Using Naim SBL speakers away from a wall

I am in the middle of a large project which will eventually mean moving my beloved SBLs into a new room where I cannot place the speakers close to a rear wall. I do use a sub woofer. The SBLs would have to be a 3 feet from a wall - rear or side. The sub which has a remote control for level and phase plus a microphone for calibration should cope with this problem but anyone who has had to use SBLs in a similar position I would like to hear their views and experience please.

Given it’s a boundary design, moving them out 1m from the wall could be interesting and not easily compensated for by the sub. Perhaps it might be time to retire the SBLs and look for a design more suited to your new room arrangement.

Good luck anyway.


Thanks James. It could indeed be time to move on. The SBLs have been the sound I have listened to mostly since 1992 and they have external remote crossovers plus Hiquphon OW1-92 Tweeters and sound amazing to me and other friends who have listened. They are partnered to Nac 82/Pots 8, 2 Hicaps and Nap 135 mono blocks.


They’re very good speakers and still very relevant today. Perhaps the best thing is to try them in that position, dial in the sub and see what you think. You’ll know for sure then whether it’s time for something new.


Really hard to predict a result. The sub might help but SBLs can sound hard and cold if not set up optimally and this might be the outcome. I would certainly try it first. Even if you have to replace them I would keep them in case a wall becomes available in the future.


Thanks Stuart. The other pair of speakers I have listened to are the opposite in most ways to the SBLs in their placement requirements especially. They are JR149s - see photo. They have been in my family since bought new in 1978 by my late Uncle. I remember listening to them on stands well away from boundaries and being mesmerised by their musicality and imaging qualities. Unfortunately I couldn’t accommodate speaker stands away from boundaries so had a pair of wall mounted brackets made for them by Audio Chic. The JR149s are small and cylindrical and have a lot of the LS3/5a design in them. I recapped them not long ago and intend to try them too stand mounted in the new room with the sub.


I suspect having had them ideally positioned before they will disappoint in that location. No harm trying.

For a different approach and less position sensitive design how about Shahinian? I have never heard them but have always wanted to try them and I’d give them a go if I had a difficult room.


Strangely enough Bruce when I bought the SBLs it was the Shahinian Arc mk2 that I had on demo for a couple of weeks and compared at home to the SBLs. The SBLs won. If the Arc Mk1s had still been around, which had a different tweeter that I liked, it could have gone the other way and this post would never had materialised.

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Maybe look for Allae
Mine works great relative close to wall
Not sure about feet measurement but 15-25cm works fine.

That is less than a foot!


Looks like you have good options and may only need some stands. It will be interesting to hear how you get on. Good luck.

Would be my approach. Nothing to lose.

If getting close to a wall is impossible and you want max music and decent image, Shahinians would be a great option imho, but do try before you buy of course.

You will not be short of suggested alternatives (from Quad panels to Neats) if you decide Shahinians don’t quite work with the room - and that of course is usually the key issue with speaker choices.

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Some s/h Shahinian Arcs on fleabay. I am tempted, just one of those things I’d love to try (in my second system).

Naim recommended that SBLs were put 10cm from a solid wall. For their later models (SL2, Allae etc.) they recommended between 10 and 45cm so you have a bit more leeway, although you may be pushing your luck at 3 feet.

Shahinian Arcs work for me, and are the least fussy speakers I’ve owned when it comes to positioning so they could be a good call.

Someone is selling nbls on pink fish in my experience they can work away from a wall a bit and doing all that an sbl does and more

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