2016 250 with dr upgrade system build

I just bid 3000 US us on a DR upgraded 250 amp. I think i am heading down the rabbit hole as my bid was accepted. I stream most of my music and use internet radio via my uniti atom. I am looking at some better bookshelf speakers (tunetots) what should i use for preamp/ streamer? Im thinking about keeping my atom for that or possibly getting headphone edition to use as preamp or ndx2 but then id need a preamp. My atom runs some bowers 705 s2 speakers. I will have 2 systems going forward. I want to keep the family room system all naim (tunetots or dynaudio with 250 dr) as i want to be able to incorporate musos for whole house audio. my smaller system does not have to be all naim (chord?). Current equipment- naim uniti atom, bowers 705s2, 250 dr. Soon will have a pair of tunetots unless you can talk me out of them(heritage specials?) my budget is about 20k US.

A well balanced Naim system with a 250DR on the end of it would be something like NDX2/XPS, 282/HicapDR, 250DR. You should also budget for a decent rack with a separate shelf for each box.


NDX2/XPS/282/HC is the obvious but a used 272 is an option if you can find one. Would like to hear an Atom HE.

Thanks LindsayM- My dealer is telling me to stay away from 272 as thats an old streaming platform. I might swap my atom for HE edition and plug into 250 DR and then do SN3 with NDX Xs2 in the main room.

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Thanks Chris. I contemplated buying the new anniversary system…i still contemplate. Which is a complete budget buster. ….

Thanks LindsayM- My dealer is telling me to stay away from 272…im intreagued by preamp/streamer on HE edition.

People often post here after buying an expensive power amp or speakers only to realise that they can’t afford the matching source and preamp. It becomes a bit easier if you buy the best source you can afford and work from there.

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Understood, the 250DR is an endgame amp for me, 3k US seemed too good to pass up.

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He has 20 another k to spend, if I understood well.

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Yes that is correct…

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Possibly, but really only if you can afford the rest of the gear to get the best out of it. Second hand stuff might be a good option, a top notch source and either a 282 or 252 pre-amp would be delicious.

Hm. If you buy the Tunetots most of the budget goes to those and not much left for source and preamp. I’d echo what has been said already. Get the best source possible. NDX2 or above if streaming is your preferred choice. Then the best pre, meaning at least 282/HCDR to match your rather good amplifier. Also you should factor in something to put your new toys on. Myself I use Isoblue, mostly because of looks but they also work well for SQ. Buying second hand should leave you some spare cash to allocate, perhaps on speakers.

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Hi @Dfreshness,

I can understand your enthusiasm for the 250 - it’s a great price for a great power amp, but its virtues will be missed if it isn’t in a great system.

If you want to buy a system to enjoy music as much as possible for many years, with no further obvious upgrades planned, then I must echo the comments that the tunetots look to spend far too much of your budget.

As other have said, a 250 will be at its best with ‘at least’ a 282+Hicap. If buying new, that’s £7K or about US$10,000. That amplification will make the most of a great signal, so the suggestions of NDX2 and XPS (which is what I use) make sense. However, with new prices, the pair are almost £10K or US$14K. If I have understood your budget (which is hardly small), that leaves nothing at all for upgrading speakers, never mind cables and a decent table.

I share the enthusiasm of others here for the Naim boxes mentioned here, but there are limits. A purist would doubtless say source-first, thus encouraging you to keep the B&W speakers for now so that you can buy NDX2/XPS/282/Hicap, and perhaps buying a cheap pair of speakers to make a second system with your Atom. However, this feels like a stepping-stone, not a solution.

One solution would be to buy an ND5XS2 streamer, plus 282 and Hicap. That costs less than £10K (US$14K?). Even if you spend £2K on cables and support table, that leaves plenty to buy a high quality speaker of your choice (though not new tunetots).

The ND5XS2 is not as good as the NDX2 (with or without PS), but it is pretty good and better value. Some time in the next decade, you’ll probably get to hear what a better source can do for you, and may well change the ND5XS2 for NDX2, or ND555 or whatever streamers exist in 3 or 4 years. In the meantime, you’ll have great music.

The other suggestion above - going second hand - may be a better choice.
Now a 282 plus Hicap DR costs just over £4K. A second-hand NDX2 costs £4K. I’d suggest adding a second-hand XPS for the NDX2 (good value at £2.5K for the scale of upgrade it brings), but that can wait if the budget gets tight (or if you have to wait to find one at a good price).

With or without that XPS, and after allowing for cables and table, that still leaves a good budget for speakers. £5K might get you Wilson Duettes, but there are a lot of good speakers (stand mount or floor standing) for that money, and which suits you best may well depend on your room and tastes.

I’d encourage you to hear speakers from B&W, Neat and Spendor, but speakers from firms like Harbeth, Stirling and Graham Audio may suit you better. If going down the second-hand route on all the electronics, you may even have the budget to consider Martin Logan ES11s if you want to try something radically different. There are also many high quality US speakers that I (and most on this form) have never heard.

Why not get what boxes you can second-hand, over a couple of months? It will all work with your B&Ws while you wait. When you have a new system (or at last know what it will be), you can take that system list to suitable dealers to audition speakers, perhaps making clear that you are interested in ex-dem as well as new.

