Floorstanders to replace Naim Ovator S400 and improve performance (a.k.a. my systems evolution)

Hi,

my lovely speakers Naim Ovator S 400 have been with me for ten years now. They have seen some improvements in my setup and I feel the time has come to replace them.

My setup is strictly based on digital playback through my Naim NDX-2 (plus extra power supply) from my Roon core. I use an Audionet SAM G2 amp, all cables match my system and the only thing I can imagine to improve are the speakers.

So I will not go the route to improve the source nor the amp. With a price point of about 5-6k Euro each I think the system is quite good, but I think I can spend some more money on the speakers. I am looking for an “endgame” speaker, planning no further upgrades in the future. Price should not exceed 20k Euro, but I would be more than happy tho spend a lot less.

First ideas are Kudos 707 or 606 (would stay passive), but maybe you got some other/better ideas? Speakers need to be placed maximum 35 cm from rear wall, but have significant room to all sides. Distance between speakers and listening position is about 2-2,25 meters. I listen to all kind of music ranging from Rock to Metal, from Jazz to Electronica, from Classical to Singer-Songwriter. The stereo also drives my TV-Sound.

I would be more than happy if you guys have some recommendations for me.

Thanks!

That is a luxurious budget for speakers and brings almost any brand in reach. I’m sure the drum beat with the usual forum favs will be posted. A fist screening could be which brands you have access too for home auditioning as this is quite a critical factor imo.

Good advice, I never did a home demo, so that surely could limit the available options. In a first step I would do the typical listening sessions at the dealers place…will check my options regarding home auditions.
BTW: If you think 10k or more is too much for the system I would also like to know what you think would be a reasonable budget.

RE budget, I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all advice. You can find extremes to both ends of the scale here. Vastly expensive high end systems matched with relatively(!) cheap speakers and the other way around. Although the later seems to be less common.

But looking at your system, my first idea would be that 20K is not needed for a balanced system with speakers that get the most from your front end. But again, the speaker-room combination is very important imo. A 15K speaker that doesn’t work well in your room can be easily out-performed by a speaker that costs half (or less) that does.

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Rather than asking for advice on replacement speakers, You could tell us what are the strengths and weaknesses of the ovators and what improvements you are looking for in a speaker. For a # of reasons ,my last 2 speakers were both bought 2nd hand and from reviews and general info. I went from Harbeth M 30.1 to Dynaudio Confidence 20’s - the original plan had been for heritage special but for the same $ I was able to get the confidence20’s. Both have their own company “signature” but the confidence do bring substantial improvements in speed and detail and additional bass foundation.

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I own Kudos Titan 606’s and would recommend them. However, speakers are very personal things and you should listen to as wide a range as you can, in your room and with your electronics, where possible. One point to make though, is that Titans work well when positioned close to a rear wall, which is one of the things you mention. Good luck in your search.

If you can have a listen to audiovector r6 probably a bit over budget but r3 Arette is easily in your budget. If you like the sound and you can find a dealer it is something to check out.

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Speakers are a very personal choice and also must work in your room you say you are using a streaming system only via an NDX2 with additional power supply is that a Naim Power supply?

I auditioned speakers some time ago ending up with T606s which I preferred over others including more expensive offerings from B&W.

I have heard a NDX2 with a 555ps in my system when my ND555 was away for repair and it is a superb combination and to honest I wouldn’t want anything less with my T606s.

Hi,
So far it is not clear to me, what are you missing in the music picture, that the 400 show you-
Separation / stage / lower / upper domain?
In addition-
Listening space dimensions are very significant, for the choice of speaker and should be taken into account, not to mention a certain acoustic treatment, which can sometimes, override the desire to upgrade the current speaker . In my opinion, at 5000 pounds you can vastly improve your system performance by such treatment, without any need to spend extra on a replacement speaker …

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listen to some ATC speakers.

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Sailorc, you are probably not going to want to hear this, but here goes.

I will admit that I am not familiar with your Audionet SAM G3 amp, so my comments are based on the assumption that it is not up to the standards set by say a NAC 282/HiCapDR/250DR Naim pre/power amp set, especially when used with a NDX2 and Ovator 400s, where you get the synergy of a full Naim system. Judging by the price of the SAM G2 (couldn’t find a price for the G3), the assumption that the G3 won’t match the abilities of the 282/250 seems more than reasonable.

