SL2 - good offer but custom finish

Hi guys
I got a really good offer for an SL2.
A really nice guy is offering them - a real Naim Fan.
I think they are in perfect condition and can be shipped very carefully.
But …
The do have a custom finish - with some glossy paint on it. Done very professional. Nice looking!
But what bothers me is the „non original“ feeling.
Could the outer finish be a major problem. As I remember from Naim, everything is Sound related - even the outer finish.

What do you think?
Any suggestions and triggers for final decision …?

I now do run 52/sc/135 into SBL mk1.
I am really tempted!

Interesting. I don’t suppose you have any photos of the finish you could share to help folk advise? I guess it really depends on what the finish is.

As they are not in my possession yet, it is difficult with posting fotos …

Naim offered a special paint black finish. IIRC it was done by a local automotive paint shop. It could look really good, although probably best on DBLs, and NBLs. I would probably pass on SL2s in piano black though as I seem to recall that it did impair performance somewhat.


Thanks Richard
Really much appreciated. This is a fawn finish very similar to the maple tone. Do not think it is done by Naim - but very good job, without any marks of destruction of the structure underneath.

Why does a paint influence to quality on sl2 but not on dbl / nbl.
Do I understand correctly, that you suggest to wait for a original one?

It will have an effect on how the cabinet behaves. Naim apply damping in specific places, but too much damping to the cabinet, as can happen with fairly thick lacquering, will impair performance. I found the SL2 particularly sensitive to this.

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Is this a surface coating (i.e. paint, varnish or lacquer) or a stain or oil finish that goes into the woodgrain? I wouldn’t expect the latter to have any effect.

I will have a deep look into it - THANKS a lot to all of you!

It’s odd to mention selling them when you haven’t bought them yet, but a custom finish may affect any future resale price.

Obviously not at issue if SL2 is your final destination.

I d not want to sell them, I want to keep and listen :slight_smile:
My fault - offer for buying them, sorry!

Yes I thought you were buying them.

I was just pointing out that, if you do buy them, you may want to sell them later.

Are you really serious that the paint on SL2 made them sound worse?

I realise there are more things on heaven and earth than is dreamed of in my philosophy but I feel even Horatio would have issues with your inference.


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If the SL2 cabinet resonance is part of how they tuned the speaker - the actual wood vibration of the cabinet, I mean - then for sure surface coatings can affect the sound. Piano black, which has a very thick laquer or poly coating (often applied as multiple thin layers, individually polished) would definitely have an effect on that cabinet resonance as compared to stained finishes. Moreso than paint, perhaps, since it’s likely much thicker.

This is a well known thing in acoustic instruments, where varnishing is part of the overall process. It’s perhaps more surprising that one seriously sought after aspect of older acoustic guitars is lacquer rather than poly-anything. It’s now more or less gone for safety reasons and cost… but some luthiers go to the trouble and still use it, or develop other very thin but durable coatings, to make instruments that they feel sound their very best.

Vibration in the wood changing over time is also one reason some older guitars sound better, and newer instruments often sound better as they get played more and the grain opens up a bit. This is possibly true for speakers, but there was a cool measurement test done at Sound-On-Sound I think - and I’m really hazy here but it may even have been by one of the Naim speaker designers (name escapes me but he has a cool personal archival website with a variety of his older articles) - where they measured a new pair of speakers, set one aside and played one really loud in a barn attic someplace for a few months, then re-measured both and found no evidence for “running in”.

Bit of a wander there, sorry about that digression. Point is, lots of things affect acoustic performance, and different surface finishes would damp the cabinet differently. So for sure it’s plausible that a thin-walled loudspeaker that sounds good with the cabinet stained might sound less good when coated in a thick layer of polycoat. Kinda cool…


Oh yes. I remember we had a pair of Rosewood SL2s. They looked lovely but just didn’t sound right - flat and boring.

We spent ages trying to figure it out. First we changed all the drivers; same result. Then we changed the crossovers; same result. Then we had them rebuilt; same result. Then I decided to swap the top boxes with those from another pair; suddenly they were sounding as they should and the life returned. So, obviously there was some issue with the top box cabinets. Only trouble was that they looked fine, the mid/bass chambers were sealed fine, they checked out fine. Only thing that was a possible concern was that there was a bead of excess glue on a couple of the joints. Could that be the cause?? I guess it’s possible, and indeed, it was eventually determined that was likely the issue.

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Sorry and maybe this is a bit off topic. What about the damping foam inside the top part that houses the tweeter assembly. Also in the bottom cabinets i assume there are degrading foam dampers. The foam grills can be sourced via tom tom. Even they have a significant effect on the sound but assume better with them on since SL2 was designed to have them on

Yes, the SL2 was designed to have the grilles on.

As for the internal foam in the top box, I think there have been some posts on here where users have replaced this successfully.

The dampers are actually weights attached where needed to the internal cabinet.

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The SL2s are such a superb speaker and so rarely up for sale that, in your position, I’d be very tempted. Is it possible to hear them? I would certainly never consider changing mine. Speaker grilles are available and padding for the top box can be bought from Wilmslow Audio. I changed mine recently. Very easy to do. Tweeters are available from Willy’s Audio. Don’t know if the mid/bass unit is available any more, but I think the only problem with these tends to be the phase plug in the centre which can pop forward. Easily re-glued though.


That’s it - and that’s why I am tempted.
There could be another one at my dealers for sale in my favorite finish (black ash).
But it is approx 4 times in pricing.
Maybe I will go the expensive route :o)

It is not about the bad sound of the custom ones - it is more about the gut feeling … and this is strong in me

Gut is always right and only here once.
Life is too short for regret. :+1:t2:

I am very surprised that the outside finish would effect the sound, and if it does that appiles that the cabinet itself isn’t made or damping right doesn’t it ? As if a thicker finish (paint) is making the cabinet stronger then it doesn’t say much about the cabinet is my mind.
Willing to be educated lol