End of the line...?

I was going to drop this into the Best Tweaks thread, but it’s almost a topic on its own.

I occasionally house sit, and take the Muso with me. This time the whole system came along for a weekend away: 300 + 272 + ps and a pair of SCM40s. Plus the rack, and all the cabling. The living room there is much bigger than mine, there are no neighbours within half a mile of the place and they’re the other side of a major trunk road anyway.

I’ve wondered for a while how good this set up could be, this answered it. It was an eye opener, esp with the freedom to push the volume to levels that would have people from up the road banging on my door at home. The detail, the power, the clarity and the hugely impressive solid bass noises completely blew me away. Take a bow Naim, this is a seriously impressive combination.

Trouble is it’s now in its boxes back home and I have absolutely no compulsion to put it all back together. What’s the point? It’s a brilliant bit of hifi but unless we move to a bigger house in the middle of a field, it’s always going to be compromised and unable to achieve anything close to its potential, and getting closer to its potential is why we keep buying little bits of improvement like cables, stands, isolators…

I hope this feeling wears off, but for now I feel like selling it. There’s no point in owning something that good knowing it’s not even close to hitting its potential. Has anyone else ever arrived at this conclusion, even if via different reasoning? Did you work through it?


Surely the point is to max out whatever sound you can get at home and then enjoy your music at that level whatever it might be. It almost sounds as though you enjoy listening to the equipment, not the music…

Hell, I know my lowly-ish SN3 set up is compromised due to room/space/wifely demands limitations…but I still love it everyday, despite knowing it’s not as good as it could be…

And I remember when I sold my 32/250, for the above reasons. Tried to convince myself that a crappy Sony midi-system (highly domestically approved, I may say) would be bearable.

It wasn’t. Bloody awful. My ‘lost’ years…

Keep it. Love it. Get the best out of it you can.

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We have the same electronics, but with different speakers. Our room is a very modest 4.5m long and 3.6m wide, with the speakers firing across. The normal listening volume is between 30 and 34 and it sounds absolutely delightful, with a natural unforced sound and wonderful musical communication. On a occasion, when the house is empty I’ll turn it up beyond 45 but that’s really loud and ultimately not good for my ears. With a smaller room you can pressurise it and get full immersion in the music, whereas in great big rooms systems can sometimes get a bit lost.

I’ve heard it said that the SCM40 needs a large space, and decent volumes to come alive, and maybe this is an issue. My car has a top speed of 136mph according to the specification but we never go above 75. It’s still nice to drive and a system should be enjoyable at sensible everyday volumes. You are really fortunate to be able to own such a system.


The best sound from hifi I have heard, EVER, was a Thorens TD150 TT, Rega RB300, can’t remember the cart, alternated with Shearne Audio Phase 7 CD player, through MF The Preamp 2a, MF P170 power amp, driving ~34 year old IMF RSPM speakers through assorted nondescript joined scraps of wire to a total of around 40-50 metres length. The speakers were near the end of my garden, sitting on plastic crates to raise them about 18 inches, and about 20 feet apart facing towards the house some 70 feet away. Behind and to the sides were hedges, in between the speakers and patio at the rear of the house were vegetable patch, flowerbeds and lawn. Upon connecting up, prior to getting other things ready for the party that lovely summer day (to which neighbours were invited), we were absolutely stunned by the sound, and got out chairs and sat in the middle of the garden to have lunch and enjoy it, nearly forgetting to get up and do what we were supposed to be doing!

The reason? Virtually complete absence of room effects (other than reflection from the house wall 30-49 feet behind us). Crudely speaking, not a long way from being an anechoic chamber such as that used in development of those monitor speakers designed to give neutral full range sound.

It may not have been as clear and teansparent as is my system now, but in terms of simply sounding good, it was fantastic!

It didn’t make me feel like throwing the system away when if had to go back to sit in a box measuring 16ft by 12 ft by 8ft, where it was still very enjoyable and continued being played every day, but it sure gave me something to remember!!! Meanwhile, though now in a bigger room, room treatment to make the room disappear as far as possible is a long term goal.

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A good headphone setup is always nice to have!

The elephant in the room for most domestic hifi! Designed for volume levels that are way in excess of reasonable normal levels for most homes.

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Your system is not dissimilar to mine (NAC82/HICAP/250/ATC SCM40) and as you say it is an awe inspiring combination! While I do now live in a detached house and so can enjoy music at levels that would be antisocial for neighbours if I had any, I don’t listen at those levels all the time. The system is still rewarding played quieter too.

One day you will have a house capable of unlocking the potential of that system so I would keep it and start house hunting!

There are by the way various solutions to your problem (and I have no idea what your domestic arrangements are now)

  1. Move to a detached house, even if that means moving out of an expensive area into a cheaper one. You can buy a 4 bed detached in Wales for the price of a 1 bed flat in the South East. Even if it means earning less you may still be better off.
  2. Get a flat or place that is away from people. One old contributor to this forum used to live above a car dealership with his SME 30/NAC52/3xNAP500 DBL system. By the time he came home from work the car dealership had gone home and he could play at Wembley levels if he wanted!
  3. Move the hifi to a room that doesn’t adjoin next door if you are in a semi.
  4. Consider some sort of soundproofing drywall between you and the neighbours
  5. Consider taking a day off work now and again when you know the neighbours are out at work - that gives you around 10 hours to blitz the system!

