Upgrade from 102/Hicap/2X140

My system is a circa 1994 102-Hicap-2X140 non recapped system (unused for about 10 years); in addition to that I use LINN KARIK second series and switch between EPOS 25 and Sonus Faber Minima Amator. I should add that my ceilings have groin vaults: it doesn’t help. I listen mainly introspective jazz, so usually trios or the like. Listening my HiFi system is good, but I can’t feel the 3D stage and the clarity of the sound is partial.
So I would like to upgrade, can you suggest me how to proceed?
Thanks a lot in advance,

Hi, any item you intend to keep especially the Hicap and 140s) will benefit from a recap. Not really familiar with the Karik so I won’t comment on potential source upgrades, but my first thought is the preamp. Maybe a nice NAC82 if you can find one.
I see that you have 2 NAP140s. Are you running them active?

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Thank you ChrisSU,

One 140 is used for basses, the other for mid-highs. I bought it second-hand and that’s how it was, not sure it is a good choice :frowning:

Then I guess you could get a SNAXO and run them active if your speakers are compatible - but they may not be.

You could trade the 2 x NAP 140s for an olive NAP 250 - which should be considerably better than the bi-amp arrangement, trade the 102 for an 82 and get everything serviced by Darran at Class A…

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Thanks Svetty, this looks nice; I had already read something on upgrading to 82 from 102. Would “olive” for the 250 be a must? I suppose the olive 250 has a different circuitry than non-olive.

It’s more that it is a visual match and priced more reasonably than a black Classic unit tbh :grinning:

Which piece should I start from?

I’d be on the lookout for a clean 82 - either recently serviced or one you can get freshly serviced with your other items :grinning:


Get the Hicap serviced first. If you go for an 82 or other preamp, you will want it to be powered from a decent PSU, and an old one is very likely to need a recap.

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I’m with @Svetty on this one. Get the 82 and 250.

I have had this combination and it is superb. I still have the 82 and now have 2 x 135s CB.

The 250CB I had was serviced and sounded so good. Very similar to the 135s.

Make sure they are serviced to get the best out of them.

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I just got an 82 (and got it serviced) to replace my 102/HC/140, and I must admit that I haven’t been that pleased with an upgrade since adding the HiCap to the 102/140. In fact I cant imagine my system sounding any better than it is. I really cant believe the improvement

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82 is a lovely pre. I’ve had 3 of them and strangely the best sounding was an early unserviced pots3, which sounded so beautifully rich and musical. It did have 2 CB Hicaps on it which i preferred to a Supercap. This went into a serviced CB 250 and sounded sublime. Other 82s i’ve had were later pots8 and though great, never quite managed the magic of the unserviced oldie.

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Thank you very much guys. I have read everything and the contrary of everything about best upgrades. I am tempted to conclude that above a certain quality level maybe upgrades are easier by improving the acoustic of the room rather than modifying the electronics. However I see that there is convergence on the 82 as an excellent pre (and read an excellent review about it), not sure how much better than my 102; I will try to see if I can get one at a reasonable price, even though I don’t like much the idea of all those useless switches for recording purposes. Another very annoying issue is about the use of a NAPSC which is possible on the 102, for which I still haven’t understood if it simply reduces noise or if it improves sound quality (again, somebody says it’s great, others say it’s useless).
In the meantime I have subscribed to Amazon Music HD and I have discovered two things: first, how wonderful it is to listen to all the music you want in CD quality! Really outsanding. First of all I love listening to music, and this is a great way to do it. And secondly, since I am listening lots of musics thanks to Amazon HD, how much better my NAIM sounds when it stays on for many days! I am using a simple SONOS as DAC, which might be poor for the rest of my HiFi; I still have to check the difference with my LINN KARIK CD player, if I see much difference I might decide to improve the DAC first.
But, again, I thank everybody here talking about our so beloved music fidelity!

If you Karik is in fine order, it’s still a really nice CD spinner and i’d not be in a rush to change it.

I would rather replace my simple guy, the SONOS DAC, if I detect that its quality is sensibly less than my KARIK. But, I tell you, I am almost sure (I should double check, and I will) that my HiFi sounds much much better with my SONOS but all NAIMs kept on for a week, instead of using my KARIK and NAIM just powered on. There is so much difference when keeping NAIMs on!

GadgetMan, d[quote=“GadgetMan, post:12, topic:12220, full:true”]
I just got an 82 (and got it serviced) to replace my 102/HC/140, and I must admit that I haven’t been that pleased with an upgrade since adding the HiCap to the 102/140. In fact I cant imagine my system sounding any better than it is. I really cant believe the improvement

Do I understand well that you prefer 102/HC/140 to 82 or at least don’t feel much difference between the two?

Well, experiences like yours, tell me again that the acoustic of the room might be so important in certain situations to let sound better a nominally inferior electronics; of course we are talking about NAIM, therefore excellent electronics in any case! I remember when I placed my Sonus Faber minima amator very close to the wall on wood furniture; well, even though this is not supposed to work properly, in some regards the sound I had was warmer than when putting them more properly far from side and behind walls, at least in my room with vaulted ceilings.

Sorry if that didn’t come across, but I MUCH PREFER THE 82. It was a massive upgrade for me. The 82 will normally come with a NAPSC, so you can then sell your 102 and NAPSC if you have one, and that might get another £300-500, and therefore go half way to the cost of an 82. It’s a win-win. Just try and get one about the same age as yours to help match the facias which changed in colour shade over the years. There is a list of serial numbers on Naims website where you can find the year it was manufactured.

Having owned literally dozens of Naim amps over the last 40 years, what it shows me is that not all boxes come out of the factory equal. This is something i’ve experienced many times over the years, both with brand new and used.