HiCaps - what’s the difference?

Dear learned community members…

Recently, I’ve been experimenting with different combinations of my few Naim boxes…

One thing has stuck me, my HiCap2 sounds just a little better than my olive HiCap, (with both combination of Amps that I have - NAC72 + NAP140 and NAIT XS2 ). It’s the same result across all sources, plus in different rooms.

They both do what all HiCaps do - lower the noise floor - space around the instruments - better definition, clearer trebles and bass notes more controlled. The HiCap2 just does this a little better than my olive HiCap. I would say it’s marginal. But just noticeable.

Which has led to a question - what’s so different about the design of these two items to make the HiCap2 different ( a little better sounding ) to the earlier olive HiCap.

I mean, with the latest HiCap DR it is obvious, with it’s discrete regulator, plus other improved features, etc. But what about earlier HiCap designs?

What’s the difference between HiCaps?

[ Note : (1) olive HiCap is 1999 and serviced / recapped in April 2021. (2) HiCap2 is 2011 ]

Please can learned members of this Naim Community share and enlighten?

Thanks in advance.

I thought the HC2 was the same as an olive, just in a different box?

Let’s get the tops off and take a look?

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They are pretty much the same, but the 2 has a different switch, feet and a more sold front panel. As you’ve found, any difference is marginal.

I guess it’s just down to how old they are, I reckon freshly serviced you would struggle to hear any difference

Sure, the ageing process crossed my mind as one possible reason. But wondered if there was any technical or design differences…

The main difference came about around 1993 when Holden & Fisher ceased. For a short while Naim had to use Transformers made by St. Ives until the Nuvotems were up and running properly. The single rail output was dropped at this time and this gave a small improvement in performance. Then came the Classic look update in 2002 and with the new casework there were improvements with the switch and feet. The next and most recent upgrade was a big one; the carefully selected and matched LM317s gave way to Naim’s Discrete Regulation modules.

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Hmmm. So, sounds like the two should be same or very similar.

Has anyone had a similar experience…

That is, a HiCap2 sounds different ( in a better way) compared to the earlier version - an olive HiCap?
As I’m not ruling out maybe an issue with my olive HiCap!

Thanks in advance.

There is actually one big difference I haven’t mentioned; ROHS. The HICAP DR is ROHS compliant and so everything in it from the solder to all the components use ROHS compliant materials.

What is the difference in age/time from last service? That’s the biggest component I’d expect when comparing two non-DR HiCaps.

Sure, I have also contemplated the ageing process as maybe a reason too.
So, now I’m looking for any evidence - other forum members that report similar results?

Then if anything the older one should outperform, so interesting that those are your findings.

Yep. That was my logical thought too.
Hence my appeal to forum members for more information…

Older hicaps have power to socket 3 (+24v), newer hicaps don’t.

I am thinking of getting a second Hicap for my 82. The one I have is serial 128xxx and the one for sale is 099xxx. Could you please advice if they are a matchning pair? Both have been serviced 2021 and 2020 respectively.

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s/n 128xxx would indicate '96 or '97, whereas 099xxx indicates around '94. Sometime in '93 The H&F transformer had to be changed as they went bust. Naim used up what stock they had before the Nuvotem replacement was quite ready, so in the interim, IIRC, they used transformers from St.Ives. I would imagine that by '94 the Nuvotem transformers were in production, so chances are you’re fine. Failing that, you could ask for the sleeve to be opened to check which Tx is inside.

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Thank you @Richard.Dane, very helpful answer.

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