Life Before Naim

As requested a new thread where all you Naim lovers can tell us how all roads led to Salisbury.


I’ll start going backwards my last system before Naim was a Chinese valve amp a Yaqin with Rega MM Fono, Linn Axis, Q Acoustic Concept 20 and Q Acoustic sub.

Actually a great sounding system the Yaqin was a great amp up top but the EL34 valves lacked a bit of bass and the Concept 20 compounded this a bit hence the sub.

The Yaqin

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I literally had a picture on my Uni desk of a CD5/112/150 and thought every time I was studying, this will pay off and I’m buying that with my graduate loan.

I did!


My start into ‘HiFi’ was with two old valve radios as amplifiers, a couple of homemade speakers and a BSR multichanger deck. Then I built a system using Sinclair pre-amps and power amps, with a pair of Wharfedale Denton (in walnut) speakers, which I still have. They work still, as best I know. This was about 1968. Had to replace the tweeters a couple of times.
Following that was an Armstrong (valve) receiver, for which I eventually bought a stereo decoder, that plugged into a valve socket. I liked that receiver. By this time I had a Garrard deck - looked like a 301, but the arm was built into the plinth. Can’t remember what cartridge.
I then built a transistor stereo integrated amp - a Texan 2020. It used op-amps for the most part. It was OK. After that I built a Bailey power amp and a preamp from Wireless World - it was supposed to be a super high-quality preamp, and I used all close-tolerance components. It had a slightly strange volume set-up. It had two separate pots at the input end - this was supposed to act both as balance control and for matching the impedance of the pre-amp to the source. Then the volume control itself was near the end of the circuit. About then I had a Pioneer PL12D and Shure cartridge of some sort, later replaced by ADC cartridges. That was pretty good - and I also bought a Sony TC280 reel to reel tape deck, followed by TC645.
Then I fell into the trap. I bought a NAP120 power amp, but still using my preamp that I had built. I also bought my NAIM 702 loudspeakers, and then a NAC22 pre-amp. A little later I built a copy of the NAP120, bought a crossover from someone at Naim (1/4 width bolt-down thing - not a SNAXO), removed the passive crossovers from the 702 speakers and went active.
That was it for a while, until I bought a couple of NAP250s, still running active. For a while I had a NAC82. A while later, I bought SBLs, 4 off 135s and NAC52. Somewhere in there I bought a Rega Planar 3 with, variously, ADC and Rega cartridges. Also I had 3 DAT tape decks at some point.
I had some Quad kit for a while - Tuner, pre-amp and 405.
Bought a pair of IBLs for my daughter, and NAC42 (I think) and NAP90 (I think - both shoebox style).
After the SBLS I bought a pair of Ovator S600s, passive, running firstly through two of the 135s, then NAP300 and finally (after a short while - didn’t really think that the NAP300s were worth the price) a NAP500 - non-DR, but since then I had it DRd. Source was HDX for a while, now it is NDX.
Sold off the Rega, DAT decks, Quad kit, reel to reel decks, 702 speakers, IBLs, and SBLs.

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  • Speakers : Jean-Marie Reynaud “EMP Nano”
  • Amp : Myryad Z140
  • CDP : Myryad Z112
  • DAC : NuForce UDH100
  • Silent computer (home build).
  • Home build rack!

Still have the combo! :smiley:

At that time I didn’t really care about high end HiFi.
Just enjoyed the music without thinking about all that stuff.

I used to spend cash on mountaineering and climbing gear and my time in the Alps.

Still do, but less (and less risky stuff) since my daughter was born :innocent:


Technics TT
Sanyo Amp
Pair of Wharfedale Lintons

STD 305s/Rega Arm/Rega R100
Hafler DH101 Pre
Sony Power Amp (Still in my loft)
Mission 700

1983 - 1993
42.5/110 >> 32.5/HiCap/250

1994 - 2019
EAR864 >> EAR868 & EAR534

Naim bits:
ARO / Geddon / A5 / NAP300DR

I’ve had two life’s before Naim having left and returned to the fold.

In the first period before Naim I went through a fairly predictable path for the period.

