Short but urgent query on Naim 135s

Having carefully decided that nothing now stuck out in my system as needing addressing, apart from a cartridge next year (and do I change top plate or anything else at that point or never?), I was tempted.

I have LP12 (Kore, Karousel, Ekos, Krystal, L4) and Superline (from Aux 2), 52, olive SC, 250, NDX2/XPSDR. CDS2 and B&W 804D3s. Cables, mains and supports are all VG. Olives were all serviced between 2016 and 2020.

I do use the volume control liberally, but not enough that my 250 ever cuts.

I have been offered a pair of 1990 135s (serials 63809/63810) for £2700. I believe that they have olive fascias (not brown) and were serviced in 2010.

In the current market, do those who actually own 135s reckon that’s a good price?

Also, do tell if it looks like a silly change.

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Factor in a service, then… :thinking: Which will likely be at least £300 each… :astonished:

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Now £399 I believe. The dealer selling calls it non-urgent, but as Many Rice-Davies said: “He would say that, wouldn’t he?”

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It’s hard to say. If you look at a well known online auctioneer at completed sales, I think you will see them somewhere up to £3,800 from memory, but whatever their supposed condition if they’d not been naim serviced with proof in the very recent past I’d get them done. And at 12 years I would get it done for sure.

Mine (4) are all mid/late 90s, and I love them.

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Anywhere from £2,350 (unserviced) to £3,800 it seems. This is why I am asking…

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I have Olive 135s in my system, and would never consider changing them, although a return home to Salisbury for a service is long overdue.

The only time that I ever heard them compared with the 250 was at my very first demo at Grahams in Islington, expertly curated by Jude Martens. The 250 was very good indeed, but it was completely outclassed by the 135s, more depth, more power, more everything else necessary to listen to the music (mostly an LP of Jeff Buckley’s ‘Grace’ which I took along especially).*

I have no idea of what might be a good price for an unserviced matched pair of 135s, as these are, but you probably won’t get too many chances elsewhere.

If pushed, and I had to say one way or the other, I’d advise very strongly to grab them with both hands (if you don’t, some other bugg*r will).

Good luck if you do go ahead.

*Grahams very quickly added ‘Grace’ to their LPs used for demos, and got in lots of sealed copies of the LPs to sell to customers.

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If last serviced in 2010, they are now due for a service. It makes a huge difference. Compared to a 250, they are easier on the ear and play beautifully with less volume. If cranked up, they turn into monsters capable of delighting with every genre I’ve ever thrown at mine.

As for price, given they are due for a service, I’d say keep it under £2500.

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135s are far better than a 250 but a post-service cost of ~£3500 is way too high IMHO – that’s almost in to NAP300 levels.

Plus, AFAIK, a Naim dealer should be able to get a (slightly?) better cost on servicing via themselves?

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I have never heard an NAP300. It seems to fill the price point in the Naim catalogue which was previously occupied by a pair of NAP135.

So was the 300 effectively the replacement for the 135s?

I wonder if it’s right that a dealer can get a better price on servicing, given that Naim will only service items sent via a dealer. Or am I missing something obvious?

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To each his own preference. A friend of mine has B&W 802’s, he was using 2 nap 135’s with his nac 52. He listened to 2 nap 250 in passive bi-amplification, huge difference; he sold these nap 135. His brother has B&W 804, he also adopted 2 nap 250 in passive bi-amplification and sold his nap 300. I had with my nac 72, 2 nap 135 for Linn Isobarik DMS/PMS, I switched to 2x250 in bi-passive, it’s better than naps 135, now for 5 years I use 3x250 in passive bi-amplification; I will not downgrade with 135.

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Previous owner of 135s, which I only moved on when servicing came around.

What anything is worth is very individual. You already have a mix of “boxes”, so unless you desire matching pre and power consider thus.

Price before servicing + service costs, set against cost of say a 4/5 year old NAP300 DR from a dealer, with at least 5 years to next service, potentially longer, then a NAP 300 DR represents better value for money - not withstanding it would costs slightly more initially, but will outclass their predecessor. To my mind, the cost of NAP 135s attracts some rarity value, for those looking to assemble / enhance an olive system. Ultimately if your budget is fixed, you have other options, s-cap on superline and potentially a radikal, if you follow source first. It doesn’t appear to be a bargain and while you mention a previous service, unless it was carried out at Naim, caveat emptor.

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My £300 ‘guess’ was based on the cost of servicing my 250, last time it was done (a while ago…).

As to ‘when’ servicing should be done - Naim say:

“How often should I service my Naim product?”

