Bought my first Naim kit in late 2019 having admired the brand as a teenager reading What HiFi in the 1990s. Back then I could only afford Sony separates on a 3-tier Apollo Aria glass shelved rack, driving bi-wired Mordant Short 20i Pearls on Atacama sand-filled stands. The CD player eventually stopped working giving me the excuse to change up.
In late 2019 I became the proud owner of a (new) fairly recently released ND5 XS2 streamer, CD5si CD player and Nait XS3 amp. worth about £6.4K in total replacing less than £1K of Sony kit (CD, amp and tuner) ignoring inflation; quite a leap. The Apollo rack, QED Silver Anniversary bi-wire speaker cable with gold banana plugs and the Atacamas are still present, as are the Mordant Shorts!
Clearly the weak link is now the speakers, which I am looking to replace. But my immediate dilemma is not what to consider/audition but how to shortlist and at what price point before even making that list.
The considerations appear to be as follows:
This is not a dedicated listening room but a working lounge / diner with usual domestic hard and soft furnishings. I am never going to chase higher and higher upgrades which these new speakers will need to match in the future. I have no need for a Fraim with only 3 items and no plans to look at offboard DAC or power supplies etc. Ditto bespoke mains. A perfect symmetrical listening position is infeasible. I am sentimental about the Atacamas and so would prefer stand-mounters and prefer that aethstetic. I am not a fan of “chop and change” (the Sony kit was over 20 years old) so this is possibly about to become my forever set-up. I listen very loud only occasionally.
My objective is partly to know my system is delivering best SQ reasonably obtainable at modest volumes with those physical constraints. My own hearing will become the weakest link eventually.
My Naim dealer has recommended that I audition (i) Neat Iota Alpha (which I might consider ditching my Atacamas for due to the visible space saving), (ii) ATC SCM11 or (iii) 19, (iv) Neat Petite Classic or (v) Moon Voice 22. I see that the KEF R3 Meta have just done well in the What Hifi awards. Any others?
And then do I upgrade the speaker cable?
I seem to recall a rule of thumb of 10% accessories (cables, stands, rack) to actual electronics, but is there a corresponding rule of thumb for speakers? Matching the price of the amp feels about sensible but I’d go quite a bit higher if I felt I’d notice a difference. This is to enable shortlisting and auditioning.
Musical taste is largely standard BBC Radio 2 / Radio 6 fare and rock/indie/metal CDs from my youth (80s/90s) with the occasional bit of dance / rap also.
In addition to the speaker spend question, I’d be interested to know if anything else merits attention because my preconceptions are outdated or simply wrong. Am I foolish to prefer stand mounted speakers over floor-standers?