Nytech CA252 and ARC 050 speakers fronted with a Rega 3. Moved to active with the CXA box which was very good especially when the Rega was changed to an LP12 with basic arm and Rega cartridge which moved up to an LP12/Ittock Karma through the time I had it.

The Nytech gear made way for a Naim 42/110 and the ARC 050’s were changed for the John Chapman JC/1’s which eventually were made by Ion when John closed his dealership in Bournemouth and moved to Wales to become their production manager. These were a Kan sized speaker which took the Kans on at the strengths and addressed some of their weaknesses. I still have these stored safely in the loft.

I then made my way up the Naim ladder with a Hicap, then out went the 110 for a 160 (bolt down) and finally a CB 250. A good friend of mine still has the 160.

I then moved away from Naim and went for the ION pre-amp and Nexus Monoblocks which at the time seemed an improvement over the Naim. They seemed to get more out of the speakers than the Naim gear.

Along the way the LP12 was replaced with a Roksan Xerxes which I still have, albeit mothballed at the moment.

The Ion amps were replaced with an integrated amplifier from Dacapo, called the Deva. It was designed by the people who were working on a new range for Ion before they folded. I also had the matching CD player and a pre-production DAC which was superb.

After a speaker change to Spendor A5’s I decided to try Naim again. The Deva amp sounded a bit slow and too weighty with the Spendors and I fancied trying Naim again so purchased a used 202/200 and the rest as they say is history. The CD player and DAC were replaced with an NDX and I’ve since climbed the Naim ladder a little.

Based on my experiences it would take a lot now to move me away from Naim, I lost money on gear from manufacturers that folded, hopefully Naim won’t ever be in this position.

What was it that got you thinking less about the music and more about the hifi to get you “closer” to the music ?
Did you start thinking “The Bass here should have more dimensionality and the centre image is not focused enough”
Or was it an interest in what’s else out there to replay the music how it’s meant to sound.
Some marque’s have a totally different take on the “absolute sound”

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Life before Naim was NAD for me.

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Blimey ! Interesting question :smiley:

Despite what my posts may suggest I’m not really into HiFi.

I could sell all my system tomorrow without the slightest regret and use the cash for an expedition to the Karakoram region in Pakistan :star_struck:

Of course, I won’t do that. My daughter still needs me.

Due to my education, mathematics and engineering, I tend to think about what I do in pragmatic way.

When I decided to build a system, I not only bought stuff, but learned about how music is reproduced and finally the impact of the room in which the system lies. Very interesting journey btw.

So what was the trigger?

The answer is pretty simple: classical music.

I wanted it to sound as good as with headphone.


So was your “absolute sound” ground - more from headphones listening - rather than having attended such an event live ?
Interesting as we all have unwittingly I suspect a thread that binds a preference.

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This is getting even more interesting! :nerd_face:

For me, there is a significant difference between live music and recorded/reproduced music. They are two completely different things.

Of course I regularly go to the Victoria Hall (Geneva), Grand Theatre (Geneva), Opéra (Lausanne), etc.

When I was a young lad I sang in a boys’ choir and played classical guitar (and some jazz and rock) for years.

IMO, there is no such thing as a system capable of reproducing live music. I accept that.

I enjoy both live and recorded music differently.

So my base line for a speakers based system is headphones, not live music.

Trying to reproduce live music is like chasing rainbows :grin:

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I forgot about Nytech - I had one for a while, can’t remember when. Unusual appearance, seemed quite good. Must have been before the Naim kit, I think, though it’s odd that I really don’t remember when…

Mine was a Arcam Alpha One CD player, Arcam Alpha 5 amplifier into Mission 752 speakers. I was very unaware of the Mullet system in those days. The key part being when i replaced the Alpha 5 for a NAC 92/90.3 combo. Even as a mullet i thought it sounded great, that was until i later replaced the Alpha One for a Naim CD3 player. This totally blew my socks off and i’ve never been anywhere else since.

Oh yes - NAD - I had a NAD tuner at one point, and later a Sony tuner (which I still have but don’t use). They were great value for money.
Also a Philips CD player of early-ish vintage.

Yes, the Nytech gear was rather quirky.

When they changed to Ion things became more conventional and you can see how Heed took this forward.

