Newbie want to improve what I have

I am brand new here already purchased my first system. Probably made some mistakes. So I bought an NAD M33, Focal Sopra No 1 speakers, Tellurium Black II cables with an Isotek EVO3 Polaris. I am enjoying the system but realize I've probably made some mistakes. So as a humble novice I'd love some advice where to start to improve my system. I thought perhaps starting with the cables. Looking too warm this up. 


You could have done a lot worse. Hard to make suggestions but tell us about your room and speaker placement. 

Nothing wrong with your choices! I presume the M33 is a streamer/DAC/amp? Then you are limited to the streaming services' music offerings. You don't know what mastering variation was used. Some are better than others. That is why I prefer to own physical copies, LP's and CD's, so I can choose the best versions.

you have learned the hard way about system matching


did you listen to the combo or did you order everything and are now listening to the system


the nad m33 is an excellent amplifier but it is too clean for the sopras you need a warmer amplifier 


you have two options


1 sell the m33 and move into a warmer integrated amplifier

We are a focal dealer the Unision research unico 150 sounds amazing with them


or keep the M33 and use it as a streamer/preamp and use a warmer power amp


dave and Troy

audio intellect NJ

Focal, nad, unison dealer












Congratulations. Nice speakers. NAD is a brand many people start with. Good start.

If you have just completed assembling this, you may not want to swap boxes yet. You want to become very familiar with the sound but aid with cable choices like you said.

So, it makes sense to warm it up. You want to look at Cardas cables and interconnects. They are specifically designed to be warmest at their most budget oriented levels and to become more neutral as one moves up in their lines. This is what is typically needed as you move to higher level components.

Early on in my audiophile career (~40 years ago) my system was too bright and Cardas Golden Reference did exactly that. These were high end warm cables they used to make. Anyway, years later I made a big upgrade and I immediately pulled them off and moved to more neutral wire. You are thinking correctly. If you can get it sounding warmer, then you can really work to position it correctly and tweak it, and fix up the room. And it becomes your reference for a few years until you choose to upgrade.

When you choose to upgrade. Most of us have individual boxes for streamer, DAC, preamp, and amp. The more boxes, in general the better things sound. Each is optimized and isolated from othe functions. If that simply doesn’t work then a streamer / DAC and an integrated amp. Can work.

Also, setup and room treatments can make huge differences. There is a place to show photos your system and venue. We can be really helpful if we can see your system. They need not be show photos. You can see my system under my UserIDs.


Play around with room treatments and with speaker positioning.  Your M33 comes with Dirac room correction. Have you run it?

Do not start throwing money at cables and the like until you have optimized the features in your current system.

Also here is a "guide" for speaker setup.

Al of of peddlers lurk these pages and will give you a sales pitch, steer clear of those guys.


  • built-in Dirac Live room correction with included calibration microphone improves clarity and stereo imaging.



Welcome to the long road to audio nirvana. Take your time, be patient and most importantly change only one thing at a time otherwise you won't know which change did what. Hence the patience requirement. Unfortunately this is NOT a one time purchase endeavor, it will take years and many trials. All worth it, but I am 68 now lol.

Start thinking about your room acoustics, and also Focals sound better with very little toe-in.  If you are pointing the tweeters straight at your head they are probably too bright and the imaging isn't solid from speaker to speaker.

cables and toe in and dirac will not change the overall sound focals are very clean and uncolored so is the nad 


go to your local shop and see whap "warm sounding integeated amplifiers you can borrow and compare 

Many times you’ll hear about component burn in, there’s merit to that. The big one is room treatment. Lay stuff out the way you want / need then start your research.The last thing you want at this point is to get involved in the ridiculous cable Band-Aid crap. Makes perfect sense setting up comfortably then addressing room issues. In time if wanted a person can step into the Cable controversy remembering of course there is a such thing as diminishing marginal returns and it happens fast. 

Totally agree with the room treatment thing. One look at my house of stereo system will show you that it is of the upmost importance to me. Another layer to this journey and the most important one if you are really serious about getting the absolute best sound you can. However the majority of audiophiles ignore that aspect. 

