Looking for an axis - and for what revolves around it. (Alert: Verbosity at work.)

(I don’t know if I am going to post this, it’s being written to try and clarify some thoughts.)

I have changed a lot of pieces of equipment in my life. Including in the list only the gear that came and went since I live here - 19 years - but counting multiples of the same thing as single units, I easily reach tenths.
Some things I have bought, sold and re-bought: CDX2, SuperNait, Nait XS, 202/200… HiCaps! Speakers are the most reiterated: twice SBLs, twice Ovator S-400s plus of course seven pairs of n-Sats, the last of which is presently on duty.
I have tried a number of non-Naim things - Marten Design, Klipsch, Bow Technologies, rega, PrimaLuna, Pass, Luxman, Bricasti, Esoteric, other - in my quest for something that made me enjoy reproduced music at home. Naim is the brand I’ve owned more frequently, but it was rarely an absolute.

In the end, I only have these points to which refer safely:

  • I don’t actually, really love to reproduce music at home
  • I can’t stay without a stereo system
  • No system and no part of a system can be fully satisfactory
  • There must be an axis around which other parts can be chosen, changed, questioned, loved or hated.

In my case, on the basis of statistics alone, my axis is the Sats.
They are not perfect, but have the greatest number of qualities vs defects:

  • Small
  • Stand mount
  • Sealed enclosure
  • Easy to drive
  • React happily to upstream upgrades
  • Very very pretty
  • Project the sound outside themselves in a way no other speaker I know can do.
  • Sound clear, juvenile, involving.


  • Deep bass light
  • Mildly ‘unripe’
  • Not the warmest midrange - the exact opposite of BBC sound in fact.

I fiercely tried to change my perspective, to decide that I wanted more relaxing, domestic speakers - Harbeth, LS3/5A, LS5/9 - but in the end those that gave me a minimum of thrill are Sats and Heresy IIIs (two pairs). So much for relaxing and domestic.

Once I realized and accepted that the quest for optimal, if not perfect, sound is futile, I also decided that Sats can be the axis of a system and started wondering if the rest is really what I want and what can be done to optimize everything around them. Cost is not no object.

Curiously enough, what I like in the Sats’ sound is also what I like in Naim electronics. They don’t try to be HiFi; they try to be HiFun, while remaining competent, technically unquestionable, admirably engineered and reliable. While others fight with one another in the specs arena - s/n ratios with several zeros after the comma, damping factors in the range of hundreds - or in the marketing one - retro looks, sci-fi looks, Disneyland looks, I-insist-in being-ugly-because-I sound-good, I sit on my side panel, I glow in the dark, I’m oval - Naim is just black boxes with a green logo that make you want to turn the volume up (the box, not the logo - but yes, sometimes the logo too).

Sources come and go: I have no faith in eternity. Vinyl may seem reassuring because its mechanical part is simple and larger than its electronic one - in fact, everything in an LP/TT combination is passive safe the motor, the only electric signal being generated by the movements of coils between magnets, or the other way 'round.
Naim used to say that in the best reception conditions FM could be the best source of all: how true, and how I wish it could be so (for me)! Broadcasts of live concerts, unknown music discovered, not standing anymore in front of the bookshelf browsing among the same twenty CDs or LPs… And good sound, care of responsible, cultured men in radio stations.
But FM is absolute crap here - crap music, crap talk, a lot of stations covering one another, occupying the ether and booming at traffic lights from the oscillating inside of waiting cars. I live among cavemen, but at least they are not openly aggressive.

My preferred Naim amp system is 252/SC/300, but it costs a lot. True, I may be dead in less than five years (not mere pessimism, my current histologic condition) so why not f*ck it all and spend joyfully; but I have a protection system that keeps me from tossing money around in case I’ll have to deal with this world for a while more.
I have loved tubes, on conceptual, aesthetic and sonic grounds. I too often give in to the feeling of ‘How Everything Was Simpler And More Charming In The Past’. But as that guy said, past is the only dead thing that smells good. Loving tubes is a little like those kids wanting to marry their mom.
I love integrates but no integrated amp I’ve heard sounds like 252/SC/300. Yes, the original Nait was fun, but one cannot go out with teenage girls forever.

So what?
Am I looking for a solution or dissolution?
Sorry for having occupied the ether myself.



As your neighbours in France would say, Carpe Diem :sunglasses:

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I’m confused. Surely the French speak French.


Max is Italian.

Indeed he is. My point was why the French would say carpe diem. I must be missing something.

Life is too short Max. Go for the system you want. I pushed the button on a 500DR a few months ago and have not looked back.

Been told similar to you, I have maybe 2 years to live. But I don’t believe that.

A 252 300 system isn’t overly extravagant either!

If it makes you happy why not?

And if finances change always option of scaling down.

I wish you well with your health. Stay positive

Best wishes,



My mistake, but he’ll get the meaning.

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It’s a dilemma as we get older. How much do we keep back in case we live a longer life than expected, against how much do we allow ourselves to enjoy before we go?
The only thing I can offer from experience is I suffered an RTA that put me in a Coma for 8 days, hospitalised for 7 weeks, multiple operations over 2 years, and a final signing off from treatment after 6 years. I also had a dnr note on my medical records while in hospital. That left me with a live for today mentality that I still hold. Life is too short and can be taken away anytime by circumstance outside of our control. If you can afford it, do it.

Of course now as a retired person living off savings then an annual minimum for living expenses has to be protected. I use an actuarial chart plus 10 years as my guide. That attempts to protect my wife when I go, although she has her own safety fund.


Sorry Mike, I wasn’t being picky, rather I thought I was missing some clever reference. I do get confused!


If you love it , and have the means to it, go for it … life too short for waits … enjoy the music , think about having the 252 and 300 now , they will make your days, everyday :wink:


They would say Carpée Diém… :slight_smile:


A lot of food for thought here.
I have already contacted my dealer, who has a used 252/SCDR/300DR combo for sale…

You’re perfectly right, thanks for your lucid analysis and for sharing about your life. It’s not actually about whether I can afford it (I can), but about whether I would get real musical pleasure from it…


Max, forgive me for touching on a rather sensitive subject, but if your historic levels of turnover are anything to go by this does not seem like a limiting factor!


True! :grinning:
In fact it isn’t.

Ah, the old dilemma. Musical enjoyment. That really is a personal thing. Also the source and it’s musicality and fidelity. I have found that going up the Naim ladder has always given me more of what I enjoy, not without some thought of cost vs enjoyment :grinning: I am happy to continue on that path though.

Re the source, again a personal thing. I prefer the sound quality of digital over vinyl. I prefer the act of putting on vinyl. I have solved my personal dilemma by going for the best digital source I can afford supplemented by a decent level of vinyl reproduction. The digital is always a better sq for me. There are of course exceptions, particularly where original analogue recordings have been transposed to vinyl, but otherwise digital wins out for me.

Hi Max
I have read of your personal troubles here and I wish you well for the future, especially in recovering your health.

It seems to me that your primary dilemma is that you want a system to reproduce music at home, yet no music system satisfies you. It is this contradiction that induces the constant turnover of hifi equipment without any satisfaction. If that diagnosis is in anyway correct, then it seems to me that ultimately acquisition of the 252/300 will not be a solution for you.

Do you think your dissatisfaction with the reproduction of music in a domestic space is related to your professional life as a musician? I can see how someone with a finely trained ear would find the artificial representation of actual instruments dissatisfying, however well it was done. If that is the case, then critical musical listening through a hifi system will always be frustrating. On the other hand background listening while reading or carrying out other tasks might be enjoyable.

I expect you have thought all this through before, so I apologise for failing to provide any fresh insights.


Just curious - have you ever tried the IVs? I haven’t heard either, it’s just that it’s much easier to find the newer ones around here.

As a fellow fan of nSats (which I use in a second system that is truly more than enough, though I still prefer the main system) it’s intriguing that you mention them as well. There’s a third system here where something like that could work.

It happens, some say it. Most say « profites de l’instant présent « .

Better to say “heureux comme Dieu en France” (living as God in France), as You certainly experience every :ok_hand: