   

Wind Chaser

Re: How well do the NX-Otica MTMs scale?
« Reply #7 on: 18 May 2020, 10:41 pm »
Many audiophiles claim that changing speakers will make the biggest impact on sound. However, they probably didn't hear what their previous speakers could actually do.

That is so true. :thumb:

mlundy57

Re: How well do the NX-Otica MTMs scale?
« Reply #8 on: 19 May 2020, 04:24 am »
Many audiophiles claim that changing speakers will make the biggest impact on sound. However, they probably didn't hear what their previous speakers could actually do.

About 20 years ago, I was selling my speakers to a local buyer. He came over my house to listen to them, and for some reason, I pulled them out from the wall and they sounded 10x better. I sold them before I had a chance to really appreciate them. Taught me a valuable lesson about speakers -- they're rarely the weak link.

Mike, hold onto those NX-Oticas for dear life.

BTW -- have you upgraded the crossover as far as you can reasonably go?

 

Oh, I have no intentions of getting rid of them. The crossovers have Sonicaps, Sonicap Platinum by-pass caps, Mills resistors, and Erse XQ Air Core inductors. So yes, there is room for improvement. I could go up to the new copper caps, Miflex KPCU by-pass caps, foil inductors, and maybe upgrade the resistors too. I don't know if that falls within your definition of reasonably though.

Mike

Early B.

Re: How well do the NX-Otica MTMs scale?
« Reply #9 on: 19 May 2020, 12:19 pm »
Oh, I have no intentions of getting rid of them. The crossovers have Sonicaps, Sonicap Platinum by-pass caps, Mills resistors, and Erse XQ Air Core inductors. So yes, there is room for improvement. I could go up to the new copper caps, Miflex KPCU by-pass caps, foil inductors, and maybe upgrade the resistors too. I don't know if that falls within your definition of reasonably though.

Replacing the Sonicaps with Danny's copper caps or Miflex caps, and upgrading to foil inductors will take your speakers to another level. Put that on your to-do list for 2020.  It's inexpensive relative to a typical component upgrade and the net gain is comparable.

Sonicjoy

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Re: How well do the NX-Otica MTMs scale?
« Reply #10 on: 19 May 2020, 01:25 pm »
Wow Mike! That was a serious upgrade! I bet that sounds incredible. I would love to have a full BHK setup. Maybe some day.

I'm running a Pure Power Gold model 2000 Power AC re-generator. It powers my whole system. Besides speakers no other component can improve the whole system. It made an amazing difference even improved the picture of my projector. I can highly recommend an AC re-generator. Does the P3 not have enough capacity to run the amps?

I would definitely upgrade the crossovers as high as possible. But for now just kick back and enjoy your new level of musical performance.

Very cool! Would love to hear your system.

RonP

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Re: How well do the NX-Otica MTMs scale?
« Reply #11 on: 19 May 2020, 03:55 pm »
Replacing the Sonicaps with Danny's copper caps or Miflex caps, and upgrading to foil inductors will take your speakers to another level. Put that on your to-do list for 2020.  It's inexpensive relative to a typical component upgrade and the net gain is comparable.

Is there any kind of post where we can break down the various levels of cross-over upgrades. Like

Basic: xx caps / yy resisters
upgrade 1: sonic caps
upgrade 2: sonic + bypass caps
upgrade 3: copper caps..

etc... something like that where its laid out in typical levels.. I'd love to see a nice sticky post on this.

thanks

e_biz80

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Re: How well do the NX-Otica MTMs scale?
« Reply #12 on: 19 May 2020, 04:50 pm »
You guys in the states are luck with the trade in option with PS audio.

Early B.

Re: How well do the NX-Otica MTMs scale?
« Reply #13 on: 19 May 2020, 05:11 pm »
Not that I'm aware of, although you're on the right track. I would add the following:

Stock: xx caps / yy resistors
upgrade 1: sonic caps and sonicap platinum bypass caps
upgrade 2: foil inductors
upgrade 3: copper caps and Path or Dueland resistors


mlundy57

Re: How well do the NX-Otica MTMs scale?
« Reply #14 on: 19 May 2020, 05:51 pm »
Replacing the Sonicaps with Danny's copper caps or Miflex caps, and upgrading to foil inductors will take your speakers to another level. Put that on your to-do list for 2020.  It's inexpensive relative to a typical component upgrade and the net gain is comparable.

Wow Mike! That was a serious upgrade! I bet that sounds incredible. I would love to have a full BHK setup. Maybe some day.

I'm running a Pure Power Gold model 2000 Power AC re-generator. It powers my whole system. Besides speakers no other component can improve the whole system. It made an amazing difference even improved the picture of my projector. I can highly recommend an AC re-generator. Does the P3 not have enough capacity to run the amps?

I would definitely upgrade the crossovers as high as possible. But for now just kick back and enjoy your new level of musical performance.

Very cool! Would love to hear your system.

You've convinced me. A crossover upgrade is in the not too distant future.

If you're ever in the Tulsa area you're welcome to drop by.


mkrawcz

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Re: How well do the NX-Otica MTMs scale?
« Reply #15 on: 19 May 2020, 11:50 pm »
I think Danny's NX series speakers show the shortcomings of lesser quality/designed components very easily.

Glady86

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Re: How well do the NX-Otica MTMs scale?
« Reply #16 on: 24 May 2020, 11:01 pm »
Im looking to possibly upgrade my audio system but not sure which way to go. I own Emerald Physics 4.7, Epique CBT24 and a pair of Kef LS50 that I just bought to try out the Kef UNI-Q design. I like the Emerald Physics and Epique models but both those models are somewhat lacking in accurate tone and resolution. I like the Kef at lower volume with good recordings, they have better resoluton and I like the more prominent treble response. But they dont fair well at louder volumes and can sound too forward and bright. Some  recordings I could enjoy with my Emerald Phsics speakers sound pretty bad with the Kefs, maybe they are too honest or Id need a higher end Kef model?

Since I like the open baffle sound,  I was mostly considering the NX-OTICA kit and possibly Spatial Audio X5 though the cost of those is more than I want to spend. I also have two Dayton Ultimax 15"  sealed subs I use with my speakers.

My question is would the NX-OTICA be a step up over what I own and would I need the GR Research subs? Or could I use my sealed subs with them with good results?

I have pretty good amps and sources, Symphonic Line Tube preamp, Odyssey Audio power amps. Sony Modwright XA777Es, Oppo 105, Yamah T1 tuner, and a highly "tricked out" Lenco turntable setup.

Endo2112

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Re: How well do the NX-Otica MTMs scale?
« Reply #17 on: 25 May 2020, 04:23 pm »

Jay and I have a buddy in NC who runs the Ottica's with a set of triple OB's up front, and 2 -15 inch sealed subs along side his listening position, he reports that the sound is quite outstanding and improved greatly after adding the additional 15's. An OB quasi swarm, if you will.

Cheers,

Don