It appears that the FbpN stores are pushing a lifestyle image, and that largely revolves around easy integration into the home. Besides us weirdo’s on the forum, most people don’t want the fuss and bother that comes with getting the most out of the products. They want the superb sound with minimal effort and if that means compromising placement and sacrificing the extra sparkle, then so be it.
If people walking through the door were told “you can only put this equipment on these shelves, don’t ever stack the boxes, make sure the cables don’t touch and cross at 90*, shall I show you how to shake and de-stress your burndy”, they would run a mile. Oh and don’t forget the international forum cabal that will hunt you down and chastise you for any mistakes!
The target customer for these stores is not hifi geeks like us. They won’t consider room treatment and fussy ongoing setup maintenance. They want something that looks good, sounds good and fits in their space. Make sure their friends can see it when they come round but not so overbearing it takes over the whole room.
I feel somewhat embarrassed to say that the SN2 + HiCapDR with Focal Sopra 1s sounded extremely good and was clearly a very synergistic association. The speed of the SN2 was perfect for the Focal Be tweeter which indeed needs control and grip to perform correctly. Now attempting to get that exact sound back with a 282/250 setup…
Well that’s always been the case. I remember when the Klimax came out and I went for an audition, seduced by the adulation and promises of superior sound for less than half the Naim box count. Less than a few minutes listening was all it took to realise Linn have very different sonic/musical priorities to Naim. I was mystified by the praise. And I’m being very polite here.
Except that it isn’t the same result to my ears. When I auditioned the previous generation Linn Klimax, for example, I actually preferred what the 1st gen NDX did, never mind the NDS and CD555, which was what I had at the time (ND555 not yet released). The same goes for the do-called giant-slaying one box superamps etc.
I guess my point being (and I own both multiple Naim AND Linn systems + 2 pairs of Focal speakers) that at the target market, the competition offer very competitive and significantly simpler solutions, using Klimax DSM as a specific example.
I’m not “Naim shaming” by making these remarks, I’m refering specifically to how Naim are allowing their lovingly engineered products to be retailed in an environment they fully control.
I get the whole “people like pretty things to look pretty in their pretty homes” angle but it makes me question, not criticise, Naims input on the design and management of these boutique retail outlets.
It’s what we would call the “smoke and mirrors” of marketing at work, namely you sell a customer the vision then actually deliver a bespoke solution after you’ve sufficiently engaged a sales prospect.
Naturally Muso and Uniti are lifestyle orientated ranges, designed to fit in with existing furniture choices, the seperates ranges have always been designed to work with increasing degrees of seperation both physically and from a engineering perspective.
It just seems that they should be mindful of that in being honest with customers how best to use their products from the start.
Any hifi shop experience I’ve ever had be it Naim or any other brand includes the importance of racking and cable dressing in that process, I expect an authorised reseller is trained with that in mind.
Looking at the Solstice equipment for example, would any reseller recommend or even suggest it was ok to put a phonostage on top of its power supply, I doubt it.
I recall Clare saying that according to SS the phono stage and PSU were purposely designed so that they could happily live side by side or even one on top of the other. That’s something you certainly couldn’t do with a Superline! I guess the idea was to make these a bit more “real world” or able to be accommodated in a wider domestic situation rather than just a dedicated music room.
As for the Focal powered by Naim shop, certainly I would guess that this is not aiming at the more hardcore audiophile audience and so you don’t want to present a system that scares non-audiophile but music loving people away. The idea is to show a bit of what’s possible to a wider audience than usual.
Perhaps this accomodating view will translate across the entire range over time, there’s certainly hints with the recent product output, Solstice in particular and its design language, of a more forward thinking seperates and Classic level refresh.
It looks more like a mish mash of bits someone bought at Ikea, wrapping and stacking boxes of electronics that generate a certain degree of excess heat during operation in thick blocks of wood is also surely not a recipe for success.