Service/repair for multiple (older) Naim components

Hi all,

Thank you for having me in the group. I inherited a beautiful Naim system (NAP 250 Amp; NAC 32 Pre Amp; SNAPS Power Supply; Linn Sondek LP12; Fuselier 3.3 speakers) from my father. It was purchased in the mid 80’s, and, I remember it sounding so wonderful when I was a child. The system has never been serviced in any capacity (re-capped, for example) in its lifetime. When putting on a high quality LP the other day, the system outputs sound, but, sounds very “boomy” and “boxy”-- something is very clearly wrong. The speakers seem fine as I was able to connect them to a different amp. I am not particularly learned in audio, other than very basic knowledge of “what connects to what” and the purposes of each component. I am writing not so much for a diagnosis, because, I realize that is impossible for anyone from afar to do. Rather, my question is: Is this system as a whole worth having a diagnostic and refurbished/work done on it to bring it back as close to factory specs/condition? I also realize that is a somewhat subjective question. Though, I am completely oblivious as to what it would cost to have somebody look at this and refurbish it to factory standards. I also have no idea where I would bring this unit, as I understand it is a very fine unit and likely requires a true expert to appreciate/trust to work on it. Do you send it back to Naim in England? If anyone can help me think though on what to do or where to start, I would appreciate it. The system is kind of a family heirloom that I’d love to restore, if it’s “reasonable” to do so. The system is in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Thanks so much for helping me thinking though this. Any advice, knowledge about what I actually have here, or opinions are most welcome.
I hope everyone is taking good care.

I sent a very similar lot of items back to Naim in November (72/HiCap/250) and did so via a Naim dealer here in the UK. It was in a sorry condition the Allen bolts on the underside were seized, The HiCap was dead and the 250 hummed. It was returned in genuine Naim boxes and sounded like new. It was pricy (350 UK£ per box) but I was thrilled. The return has to be through a Naim dealer as I understand it and he will get the kit into the system. There are independent repairers and I’m sure there will be others on the forum who can point you in the right direction. Maybe there’s a US service agent?

Hello Cliff. Those are lovely classic pieces and it’s absolutely worth getting them serviced and restored to full health. Chris West at AV Options in the US is your man. Take a look at and drop them a line.

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Also, AFAIK the local distributor can also service old Naim kit.

I’m delighted to receive such helpful suggestions. Thank you, all, for responding so graciously.

It’s probably also mentioning that the LP12 would undoubtedly benefit from a proper setting up having been moved and, possibly a new stylus or cartridge. Your nearest Linn dealer should be able to assist.

I was about to say the same thing Blythe. It may be a pre Cirkus deck so a good service, new Karousel and set up would go a long way to bringing the system up to date.


Indeed, the LP12 is in dire need of servicing in every way. I am embarrassed to say that I do not now what a “pre Cirkus deck” is. This is valuable information, and, the suggestions are precisely why I came here; to educate myself and make the most informed decisions. I will look it up, and certainly visit my nearest Linn dealer to assist. Thank you.

Can anyone help me understand how a system like this would interface with digital components? For example, the NAC 32 Pre has “Tape 1” and Tape 2" RCA line-in sections. Would it be appropriate to perhaps connect a CD player, or, a Digital Streaming Device to the RCA inputs on the tape section? I don’t run tape decks, but, I would like to know if the Tape RCA line-in could ostensibly be used for any digital components (with a DAC included in the digital component, or, external DAC in-between). Would it work and “sound okay”? Or, is this system architecture just not designed for digital making it somehow “incompatible” with digital sources resulting in complete incompatibility, or, a very unpleasing sound?
Thank you, all.

In simplified terms, “Cirkus” was a bearing upgrade from the original version of bearing.
The latest upgrade to the bearing is Karousel. It’s not cheap though!
You may find as people upgrade to Karousel, that the 2nd hand market for Cirkus bearings is a good option. My own turntable was upgraded to Cirkus many years ago and I do remember the improvement in sound quality was really quite remarkable.
Yes, a tape input may be used for a CD player or other source, apart from a turntable.
The turntable must be connected to the appropriate Phono input.

