Naim SL2 vs Ovator S400?

Why the Ovator dissing?

I appreciate they may not be the best option in this particular case , but in the right room and well set up they are magical. They are also less fiddly than the SL2 as the decoupling is all in one box, vs separate segments in the SL2. Mine sound  great 20cm from the wall and are not intrusive. 

I am sure the SL2s are wonderful, but don’t be mean about the Ovators, it makes me sad. I think it is an irrational group think bullying phenomenon and is not grounded in objective reality.So there!

Kiwi Cat - I think there is little objective about speaker appreciation. As far as I can tell, speakers are the most subjective item of equipment, with views varying more widely than with anything else. I have not heard ovators that I liked - but I haven’t heard many pairs. I have only heard one pair of SL2s and I didn’t like them (neednto hear another pair to see if it is setup or room related or if I just don’t like them)  but I will persevere because I do like my SBLs- which are the only pair of SBLs I have ever heard. And I have never heard a pair of B&Ws that I liked (one pair of which the couple listening to five minutes earlier had just spent £7k to purchase (I preferred my SBLs when I got home with an inferior source and amplification) and the second pair of which gave me a headache)

And in the last week I have met a dealer who prefers SBLs over SL2s and ovators   , and another who prefers SL2s over SBLs. 

I’ve had many speaker rigs sound wonderful in my room. Even before I bought Naim gear. I have owned several headphone systems and just don’t get it. To me they all sound more or less the same and I’m sorry but just don’t compared sound anything as good as a speaker setup. 

FYI I’ve owned MDR Z1r, Audeze lcd series, sennheiser hd800. I can go on. 

Kahn, If you’ve got a good deal lined up for these rosewood SL2s and you reckon you can rearrange your room to accommodate them then just go for it.

The worst that can happen is you set them up, you don’t like them and you need to sell them on.

As long as you are not paying a massive premium for them - hence why I asked how much you were planning on paying - you should be able to move them on pretty quickly as they are very sought after.

David

 

Khan I completely understand (if not fully agree) with your sentiment towards headphones. 

I've lived in some challenging places before where real speakers were just impossible.

Ultimately, if you are renting, you can move somewhere more accommodating to your needs. For years berfore buying a home, I held out for top flor corner apartment (only neighbors below to worry about) and a room shape that had the right shape.

But I do understand every home has its limits. I've hit some where I am now. Not that extreme by some standards but suddenly moving is not an option.

The SL2s will need a room rearrangement to stand a chance but may be the best option.

It’s doubtful anything will work well near that wardrode but if you want corner placement look to AudioNote but you’ll be buying new so you can get a home demo. They are masters of scale so good if classical is your bag, though I’ve heard them working well with a bit of Zep too but a home demo with enough time to decide is vital.

Hi, I’m getting the SL2s at a very reasonable price so I won’t  loose out if things don’t work out. So your absolutely right. 

The house is owned so no plans to move anytime soon. Although I’m a little gutted as a new garden house was where I would love to move my system. It’s a massive space with solid floor and all brick walls. Empty space as well that I could dress up. But alas not to be. 

Btw I do like audio note as they can be used in corners  but might be too big for this particulate room  

 

joerand posted:
Khan posted:

Is the Ovator S400 any less fiddly with setup?

I can't speak to the SL2, but the S400 worked well in my room about 2-feet from the front wall, 8-feet apart, and 3.5-feet from side walls. Contrary to some other's findings here, I found the 400 not overly sensitive to placement. Their bass worked superb in my room. Downside was their brash mid range, rolled-off highs, and flat sound stage. Highly musical speakers though.

A very mixed and contradictory but, surprisingly, accurate description. Khan, keep in mind that the downsides signaled by joerand might have something to do with his room, eventually. I, at least, don't agree on flat soundstage. And 50% of how a system sounds is in the recording.

