Hello fellow Naim users
I will do my best to keep this brief but after reading a lot of other posts on here I see it’s best to get the details down early.
I brought a Muso 2 a few years back closely followed by another. Love them.
Last week I brought an Atom and a pair of Focal Aria 926 K2. After much reading around and with Naims partnership I thought this would be a good pairing. But……
I’m struggling here.
So system setup details.
Carpeted living room. 8m x 5m.
Speakers .5m from wall and separated by 1.5m
Rocket 11 cables
I’m into all sorts of music and have tried most genres through the setup.
I’ve tried all my usual sources. Airplay streaming. Direct YouTube music streams. HDMI. Internet hi def radio.
Unfortunately, despite being a lifelong music lover, this is my first venture into higher end equipment. Not the crazy end, granted, but better than the usual. So I struggle with the language so please excuse me whilst I do my best to explain what I’m hearing.
Basically it’s harsh. Far too much top end with symbols and guitar string reverb dominating and taking the enjoyment out of the listening. After 30 minutes it’s fatiguing to the point of headache. Bass is fine and even the mid is ok but not breathtaking. But the top end is screeching at me. Something like rattled by the travelling willburies is just all symbol and guitar twanging that Jars the senses. Even lifeboat by penguin cafe is less enjoyable than I’ve heard on my earlier budget systems and cannon in D doesn’t quite sing to me and doesn’t stir the emotion it should.
I thought maybe it might be the atom. So I picked up a Nova today and although you can hear the improvement in the overall quality of the sound that you’d expect the grating harshness of the top end is still there and zapping the enjoyment.
I’ve tried repositioning the speakers numerous times. I haven’t got the naim sac5 speaker cables yet for the Nova but they are en route.
So. Any advice please. The speakers are brand new and I can still return them. Could they actually be faulty or is this in keeping with anyone else’s findings. I really want to love them. I want it to be a silly setup issue. But my gut right now is that they just completely go against my warmer listening preferences. This doesn’t jibe with the multitude of reviews for these speakers though.
So I’m confused.
Help and advice greatly appreciated.
Speaker/room interaction is the most important thing to get right in HiFi, and sometimes the most difficult. I would suggest that you speak to your dealer and ask them to demo some alternative speakers while you still can. Maybe also try some other Naim dealers if you can, as they may have other speaker brands that you could try.
Hmmm the focal sizzle…, not a fan focal myself but try with grills on and less toe in so your listening off axis a bit.
There’s a few variables here, sounds like the kit is new and not adequately run in, speaker cables may be a factor and as others rightly already highlighted, room interaction is quite likely a contributing factor.
Certainly worth some listening sessions with various brands of speakers if possible, some dealers can be somewhat “pushy” towards a certain mix of products, despite Focal being owned by the same company as Naim they can be a bit of a Marmite brand for speakers (and I own both in wall AV and Kanta’s from Focal)
I certainly found my Kanta’s in particular took quite a while to run in and required numerous tweaks and relocations to have them work with the room (as opposed to against it).
It comes down to budget of course but there tend to be brands that stand out as being more popular in general, like Kudos, ATC, PMC, ProAc, Harbeth and so on.
There’s not really a universal speaker that everyone falls in love with and even a good speaker in a poorly laid out room or that has challenging dimensions or material properties can sound average or fatiquing.
It may well be worth measuring the room or working with someone like GIK Accoustics to model the right treatments to tame any issues with the environment.
I would begin by changing the Rocket 11 speakers cables , which may not be suitable to the Naim amp. Just borrow some Naca 5 or Chord cables and see.
Welcome to the Forum, Tom. Did you listen to the speakers at your dealers before buying them? This is essential, and it’s almost as essential to try them at home. It’s really important to listen a well run in pair, as speakers can change quite a lot as they run in. I tried a three year old dem pair of my speakers at home before ordering some. When mine arrived they were much less open and dynamic, but I knew they’d open up, and they did. If you’ve tried a run in pair of your speakers previously then you may well be ok, once yours run in. Does your dealer stock other options that you can try at home?
Unfortunately I didn’t. This dealer only has three branches in the UK and they are all over 200 miles away.
It was the deal that was to hard to pass up. I can however return them within 30 days. I will try and demo some at a different dealership near me when I go out hunting for alternatives. If these sound the same then I will return the ones I have.
I have the Naim speaker cable arriving Friday and will also try that.
Both the Atom and the Naim should be run in as they are 1-2 years old.
