Setting the best Foundations for Speakers and Rack

Hello Naim Forum, This post is for those who have had experience with the Naim Ovator range of speakers. Upon recently (7-8 months) acquiring a pair of S-600 Ovators and upgrading the S-400 they replaced the process of getting them to sound their best had been a long process, to say the least.

The bass drivers were taken out and reseated with correct torque settings with Darkebears experience helping, along with the entirety of the crossover board being cleaned, looked over and re-torqued as the leaf spring was also accessible at this time took the opportunity to correctly torque that as well which was shockingly loose probably from never having a tightening in over 14 years. So they should be in mechanically, the best condition they can be.

The initial setup was lengthy to get the correct placement and also trying to work against the flooring. I’ll discuss this in further detail later on. Our initial placements took a while but after placing 12kg tiles under each speaker along with Fraim chips to mitigate the poor flooring interaction found a place that was the best we could get in the room. Which is 5.8 x 4.0m with the speakers playing into the longer side of the room.

But it was time to remove the tiles and get a solid foundation for these 60-odd kilo loudspeakers. This led to the drilling of our floor which is layered like this:

Concrete → Self Leveling compound → 5mm Wood Fibre Underlay → 6mm Luxury Vinyl

This Improved the speaker bass response, speed and clarity by quite a margin and whilst I knew there was a small top-end sparkle missing from when they were on tiles and Fraim Chips, I know from prior experience it will be brought back from putting Fraim Chips under the spikes. It was mind-blowing at first that the material the spike sits on greatly changes the top-end tonality.

However, as the 600s spent more time bedding into the Self Leveling Screed layer they began becoming unlevel and even completely rocking by 4-5 months after. I have for now just made the speakers solid once again. Ultimately I know I need to drill out a 42mm hole in the two uppermost layers of the floor to place the Fraim Chips on and hope this solves all of the problems.

A question for S600 and S800 owners and all Fraim owners. How much does your speaker and rack vibrate? Listening at a relatively healthy for the ears 80DbA @ 1m I can feel the bassline and beat very easily through the side of the cabinet of the speaker also feel almost the same magnitude of vibration in the plinth. Gently feeling the leaf spring of the BMR unit a beat from bass frequencies can also be felt. For context a pair of 804 D3s sitting in another room on carpeted parquet flooring at equally if not louder SPL seems to have significantly less cabinet movement.

A large vibration can also be felt through the Ovator’s Terminal which is using the correct Ovator Terminals on the end of the pair of NAC A5 but even 1 meter down from the speaker a good amount of vibration can be felt.

2 Fraim Stacks that sit in between the Ovators also have the beat of almost all songs easily felt through them however, more noticeable on the metal-footed Naim Boxes. The setup of the Fraim is probably as close as I can get to perfect with cables all apart and boxes sitting in the correct places toward the front of the Fraim stack. However, the Fraim sitting on top of the Luxury Vinyl flooring on Fraim Chips.

I believe that the plinth and cabinet should be seismically decoupled at 12Hz and above so feeling a healthy bassline shouldn’t be the case. And with the 4Hz isolation point of the BMR Unit, I’d certainly expect none of Michael Jackson’s groove-beat vibration there yet I can feel his “Beat It” a little too much.

Do you think this has to do with the floor-ground coupling? Is the screed layer not good enough? Do I need to somehow get to the concrete below?

If @Gazza @Darkebear @916SPS @Dunc or anyone with experience in such has any input or advice I’d appreciate it.

If Darkebear, 916PS and Gazza wouldn’t mind feeling if their perfectly setup and high calibre systems with the S800s and S600s have any vibration and the same for their Fraim Stacks.

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Wow….what a question. I was looking for an upgrade from my PMC 25.26. The obvious ones were not doing it for me. The S600 did at my dealer, on a hard floor….and now on my concrete floor with carpet.
Perhaps we can conjure up @Darkebear ….i may have his s600:s

Ha ha yes quite the question indeed hence why I called the Ovator specialists. Perhaps even @Richard.Dane would have an input. The more the merrier I suppose. :grinning:

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I found with my previous S600 and also with my present S800 that to perform best they need to be level in both side to side and front to back dimensions as determined by using a spirit-level against the metal base plate. There is no good place to measure the front-back level on Ovators other tha placing a flat surface against the underside and putting the level on top.

Once you have done that then the next stage the to pick one of the speaker spikes - I used the front spikes and adjust up or down to set the pressure on both sides looking from front to be the same.
When it is wrong the speakers ‘thrum’ or have a vibrational mode up the speaker length, quite easy to hear and feel on the cabinet side; choose some music with a complex mix of bass and you can test.

I place my speakers on Naim Chips on a solid Oak floor and when the pressure on one side is not enough you can turn the Chip - when they are nearly the same you can’t and final tweak is by listening, when it is obvious they are happy and everything is in-swing and you forget about the set-up job and start playing music to check, then an hour has pased and you realise it is fine and declare victory.

The speaker spikes do IMO need to be on a hard surface that will not let them bed-in. Fraim Cips do work well and are far superior to coins or other such items, I had tried and were truly awful.

DB.

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Thank You for the detailed response. Yes, I also do believe that Fraim Chips on the solid floor is the way to go for me, Will require me to drill a 40-ish mm hole. I think (have not confirmed) that the spikes being much harder than the screed layer are crumbling away at the screed layer as more and more bass energy is being put into them hence the gradual diminish of the level and sound,

Now here’s a question I had for @Darkebear when I did the initial setup. From using a level I can see that my plinth and cabinet are not 100% parallel therefore do I still rely on the plinth to level or use other levels and laser levels to get the actual cabinet level so that the drivers are level?

Do you think that it is the poor possibly crumbling flooring under the speaker that is causing what I’d consider excessive vibrations? (as an excessive person that is of course)

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If these are a lot off then do check the underside bolt torques in the plinth. Naim had a set of specific values these need to be set at and if they have got too loose over time the Bass gets over-full and less clean - and if very loose they can tilt. In any case do check these - a two-man job to lift and place the speaker on its back and then tighten all the underside bolts to the correct torque values.

I assume you had done this at least once since new? They need one tighten a few months from new as the cabinet settles and some shrinkage loosens the torque, then again after another year where it needs less but worthwhile - and then it should not need any attention for years unless moved a lot.

So get the stands sorted and then the leaf-springs will work as intended. The levelling should still be to have the spikes have the same pressure into the floor IMO. The cabinets should not be leaning to the side, so get those vertical.

After you have done all the above check the Bass driver torque settings if you are unhappy with the performance of have not set them at all or for many many years - it is usually only from new they need setting once or twice I found then they stay correct for many years.
If doing the speaker bolt torques - do not adjust side-to-side as recommended as it distorts the baffle a bit and sounds wrong - I got best results by very slightly loosening the torques and then going around in a circle bolt to bolt setting the torque. Only ever use a torque driver and don’t just to this without that as it will ruin the performance. I found the setting for me was slightly below that recommended; too tight and you lose detail and too loose and it goes off-tune so there is a sweat-spot setting.

Once you do all that - it should sound wonderful and you never touch it for many many years again is what I found. A lot of effort and fiddling once but a big reward thereafter for years.

DB. :bear:

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Yes, When I got my hands on them back end of last year I did an entire overhaul of every bolt I should, That included the Plinth to the cabinet at the front and the leaf spring at the rear which were shockingly loose.

I also followed your advice with the method of torquing the bass driver and BMR Faceplate. Didn’t experiment much with 2.95NM or 3.05Nm etc. as other problems at play were masking such fine adjustments so I’ll get back to those once the more major adjustments have been made.

I guess the question I have to ask now is, Are the Fraim cips happy to sit on the upper Self Leveling Screed, I assume I need the same for the Fraim too and hopefully the vibrations will be gone.

Thanks Darkebear, Always a pleasure to gain some of your knowledge.

Out of interest how thick is your screen level over the concrete?

If it is not too thick, can you use something like a Dremel to remove the screed layer exposing the concrete.

If you can get to the concrete then that is usually solid and stable to use the spike directly.

Another option is remove the screen, exposing the concrete, then use some appropriate adhesive to fit the Naim Chip to the concrete.

For comparison, my loudspeakers are 35kg each and the spikes go through my carpet and underlay into concrete which is solid and hasn’t crumbled.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

DG…

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The self levelling compound will be softer than the cement screed.
As you will use chips then these will spread the load and should be fine.
If just spikes then it would probably end up going through the levelling compound, and could cause you issues with out off level.
But the levelling compound will be stuck to the screed and can’t see why it would be any different to just screed, apart from being softer

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@Gazza Do your S-600’s have any sort of noticeable vibration when feeling the cabinet? I can understand a small amount but these are large 60kg speakers and I feel the amount I’m feeling is above what I expect.

