The only problem with adding a preamp is that there is no line out on an Atom, so you will still be passing the signal through the Atom pre which isn’t ideal. It will work though. You will no longer need your new cable, the standard cable which Naim supply with the 250 connects it to the Hicap you will be using with the 82.
@Dfreshness - I am glad that you have heard a bit of what a 250 can do for you, but how would the NDX2/ SN3 you mention fit into your thinking?
Your Atom plus your B&W 705s are a good second system.
For your main system, you have decided on tunetots and 250, which I am confident means you won’t be happy with any system based on the Atom. To really hear what tunetots and 250 can do and why you spent all that money (and increased the box count), you need a good pre-amp (old or new) and a good (and probably modern) streamer. This will take as much cash as you can spare.
If sticking to Naim, you are picking from a menu of increasing cost/ performance. Here’s the simplified table.
ND5XS2 plus second-hand N-DAC
NDX2 plus XPS2
72 plus Hicap (second-hand, not matching styles)
82 plus Hicap (ditto)
282 plus Hicap
82 plus Supercap
282 plus Supercap
Most here regard the 72 very warmly, but the key is that they can cost around $500 and work well, not that a 72 is as good as the other options here.
On both lists, the extra performance as you spend more is significant, and how far you go will be driven by budget, plus patience and luck if you are willing to buy second-hand. For sound-per-pound, the older ‘olive’ pre-amps and power supplies are a great option if that is aesthetically acceptable.
Any of those pre-amps added to the 250 would out-perform a SN3 - as they should, given the new prices. Add an ND5XS2 to any and I’d expect the result to out-perform a 272 as well.
If you are willing to buy old kit, bear in mind that power supplies and power amps probably benefit more than pre-amps from being serviced every 10-15 years.
What speaker cable do you use?
Thank you for your thoughtful response.
My wife doesn’t want me to get older boxes for her beautiful new family room, however I think they will add some character so the aesthetics figure into this, she really wants a 2 box solution if possible. I honestly threw a bid against the 250 DR @ 3k (not thinking it would be accepted) because my dealer was offering one for almost twice that (8 years old). As I move forward I might take your advice on the atom second system, and then go 250dR 282 /w Hicap, then ND5XS2. I’m going to have the opportunity to demo the various combinations. My other thought for the second system I’d go AtomHE w/ 250DR (dealer said he will swap my atom) and then SN3 NDX2 as there are upgrade options. Keep in mind I was ready to buy a nova with tune tots after I auditioned them a month ago, I thought the SN3/NDX2 would blow that away, so yes I’m willy nillying down the naim rabbit hole. Your response if VERY MUCH appreciated as it lays out the smartest path to move forward with sound and economics being the key factors. I’m willing to reconsider leaving the atom alone and going 82 (or 282) NDX2 250DR with associated power supplies and have to deal with my wife’s angst. I’m prepared to use arguments like using an older 82 is the sustainable way to go as I’ve already recycled a 250DR and its great, the important part is the digital source with the fancy screen. I’m excited to hear the differences in various setups next week.
I’m surprised that the SN3/NDX2 wouldn’t outperform the 250/82/ND5XS2, but I respect and trust your opinion. If you feel strongly that the 82/250/NDX2 will be better, I’m willing to give it try. I’m looking for the most wow I can get sonically (while keeping my better half somewhat happy).
That makes sense I think.
On the streamers, all the dedicated streamers should out-perform the one-box players by a fair margin. The NDX2 is better than the ND5XS2, but the gap is rather smaller (unless you really like the display screen). The gap between the streamers is likely to be less than the difference that you hear from using a 250 instead of a SN3 power-amp section to power tunetots, though the NDX2/ SN3 is in principle (and with other speakers) a classic combination.
However your ears are more important than my opinions and so is domestic acceptance. If you have any chance of affording/ fitting into the house/ getting spousal agreement on NDX2 plus 82 or 282 plus Hicap plus 250, then I (and most here I think) would expect that to give the most WOW! on more music more of the time.
That’s 4 boxes, but the Hicap and 250 can be on lower shelves or behind cabinet doors if that helps.
I should also say that several people on this site are hoping that Naim makes and better version on the 272. If they ever do, and if it is not prohibitively expensive versus second-hand NDX2 plus 282 plus Hicap, then I’d expect that you would be another buyer for whom that would be a great combination. Unfortunately, there is no news from Naim to support that hope for now.
Thanks Sir Nick. One last thing, Im a little surprised no one is killing me for the tunetots! I did listen to them with nova and was blown away. I tried some spendors and the dynaudio Heritage specials as well. They have been approved aesthetically as well. Will probably be looking for a sub as well.
Which Spendors did you try? The 7.2 and 9.2 models are to me impressively open, detailed and musical. I typically value involvement, emotion-prodding and the foot-tapping boogie factor more highly than tonal neutrality, so am a more natural buyer of (say) Neat speakers than Spendor, but both those models have impressed, and many on this site swear by them.
Good floor-standers should do what a stand-mount can do, but with enough additional bass power that you don’t need a sub. If you get the tunetots, I’d certainly try living without a sub first, but I understand why it may be needed.
On tunetots, most here wouldn’t consider spending that sort of money on speakers without a home demo in the system that you expect to power them. Most (as mentioned above) would also encourage you to spend more on source and less on speakers - it may be less immediately impressive, but most of us have found the result more musical and satisfying in the long term.
