Advice on new 2 box system?


#1

I’m looking to upgrade to a system that will be used for 80% streaming, 15% CD and 5% vinyl. I don’t want to add more than 2 new boxes plus new speakers, in a room 3.4m x 2.9m (used as my office/music room).

Currently I have a Marantz KI Pearl Lite (with a built-in phono stage) and an Audiolab 8200 CD (for CD and streaming). I like the Naim sound (have a SuperUniti driving PMC twenty.23s and a Muso in other rooms), so would appreciate comments and advice on what I should demo. I’m thinking my options are (given my limit of 2 new boxes) :

  1. Nova
  2. ND5 XS2 or NDX2 into Supernait 2
  3. ND5 XS2 or NDX2 into NAC202 into active speakers

For all of the above, I’d keep the Audiolab as a CD transport and the Marantz for the very limited vinyl playing I do.

From what I’ve read, initial speaker options include Dynaudio Special 40s, Neat Xplorer or ATC SCM 19A (or 40A if it won’t overwhelm the room) - the ATCs obviously for option 3, and would likely be second-hand/ex-demo - but speaker options need more thought!

Budget would be £15k for source/amp/speakers/rack/cables.

Appreciate any thoughts or advice.


#2

Option 3 isn’t a 2 box system, you need a power supply (or 2) for the 202.

I would be looking at comparing options 2 and 3 and may prefer option 2 as it gives you more flexabilty with speakers. If option 3 substituted a 282 for the 202 I may feel differently.


#3

For a two-box system: SuperNait2 every day + a decent source - given how capable SN2 is, I’d go for NDX2 or a pre-loved NDX with an FM / DAB module (gives you the extra flexibility of a built-in radio tuner).


#4

Thank you - my mistake. Narrows the options usefully!


#5

Do you really need to keep that CD player for the amount of use it gets? If you rip the CDs you really want you can stick them on a little USB drive connected to the streamer, free up a shelf on your rack, and get a bit of cash for it.


#6

Good point - I don’t need to - but I’d like to. Most of the CDs are already ripped to a NAS. Sometimes I like handling CDs!


#7

You could also go 272 & power supply into SCM19a. That would leave 3k or so for cables, rack etc if the power supply was an XPS. If the speakers were second hand as suggested, and maybe the power supply too, it could even include a 555PS within budget.

An NDX2 will sound better than a 272, I’m sure. But the power supply could change things significantly. Worth a demo if poss, I’d say.


#8

I’d largely disregarded the 272 (have been wishing for a “272-2” since the Nova was announced) but hadn’t considered the extra power supply option, being more focused on the improved features of the new platforms. I’ll have a chat with my dealer. Looks like I’m back to 3 options…choice paralysis beckons!


#9

Hi,

the 272 into active speakers, as mentioned by Dave, are one of the obvious possibilities and one I’ve never had a chance to listen to.

The SN2 is a very capable amp to build a system around, which is what I’ve done. You could even change the Pearl lite for a Stageline, which the SN can power via its Aux2 in-/output. If you rip the remaining CDs, you’ll end up with two full-size boxes and a small one.

But as always, try to listen for yourself.


#10

Lots of love here for the SN2! No-one seems to rate the Nova as a better option, which perhaps helps to eliminate one choice.

Also hadn’t considered the Stageline as a replacement - thank you for the suggestion.

Seems like I need to find a dealer in or around Hampshire that does Naim and ATC (my local dealer doesn’t stock them), and see how a 272 into actives compares to a SN2 with one of the new streamer front-ends into passive speakers.

Plan to demo in 2 or 3 weeks, and will update on where I end up. In the interim, any other comments or suggestions welcomed. What a great forum this really is!


#11

I run a Nova into PMC Twenty5.23s as a second system, and it is a very engaging and musical system, definitely one I could live with for ever. I’ve only heard the NDX2/SN2 at a show, at Heathrow last year into Focals it was superb. I’d suggest you have a listen to the Nova at a dealer as well as the multiple box choices, it’s a very serious bit of kit and can drive some very good speakers well, but my feeling having heard the systems albeit not together is that the separates are a step up (as you’d hope at twice the price+). But you may love the Nova enough to stay there and have a lot of spare cash to buy music.


#12

Audiolab and Marantz make compelling products in your range. Your KI amp looks appealing. Better Marantz CD players are impressive. Many possible happy combinations possible. If you were not planning to hold back, and intended to go all-Naim, advice would be easier.

Mixing brands may yield a surprising optimal result, but is hard to get advice for.

Good luck.

Nick


#13

I run a Nova with Totem Forest Siganatures and it’s a very competent system. I may do an A/B comparison with a NDX2/SN2 combo as a future step up, as I don’t want a rack system and piles of power supplies. At twice the price though, it would need to be a good step up from the Nova. I’d certainly keep the Nova in the mix, as it’s very good at its price point. Happy hunting.

I’ve ruled out the N272 as its old streaming technology.


#14

That’s quite a small room, and even the SCM19A is the same sized box as the 40A, so I think you’d need a careful home demo to see if this is going to work. Maybe it’s time to get your dealer involved.


#15

It’s a bit of a labyrinth even without mixing manufacturers, I find the Naim sound (PRaT?) from my SU more appealing and involving than the Audiolab/Marantz combo, competent though that is.

I recently heard a demo of some higher end Naim (NDX2/552/300 into big Focals) and the imaging amazed me. Is it possible to achieve this within my budget and 2 box restriction? And is imaging a result of source, pre-amp or speakers, or the synergy between components (and room)?


#16

Just moved from a Nova to a SN2/NDX2 combo. On Harbeth SHL5+s there is no comparison, the SN2/NDX2 is streets ahead on all levels and with stands and decent cable would fit into your budget.

SN2 = 3249
NDX2 = 4999
SHL5+ 40the anniversary = 4675
Something Solid Stands xf = 300
Black Rhodium Foxtrot 5m = 349
= 13,572

Giving you room for a nice rack, or a highcap Dr for the sn2


#17

In short - not really.
Naim signature sound is always present within all Naim components though.

Pre-amp is probably by far the biggest factor in ‘sound creation’. Of course separation of power supplies, a dedicated powrer amp all help.


#18

I don’t think imaging has ever been high on Naim’s list of priorities, although it does improve as you climb the ladder.
I think you’ll find a 2-box system is still a big improvement in a single box Uniti. Leaving aside the differences between old and new platform streamers for now, NDX/Supernait would be my preference, but 272/250 is nice, too. It is, though, an inescapable fact that more boxes gets you better sound quality, and if you can manage 3 boxes, things start to get interesting.
If you have a look at a Naim pricelist, I find that the relative RRP of each box tends to give quite an accurate guide to the sound quality of the system.


#19

I’d suggest that speaker selection and placement within the room together with the amount of ‘toe-in’has the greatest influence on imaging.


#20

And the depth of the rabbit hole too… said the man who recently upgraded to the Nova and exceeded one’s budget…