Systems that shouldn't work - But Do!

Anyone else heard odd or unlikely combinations of equipment over the years that on paper seem like a bad idea yet really sing? A couple of personal experinces have always stuck in my mind.

Many years ago, in the 80’s, I was at my then dealers and heard a wonderful sound. I couldn’t see what was playing from where I was but I commented on how wonderfully musical it sounded. He agreed and asked me to come see. I was shocked to see a Rega Planar 3 with A&R cartridge, Naim 42/110 and Kans! Now this really should not have worked! Back then it was heresy to use anything other than an LP12 with a Naim amp and Kans. He said he had just fitted a new cartridge to the Rega for a customer and was just testing it. He said that although it sounded wonderful, “as a system it’s cr*p”! Never quite got that…

Even earlier, in the 70’s, the local record store had a Garrard SP25MkIII turntable with Goldring G850 cartridge, a Sansui amp and a pair of JBL speakers playing records. An uninspiring system on paper but it sounded lovely. I used to love listening to it as I browsed through the LP’s.

More recently I read about a hi-fi show where there was a Nova driving a pair of Wilson Sabrina X speakers at around £20K! Apparently it was the best sound at the show.

Please share your experiences…


I had Linn LP12 - Naim 42/110 - Kans… :thinking:

Same here. After I got married I became so fed up with constantly having to get the LP12 re-set that I did a straight swap for a Rega 3 with my dealer, remembering that system that I’d heard. For at least 75% of the time it sounded better than my LP12 did, so prone was that to drifting off.

I can identify with this had LP12 with LVX/Supex cart with NAD 3020 and Kans dealer was horrified but sounded superb with eighties music like Heaven 17 etc. Eventually after extended home demo bought Ittok and fitted Supex to that then moved up to 42/110 rest is history Inc Koetsu etc

A good friend gave me an old Thorens TD145 fitted with an old AT cart.
The turntable had been stored for a long time so we were unsure whether it needed complete service.
The platter still oscillated perfectly vertical, the belt was ok, it ran at 33.3 with minimal w&f.

God Bless Switzerland.

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What was the problem with your LP12?

The only time mine got “re-set” was when it had a service every three years or so or, had an upgrade.


Every time it was set-up within around a couple of months or so it drifted off and sounded awful. Rebuilt by two separate dealers three times - to no avail. Enough is enough.

Not quite the same as your example @pjl but in the early nineties I heard a Pink Triangle Little Pink Thing (cannot recall the cartridge) with a Musical Fidelity A1 and Tannoy Westminster Royals.

Electrically, it worked (beautifully). Pricewise, no!

Closer to your example, five years later a friend had a Rega Planar 3, A&R E77, NAC72, NAP140 and a pair of Castle largish standmounts (Pembroke ?). Again, as you found, the synergy of the Supex derived A&R with the Naim phonostage was gorgeous. At the time I was messing about with valves and LS3/5as but, with the benefit of nearly thirty years hindsight, I reckon his system more or less pointed me to where I am today.


I hear ya :slightly_smiling_face:

When my LP12 was on song, it sounded fabulous. But then there would be periods where it sounded rather dull. It was swings and roundabouts.

Loved the build, the ethos and, most of the time, the sound. But I got fed up with this inconsistency and eventually moved over to (burn the witch !!) CD.

I have never regretted the move.

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I really have enjoyed this topic. Had to let my beloved Isobariks go due to an enforced move. Approached my dealer about small speakers recommended Q Acoustic 3020 as stop gap faulty tweeters made a return visit told speakers should not be in a Naim system and recommend move to ATC etc but you sold me these speakers. Now have for last five years Q Acoustic Concept 20 have spent tonite on 80’s music and guess what the Concept 20 and all my Naim gear all offer a performance that makes me reach for another lovely glass of red.


I’m very lucky. I have my own music room which is cosy. During the summer I like to listen to music in our main living room which is spacious and light. I did a deal with Mrs Fifty and bought a low visual impact system that fulfilled her criterion of no gear stacks and wires etc etc. An Atom + LS50s _REL t5x (hidden behind the TV).
You know, it’s lovely. I really enjoy it. It ticks all the boxes pretty much. Perhaps I need to re-think my main system?

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I used to have the Little Pink Thing. Ran it into a Pioneer A400 and Epos ES11s. Ridiculously good.


Does this count….

Rega Planar 3, 552 DR, 300 DR :sunglasses:

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A while back I was looking for a music solution for our garden room when I came across a cheap pair of Bluetooth speakers called Edifier’s. These were advertised as active but in fact just had the amp hidden in one of the speakers - somewhat similar to the old active Warfdale Diamonds. The model number was R1010BT, so my comments are in relation to this specific model and not the many other models they seem to do.

Now I really wasn’t expecting anything special from these little toys, especially for the price but boy how wrong could I have been. I’d go as far as saying that these would seriously give a pair of 135’s and Kans a good run for their money. They somehow posses that magical quality that just simply unpicks music. I’ve been using them bolted to a wall quite high up with set of wall brackets, which seems to make them sound even better? Even off axis they sound astonishing. In fact they were that good that I bought a second pair for my workshop and at least two of my friends have bought pairs after listening to them.

Definitely in the category of a ‘systems that shouldn’t work - but somehow do’!



Wow! I love that. Is the Rega a sort of second source (ie. not taken so seriously) or do you find it completely good enough to not need anything better?

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Well, that’s a very good question. I bought the Rega new in the 80’s and I have around 320 records from the 70’s and 80’s. When I got back into hi-fi 10 years ago, I started with a UnitiQute2 and took the plunge with streaming and ripped my 400 or so CDs and have since bought CDs for ripping and more recently hi-res files. So, I’m heavily invested in streaming.

But I had that old Rega and a really nice vinyl collection, so I have recently maxed the Rega out with an Exact cart, swapped out the old motor with the new 24V one, added the Neo PS and swapped the Rega Fono for a Heed Quasar that I can power off the large Heed Obselik PS that I already had for my Heed headphone amp. Now, this performs very nicely indeed and much better than it should. It’s pretty much a RP6 now I expect. So, yes, it is completely good enough as a second source and for older vinyl recordings from that classic vinyl era (70/80’s) it can be better than streaming the same CD rips. It has a certain analogue presentation that is quite engaging. I have thought about a RP8 (which should be much better), but I am drawn to having this as a vintage player as it was my first system from my teens, and aesthetically, it’s a perfect match in my eyes for a classic Naim system. And it’s been good enough that I’ve had a bit of a buy up on new 70/80’s vinyl recordings.

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Thanks Mike. Obviously your Rega is ‘souped up’ as it were - and very nice too. I can understand your attachment to it. Mine was standard but still out-performed my very variable LP12 much of the time.

I recall a reviewer who wrote for Hi-Fi Answers back in the 70’s/80’s called Paul Boak. I spoke to him once - he was an LS3/5a man and he told me that he also had swapped his LP12 for a Rega 3 - “It’s not as good but you don’t worry about it!” Which seems fair enough.

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I recall a visit to the Acoustica Show about 5 years ago where I heard this really engaging music coming from one of the rooms. Peering in, there were just three small boxes. It turned out to be the just-introduced Atom driving little Dynaudio M20s. Probably the cheapest setup in the show and, by a fair degree, one of the most enjoyable.



Wow! What made you change them?

I also heard that set up at the Acoustica show - it was and excellent and shamed many of the more expensive systems and set ups.