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

@MaxBertola - the 252/300 makes glorious music, I doubt you’ll regret it not even for a minute.


As an axis - surely everything revolves around expendable finances. For me at least and I can imagine for others.
Getting through so much kit with repeated lessons learnt and offended and reoffended, I’m cautious to observe there seems more money than sense at play.
Set a budget. Spend some considerable time researching the best dealer/manufacturer that can accommodate. Perhaps work with a marque that can use your ears to finalise an end product.
You could be the next Ken Ishikawa.


Hi Clive,
thanks for your very considerate, perceptive reply. Yes, my life with music may have spoiled a taste for replaying discs at home; but I still like the idea of sitting and losing myself in the listening experience at home too…
Music without expectations is in fact a large and important part of my day; internet radio and Qobuz are almost always playing. Listening through a minimal BT device doesn’t impair my capacity (and my desire) to evaluate performances; not having sound quality constantly occupying my mind’s CPU allows me some freedom to enjoy.
Yet, I can’t renounce the special experience of having music for myself, comfortably and quietly resting on an armchair in front of the speakers. It’s only that believing what I’m hearing, if and when I test it, is sometimes out of my analytical mind’s reach. I really appreciated your post.


I’ve heard the IVs just once, in a shop; the worst possible listening conditions so I won’t comment on it.
The IIIs are a very enjoyable speaker system but in my opinion you have to change parameters: Heresys should be listened to from some distance (say, at least 4 mt.), at a highish volume, in a large and not too absorbing room. In such a setting, antipodal to near-field, headphone-like, 3D-oriented listening, they can really drag you into the performance. I still regret having sold mine (twice). But I don’t live in a large, brick-walled loft in New York… :slight_smile:

I googled Ken Ishikawa. I’ll try to understand if it was a compliment or a suggestion…
There is not so much money at play; there is the desire to have at least one thing, in these late years of mine, allocating meaning to my lazy, at-home hours. A sound system, to me, is a way to get my eyes to rest, be it from reading or cinema or TV. I love listening - it’s the thing I do best I believe.

I very rarely bought new. Most of my audio ramblings have been made possible by a lively 2nd hand market. Buying the 2nd hand 252/SCDR/300DR my dealer has in store won’t jeopardize my future; but then, do I have a future?

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Sometimes meeting your heroes can be disappointing, can you borrow the 252/SC/300 from your dealer to try at home before you commit?

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Max, a few days ago you have posted this, so I don’t understand now. Have you changed your mind in a few days ?


My current system:

RCA to DIN lavender
Thorens TD145
Cheap AT
Stageline N
Nait 5
FlatCap 5
Vertere Pulse x mini (2 x 2.5 mt.)
(total cost = €2805)

Nothing is ok according to rules - the lavender’s signal ring is on the amp side; Nait 5 is resting directly on the FC2; Vertere speaker cables are not NAC A5 and are too short; Sats are 16 cm off the rear wall, not a very solid one, and not against it; but everything sounds perfect.
To my ears and taste, this is the most enjoyable system I’ve had.


@Hollow , @frenchrooster

My mention of 252/SC/300DR is only a minor part of my long post. Most of it was actually dedicated to my very conflictual relationship with reproduced music. In that, I think there’s an implicit explanation of why I so often find myself with variable moods about the gear.


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Max, firstly I hope you continue to have the best quality of life possible. You have had a rough time and I wish you every happiness in your musical enjoyment.
Like you I have done a lot of chopping and changing in my system since the mid 80s including no less than 10 naim boxes.
I am verging on retirement and this has coincided with developing a chronic neurological condition which could potentially put me in a wheelchair. I am writing this from the day hospital with a drip in my arm to fend off the worsening of the disease , something I do on a monthly basis.
Streaming is my music source and the early generation naim streamer the 272does a good job
In my opinion an utterly superb source makes relatively inexpensive but very good amplifiers and speakers sing.
I have tried the extraordinarily expensive Linn Klimax DSM streamer into their cheapest floor standers and amplifier at the local dealer recently.
Listening to the third movement of Arthur Pizarro’s Beethoven 4th piano concerto was a tour de force of power and subtle grace, the Gardiner version of Handels’ Dixit Dominus absolutely soared with its choral power. I know it would be even better with my 250dr and Ovator400s .
So, why not get the best sources you can afford? You’d have the fun of the N-Sats and the knowledge that you are absolutely making the best of the excellent but relatively humble amp and speakers.
In my case the Linn would cost as much as a new Toyota RAV4 but more of my time is spent in the house than a car, and why not enjoy excellence whilst you can? God knows you deserve it.

Best of luck with whatever you decide.


Thank you for posting that, not abandoning after writing it. It puts perspective to some (maybe many) of your past posts, which almost universally have made interesting reading.

Those of us who find systems with which we are entirely happy are fortunate indeed, and it saddens me that I have nothing to offer by way of suggestion. I wish you well with your home music playing quest, inherently doomed though it would seem to be, and more so I wish you well in yourself, and hope to still be reading your musings for many years to come.


I visited RSCH yesterday, and played a couple of my CDs (Sibelius Symphonies, Leif Segerstam and Rachel Grimes, Book of Leaves) on his more recent system:

CDX2/XPS2/202/HiCap/SNAXO/HiCap/2 x NAP200/NAC A5/IBLs.

Net of a certain prominence of the upper midrange, everything was so immediately enjoyable, and at the same time resistant to accurate analysis - timbres, dynamics, position of the instruments, harmonics of the piano, musical likelihood - that I thought that yes, on a system like that the illusion of music in the living room could be a true pleasure, a not boring one - or not too soon. :slight_smile: So yes, the quality of everything upstream, beginning with an excellent source, is utterly important.

I am sorry to read of your health issues, I am indeed. The amount of sufferance shared by good people is something I now can never ignore; as is the amount of care, kindness and solicitude shown by good people here, at the H where I have RT… Age brings at least one good thing, comprehension and empathy - unless one is an irrecoverable moron. :grinning:

Thanks, very very much. I am an unsatisfied pest sometimes, but my inherently doomed music playing quest is the only pastime that keeps me young and jolly… And thanks for appreciating my musings, I love writing and always hope that someone shares my views. To be honest, my social life is hugely richer and more interesting here than in my daily world, where I mostly seek peace and a minimum of control over my time, my feelings, my spaces.

Best to both


I think so, yes. A good suggestion albeit implying bringing 4 boxes home and eventually having to return them…

Even the other one with CDX2 Nait50 nSat was not bad either.
Your perspective 252sc 300, as we discussed Is a no brainer btw


I’ve long reflected on your post, and still think you hit the spot.

I was at my dealer’s yesterday, with the mental frame of possibly buying his 2nd hand 252/SCDR/NAP300. I’d have had to add a considerable sum to trading some equipment in. Friends suggest to enjoy my savings, there’s always a bunch of well-intentioned persons ready to spend your money - but not, apparently, to share the medical condition that suggests enjoying one’s savings… :slight_smile:

In the end, I didn’t. Great as a system it may be, I thought of the four boxes, the burndys, the constant timor of not getting the most out of it. And of course of my possible, oncoming dissatisfaction. So I am keeping the Nait 5, the FlatCap and the few SNAICs.

The late Sergiu Celibidache once said, in response to an interviewer’s question about his work with a ‘minor’ orchestra, his expectations and results, ‘It’s always best to try and get the 100% of the orchestra rather than the 100% of the conductor…’

I am not comparing myself to him of course, nor my system to an orchestra - but the principle is wise and sound…



Hi Max
I’m pleased that my musings had some resonance for you. I hope you are content with your decision. I often remind myself that it is fine to do nothing in such circumstances but I am not very good at following such advice to myself.

I can see how the self-awareness on display in the anecdote about the conductor and his orchestra is relevant. And you similarly are a thoughtful writer whose posts here are enlightening and amusing. I remember with pleasure your very funny account of visiting a local hifi show, which I think was too close to the bone for many.

