Naim Nova problems after firmware upgrade

I posted this issue about my initial problem back in March I believe. I still I can’t believe the firmware has much to do with the problem, but until I did the upgrade the Uniti Nova was working flawlessly.

After trying to upgrade the firmware in March the Nova soon started emitting loud, slow, high pitched pulsing noises and I had to unplug the speakers. Plugging the speakers back on and powering up the Nova just resulted the same problem. After I did a factory reset there was also a crackling sound from inside the Nova enclosure which sounded like sparks we going off and a faint burning smell.

Since then the Nova has been back to Focal Naim for repair and last evening I received it back after repair. However now, after connecting the speakers and powering up, when I try and play something I get a thin, tinny sound at low volume and turning the volume up just makes the same tinny/scratchy sound det irritatingly louder.

I have done a factory reset but that didn’t help. Am I missing something that I need to do or does it need to go back for repairs? I hope not - it cost a lot to ship it back and worse, it meant a long wait before I got it back. Any thoughts or suggestions would be welcome.

  • Vikas

Can you try it with a different pair of speakers?

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Ouch, I had some small problems - but if it is still misbehaving I would ask Focal Naim what they found ?

In other words was the fault

  • coincidental?
  • discernible i.e was there a fault ?

Appreciate sometimes there are long distances involved, my personal view (ready to get jumped on, by more experienced users) is that a software issue shouldn’t produce the problems you have outlined, if so this forum may have highlighted similar issues .

Best wishes for a speedy resolution

I thought of that, but it’s impossible right now. I have no other speakers (other than a MuSo!) and in the age of COVID I’m reluctant to drive anywhere else to try there. But I can’t believe it’s the speakers!

I aske Naim this question in case I may have caused the problem. The response I received was:

The noise was coming from the analog board. It would surprise that this was your doing. I would not worry about this !

Well that is not a software problem

No it isn’t. I think the firmware upgrade was a strange coincidence. Or perhaps my disconnecting the Nova and plugging it in again did something.

Well, in any case it looks like I’m in for another long wait till Naim deals with it.

The fault may have taken out your speakers. Can you verify that all drivers are working?

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As StoogeMoe says it might help if you could try it with another pair of speakers

I am no expert in this. Not sure of the scope of things controlled by software but it doesn’t sound like software would be prime suspect. Shame you don’t have another pair of speaker to test with.

A long shot, try the headphone stereo jack may be. It is really a process of elimination. Even speaker cable, power source, whatever else the unit is plugged into, eliminate all of them and start with unit plugged in one at a time, even without network to see when tinny noise start to come in. I hear some speaker cable would cause naim unit (not necessarily nova) to run hot. I hate anything that runs hot unless it is a kettle or heater or boiler.

Just my 2c. I love my nova and hope it gets sorted very quickly. Best wishes.

Thanks for your comments David. Now why didn’t I think of that. So the headphones actually work fine! I’ll wait and see what Naim has to say but I may buy an inexpensive or used amp (or borrow one) and make sure the speakers are still in good order.

Still, I don’t think it’s the speakers. Until I sent off the Nova for repair last month the speakers were fine and they would sound out that nasty hi pitched tone very loud and clear when the Nova was plugged in. Before I tried the firmware upgrade the same speakers were working perfectly and everything sounded wonderful. The sound now is putting through the music I play but it sounds like there’s no power at all and it’s playing through a phone’s speaker from a distance.

Very strange.

Have you tried putting your ear close to your speakers and checking that all the drive units are working ? Your description suggests you may only have the tweeters working.

Have you checked the speaker cable phase?

My guess is that you may have blown the drivers on your speakers (sudden burst of energy could melt the coils / windings inside the speaker rendering them unable to work properly anymore). It’s usually the tweeters that would go the first (some speakers have a fuse to protect the HF drivers so it may be worth checking with your speaker manufacturer if your crossover has this). Borrow a stereo + speaker cables from a friend and connect that to your speakers. If you have no one that can lend you a stereo - then connecting your speakers to your car stereo (if you can get to the cables) would allow you to exclude your speakers from the equation. As others have suggested, you must try different things to exclude individual components from the equation. Fingers crossed you find a solution for your problem soon!

Another “Now why didn’t I think of that” moment! Thank you TallGuy. I does appear that only the tweeters are playing any sound. I think that has to be a speaker problem, though I can’t imagine how - they have been untouched since the time they were working perfectly a few weeks ago. Still, it’s time to contact the speakers vendor and see what happens.

Kend, yes the phasing is correct, so it cant be that.

Davor, the answer probably lies in one of the problems you have suggested and I will be writing in to check on this. I will try and get hold of another speaker to try and isolate the problem - may have to source a cheap used pair.

Thank you all very much.

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Are they bi-wirable? Maybe the links are not properly connected?

No they are not. And I have not touched the speaker side of the cables at all.

Can the Nova output DC if faulty or is there a coupling cap in the output? The tweeters will have their own series cap but bass/mids will typically be open to DC.

OK, sounds like its time to get back to your dealer and let them know there’s a problem.


For anyone interested, here’s how the above episode concluded.

The Naim Nova returned after repair was fine. However it does appear that in the process of whatever went wrong the first time, the Spendor A7 drivers were damaged. Spendor have agreed to send me new drivers which they suggest I can replace myself - which makes me very nervous indeed but shipping the speakers back and forth is probably worse. Naim has agreed in principle to pay for the repair and the new drivers.

The process of discussing this problem with Spendor’s local dealer here was however so long drawn, slow and difficult that I have decided that I will get the speakers repaired and either sell them or keep them as additional speakers in another room for future use.

In the meanwhile I bought a pair of Neat XPlorers instead - they cost about the same as the Spendor’s but what a difference! I should have bought them in the first place. The Spendor A7s are fine - accurate and transparent. But my music sounds so much better with the XPlorers. I found that after an hour or so I used to grow a bit tired of listening to the Spendors but with the XPlorers, so far I don’t. In relatively quiet pieces with relatively fewer things going on I’m also hearing things in the mid-range hat I hadn’t before.

These will stay in the living room where I listen to most of my music. I may still use the Spendors in the study or den if I get them repaired.