Bass on the Nova sounds not right?

Right from the start I was not happy with the sound of my Nova. In overall its was mind-blowing and certainly surpassed my previous set up ( Nait XS-Nd5xs and flat cap) in terms of imaging, soundstage, and details.
But although most reviews hail the tight bass on the Nova, I did not. In fact, the bass sounds muddy, incoherent, flat and uncontrolled. An experience I dit not encounter with my previous xs gear. And that is the problem right from the start. I added a 2 sub-woofers REL t5, and although the bass goes deeper, the overall muddy and dull sounding bass stays the same. I use Harbeth ps3esr speakers, and although small, they are certainly capable of producing a tight bass line as proven in my former setup. I Use Naim terminals and Naca 5 cable (3.5 metres) on each side.
Is there a flaw in the Nova I wonder? Or could there be something wrong with my setup? Help very much appreciated


May i ask how are your NAC A5 cables terminated? Are you using the Naim SA8 plugs at the amp end and from a visual inspection does all the soldering look up to snuff (both ends)?

How does it all sound with the headphones on (assuming you’re familiar with the sound here also)?

I have airlocked plugs on the Naca cable…(All in fine order.) which I have for years. sorry I don""t have a headphone.

I doubt there is a problem with your Nova. I had a pair of Proac Tab 10’s with an Atom and it was a great combination. I upgraded to a Nova and in theory Proac’s should have been even better but in reality they just didn’t shine and the bass improvements didn’t happen. Changed them for PMC twenty5.21’s and they are a brilliant match. I suspect your Harbeth/Nova combination just isn’t doing it which is one of those slightly random hifi things. Nova is a superb piece of kit and it might be worth demoing some different speakers. ATB

Thanks…so in essence you are saying that a proven combi can turn out well, while another combination even if it stays in the same brand can turn out rather different?

I‘m also disappointed with the bass on my Nova. I thought reason for not right bass were my B&W 702 speakers which I bought together the Nova. Out of curiosity I recently tested my 33 years old Kenwood receiver together with the B&Ws … and wow, I was just blown away with the powerful, crisp level of bass these speakers demonstrated … sometimes I’d wish to have an equalizer or at least some minimal option to adapt sound quality on my Nova.

I think so. It is just my experience but combinations that work on paper don’t always work out in real life. With the PMC’s I think the level of bass (and control) is just brilliant

Definitely sounds like a connection issue to me. Naim’s supplied plugs have the correct plating that match the sockets on their amplifiers. This affects performance considerably, bass being one of them. If it were me i would chop the airlock plugs off and have the correct ones fitted. Same at the speaker end (matching metals).

There are a couple of possibilities: the previous system may well simply be better; or you need to move the speakers. The Harbeths are designed to be used in free space, about a metre from walls. It can sometimes happen that when you change electronics you need to adjust the speaker position. Turn the subwoofer off and try to get a better sound with just the Nova and speakers.

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The airlocks were also,fitted on my former set.bass was wonderful…so with all due respect,I do not think that seems to be the problem.


You could be right. I am going to experiment with your suggestion.The nova in terms of resolution, imaging and a few other things I do not know the right words for in English (I am Dutch] is mindblowing better than my Xs I previous ownwd.

I did so on a vintage set made by Quad(34/306) …which has, as you probably know a very wide arrange of tone controls. the bass after some fidling with the tone controls was significant better. But i do not like the overall soundsignature of Quad. So that is not an option. But I do now no that the Harbeths in this setting are very much capable of reproducing a tight bass.

I also suspect speaker positioning. I went through a phase of being disappointed but moving the speakers a few inches worked wonders. Another but more expensive help for the bass is a powerline (but I don’t know if those are available outside of the UK market).

On the other hand,It will not work with naim speaker connectors. The Harbeths speaker inputs are to wide apart to fit Naim connectors

Power line is not an issue in Holland. I guess it is a speaker positioning problem. As you stated.

It’s no problem. You simply remove the plastic bit and use the pins.

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Thats really helpfull…never thought off such a simple solution. Thx a lot.

Sorry to read of your disappointment. Are the Harbeths in phase?

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It is not at all unusual to need changes to speaker placement after a change in amplification.

For reasons unknown, I’ve always found that as amplifier power increases, the amount of toe-in needs to be reduced also. I’ve never known this to not be true. Of course if the speakers were firing straight to begin with, it’ll be a moot point.

Did you get to try the Nova with your speakers before changing the system? Equally possible they just aren’t a good match. I once went from a 250.2 to a 250dr on the sane speakers and it didn’t work at all. Speakers chosen to go with the 250.2 just didn’t work well with a new version of the same amp. So while positioning is the place to start, it’s entirely possible the Nova broke the spell.

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Hi, muddy bass, or as you probably may more accurately find, muddy low mids can be down to a few things, but likely down to poor or poorer damping. This can be electronic and mechanical.

  1. electronic most likely will be speaker amp matching… speaker cable can sometimes help here, but it might need alternate speakers or amp…
  2. mechanical can be speaker design, or more likely if severe speaker room placement. That is your speaker is resonating at a frequency in your room and affecting the damping performance. You can try changing the position of your speakers, a small change in position can have a marked effect… especially in small to medium rooms. Another alternative is electronic room eq using digital filters… but that can affect overall performance and might not achievable in your setup.