Sonic improvements in adding a Hicap to 72/140 combo?

I currently have a 72/140. What specific improvements can I expect if I add a Hicap?

A Hicap should bring improvements in all areas of performance; it will also unburden the NAP140 of having to power the NAC72 as well as itself, so you not only improve the pre-amp but also the power amp too. And if you use phono boards in the NAC72 then you’ll be in for a very pleasant surprise indeed. Only caveat is that if the Hicap is in need of servicing it might actually take performance down a peg or two. Make sure your source is up to scratch too. What sources are you using?

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I am running currently a Nac 72 / Nap 140 into SBL’s. Unfortunately, I need the hicap in another system currently. It is difficult to describe what the benefits are, but it is an overall improvement as Richard mentioned. Since the hicap is used elsewhere, I do miss it.

Richard touched the subject of sources as well, and differences in sources will get bigger. I have a CD5i cd player and this player is not really up to the level anymore. My other source is a simple Chord Mojo and an Allo Digione Streamer and this is much better.

I should not forget to mention that a Nac 72 / Nap 140 is still a very capable system which easily betters many modern offerings.

Prices of Olive hicaps should be between 300 GBP and 500 GBP where the 300 GBP is the unserviced old one and the 500 GBP is the relatively recent serviced one. I got mine for GBP 300 and sent it immediately in for a service.

A last thing to mention: make sure you can place the hicap well. If you place it up / under a Nac 72, the Nac 72 will sound like a much more standard pre-amp. Ergo, get a rack or space between the boxes.

More of all the lovely stuff it produces.
I was quite surprised what adding a HiCap did to my 62/110 combo some years ago.
And yes, as Richard said, a HC in need of a service can drag it down a bit.

From my experience with a 32.5 with 72 boards/140 system, adding the hi-cap was a definite improvement. I would though, make sure you get a recently serviced one or factor in the cost of a service if buying one that needs a service.

The 72/HC/140 was the sweet spot of the Olive range. It gave, in my opinion, the best cost performance of the range.

Adding a HC to a 72 should be a no brainer if everything is about the same distance to or from a service.

Hi All!

Thanks for all your comments. To answer your questions…

  1. The Hicap I am considering was recapped March, 2020. It’s not cheap ($1,200 US). As a side note, my 140 was recapped in 2018. To my knowledge, nothing has been done to the 72. What exactly is done on a 72 service?

  2. My primary source is CD. My current cd players are a Conrad Johnson Sonographe SD-22 and a McCormack UDP-1. I also use an HRT iStreamer DAC. I use this with my iPhone/iPad via an Audioquest Carbon lightning-to-usb cable and an AQ jitterbug. I also use a generic TT to spin vinyl at times.

  3. My 72 does not have a phono stage. In fact, there is nothing in that input (empty).

  4. Yes, I have a 4-tier rack and each component has it’s own shelf.

I do have a couple of additional questions regarding this system. Btw, this is my first naim separates system. Prior to this, I had XS2 and XS integrateds

  • When I first got this system and connected all the cabling, etc., I noticed it sounded like it was out of phase when I first started listening. I checked the cabling and everything was correct. I swapped polarity on one of the speakers, and that corrected the sound–for a min or two. Then is started to sound out of phase again, so I swapped the speaker wires back to normal and everything has been find since. I never quite understood what exactly happened there? Any ideas?

  • What is your normal volume range for this combo? Meaning: Where are you on the volume dial? I find that I don’t need hardly anything as I’m at 8 o’clock (or 8:30) on the dial… maybe 9 o’clock if I want to really feel he music. I feel as though I’m barely using any of the preamp. Is this normal? I know preamps in general have a sweet-spot range on the dial. On some it’s quarter volume, some it’s halfway (12 o’clock). I guess this may be totally difference when it comes to Naim?

  • Lastly, do any of you hear any slight low hiss coming from the speakers when the system is not playing anything? You can hear it when your ear is kind close to the speaker.

Naim preamps usually have this problem, especially with digital sources which usually have an output of 2V or higher. With a turntable it’s not so much of a problem due to the lower level input signal.
If your speakers are very easy to drive, especialy in a small room, the problem will be worse. Naim choose their volume pots based on sound quality, not user friendliness!

Slight hiss when not playing music is normal…

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