Use XLR cable to active speakers

All the Hicap sockets are stereo. You need to ensure one wire is wired to the left pin, the other to the right.

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Hi Wuzcsg,

Naim amps are NOT balanced.

You could get a cable made up as HH suggests, but that may well NOT make the best use of the ATC.

You can get specialist transformers for doing SE to Balanced conversion.

Have a chat with Naim &/or ATC.


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Yes unblanced to balanced transformers (audio BalUns) are made for this purpose for optimum SQ. Canford make such devices for the pro market and are OEM for a few audiophile brands.

You can directly wire unbalanced to balanced usually, (though check equipment to ensue no damage/stress will occur) and even some actually sell connectors that simply wire from unbalanced to balanced, but use as a last resort or only if very short leads, otherwise you will most likely compromise SQ performance.

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Thanks for your reply.

In the official manual I saw HI-CAP can connect with XLR.

So I am wondering if Hi-CAP can connect my ATC scm20A using amp1 & amp2 connectors.

Anyone has tried?

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The 250,300 and 500 do use XLR connectors but these are not balanced connections and are wired differently.

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So guess scm20A is not ideally compatible with Naim… :disappointed:

I ran various ATC:s for a while (including the SCM20ASL Pro).

I preferred the sound with a unbalanced->balanced transformer (I wired my own with Lundahl transformers). Quieter connection and cleaner transients with a transformer/balanced. But auditioning different transformers you can leave for later. Using a transformer is electrically more safe.

I would ask Naim or the ATC-dealer for the recommended product.

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They work well. Follow the advice already given on cables / transformer methods and you’ll be fine.

Signal cable options with wiring diagrams are discussed explicitly in Section 5 of the manual for your speakers.

I have heard active ATC speakers driven directly from a 272 and they sounded excellent. Using a transformer is a good idea, particularly if you are running long cables, but not essential at least to start with.

For more reassurance, phoning ATC is sensible advice, they are a very friendly and helpful firm. However, most UK firms are fully occupied with coping with the Covid pandemic at the moment, so if possible, please wait until the lockdown restrictions begin to be lifted before contacting either ATC or Naim.


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I think I am now considering:

  1. NAC-N 272
    • pros: lower cost
    • cons: order product
  2. Nova
    • pros: newer technology
    • cons: pay for power amplifier that I won’t use

What do you think?

If you’re considering these options then it might be worth looking at non Naim options too - Auralic for example…

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I’d go with the 272 unless your major source is Qobuz or Tidal. You could upgrade it with a power supply later, which isn’t possible with the Nova. I’d also be interested in trying a Linn DSM and running balanced connections.

The Auralic Vega G2 into my Active 40’s is the best sound I’ve heard here . I think one of its great strengths is it’s Analogue Volume control which draws zero current once set. If the Virus hadn’t struck I would have ordered one last month but there is no stock at the moment for obvious reasons.

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Yes, I am also very interested in Linn selekt DSM (with Katalyst), it seems a very good solution for my current combination problem, but still lacking information to make the decision (for sure, after lockdown I probably will book a demo).

On the other hand, NDX 2 -> ATC CA2 -> scm20A is another solution.
I am still loving Naim and want to keep staying here, NDX 2 has more space to be upgraded, also might have NAC + NAP when I change to passive speakers in the future.
CA2 is because the price is very fair enough and should be good to pair with scm20A.

Any thoughts?

In that case stick with Naim. To keep it affordable you could get a used 272 for under £2,000. Then you could really boost it with a 555PS. Later on, if and when a new platform streaming preamp appears you could swap to that if you want.

I spoke to ATC about running the 20A from my 272 and they did it would be perfectly fine. You could always get the bal/unbal transformers if you want.

Presumably you will be ripping your CDs to a Nas or something. If so the 272 would be perfectly fine.

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Well, that combo is certainly helping me cope with lockdown. Balanced output from the Vega, too.


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In your OP you mention a HiCap. Do actually you have one at present? If so, you won’t be able to use it with either a 272 or Nova.

It would be helpful if you could give a bit more info. What is your current system? How much do you have to spend? Does box count matter? Do you have a dealer who sells Naim and ATC within reasonable travelling distance? Making a short list for auditioning once this becomes possible is a good use of lockdown time, but ultimately you have to choose with your ears.


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ATC actives monitors form an excellent match with Naim NAC’s/Power Supplies and the NAC N 272.

Use S3 from Hi-Cap DR or single Din pre out on NAC N 272 with a single 4 pin din > 2 x XLR cable. Fwiw, over the last fourteen years we’ve used Van Damme Pro Grade Classic XKE 1 pair install cable blue for SINGLE 4 pin din > 2 x XLR’s for connection to power amplifiers, active speakers and powered subwoofers.

If you fancy making your own then the SINGLE 4 pin din > 2 x XLR’s are configured as -

At the Din end:

Pin1: Ch1 left (white core)

Pin2: no connection

Pin3: signal ground ( two blue cores)

Pin4: Ch2 right (white core)

Note: drain wires are not connected at the din end.

At the male XLR end:

Pin 1: drain wire

Pin 2: signal high (white core)

Pin3: signal low (blue core)

Note: link XLR pins 1 and 3 with 20 gauge wire


Compare the Linn DSM/Katalyst with the 272.

The Linn has balanced out and balanced vs.unbalanced has a slightly different sound signature. Some are not bothered others prefer one or the other. Personally I prefer balranced.

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