I don’t suppose you have felt yours whilst playing? If so do they vibrate?

At a point, before the floor was drilled and the speakers were on top of the porcelain tiles at specifically 9-12Hz playing a sine wave was visually rocking the speaker back and forth, this was the point I realised the flooring was way too bouncy.

Just touched them……almost not noticeable. When i bought them from Signals….Andy re-torqued all the drivers? Mine sit on their spikes through a heavy carpet into concrete floor.
Perhaps @Darkebear can give a view.

I believe above the concrete is between a 15-20mm screed and then 5mm of Self-Leveling compound.

I did think about taking a foster bit and taking out the self-leveling compound as it will likely easily come up with how crumbly it is.

What would you recommend as an “appropriate” adhesive? I was thinking of possibly Tile grout as that is much higher density than even concrete.

@Gazza Yes, that is more like what I’d expect. Id also assume if you can barely feel the cabinet that the speaker terminal doesn’t have noticeable vibration when felt either.

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Hi FHM,

I’ve had a listen for a couple of hours to a lot of stuff with different types of bass and have not found any of your issues. My system is in a ‘put me up room’ for a while as I moved house last year, and I very much just plonked it all in place. I knew it wasn’t worth all the tweaking as I’m having a dedicated room built for it, even so the sound is very impressive and again I have no issue with the bass or frame vibration.

I believe some of the isolation treatment I’ve incorporated over several years has helped curb bass and vibration issues. Currently the speakers sit on a suspended wooden floor with the spikes sitting on ’Silent Mount’ pucks which I have found far superior to Naim chips.

Some of the components sit on HRS Isolation bases and most components sit on top of HRS Nimbus Assemblies. Look up one of my other threads on Isolation. I do believe you don’t need to be cutting up your floor to make the sound better, there are alternative solutions.

Hope that helps.

The photos show how cramped it all is but the music sounds wonderful :grinning:

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Find an adhesive that works with metal and concrete. Plus depends if you want to remove the chip at a later stage.

A quick search revealed something like this, but there’s bound to be many more.


DG…

Hmm. Yes, whilst I think those epoxies would be great at mechanically adhering the chip and concrete sonically I think it might be worse than the grout I suggested. The Youngs modulus of epoxy shows an ever so slightly more plastic behaviour than the Grout which also has a much higher compressive strength. this might be more of what the Ovator wants.

I find it shocking that these minute things can make a difference. my understanding of material physics and modal material behaviour is far to little to know why but interesting nonetheless.

I’d agree also but it seems to me your floor is fairly solid. The layers of my floor above the concrete are not bonded in any way and such have areas with movement and air pockets. placing the speakers on this was farthest from ideal, when the speakers were on top of the luxury vinyl simply light bouncing within a 0.7m radius of the speaker would result in the BMR module visibly moving. and as it isn’t a dampened suspension system, would continue for a while.

Yes, I can see that is a fairly small room for S-800 especially. makes me think that my original thought that 800’s wouldn’t work in the room is wrong. Maybe when a pair comes back on the market. Ultimate speaker in my opinion.

I also had the idea that if I am going to drill out 45mm holes in the floor to might as well think of other options. I don’t think I can justify the Silent Mounts. I believe that it has to do with the mass of the chips and of course, the modal frequency they’re designed for. I was thinking of getting a CNC Turning company to make up 17 or so 60 or 70mm “chips” made of 2205 Duplex Stainless Steel.
if you had to guess or feel roughly what would the weight of each Silent Mount be? Maybe using an arbitrary unit of Naim chips? ( A single fraim Chip weighs 56g)

Sorry I have no idea of the weight - just tried looking up the spec. online but could not find any information. They are fairly heavy and made of Stainless Steel 70mm

The SM7 Silent Mount is 247 grams. There is a bit more to them than weight, they are a two piece construction. The best description I have seen is on the Cymbiosis blog July 2015.

I was an early adopter of Townshend Isolation Bars 11 years ago, and they cleaned up the bass significantly. Initially this was on carpet over concrete then on floating floor. I have changed to ISO Acoustics for aesthetic reasons and they are also effective.