282 pre or NDX source upgrade

Hey there,

I’m currently in the process of upgrading my gear and I am a bit torn between on whether I should upgrade my pre or source.
I currently run a NDX/282/2x HCDR/300DR/PMC Fact 8.

Here are the facts:
I ususally do streaming for about 80% of the time using Tidal and my Qnap HS251+. Around 15% is all about watching TV and BDs via PS4 but that is hooked up via an Arcam AVR390 going directly into my 282. Rest of time is listening CDs with my Rega Apollo CDP which is also directly connected to my pre. I don’t want to spend more than 5k, and ideally it is even less :-).

Here are the options I have in mind:
In terms of pre upgrade I could trade in both of my HCDR and get a SCDR so financial layout is a bit easier. I have not heard the SCDR against 2x HCDR on a 282 and the naim community’s perception is divided at least when it comes to 282/SCDR. I don’t know when I can arrange a demo for that. FWIW my dealer said that a non-DR SC is comparable to my 2x HCDR and he can arrange me a setup to listen SC vs SCDR…
However there are two things that personally “bother” me abit:

  • SCDR is not fully used compared to what it is actually capable of doing with a 252 (but thats just me ;-), however a lot of people seem to be very happy with it)
  • Am I right when saying that my NDX is already a possible bottleneck in my current system, and by going a step further with a 282/SCDR/300DR this will obviously not show its true potential?

In regards to my NDX there are multiply options I could think of:

  1. just get a s/h nDac again (I had one before and sold it to help fund my 300DR but I remember that during my dealer’s demo the sound signature (NDX/nDac) was similar to a standalone NDX2 but I can’t recall if the NDX2 was in general superior). In terms of financial layout this would be the clear winner.
  2. upgrade to NDX2 if there is a significant jump in sound performance compared to NDX (to be honest I don’t need any of the new tech stuff such as roon support etc… I am more than happy with Tidal and it works very well)
  3. getting some XPS DR
  4. buy a Chord Hugo TT2 or Qutest and use NDX as a transport (never heard any of them, but instead read a lot of how it works very well with naim gear)
  5. purchase a s/h NDS+XP5XS which I have seen for around 4,5k (I don’t have funds for a bigger PS).
  6. sell my NDX and get a ND5XS 2 to be used as a transport (the streaming section is supposedly exactly the same as in the NDX2 and ND555) and hook up to a Chord Qutest or Hugo TT2

I know there are many options in my mind but any advice especially real world experiences would be highly appreciated.

Thank you and my best
Max

Your source is the weak point. If it were me I’d sell one of the Hicaps (the second makes little significant difference), add the proceeds to your budget and buy a used PS555DR. Then trade the NDX for an NDS.

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Totally agree with HH.

The difference between a bare NDX and NDS is monumental. I made the change, albeit powered by an XPS DR and I am delighted with the upgrade.

XPSdr on the NDX would be my vote.

If you actually had funds for a 555PS, then instead of that one box, I’d do both an XPSdr on the NDX and a SCdr on the 282 and move the HiCaps on as cashback.

I disagree with HH regarding the amps but agree with his ‘end destination’ suggestion. The second Hicap does make a significant change to the 282 in my experience. A SC is wasted on the 282 - unless you are planning a 252 at some point - and it’s your source that is the issue here which messing with your amps doesn’t address. Without knowing your budget is is hard to advise tbh - I have no knowledge of the Chord DACs although they are highly regarded. If you can afford a s/h NDS and 555PS this would be a significant boost and excellent good ‘bang for your buck’.

All good points. Concentrate on your source/DAC. The 282/HicapDR/300DR is not performing to its potential which is a bit of a waste.

thanks for your suggestion there… actually my second hicap is adding quite some clarity and depth of soundstage. it performs rather well in my home but I agree that I have heard no difference at my dealer’s place when I demoed it first time. So I’d rather keep it due to its added benefits.

I do have a 5k budget limit, maybe a bit more but ideally it is less :slight_smile:

The £5k would get you a used PS555DR. The cost to swap NDX to NDS is about £2k. That’s where the Hicap idea came from - NDS/555 with 282/HC will be much better than NDX/555 with 282/HC/HC.

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I see that there is a clear direction and suggestion to upgrade my source. many thanks for this as it really helps narrowing down my choices.

So when coming back to my upgrade option #5 and looking at each PS upgrade suggestion for my NDX how would you rate a NDS + XP5 XS? I have seen some offer for around €4,5k?

The XP5 is far from ideal. You want the 555.

so in your highly valued opinion I should rather invest in a XPS DR or 555DR PS for my NDX than a NDS+XP5XS?

That’s what I’d do. It would be the 555 to give the option of fully powering the NDS should you buy one later.

@megge having been were you are now, from experience I can say this

SC (non DR) on the 282 is a huge uplift on perforance of a very good Pre on to another level - I also have an NDX (2014) so that is one option, I had only one HCDR on my then 282

the other as @hungryhalibut suggests is a 555 PSU for the NDX with a view to NDS, I did at lot of lisening ot with NDX bare very good, XPS slight uplift - 555 different machine, did not then have XPSDR

I also have 300DR, I enjoyed the 282/SC/300DR before I moved to 252 earlier this year

I have always gone source first route, my NDX is my second source play around 5% of the time - Lp12 is my main source

enjoy your system is very good as it stands, so either route would give an increase on music, so either SC or 555 niether is wrong, but as you say you want the most music for your £££ as we all do

I remember the sadly missed Frank Abela saying here that he would take an NDS with any PSU, even an XP5XS, in preference to an NDX with any PSU. After listening, you may or may not agree with this. Similarly, there is never universal agreement on the best way to power a 282, and I’d say that the rule you successfully applied there, of making the decision with your own ears and your own system, is the same rule you should apply when choosing a source.

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Note that I said what I would do and not what megge should do.

In my opinion,
The immediate improvement will be given to you by swapping the 282 pre to 252 or 52 + Super Cap 2 or DR .
You can later add power supply to the Streamer but I wouldn’t start with that.

Not sure this is good advice. The NDX is already the weak link in the chain. Getting a more revealing pre would simply expose the NDX. Not that a bare NDX is poor - far from it - but improving your source would be a better use of resources.

I’m not sure it’s good advice either. In fact, I’d say it’s poor advice.

I’d agree it’s poor advice too.

I held back from upgrading my bare NDX to NDX plus XPS DR and wished I’d did it earlier. The XPS makes the NDX so much more musical and less digital sounding.

The NDX to NDS is a much larger upgrade, hence HH’s advice to drop the 2nd Hicap to release funds for it. With keen used prices It’s a relatively small amount of money to spend for a big improvement. It’s transformed my system from a very good hifi to something that really plays music.