If you really want the tunetots, and want to hear what they can do (rather than the limitations elsewhere in the system), start budgeting on at least NDX2/XPS2/282/Supercap. If you ever want to go further, you may well find that the tunetots are actually at their best with ND555/555PS/252/ Supercap, but that takes the budget (even second hand) to a very different level.

Good luck!


Thank You for your thoughtful response. I put myself in a little bind getting the 250DR on Audiogon, as I didn’t think my bid would be accepted but I’ve been in love with that amp for years. I can move my budget up somewhat. The tunetots have the wife approval, and they are incredibly revealing with just a nova. I’m going to back to listen to the SN3 and ND5XS3, as well as the 282, 250, NDX2 combo. My dealer suggested using the Atom HE as pre/streamer and that with the 250DR it is worth a listen vs the SN3 ND5XS2 combo. I don’t think I’ll be unhappy with any of these combinations vs my atom, which I’m still impressed with. I guess my question is how far do I need to go as I was smitten by the Nova with the tune tots (I tried dynaudio Heritage Specials as well, and liked them). This is a high quality problem, as like many of us, I wish there was a replacement for the 272 to get a stellar system with just 2 main boxes which the SN3 and ND5XS2. or the atom HE as pre/250DR systems would/could do. I can stretch the budget…

With amplification you could get an 82 with HiCap DR or non DR, or alternatively a 72 with HiCap DR or non DR.

This should give very good results and be a lot cheaper than a used 282.

An ND5XS2 used would be a good bet also if you want to make savings.

Just some ideas if you need to compromise on costs.

Hi @Dan_M

That’s a great point. I still use old ‘olive’ kit, and have owned both 72 and 82. Many don’t like mixing old and new Naim box designs, but it’s a good money-saving option. I’d personally rate 82+Hicap plenty good enough for this system, and would rate 82+Supercap as better than 282+Hicap, but that might be as much a case of ‘different’ as ‘better’.

@Dfreshness - a bit of patience when looking second-hand and a bit of budget flexibility will help you, and going to dealers to listen first is clearly right.

2 quick words of caution.

  1. The Atom is good (I have one in my bedroom), but nothing like as good as a Nova. A 250 will improve either, but in most situations I’d expect a system of separates to be audibly better by a fair margin.

  2. If you find that you can stretch to a (probably second-hand) NDX2 instead on ND5XS2, I would - it will sound better and the upgrade options are better. Buying an ND5 XS2 is a good choice - unless you will be selling it again to buy the NDX2 in a year or two.

  3. If you are committed to tunetots, it would be good to use them to audition other items - they will reveal a lot.

  4. If you don’t mind non-matching boxes, @Dan_M makes a great suggestion.
    You could buy an old 82 pre-amp with a matching Hi-cap, plus tunetots plus NDX2 without stretching your budget too dramatically, and might even be able to add the XPS to the NDX2 (and/ or swap Hicap for Supercap ) sooner or later. That lot will get a grip on the tunetots and get them singing in a way that the Nova and Atom (even with a 250) really can’t.

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Hi @NickofWimbledon,

I have an 82 with Supercap 2 and 2 x 135s CB for amplication. So a mix of Olive, Black and Chrome Bumper. The sources are for streaming NDS with 555PS and then an LP12.

The mix and match works well in style and sound quality. When I was building my system I did alot of research and wanted the best sound with the best value. I have had all my amplification serviced apart from the Supercap 2.

The results are a superb, well balanced system.

It compared well to a 252, Supercap DR, 500DR with NDX2 and 555DRPS. Close but not quite the power or authority.

I would therefore consider the 72, 82 and 52 has to be worth consideration if you have extra funds.

Hi @Dan_M

We may be drifting from @Dfreshness 's original question, but for what it is worth I have reached much the same conclusions.

I got a 250 30 years ago (last serviced in 2017), and still have no desire to upgrade it. Pre-amp went from 72+ Hicap to 82+same to 82 with 2 Hicaps to 82 with Supercap to eventually 52 +Supercap.

All those are olive, as is the CDS2 and its PS and the Hicap that now powers the Superline phono stage. The Superline, the NDX2 and its PS are of course all the more modern designs. I don’t mind the mixed look, but recognise that many do.

I recently swapped Lingo 1 and Cirkus for Lingo 4 and Karousel - a significant improvement. Might you do the same?


Hey @NickofWimbledon,

We are of a similar mindset. I had the CDS2 and then CDS3. The CDS2 is an amazing CD player and my favourite although not necessarily better than the CDS2.

I only Cirkus’d my LP12 a few years ago and the Lingo 1 is also serviced very recently so I’m staying put for the time being as I am very happy with my system.

You have a wonderful set up. I had the 250 CB before the 135s and changed it as I listen to music very loud sometimes and it cut out occasionally.

It took me a few years to develop my system and I used this forum for information to gain as much information before buying.

The Karousel is on my list at some point. I might jump to a Radikal power supply as well.

But for next few years I am staying put!

Dan_M,NickofWimbledon,LindsayM,Lucifer, MikeS,ChrisSU-
thank you for the good advice, It is all worth considering and valuable to hear. I am locked into the tune tots, and the 250 dR. The deal on the dR enables me to go for a better preamp, has anyone heard the HE as a preamp. the little written about it makes it out to be a better line stage than the regular atom. wife approval and a slick front end is important. the 250 dr arrives today which I am looking forward to testing with my atom and bowers 705 S2-