Thank you for the detailed information, Blythe. Despite the costs, this is sounding like a system absolutely worth restoring/upgrading compared with the costs of purchasing a comparable new system. It nice to know I can also use Tape input to connect digital components. Thank you.

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Hi Cliff,

Welcome to the Naim and, in part, Linn space (in practical terms for Naimees), as many of us still front our systems with LP12s alongside CD/network players (or streamers).

That’s quite a set up you have, which would suggest that your father was a serious hi-fi enthusiast - is there a stack of vinyl to go alongside?

When refurbishing and establishing systems, the mantra of ‘source first’ usually applies and, as others have said, an LP12 offers numerous routes and upgrade possibilities. Often not cheap, but for many (and if you’ve got the vinyl to hand), vinyl comes very close to, if not surpasses CD & some streaming kit.

Posting some pics of the LP12 on this thread (easy to do - just save as a file and then attach/paste) would enable people to give you an insight in to what you’ve got e.g. arm, cartridge and general spec, before you review the kit with a Linn dealer. Upfront management of expectations is often better.

Hello HappyListener,

I appreciate the advice. I took a few pictures I will upload here for feedback. Thank you. The stack of vinyl is impressive with perhaps 80% (of maybe 500 LP’s total) being classical and the rest of pop/jazz/rock&roll. He mentioned the names of two companies (Harmonia Mundi, and, Chandos) as being somewhat high quality? I cannot remember for sure, but, the vinyl looks to be very well preserved, at least to my eye.



Hi Cliff, thanks for posting the pics.

As mentioned above, with an LP12 nearly all parts can be changed/upgraded but at a cost (often not immaterial). To give you an idea, a fully pimped-out version at UK prices would be >£17k (conservative).

In writing this, I’m assuming the LP12 hasn’t been serviced say in last 5 years or so, and it remains in legacy specification (e.g. hasn’t got the Cirkus bearing upgrade from the original?).

First off, I’d give a dealer a call and discuss what they can do/suggest – initially, my thoughts are the challenging/not cheap to address issues could be the bearing and speed control.

Forum Rules preclude the posting of links here but if you plug LP12 in to YouTube, there are some highly informative videos on there about build & set-up. There are also various parts for LP12s which aren’t made by Linn. It’s like an open source piece of kit.

In general per the pics:

1- The fluted wooden plinth looks fine. The original plinths didn’t have additional corner bracing – so long as the plinth you have isn’t twisted/the joints easing apart, you should be OK.
2- On the underside there’s likely to be a stiff hardboard-type baseboard, with small rubber feet. Some people play their LP12s without baseboards. There have been several iterations of baseboards – best explained by the dealer.

3- The felt mat should be a keeper. Under this, the outer-platter can safely be lifted up (best to use gloves to prevent finger marks on the rim – the latter tends to oxidise over time and can be cleaned (to a degree)).

The inner platter has a long shaft which sits in to the bearing – best not to lift this out as it should be oily (see on).

It’s highly likely you’ll need a new rubber belt, with the dealer perhaps suggesting a new motor/perhaps a new speed control/maybe a new bearing.

Re the speed control, it’s likely there’s a printed circuit board inside the deck (called a Valhalla). But great care here, as some boards can degrade and ‘shock’ if handled incorrectly - all best managed via a dealer. Over time, Linn has produced various outboard power controllers for the motors (called Lingos & Radikals) - in the context of what you have these won’t be cheap.

In the UK, many dealers have pre-owned parts (from upgrades) which can often keep budgets sane - .I’m hoping it’s the same where you are.

As a minimum I’d expect the current bearing to need an oil change. The latest bearing upgrade is the Karousel which is ~£750 in the UK. This replaced the Cirkus bearing.

4- The tonearm is a Linn Ittok, which is very good (definite keeper) – arguably one of Linn’s best products of its time. A dealer should remove from the deck and check the bearing (highly likely to be OK).

The Stanton cartridge looks a fair quality moving magnet type, the good news being that replacement styli (of the appropriate type – see the ‘web reviews of this item) can be obtained if needs be.

I wouldn’t look to change this cartridge as it could be that the phono input of the Naim kit has been set to complement the cartridge.

