Managing Expectations(?)

Just for general info, the original NAP90 was Chrome Bumper, then Olive. Then came the NAP90/2 during the Olive period, and finally the NAP90/3 which moved to the slimline 3 series casework.


You’re spot on, the 42.5 is chrome bumper, however I hadn’t envisaged it being a permanent member, unfortunately my dad was unwilling to break the set, but I’m definitely not in a rush to start worrying about the vanity side just yet, so happy for the time being.

I hadnt heard of/seen Gullifords before, I thought we only had sevenoaks and richer sounds (the former regrettably having shut a few years ago). Great stock at Guillifords, too, I’ll definitely pop over there, thanks.

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Without wishing to sound like a broken record, I really wouldn’t go for the combo from your Dad, especially if you are already thinking of moving the 42.5 on. The 90 is not very powerful and will limit your choice of speakers. There are some classic combinations: 42/110, 72/140, 82/250 and so on. Indeed, when I was checking the Gulliford website prior to mentioning them to you, I noticed that they have a 102/180, which is another classic, and remote control too. There are plenty of places to look; eBay, Pink Fish, dealer websites including Tom Tom Audio. But remember that the better the amps, the wider the window that allows source limitations to do their worst. I do suspect that given that streaming is really your thing, an Atom may be the best way to go. Everything you want in one little box. It will be interesting to hear how you get on, do let us know.


I would demo an Atom at home.

(And return the 42.5/90/hicap for a refund.)

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Thanks again for all your input. For what it’s worth I’m sure my Dad would love to pass the equipment on to me for much less, he’s unfortunately downsizing for financial reasons and isn’t in a position to. A serviced hicap alone fetches over £400 on ebay so it’s not like this isn’t already a good deal.

Spent another few hours with the system tonight, with a much more diverse selection of music. Had a great time. Off the back of some of the advice here I came very close to grabbing an Atom and calling it a day, the praise it recieves online is a little bit staggering, but it wouldn’t have been as satisfying as separates in the long run. There’s something exciting about knowing your system isn’t complete. A bit more reason to go to work in the mornings.

I had a long chat with the old man and I’ve taken some of your advice. I haven’t bought his setup but I’ve picked up a 72 and bought his hicap/90, and will keep an eye out for a 140 down the line. I believe this is widely regarded as a true classic Naim system, and one that I’d be thrilled to own, with likely many years of tinkering down the line. My apartment is only small and I think his 90 will do just fine for now. The 72 I’ve just grabbed on ebay for a reasonable £425.

I haven’t made up my mind about the Sonabs. A pair of Neat SX1’s just made themselves available for a good price so I’ve got some more thinking to do, and will be popping up to the dealer to hear them shortly.

Can’t thank you all enough for the input, I’m still really keen to hear your thoughts on the current setup, although admittedly I haven’t even heard it yet myself. I’m still using the Wiim streamer as the Auralic I had my eyes on apparently doesn’t support Android these days. If anybody has any input on a good streamer pairing I’m all ears. No need for a dac as I believe my Dacmagic is apparently sufficient. Happy to be told otherwise though.


Not quite Devon, but Mike Manning in Yeovil is not that far away. He’s been a Naim dealer for a very long time and might be a good person to seek advice from about either getting the best from your dad’s gear or choosing something else that would suit you better.
Personally I would not find an Atom a great alternative to a properly set up Naim separates system. I have one in a second system, and it’s great for what it is, but if you can get a source worthy of your 42/Hicap I think you’ll find it much more rewarding.


I once borrowed a pair of Neat SX1’s for a home demo. At that time I was using a 272/Xpsdr/250 DR. They had great boogie, but I found the bass to be a little boomy. That was with them about 2 feet from any wall. They have a downward firing woofer, that could be a problem for you if you plan on placing them right up against a wall.

I tried the original Motive 1. Absolute bass monsters. Dreadful in my room. The SX2 is probably the one to look at.

OA-5 and a 2x15W Pioneer amp was my first system in the early 70’s!

They are still making some models of Carlson-speakers here in Sweden. The designer behind GuruAudio speakers has been part of these efforts, they re-released OA-61 a while ago. Teenage Engineering makes a wireless version of the OD-11.

There is still quite a bit of a cult around these speakers. Here in sweden OA-5 was very common as part of many peoples first hifi-system and the designer Stig Carlson was kind of a hero.