Best

M

 

Khan -- at least trying the SL2s sounds like the right move. i saw a pair of rosewood Allaes recently that were beautiful, so hopefully your SL2s will be in the same league.

one question, and perhaps a dumb one: can you put the wardrobe somewhere else?

I really wanted a "rosewood" pair of SL2s.  The opportunity came up after a B stock pair came up at the factory. And boy did they look stunning. However, for some reason this pair just sounded "off".  They spent some time at the factory where we were investigating why they should sound so flat.  Despite changing just about everything, nothing seemed to make them sing.  In the end it seemed there was something about the top boxes that was causing a problem.  Substituting the top boxes from another pair was a transformation.  Putting the rosewood top boxes on the other speakers made them sound really flat.  Swapping drivers over and the result was the same.  I don't know what had happened with those Rosewood top boxes, but they just killed the sound somehow.  Maybe too much glue in a joint?  It was a weird one, and in the end I changed my black cabinet pair over to some cherry ones that had received minor transit damage but had been skilfully rebuilt and touched in by the guys in the Speaker dept.   I still them and they sound fabulous.

My SL2s played fantastically well without being close to the wall. So there's nothing to be afraid of! There is always a chance to change something in the room, in order to achieve a better sound.

And finish rosewood is the most beautiful of any of the speakers.

Good luck!

Richard Dane posted:

I remember we had that Rosewood pair in there for a few weeks while we were trying to figure out why they sounded so flat. I don't know if there were others.  Maybe after my time, although by then i think the Ovators were coming on line.

Or maybe you just had to warm them up well? I don't think all the speakers with the rosewood finish is just as bad sounds like that couple. You're just out of luck, bad sample. Well, or not played until the end.

Under no circumstances will a thin veneer of rosewood affect the sound. The main carcase may have had an issue, or it may have been the internal damping or treatment, or indeed the finish on the rosewood veneer that may have affected it.  It's also possible that an aspect of the drivers, the bolt torque, or a crossover issue, will have been at fault. The fact that it was a particular veneer is of very little significance.

Richard Dane posted:

I remember we had that Rosewood pair in there for a few weeks while we were trying to figure out why they sounded so flat. I don't know if there were others.  Maybe after my time, although by then i think the Ovators were coming on line.

My Ovators are rosewood, and I remember that they cost €6/700 more than the other finishes. It would be ironic if the responsible for the flatness was the finish.

Sometimes they do sound a little flat (although I am not sure I understand what it means), others they are lively and do a lot of happy noise. I still think it depends on:

- Mains

- State of mind

- Recording (in reverse order, probably)

more than on anything else. Ovators are underrated. Their time will come, like Mahler's.

Massimo Bertola posted:
Richard Dane posted:

I remember we had that Rosewood pair in there for a few weeks while we were trying to figure out why they sounded so flat. I don't know if there were others.  Maybe after my time, although by then i think the Ovators were coming on line.

My Ovators are rosewood, and I remember that they cost €6/700 more than the other finishes. It would be ironic if the responsible for the flatness was the finish.

Sometimes they do sound a little flat (although I am not sure I understand what it means), others they are lively and do a lot of happy noise. I still think it depends on:

- Mains

- State of mind

- Recording (in reverse order, probably)

more than on anything else. Ovators are underrated. Their time will come, like Mahler's.

Indeed, and Ovators are build like tanks. Metal grills and quite heavy. Build to last.

I listen to a lot organ music on them, and the most complex preludes and fugues stay transparent.

I was recently in a hifi shop and listened to Marin Logan electrostats. The mid  / high was very similar to my Ovators, but my Ovators' low end is much better. The Logan's sounded desintegrated.

Max, no it wasn't the finish, because a different pair of Rosewood SL2s sounded great.  It was just that pair.  It was sad because it was a pair that Doug had taken home to try to see whether they would stand in for his NBLs.  He hated them, and I couldn't understand it until he brought them into the factory listening room so we could hear them.  Ugh... We tried to get them to sound right.  We tried everything.  Changed everything. Rebuilt them over and over, drive units back and forth, but to no avail. I was the top boxes, for sure. The joints did look different to the ones in my own pair, and I think possibly someone at Hornslet had a bad day.  The good news was that they went Doug and not to a customer.