With Linn arms, the strong guidance is not to replace cartridges with the arm in situ, due to the stress which can arise on the bearing – even when the arm is parked/secured.

5- Moving/transporting an LP12 -

Under the stainless steel top-plate, there’s a suspension plate which has the armboard attached to it and also the bearing housing. This is suspended from the stainless steel top-plate by 3 threaded prongs, with springs under tension. Have a look on YouTube for a better appreciation of how this all works. A service usually involves replacement of the springs and rubber grommets which seat the springs.

Whenever moving an LP12, the suspension needs to be secured or else the armboard and innards can get a bashing!

Best way (with minor variations):

  • Do you have the original box? – far better if you do.
  • Ensure the cartridge guard is on and arm is secured (add a bit of tape if needed to ensure it stays so).
  • Unplug from power/lift off the mat/outer-platter/remove belt. This goes in the base of the box/otherwise put to one side. Do not put the outer-platter back on.
  • Lift the inner-platter slightly and put some thin paperback books/sponges (say 15mm thick) under the rim. The plan is for the weight of the inner platter to sit down and effectively prevent undue movement in the suspension.
  • Fold-up kitchen roll and seat-in around the edges of the armboard. 3/4 bits should do it.
  • You can also remove the counterweight on the rear of the arm but this isn’t essential. I’m not sure if the Ittoks have a securing screw/Allen nut on the counterweight.

When you lift it, the suspension should be stiff, with very little movement.

Good luck with the LP12 project and feel free to ask more questions.

Re the LPs, I’d suggest having a look at Discogs website, which profiles labels and artist, and is an invaluable mine of information (including values). Dare I say, some items you have could be of value (here’s hoping), as there’s quite a good market for legacy vinyl, should you wish to explore this route with some of the collection.


What a great helpful and detailed response from happy listener!

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Thank you, for taking the time to write such a thoughtful and detailed response. You are so gracious! The warm responses I am receiving from this community is so heartening. I must admit, part of me prefers not to think about this at all, as it relates to my father who I miss terribly. On the other hand, reading these kind responses bring me back into a more playful headspace; the kind of place colored by feelings of lucky privilege and gratitude of owning fine equipment. So, it is kind of therapeutic, might I say. Thank you.

After reading your response, I scoured the web and youtube for LP12 related literature and videos. There is no dearth of information out there-- fully consistent with what you indicate. Yes, the LP12 remains in “legacy specification”. In fact, I have located some receipts which only indicate the changing of the cartridge and lubricating the (original) bearing system and changing the belt (over 10yrs ago). Regarding the the moving magnet type of cartridge: preferences seem split, with my researching indicating that compatibility between preamp section and cartridge to be of utmost importance; not necessarily that one is better than the other. Would that be an accurate statement? My other question relates to your comment regarding “the Naim pre amp being set to compliment the cartridge”. I am oblivious that such a thing can be done, other than noticing some modern pre amp sections perhaps having a switch/setting mechanism that specifies the kind of cartridge in use. The NAC32 does not appear to have such a setting. How does one “set” the pre amp to compliment the cartridge, in my case? Your transportation instructions are so helpful. I do not have the original box, but, I will accommodate each detail you mention to avoid damage.
Many, many thanks.

In the case of NAC 32 it would be fitted with Moving Magnet cards to match your current cartridge. To use MC you’d need to swap them. There’s not more to it than this.

You can purchase a new set of LP12 packing materials and box from a dealer. I would strongly encourage this if you’re thinking of shipping it anywhere (and in general, as I use the bottom of it when transporting locally). Buy it once, and it will last forever. Mine has been through six house moves, 3 of which international, and is still going strong.

Hi Cliff,

Having experienced various ‘life events’ myself, it’s often challenging to identify where one’s headspace is at times. Confusion, disorientation, with a loss of immediate focus are things which spring to my mind, some from recent memory – and treasuring family heirlooms and other physical items with strong emotional attachments, and what to do with them, is just one part of a larger puzzle about how to move forward in one’s life, without disrespecting what’s gone before and the memories you carry of times past.

One often sets out with noble goals and thoughts around such items but after a period of reflection and reality-checking, the economic sensibilities can become apparent, sometimes generating the need for unwelcome decisions. Around this, my thoughts are with you – and all us Forumites can do is share our knowledge and experience with you.

