Nakamichi CA5 - Too Bright - suggestions?


I have a pair of B&K 4420M monoblocks, Nak CA5 preamp, and Lynnfield 500L speakers. I sold a bryson 4bsst amp to lower my gear investement due to other priorities. (ok maybe a mistake as i look back) the sound now is totally forward and bright vs. what it was previously.

what pre-amp recommendations do you guys have to give more warmth to my set-up? can a change in my pre-amp smooth the sound a little? will a preamp with tone controls - such as some of the Adcoms, B&K's, etc tone down the brightness a little or will it just exhaggerate the problem?

thanks for any help/opinions.
For an economic alternative, how about a B&K Pro10MC? They go for about $250-300 here on the gon.

B&K components mate well with each other.

The sound is somewhat dark but certainly musical and almost tubelike.

Good luck.
I'm not surprised about the CA5. When I listened to it I was shocked at how truly awful it sounded. Thin, hard, bright-just plain nasty. Get yourself an Audio Experience Symphonies tube linestage available direct from manufacturer for $400 and you will be thrilled. Nothing close for the price. Check the featured ads for their website.


I agree with UpstateAudio. I was using a BK ST1400 with a Conrad-Johnson PV10A. I began having problems with the PV10A and shipped it back to cj. In the meantime, I plugged in my old standby, a BK Pro10MC Sonata. It sounds great. It is very fast yet warm. I am using a Planet CDP, BTW.
Anyway, I don't miss the cj too much, but it should also be a consideration for you. It is very warm and liquid.

Brad Day
Atlanta, GA
Outside of store listening room demos I lived with a Nakamichi CA-5 preamp for several years with AR9 speakers and Hafler DH-500 amps among others off and on while switching in other preamps that cost a lot more for comparisons when I could. I couldn't afford the CA-7 at that time and bought a CA-5 used instead after liking it at a demo plus I already was looking for this model at that time. Another nice combo I've also listened to it with was a NAK PA-5 Stasis Amplifier with Alon 2 speakers. Bryston Monobloacks and ADCOM amps with this preamap also sounded decent but not perfect. A nice match where some brightness is required or wanted but this pre may not be a nice match for every speaker or other equipment? It definitely has that undeniable and somewhat magical 'Nakamichi Brightness Contour' to it that doesn't necessarily disappear with the use of the tone controls either. At that time I was using all Nakamichi Tape in the car and CD (Nakamichi CDP-2A player which I love and still sounds great with my VTL TL-2 preamp) at home so it was a good head all in all. I recall it's Phono section also kept up with some other 'better' pre-amps I had tried and I'd like to listen to it's phono section again through my tape loop for comparisons. I remember it sounding great with a high output Moving Coil Ortofon back in the '90s along with some other cartridges I tried. It also had fair dynamics and bandwidth and good sense of time. I wouldn't call the CA-5 harsh or un-controlled but comparing it to finer pieces it may lose. The CA-5 seems to be often reviewed with excessive negative feelings from what I have read yet they are still very much in demand in the used audio market. Ultimately mine was first pulled out of service due to crumbling plastic of the quad phono jack blocks of the rear panel. High-end audio cables and connectors caused the brittle black plastic to collapse and crumble around most of the input audio jacks. Don't know if that is also happening to others with the CA-5? Oh well. It was also a great value at that time and would have cost hundreds more to top even then IMHO. When I later upgraded to a nice line-stage VTL tube preamp after the CA5 I was at a loss at first not having the tone controls even though I am a non-tone control purist but I got over it quickly. My CA-5 preamp is again currently out of commission and sits in the junk pile,along with all my dead NAK tape decks, due to a bad main pre-amp discrete channel module. Anyone got one from their scrapped or failing CA-5 preamplifier??
Update on my Nakamichi CA-5 preamp. I decided I was missing my ole standby pre-amp as a spare so I started to operate on the patient once again. I found that the crumbling quad phono plug inputs jack pairs at the rear of the preamp could somewhat easily be removed from the chassis by unscrewing the retainer screws and un-soldering them from the signal cables. I installed single Canary type gold plated brass RCA phono jacks in each of the rear panel original mounting holes to replace the damaged dual pair 'quads' and wired the phono jacks to the appropriate input cable points using silver solder,etc. My failing channel turned out to be a short-circuit due to the failing plastic phono RCA quads and a previous poorly executed temporary repair attempt on them that was not visible until I dis-assembled the bad jacks. I have once again put my VTL TL-2 to rest and have gone back to the Nakamichi CA-5 full time and it has been almost 18 months now and I must say it is still a very pleasing piece and I have gone back to listening to vinyl through it's solid state Phono section rather than other tube phono stage separates I have which actually suprises me. I do miss the smooth clean air of my VTL preamp at times and will return to it soon but must admit the Nakamichi preamp still does a fine job and sounds great specially with different vintage tube power amps I have been using along with my vintage Nakamichi CDP-2A CD player which I still prefer over the new OPPO's ....go figure. Fortunately, only a few of the input jacks on my NAK pre-amp required replacement to make it fully functional again. It could be costly and time consuming replacing all the phono inputs and outputs at once with good quality connectors since there are dual main outputs as well as many optional inputs,etc. A spray cleaning of the pots and controls with Caig Deoxit over three years ago has held up well and this pre-amp switches and controls volume without any noise or clicks at all. This is the main reason I don't use many vintage preamps any more...can't stand any popping or noise and am always concerned about protecting my vintage speakers.