You have a great streamer (assuming you are using the NDX2 with a Naim power supply) and you have a very decent set of speakers, with a rather modest amplifier in the middle, but you want to throw up to €20k at a new pair of speakers. This makes no sense.

My advice would be to use that €20k budget to get a Naim 282, HiCapDR and 250DR, together with a XPSDR to power your NDX2 if you are using a non-Naim power supply. That would give you a balanced all-Naim system with all the synergy that brings to the party.

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@NigelB It is the G2, was about 4500 Euro. I auditioned the amp against a Supernait 2 and the Audionet was clearly better. I thought this is a reasonable price for a decent amp. So your reccomendation would be to rather invest in amplification than in new speakers. I have to think about this approach. Thanks anyway for pointing me this direction.

@pcd will do it if I get the chance, thanks.

@ditton66 I am not missing something specifically, I just thought my stereo could be improved on this end.

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By upgrading your speakers to (up to) €20k examples you would be bringing a serious imbalance to your system. Your Audionet amp (or even a SuperNait) would never be able to get the best out of such expensive speakers.

If there is an imbalance in your system, I would suggest it is the amplifier, although some use the NDX2 with a SuperNait. The addition of a 282/HiCapDR/250DR would deliver more from your NDX2 and get more out of your Ovators.

It is also worth pointing out that you will get more out of the NDX2 if you use it with a Naim power supply (XPS DR or PS555DR). I wasted money trying to drive my NDX and later NDS with a non-Naim power supply and was astounded at the difference by replacing with a pukka Naim power supply.

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Just to get it right: When I skip the power supplies firsthand I would end up with a ndx2 for 6k as a source, add 10k for amplificartion and keep my 4k speakers. Based on the money spent this does not sound like a ideal balance, but I could arrange myself with this setup.

BTW I will not replace the ndx2 for an even more expensive streamer.

I think NigelB is spot on. The speakers must suit you so blowing your budget on new ones seems risky to me. An XPS and 282/Hi/250 would bring your system to life. Perhaps see if a dealer can dem this for you?

I also agree on Nigel’s advise to take the amp route.

I have always benefitted from getting the best source and pre amplifier I could afford, followed by power amp and then speakers. What you lose in signal quality from the source cannot be regained by the amplifier or speakers. Therefore strictly balancing a budget evenly between source, amplification and speakers has never made much sense to me.

I have always advocated in investing in the best source you can. I would therefore not skip the Naim power supply for the NDX2.

Furthermore your speakers are capable of delivering far more than the Audionet can provide.

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I had a NDX 2 with a SN 2 with Ovator S400 and moved to ProAC D30RS speakers and for me that improved the sound.

I would also recommend demonstrating an XPS DR power supply for your NDX 2. For me this was a huge improvement in the sound.

Demo at the dealer and then at home what ever you do if you can.

As always my system, my room, my ears.

…since I moved from the Ovator S400’s to the ProAC speakers I have also replaced the SN 2 with the HiCap DR to a NAC 282 with HiCap DR into a NAP 250 DR. Current system listed in profile.

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I replaced the S400 with Focal 1028be with happiness, better on all criteria… (272, XPSDR, 250.2)

Best speakers I’ve heard are the PMC MB2. Due to high inflation in the past 6 years they are well over £20k now list price, however they can be had from time to time ex-dem for under that, and very occasionally appear secondhand. Personally if I had the cash I wouldn’t hesitate, and not biting the bullet and getting when I had the chance at a very reasonable ex-dem price id one of my very few life’s regrets. Even secondhand they will last for decades.

The source first vs other approaches has been rehearsed many times on this forum, with proponents in all camps. Personally based on experience I think getting speakers as good as one can is the key to enjoyment provided the source is reasonable and amp is capable of adequate control. Sound quality ultimately is limited by the weakest link in the chain, be that source, amp or speakers, any of which may block detail from getting through, but the speakers make the greatest contribution to the character of the sound.

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