Speaker journeys - arriving at SBLs

Three questions… Sorry 4 questions…
But first some waffle… Over 10 years or so?

Rotel pre and power with Pioneer PL12 turntable and Rega ELA Mk 1.25; Then Linn Kabers; Then Quad 34 and Quad 909 pre and power; Then Systemdek IIXE (with external PSU), SME 3009 series II improved with Fluid Damper and Dynavector 10x5 cart; Then Focal Aria 906; Then NAC 102 with HiCap and Snaic; Then Rega ELA Mk 1 (I know ! and Again!) ;

NOW SBL’s :slight_smile:

I am very happy with first impressions. I have concrete floor and 1960’s brick wall behind the speakers and we (Allison and I) love that they work right up against the wall.

The bass (as one would expect) is much better than I have had in the past, I thought they sounded ok when I heard them when buying them, but a tweeter was dead when I got them home.

I have replaced the scanspeak D2008 - 851100 with a spare Rega version, D2008 - 7203, that I had lying around. It’s a bit bright :smiley:

I see Scanspeak D2008 - 851100 are advertised in all the usual places.

Question 1 - Are these standard items the same as the original unit I have in my SBL’s?
Question 2 - I guess I should fit one with the damping weight from the tweeter I removed?
Question 3 - Is there a Tweeter upgrade I should be looking at?

Would be grateful for any all advice recommendations given?
I have tested the seals on the SBL’s by pushing the woofers in and watching them s l o w l y return to normal position, so I think I have been lucky with the gaskets.

Question 4 - Is it worth looking at refurbishing the crossovers? Can one “just” replace the original components with up to date/better ones? What are the options?

Happy New Year everyone :slight_smile:

Naim carefully selected matched pairs of tweeters. If you have to replace one then it’s best to do both, even though they’d not be pair matched. A 30 year old tweeter won’t sound the same as a new one. It would certainly seem sensible to transfer the damping weights over.

People have commented favourably on having their crossovers serviced - maybe Class A in Sheffield can do this, I’m not sure.

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In May 2020 Class A told me “Naim no longer offer servicing for the SBL’s, they used to supply new crossovers as it was more cost-effective” but I don’t think they do that anymore.

Naim will still service your SBL crossover as I found out a couple of weeks ago when I phoned the service department. Talked to an incredibly helpful chap who’s name escapes me. I’ll be sending mine in a couple of weeks for sure.



That’s good to know, thanks.

You mentioned the push test which suggests you might have transported them intact. This will likely trash the small aluminium squares that the spikes bite into. It’s quite an easy fix. Whenever you reseal them just check them and replace if needed.

Great speakers, and worth a little effort to get them working well. Enjoy.


Thanks @stuart.ashen,
Throwing this question open…
What do the Aluminium squares do sonically?

You want the spikes to make a nice even indent to the alu pads so the spikes are located and ensure there’s absolutely no rocking.


They keep the music tight. The mid box, with its pads on the lower surface, sits on the spikes of the lower box. If there were no pads the spikes would go straight into the wood and the sound would be mushy.

Very much worth paying attention to the integrity of the pads and that all four of them sit on the spikes, as Richard says.


When I say ‘integrity’ (above) I mean that the pads are only indented with the tips of the spikes, not pierced by them.

I’ve always thought the SBLs to be a triumph of Naim’s excellence in mechanical engineering.


I couldn’t agree more Chris. They are a wonderful design with many interesting solutions to control unwanted vibrations. The net result is that they are ruthlessly revealing, involving, and worthy of really high quality sources and amplification.

If they have a weakness they don’t really do that 3D hifi thing, but that has never bothered me. Used here since 1988….


So… SBL’s vs Rega ELA’s
More bass - Yes but not more accurate, and not all the way down : 1/2 Point to the SBLs
More headroom when loud? - Yes and the bass gets better at volume: 1 point to the SBL’s. (Better at Prog).
More revealing? Yes but less delicacy? evens
Ability to put the music (instruments, vocals even venue) in the room, or even remove the room? No - 1 point to the ELA’s, which are better on this front, though not perfect.
Operates up against the wall (Hi WAF factor) : 1 point to the SBL’s

So I have the SBL’s against brick walls with chimney breast in the middle, Concrete floor with carpet.
I had the ELA’s operating with their faces level with the front of the chimney breast.
Chimney breast protudes 30" into the room.

I can redo the gaskets and replace the ali plates, and replace the tweeters with new units, but…
Will this improve the imaging capabilities of the SBL’s to equal or better than the ELA’s or is this the Achilles heel for this speaker and what alternatives should I look at if I want it all?

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I don’t agree that imaging is the Achilles heel of the SBL. However with them either side of a chimney breast that protrudes 30" into the room, it might be.

Others will be able to advise.


Tbh having checked your system you are unlikely to get the best out of SBLs. A Systemdeck/102/Quad will work of course, but SBLs we’re designed to be used with the best source and amps of the time. A Linn/282/250 would be nice though. Not perhaps what you want to hear.

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I’ve read this a lot about SBLs. I’m never really sure what it means.

Is it that you can tell where the musicians are? The guitarist is over there and the singer is right in front of you. Because my SBLs do that in spades.

They are great in terms of width, height and image location, but front to back is poor relatively speaking (in my experience of course). They certainly image well enough for me. I just don’t think they or any boundary design are good choices if imaging is a high priority. That said nothing else I have heard really grabs me like SBLs do.

Ah that makes sense. I guess the image doesn’t come out massively towards you. Which, as you say, makes sense with the location of them.

Yes, I think some people love that 3D thing and that of course is perfectly fine. It can sound impressive. However, I personally find it a bit of a distraction.

A little surprised by the Ela comparison. I was super underwhelmed by them, vastly prefer my RS3s.

Interesting, Christopher… I had both pairs, and the advice then was to have the tips of the spikes very lightly pierce through the aluminium pads, so they ought to “eat” a little into the wood underside of the mid-bass cabinet which will anchor the mid-bass to the bass loading cabinet without any rocking.

My dealer could be wrong at that time, so I would be keen to understand which is actually the correct installation procedure for the SBL set up even though I don’t own them anymore.

They are exceptional speakers set-up carefully and right.


Phil P