SBL’s or save up for SL2?

Having recently upgraded to 82/HCDR/NAP250/Credo, I suspect the last big change is to replace the Credos. Now I really like the Naim Olive sound, and love the Credos, so I am not looking for too much of a change. I prefer the way the SBL’s go back against the wall, although I would be placing them 4 inches each side from a chimney breast that stick out about 4 inches. So SBL’s may be the obvious change, however looking online, I have a couple of concerns:

  1. I’ve never seen a pair that doesn’t seem to have a Grill velcro issue. Why is that, and is it usual, or just a sign of careless owners. My Credo gills look new still, and have a neet clip on design - Velcro seems a cheep solution.
  2. What’s all this about gadgets, pads and silicon sealant and setup processes. Is it easy to get kits and carry this out yourself? Would I still need to do this if I obtain a pair, even if they are transported whole (e.g. by me)?
  3. Do the SL2s have the same above issues, and if not, are they a better speaker but still with that similar Naim sound? (I realise these are quite rare currently)

Many thanks in anticipation of your wonderful help!

SBLs have foam grilles that will crumble over time. Tom Tom Audio have made excellent replacements should they be needed, though it’s worth checking they are still available.

SBLs absolutely should not be transported without being taken apart. The middle box sits on a silicone bead, which in turn sits on a foam gasket, supported by four upward facing spikes with aluminium pads on top. If transported whole the spikes will very likely pierce the pads and they will need to be replaced.

Setting them up properly takes time and patience. Applying the silicone bead cannot be avoided. I’ve done it many times and am happy doing it but it can seem daunting.

The SBL is a superb speaker but I’d be a little concerned as to whether they might be a little too much for your sources. The CDX can be a little sharp and SBLs are a lot more revealing than Credos. They have less of a warm and cuddly sound.

To me the SL2 is better, and does away with the gasket issue. In many ways though, it’s harder to set up if you want to get them working to the best of their ability. I’d say that, like SBLs they would ideally be matched with better stuff.

3 Likes

Either would be great! You might have more choice and a shorter wait if you go for SBLs. I prefer them myself but it’s a minority view.

There are cheap grills available on EBay, but I splashed out on the excellent ones from Tom Tom. Set up is easy enough, plenty of guidance available online but it can get expensive.

I bought a pair of 2000 Mk2s for £250, new Paxo for £180 and a gasket kit for £80 I think. Superb, and I have my original Mk1s from 1988 stored just in case…

4 Likes

I think SBL is the obvious place to start, not least because you could probably sell them on with little loss if you did not keep them. The set up is not difficult but it takes care and getting it right is very important. There is a lot of help on here if you need it. As HH says it begins with the transport from the seller, hopefully still with original packing.

I went Credo>>SBL and never regretted it. I have SL2 now.

They will be good in your setup and would not be embarrassed by source or other upgrades. I still use them in my modest second system and they remain fantastic. I personally think the SL2 is a better speaker in a lot of ways but it might not come alive in your system, and for the significantly higher cost over SBL I would chose the cheaper speaker at the moment.

Bruce

3 Likes

Thanks @hungryhalibut my main source is ND5 XS2 which I agree is not right for this, but I cant see myself changing this for a while, although I could look out for an nDAC (rare I know)

Thanks @stuart.ashen good to see gaskets are available.

Thanks @BruceW I suppose it might depends on what comes along, but now I’m certainly better informed. I do prefer the SL2 look, but they are rare and excessively more expensive. Is the grill setup better on the SL2’s?

In terms of setting up, worst case scenario is possibly to pay for a dealer to come and set them up for me.

My recently acquired NAP 250 is currently being serviced, so still haven’t heard everything at its best, so in no rush to upgrade, just like to have a plan.

Well it is one piece but similar in that it is loosely attached. They don’t have a rigid frame or clip in place like some brands but it works fine in both designs. Mine are not crumbly but they are a fair bit newer than many SBLs. Spares available for both.

1 Like

I have read a few instances of the bass driver and/or treaters needing to be replaced, and are expensive to replace/repair. Does anyone know if the SBL MK2 Bass and Tweaters are the same as the 1999 Credo’s?

Out of curiosity, have you ever heard a pair of either?

IMO your gear is tailor made for SBLs. I wouldn’t sweat it about the setup, nor the grilles. The setup is easy enough if you take your time and are thorough. As for grilles, I have some ebay cheapies to put on mine. Job done.

