Questions re: SL2 Ownership / Compatibility

Hi Everyone,

An rare opportunity has popped up for me and a local dealer is offering to sell me his personal pair of passive cherry SL2s at what I consider a very fair price.

However, this isn’t the upgrade I had planned at this time.
I had been thinking of a source upgrade next (NDAC or DAC-V1), but he’s downsizing and I’m not sure its something I can or should pass up given how rarely these pop up used in North America.

Really it comes down to SL2 or Source this year for upgrades, so I’m hoping some feedback can help me think this through.

I am however aware that owning speakers like this are not as maintenance free as others I’ve owned in the past so I’m hoping people can help me sort through this and consider things I may not have thought of. :slight_smile:

Maintenance

  • He has identified that the grilles need replacement, are these still available from NAIM?
  • He has also identified that the grommets/spacers between the top/bottom halves may also need to be replaced, how much of a challenge is that technically and in terms of getting those parts?
  • I’ve seen some discussions about re-ordering matching tweeters from NAIM. Is this a regular fix/issue?
  • Any other maintenance considerations?
  • What else should I ask about the speakers’ condition?

Placement

  • Context, I’m in a ~600sq ft apartment in a concrete building and will be in apartments of a similar size for the foreseeable future. Living room is ~12"x12" with kitchen off to one side and office off to the other.
  • A TV + TV Stand have to be between the speakers. Any comments on the impact for these speakers as I have not had speakers that like to be right up against the wall before.
  • Placement will be on concrete floor against a wall that is open to either side of the speaker. Any thoughts or concerns re this type of placement option. This is again, sadly, the only option as all outer walls are glass.
  • I am not sure if I will have the opportunity for audition in my space before purchase. (I know, I know) I will ask of course, but they are currently in pieces at his house. So I’m curious in terms of what experiences people have had running these in apartments

System Compatibility

  • My current system is SNAIT 1 + HiCAP DR + ND5XS + Thorens TD350 + Stageline N + Creek CD50mk2 on a FRAIM, I have NACA5 speaker cables into a pair of Duntech PCL10s. I use the ND5XS as my DAC for digital sources.
  • My Duntech PCL10 mini-monitors, which are around the same age as the SL2s, are extremely fast and time very well with a very engaging presentation, but always need to be pulled out from the wall which makes apartment placement a bit challenging.
  • I am well aware that the SL2 could benefit from better electronics than I have. I like to think of this possible opportunity as having some speakers that will grow really nicely with my system. However, perhaps there is some sort of issue I have not considered with how my gear may play with the SL2s… I would welcome peoples’ thoughts on this.

In terms of what I look for in a speaker / system - it’s to be engaged and pulled into the music.
Every time I go listen to speakers/systems, including a recent audition of SNAIT3 + NDX2, I come back home have a listen am quite content. I believe my source is the ‘weakest’ component right now so really the debate is SL2 or find a used NDAC (which I have auditioned before and loved) or NDAC V-1.

Welcome people’s thoughts - thank you for your time.

Nathan

The SL2s are fantastic speakers, but unless you plan to upgrade to something like the NDX2, ideally with a power supply, 282 and 250DR at the very least I wouldn’t touch them. You can get replacement grilles from Tom Tom Audio in the U.K. but not from Naim. Naim no longer supply matching tweeters. They need to be hard up against a solid brick wall to work as they can.

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And following on from @hungryhalibut , I’ve had SL2’s for the past two years. The first year on my SuperUniti, then 10 months on SuperUniti with 250DR and NDX2, and now 552/300 with NDX2 . They’ve definitely rewarded the upgrades in source and amplification, but they were still good with the SuperUniti.

Fitting the spacers is an easy job - it’s part of assembling the speakers. As HH noted, the spacers and pins are readily available from TomTom or Acoustica. I think that TomTom have grills, or there is at least one place on ebay that sells them as well

The SL2s like being placed close to a wall. As HH notes, they’re best against a brick or concrete wall, but NZ building materials are quite different, so I’ve got gib/plasterboard on one side, and double glazed floor to ceiling glass on the other, and they still sound good.

I’m also running a TV stand and fraim rack (plus a couple of chairs and an ottoman) between the speakers. No doubt they would work better without them all, but the stereo is in the lounge so I make what I can of the space.

My thoughts on the SL2 is that they’re an amazing speaker. Fast, and with the right music (especially vocals) they can completely disappear. They’ve got pinpoint stereo imaging, and can be very captivating. If the’ve got any downsides, it’s that their bass is slightly lacking. They do go deep, but the bass is not as prominent as I’ve heard with other stand mounts.

That said, I’m still really happy with mine.

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Thank you for your response!

Those types of upgrades are out of the cards for years so I appreciate that perspective.

I typically am about to allocate ~$3-5k CDN a year to upgrades, so the path to better amps / pre-amps is a ways away and almost always through the used market and the source needs to be addressed first.

I’ve heard something similar from a friend who was actually advocating that if I wasn’t going to go active to not even bother, so appreciate your time and perspective!

Thanks so much for the detailed response.

Also appreciate the perspective with a having used them with a SuperUniti.
Not the same as the SNAIT1, but definitely a closer point of comparison than NAIM separates.

The wall mine they would be against is not concrete, but the floor is, so I also appreciate your experience there too.

How did you find the setup process?
It looks a bit intimidating. :slight_smile:

I originally used a 272 into a NAP150x to drive my SL2s, and it sounded very good to me.

I even made a video of it: Naim 272/555DR into SL2 🔊 HiFi speakers playing Paul Bley - YouTube

There are many people who love their SL2s on the forum using SL2s with the passive crossover, so you don’t need to run them active.

