Lucky NAIM novice seeks help

I am having some issues with my NAIM setup and was hoping from some trouble shooting and general advice if possible. I would like to preface this post with an apology for my ignorance when it comes to the subject matter and to thank anyone who takes the time to read and possibly provide input on my situation.

Back story
In 2012 I was working as a helicopter pilot at a fishing lodge in northern British Columbia transporting fisherman up and down remote rivers to fly fish for steelhead salmon. I spent an enjoyable week with a particular client of nice weather flying and great fishing. At some point we got to chatting about music and I mentioned I had a crappy record player that my wife and I like to listen to in the kitchen while we cook. He mentioned he also liked records, had a sizable collection, and would send me some when he got home as a thank you for flying him around and getting him into some fish (I was guiding at the lodge as well). Months went by and I forgot about our conversation until I received a parcel notification from Canada Post. I went down to the post office excited to grab a few records and instead there were many large boxes from the client and a note that said…

“I didn’t forget about your records but am upgrading my current system and thought you might enjoy an upgrade of your own. Thanks again for the good company, the flying, and the fish”

This is what was in the boxes

• Project debut carbon evo turntable
• Stageline N serial #186622
• NAC 112 serial# 198478
• NAP 150 serial# 198707
• Allae Speakers serial# 198668
• All cables for hookup

From the serial numbers it looks like all ¬this equipment was manufactured in 2003

As a layman, I was and am, incredibly grateful to have enjoyed this system for the last 10 years. Unfortunately, over the past couple weeks the speakers started to cut in and out becoming boxy and tinny. A quick tap on the speaker would solve it and it was usually the left speaker but sometimes both. Now they both sound boxy all the time. Upon further investigation it appears to me the “tweeters” or small speakers (lower) on the Allaes are not working.

I plugged the speakers into an older Denon home theater amp (maybe the worlds worst idea???) but the lower speakers still do not function.

I have a quote to recap the 150, 112 and Stageline N for approx. $1500 with shipping from the NAIM service center in Canada.

My 2 main questions are:

• Is there a way to determine if it’s the speakers or the amp/pre amp that is malfunctioning?

• Is $1500 CAD to rebuild this system make sense 2 decades later with what’s currently available ?

Thanks again for your time.

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Difficult questions as you are on the cusp of service or upgrade, plus I don’t know what the availability of Pre owned Naim in Canada is like. Value of your boxes in working condition is around 500 Canadian dollars equivalent on the UK. A better solution for me in the UK would be to look at selling and moving on to an older but step up the chain, system of Olive components and service them.
Re the faults you have found. Before doing anything can you either borrow a set of speakers, or alternatively take your 112 and 150 round to a friends and test the kit?

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Nice system

I can’t comment on the speakers. However with regard to the Naim amps, etc. yes, it would be worthwhile getting them serviced.

You could email the Service department at Naim with the equipment details and serial number, they can let you know if they have been serviced previously.

They will then be like new.

Consider how much it would cost to get new versions of what you have, would be a lot dearer than getting it serviced.

DG…

The only way to check the Allaes (short of sending them for servicing with your local importer/service agent) will be to play them on the end of a system that you know to be working properly (because I take it that you are not sure that the Denon amp is actually working). Do you have a friend nearby with a music system that you can use for this purpose?

The system that you have is a perfectly decent system. But it is what ‘old Naimite hands’ will regard as a ‘starter system’, and most Members of this Forum will acknowledge that Naim ownership brings with it the urge to improve (‘upgrade’ is the self-justifying platitude usually used) on what you have year in, year out.

If you are sure that the ‘upgrade bug’ will not bite, spend the $1,500 CAD on the servicing.

Otherwise, save that immediate expenditure, and use the money saved (plus your existing equipment) to trade in against improved Naim kit. In other words, you will not recoup the money spent now servicing your existing equipment if you sell the existing stuff or trade it in to move ‘up the ladder’.

But make sure that you use whatever Naim equipment that you have to enjoy your favourite music along the way, whatever that music may be.

Above all, never forget that you are buying the Naim kit to enjoy the music - you are not buying the music to enjoy the Naim kit!

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Hello Jordytodd,

First - welcome to this Forum! What a nice post and interesting back story into how you came into Naim! I imagine there’s a fair bit of sentimental value in your equipment, and therefore, I will try and preserve this condition in my response.

