Aro 2 - Naim Strategy

The “will they or won’t Naim make the Aro 2 arm available for LP12” is an interesting quandry for Naim…

Upsides:

  • They sell a shed more arms
  • They infiltrate the Linn ecosystem
  • It removes a barrier to entry to Naim analogue, allowing Linn customers to test the water before (Naim would hope) going all in

Downsides:

  • It dilutes the “one stop shop” ethos (we all know how - in the reverse situation - how hard it was to get Linn to make the Keel for Aro)
  • It removes the need to go full Naim analogue
  • It will require extra engineering (and may not be possible - it’s been said it’s too heavy?)
  • Will be a costly to produce in relatively small batches
  • No Keel to fit it (unless the current Keel for Aro 1 would be suitable as part of the prequesuites for the product redesign required to make Aro 2 fit) so would require the Aftermarkets to step up (they would in time, but only when the product exists) or Linn to collaborate (less likely)

I’m sure there are more, but times have moved on from where this will simply be a volume question, or even a “giving customers what they want” play - it’s a strategic play.

To my mind the question will come down to this:

Do Naim want to take the commercial benefit of selling Aro 2 to Linn customers, or do they want to make the strategic play of making Naim analogue a closed shop, with a plan to entice Naim leaning Linn Customers to go full Naim…

Will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Indeed Matt

Counter play - can’t see Linn sitting on their bottom either

Interesting times ahead

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Two things spring to mind. Firstly, the original
Aro hardly sold by the bucketload, and was discontinued. Secondly, SME now only sell their excellent arms with their own decks.

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I don’t know the sales volumes - but I know they sold a fair few. I think @Cymbiosis may have a view on the absolute numbers made, as they will likely have touched a large proportion of them!

I think the product withdrawal was as much to do with the loss of a key engineering resource as it was sales volumes, which I’m quite sure had probably dwindled at that point anyway.

But yes - I suspect the numbers made and sold may be in the several hundreds rather than the thousands.

You know, I did not know that. That to my mind adds credence to the view that Naim might be happy to keep this product as a closed shop, using it as an enticement to the Solstice for Naim leaning Linn customers.

SME clearly have a stronger view on the Analogue market than I do - so this strategy may suggest they didn’t sell many “stand alone” arms anyway. Maybe the market has truly moved on - away from component based - and one where people want the “one stop shop” solution that the Solstice represents.

If it’s not designed for an LP12 then why assume it will sound any good on one?

I too thought heavy arms were typically not a good match.

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I seem to recall somewhere in the region of 1,200 original Aros were manufactured.

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Question being asked by @IanS in the original Solstice thread if the Linn Kore would work for the Aro 2…

I suspect it would fit, but I think the weight would be the killer. The view seems to be that the Aro 2 is just too heavy for the Linn suspension.

I don’t really see how the weight of an arm would be a relevant issue for a turntable to match. The only thing coming to mind is the suspension, but the difference between a heavy and light arm arm will be insignificant compared to the bearing and platter.

For cartridge matching OTOH, so perhaps not a good match for Linn cartridges is what you mean?

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Easy really isn’t it?
If naim are going to keep on making turntables going forward, then having the aro2 arm being able to fit on say the lp12, is just bad news for naim and I guess part of the reason it was designed so it doesn’t fit now.
As most will just buy the arm and not the turntable, but I can see naim making or should I say bringing out more cartridge’s (more expensive versions) to allow the owners to upgrade and alter the sound, etc and maybe even a better turntable going forward and even phono stage, say reference spec

This.

Why would you pour r&d effort into enabling a customer to make a competitor’s product better? Especially if it’s contingent on the competitor doing work to make it fit.

Better to back your own product and put that r&d into it.

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Yes but it will never sell in the volumes that would be possible by making it compatible - It’s called Symbiosis of course :slight_smile:

Several further quick points about the original Aro as I’m between set-ups here:

Aro was discontinued just as vinyl sales and interest in LP12 took off again :frowning:

Production was about 1350 +/- a few in 20 years so not big numbers but neither was Armageddon, NBL or DBL etc…

The Aro build was/is specialised and mainly down to one or a couple of individuals at the factory so this made life difficult as did ordering new parts for the builds in viable quantities.

As for Aro 2, well if it is manufactured by CA and not in Salisbury then maybe some of the production issues listed above don’t apply? Certainly there is huge demand IMHO.

