Naim SBL vs B&W CM series


What exactly are you missing? My current in use speakers are Epos ES14s which I had before my SBLs, and primarily as they were simpler to get from storage than the SBLs.

When I got my SBLs I think for a long time I felt I lost maybe an octave at the lower end compared to the Epos speakers, and I’d imagine that could be quite telling with organ music.




The quick test is to gently push the mid-basses inwards and see how long it takes for them to return to rest: 3-5 seconds is considered “good”. But don’t get hung up on this…I transported mine nearly fifty miles with no problems. You just take your time, handle them with care and well supported and drive gently.


This may come in handy:

There’s a slightly misleading bit in the manual ^ when you place the mid cabinet [ with bass/mid driver ] upon the base cabinet, don’t push too hard, the spikes should not piece though the aluminium pads, only need to dent them slightly after carefully lining up the cabinet. This is so the mid cabinet stays aligned up correctly. Hopefully yours will already be correct in this matter.

Also, not mentioned in the manual: on wood grain veneer finishes the wood grains line up on all three cabinets of each speaker, so the individual cabinets will be purposely made for three for one speaker, and three for the other, although i’m not sure if this applies to black ash finish. (?)

Consider dusting, the rear sides and metalworks, and bee waxing & polishing the cabinet sides before starting assembly, this may take some time if done proper but it will be easier doing this before set up.
Allow plenty of time with setting up, it’s not a race : )


Confirmed! Looks very nice.


I read about this. It sounds odd to me, since pushing a driver would mean that the air pressure inside the sealed box increases and therefore it should quickly return to its original position. What am I missing here?


It is difficult to describe. The Ovators do 50% of the music extremely well - they feel like gigantic studio monitors where I have the feeling hanging like a mic in a studio / church / concert hall. The other 50% does not seem to come alive.

I’m used to either coloured boomy B&W’s or very accurate Ovators. The SBLs come nicely in since they fit my livingroom well. I don’t know what I’m missing yet. They are on runs of Linn K20 currently, I need to resolder my A5. That will bring a difference - I have this experience. I also need to do some tests with squeezing in the Hicap DR between the Nac 72 and the Nap 140 - that will also be a difference.

Fun weeks ahead - next to the work / family.


My experience with SBLs was that running them active with 2x200 (and a modern SNAXO242) was probably equalled by running them passive with a bolt-down 250. Or, at least the benefits of running active with 2x200 over the 250 were limited.


A 250 / hicap / 72 sounds indeed more feasible and reasonible to me. The outlay would not be that big either - a cb / olive hicap & cb / olive 250 would be around GBP 1500 in ok condition. The 140 can be traded in which helps.


I run mine with a single 300. I did hear them with active 250s but not at the same time and not at home so it’s difficult to be definitive. What I would say is both sounded great!



I’ve heard my Mk2 SBLs with:

  1. NAC282 / Active 200s (SNAXO 242)
  2. NAC62 / Active 250s (NAXO2) (All CB, all recently serviced)
  3. NAC282/250 (Bolt Down)
  4. NAC12 / NAC160 (Bolt Down)

Frankly they all sounded pretty good.

At the moment I’ve settled on the 2nd configuration… but I won’t rule out going back to the 4th configuration.


Stephen, what would be the reason to go for configuration 4?


Just because I’ve got it really.

The NAC12/NAP160 does have a nice sound (however the active configuration with 250s is better.) The box count is quite a bit higher though. (6 vs 2 or 3 if I use a HiCap).


If i were you, i’d stick to the simple game plan of getting the SBLs set up correctly, acquiring a hi-cap, and general set-up and tidy up of the whole system on some kind of audio rack.
This should also keep the homestead happy with your partner : )

A decision to upgrade the power amp can be made later on, and it really depends on your budget and maybe WAF, the box count of active will need more rack shelves and space.

My advise is to stick with the 72 - hi-cap - 140 until all the above ^ is all well in order.

If you decide to remain with SBL passive i’d recommend 72 - hicap - a pair of 135s - this is a very good value for money powerful amp, i was very happy with this set up for years before the 552 came along : )




A couple of these have arrived. Tonight the seal will be made.


Does any of you have a good suggestion how to remove the old adhesive sealant? I spend almost two hours already on peeling it off … The gasket is fine though.


I use white spirit for the clean up and then a little sand of the area before filling any spike holes and making good. The gasket might be worth replacing as I had one that was fine UNTIL I used a new one!


Thanks Steve. I think I got the routine getting it peeled off now. I see that it was resealed before as well by little inscriptions in the box.

I noticed that the lower box was connected to the gasket by a different glue than the gasket to the mid box. In my understanding, for both sides of the gasket I should use the 595. Is my understanding correct, or am I missing something?


Hmmm, the bottom side of the gasket, the bit that sits on the metal surface is self adhesive. This part is not siliconed. The silicone is a thin bead that removes the slight gap between the mid and bottom box. You must make sure that the spikes sit on the metal pads and do not pierce through to the wood below as then the mid box will sit on the gasket and thats bad. Make sure there is a slight gap for the silicone to make a seal. I have some instructions somewhere from Naim actually but I found them only slightly useful!!