…and please don’t be scared. No question you ask will be ‘too simple’, as it can take years to understand the realities of domestic hi-fi systems, the lexicon used (especially with Linn’s products) and how to avoid making costly choices/mistakes (which happens quite a lot!). As you’ve seen from YouTube, there’s a massive backstory & folklore around the LP12, which continues to evolve.

As you may have detected from some of the responses to date, we Forumites tend to love our Naim kit, and LP12s for that matter, with a special fondness reserved for the legacy products like you have. But, everything has a price…….and it’s always easier spending someone else’s money.

At this point, all I would encourage you to do is to think hard about what you really desire moving forward.

That all said, in answer to some of the points and questions raised:

1- FYI, many of us started out with legacy-spec LP12s. Back in the 1970s and ‘80’s, many a hi-fi dealers’ system of choice was an LP12 front end, with Naim amps, due to the perceived synergies of this combination. Depending upon its operating conditions, an LP12 should have a service ~ every 5Ys – sometimes more frequently (i.e. replacement belt, springs, rubber grommets, with the suspension checked & fettled). Over time, the spring tensions soften and the ‘bounce’ of the platter suffers – some platters develop a lean, the siting of the armboard being an indicator i.e. it should sit with even gaps around it and be consistent as to level with the wooden plinth & top-plate. A service is usually relatively cheap, as the subject items are ‘consumables’ in Linn-land. Many undertake servicing on a DIY basis.

2- Cartridges – there are 2 primary types: Moving Magnets, which are cheaper and usually have what is referred to as ‘high output’ and Moving Coils. The latter offer better quality replay and, in general, are far more expensive and come in either ‘low or high output’ versions.

With vinyl replay, all cartridge outputs are relatively low when compared to (Cassette) Tape players and Tuners. So the inputs in to the Pre-amplifier for the latter 2 are often described as ‘line-level’ - and in later pre-amps with inputs for CD, this is also the case.

In Naim’s pre-amps and per @ricsimas 's comments, for the Phono inputs there’s a small printed circuit board (PCB) inside the unit which is interchangeable, in order to match to the output characteristics of the cartridge.

This is why I suggested that you stick with the existing cartridge (with new stylus?), as changing this might create other issues – which is where a Linn dealer comes in.

Changing Moving Magnet cartridges is usually quite straightforward, as they tend to have similar output characteristics. Moving coils not so.

You’re correct that matching the output/input aspects is crucial with Phono/vinyl replay. Naim and others make outboard phono-amplifiers, which take the signal from a turntable, amplify it, and then feed it in to a pre-amp at ‘line level’ (or thereabouts). The phono-amps have adjustable settings (capacitance and resistance) to marry to the cartridge output.

At one time, Naim produced a mini-amplifier called the Prefix, which fitted within the casing of an LP12. Per Richard’s answer below, this was for MC cartridges only.

3- Re transporting the LP12 – I’m assuming, if/when the time comes & conditions permit, you can drive to a Linn dealer. The ideal solution is to get a proper box from a dealer but last I knew these aren’t cheap. Also, packaging an existing build LP12 in to the box may not be straightforward – I’ll bow to the advices of others on this - @ricsimas ?

When an LP12 is delivered to a dealer it has to be built (arm installed etc) and giving a not-properly-boxed-up LP12 to a courier would be a nightmare for me.

This can be one of the issues with distance ownership.

I’m sure none of us underestimate the scale of the project before you in bringing all the kit back to serviceable life. Do keep us posted…and keep the Q’s coming. You know where we are.

@Richard.Dane (or others?)

Hi Richard, looking at @CPG80 's (Cliff’s) legacy kit as listed in the OP and per the photos, am I right to assume the LP12 couldn’t have a Prefix, as this requires a PS, which the SNAPS doesn’t provide?

With thanks.

The Prefix needs either a powered AUX2 socket on a suitable pre-amp or else a dedicated power supply which would usually be a Hicap or Supercap. You could power it from a SNAPS that has had a dual-rail upgrade.

Note though that the Prefix is for MC cartridges only.

Richard, thanks.