Go for it. Just make sure you get the finish you want. Because you are going to have them for a very long time :slight_smile:

3 Likes

Thanks Chris, no I haven’t heard either, and realistically as dealers will never demo these, I think its highly unlikely there will ever be an opportunity now. But I love the Credo’s and my thinking has worked will by upgrading from 102/HC/140 to 82/HCDR/250, so was thinking SBL’s or SL2’s would be a similar sound and upgrade in SQ without a complete sound change. I’ve read up quite a bit on the setup, and I suppose I need to factor in an extra £115 for the gasket, but the process does look doable.

Make sure you have solid walls, that is the single most important requirement.

1 Like

The wall is a dry-lined solid outside wall, and the floor is concrete - typical of most houses build in the UK. Any concerns with that?

If the previous owner has smeared washing up liquid on the gaskets before applying the silicone, which is what you should do, the latter will just peel off, leaving perfect gaskets. So all you then need is the silicone. The trick is then to apply a thin bead, enough to fill the gap. The silicone must fit between the gasket and the middle box and not ooze over the edge of the gasket and bond the cabinets together.

2 Likes

Need to be very careful about the SBLs you buy these days.
There are many pairs of dreadfully ratty tatty knackered ones around.
Some of the images of SBLs for sale i’ve seen on auction sites leave a lot to be desired.

If i were in the market for my first pair of SBLs i’d be very tempted to give Tom Tom Audio an email and ask what they have on offer. Dealer support could give peace of mind finding the right pair.

The thing with SBLs is; if they are ailing something; such as new tweeters, x-overs, new sealant or careful set-up etc, then they can sound really awful, and is probably why some impatient type peoples don’t like 'em and rush off to buy a plonk and play type speaker instead.

However, SBLs when in good working order, set-up correctly, and positioned close to a nice solid wall, will have the ability to sound highly rewarding and bang for buck can easily outperform speakers costing many times the price :money_mouth_face:

A chimney breast must have a brick construction, so this position should work fine!

6 Likes

Thanks @Debs very helpful - I’ve also seen a lot of rubbish out there, and they haven’t even tried to cover up the tatty bits. Cheers

1 Like

There’s loads of stuff out there on the net and lots of helpful people here who will be able to give you tips.

If you are serious about the SBLs then I think the thing is to find a pair that are in acceptable condition for you, for the money. A few years ago, I was interested in buying an older MX-5. Conceptually it’s much the same problem!

Your concrete floor and brick chimney breast both sound positive.

Yes, and no…

The mid/bass drivers and tweeters (Scanspeak D2008 without ferrofluid) are effectively the same types, but the difference is in selection and matching (more rigorously selected and also matched in SBLs). Oh, and yes, it does make a difference otherwise Naim would not have bothered…

3 Likes

By dry lined I presume you mean plasterboard on batons and then the brick so there is a cavity between the plasterboard and the brick. I wouldn’t consider that a solid wall for the purpose of putting SBLs against. The Credos/allaes are probably a better bet in this situation.

Not quite. They basically dollop some plaster on the wall in multiple places then the plasterboard sticks to that, so there will be a gap of say 5mm, but they are firmly attached. I presume what you are talking about is vertical wooden battens nailed/screwed to the wall then the plasterboard is nailed to those battens, which I would imagine would be less ideal.

If the dry lining is well fixed I reckon you might get away with it. If done recently the cavities are likely to be filled with insulation, and depending on the fixings (timber battens, dot&dab, or whatever) I would be very surprised if it wasn’t still a lot more solid than a stud wall. Only one way to find out!
EDIT: so from your last post, it’s dot&dab. I reckon you’ll be fine.

1 Like

I’ve seen a few articles on PFMedia about that. I suppose I dont mind paying the full price, after all I wouldn’t skimp on cheap kettle leads. Yes I know it’s not the same, but I might always think that if I had the original seals, I might have a better sound.

I was going to PX my Credos, but it sounds like its a good idea to keep them for a bit to make sure they do sound better in my room.

In terms of room acoustics, I’ve always thought there is a particular volume level for speakers and a particular ear where music comes to life, and there is a volume level where room acoustics has a big effect on the sound. I realise it’s different for everyone, but I have wondered where these points are. My wife hates loud music, so I cant see the room acoustics having any effect for her. I prefer it louder, and if I go too loud, there is distortion, which of course could be room dynamics, or equipment limits. Anyway I digress, but answer is to try and see, if not sell