Richard Dane posted:

Max, no it wasn't the finish, because a different pair of Rosewood SL2s sounded great.  It was just that pair.  It was sad because it was a pair that Doug had taken home to try to see whether they would stand in for his NBLs.  He hated them, and I couldn't understand it until he brought them into the factory listening room so we could hear them.  Ugh... We tried to get them to sound right.  We tried everything.  Changed everything. Rebuilt them over and over, drive units back and forth, but to no avail. I was the top boxes, for sure. The joints did look different to the ones in my own pair, and I think possibly someone at Hornslet had a bad day.  The good news was that they went Doug and not to a customer.

The first pair of maple SL2s I owned suffered from a similar strange malaise. There was nothing obviously wrong with their construction, yet they just never sounded right, despite the noble efforts of both my dealer and Naim. Another new pair were just fine, and I believe the rogue pair were scrapped by the factory.

tonym posted:
Richard Dane posted:

Max, no it wasn't the finish, because a different pair of Rosewood SL2s sounded great.  It was just that pair.  It was sad because it was a pair that Doug had taken home to try to see whether they would stand in for his NBLs.  He hated them, and I couldn't understand it until he brought them into the factory listening room so we could hear them.  Ugh... We tried to get them to sound right.  We tried everything.  Changed everything. Rebuilt them over and over, drive units back and forth, but to no avail. I was the top boxes, for sure. The joints did look different to the ones in my own pair, and I think possibly someone at Hornslet had a bad day.  The good news was that they went Doug and not to a customer.

The first pair of maple SL2s I owned suffered from a similar strange malaise. There was nothing obviously wrong with their construction, yet they just never sounded right, despite the noble efforts of both my dealer and Naim. Another new pair were just fine, and I believe the rogue pair were scrapped by the factory.

There were a few pairs where the recess for the interface plates wasn't quite right - the tolerance here was probably too tough, even for the very best cabinet makers. Hornslet made improvements and I think that the guys and girls in the speaker dept. finally found a way around this to make it all work well within a slightly wider tolerance and prevent the plate from sinking too far.  It sounds like your maple pair may have been one of the ones affected.  Or perhaps the top box glued joint struck again!

vintageaxeman posted:

Under no circumstances will a thin veneer of rosewood affect the sound. The main carcase may have had an issue, or it may have been the internal damping or treatment, or indeed the finish on the rosewood veneer that may have affected it.  It's also possible that an aspect of the drivers, the bolt torque, or a crossover issue, will have been at fault. The fact that it was a particular veneer is of very little significance.

I'm curious - do you have any explanation of how and why finish/veneer can/cannot affect the sound?

Sergey72vw posted:

My SL2s played fantastically well without being close to the wall. So there's nothing to be afraid of! There is always a chance to change something in the room, in order to achieve a better sound.

And finish rosewood is the most beautiful of any of the speakers.

Good luck!

Hiwever, as speakers designed to be close to the wall, their bass response inevitably will fall off significantly when well away from a wall.

Innocent Bystander posted:

Hiwever, as speakers designed to be close to the wall, their bass response inevitably will fall off significantly when well away from a wall.

Yes anything there does not fall in terms of bass, no need to come. I lived with them for about 2.5 years and I had no opportunity to put them close to the wall. It is better to pay attention to the fact that they are demanding to the amplifier and they are very difficult to open.

But the author of the theme is Nac 552, so the sound will be fantastic.

Massimo Bertola posted:
joerand posted:
Khan posted:

Is the Ovator S400 any less fiddly with setup?

I can't speak to the SL2, but the S400 worked well in my room about 2-feet from the front wall, 8-feet apart, and 3.5-feet from side walls. Contrary to some other's findings here, I found the 400 not overly sensitive to placement. Their bass worked superb in my room. Downside was their brash mid range, rolled-off highs, and flat sound stage. Highly musical speakers though.

