Help me find those micro-details

I’m looking for advice on how to add what, for my System, is the last piece of the puzzle - micro-detail. An example of what I’m looking for? At the start of ‘Mojo Pin’, Jeff Buckley compares his partner’s hair to ‘black ribbons of coal’. To my frustration (bordering on obsession) on virtually everything I listen to this track on, I can clearly hear the smacking of his lips between phrases. Everything that is, except my Naim hifi!

System consists of ND5 XS streaming Tidal into NAC82 with 2 Hicaps into NAP180 into Kef 500’s. Cabling is Chord Shawline throughout except for Tellurium Q Silver 2 speaker cable. Power is via a homebrew Hydra using Neotech OCC cable. All servicing is up to date.

I have 2nd hand NAP500 money to devote to achieving my goal - any advice?

This sort of non musical detail isn’t really focussed on by a Naim system. Sugden brought it more to the fore when I auditioned an A25 but the Naim can boogie if set up properly. If you’re assessing a music system by smacking lips, squeaking fret boards or the sound of breaking glass is Naim really where you should be going?

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What’s the rack used ? A very good one will help tease out those subtle inflections and nuances.

I love everything else about the Naim sound and I’ve been a customer for going on 20 years. Not all music boogies - some lives (and dies) in the nuances. I just want that last nth

A-hum, its on a heavy duty wall mounted racking system, but in my defence, the shelves are made of 2 sheets of 18mm marine ply with a neoprene sandwich - very inert.

Those KEF 500 with its mid tweeter unit with top and bottom mid bass drivers will put out a more or less point source output.
Might just need a closer look at how they are set up.
You would need that tweeter pointing to your ears, maybe changing both rake angles a little forward or back depending on how far your sitting from them.

They are quite sensitive to position TOBYJUG, but changing the relative ear/tweeter relationship modifies the brightness, not the detail level.

I should mention that I have been experimenting quite extensively over the last couple of years. I’ve tried adding a Qutest between ND5 and NAC82, Macbook into NAC via Qutest (via bnc and optical), Naca5 vs Tellurium, and any number of combinations of the above, and while differences were obviously apparent, none helped in the quest for micro-detail.

Would a Fraim really sort me out, or is Yeti correct - am I in the wrong ecosystem?

Is your streaming box good enough for your preamp?

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As you can see from my response to TOBYJUG, I’ve done quite a bit of experimentation with getting a signal to the NAC without hitting on anything worth pursuing, which makes me dubious that a move up the streamer ladder will help

Are you able to audition an NDX2? with a ps? That’s more on a par with your amps.


try to audition superlumina or vertere speaker cable and interconnects.

These certainly seem to address my need, but a circa £12k loom is too rich for my blood I’m afraid

Adding a second hicap did yield the most significant improvement I’ve ever achieved so definitely something I should organise

I suspect your resolution limit is the combination of the NAP180 and the KEF 500s, although the Shawline cable may also be exerting a degree of limitation.

well the entry level vertere cables are affordable not 12K GBP.

do look at DFI interconnects and also the Pulse mini XS speaker cable.

I find these days that lost nuances are down more to my hearing than my kit. I’m guessing this isn’t an issue for you if you’re able to detect the lip smacking on other set ups?


For the budget that you have available, you may like to ask a dealer to demonstrate a Chord DAVE being fed from your ND5SX. If it is a highly resolving source that you are after, then DAVE will deliver, so long as your music source is good enough.

Alternatively, it would be worth trying one of the new streamers, the ND5SX2 with either a Chord DAVE or TT2, or just go for the jugular and try an NDX2 with XPSDR external power supply. There will be dealer demo power supplies available with a Naim warranty, so this should be possible within your budget.

Which Tidal subscription do you have? I find the Hifi subscription to be less resolving than a ripped cd of the same album. If you have the basic Tidal subscription, then this will be of lower resolution.

So long as your 82, hicaps and 180 have all been serviced in the last 8 years, I doubt that the issue lies with your amplifier at all (we also have an 82 in the family).
Others have commented on positioning of your KEF R500 speakers.

Hope this helps, BF

This is simple. Lose the OLD Naim stuff… Get a Super Nait 3 ( which will have more detail and as much punch as you have now) Are you just using Tidal as a source? Since the ND5SX is a renderer, if you don’t already have a one Get a NAS; rip your CD’s to it and play those back… I think the ND5SX can also pull from a USB drive?? I’d just want to be able to listen with something other than Tidal to make informed decisions , I think most of your problems are from poor system matching… And home brew Hydra?? see if you can borrow a good Power block ISOtek seems to be liked here… I’d Suggest Shunyata but anything thats not current limiting. You don’t need to spend a kings ransom… A chord dave is 8500 pounds… more than $10,000 dollars… Your whole system I dare say isn’t $10.000 dollars. Balance is the key to building a good system. A SN3 will way out perform you 20 year old NAC82, etc. BTW we are speaking about the newish KEF R500 correct?

I would go for a power supply for the ND5 XS. I once had it with an XP5 XS and thought it improved significantly in all aspects. And then possibly try Qobuz where the album is available in 24bit/96kHz.

If that does not work I would get an NDS with a 555PS. I am relatively sure the lips will be smacking then.

The good old nDac is also worth considering. I have had all three I have mentioned but unfortunately never thought about the smacking lips of Jeff Buckley before:-)

A Supercap on the 82 might also get the lips smacking, although I would go for improving the source first to get more details. I once Supercapped a 282 and that was a massive improvement over the two Hi-Caps I had. But it led to a 252 which led to a 552 so I would be careful to do it.

I very much doubt a SN3 would equal an 82 let alone beat it. I’d be swapping the 180 for a serviced 250, getting a good light stand (heavy solid things give a leaden sound), some higher quality speakers and a better source, such as an NDX or NDX2.

From a personal perspective I really don’t care if I can hear the first violin farting or the cellist picking their nose. This artificial level of detail isn’t what I look for. I want music that hangs together and moves me emotionally. Ultra detail usually comes at the expense of coherence and naturalness. If that’s what you really want - hifi over music - then Naim might not be the right thing in the first place.