Thorens TD160Mk2 / AR E77
Homebrew Amp Mk1 / Mk2
Homebrew Speakers

Speakers upgraded to Castle Trent

Yamaha CD-X2
Amp Upgraded to Homebrew Mk3
Speakers upgraded to Spendor SP2 (after a long search!)

CD upgraded to Marantz CD63II KI sig

Amp downgraded to Audiolab 8000a (due to partner insisting on remote control!)

Amp re-upgraded to Audiolab 8000S

Added Wharfedale sub with room correction via miniDSP 2x4

Nait XS2
Sub upgraded to B&W ASW610XP

2017 / 2018
Speaker’s crossovers, wiring, and connectors substantially upgraded; internal damping revised.


I’ve also had some Nad over the years excellent, great value kit that sounds better than it has any right to though build quality isn’t great both the c370 I owned and more recently a c372 died on me.

Life before Naim started out with a Pioneer stereo with Pioneers own Prologue 70. It was just when cd-players had become reasonably prices for a teenager (that is my father payed). It sounded good enough for me to start pursuing better sound reproduction. During that time, with no real money and expensive dreams. A lot of time was spent at all the dealers available in Stockholm. Eventually I got enough to buy a NAD 3020 and a pair of Dali 400. Source wasn’t a high priority at the time and whatever cd-player I could afford got the duty.

If I recall correctly it was a lowly Denon at the time. I convinced myself the system sounded fab but always thought it was muffled and well, not that good. So I tried a lot of different speakers. Small Sonus Faber with leather on the fronts, snell K II and E III. Nothing really hit the spot and I moved on, with more cash, to a pre and power from NAD thinking they were the thing. They never were, at least not to me. But I didn’t really understand that st the time and stuck with it for years.

More time went by and economy got even better so I got myself a pair of b&w 802 sIII. Oh my God did they sound good. Especially with my then upgrade pre and power consisting of an obscure swedish pre called Pre 902😁. And a poweramplifier from Counterpoint. I can’t recall which one. Eventually I also got a cd-player from Densen making it sound even better. Now the system was sounding good. But…

In the meantime I had joined a hififorum where we met and listened to boxes. It was quite fun and of course made me realise there was more to have. So I once again started with changing speakers. This time to Monitor Audio. They didn’t last long and I changed them to Totem dreamcatcher. The smaklöst speakers I had ever seen. They sounded quite good. Pre and power had now been moved on and an integrated monster (to me) had replaced them.

The monster was a Bladelius made cheapster called Amplifix. It made me hear layers in the music never heard before. Som kind of quasi-high end. Smoth and layered but also somewhat metallic and unnatural.

Then came a period with some chinese class A power amp that ran seriously hot fronted by a tube pre amp from Chinese manufacturer Opera who also made my hybrid cd-player. At the time they made a funny looking player which I found too expensive and kind of ugly. It was called Droplet.

The little Totems had now done their time and needed to go. In came infinity Refenence standard 2.5 and my amplification could never make them justice so never contempt of course. Finances got bad and everything was consequently sold on.

After some time I got a vintage receiver from Kenwood and experimented a period with different vintage electronics and speakers. When the economic and marital status changed in 2016 a decided to get some real hifi again. Starting with a Supernait coming from a vintage Sansui was nothing short of a revelation. Speakers changed to Kudos X2 and a ND5xs fronted. Now everything sped up and the Supernait got a Hicap. The hicap got a 202/200DR. They in turn got a Napsc and the hicap have room for a hicap DR.

There was no going back now. Nothing I had ever owned sounded as good as this. I was hooked. And of course I started thinking. If this sounded this good How good would the next step up be? And on I went. Got new speakers costing as much as alot. Couldn’t pass a NDX or an 82 and before I knew it I had a 282, a 250DR and even worse, a NDS and 555PS.

I had gone from a vintage receiver worth maybe 100€ to this super exlcusive 50000€ setup but my God is it good. I’m back in my old hobby but now, for the first time, content, pleased and excited in every step forward, so far. To me Naim is something special for sure. I mean apart from the things I have actually owned I have heard odles of things in store and shows and very few systems make me think, wow, I want this. The Naims so far have all made me feel that and the system I have now by far the most. Even to the extent that I want to keep it for a long time.