NAC 102/NAP180 Update - a year later

Back in January 22 I posted about my recent move to Naim from musical fidelity and how I was finding the above amps a bit harsh and at times not pleasant.

I added a CD5x to my sources - Rega Pg/Ania, Bluesound node.

The bluesound streamer on MQA sources is not too bad and this I don’t understand.

I have now had the 180 serviced by class A and it all still sounds harsh and it cant be turned up past 9 o’clock as it sounds just too brash.

I have Kef r700s but also tried it with my epos es14s and its not much different so it seems the speakers might not be the issue.

What to do now?

  1. Buy a Hicap for the 102?
  2. Flog the lot and get a supernait 3
  3. Something else.

I’m trying to come to an informed decision but just don’t know what to do for the best?

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Do you have a NAPSC for the 102? It makes a bigger difference than you would give it credit for. A Hicap will improve things too.

I have owned most of the Olive series amps and I rarely turned the volume up more than 9 o’clock. Normal for Naim I would say.

You don’t say when the 180 was serviced, but it takes a while to settle down. You’ll know when it is on song.


Buy a NAPSC for the NAC102 if you haven’t already.

Buy some NACA5 speaker wires (properly terminated) if you haven’t already.

Buy a rack with some separate shelves if you haven’t already.


Try not using mqa sources. Ifind mqa adds treble harshness.

It may be a good idea to post your entire system including stands, cables and the room details (tiles on the floor or carpets etc)


Naim doesnt need to sound harsh thats for sure.

What about a SN2 and invest in a better source?

Maybe look at better matching speakers if that doesnt do it.

C’mon, something is wrong.

Either the Naim amp boxes are wrong, or the room is wrong. Spending a couple of thousand on Fraim and speaker cable just shouldn’t be a requirement to make it a pleasant listen.
Yes, a NAPSC and HiCap would be icing on the cake, but they won’t remove unpleasant harshness.


I would consider changing the 102 for an 82 if you want to stick with ‘olive’ Naim amps. Then maybe add a Hicap.
Beyond that, improving sources is always beneficial, and you have an amp which is revealing enough to show off source improvements very clearly.

Are you sure the components are all properly set up? Are they on a dedicated rack, or at least on shelves with no boxes stacked on top of each other, and cables properly dressed. Are you using Naim-compatible speaker cables? All these details added together can make a big difference.


What he said. The 82 is an absolute gem, IMHO. The 102… isn’t.


The OP has also posted this question in another forum.
The latest reply, posted at about 5.20am today, gives greater insight and sums it up well.

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Harsh! :laughing: :laughing:

It is based on my personal experience. I went from a 72/HiCap/250 to a 102/NAPSC/HiCap/250.

I was never really happy with the 102 - so much so that I bought another 72 to compare.
Then I got an 82… Wow.


I did similar, went from 102 to 72 both initially with a 180 and later with a 250. Never tried/heard an 82

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Try an iFi Zen Stream instead and prepare to be amazed.

I can only think that the sound from the 102 can vary from one to the next, just as seems to be the case with the 72 and earlier pre amps. I must’ve been lucky.

This 100 per cent.

If there is something ‘wrong’ with a Naim system, there are too many posts saying you need to buy this bit and that bit.

The system should sound great on its own without having to spend more hard earned cash.

I suggest the OP waits a while - a system can sound not so good fresh from a service, it needs time.

If, after a month, there is no change, he needs to speak to his dealer/Naim.


If it’s any help, my 2nd system consists of a CD5x 72 hicap 180 into small Mordaunt Short stand-mounted speakers, and it sounds just fine :slightly_smiling_face:

It would seem that some folk simply can’t really get on with a 102, the sound will never be what they’re looking for. Putting a hicap on the 102 will create the same dimensional upgrade improvement in audio quality as any other (suitable) pre-amp, but the defined nature of the 102 will still continue to shine though, accepted by some and disliked by others.

Buying a 72 for your 180 is probably the most cost effective way to change the sound to what you may find far more agreeable, and with a musical sound keeping you contented for years, not as detailed as a 102, but classic 72 warmth and emotionally musical to keep your feet tapping and your face grinning.

Upgrading to 82 is okay albeit more expensive, and possibly a slippery slope for later day upgradious; two hi-caps, a supercap, a 52…


Thanks for that. I almost bid on a hicap today but think the best course of action is to go 72 or 82 and as there is not too much difference I. Cost I will go for the better which I presume is the 82?

Rather than hicap the 102 I think I’ll just go straight to a new pre. So 82 or 72?

Fill us in Geezer, which speaker cables are you using, and what is it all standing on?

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It’s standing on a new atacama with linn k20 cables

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