Personally I sold my OA-5s without regrets, replaced them with Spendor BC-1. A more conventional directional box. I never looked back :slight_smile:


Hello , the key thing in your post was the line “all recently serviced” I think by the sounds of it (pun intended) that you are getting them more or less free and the £750 is the cost of servicing

It sounds generous .

Would a BlueSound Node get you started a little better than a Wiim?

I am hesitant to give that much advice “you can ask ninety experts and get a hundred replies”

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I’ve found the Bluesound node to be an excellent source for my 1988 Nait and the Sonabs, circa 1973, fantastic with it. If you enjoy the speakers there is no rush to change.


Initial reactions, mine included, tend to wonder why dad wasn’t gifting you these items.

None of us here know your father’s potentially relevant financial circumstances and he might well be able to recoup more for these items separately but would prefer to pass them on to you.

Your musical tastes and hearing are likely to be different/better respectively which may influence sonic preferences.

Whenever I upgraded hi-fi I tried to give it to my father who inspired me to listen to music - he may only have had what was to me and my pals a fantastic room shaking ITT music centre and DIN connected cracking Sony compact cassette player but it made me so happy as a youngster. Great sonorous Radio 1/2 broadcasts in the morning at breakfast before school through to teenage thrills of 7”/12” vinyl when I blasted the ‘system’ at every opportunity when mum and dad were out. Dad used to use the equipment for Saturday discos at the local social club, it really pumped out the volume.

Sorry, I digress, but you’re right to try dad’s old Naim stuff, but equally remember the hi-fi journey is pretty personal.

Many are happy forever with quality budget separates and don’t need to go further. Do you?

If so, again you may be embarking on a journey which is yours alone to determine what works sonically and financially for you.

Atom is great. Nova is better. Separates potentially better still but whenever possible demo what you can at home.

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(…and a reason that the sound will need a little time to settle/refind its’ stride)

Leave on and break in that kit… soundfiled and tonality will quickly grow/improve.

Most amps with ‘cold’/unused internals sound harsh to me, and do not ‘go low’ with bass etc like the same electronics with a couple of hundred hours ON TIME

in this regard the 90s cambridge has an advantage that a little time of usage may greatly aid the ‘new’ (serviced) parts…

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I have two systems now, one for digital - TEAC VRDS-9/DAC-V1/Nap100/n-Sats - and one for analogue - Thorens TD145/AT/Stageline/Nait5/Flatcap2/IBLs - which is a mix of relative modernity and antiquity.

Please remember that this forum is equally divided between members who will go for the newest, those who’ll stick with the classics and those who sit comfortably in the middle, choosing modernity without following the herd…

Try to listen to whatever you find personally. If the Chrome Bumper system is of your taste, why not buy it and use the occasion to redefine your relationship with your father? If he becomes a dealer, treat him as a dealer and start to travel lighter…


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Lovely set up

One other thing, a few people have mentioned the Wiim Pro as a low end streamer. I’ve been led to believe however that this is because the dac is poor, given I’m using a respectable-ish CA Dacmagic, am I right in thinking the Wiim is just being used for transport and switching it out won’t change the sound even slightly? Again it’s all being streamed through Tidal.

Thanks again.

Thanks again for all your responses, I’ve really enjoyed reading all the discussion.

I haven’t jumped for any speakers yet, instead working on the room a bit to really give the Sonabs (which admittedly I do love) a fighting chance.

I’ve got to say, incredibly happy with how it sounds. As many have pointed out a pair of speakers you can find for £200 should be a really obvious weakspot in the setup, but they just keep impressing me, they really have absolutely no right sounding this good. The room is overflowing with music, it feels rich and full-bodied, with respectable imaging and decent highs. There’s definitely some definition missing, they don’t feel as surgical as I’d like for some of the more modern electronic music I listen to, and admittedly I’m absolutely still coming at this from the perspective of somebody that hasn’t yet lived with a really wonderful pair of speakers, but I can’t stress how impressed I am.

I did enquire about a pair of ProAc Tablette 2000s which I understand is a great pairing for the Naim gear, but they’d sold by the time I’d committed to buying them. £250, too, real bargain. Would have really valued hearing them next to the Sonabs.

I’m still very curious about what a pair of Neats would do for the room, the Petite Classic or Iota, particularly.

Anyway, for now I’m a very happy camper and thanks again for all your input.

Little pic of the Sonabs for the Carlsson fans too.