In short don’t give up!



Oh man. I went over to a friend’s the other day to listen to his newer set up. Hegel 190 with B&W 702’s and an SVS subwoofer, bigger room than mine, but partner compromised to a degree as most. First, I had to turn it down, way down, as the subwoofer made me physically sick. Everything sounded a mess. He’d done zero tweaks, everything plugged into a $3 power strip. Source was an SSD drive plugged into his Oppo 205 (I’m guessing). It was good if you wanted to feel like you’re down in front at a Tool concert, but I had a hard time listening to it for very long. Difficult to follow. Big scale, but that was about it. I said very nice and offered a few suggestions and left it that.

Now my lowly ones and zeros (V1/110) won’t do a Tool concert but can make you feel like you’re in Rudy Van Gelder’s living room instead. First thing he said on hearing mine, was ‘wow, the speakers totally disappear.’ This is of course in large part due to the speaker choice (Audio Physic Classic Compacts) but also all the network tweaky done behind the scenes to bring out the best in the V1. Clean power and clean ethernet.

So yeah, thanks @hungryhalibut for confirming for me that I should be happy where I’m at. It would be frustrating to not be able to let loose now and then, no matter the size of your system. We’re lucky to be a corner house, new windows, and some rock wall insulation in the walls when we remodeled. As it is I’ve taken up a keen like of ambient the last few years as the family goes to bed early and I can’t stand headphones for the most part.

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Or get get some speakers that work well in your room at lower volume levels.
I found that the 300dr and my pmc fact 12 speakers, worked so much better at lower volume levels than what i had before it and was a joy to listen to and just turning it up, was just that, it went louder.
The bass the details was all there at lower volume levels and it made me realise that the speakers i had been using for well over 15 years, sbl’s and then active S600, just didn’t suit the room at all.
So before you sell it all and then regret it, go to your hifi dealer, explain the problem qnd home demo some new speakers and once you find them, just sit back and start really enjoying your music


As IB said :+1:t3: You will be surprised as to what room treatment can achieve, just sayin’… ATB Peter

I disagree. My speakers are rated at 87dB/W, and my amp 500VA peak into their 4 ohms, and when I want to play at realistic rock levels, which I do occasionally, their warning lights tell me it’s starting to go into clipping on peaks - and with the Telarc 24bit version of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 i have to play the music rather lower than realistic levels to dot overload on the canons.

But given the volume control settings people often talk about with Naim amps, I wonder if theiy have more gain than needed.

Yes, be careful with those cannons Eugene. I have the original LP.Just a quick visual inspection of the groove is enough to frighten owners of an expensive cartridge. Unfortunately I’ve never heard the 24 bit digital version.

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I think it’s all about scale.
Play a nicely recorded track of someone simply sitting playing an acoustic guitar with a close vocal. Turn up the volume and the imaging expands with eventually the guitar and vocal taking larger than life proportions.
Is this right ? Or should the volume increase mean they keep their natural proportion but your just somewhat closer to them - with of course a closer perspective ?
Is there a difference ?
If you were literally face to face with said singer your field of vision may be obscured enough to not even see the guitar. Although that would be uncomfortable.

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That would be one tricky commute.

Some interesting thoughts and responses. Been tied up, still am, but plenty to ponder. Back later… :slight_smile:

I came to the exact same conclusion, I once owned 272/XPSDR/250DR with full loom Superlumina and Focal Sopra1’s.
Having used the combo in a house, and knowing what it is capable of, volume wise, my current living conditions (apartment) would not allow me to enjoy it to its potential. So I began to downgrade to a better suited system for my apartment, meaning lower volume listening. I swapped the 272/250 for a like new NDS, and I am about to pull the trigger on a pair of Harbeth speakers, also now using a Chord TT2/Mscaler directly into a non Naim amp.

yes, had that feeling about 40 years ago with my 32.5/Snaps/250/Isobraiks.

Solution ?

We moved to a bigger house in a field ! (well, almost in a field)



A few outline facts: wife is v relaxed about what kit I buy and where it goes, listening room is 6 x 3.5m with speakers firing across. It is a detached house but a modern thing that leaks noise even through double glazing & insulated walls.

The bottom line is that the speakers don’t work at anything close to an optimum until the volume display is well into the 50s, mid 60s being where it really sang. Like HH it’s nice from mid 30s and in my living room mid 40s to 50 is good, but that’s where it runs out. The room seems to constrain it and I’m not comfortable inflicting my music on people who live nearby, esp the maudlin stuff at 2 in the morning after a nice red or two. So there’s an inbuilt contradiction - it’s not good enough to get close to its potential at normal listening, and there’s no enjoyment when it all starts to work.

Fortunately the answer is in sight - we’ve both wanted to move in the next year or so, and audio-friendly house layouts have been high in importance on places that we’ve browsed so far. This just concentrates one particular need from wherever we end up buying. At the minute, a small farm is the most appealing.

True, but that’s physics as much as inherent design flaws. To move enough air you need enough energy, and enough HF detail to keep it balanced.

The best ‘upgrade’ I ever made by far was moving to a detached house with no close neighbours. With two thick internal walls, I can even listen at reasonable volumes if my wife goes to bed early. Good luck with your search.