Naim 32/HC/250 vs Meridian 101/105

Has anyone compared the classic vintage HiFi setups? If so, what were your thoughts?

I once had a Meridian 101/103D, which was one below the 101/105. I moved to a Naim 42/Snaps/110 in 1983 and it was miles ahead. The Naim evolved into a 32.5, Hicap and 250, which was hugely better again. The Naim is much more lively, engaging and musical, with the Meridian bland by comparison.


What speakers were you using?

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Linn Kan and later Naim SBL. Classic Flat Earth stuff.

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I have had Meridian 101-M2’s (twice), active & passive Kans, SARAs & Isobariks. Front ends were LP12-Ittok-Asaks and LP-12-Dynavector DV505?-Koetsu Gold. The M2’s were pretty good, but let down by the pre amp I felt. Grafting a better pre helped, (Audio Research, Mitch A Cotter), but ultimately the M2s were just a little too lean in the bass for me, abeit very quick and controlled. I had clients use Meridian to drive their Briks and SARAs, but they just didn’t have enough grunt or control, so I would concur with Mr Halibut. Too “polite”, (well actually a bit dead).
I would agree that the flat earth approach could get a bit too intense at times, but whenever I strayed a bit, I always came back. Being a dealer of all the products I tried at the time meant I didn’t lose money, but ultimately the PRaT held a spell on me, (and still does). Gotta keep that foot tapping.


I also had active M2’s until my dealer suggested that I try a small Naim systems - 32/Snaps/110 and Kans. I thought he was nuts until I tried it. I chopped the M2’s in the following week.

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I always enjoyed the Meridian active speakers of that era but the 101/105 left me somewhat cold, which is why I ended up with the 32.5/HC/250 - using Spendor Prelude / Kans.


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Our 101/103D is still going strong in SWMBO’s “office”, driving Mk. 1 Kans. Front end is CD3.5+FC, RPi streamer and NAT03. it sounds pretty fine for a 40 year old amp. There’s a photo somewhere on the forum (“Show us your systems”. perhaps?)

When I was building up my Naim system for my “office”, my starting point was:

An old Pioneer DVD player, 101/103D, Kans. Then I bought the CD3.5+ Flatcap and started down the slippery slope.
Some observations:
The 101 was replaced by a NAC102+NAPSC+Flatcap (borrowed from the CDP). A much superior “preamp” in just about every way possible. Still driving the 103D & Kans. I think an HC turned up later on.
At some point a pair of SBLs arrived and replaced the Kans. Very similar in presentation (“if Kans had bass they’d be SBLs”). The SBLs were driven by the 103D, and were a huge step up from the Kans.
A NAP250 arrived. For sure it was better than the 103D but the latter was by no means disgraced.

The 101 preamp was good in its day, but the NAC102 was better.
The 103D is far better than it has any right to be, but is ultimately surpassed by the NAP250.
So all that is left now is to grab a 105 from that well known place and see how it compares.

The 103D was quite capable of driving Briks, and indeed for many years in the late 80’s & '90’s, our system was Sondek+Zeta+Audio Tech cartridge into 101/104/103D, 5 metres of NACA4 & Isobariks.
A superb flat earth sound well capable of showing detail and control, while going loud enough to drown out the sound of B&Q’s burglar alarm going off across the road (Rush, probably :slight_smile: ).

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A local Hi-Fi shop had a 101/105 setup in almost constant use front of shop back in the day. Can’t remember the speakers used (they swapped them around regularly) but usually had an LP12 /Grace/Supex up front and it always sounded really nice.

They moved to new premises and the 105s somehow went missing during the decant and after many searches never turned up! They had no further use for the 101 preamp so I swapped a Quad 34/405 for it and a TVA1 valve power amp they had sitting in a corner like some lurking monster. My hunch was that the little 101 with its dedicated Supex MC module onboard would outperform the Q34 and it didn’t disappoint.


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