Next step…

Hi all. Still searching. Until today I was rather happy with my stereo, until somebody brought some old 350€ dynaudio loudspeakers to try when he bought my nait xs 2. what a wonderful big and transparent sound (even better with my actual olive set)!

system is olive 102/180/hicap and harbeth p3 on tontraeger stands.

What will be the perfect upgrade to my loudspeakers in a rather big/high room? Bigger Harbeth did not convince me at all (maybe M40 would, but totally out of reach)

I found out that I really still miss a lot of bass and volume here, although i appreciate the mid register, 3D sound and clarity of the p3. would be happy to keep the famous qualities of the P3 though…. subwoofers are no solution, tried different things already.

Might (used) Dynaudio contour 20 be an idea? piega classic 40.2? what else to consider when not willing to spend a lot? maybe, trading in the harbeth for something else, maybe keeping them for their obvious qualities.

thanks for any experience based hints!

I think that you’d achieve far better results by keeping the system largely as is, but swapping out your NAC102 for an NAC82, or even a mighty NAC52.

Source first, after all!

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yeah, but the harbeth ARE physically limited bass wise. would a 52 change this? i doubt it.

I always found the 102/180 to be thin and lacking in the lower registers. If you want to stick with olive try a 72/250 with your hicap. Or if funds are there 52/SC/250.

The NAC52 is a MUCH more capable preamp than the NAC102, so you’d get a much fuller/wider/deeper (you choose the adjective) soundstage.

ah just got the 102/180 last week and it was such a step forward from the plain nait xs2….

okay. the 52 is a little more investment than some bigger speakers. if anyone has one to sell at a nice price, let me know

I think that you’re new to the Forum, so you may not know that Forum rules don’t allow buying or selling of equipment.

But I suggest that you have a look at some of the usual websites - Grahams HiFi (in Canonbury, London), Cymbiosis (near Leicester), or your local branch of Audio T.

Or contact James Allney of TomTom Audio (St Albans), who specialise in tracking down and selling ‘pre-loved’ Naim equipment (which they always send back to Naim for servicing before putting it up for sale).

I suggest, though, that first of all you just enjoy your newly-acquired Naim gear before setting off on (what may become) an endless upgrade path!

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It is very difficult to recommend speakers because people’s tastes in music presentation differ, and every loudspeaker sounds different. Decades ago I discovered the difference speakers make, since when I have viewed speakers as the most critical part of a system, worth spending more than anything else on to get what suits you - other things can improve and make them sound even better. (Anathema to the ‘source first’ believers.)

Your tale, though different, reminds me of my brother in law’s experience: When I first knew him he was very proud of his system, LP12 based, with Naim speakers (Allaes IIRC). Invited to listen I could only be polite, while my whole being was shouting “where’s the bass?”
He came round and listened to my system - and from that day seemed not to be proud of his system anymore. Three years later when I upgraded my speakers he grabbed at the chance to have my old ones. And when later I changed speakers again, he had my old ones again!

Of all the speakers I’ve heard, my preference has been for transmission line designs, as they do bassvery well, deep yet taut and well controlled… The downside is that they tend towards the large side and expensive to boot, as they are complex designs, difficult to design and complex to build - but the result to my ears is well worth it.

If transmission line speakers interest you then PMC are the dominant today, though Kerr Acoustics and, I think, Castle also do them. As a generalisation the higher up the ranges (and bigger the speaker) the better they are (and the more expensive they are!), though of course they have to work with your room. Some can be challenging to drive, and generally the more capable the amp the better they sound - but that is not unique to transmission lines. The most prominent manufacturer before PMC was probably IMF - makers of my first two TL speakers.

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I’m pretty sure they don’t do this. We exchanged on this before but I cannot immediately find the post. Anyway, I like them too, I bought my used CD5 from them (it hadn’t been serviced) and my new XS3, as well as organised my NAIT 3 and UnitiQute 1 service through them. But they clearly state in their used items if they have been serviced, and when. They don’t routinely send every item back to Naim. I think what they advertise as doing is giving used items a thorough check and inspection (I assume on their premises). Here’s what they actually say on their website:

All Items In Excellent Condition & Fully Tested

I have to say, if they sent every item they sell back to Naim for a service that would be a unique offering for a UK Naim dealer.

[edit, here’s the thread we discussed it before! Nap 250 - #21 by graham55]

It would be worth saying how big the room is, and what your source is. Do you already have a Napsc for the 102? If not, try to get one before doing anything else, as it makes the 102 sound more natural. Have the Hicap and 180 been serviced within the last 10 years? If not, that’s an essential thing to do.

A pair of used Naim Allaes.


If your room is larger then you indeed likely have the wrong speakers even if you like them. You can decide how much bigger would suit in terms of sound and looks but may be try something like Graham’s LS5/9 or Spendor Classic 2/3 if in budget. They are not so difficult and would retain the golden mids (but free from the Harbeths “pretentiousness”). Don’ think you need to change electronics before you find the speakers you want.

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Thanks to all so far! The room is about 50 sqm and under the roof, 4,5m high

the napsc is already there, yes!

i will check out different speakers including dynaudio special 25 and contour, pmc, bryston, maybe old b&w 801 matrix, maybe also spendor or graham (none around near my place in augsburg/geemany)

woud be a dream to have a place for comparing great vintage speakers :wink:


Nice room!!)

indeed :wink:

anyone any experience with old b&w 801, will they work nicely with my nap 180 & do i have to expect low performance because of age? any age concerns on vintage speakers generally speaking?

sorry all the questions. big terrain.

From a review in zStereo (Thank you Google) ,’… and it gave a claimed sensitivity of 95dB/1w/1m with nominal impedance said to be 8 ohms. On paper, the speaker was able to produce reasonable levels of sound from a modest amplifier, but in practice needed at least 50W RMS per channel, and indeed a pretty gutsy one at that. No three-way infinite baffle enclosure (tuned to 37Hz) with a complex crossover is going to be particularly easy to drive, and the 801 didn’t rewrite this rule.’


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Doesn’t the 801 need a NAP 500 to get it going? A 180 won’t hack it. I rather like the suggestion of Allaes from Chris.


i see!

never heard / saw allae anywhere around in germany so far. will keep my eyes & ears open…