A very mixed and contradictory but, surprisingly, accurate description. Khan, keep in mind that the downsides signaled by joerand might have something to do with his room, eventually. I, at least, don't agree on flat soundstage. And 50% of how a system sounds is in the recording.

Best

M

Max, glad to see you got the gist of my post. The 400 are wonderful speakers with fantastically nimble bass. Their taut bass control leads to their musicality. The fact that I found them too mids forward and with rolled-off highs speaks to my ears and my room. The fact I found a flat sound stage has to do with my own expectations for satisfying hifi replay. Doesn't mean I can't appreciate the 400 sound and why others enjoy them. Despite using the 400 with Plinius amplification, I was amazed by how the speakers instilled Naim's signature speed and agility into my system's sound.

FWIW - my wife loved the 400 sound when I had them home and would have been completely pleased had I kept them. They were rosewood and much larger than my cherry speakers at the time, yet she felt they looked great in our otherwise all cherry finished room.

Joe,

another very unique trait of the S-400s, that not many consider enough because they haven't seen it at home, is how they seem to fit every room and mingle with any type of furniture. in other words, they are beautiful everywhere.

(BTW, I have written many times that I do not care for velvety midrange and super smooth treble, because it is not how real music sounds).

M.

Sergey72vw posted:
Innocent Bystander posted:

Hiwever, as speakers designed to be close to the wall, their bass response inevitably will fall off significantly when well away from a wall.

Yes anything there does not fall in terms of bass, no need to come. I lived with them for about 2.5 years and I had no opportunity to put them close to the wall. It is better to pay attention to the fact that they are demanding to the amplifier and they are very difficult to open.

But the author of the theme is Nac 552, so the sound will be fantastic.

I suspect you are lacking bass, but like it that way so it doesn’t matter!

Roberto, early cherry had a tinted varnish which made them slightly red.  Later ones were clear so lost the red tint.  My own pair are later ones but have early cabinets which look similar to yours but with slightly more obvious figuring to the veneer.

p.s. I like the shade of green on the wall in your picture.

Massimo Bertola posted:

Joe,

another very unique trait of the S-400s, that not many consider enough because they haven't seen it at home, is how they seem to fit every room and mingle with any type of furniture. in other words, they are beautiful everywhere.

(BTW, I have written many times that I do not care for velvety midrange and super smooth treble, because it is not how real music sounds).

M.

Max

you are not listening to the direct instruments but a recording of those instruments therefore an interpretation of how the music sounded by both the recording engineer and the mixing engineer

after attending a live concert recently of one of my favorite singers I was not impressed and much preferred the recordings. In fact I wish I hadn’t bothered attending the concert 

i don’t know why artists think that live music at ear blasting levels is fun because it wasn’t for me. 

Theres a lot of distortion that comes out of driving PA Rigs are very high SPL and I may well really reduce my concert attendance to protect my ears !

 

 

Richard Dane posted:

Roberto, early cherry had a tinted varnish which made them slightly red.  Later ones were clear so lost the red tint.  My own pair are later ones but have early cabinets which look similar to yours but with slightly more obvious figuring to the veneer.

p.s. I like the shade of green on the wall in your picture.

Very well, If it's like my own Sats are  more similar to walnut than cherry.

The green shade is Farrow & Ball Calke Green colour with little mod to the formula.

Regards

Roberto

analogmusic posted:
Massimo Bertola posted:

Joe,

another very unique trait of the S-400s, that not many consider enough because they haven't seen it at home, is how they seem to fit every room and mingle with any type of furniture. in other words, they are beautiful everywhere.

(BTW, I have written many times that I do not care for velvety midrange and super smooth treble, because it is not how real music sounds).

M.

