Are naim audio Ovator s400 a suitable upgrade from Credo’s

Over the past two years I have gone from 102/HiCap/NAP140/CDX/Credo to 82/HiCapDR/NAP250/NDX2/XPS DR/Credo. So clearly the Credo’s are now the weak link. The problem is I love the Naim sound that they produce, and it was in fact these speakers that moved me to Naim back in 1999. So it seems to make sense to move to something with the same sort of sound. Unfortunately I can’t afford Brand new, and therefore SL2’s might be an option if you can get hold of them, which I can’t. Also demoing is unlikely for second hand, so it will be a bit of a punt.

So I really have two questions:

  1. Are naim audio Ovator s400 a sufficient and suitable upgrade for my current system, or do I need to go further?
  2. Do they have a similar Naim sound?

BTW, I am only considering floorstanding speakers. Room 20’x11’ with speakers placed across on the long wall, so can’t have them more than 12” in from wall. Also height wise, not allowed to go over 1meter’ish, so S600’s too tall.

Thank you

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The Ovator is rather different to your Credos and other more traditional Naim speakers. If you like the Naim speaker sound I’d be looking at SBLs, which go hard against the wall, and are a lot smaller too. The SL2s really want better electronics.

I’d owned Naim for years and thought I’d never let my SL2s go. I bought some little ProAcs last year and they are simply wonderful. Maybe the D20 would work for you? Or, not writing off stand mounts, the D2R.

Thanks Nigel. SBL’s were once on my list, but apart from the faff of setting them up, being >20years old, I wouldn’t be confident of their longevity, so looking for something newer, or if need be save up for a coupe of years and get something new if necessary. ProAcs look interesting and may be demo-able as they are current, so will consider those, thanks.

I’d consider adding preloved Kudos C20s to your list.

What sort of budget do you have ?

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Currently only about £1.2k, but if that isn’t enough, I’d rather save and wait and get what’s right, rather than have to change again. How to the Kudos C20s compare to Naim Credo’s?

I’ve not heard Credos in years, but I’d say the Kudos are closer to the Credo in presentation compared to the Ovators (IMHO). Another option could be the Kudos X3, again preloved but closer to your budget.

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answer to Q1: Yes.
answer to Q2: Not really.

I’ve had S-400s twice and have had Credos here for a day. In my experience the S-400 is a much more complete speaker than the Credo, but requires attention in positioning and pairing. I drove my first pair with a Supernait and the second one with a Nait XS2; in our living room, not very brilliant sounding and about 35 sq. mt., the XS2 made them sound better, more agile and less ‘rounded’.

The S-400 also blends unsuspectedly well with the furniture in spite of its important size and looks; it is a very well designed and engineered speaker system that surely deserves a patient owner who agrees to dedicate some time to it. For the money of a second hand pair I don’t think anything comparable exists.

My experience & opinion only.

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S400s have pretty much the same footprint, asthetically wise are hard to beat as well in this price range

Yes, I know what you mean about SBLs. A lot of them for sale are in pretty manky condition, and perhaps there is a en element of rose tinted spectacles going on.

The Ovator 400 is a lovely looking speaker in my view and are a great bargain secondhand. My only concern it that they are quite large and need a bit of space behind them, which may be an issue across a 12’ wide room. It’s very much about aesthetics here. Maybe you could borrow a pair from a dealer to try, should you track some down.

If you like the sound of Credos and SBL’s etc. you may not like the different sound created by the Ovators.
I personally did not enjoy the Ovators at all when I tried them. All the wonderful dynamics and clarity of the SBL’s along with excitement, vanished on the Ovators. Too bland for my tastes.
SBL’s or SL2’s or else one of the other brands suggested above would be my choice.

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2- yes

Many thanks for all your comments. My upgrades so far have pretty much been no-brainers, in that it was a fairly obvious way to go, but speakers is a whole different ball game.

I should probably try some listening at dealers with equivalent connected Naim gear to get an idea. I just don’t want to waste any of their time if I go pre-loved in the end.

As you can see in the photo below, it’s all rather tight on the LHS so will need some forgiving speakers. I can probably bring any speaker out up to 65cm (measures from its front) but that’s probably all I can get away with. Although if they are too large, then I may be in trouble :wink:

My only other thought is to stretch out the Credos a little longer with some IsoAcoustics Gaia speaker Isolation Feet at ~£600

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Are you in travelling distance of Tom Tom ? They normally have a selection of classic pre loved Naim speakers in stock so it’s maybe worth giving James a call and going for a listen…

That would be a good idea, but I live in the north west. Not out of the question though if I combine the journey with a trip to see my Mum.

Worth having a look at the online manual imo, if you have not already done so. Naim give placement guidelines for Ovators, including the space around them.

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Thanks Chris, I did do that, and it would just about fit. Listening position is 2.1m, so just fits in. Fireplace not ideal though, or is the Rack being so close, but of course there are always sacrifices when you have a multi purpose room, that others share, who are less passionate about your hobby.

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please don’t spend £600 on Isolation Feet… Save the money for proper equipment. Your speakers may not be placed optimally (and you are right about multipurpose rooms that are being shared) but as far as I remember Credos are not boomy; Naim enclosures never are. If you are doubtful about the S-400s, why not consider a pair of Allaes? I have mixed experiences of them but many here are great fans. They were ideally replaced by Ovator S-400s according to Naim brochures, and share some interesting engineering features with higher-level Naim models. And they surely have the classic dry, detailed, fast Naim voice.


Many thanks. Your probably right about the isolation feet. I love the look of the Allaes, and there is a pair on eB** currently. The best thing about them is the curved top which stops people putting things on them. Unfortunately I think they were a direct placement for the Credos, so unless a pair come up for sale around the corner on a good price, I’ll give them a miss and aim a little higher, but thanks for your comments

It’s hard to tell from the picture but it looks as though they may obscure the TV. There is nothing worse than speakers that look like they have been shoe horned in and just look wrong. They need space to breathe. I’ve had quite a few Naim speakers and Allaes are the only ones that didn’t work, with horrid chuffing bass from the ports between the two boxes. SBLs, SL2s and nSats all worked perfectly but then they are not ported.

I wonder if you’d be wise to open the search to include stand mounts. ATC SCM 11 or 19 might work, or the ProAcs I mentioned before, the D2R. PMCs are also very nice, the stand mount 22 or floor standing 23 might be ideal. People get a bit misty-eyed about old Naim speakers but having moved on from them I feel that there are other good alternatives. A lot of modern speakers are boom-tizz bling boxes but there are some really nice, musical ones around.

I didn’t want to come out, so to speak, but I really hate stand mounts. I realise that wont be popular, but I don’t like the stands, or the cable dangling behind, and the fact that they are slightly less stable (not great with grandtwins). I will definitely do some demoing of ProAcs, and find more unused stuff at the back of my drawers for selling.