Re: compatibility, I copy across below what I wrote earlier from the Solstice thread: - Must dash

KR

Peter

The current version of the Aro 2 for the Solstice with it’s thick, high mass mounting plate is just too heavy in my estimation. Additionally the floaty plug is to long as it would foul on the baseboard of an LP12 in it’s current form. But it’s not beyond the wit of man (Roy G or Steve S) to produce a lighter/thinner mounting plate and a right angled plug solution that could fit an LP12. The overall height of the Aro 2 also needs to be considered with an LP12 (or other TT) in mind as it is a tall arm!
It could then be fitted to a Rega version of the Kore.
Will this happen? Well it’s up to you guys (and me + most Linn/Naim retailers) lobbying for it! If it does, then it would be fantastic and I have several provisional orders already if it were to happen… But we cannot jump the gun. It’s up to HQ. Could they manage the substantial demand that would be created? Do they really want to make a version compatible with the LP12 and other turntables?
All I know is, I was able to persuade Glasgow to make the Keel/A with the numbers I projected and even though discontinued now, the Keel/A is still available providing the number ordered in one go justifies it.
Personally if the Aro 2 was produced, lots of Rega mounting type arm owners could benefit too. Some AO owners plus Rega, Roksan, Vertere owners to name a few, so I think there would be a high probability of persuading Glasgow… But that is all for the future maybe!

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I can absolutely see this being the play - but the other side of the coin is that if they sell 1000 to Linn LP12 users - who have over on the Solstice thread made it pretty clear they wouldn’t give the Solstice house room - then that’s (say) a £3m business they were never going to get anyway….

But that’s the choice they have - take those sales (for the sake of a bit of outsourced development) or gamble on a longer game of converting LP12 owners lock stock… :man_shrugging:

Absolutely not beyond the wit of man - but I wonder if it stops being an Aro 2 at this point though - feels like the mass and the floaty plug are fundamental to the design, and If they are changing the length too, then it’s quite different!

I do think they’d sell enough to make it worthwhile - but only if the modifications required don’t kill it.

Here is a question - how many “high end” and pricey turntables are actually being sold?
I posed this question on the WAM Linn forum inquiring about Klimax level decks. My take away was not that many.

Yes - there has been a vinyl resurgence going on the throughout the past 10-15 years. How many of these new turntable owners were purchasing reasonably priced turntables - those which most likely cost less than what the asking price of an Aro would be?

Many of my daughters friends - young adults in their early 20’s - are purchasing records yet they do not even own a turntable.

Best
Gregg

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With Linn, one of the suspension springs is located relatively close to the arm (back RHS) and thereby takes most of the weight of the arm. If you add a heavy(ier)weight arm and play a 180g/200g LP, the subject spring can get horribly compressed, whereas the one near the front RHS is moderately loaded and the spring on the LHS of the plinth is lightly loaded.

In engineering terms, this isn’t sensible in having an unbalanced suspension, with springs under very different amounts of compression.

I understand Linn’s own arms have been getting heavier over the years.

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Maybe Linn’s next upgrade will be stiffer suspension. Keep the cash register ticking over!

I wondered as well, given the 500 limitation. Rega can build 50 or so Naiads and apparently 20 are still up for grabs. And they have been available for a while

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I think you’re right - it’s small numbers. But the economics still work.

So if Naim sell a £3000 Aro 2 to all 1300 customers that have the Aro 1, then that’s £3.9m - which is a good number, because it allows me to apply my general rule of thumb of a third a third a third over profitability.

A third for manufacturing and development costs

A third for retailer margin (from which they take their own costs, diluting this a lot)

A third for profit

So that’s a nice £1.3m profit.

Applying the same structure to the Solstice gets us to some very big numbers.

500 units at £16000, £2.7m profit.

Now I don’t expect these numbers to be accurate - margin moves about across different products, but you can see that the volumes don’t need to be big to have a viable business.

I’m not really addressing your point here of course - but I do agree with you that the units shifted are small. But then it can work.

My son has a Rega P1 - he does buy vinyl - and I think lots of people do as you say, and buy vinyl without having (yet) the opportunity to play them on.

That’s good for the record labels (and I’m a sucker for a coloured vinyl special release) and - as my son will one day not be on an junior salary, it’s good for the long term health of the Hi-Fi industry. One day he may buy a Solstice himself.

I think Vinyl has transcended being a fad - to being something “real” and analogue in a digital world, and i think people will continue to want that, maybe even more.

I do go back to a point I’ve made earlier on this - I think this is an unusual circumstance.

Does it cost £30k because that’s a scale up of the cost of manufacture of 50 units. What would it cost if they committed to make 500? …£15k? …and would they sell those extra 450 more easily at that price? …maybe….but I suspect the brand has a ceiling price for all but the most devoted few.

I think Rega made a call that they are a new entrant to the “high end” and had a very small target audience of well healed fans of the brand, so the setup costs of the design and manufacturing process is over indexed in that selling price. I think they made that choice - and it was probably the right one.

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Yeah, I know, it’s a valid question. But nevertheless, it seems to be telling us that at 30K and with the sci-fi looks that it has, there is a market of around 10 buyers a year.

I have no idea how many top-flight LP12s are being sold. (And I wonder if TechDAS ever really sold an Air Force Zero. Or what about the golden oil rigs made of tin cans that FR is fond of posting :wink: )

Edit: with the Naiad’s carbon body I think the issue is that they found an enthusiastic manufacturer who could build them 50 and that’s it. Certainly it would be possible to find a carbon fiber manufacturer who would build more if you put in an order of something like 1,000 or 5,000, but it may be difficult to get 100 or 200 on a commercial basis