Nova+ProACD20r Distortion

Any thoughts regarding audible distortion on ProacD20r with Nova? It seems the max limit when streaming Qoubuz/Tidal is @ or around 65 on the volume control. I remember reading a report showing path curves that support this but not sure if this was accurate… Thinking of upgrading speakers or going to SN3 + NDX2 .

If your volume is not limited through the app I’m not surprised you are hearing distortion at 65 on the dial. This will obviously change depending on the speakers load but 65 is rather loud from my atom, although I know they have slightly different volume scales. I think what you are hearing is just the limitations of a 6” driver. I’ve experienced this with 6” floor-standers. A bigger amp might help somewhat but it won’t change the laws of physics. More cone surface area = less distortion with increasing volume. IN my experience a 2.5 way or a 3 way speaker solves the issue if you like to turn it up or want to reduce distortion. Either that or adjustment of your expectations. Im sure many will say that they don’t get distortion with their 6” floor-standers but as I have experienced, you sometimes don’t know it’s there till it’s gone.

Thanks Mark84… appreciate the insight. My room is 18’ x 16’ and due to size I thought it was power delivery… or maybe it’s me being hopeful that a 5k pair of speakers would have a bit more punch. That said I wonder of the d30 would offer any substantial return or if I need to move on to something else entirely. It’s for those days when my wife and I want to turn it to “11”

Possibly. Others might be able to give your an idea on that, but for reference, my friend bought some speakers from me (3 ways with a 12” + 6 “driver) and the nova has no problem driving them to high levels with very little distortion.

It’s not the speakers. You need more power. I have D20R, my room is 15ft x 22ft, my Amp does 150wpc into 8ohms and 280 in 4 ohms it can play extremely loud with no audible distortion. The problem with Naim is cost in the US. You ideally would want a Nap 300DR , which in the USA is $14,000 and it’s still only 90wpc into 8 ohms. In the US we typically have larger rooms than the UK so smaller rooms less power needed.
And FYI if you’re running your amp at 65% the amp is clipping and will damage your speakers.

Oh and if you want loud at the expense IMHO of great sound maybe you should consider Klipsch they sound ok and play loud without a lot of power.

FWIW… I ran a ND5 XS/NAIT XS 2 with a pair of ProAc D2 speakers and they could get loud in a 14’ x 20’ room. Also a NDX 2 / SN 2 with a pair of ProAc D30RS in the same room and it would play quite loud. I also added a XPS DR power supply to the NDX 2 and HiCap DR to the SN 2 over time and it improved the sound as well.

I have never used a Nova so can not comment on your specific configuration. If you can get a demo of the NDX 2 / SN 3 with your ProAc D20R speakers I think you would be quite happy. You would also have a path to improve the music with adding power supplies if you want to go in that direction.

Good luck with your decision.

If it sounded like the sound is breaking up when you turn it really loud, it’s very likely clipping distortion. This is caused by the amplifier working too hard and trying to deliver more power than it’s capable of.

It’s important to be realistic as to what a hifi can do. You are never going to replicate the experience of a live concert, unless you have large speakers and very powerful amplifiers. A Nova and the D20s is not that system. You also need to be aware of the neighbours- maybe you don’t have any - and your hearing, which once damaged is gone for ever.

The easiest course of action is to learn to enjoy music with the volume at more modest levels.

That said, before I had hearing issues that require hearing aids, I’d love to listen to loud music on occasion. With my then SL2s and a 300DR I could turn it up to about 60 and have a totally clean sound that could almost pin you to the wall. But despite being in a detached house and having double glazing, it could still be heard as you came round the corner of the road, so I played it like this very, very rarely and only for short bursts.

A change to a NDX2 and SN3 would give you a significant jump in quality. Music would be more real and involving, and easier to enjoy without turning it up as much, which is good for everyone. If you are able to get home demonstrations, I’d try also the NDX2 with a 282, Hicap DR and 250DR. I suspect the latter may be what you need to get the result you want. It is of course seriously expensive, which may help to manage your expectations. But do think of your ears; unlike speakers you can’t swap them for a different pair.


Wise words @hungryhalibut . Hearing is precious and I don’t want it diminished in any way. I purposely keep my system at a reasonable volume but I’m still in shock at how loud it seems when I’m in my “bubble”. For the OP I have a pair of D2R Proac standmounters so they are similar to what you have. No problems at all, if anything for me they can get a tad bit too loud.

Thanks for all the feedback… truly appreciated …and the education on clipping … i’m an architect by trade so electronics are not my forte (brought into naim from my nait in college… (first time i could hear the music) i bought the nova for the one box system (wife didnt want a bunch of kit in the house as listening room is also living room) perhaps the “distortion” im hearing may also just be the cone not being able to handle lower bass frequencies because its clipping? forgive my musical descriptors as this is new territory

My other thought is that my dilemma may also revolve around not hearing the dimension and sound stage at low levels…its more apparent for me the louder it goes,… and this is more important than moving the dial to spinal tap levels.

i do realize the nova is a different animal than separates and maybe that is (latter) the path i should take. still not entirely sure.

When the amp is clipping, it is sending a distorted, unnaturally shaped signal to the speakers, and this makes it much harder for the cones to follow it too, and easily damages them.

There is also a different phenomenon where an amp sends a clean signal but it it is simply too loud and overtaxes the abilities of the cones.

Both are bad but they are not quite the same. The former is more likely to damage the speakers

The whole immersive experience thing certainly increases as the volume rises, though systems vary on how good they sound at both low and high levels.

I do suspect that an NDX2 and SN3 would give you a lot more of that immersion, but it comes at a price. It would certainly get hold of the speakers better and give a bigger and more involving sound. It may be possible for you to try it at home.

ProAcs are lovely speakers - I have the little Tablette 10 Signature but my room is only 4.5m by 3.6m. You’d be amazed how much a speaker can be improved with more quality up front.


I remember once back in 1981 ish one @davidhendon of this parish leading me on the road to financial ruin by taking me one lunchtime to hear the latest incarnation of Quad ESLs. I forget the exact system but I think an Oracle TT and big Threshold power amp. They played Romeo and Juliet by DS at massive volume but wow that’s what a good system could do. The Nova is capable of great things and I don’t know Proac speakers but there will be limitations, inevitably.

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