Speakers! The death of

Hi all, new to the forum.

I have linn axis, naim CDX, with a nac102, nap180 with naim intro2’s which I don’t like. Would a pair of SBL’s which I have seen suit this or a pair of IBl’s? Or would I be better putting a power supply with the 180 and CDX be a better use if money and buy a better speaker unit later? Any help is very much appreciated.

I can’t answer your specific question, other than that when I heard IBLs I questioned “where’s the bass?”, and when the then owner of them bought my IMF TLS50s from me when I upgraded he realised what I was talking about.

Speaking more generally, speakers have the biggest effect on the character of the sound of any system component, and in my view are the most important - and hardest - to get right. In my view that is more important than source, though there is a strong movement that cries: “source first!”.

Only you can tell what speakers suit your taste in sound, and the only way of knowing is hearing. This was brought home to me many years ago when I did a mammoth audition of 12 or 13 speakers, in a price bracket equivalent to about £2.5-£3k today, and most the top of their respective manufacturers’ ranges and most had been praised by the hifi press. All but 3 or 4 were so unpleasant as to be unlistenable to me. And just two were worthy of detailed consideration, leading to one clear winner - which lasted me for about 15 years, only replaced because I had the opportunity to buy their greater sibling at a bargain price, and those only replaced 25 years later with my current ones simply because I had received an inheritance that funded it, choosing speakers with very much the same character but an awful lot younger to last me the next 30-40 years. So, take your time, audition, and choose well!


Late spec Linn Keilidh or Kabers on the end of that work fantastic. Run a 180 into both many times. Just make sure they come with the Kustone plinths.

I throw this out there as someone who never really got on well with Naim Speakers.

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It’s important to understand what you ‘don’t like’ about the Intro, and whether it’s the speakers or something else that’s the issue.

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I was pondering that last night, I have a power supply on the 102 but not the 180 nor the CDX. Would that be your first pit stop?. I just feel they are harsh, but then at 51 and 40 years playing Tuba in a Brass Band maybe it’s the ears. I did have a pair of Keilidh with a different amp and I loved then very much. Good tight bass.

Naim PSU upgrades are for sources or preamps, not power amps, so the 180 can’t use one. If your system is properly set up, and in good condition, my gut feeling is that the speakers are what you should change.

The CDX is not the smoothest sounding CDP and the 102/180 can sound a little thin, if that makes sense. Do you have both a Napsc and Hicap on the 102? Have the Hicap (if you have one) and 180 been serviced? Are you using NacA5 cable?

I can’t say I’ve heard the Intro but have owned both IBL and SBL. The IBL is quite unforgiving and really needs a 250 to shine.

I just have the napsc and no, getting it serviced at Tomtom Audio soon.

It’s probably the bass end I’m missing while sat listening right now. I’m worried about the SBL from what im reading elsewhere with positioning and set up.

The room is 4.7mtrs by 2.6 and I’m listening the short way, with book shelving either side of the speakers, about 2ft away.

Neat seem to come up alot.

Yes, I have the cables, 5 meters each as advised by Audio Republic.

I’d get hold of a serviced Olive Hicap as your first move. It makes the 102 just so much better. I’d suggest having the 180 serviced by Darran at Class A in Sheffield. It’s cheaper than Naim and takes days rather than weeks.

With that narrow room you need speakers that go hard against the wall, which rather rules out most, including Neats. If Tom Tom is your usual dealer you’d be in very safe hands if you went for SBLs. I’ve set them up lots of times and it’s not difficult if you take it slowly and methodically. I think they might be ideal for you, and as you will know they represent great value. They need a solid wall behind them.


The wall behind is a false, 3by2 stud with 18mm MDF so I could hide the mains and TV stuff which is above.

I bought the napsc from tomtom, dont really k ow them but Sheffield is a short drive away so will probably get the 180 serviced and get hold of a hicap.

Good plan. Get that done and see what it does for the sound. You should find things become more solid.

Thanks all, very much appreciated.

Hi Mark,
If the Audio Republic is your Naim dealer, then simply ask Andrew for his advice and act on it. Andrew has an encyclopaedic knowledge of music systems, with an ear to match. He has always offered great advice (and excellent service) to us.

Most of the components in your system err on the lean or bright side, so putting them together may result in a fairly relentlessly bright and unforgiving system.

First, I would service any Naim component that is (over-)due at Class A in Sheffield.

There is nothing wrong with a CDX but putting an XPS on to it will definitely bring you more rich, dynamic and deep bass.

I am not a great fan of the NAC102, much preferring the 82 or the 72.

I once auditioned the Intro and found it to be unbearably harsh & unrefined. To be fair though, the Intro 2 may be better. However, I suspect that a conversation with Andrew will result in a sweeter sounding pair of speakers that are blessed with more and better bass.

Above all though, have a word with the Audio Republic. They will sort you out in no time. I still travel up to Headingley for a periodic dose of their wisdom.

Best regards, BF

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That’s brilliant BF, and get exactly what you are saying. Just listened and the louder higher is so harsh I can’t listen at decent volumes.

Trip to Sheffield is a first and will go speak with Andrew.

Thanks again.

Also check that mains cables are away from interconnects. Harshness could well be caused by interference.

If you haven’t already tried it, then change the preamp to the top of the rack with the CD player below - it might reap some benefit. Also that rega (phono amp?) could probably be better placed too? @hungryhalibut may advise you on this.

Never crossed my.mind about unit position. The npsca is on top of the nap180 too. Mains are right next to the interconnected as the sockets are right behind the rack.