Obviously I’m quite new to this end of the market so learning a lot and quickly.
At least it’s a lesson that trying at home is important, and luckily one you can learn at no risk with the 30 day return.
You have a large room, so the Nova is definitely the one to keep, of the Atom and Nova. With that room size you probably want floorstanding speakers. PMC twenty5.23i would be a possible choice, or Neat Elite Classic. I’ve not heard the latter but Neats generally go well with Naim. It’s good to form a relationship with a good dealer, it will serve you well in the long run.
Remove the audioquest cables.
I have some pair of focal speakers, and with naim and focal the audioquest speaker cables and power cables do not work and cause listening fatigue fast.
Also the network cables from audioquest work, but the cinnamon for example brings too much energy and highs, the vodka and diamond work well but are expensive, so in the network solutions with naim try other brands to keep things soft.
One thing I noticed is that you can try the naca5 speaker cable, they make the focal sing all day without harshness, also one power cable that works great is the naim Powerline, the combination of the two makes things great with focal.
The power cable that comes in the box with naim makes the focal twitter extend in a way that is a little unpleasant.
My finding was with the area 906 and with the sopra n1 on a supernait 3 and ndx2.
And forget the audioquest, they are amazing cables but could be problematic with Naim gear unfortunately, and I have a lot of audioquest cables here, but with naim they have to be carefully added.
You said also that your speakers are 5 meters from wall and the distance between the two speakers is 1,5 meters ? Is it correct ?
I think he said half a meter from the wall (.5m)…
Let’s hope the naim speaker cables transform them when they arrive tomorrow.
I can try an upgrade to the mains cable. I thought that the general feeling was that here in the UK power line treatment was a lot less necessary. Worth a go though.
I’m going away for a long weekend. Was thinking of leaving the setup on radio to put some hours on the speakers. Is this advisable?
If you’re in the U.K. then there’s the possibility of thunderstorms at this time of year, so you might want to be safe rather than sorry.
My Nac A5 has arrived. I’ve terminated into the Naim connectors at the amp end and used chord ohmic 4 mm on the speaker end. Cable direction and orientation observed. Soldered using high silver content solder. (I’m an electronics engineer so have all of the tools needed).
Some improvement immediately noticeable at the top end. The sound isn’t as harsh and shouty. I’ve been listening all afternoon and it’s not as fatiguing as it was previously. Getting some weird sudden raises in low end levels mid song for no apparent reason. Very strange. A few seconds of increased bass and lower mid that shouldn’t be there that then ramps out again a few seconds later. It’s only happened half a dozen times but enough for me to know it wasn’t just me hallucinating.
I still don’t love the sound though. I really want to love these speakers but they are just missing something that I’m struggling to put my finger on, or at least find the language to explain.
I’ll leave them running for a few more days to see if they improve but I doubt they will find a way back into my heart.
Any more ideas of things to try welcome. (I can’t afford the Naim super power lead, way outside my budget).
I appreciate all the previous speaker suggestions but they are mostly outside of my budget of £1k-1.5k. I’m tempted to go and demo the wharfdale evo range. The reviews look promising and suggest a warmer experience and easier room placement. There is also a pair of the non meta previous gen Kef R5 available for a good price but I can’t get to demo them and am hesitant to make that mistake again.
Now I have an Atom and a Nova I also need to find two sets of speakers. I will be moving soon to a bigger place so sure I’ll find house space for them both.
Anyway. I’m rambling.
Any further suggestions regarding some last tweaks to the focals to try or speakers to try that may be a little warmer and with budget of £1.5k max would be appreciated.
If things are varying actually within a track I would wonder about your mains supply (unusual in the UK) or a fault somewhere. Running in can be a bit variable in my experience but not so acute.
A5 takes a while to bed in, be patient if you can but I think you might also be approaching the 30 day return cutoff for the speakers
Hopefully you can get advice from a dealer who sells the 962 and other options so they can advise with some understanding of what you have and what you are looking for.
If you like a more refined sound, less bright or in your face, I would look at Sonus Faber or Harbeth. Maybe second hand. They marry well with Naim .
The entry level for Sonus Faber floorstanders is 2 k euros.
Harbeth P3 , 2,8 k euros.
Naim and Focal simply don’t work IMO, other opinions are available of course.
Yes. In this case that certainly seems to be true. I own two muso 2 though and there the focals really do partner well. That’s what lead to my erroneous assumption that this would remain true as I moved up the laser.