You have many options given the situation. It sounds like you’re pretty confident the Denon works fine, therefore, most likely your Allae tweeters are on there way out. Given their age, this isn’t entirely unexpected. I live in the US (WI), and assuming you still live in the BC area, to ship across country and have 3 boxes serviced in 2022, for 1500 CAD, I think the pricing is very reasonable and will ensure your kit provides another 20 years of exemplary service. At this point they could use it, and assuming you resolve your speaker issue, you’ll notice an improvement in sound after the boxes are reconnected and run back in.

One thing you don’t mention is the cartridge situation on your turntable. Has it ever been replaced, or the stylus retipped? Assuming no, then at 20ish years, it’s most definitely due for replacement. I would do this before servicing the Naim boxes.

You’ll find the Forum is absolutely wonderful at spending other people’s money. So tread carefully.

Regarding the speakers, I’m not sure if Naim-Focal North America can service the Allaes. Ideally you would send them in for a service. I recommend you check on this option, and the price of course. Shipping will be costly. In addition to the fault being a possible tweeter (they do dry out over time) or two, it’s possible something on the inside of the speaker’s crossover circuit has fouled up. Depending on shipping costs, what NFNA charge, etc., it may be possible for you to buy replacement tweeters. Again, given their age, it would be prudent to change them out anyway. If so, this is a task you may be able to do yourself. NFNA should be able to confirm this. If the replacement tweeters still don’t resolve the issue, then you’ll have to move on to the next likely problem (crossover circuit). And for this, NFNA will likely have to perform the work. Nonetheless, you can rest assured that you methodically worked through the various issues to the point that more costly expertise was required.

Finally, upgrading components is another option, but seemingly a never-ending world of possibilities. If you’re interested in that path, then typical Forum consensus on where to prioritize is as follows:

  1. Upgrade your TT first (assumes you also replace the original cartridge)
  2. Upgrade the preamp next
  3. Upgrade the phono stage after that
  4. Upgrade the amp next (the 150 is plenty good at showing significant improvements up the chain)
  5. Assuming the Allae’s are fully serviced, you could then look at the equipment support you have the equipment on, establishing a dedicated listening electrical circuit in your house, and upgrading the standard Naim cables - the latter of which should be the last thing you do.

Hope this helps!

OA

Hi,

Q1. As has been said already, your best bet is to try the Allaes on the amp of a friend whose amp is known to be working. If you find the tweeters are defective, email Naim and establish if replacements are available.

Q2. The work at the dollar price quoted is unknowable for me as a Brit. All I can say is that a friend of mine who runs a Naim 500 set (think Naim equivalent of Bell 206 Long Ranger, or similar) once said to me that if he couldn’t have his 500 set, he would have a NAC122X, NAP150X and Allaes. Not dissimilar to your set.

Hope that helps.

Chris

Edit: Oh, and you probably need a new cartridge on the turntable too. Otherwise, all good.

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Jordy hi and welcome. I can’t add anything meaningful to the advice already provided but great story.

Good luck and enjoy your music.

Regards,

Lindsay

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A contrarian opinion, perhaps: The Stageline doesn’t need to be recapped, neither does the NAC112. The NAP150 may need to be recapped after almost 20 years (it’s the only component that carries high voltages/currents). As suggested above, borrow a pair of speakers and se if this intermittent issue is the speakers.

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Hello @Jordytodd and welcome. You have already received really excellent advice from others here who are much more knowledgeable about your kit than me. But as a fellow Canadian I will say that dealing with Focal Naim America in Montreal has been a good experience for me and for others on the forum. If you are happy with your Naim kit and intend to keep it then by all means get it serviced and repaired and continue to enjoy it as the cost does not seem excessive to me.

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Hello @Jordytodd . As @TabooKahuna says, the Focal/Naim dealer in Montreal is very good and can recap your amps nicely. I am also in Canada, btw. Do you have any other pair of speakers to connect up, just to ensure that the speakers you have are faulty? Once you have ascertianed that your old speakers need work, perhaps it’s time to buy a new pair of speakers. Totems work very well with Naim gear, as per @Mike_S ,and there are many very good used speakers, Totem included, on Canuck Audio Mart or CAM.
Best of luck.

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I would get the components serviced. After 20 years even the Preamp will need it. Unsure about the Stageline however. Your speakers may need replacement due to parts availability. Michel and the crew at Focal-Naim are great to deal with and will get your system up to speed in no time.