“This is a question often asked, and the Service Department recommendations are as follows: for the Chrome bumper (circa 1975 to 1989) and Olive (circa 1989 - 2000) range products, we recommend every 8 - 10 years and for the newer black products (2000 - present), every 12 - 15 years.”

So, this pair of 135’s were due in 2020… :expressionless:

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I am not convinced that passive bi-amping will help the OP here, but I have no practical knowledge of how that would work. Would it need new additional kit (see what I mean?) to get the system going? Anyway, I’ve said my piece, so I’ll bow out and let others contribute their wisdom.

[As an aside, this Forum is bl++dy marvellous, isn’t it? Which other hifi manufacturer allows everyone - from long term users to brand new potential buyers - to trade advice and knowledge in this way? I have never seen another site like it.]

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Graham you raise a valid point - Naim don’t IIRC correctly, recommend bi-amping.

A thought on your earlier question, the NAP 300 was the successor to the NAP 135s. The power supply in one box and the head unit in a separate box. Edit: I have no idea if the 300 has a larger transformer(s) v 135, prompting the separation. I didn’t hear the NAP 300 but I replaced my 135s with NAP 300 DR and there was a significant uplift, not withstanding one of my two pairs of 135s were approaching service. So 135s v 300 DR is not a truly a fair comparison; the latter a step up.

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I sold a very nice pair of chrome bumper 135s that I had serviced by Class A in December last year on the fishy site recently for quite a bit less than you are being asked to pay

They had been together since new and came with their original boxes in very good nick so £2700 feels quite strong money and I’d wait for a better deal down the line, unless you really have to have these now…

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300 replacing 135s was the result I think, whether intended that way or not.

I have not heard a 52 driving a 300, but many people say it works well (unlike a 252 driving 135s according to some here). An old/ new compromise?

I have yet to feel driven to swap my olives for more modern kit, due to the impression of fractionally better detail and bass grip (good obviously) when I hear them, but also their being a bit less prone to boogie (except perhaps 252 or 552 plus 500 combos) and perhaps a bit less immediately involving on some recordings. It’s a fine line - except that 300s seem to go for £6,500 or so.

Meanwhile, Jude sold me most of my Naim kit, including the 250 in about 1992 (IIRC). He also sold a richer friend some equally non-new 135s (with an Orbe/SME V, 52 & PS into Shahinian Hawks). I wasn’t sure about the speaker choice, however impressive in every way, and Jude was equivocal. However, none of undoubted that the 135s sounded MORE of all good things with 3 different sets of speakers.

With everything else done in the last few years, I expect/ hope I’ll now hear that 250 to 135 uplift as much in my system as I did all those years ago. TBH, I have been so happy with the 250 and spent so long with other boxes that definitely would not make the most of 135s (82 and Hicap, Heybrook HB1s, Shahinian Compasses) that changing it never seemed like a sensible idea - but I never quite forgot how 135 sounded all those years ago.

Meanwhile I think I have found a set (serviced 10 years ago) for under £2,500 - that feels more of a bargain.

Now, where can I find a 5-way Hydra? And, if I stick to my 4-way, which do I plug directly into the wall instead - CDS2 or NDX2?

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I won’t be going to bi-amping and will be staying passive. Apart from anything else, my speaker cables are over 16M (but for that, I doubt I would hear any difference at all TQB2 versus A5) and I don’t want more cables around the place.

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Thanks to you and all for comments. I am very willing to believe all who say a 300DR is a step up, but so it should be, surely? If I pay £3,300 in total for newly-serviced 135s, that still seems to be around half what a 300 with 5 or 6 years on the clock unless I have misunderstood how pricing looks.

By not pending that extra, I can feel less bad about spending again next year when my Krystal really needs t.

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I don’t understand your very last sentence. Grahams HiFi in Islington, who make the Hydra, will make one for you with as many heads as you need. But it should only be used for Naim equipment. So if, for example, you have a Linn TT, you should not power it from the Hydra (unless you’re using an Armageddon power supply). It’s all to do with the ‘star earthing’ used by Naim (whatever the heck that might be).

All good points.

My Hydra powers Supercap for 52, XPSDR for NDX2, CDXPS for CDS2 and the 250.

I’ll be going back to Grahams for a 5-way when I can if I get 135s. The question of which to take off the Hydra only applies until then.

I have my Naim boxes on a dedicated radial. The Lingo 4 plugs into the existing ring-main - the L4 may not be as bad in that respect as my old L1, but it does seem a marginal benefit to keep it away from Naim amps.

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