Russell K Red 120 with Nait XS2 is missing punch & attack

I recently bought the Russell K Red 120’s which are being driven by a Nait XS2.

There is a lot to love about these speakers. The imaging is wide en instruments are easy to point out. The bass goes very low and there is lots of detail.

However, they are very open en sometimes can be a bit harsh. Also they miss some punch and attack with drums and they sound a bit lean sometimes. Last year I listened to the Spendor A4 with the XS2 which sounded a lot fuller and had more punch & attack.

What is the forum’s experience with this speaker?

Do I need an amp with more richness, warmth and attack, a better source or is what I describe just the character of this speaker?

For what it’s worth. Cables are AQ Rocket 44 and source is Bluesound Node 2i.

I also tried an Hegel H90 on it which didn’t help either.

You are running a budget source with a really good amp and really good speakers, so it’s no surprise that there are issues. The downstream components will ruthlessly reveal what isn’t there at the front end. You really, really need a better source. In Naimland the ND5XS2 is the minimum. I’ve no idea whether the speaker cables are any good but you may want to investigate alternatives. But the source should come first I’d suggest.


My experience was that Russel K speakers really grab you in a dealer demo…but to my ears are too relentless. They were not a speaker i could live with, they were never going to disappear and let the music flow for me, at least. Of any speaker i have listened to, they demand a home demo.

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I’m driving my Red 120s with 282+200 and they really do respond to better source components. They are highly revealing and fast with lots of detail and I don’t doubt they will withstand further upgrades.

There’s definitely no shortage of low end punch in my system. If it’s in the recording the drums will hit hard.

Something suggests to me it’s not your speakers that are the issue because I can tell you they are very capable.


I’m gonna try to gets home demo in the next days of a better source to see what that does to the speakers. Fingers crossed cause this isn’t cutting it for me. Also they are too bright sometimes.

I’ve never thought of them as “too bright”, if anything a little too bassy at times. Speaker cable can make a difference too.

I used to run NACA5 and have since moved to Tellurium Q Silver II. That latter is better but the NACA5 was dynamic and definitely nicely balanced across the frequency range, certainly not bright.

i think it may be the node 2i is not helping, i had the same dac chip in an auralic streamer and its very detailed but verged on thin n bright with some recordings, but different filter settings helped - now have nd5xs2 and its awsome…

I really should be able to add something to this debate… having run Russell K speakers all the way from nait xs to NDS/555/ 252/supercap dr/250dr

But speakers are a very personal thing and I don’t really feel qualified…but Russell K are relentlessly reveiling … showing all the upgrades clearly as I made them…

Russell did say to me at a show that it was the 100 and 150 he was most proud of…when I questioned him about the (then new) 120…he said…them? they were made to fill a gap in the line up…hardly a resounding endorsement

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Before I handed over the money for my 120s I asked to demo the 100s just to make sure I wasn’t making a ‘mistake’. Absolute night and day. The 120s totally outstrip the 100s IMO.

I think HH is correct the source is the real weak link here…I would do a demo … of an alternative…what about something like a second hand Naim dac v1 … ???

I’d suggest that the brightness you describe is the speakers revealing shortcomings in the source, rather than a shortcoming in the speakers themselves. It’s quite often that people get good speakers but compromise on the source and wonder why they are not happy. An ND5XS2 or NDX2 would rebalance things. The dac V1 was mentioned - if you want to go that route then the nDac would be better and can be found under £1,000. The node would then provide a digital output into the dac which would certainly be better than its analogue output. However I really don’t know whether the node is good enough in that role. A Naim steamer would probably give a more certain result.

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I found a store that still had a demo model of the old ND5XS who let me take it home to try.
I’ll connect it tomorrow. I’ll update my findings here in the next couple of days :slight_smile:


I liked the Russell K speakers, but I have not listened to the 120s at home as I have others in the range.
What I would say is that because they are optimised for low smearing, which of course is their quality, they are prone to excessive interaction from smearing in your room in my experience.
Therefore they are prone to reflections and cancellation nodes can be rather ruthless … so position and room treatment may need to be very important.
FWIW when I listened to the 150s at my dealers, I found them too bass heavy in the room they were being played in… so I do think it’s about positions and reflections.

FWIW I enjoyed the NatXS2 but I wouldn’t say it’s an amp that focuses on punch of sound, and as far as speakers I didn’t notice the Russel K’s lacking here, but they were not as punchy across the range as say ATC SCM speakers.
I really don’t think this is much to do with your source… you will need to address these issues first and then look at the source, otherwise you will be masking and holding back the source, and it may just end up confusing you or disillusioning you :grinning:

Personally I don’t agree with source first at all… for me it’s speaker / room coupling first, then NAC, then source, then NAP … based on my 30 years or so in this hobby.

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Its interesting to watch Russell himself set speakers up in a room. He is meticulous with lots of measurements with a tape measure and bits of tape on the floor to get the exact position, and of course lots of listening. So i could quite see people getting it wrong. If i were the OP i would drop Russell an email, i am sure he would help.

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And don’t forget Russell hates NacA5 !
Won’t use it with his speakers…

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Partial to Super lumina?

Yes I believe that is the much preferred choice…

Seem to remember him saying A5 made his speakers heavy and slow

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No-one said this game was cheap!!

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I have my 120s out in free space sitting on paving slabs. At one point I had to get one of them further away from a corner due to excessive bass interaction. The sound is very defined and dynamic to my ears. No plodding bass.

Used to use NACA5 but the speakers’ revealing nature exceeded the limits of the cable. The 120s now produce detail that simply wasn’t there before.