[quote=“WongaSpar, post:1, topic:34191”]
My father has kindly offered to sell me his old Naim system, comprised of a 42.5 Nac, Nap 90 and a Hi-Cap, for (what I believe to be) a very reasonable £750, all recently serviced. Now from my internet sleuthing this indeed seems like a well-loved selection of equipment, admittedly, I’m more drawn to the love I see for the 72/140 combo, but it’s nice to have something passed down so I’m happy to stick with the 42.5/90. [/quote]

Technically speaking there´s hardly no difference between 72 and 42.5 or 90 and 140. Ok, you get little more power out of a 140 but as long as your speakers impedance curve is not asking for a welding machines current al is fine.

[quote=“WongaSpar, post:1, topic:34191”]
But my burning question remains, how does this gear compare? I look at even Naim equipment from the last 3-5 years, I can buy a modern Naim integrated amplifier for <£1,500, are the Olive shoeboxes really that good by today’s standards?[/quote]

There has been no real innovation in amplifier design in the past 50 years. Well, a few components and soldering processes have changed, but that’s not necessarily always a step in the right direction.

In this respect, you can still live with the old shoeboxes quite easily and they still can compete with their today made brothers and sisters easily.


Sounds like an excellent overall result. The NAC 72 is a real classic and very musical.

Personally I’d suggest just enjoying things as they are for a while given your descriptions above.

The speaker I’m unfamiliar with but looks great and if it sounds good what’s not to like?

I’d suggest keeping an eye out occasionally for an Olive NAP250 at a good price - that with the HICAP and NAC 72 was my first Naim setup 30+ years ago, and it was sublime. The interesting thing with upgrading amps in the range is less about overall ‘power’ but how well they control the speaker. It would be interesting to know how those who have upgraded from a NAP90 to NAP140 in the past felt in terms of the degree of uplift.

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It is very good value, and the adage you have been informed regarding its’ D to A conversion being its’ weak spot IS NOT WHAT many would refer to when considering it AS A TRANSPORT.

As a transport it is ‘entry level’, but does renegotiate the markets price to performance ratio. (many being very happy with how cheap they can get a ‘do everything’ streamer’)

The argument with regards to transport quality is esoteric in nature and is the same as arguing that CD transport quality matters (digital cable quality etc etc)…

Some simply see digital as the theorhetical product that is ‘zeros and ones’ (and no shades in between)…

Real world application of engineering principles means MANY PRICE POINTS- hence many variables as to absolute quality in any builds specification and design.

Most would be happy with ‘it works’ (good enough).

Some like the improvement a transport upgrade brings to the final output… (clearer imaging/tighter bass etc etc)…

As someone who owned a Denon DCD-S10 with 18x blackgate capacitor upgrades and a superclock mod, and used as a transport ONLY - (held its’ own against the TEAC ESOTERIC I was using previously)…

I am in the school that transports matter.
I actually recorded a chewyoube video for this site where I compared two Digital Audio Players playing the same music file…

I used my two ‘middle of the line players’ (one worth 3-4x the value of the other), but I do believe that my ‘lowly’ Questyle QP1R is a better digital transport (vs midtier A&K and FiiO parts)

Perhaps no radio circuits helps but… build and design can easily alter the ABSOLUTE QUALITY obtainable from this kit.

Using such ‘perfect’ zeros and ones transportation as I can achieve- I set my DAC to Non Oversampling mode, and it has a tolerance adjustment…
If I set it loose (accept ANY digital feed as ‘good enough’) it works with everything (but sounds less accurate overall), or I can tighten the tolerance, but then some of the DAPs will ‘drop out’ as they cannot sustain a super accurate stream of digital.

Most consumer class kit is designed to use heavy handed error correction and be ‘good enough’ (and sounds appropriately ‘less’), and then some high end products deem ‘less’ isn’t “good enough” and reject incomplete or non perfect streams -operating sans 'strongly (error corrected) modified digital streams…

digital done right does sound better to those who have heard the differences or trained their ears to ‘a certain spec’ of kit.

I like tight tolerances and the sonic improvements that come with… although often requires a whole set of matched ‘tier’ equipment to allow the benefits to be heard… eg a loose or ‘guessing’ and heavily corrected digital feed generally leads to an unengaging listen and can hold back a graet DAC from delivering EXCELLENCE.

That being said it can all prove ‘very subtle’ with many professing the difference is nil and the thousands saved by letting mass market budget-fi parts deliver ‘whatever they can’ is GOOD ENOUGH with the savings going into speakers or something that alters the sonic recreation ‘more than a transport does’ as better investment when building a hifi.

(I wouldn’t worry about it, but it is wrong to ignore the facts that ‘you get what you pay for’ generally speaking)

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