Linn Isobariks or Naim SBL's?

monstermoo

Standard Member
I want to build a decent hi-fi set up and for speakers I have decided to look at the Linn Isobarik and Naim SBL.

My parents used to own a pair of Isobariks and I loved the sound they made - really clear, plenty of base and it filled the room like nothing I have ever experienced before (or after for that matter).

I haven't heard the Naim SBL, so I was hoping people who have heard/owned both could give their opinions and recommendations.

The room is about 16x11x8 ft and the music would be rock/soul/chill out electronica and more. CD & Ipod based for the time being although vinyl has caught my eye!

I want a full, rich sound with plenty of clarity and nothing too 'toppy'

Both speakers look awesome in my opion - I love that classic but purposeful design.

I'm not sure on the source yet or the amp so suggestions here would be greatly appreciated - I plan to spend about £1k - £1.5k (not much but it's all funds & the wife will allow!):D

If I can get s/h Linn or Naim stuff that would be great, but all suggestions are welcome.

Cheers:smashin:
 

Scott_Mac

Distinguished Member
I want to build a decent hi-fi set up and for speakers I have decided to look at the Linn Isobarik and Naim SBL.

My parents used to own a pair of Isobariks and I loved the sound they made - really clear, plenty of base and it filled the room like nothing I have ever experienced before (or after for that matter).

I haven't heard the Naim SBL, so I was hoping people who have heard/owned both could give their opinions and recommendations.

The room is about 16x11x8 ft and the music would be rock/soul/chill out electronica and more. CD & Ipod based for the time being although vinyl has caught my eye!

I want a full, rich sound with plenty of clarity and nothing too 'toppy'

Both speakers look awesome in my opion - I love that classic but purposeful design.

I'm not sure on the source yet or the amp so suggestions here would be greatly appreciated - I plan to spend about £1k - £1.5k (not much but it's all funds & the wife will allow!):D

If I can get s/h Linn or Naim stuff that would be great, but all suggestions are welcome.

Cheers:smashin:

At the price point you're talking there are literally hundreds of speakers worth a look... i personally wasn't keen on the Isobariks, liked the SBL's but wouldn't go crazy over either of them.... don't forget that the source and amp required to run either of them will probably cost a similar amount of money each to what you're planning on outlaying on the speakers.... unless of course you're buying second hand again.

Is the £1 - £1.5k to cover everything or just the speakers?
 

monstermoo

Standard Member
Hi Scott, sorry I wasn't very clear. I am thinking £1K - £1.5k for everything - source, amp and speakers so say £500 for each item, or if I got one for less I could spend more on the other.
 

Member 116841

Distinguished Member
For the sound you describe, the Isobariks would be a better bet. The SBL's are great speakers, but are a very lean, dry presentation. As Scott states, there are a number of speakers that will be available to you for the same sort of money, so it's worth trying to audition at any dealers that have used equipment. From what you described, try the older KEF Reference speakers too, like the 104/2's or 105/3's too.
 

Mr_Sukebe

Active Member
My personal opinion is that your budget will be a bit tight for all three components, even s/h. Both the Bariks and SBLs really do require a bit of grunt from their partnering amps, and your budget really isn't going to give you a lot to play with in that department.

As for the sound. I've heard both, and your description of the Bariks is pretty much spot on. The only caveat I'd add is that I really don't like their cabinet colouration.
The SBLs (IMO) are a lot more lean, and whilst this might sound a little odd, seem to work better with vinyl than with CD. SBLs certainly do NOT sound like Bariks, and if the Barik style of presentation is what you're looking for, don't even waste your time on the SBLs.
 

monstermoo

Standard Member
Thanks for the replies :thumbsup:

Am I better off trying to stick with the Linn/Naim brands for source and amplification or are there other alternatives that will sound just as good but fall more realistically into my price range?

I was briefly looking at other older amps such as the A400 and Audiolab 8000a & Nad3020 simply because of the reviews they have had in the past - would these be up to the job or are there very good modern alternatives in this price range?

I don't think I'm going to go down the 5.1 (or more) route although I guess it would be good if I could hook up the speakers to my KDL-40W4000.

Is it still the case that you get way more for your money with old classics than buying new modern kit these days?

My brother also seems to champion the Kef brand, and has suggested I look them including 104ab's etc.
 

John Martin

Active Member
My personal opinion is that your budget will be a bit tight for all three components, even s/h. Both the Bariks and SBLs really do require a bit of grunt from their partnering amps, and your budget really isn't going to give you a lot to play with in that department.

As for the sound. I've heard both, and your description of the Bariks is pretty much spot on. The only caveat I'd add is that I really don't like their cabinet colouration.
The SBLs (IMO) are a lot more lean, and whilst this might sound a little odd, seem to work better with vinyl than with CD. SBLs certainly do NOT sound like Bariks, and if the Barik style of presentation is what you're looking for, don't even waste your time on the SBLs.

My son-in-law drives a pair of passive SBLs using my old Naim NAC32.5/SNAPS/NAP90. It's in a room of about 1600 cubic feet. Sounds quite good, but then he never tries to achieve very high levels (infant daughter). However, there is no doubt that this is a stopgap amplifier for him. Not a patch on my active SBLs!
 

monstermoo

Standard Member
I think that certainly, for the time being at least - passive is my only option - looks like I might be struggling with getting one decent amp - let alone 3!!:D
 

Scott_Mac

Distinguished Member
You'd get a Naim Nait 3R for around £350 which is a great amp... whilst it will work with SBL's etc... it really won't get the best from them, you need power to get them going and that doesn't exist for your budget IMO.

Nait 3R
CD 3.5

Could be got used for around £800.... leaving a healthy budget for the speakers - i run a similar system into my Dynaudio's and they're excellent... but if you really like the Naim type sound Arrivas are worth a look, Allaes might be available used in budget too!
 

monstermoo

Standard Member
Thanks for the suggestions.

I think that as long as the sound produced is rich and warm with a really clear presentation then I am open to any suggestions for the amp and source really.

I've never listened to a Linn or Naim source/amp so I have nothing to compare it against. The experience of my parents speakers which were, if I remember hooked up to some pretty poor quality kit (an amp that my Dad built and a budget sony integrated hi-fi unit!!!) still sounded good to my ears, so maybe I'm just looking at the Linn brand with a sense of nostaligic bias?

Would the Nait 3.5R and CD 3.5 be the best amp/source (of any brand) I could get within my budget taking into account the sound I am looking for?
 

Scott_Mac

Distinguished Member
Would the Nait 3.5R and CD 3.5 be the best amp/source (of any brand) I could get within my budget taking into account the sound I am looking for?

Tricky one, i wouldn't class Naim as rich and warm per se.... more fast, upbeat etc... maybe Primare or Arcam may be better suited and you'd get some great gear in budget - both work very well with Dynaudio speakers too!
 

keeling

Active Member
Hi mate isobariks are awsome . Iv got kaltik mk2`s with 6 lk100`s and a klout just upgrading myself good luck:thumbsup:
 

HiFiRuss71

Distinguished Member
+1 on Kef 104/2s, although be really sure about the condition and history before you part with cash.

They're prone to burning off the ferrofluid in the tweeter which is a fairly easy DIY job to replace, although it's a lot more grief if the tweeter is fried. The spiders of the (concealed) bass drivers can disintegrate if used in houses with wildly varying temperature or humidity. Avoid if they look like they've been used in front of a window for instance.

Late model Raymond Cooke Special Editions would be my pick and in fact would have been twice if only somebody else on Ebay hadn't thought so at the same time.

Russell
 

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