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Before diving in too far, “tapping on the speaker cures it” is indicative of a dry joint or loose connection either on the crossover or the Tweeters themselves. I would be very surprised if the tweeters were faulty. This something any competent local electronics tech should be able to diagnose for you without the hassle of sending things back to Naim.

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Thanks everyone for reading and contributing to help me make a decision about how to trouble shoot.
I do have a sentimental attachment to the system and have decided to recap the 150 112 and Stageline. I will try various amps on the Allaes and try to find a set of speakers to try on the amps before I send them away to determine if it is the speakers or the amp. If its the speakers I will look at repair or replacement.
Thanks again to this community for sharing knowledge and experience.

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I hope it all works out for you, @Jordytodd! Do let us know how it goes.

I used to own a Naim nac112x and 150X. I bought them new in 2004 with Ariva speakers.

I had the 150X serviced and re-capped by Darran of Class A in Sheffield for about £250 About four years ago, this made an improvement in sound quality. Darran’s site said that the Service and re-cap of the 150X with Naim parts made an upgrade of the amp vs when it was new.

I didn’t have the preamp recapped because it didn’t seem worth it for what is pretty modest Preamp. It might be worth getting an external power supply for it.

Also I owned Allaes for a very short time but they were battered and I couldn’t get them set up properly. I know they are a very capable speaker and if you can get them set up properly they can sound marvellous.

Hope this helps

Also look at total system set up inc supports and cable dressing

Once you’ve got the system running nicely again, the way forward is to replace the 112, which is the bottleneck in your system at the moment

Bassman92 has probably hit it right on the head.

If the amps were faulty, the sound from the speakers would be more likely to be distorted than cut out.

Dry joints or loose connections inside the speakers can lead to one or both drive units cutting out.

If you are confident with opening up the speakers (the drive units are most probably screwed in from the front), take out the bass unit (this is the easy way into the speakers) and have a look at the wiring and crossover. Soldered joints can fail, either on interconnecting wiring within the speaker cabinet or on the crossover board.

When you have the speakers open, you could (very carefully) try moving the individual internal wires to see if the tweeter cuts out or comes back. Alternatively, do a bit of tapping around inside the speakers and on the drive units, making sure you don’t use any metallic object that could short your signal and damage your amp. If you find a dry joint, these don’t always look bad (think “hidden disabilities”). They could look ok from the outside but not be making a good connection inside the solder.

As I am not familiar with the Allaes, I don’t know if they have push-on connectors inside the cabinet, but if there are push-ons, try pushing them back into place or wiggling them to clean them.

If you have access to a multimeter, you could try measuring the drive unit impedances but this will be affected by the crossover.

This sort of problem should be soluble with a systematic approach.

Try the following:

  • Swap the left speaker with the right, leaving the speaker wires where they are.
  • Put the speakers back where they came from and try swapping over the speaker cables.
  • Try different speakers with your existing amp
  • Try your speakers with a different amp

If the problem moves around when trying any of the above, it will point the culprit out. My money is on the speakers.

Lots of the other contributors have offered sensible advice about whether to upgrade or not, but unless you sort out the problem with the speakers, you won’t be able to sell them for a decent price.

One last thing. When you sort out the speaker problem, check the directionality of your system interconnect cables and speaker cables. If they are Naim, they are directional and this will affect the sound. Speakers are easy, there are arrows that point from amp to speaker. For the interconnects, look at the manual. If the interconnect cables are unmarked, try turning them round one at a time. If the sound improves, leave them that way. It is also worth unplugging all your cables and plugging them back in to clean the surfaces. A bit of wiggling may also help with the cleaning.

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Checking the crossovers on the Allaes is really easy as they are external.
Pull out the two connectors that go to the cabinets.
Unscrew the four screws around the black enclosure.
Have a good around on the back of the crossover PCB, paying particular attention to the termination of the two cables & the input sockets. Dry solder joints should be quite obvious.
If you see anything dodgy, have a chat with a friend who owns a soldering iron & knows how to use it.

The Allaes are great speakers, it would be a shame to write them off if it’s a simple fix.

Good luck!
Regards
Neil.

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Welcome to the mad house - someone from Naim will be round before Christmas to empty your bank account :grinning:

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Thanks for the mention Donniboi, I knew the 35 odd years spent in the electronics servicing industry would come in useful someday!

This is already becoming a rabbit hole i’m having a hard time turning away from!

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