Why this naim system sounds harsh?

I think the issue here is the original poster is not going to buy a 152/200. It’s not the right level of amplification. So listening to that, and then ordering 252/300 or 552/500 would not be the recommended path.
Personally, having heard the big focal utopia over £100k speakers with everything from nova to statement, I’d stick at 252/300. That should match beautifully with his existing speakers. Assuming everything is good with the room. However that’s my hearing/opinion and possibly not a shared one.

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I think the issue here is that the OP is comparing a 152/200 with his Mcintosh.

I once compared a Lamborghini tractor with my Lotus. I decided my Lotus is better than any Lamborghini.


Curious, fatiguing can be an overly relatively prominent 4K to 8K frequencies… I’d be surprised if the NAC 152 is significantly adding here assuming it doesn’t need servicing … if anything a higher end NAC will be less smoothed off in the higher frequencies. I’d be genuinely surprised, unless needing serving, the electronics are the root cause… or the power amp speaker coupling is mismatched. (Does your NAP match the speakers power control requirements?)

I would look to speakers, speaker position and room reflections first… in my experience that is the main culprit for fatiguing sound. Can you drive a headphone amp with reasonable headphones from your 152 even temporarily and compare … is fat upper forwardness still prominent.



Very interesting thread, as I sit here listening to my second system; 152XS, Flatcap XS, Nap 200 with Sonus Faber Lumina 1.

I sympathise with the op not being able to hear and see the kit at a Naim dealer. I take if for granted here in the UK that now I know my dealer well I can take things home for audition.

I doubt actually purchasing say a 252/300 is a real risk (assuming you are in this territory) firstly the likelihood is it will work well with front end and speakers. It will also allow proper system integration and control which isn’t to be sniffed at….it makes a big contribution to usability in my opinion.

Anyway good luck to the op and look forward to hearing how this develops.

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Yes, untreated first reflection points can cause listening fatigue: left, right, floor, and ceiling.

The ceiling in particular, which, if you think about it, is large, flat and very close, should be treated as a priority but is often overlooked.

Even if we only treat them with acoustic foam panels, the result is almost magical!

Acoustics is a fascinating subject.


Simon yes so often speakers are the culprit but the OP doesn’t complain about brightness with his Mac amp. If I were him I’d stick with what I have.

Living in Canada, Vancouver, why not try Moon audio or Bryston ? They make powerful amps which can marry well with Sonus Faber, which need to be shaken.

I will visit someone in next month, he got the same speaker as nine with 500 series.


That could be a start - but remember his room will be different from yours, and possibly enough to account for any difference you hear. I suggest take your amp, so you can compare sounds. (that is what I would do - and have done)

yes you are right, this is just the only demo I can get.

thanks for sharing

a higher end Nac will be less smoothed then entry level Nac?

The headphone plug on 152 looks very small to me, I don’t think my current headphone wire will fit in.

yes true. I will see what I can do
but mcintosh is over 100 pounds…

and I might take pubic transections, I will see what I can do, but thanks for the advice

Sure, but amps and speaker coupling varies, and it may be with the OPs NAP200 the higher frequencies are less rolled off or more apparent and so more likely to trigger room issues, or make room issues more noticeable.
Anyway just thoughts… and these do echo my own expediences to some extent… and very rarely I find the root cause is preamp/amplification electronics, and I don’t think I have experienced that in terms of fatiguing sound.


That sounds unpleasant :flushed:


That’s because it’s not a headphone socket.

That sounds like one of my responses. I like it. Read the manual? Understand what you’ve got? That’s for fools.

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Usually demo equipment can be borrowed from the Naim distributor. Certainly the case in Germany

I have listened to sonus Faber in a system with cds3 plus 552 plus 300 chez Edouard :slight_smile: and it was amazing… for sure what you are doing with Naim amps for the source and speakers that you have does not make sense. Although at the risk if talking rubbish here it possibly gives you some idea. For sure I would not go for those amps but I guess you have no intention there.

Give the very nice chaps in musicline Germany a call to see if they can suggest something

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@S.L I’m sorry I was so curt.

I use the RCA preamp out sockets on the back of my NAC152XS to connect with a Rega Ear headphone amplifier. Such a connection would allow you to follow @Simon-in-Suffolk’s excellent suggestion of trying both the McIntosh and Naim amplifier with headphones.



I have had a few Naim sets.

SN2 + HiCap DR + nDAC-PS555-DR

252 DR + 300DR + nDAC-PS555-DR

552 DR + 300 DR + ND555

552 DR + 500 DR + ND555 (2x 555PS)

Full Super Lumina.

I agree with @Simon-in-Suffolk . It is unlikely that the source of the harsh sound is the amplifier. Unless, of course, there is something wrong with it.

Whether it’s Naim, or any other high-end brand, the higher up the range you go, the larger and better defined your top and bottom end will be.

Therefore, the higher you go in the brand’s offering, the more apparent the acoustic problems will be (take that with a grain of salt, going up the range also solves some issues)

A first step would be to reposition the speakers and your listening chair. Then, some acoustic treatment.

As mentioned above, treating the first reflection points gives magical results.

Don’t do it by halves if you decide to follow the treatment path because you risk creating an imbalance without solving the problem and could make things worse.

A bit of acoustic treatment, cleverly placed, is cheap, not ugly and gives impressive results. It’s much more interesting than spending a fortune on cables.

I’ve done both: spent a fortune on cables/boxes, and installed acoustic treatment…

Just a bit of acoustic treatment won’t solve your low-end issues but trust me: it’ll transform the stereo image, clear voices and get you rid of that room related distortion in the top end (harshness).