You may have seen from my profile that I do have the 252/300 combination, and it is excellent. However I do hanker after hifi simplification - given I am 75, maybe the time for endless hifi striving is fading. I did buy a Nait 50 last year and it is truly excellent. I have had the pre/power back in place recently, but I will be reconnecting the Nait again soon and I am expecting that will see me through.


Clive, thanks very much for your kind words of appreciation of my writings. I really did enjoy reporting about the Audio Show in Milano. Believe me, it was like that. :slight_smile:

I dedicate this pics of my system to you, as I have just now finished re-assembling it, moving some furniture and placing my chaise-longue for comfortable, immersive listening. It’s TEAC VRDS-9, Thorens TD 145, Stageline N, Nait 5, FlatCap2, Van den Hul Clearwater speaker cables. All the interconnects are stock or professionally modified Lavenders, each for its own proper connection. NAC A5 may come, but the VdH has almost identical electric specs, and is even lovely to look at… BTW, I’ll be 71 in 52 days.

Thanks again,

Ops, I forgot the IBLs. :smile:


I got an opportunity to buy an ND555 at a good price a few years ago, and at the time my amplification was a SuperNait 3 and some DeVore Fidelity 3XL standmount speakers. An unbalanced system for sure, but as @IDAK infers above getting the source right seemed to imbue the whole system with magical properties. Maybe my system was monetarily unbalanced, but it made me very happy indeed. Only the move to a much larger apartment meant the DeVores couldn’t fill the room with sound, so I had to change.
John DeVore used to use XS level amps from Naim with super high end front ends and got great sounds in his room. The great thing about Naim is how all their amps have something special, as you say HiFun, not HiFi. So maybe you could look to improve the source, and go for a lower level of amplification through those gorgeous n-Sats?

improving the source is in my plans, but the VRDS-9 is not a bad player at all. I have an HDX, which is as good as a bare CDX2 - but I’d have to rip all [most of (some of)] my Cds…
As for the amp, there is not much below the Nait 5/FC I am using now. And as far as Sats are concerned, I’m now trying the IBLs without prejudices because you don’t discard rosewood IBLs without a very good reason! :slight_smile:


Thank you, Max - you have created such an elegant space! I wish you much musical enjoyment there.

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That’s a beautiful room…your taste is impeccable…I’ve read your posts with great interest and thank you. I completed my 252/scdr/300 set up last year with the addition of the 300 dr…that’s it for me…no need to go further. Quite some time ago I concluded that source material is the key…a badly mastered album will never sound great regardless of set up…the ultimate Joseph Heller situation…all the best to you.

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A fascinating and thought provoking post as ever. In my experience I was on an audio journey chasing a sound I could hear in my head for 40 years but I didn’t get there until I changed my Naim SBL speakers for ATC SCM40. There’s something incredibly musical about the way Naim sources and amplification sound with ATC in my view because they both strive to be musically involving without being like most other hi-fi. Now I just play music either on cd, vinyl and streamed and it just doesn’t really matter, it’s all a musical performance. It’s the same sound I heard in my head for years and was chasing…

The secret of contentment in this hobby seems to be reaching the level you heard in your head. As reviewer I am constantly able to experience kit that is better than my 82/hicap/250 - but I don’t ever feel dissatisfied when I return to my own system nowadays having attained that level.

My advice such as it is would be to go for the 252/300 if that gives you the sound you have been seeking in your head all these years. Also do try some ATC’s with Naim. Life is so short for all of us and music and film is so important to most of us that the system you want is going to give you far more pleasure than a few extra thousand quid sitting in a pension pot you may never draw.

I do think that important as upstream components are, it’s speakers that give you the biggest change in sonic presentation for the money. Finding the sonic presentation you seek is the biggest key to achieving satisfaction.

I wish you good luck and good health,



One of my favorite books…
Thanks very much for your kind words.

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