Active olive 250

I have had a Naim active system for over 10 years,using three olive 250’s,and I love the sound,different from other systems I’ve previously had,a wonderful soundstage.
I acquired two of the 250’s already serviced,the other I had serviced,my problem is that all three have failed at on or just before ten years from the service,usually distortion is the fault.They have all been serviced either by Naim or Naim authorised technicians.I am very disappointed that,although Naim recommend,a ten year service interval,I would not expect equipment of this quality to fail on or before ten years of use,and from my experience of friends who have or have had Naim kit it has lasted many many years with no issues and never been serviced.I am wondering if this is normal for a serviced 250,or am I just unlucky.

It sounds a very long way from normal to me.


It’s normally the tantalum capacitors that fail causing the regulators to oscillate. Like all capacitors they have a finite life, Naim choose the ones that sound best but the heat from the regulators wears them out around the 10 year mark.
An unregulated amp is cheaper to run but doesn’t sound as nice.

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What exactly do you mean by ‘failed’? If all three amps are not functioning, that would, I agree, seem odd, and I would be suspicious that there is a common underlying problem that has affected all of them.
If the amps are all working, but sounding a bit off, that is to be expected. Naim’s fully regulated amps, 250, 300, 500, have to work hard compared to the lesser models, especially the 250 as it’s a single box without fan cooling.

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I have active olive with 4 135s, which are fan cooled but I’m still working on the basis that 10 years is the period between services.

These were last done in 2018. I can’t believe it’s been 5 years already. I just hope that in another 5 years my hearing will be able to detect a difference!

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I didn’t think it was normal,but looking at the comments here it does seem to be normal.I had one 250 serviced in 2014,that has failed this year,the second 250 was serviced in 2009 and failed in 2019,and the last 250 was serviced in 2012 and failed in 2021.I get distortion from whichever channel the 250 is powering,or as at present it’s the 250 running the left and right channel tweeters, renders the system unlistenable.
I’ve never had a problem with the other Naim equipment,which is CDS2,XPS,52,2xSupercaps and a Snaxo.
I guess I’m going to have to accept that,at present prices,it’s going to cost £1200 every ten years to keep my system functioning.


it certainly doesn’t seem right to me. The ten year sevice interval is supposed to be to keep equipment working at it’s peak. It doesn’t mean that if it isn’t serviced at ten years then it will peg out!

I see you are using Isobariks, which are a punishing load. Assuming you aren’t using some sort of bizarre speaker cables then two things occur to me. Firstly, have the Briks gone out of spec in some way? Secondly, how about your SNAXO - could this need re-setting or servicing?


Personal choice of course, but to me that would be totally unacceptable. Perhaps it’s time to have a system re-think?

I’m using linn k600 speaker cable,the isobariks are standard spec as far as I’m aware,although I bought them second hand.I think the snaxo was serviced in 2010

It was just a thought. The isobariks are getting on a bit now. Not sure how this might affect the drive units in terms of impedance or whatever. Likewise the SNAXO. If something has drifted off maybe this could impact on the amps?

It’s curious that all 3 of your 250’s have failed in the past few years and that’s what makes me think that something somewhere might not be quite right. I would certainly get the SNAXO checked out - that should be relatively easy. Getting the Briks looked at might present a problem, for obvious reasons.

It’s these sort of situations where a good knowledgable and friendly dealer can be worth their weight in gold.

If I were in your situation and you really want to keep the Isobariks (understandable) then I would seriously consider reverting to passive operation. Active systems are known to be prone to all sorts of difficulties - much harder to keep ‘in trim’ than passive ones.

Interestingly I recall several reviews from many years ago that suggested that passively driven Isobariks actually had more drive and solidity than active one’s - which traded this off for more detail and greater overall dynamic ability.

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To put my thoughts into context, yes, that is my understanding. Servicing to maintain quality not to avoid failure.

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Exactly. Failure after ten years, and in three amps, doesn’t seem right to me and seems to point to possible issues elsewhere in the system.

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It’s interesting that you say that. I once sent my Naim 250 CB back to Salisbury to have it put into an Olive case. When it was opened up, Naim found that the caps were so knackered that the amp could easily have gone unstable and taken the speakers with it. That was at just over 10 years old.

The old NAP250 service recommendation was 8-10 years, and it was important, if not critical to stick to that. This was because its a regulated power amp and so as components aged even small deviations would have a big effect on performance. By contrast unregulated power amps are far more forgiving and can run fine and sound reasonably good even with componentry that has aged and fallen out of spec quite considerably.

Also, with the original NAP250 it’s important not to exacerbate component stress by not letting them run too hot, so make sure there’s good space around the casework for cooling and also stick firmly to Naim’s speaker cable recommendation and length.

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So does this mean that even a 5 yr old 250 will potentially sound much less good than a new one?

Shouldn’t do unless it has been abused in some way or there has been a premature component failure of some kind. You should expect at least 8-10 years of prime performance before needing a service.

Thing about a regulated amp is that when things start to go off spec, they usually go off fast, and in a very noticeable way.


I first had mine done at around 15 years (ish). I wasn’t aware at the time of the 10 years requirement. They sounded ‘OK’ but post service sounded much better.


Well there you are. Problem solved - there’s more than likley nothing wrong anywhere, it’s just the way things are with the 250. I was aware of the 10yr servicing recommendations when I had my Naim kit (including olive 250) but I had no idea that, at least with the 250, it could take out my speakers if not adhered to!

So now the question is are you happy with spending £1200 (at today’s prices that is) every 8 - 10 yrs to prevent blowing up your speakers?

I got my older boxes, including olive 250, serviced after about 15 years of fairly vigorous use. It all worked fine before but definitely sounded better afterwards, and we realied that they had been gradually getting less than A1 for at leat a year. As I understand it, luck is involved here, but so is not not stacking or otherwise preventing airflow.


In reality I try not to think about the ££ amount spent but at £1,200 over 10 years, that’s £10/month across those 3 units (more for my box count) and for what they give back, I’m prepared to say OK. If I compare to a bottle of wine, takeaway, coffee at certain outlets etc, and given that these units don’t really depreciate if well maintained, then when I multiply by the square root of my man maths, I come out feeling it’s money well spent!