Good luck with it.

Jim

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The instructions on the forum for setup are good, so if you follow them methodically they’re not that hard to set up. Make sure that you’ve got a good spirit level

Start with the base, and make sure that it’s perfectly level (both front to back and left to right. The nuts on the spikes are used to stop the spikes from rotating, so keep them loose until your spikes are adjusted for the base box being level.

Then put in the pips and washers. I can’t recall the side that the little dimples should be facing, but make sure that they’re all in the same direction.

Then add the tweeter arm - this has some nuts down the bottom that you want to be loose when you are setting them in place, and then tightened up as firmly as possible when they are in place. Wait until you’ve got the top box in place before doing this.

Then add the top box. With the tweeter arm this is a little fiddly, but not too difficult - slide the top box in from the front, parallel to the bottom box. From memory, you’ll need to hold it about a finger’s width above the bottom box. Lower it onto the pips, which will hold everything in place. Make sure you’ve got the correct upper and lower box - you’ll be able to tell by the wood grain flowing from top to bottom.

Align the tweeter arm by gently pushing forward until it aligns with the black face of the top box. Tighten up the bolts at the bottom of the tweeter arm

Attach the passive crossover. There are rubber grommets that fit into the “screwholes” in the plastic of the crossover. You want the crossover screws to be just snug - the crossover shouldn’t rattle, but you don’t want it to massively compress the grommets either. Attach the crossover cables, and your speaker cables to the crossover (make sure that you turn off your amp when you do this)

Sit back and congratulate yourself with a beer on a job well done. Put some music on, and make an objective assessment as to whether the music increases the flavour of the beer.

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Thank you for that perspective as well - I’ll take a look :slight_smile:

If you’re in the US then I seem to recall that Foamspeakergrilles do replacement foam grilles for the SL2. They are not quite the same as the originals but they’re available locally, which is a plus.

The SL2 setup guide in the FAQ is worth studying and following.

With the spacers and pins, the little dimples face upwards.

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Don’t let the setup issues put you off. It is quite easy as long as you are careful. It is important to get it right though so I would be asking the dealer to install them if possible.

I have used mine in a system with just a Qute MK1 as a source and a single passive 250 when a couple of my components were off for servicing. They still sounded like SL2s and were surprisingly enjoyable.

My worry with you setup is the power amp. Compared to SBLs (which I also own) I think they need a bit of oomph to open out and may disappoint in your setup. In other words you may have a little bit of a ‘mullet’

Obviously buying now would give you a speaker that in theory could support many future upgrades but for something fast and engaging in your system right now I might look for a good pair of SBLs. Much less outlay so you could be able to invest in your electronics too.

My two penneth.

Bruce

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The only bit I find a pain is the tweeter arm. If your bolts have the rounded head, just get some proper hex head bolts. And depending on placement it’s difficult or can’t really be done in situ, so I put them on and tighten them up before siting the speaker bass unit. Bit of a catch 22, but if they are firmly bedded in and on the correct speaker base L/R you should be ok. Pins and pips can wait till the base is in situ. Nothing more annoying than losing one mid setup. It’s a long wait from Tom Tom if you’re Stateside.

Also, if the faceplate on the upper box is stuck after loosening the allen bolts, a bit of gentle prising aroung the straight edges with a flat wooden spatula has always done the trick for me. Really makes centering the tweeter a breeze.

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Only tighten the bolts enough for the arm to oscillate with a nice springy action and no more. A dealer once stripped the threads on mine! You can fortunately get through bolts to replace….

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The SL2s introduced me to Naim. I originally purchased mine to go with a Yamaha CD player and Quad 33/303. I quickly moved to a Naim CD player and from there upgraded over the years to 252/300. The SL2s were the one thing I never changed in my Naim system because the system grew around them.
I used them in differently sized rooms from 15 to 50 sqm and they always performed well against a wall, even in a room with 27 (!) windows.
You will have the opportunity to upgrade the source any time but you don’t know when a pair of SL2s will come round again.
I don’t think a home demo is absolutely necessary. Listen to them at the dealer’s and if you can walk away then they are not the engaging, pull-you-into-the-music speakers you are looking for. I couldn’t walk away and never regretted it, even if I moved on eventually for aesthetic and space reasons.

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What a lovely and detailed post thank you :slight_smile:

Thanks Richard!

Appreciate it BruceW thanks.
I’ve thought a bit about that too re: my SNAIT.
My current speakers are actually less efficient, and possibly a harsher load than the SL2s, but who knows. I was happy with my SNAIT when I auditioned it with ATC SCM11s back in the day.

It’s likely that ‘next year’ the amp is addressed, but probably to a SNAIT3 rather than separates.
So not sure how that’ll handle them either.

Thankfully it sounds like I’ll get a chance to listen to them before I have to make a decision.

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Appreciate the advice thanks!

I will definitely make note of this should the purchase be made/task arrive. :slight_smile:

Thank you!

Thanks William.

It does seem I’ll get a chance to listen to them first now, which I am happy about.
The dealer is still waiting for some replacement parts first, so it’ll be a bit before that gets all sorted out.

Appreciate the perspective and you sharing your journey. :slight_smile:

My SL2s produce deep rich and realistic sounds of double bass and bass drums.

I have a solid concrete floor and they are very close to an internal brick wall behind.

And my listening chair is way out from the rear wall.

The bass for example on this live recording of a gig by Charlie Haden, Paul Bley and Paul Motian is superb.

I don’t know why they sound so good in the low frequencies, but I like to imagine that somehow the big lower cabinets and near wall design somehow help the speaker/wall interaction as a whole to reproduce bass as it was recorded.

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