However, if you want tunetots, get them! I am sure that they can be made to sing with your budget, even if that means some second-hand boxes are probably the ideal solution.
Similarly, a happy wife matters more than a happy hifi and much more than having a hifi that other people (like me) would pick.
Finally, a few practicalities that I should have asked about before are worth mentioning. How big is the room and can you get a bit of space around the speakers? What speaker cable will you use and what sort of stand/ shelf/ rack will support the Naim boxes? Also, what sort of music do you and your wife like and how loud do you play it?
There have been a few heavy hints that a sucessor to the 272 is in the works - it would be a great 2 box system with the OPs 250Dr and tunetots…
Hi @Svetty - not sure whether we should rely on the hints…
@Dfreshness - just how patient are you? Do you want to stick with Atom & 250 and tunetots while you wait for a product that does not yet exist, but would probably give you just what you want (for about US8K-10K) if it did exist?
Hi @Dfreshness, if you want to keep your wife happy with a 2 box solution then maybe stick with the Atom and 250DR for now.
A 82 HiCap 250DR NDX2 system is what I would recommend. Or just go for 272 250DR and loose some of the app capability.
Or hold out for a new version of the 272 which could be years.
The main thing about it all is to enjoy your system. Upsetting your wife is not the aim. If she doesn’t like the idea of lots of boxes then might be best to stick with two box system.
Best 2 box system at the moment is probably SN3 with NDX2. You could then keep the Atom with the 250DR. Or sell the 250DR and Atom.
Lots of options. Good luck with your decision!
Sir Nick- i would be getting either of those spendors but the wife has nixed them sizewise. The tunetots just sounded super engaging/natural and that was with a nova just in the showroom entrance which is about the size of my family room about 26m sq. my favorite spendor is actually the 100 classic. Neat isnt marketed here so much so its not an option. I use blue jeans cables now but its recommended that i use chord.
Hi @Dfreshness - that all makes sense. The ‘right’ hi-fi solution here is 282/ 82 plus Hicap plus NDX2 (or ND5XS2 at a push) plus 250, and you can get there by buying second-hand or ex-dem if you want, but other considerations apply.
On cables, it is easy to go too far, but forgetting about them altogether is bad. Keep the Blue Jeans for a second system when you have it.
On interconnects of various sorts, Naim’s own basic cables are the obvious choice, but many on this forum have branched out to Witch Hat (all ex-Naim people) or others, and often seem to prefer them to Naim’s uber-cables. For speaker cables, Naim A5 is good but annoyingly inflexible. I prefer Tellurium Q for sound and look and bending, and many others here lean to Chord or Witch Hat (again).
Furniture is not just a hi-fi issue, and these boxes will work well on most surfaces, but a decent rack (or isolation platforms or both) will probably make an audible difference to sound quality too. What you like the look of matters here - there is no need to get something that doesn’t suit your room.
It’s also worth mentioning that some people achieve a 2-box look by having a nice-looking wood sideboard or cabinet with doors, and putting everything but source and pre-amp inside. Others hide them behind plants.
Would a bit of furniture shopping of that sort make going 82 (or 282) plus Hicap plus NDX2 plus 250 into a realistic possibility? It really will do more for your music than Atom plus 250 or NDX2 plus SN3…
If that won’t work and it must be two boxes, I’d keep Atom and 250 while you wait for (a) spousal softening on more boxes or (b) the launch of a 272-replacement, whichever comes sooner.
Only if you want to get as much as possible done now would I point to a 272 - older architecture and functionality than your Atom - however good the sound, though I accept completely if your preferences and priorities lead you that way. Mind you, you could buy a cheap 272 now for less than US$2500, fully expecting to sell it at a loss in a year or two when the new version does appear.
If the 272 is discarded as an option and you want 2 boxes, then there is one more option to mention - you could get a Nova to go with the 250 instead of the Atom (when then goes to second system asap).
As with an old 272, I don’t expect a Nova to be a long term solution any more than the Atom is, and it is not what I would probably do. However, while it would be daft to buy a new Nova for that purpose, eBay might offer you such a bargain on a Nova that you could buy now and sell it again when you can take another step up.
I wasn’t even going to mention that option until I saw a Nova on eBay for well under US$3000 - at that price, you could probably ‘rent’ a Nova for no loss as long as you don’t mind the faff of selling it again. It still won’t match the separates though.
Call me a cynical old ***, but does this recommendation come from your (Chord) dealer, by any chance?
OK, You’re a cynical old *** No, of course you’re not, but what do we do, automatically disbelieve everyone who ever sells any product? Hopefully the dealer can back up with a winning demo.
I’m sure any reputable dealer will allow you to try a demo pair before you commit, and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with Chord cables. Still, cables are lucrative add-on sales for dealers, usually at higher margins than the big ticket items, so I can’t help being a little bit sceptical.
There you are then, A versus B, choose the one you like, everyone happy.
Cables are always a personal thing and have more of an effect than I expected. Always good to try and demo at home, i’m happy with the ks1’s. But I know people have had completely different experiences with the same type of cables not just whether they like them but how they effect the sound.
I have concluded that my path will be longer than intended and that the 250dr Plus atom HE will be my second stop on the way to audio nirvana. The combination outperforms the nova which i was pleased with from the outset. I am also purchasing a pair of focal stellia headphones as my wife often requires quiet in the family room. My next step will either be the new 272 or a 252. My last question for now is….is a demo 272 at 2500us a good preamp im less concerned about the streaming section.