How to better SBL's

I was wondering what the esteemed and highly experienced members of these pages thought about sibbles and their modern equivalents?

If one had a brace of Nap 250’s plus a Nac 52/SC and fronted by a high end LP12 plus top of the range streamer, which speaker would it take (and how much would it cost!)to make you cast the SBL’s asside?

Many thanks


Not much; active SL2s would do it for me though.


Are you using the pair of 250s to drive the SBLs actively? You don’t mention an active crossover, so that’s not clear. If so, of course, your choice is more limited than it would be if you were seeking passive speakers. Additionally, do you still need speakers which work well in close to wall location as the SBLs do? This would also limit the available choice. I realise people will say SL2, but you do ask for a modern equivalent to the SBL and the SL2 is a long time out of production and you’re likely to have difficulty finding a nice pair.

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As others have asked; are you running your SBLs active?

If not then I would, and spend good money on the crossover, connections and especially the crossover PS to really get the absolute best from them.

Then SL2.

I have two systems, one with each! Genuinely not sure I would part with either, especially with their positioning advantages in my rooms.


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I don’t know SBL nor active SL2 but passive SL2 are very good. Never really tempted to go down the active route because of all the extra boxes. In 2004 I bought the Naim recommended system CDS3+NAC252(SUPERCAP)+NAP300+SL2, which is very well balanced in my experience.

Sorry peeps should of said. Actually meant x3 250s. So active. Please insert Snaxo etc into your mental image.

I’m not sure how you’d use three 250s with SBLs. Your profile says you have a Nait 3, so is this merely theoretical? It’s all rather confusing.

Important for me.

Balance is often key in our music systems. When we have it, coherence comes on fuller song, and things just sound right to our ears… then don’t rock that balance any further. Be happy and get back to our music, ie till upgraditis rears its dark head.

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There are some options for certain, so subjective, therein the dilemma, and fun.

Very personal choices for each of us.

The DBLs, [not with 250s for me] but they are not made anymore sadly, and finding a good pre-loved pair is difficult. Much to be done to bring them up to sonic par during set-up, due to their age, so hardly plug and play. I still love and revere them. Probably any serious UK or European speaker manufacturer’s higher end products would be due for an audition as the SBLs when set-up right are still a difficult speaker to beat for what they do best.

The footprint size in any small or medium space is one of the SBL’s strongest suits. They are discrete against a solid back wall, yet just make music sound powerful and commandingly enough for most rooms. Fast and so dynamic. Just makes my feet tap with a beautifully matched midrange and delicate highs. I didn’t quite take to their successor the SL2s, unfortunately, but that’s not to say they are lacking in any manner - anything from Roy George has so far never been lacking. Guess it’s a range of personal factors in the sum of parts influencing the preference.

I just need more bottom end grunt, or I would have gone back to getting a third pair.


Phil P

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Dear Phil,
Sound reasoning. Since 2004 I have tried to make sure the setup is as good as I can get. Ok I’m sure the cable dressing could be better. A decent mains supply with a klangmodul was well worth it. When we start out there are so many things in these areas that we learn and make very good improvements to what we have already. This is important experience and knowledge that is indispensable for future upgrades to higher levels.

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Yes… Mark, until I made the effort over time to address these in the set up, and room acoustics, my system was at its best two-thirds cooked. Not sure about the klangmodul - less in the current paths seem so much more for Naim equipment and sound from the little I know, but 30A dedicated spurs were and still are for me a minimum. Depends how much juice we need for our amps, and the key is in providing adequate current reserves when we need it, so there is headroom when we pump the volume for crescendos and the heavier bass.

One of the reasons why we hang out here, as a community of hi fi music lovers is so we can learn from one another, constructively and neutrally, make friends, and help support all of us along in our journeys towards sonic nirvana. Great fun!


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Agreed i have met up with a few people on what is now the old forum. Nice get togethers and one or two real enthusiasts where one can learn alot not to mention the discovery of new music.
One thing that is not so good (possibly) for a new comer is the egging on to strive to the next level until you get to the 500 series. You would think there are many people in disguise, who are Naim agents to start incurable upgradeitis. :wink:
Let’s not forget (And I have done so frequently) to get pleasure from this, dare I say, crazy hobby

I actually prefer IBL’s overall but the IBL, SBL and DBL are the classic Naim speakers of old. I haven’t ever heard SL2’s but I think there is really no modern speaker that quite has the combination and balance (imbalance?) of qualities that these three classic speakers had. They were very much of their time, but if you really ‘get’ what they did and what they were all about then I believe that you would struggle to find something similarly as satisfying in the modern world.


Not forgetting the mighty NBL, of course!

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Hi Pete. Probably the reason why I still have Naim SL2 which on the whole I do get and enjoy.
Never heard IBL nor DBL nor NBL for that matter.

Well said. I have the same opinion too.

Clive and Mtuttleb,

Yes sorry I forgot all about the NBL. Doesn’t seem to get mentioned much, although I know it was very well-regarded. IMO the thing about these classic speakers is that they were imbalanced, quite deliberately so. They were engineered to do certain things extremely well like rhythm, speed and dynamics, at the expense of other things like tonal accuracy, refinement and imaging etc. You can’t have everything, but the designers had a vision of what made reproduced music satisfying and they clearly went all-out for it.

I read somewhere about Linn Kans that you only realised how good they actually were when you tried to upgrade on them. I owned IBL’s for 17 years and I would say much the same about them. Several times I considered ‘upgrading’ but when it came down to it I couldn’t think of anything that would be an overall improvement. Not for sensible money anyway. The next step would have been to go active but unfortunately life’s events overtook me and it wasn’t to be. I’m sure they would have been absolutely stunning driven actively.


Here here!

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Sorry HH…really should have updated my set up. Currently Sibbles, Rega planar 6/ania, audiolab dac, Nac 72, Hi cap, Nap250.

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If you move to a better pre and PS (52 and 52PS the classic option) you will find your SBLs deliver more. They keep rewarding system improvement s in my experience.

Then active.:grin: Which needs two 250s SNAXO, PS and a second set of speaker cables of course