Active SL2 system: Which speaker for better NAP power

Hi Tim, and everybody else,

Thanks for the replies. Much to chew over. And Tim, maybe given your 555/552 custom your friendly dealer would be happy to loan you a 500DR just to put your mind at ease. Could certainly save me a shedload :upside_down_face:

Also interesting to think that the SL2s might be or come to be the limiting factor. I love the look, like the sound so far and definitely need a speaker that doesn’t have to be in free space. Not necessarily against the wall, but certainly not too far from it.

The problem I found with active over the years was that there is just so much that can go wrong or go off with it all.
I had in the end 3 x amps, snaxo, supercap and the cables that you need to run it all.
Yes it can sound wonderful but then so does a 552 and 500.
The biggest problem with naim speakers is the crossover that you get with them, total rubbish and the fact you do away with that going active, I feel is where the improvement is had. Get a proper crossover on them and the need for all this goes away.
Simple and so much cheaper


Why (based on what?) do you say Naim passive crossovers are “total rubbish” Dunc?

Because they are, go take a look at them, rubbish components etc, slb, sl2 the lot all made to be run active not passive, so add a crap crossover and watch the money come in when people go active because it sounds better.
Great plan that worked, cant knock them.
But really the crossover can be improved massively and then the need for active goes away
Yes you can still get good results from active, just look at what kudos are doing these days, but even then the costs involved in doing this, I feel would be better placed on getting better speakers in the first place, as 3 x 500dr amps, snaxo, supercap and kudos 808 is serious money and you could get a lot of speaker with that

Funnily enough, many years ago at the factory we had on loan a rather expensive passive crossover set that someone designed and was hoping to sell to SL2 and SBL owners. they looked great in custom boxes and the components all looked suitably swish. I was really looking forward to hearing it, but when I did I ended up preferring the standard SL2 crossover. IIRC, the preference for the standard x-over was unanimous among all who compared. Considering the extra cost, it just didn’t make any sense. You were far better putting the money towards going active or sticking with the (excellent) standard crossovers.


I would have thought how they sound is more important than how their components look.

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Cannot imagine I will go to the trouble of listening to a 500 here just to save you money :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: on the other hand if you are passing Preston and would like to have a listen here to my system that could be arranged.

It is and if they are so good why go active in the first place and not just run more than one amp to each crossover connection.
But just go take a look at one and then compare it to a proper crossover from a modern decent speaker manufacture and then see if you still think the same.
Even naim themselves say that the speaker’s back then where designed with active in mind, that should tell you all you need to know.
Dont get me wrong i love all this naim stuff and have done for years, but sometimes its a bit weird and its good to take the blinkers off as there is loads of great hifi gear out there these days, you just need to try it

Absolutely - the world of hifi is vast and there are plenty of options out there, much of it absolutely superb.

I don’t think it’s correct to say that Naim designed these speakers to be run active. Taking the SL2 as an example, I’m pretty sure these were designed to be run passive and had the option to run active if the owner wanted to go down that road.

Sorry Dunc, I’m confused by this. What do you mean here?

As for designing the speakers with “active in mind”, it was more about ensuring that the speakers could be easily converted from passive to active. This also had the advantage that the passive crossover could live outside of the box.

Naim made the passive crossovers to sound as good as they could (and rather better than the 3rd party offerings - see my post above), but of course a good active crossover such as the SNAXO would always trump a passive one. Is that what you mean by the passive crossovers being “rubbish”?

Here is a picture of my total ‘rubbish’ passive crossover from my right s600. It is on top of my Nait 5 just to indicate the size of it.

I honestly think it is beautifully made and for what I see there are good components in them. The components are of such a size that I wonder if anything less than a nap 500 would be a good idea. It was surely not designed to be paired with a Nait I’m afraid.


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Yes - look at it. It’s total rubbish. Imagine how good it would look if a decent modern speaker manufacturer had designed it…

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Now do the same with a sbl or sl2
Plus i had the s600 but glad to say they where active as the passive ones aren’t anywhere near as good

You are absolutely correct that there is a massive difference between passive and active Ovators. Same applies probably on the sbls, but I have not made that switch yet.

From memory I can’t remember my in the end passively run SL2s being let down significantly by the reinstated and at that point new Xovers. However asking them to play into a 5 by 8 mtr room the long way driven by a 500, in the end proved too much of an ask. Would actually love to hear them firing across my new listening room, however the listening position would be being sat in the middle of a door way. As always compromise s compromises… ATB Peter

Guys i know you will back naim up till the last man stands and thats fine, but what i was trying to say is the standard crossovers that come with sbl’s and sl2 are not great as far as quality goes, they just about do the job and thats it, they certainly could have done much better if they had wanted, but they didnt want too, as they hopped that more black boxes would be had and thats a great thing for naim.
Now going active does improve them as getting rid of the standard crossovers will do that straight away, but going active is not the only way and there are other ways to go, just take the blinkers off, just like i did and you might find it.
As said i have had naim for over 20 years and had just about it all in that time, up to 500 series and its only just recently i have started to discover that there is life after naim.
Thats all guys



‘but going active is not the only way and there are other ways to go.’
Hi Dunc.
I must admit, that I’m finding some of your comments arrogant, but I am at the same time also trying to understand your point. I don’t feel, that Naim can be blamed for designing a Xover, which isn’t a state of the art product considering, that they literally didn’t make any profit on selling SL2s in the limited numbers they ended up producing. There was of course always the opportunity to go active, which in that era was a philosophy, which Naim was a market leader to promote… and a lot of us here reaped the benefits of the whole idea from the sonic benefits, it provided. To almost approach this from the angle of a conspiracy theory pointing your finger at Naim, I find somewhat hard to swallow- but arguably I could be seen to be ‘blinkered’ and wanting to fight opposition to the idea ‘ on the beaches’.
However I would be very grateful, If you would expand on the above extract from your post, simply because I don’t understand, what you mean? Thank you Peter


There is general agreement that Naim speakers are at their best active. On the other hand, Naim always suggested taking them as far as you can passively before going active. I can’t imagine the Paxo being poorly designed or built to encourage activation. I happen to have stayed passive with a 300 on SBLs rather than active 250s. Seems fine to me.

I’m not sure if you have some particular axe to grind but it seems very strange to pop up and start slagging off the crossovers of long discontinued speakers. I wonder what your motivation for this negativity is.

I am a simple soul and wouldn’t know by looking at it whether a crossover was rubbish or not, but I really like my passive SL2s. They don’t sound rubbish at all, in fact I’ve never heard a better speaker.