Listening fatigue

good evening, I ask for a suggestion, I have my xs2 connected to flatcap and to the nd5xs2, as speakers I use the focal aria 936, amplifier connected to the streamer with hiline cable, and amplifier connected to the speakers with vdh magnum hybrid, I must say that the sound is very, very detailed but it tires me, I struggle after a few hours; I ask you, could changing the speaker cable which is copper silver for an all copper one make sense? Can you kindly give me some advice? Thank you…

If it’s far off I would look at the speaker and room treatment first. Some speakers are impossible to tame.


Try Naim Naca 5 , it will change your life. The VDH are not ideal for Naim amps. This was discussed already in other topics.
For your level of gear, Naca 5 will be perfect.


I can’t see why your VDH cable would be a big mismatch, unless it’s a very short length, but I think it’s always good to at least try Naim’s NACA5 just so that you can be sure that the amp is performing as intended. A decent Naim dealer should be able to lend you some, or maybe get some on ebay and sell it on if you decide not to keep it.

I would be more inclined to try different speakers if you want to make a real difference. Finding speakers that match your room is essential, as is spending time experimenting with positioning them.

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These Focals are all but sharp and detailed. The only situation I can imagine them to sound sharp is next to a sidewall so that side reflections play an odd role in it.

I would also try without the flatcap to rule out cable issues.

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I will try both solutions, I honestly hope to get by with the cable because I would hate to change the speakers.


I know how they sound, I’ve heared them with an xs3 and a nd5xs2 combination and it was great. Simple setup, well balanced.

Nac A5 would be the right cable, but if your short on cash you can try the good old Linn k20 as well - just to check or as a temporary solution. Make sure the cables are long enough. 3.5 metre minimum and preferably 5 metres or longer. For xs2 this does make a difference.


thank you very much, tomorrow I will write to my dealer and order the naca 5. the necessary length for me is 5 meters so I would say that we are there in terms of measurement. I tried excluding the flatcap but that’s not the problem. I hope they arrive soon.


There’s nothing wrong with those speakers at all. I had a very similar set up for a while with the 926. I’m wondering too about how the speakers are placed. Do you have a lot of glass in the room or really hard surfaces for sound to bounce off?

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I would say normal, I tried to keep them far enough away from both the side and rear walls.

Try Harbeths; a nice dealer might even let ya take some demos home.

I’m super biased on this topic but they are so easy to listen to. Spendor classic line is similarly easy listening too.


I’ve got a close relative of that cable , your problem is caused by that cable .
NacA5 for sure or K20 ( which I use) should sort you out .

I should add it sitting unused for good reason

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Focals can sound harsh and edgy when driven by Naim, imo. They sound miles better on muscular valve amps and even class A solid state amps.

My suggestions would be to sell the Focals and try some Dynaudio speakers, even bookshelves. You wont get fatigued ever again, most likely.


As already said, Linn K20 (which are the same as NACA4) may suit you better. What I think from reading reviews, NACA5 are more detail oriented.
Anyway, I now prefer Linn K400 in single wire mode to Linn K20, which I also have.
K400 have a fuller, more dark sound compared to K20.
I have SN3 and Proacs.

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Interesting comments ref speaker cables - is use LK20 with an XS3.

Ref the OP’s setup, I would recommend experimenting with toe-in/out as off-axis HF response can vary significantly and adjusting this can act as a tone control. As a general rule the more a tweeter or midrange is aimed directly at the listener the brighter the response. However, if speakers are close to side walls but pointed straight ahead, HF energy can increase due to reflections from the side walls - a small degree of toe-in can reduce HF output in this case - worth experimenting as the cost is free - just time.

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This can happens when you’re getting lots of first reflections to your ears. These arrive milliseconds after direct soundwaves. You can’t hear it, but your brain is struggling trying to piece it all together.

Trying sitting somewhere else in the room, perhaps further forward, or put a load of cushions behind your head? Does this make a difference? If so, it’s your room dynamics and not your equipment.


