Is Naim losing its way?

With the current near-disaster of the firmware update and app confusion resulting in the forcing of a different signal quality on end users without consultation or consent, has this gone too far to be reversable?

It seems to me that, arguably pointless changes to the app notwithstanding, there now needs to be a discussion on the viability of reverting to the former state to reinvigorate trust in the brand.

Or is NAIM losing it’s way?


I know its disappointing that some can hear differences, but this i would suggest is a small number compared to how many firmware updates were installed…Naim would have the numbers. Best to work with Naim to try and sort it out, which i know as a beta tester they do try very hard to rectify all problems.


There have been numerous changes to sound quality/presentation over several years with the new platform streamers.

I had one of the early Novas, and was more than happy with the first couple of firmware updates sonically, but disappointed with several later ones which seemed very harsh and fatiguing despite fixing certain bugs or adding features. There are numerous old threads.

I have not yet updated the Nova as I’ve been away, but the last couple of updates while different in character to a favourite old firmware (2.3.8574) have certainly been sonically more pleasing than ones in the middle.

The issues are:

a) any firmware changes can potentially affect sound presentation
b) the sound it seems can also be tweaked/improved in compiling new firmware which is good
c) improvements in one person’s system however may be detrimental in another and there is no real way to predict
d) we all know that many of our components can take time to come ‘on song’ after power cycling/restarting etc and sometimes sonic changes simply improve after a period of time for some reason - equally restarting/factory reset can cure some issues sound quality wise or otherwise
e) if in an individual system a user finds new firmware detrimental they cannot officially revert to something which gave more enjoyment and the owner will be left frustrated hoping for improvement in the next firmware release
f) It is certainly possible to revert to older firmware builds, but this is not supported and the average user will have no access to older downloadable firmware builds on the new platform unlike the older one

I have come to accept a) as my understanding is that the design of the hardware somehow leads to this. Presumably once core changes to control software/new features are added and bugs fixed, there will likely be a new sonic character to a greater or lesser extent. I then assume Naim internally try to tweak the ‘DSP’ for want of a better term (in the App settings you can find not only the firmware version but the ‘DSP’ version) to maintain sonic consistency or in good faith tweak performance for the better in their testing. If there are specific evolutions of the ‘DSP’ I have always wondered if these could be a library of user selectable versions for installation if there are commercial/licence issues for the main firmware for things like Chromecast, Airplay and streaming service support.

Being unable to officially revert to older firmware is far from uncommon, Apple’s iOS being a prime example unless you jump hoops in a narrow time window to reinstall an older signed firmware which usually is only accessible for a few days.

Having to do a factory restore to make things work again is not always needed, but other manufacturers often advise this is essential for proper functioning - my Oppos are sitting on older firmware versions as I’m currently happy with what they do without updating. Playstation 3 firmware was always a nuisance too as newer versions prevented functionality you may not have known existed prior to updating.

We know that it is possible currently to revert to older firmware on the new platform provided one has a copy of the firmware file. A future firmware update could however make reverting extremely difficult or virtually impossible for the average user.

If however the files are available for download for the older platform, it would be helpful and welcomed by many to be able to do so on the new platform - Naim must have good reasons for not officially allowing this even with disclaimers relating to them being unsupported and provided ‘as is’.

One item we also forget is that the Naim app is often tailored to work with a specific subset of firmware, so for example some features (max volume setting for example) may not work with current Naim app trying to control older firmware.

I am not hopeful that Naim will allow new platform users to access older firmware versions if they worked better in the context of individual systems, but not insignificant changes in sound character many have noticed may make users reluctant to update with no benefit or to upgrade/choose new products as and when they arrive if they have been affected.

I hope these comments will be seen as constructive rather than critical, but I think many points are valid.


I must be an oddity as I hardly even noticed the update and it works just as it did before and I didn’t notice the slightest change in SQ.
Maybe my ageing ears are failing me or maybe my NDX2 into active NBL’s system isn’t good enough to reveal the subtle changes?
What’s the issue with the app? It works for me.


The big difference between the old and new streamers is the third party certifications on the new ones (Chromecast and Apple Airplay in particular, maybe also Roon?) and I think those are what gets in the way of Naim allowing users to revert to earlier firmware releases.



That was my inference from a Naim reply quite some time ago David - it would be interesting to know more background on this. It almost implies the software implementing these protocols may be phoning home to ensure it’s properly licensed usage, and that this could potentially cause problems.

The more features streamers have the more areas there are for potential incompatability it seems - primarily from changes to APIs or updates no longer backwards compatible.

The question this raises is if someone quite happy with an old firmware version and consistently declines to update soem features may break as the older firmware becomes incompatible with those services but surely that’s the worst that could happen if we could revert? Again, I just think many would appreciate the option to revert, but it would be implicit that any incompatibility by not using current firmware is beyond Naim’s control and no support would be provided.

We are equally a diverse group of users for all such products manufacture by Naim or others.

I suspect many (?older) users may be more than content foremost with stable good sound quality, reliable search and playback of local or remote media and perhaps are not as bothered by playlists, favourites and other frills. Perhaps I’m wrong but I simply want to find the content fairly quickly and have stable playback - other things are not that important to me but expectations are generally far higher especially if competing products offer such things.




I think the trick is to never be on the latest firmware.


We are easily satisfied. So long as we can still see the glass on the bedside table to put our false teeth in before going go sleep, we are content.


Yes indeed, now where is the bedroom?


I definitely stay on older versions for as long as possible on iPhone and Macs.

With the streamers however you never know how good or bad ‘current’ is personally until you update, and of course once current is superceded you can never find out what the previous one was like!

‘It’s that room where we used to have sex, dear. Do you remember?’


The youngsters are probably fast asleep in the early hours (or at least doing something more interesting/social) whereas us older folks may decide to have a cuppa and listen to music at 3am after getting up to use the bathroom let alone the bedroom!

Rooms surely? :smiley:


You Nigels really do stick together, don’t you?

Hold on, my name is Nigel, not my wife’s!

I am getting very confused.


I would argue after 7, yes 7 or was it 8 RMA on a Nova, Naim is better than ever in SQ and service.

I started out non Naim, even when returning to Naim looked at other brands.

I have followed Naim for over 25 years, from an olive active system, sold it, hiatus period, bought a Muso MK1 (urghh but MK 2 is superb).

1 Like

I don’t think it implies that at all! Responsible manufacturers comply with the conditions of certification or it is taken away by the licensee.

Fair point, but if no checks are in place what’s the issue with older firmware which may exist simply because many users fail to update?

…it’s a licence condition…