Max

you are not listening to the direct instruments but a recording of those instruments therefore an interpretation of how the music sounded by both the recording engineer and the mixing engineer

after attending a live concert recently of one of my favorite singers I was not impressed and much preferred the recordings. In fact I wish I hadn’t bothered attending the concert 

i don’t know why artists think that live music at ear blasting levels is fun because it wasn’t for me. 

Theres a lot of distortion that comes out of driving PA Rigs are very high SPL and I may well really reduce my concert attendance to protect my ears !

 

 

I think Max is referring to live unamplified instruments. If you hear a real trumpet, or a real violin, for example, it most certainly isn’t smooth or velvety. A good speaker needs to reveal that rasp and edginess and not make it all smooth and silky. It’s something the SL2s do well, just as the S400s do, which is one of the reasons they make music sound real. 

analogmusic posted:
Massimo Bertola posted:

Joe,

another very unique trait of the S-400s, that not many consider enough because they haven't seen it at home, is how they seem to fit every room and mingle with any type of furniture. in other words, they are beautiful everywhere.

(BTW, I have written many times that I do not care for velvety midrange and super smooth treble, because it is not how real music sounds).

M.

Max

you are not listening to the direct instruments but a recording of those instruments therefore an interpretation of how the music sounded by both the recording engineer and the mixing engineer

after attending a live concert recently of one of my favorite singers I was not impressed and much preferred the recordings. In fact I wish I hadn’t bothered attending the concert 

i don’t know why artists think that live music at ear blasting levels is fun because it wasn’t for me. 

Theres a lot of distortion that comes out of driving PA Rigs are very high SPL and I may well really reduce my concert attendance to protect my ears !

 

 

With recorded music, the recording is a culmination of different people’s inputs, hopefully to the satisfaction of the artist, though apparently not always so, record companies in particular sometimes over-riding, maybe that being responsible for bad recordings (including compressed CDs). But with recorded music, by our choice of system components and room layouts etc we can get it to sound how we like it, or rather we get the system to make the music we normally play sound good to us - and if we have no reference to how a good live performance of the music or artist sounds then it is possible that we could adopt systems that substantially change the music’s qualities because that is what sound good to us. Although that might be a distortion of the accuracy of the music being reproduced, that is not a bad thing in itself as the whole purpose is enjoyment of the music, however we need to be careful in assuming that others would enjoy it the way we do. And here lies the challenge in advising others on speakers, or interpreting what others say about in terms of their preferences, whether SL2 or S400 (or anything else), though it can help to have an understanding of the commenting person’s general preferences in terms of the sound they like, e.g. by noting any commonality or otherwise with one’s own views on any common points of reference.

In some cases it may be that someone can become so become accustomed to their system’s presentation that they dislike the live sound even when it may be exactly what the artist intends, which is rather sad in a way - but not in another way because the said individual still enjoys their version of the artist’s music. Artists themselves of course can be ‘guilty’, where a studio album creates music that just can’t be reproduced on stage - and in that event it is enjoyment of the recording that arguably is indeed the most important.

But of course, live performances can be good or bad. Amplified ones are particularly susceptible to the quality of PA - some PA suppliers and/or gig mixing engineers should simply be banned. They are also of course dependent on the artists’ performance on the day, and that can be significant, from illness to disinterest (as can happen especially on long major tours), to drunkenness etc, or just an ‘off’ day. Also very significant can be the acoustics of the venue, where sometimes some parts of the auditorium can sound great and others abysmal. With regard to sound level, it needs to suit the music - rock never sounds right quiet (that includes at home), while a solo folk singer is likely to sound wrong played at the same sound level as a heavy metal band (similar differences with classical).

 

Roberto, yes, the n-Sats had no tint to the varnish so the cherry looks relatively pale compared to the cherry found on the early Sl2s - very close to the colour of the french walnut on the Loricraft plinth I use for the Garrard 401. The n-Sat cherry veneer was also very slightly different to that on the later SL2s - I guess because the cabinets were from different makers.

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