I would also recommend to give the standard “lavender” interconnet a try instead. It might be a better match with your source/amp combination. In my current system I prefer the lavender so far (still keeping the HiLine on the side while waiting for my PMCs to “run in” over the last 9 months or so…).

I concur with the use of Naca5 as a reference cable. In my system I do prefer the Kudos KS-1 which made everything less “grungy” and a bit smoother. But it’s all about synergy of system/cables/speakers/room/ears, so there is no solution that will work for everyone and you might get lost trying out different cables. So that’s why it’s better to reset back to basics (lavender, Naca5/LinnK20) to have peace of mind that the system is hooked up as designed. In due course you can keep experimenting, one cable at a time!

It might be useful if you can also share some photos of your room and system, as it might give us the chance to make further suggestions in terms of box placement, cable dressing and so on. They are small details that can add up in the end and do seem to matter when dealing with Naim!

Edit as I just saw a photo of your system “from the listening spot”. Lovely place! You can also try removing any isolating feet from the Naim devices and see if they make any difference. In principle though I think all these things are just fine tuning. Highest impact on listening fatigue is probably the choice of speakers and their placement in the room. From the picture it does seem that the speakers are too wide apart compared to the distance from the listening position; what are the actual distances?

If none of that makes a considerable change, then an audition of different speakers is in order!


A member had listening fatigue with Naim and Van den Hull speakers cables.
Here the quoted post:

« @mpaltadonna :

Hi. I take this thread to ask. I have an Atom a few months ago (and a balance of money in my favor with the provider to use). With these months of listening I am noticing that the Atom has an accentuation of rhythmic hits and a certain elevation of high frequencies. I would describe it as a little activated loudness. That I find it tiring after a long time of listening. I have for now some old 3-way Infinity loudspeakers (which I will change) with van den hull cable. I wonder if it has to do with my setup or if it’s more of Naim’s distinctive sound? If I use the balance to change to Nova that I read that it is softer and I would like a flatter sound and that it does not fatigue me? what do you think? :::«

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I hope you won’t mind me reposting your photo here, as it may help others make useful sugggestions.

Looking at the photo, I suspect that a few things may be contributing to the fatigue.

  • the speakers are pointing directly at your head. This can lead to a very tiring beaming effect. Can you get them much closer together and pointing almost straight ahead? The right speaker may need to go to the left of the TV.

  • the isolators beneath the Naim boxes will change the sound. I tried IsoAcoustics beneath my Nova and it gave a very etched sound with detail thrown at me. All very tiring. Try putting the boxes side by side on the floor. If it sounds better, which I suspect it will, then you can investigate different placement and/or a new rack.

  • it would be a good idea to try different speaker cables. They are not cheap, so see if you can get some to try. Naim, Chord, Kusos, Tellurium Q should all work well

  • the only Focal speakers I’ve heard have not been to my taste but as others with more direct experience have said above that they should be ok. Hopefully the ideas above should fix things, but if not it may be time to look at speakers. That said, I think you’ll have problems with that very wide positioning, so that would be my first move.


The equipment/accessories ideas above are good, but I’d just like to put in a suggestion about source material.

The only time I really notice listener fatigue in my system is when I’m listening to a heavily compressed recording - ‘brickwalled’ remasters from the last 90s and early 2000s are the worst culprits. They’re OK to start with but after just a few tracks, my ears and head start to feel achy and tired, and I just want to switch off the music, even if it’s a beloved album. Switching to the same recording on a less ‘hot’ master (say, an original CD from the 80s) is immediately a joy to listen to.

With streaming services, it can be difficult to know whether you’re listening to a modern hot remaster or an older master. Not being a streamer myself for serious listening, I don’t know where to suggest anyone would look to stream tracks that are ‘guaranteed’ to be less compressed. Maybe albums from before the mid-90s albums that weren’t that popular and have never been remastered so the only master available to the streaming services would be the original one?