If I were you, I would PM John Rutan, his Audiogon Tag is 'Audioconnection'.

I promise you that he will give you the best advice and not try to sell you something.


I think you have some nice equipment. That you feel the need to change is understandable, but, as has been said before

'If it ain't broke, don't bother'


All of us 'audiophiles' want to move onto something 'better', but that depends (esp. those of us who don't have unlimited budgets), on what we can afford.

My 2 cents-

Ask yourself, what do you find deficient in your current system?

I say this as someone who came to high end stereo in the '80's, when there were lots of brick and mortar businesses to audition equipment. 

Unfortunately, today, unless you live in a major city, your options to audition are limited. If you are near a dealer, and can schedule an audition, then do so.

What you like is solely up to you.-But, in order to make that decision, you need to know/understand what your ears feel what sounds 'best'.

Please feel free to PM me.


If the M33 is plugged into the Isotek, unplug it from there and go wall outlet direct. Also have a decent gauge power cord for the M33. 14 gauge or thicker should be dandy. Do this and report back with any improvements or detriments. 

Sopra No.1s are one of my favorite 2ways ever. Congratulations on your purchase! The key with this sport is fitting the system to the room in terms of proximity to adjacent room boundaries, overall room volume, etc.  The normally rational Erik Squires above advises no toe-in without knowing about your room size, shape or where they fit in. Toe-in may be desirable depending on these factors. The best thing about your speakers and amp is their low coloration…If your music is well recorded you will hear it in its splendor. Warm is code for filtered. Do you want that?  Why invest in Purifi clean power and beryllium tweets if you want to filter?

Waiting to hear some more detail from the OP.  

Do you use some absorbing panels?

Do your ears hurt after listening?

Do you listen at 70dB or 85?

Hi all and sorry I haven't chimed in with some answers to your questions earlier. First I just want to say how much  I appreciate all the advice. I need to absorb much of this before I take my next step. It is a holliday weekend so I will reach out to a few of you who offered later.

I picked my components without professional consultation "My mistake" That said I quite like everything I picked even if they aren't  an ideal match. Like many of you said its a learning curve and I'm enjoying going down or up the rabbit hole!

I live in Los Angeles so there are some good dealers to audition and consult with. I have visited one in DTLA that is quite well known, that's where I was politely informed by the owner that my matching was not ideal. FYI he did not attempt to sell me anything. Also listened to some Harbeths and and Devores and developed an itch immediately. I'm patient so I will take my time with this.

FYI I have done nothing yet to treat the room. I live in a 900 square condo. So this sounds like a good place to start. Also have nt engaged the Dirac room correction. I was quite interested in this but have also read mixed reviews about it. Happy holidays to all and thank you.

foxton- I had an M33 and loved it, just didn’t have the free time to listen as much as I liked, so I sold it at an only $500.00 loss compared to what I paid for it.  I now have the C700 I got open box for a grand, love the sound on it, too.  If you go into the tone controls and bump the bass up one or two notches you might find you have just the sound you want, or pay the extra hundred bucks and get the full Dirac Live room correction that will correct down into the bass regions and get what you’re looking for through that.  A subwoofer might help, too.  I know there’s naysayers who think tone controls should never be used, don’t listen to them.  I will say this though, physically correcting your room can have a profound effect, it did in mine.

Wow, I wish that was my starter system.....but many people are correct, system matching is critical but I don't know your components Only 2 suggestions:

(1) Get some room treatments, others know way more about that than I do. But, a heavy area rug, think curtains, and a few panels from GIK Acoustics worked magic

(2) As some have mentioned, run your amplification directly from the outlet.....through a power conditioner/protector is no bueno. Better yet, run a dedicated line (or two): dedicated line and audiophile outlet (PS Audio, Furutech, etc) and run through that

I think of it this way. First you need the dimensions of your room. Then you decide where to place the speakers - usually at the short end, playing along the length of the room. Then you investigate and test speakers and amps to get the best match room - speakers - amp. If you have persistent problems - maybe not, if you have a large room, you treat it a bit (not too much).