SBL woes

I inserted the never before tried SBLs into my 500 system (for a laugh) last week. I ended up enjoying them thoroughly, and now with the 808s back in situ, I am finding myself hankering for some of the stuff the SBLs do. Ignorance was bliss… What have I done :face_with_spiral_eyes: :joy:


The SBLs are still great sounding speakers I bought mine new 20 years ago and they still do the business. Put them back and enjoy the music.


Fascinating topic, we just love ours, i mean wife, kids, me and neighbor’s. People who know nothing hifi wise, come round here say “hey play that again its amazing” a truly sad situation now, maybe nostalgia, a lot of the Naim of old was better than now IMO of course, enjoy.


Clearly a lot of the superlatives don’t apply for
SBLs. They do not sound “impressive”. But boy do they draw you in. I am working out how to create room for another system so I can put them back into use… (office!)


Ah, first word problems again!

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The caveat of SBL success is a good solid wall behind them so can only guess a wall as such exists in your music room and (along with the acoustic characteristics of the room) favours the SBLs in a way it doesn’t the 808s.

However, being realistic the 808s are a far more accomplished loudspeaker with a far greater potential …but it just goes to show how superb the SBL design is for its day, in not only retaining the marvel of music making but fantastic value for money too.


Are they too analytical and round earth those 808’s ?

With certain products, and the SBL is one, there are facets that just stick in the memory; a bit like a fine wine.

I am sure you don’t regret your 808’s and that they do more for you.

I have owned SBLs for a few years now and will be sticking with them as they work so well in my room. There are other speakers that have other attributes that I wish the SBLs shared …but then they wouldn’t be SBLs.

You made me feel better for your thought, thanks.

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That is exactly it. There is no such thing as the perfect speaker. They cannot do it all. Some stuff just sounds unbelievable (or it that so believable) on the 808s. The SBL do not have the same scale of course, or the same refinement. But forgive them this then in terms of involvement they are up there with the best. Stick with them! :blush:

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It is a solid concrete basement room wall. Perfect I guess for the SBLs.

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Stacked QUAD ESL57s must come closer than most to being ‘the perfect speaker’.

That thought must have been behind Guy Lamotte’s thought process when he was working on Naim’s never-finalised FL-1. Still, at least we have the ARO.

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Haha…… sounds like a great speaker the 808. It’s probably because you are not driving them active🤔

It is a phenomenal speaker. Just doesn’t do everything the SBL does! :blush:

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I don’t know 808s at all. How do SBLs compare.

They are fantastic speakers that don’t do everything that SBL does. I wonder what it is then that they do that SBL doesn’t do🤔

Just to start the debate, I would possibly say scale and bass?

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I’ve not heard 808s but from reputation that’s what I assumed. However I’m keen to know what @Robbo had in mind that the SBLs do better.

I’ve not heard and loudspeakers from kudos, but they seem to have a large following in here. So yes would be interesting to hear what he says. Not that I’m going to change from my SL2. I have reached the end but one never knows if maybe something really special comes along


I am not good at putting into words what I hear (and have had the 808s for two years now so it’s over two years since I heard SBLs and SL2s … but have owned SBLs (passive) then SL2s (originally passive then active) and now 808s (passive)

Certainly the 808s give scale that neither SBLs nor SL2s can manage. I remember passive 808s with a single 300dr sounded a bit like bigger SL2s and that once run in (it was over a month of many hours running in before I knew I wanted them) they kept the boogie factor but added the scale and went lower than the SL2s. The trouble is, it’s two years since I last heard SL2s or SBLs, I am not good at detailed description and speakers are incredibly down to personal preference / taste

Edited to add - sometimes hearing something else is a really pleasant surprise - when I packed my unitiqute and mission 70 speakers off to my nephew I checked they were working and was blown away with how much fun they were


I had SBL’s for 15 years, I would have thought a better comparison would be against a 5-7k modern speaker would be fairer. I don’t know the cost of a Kudos T505 but I would put my money on the Kudos or any other modern speaker against the SBL. I did love mine but if I did it again I would have changed mine a bit sooner then box upgrades as speakers to me are the biggest upgrades.

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As Tim says, the 808 brings scale, and for me quite a visceral live experience. Textures are breathtaking. They do timing and they do ambience (especially with good cables). Great all rounder. The SBL I would say are narrower, more focused in their sound - but because of that they really draw you in with the groove/rhythm/drumming as there is nothing to distract. It’s a really fun experience, and certainly suits driven music. You can feel things are missing on the SBL, but you forgive it because it is great at what it does :blush:
Having said that, I also love the sound from my little tranny radio that accompanies me around the garden when I am pottering in the flower beds… go figure :slight_smile:
The SBL experience though brought me to order some Townsend seismic platforms for the 808s to tighten up the bass a little and tease out a little more of that SBL drumming energy (my room is a bit bass-lively and probably suits the tight SBL-style delivery…)
Summarising SBL vs 808… you are never under any illusion that the SBL is a (very fun) rendition. The 808 though is so so close to being a live performance… you can tell that Derek comes from that live music background, it shows in his work :star_struck: