I’ve read a ton of topics about upgrading, but I’m still in doubt and would appreciate advice.
Dac: MusicalFidelity VDac (first edition)
Streamer: Allo Digione Signature with Allo Nirvana powersupply
Amplifier: Nait 5si
Speaker cable: NAC A5
Speakers: NeatMotive SX2
I want to upgrade, but don’t know where to start. What would be logical? Upgrade the VDac or upgrade the amp first. Or maybe the streamer…
I am cheapskate: I would keep the Allo and get a second-hand Naim DAC, or a Chord Qutest. Personally I rather like Chord DACs, but the Naim DAC receives much love too. Many argue both sound better than the ND5…
Will it? I came from a Cyrus One, which I had for decades. The upgrade to a Nait 5i was massive and the later upgrade to a 5si too. I’ve read the XS will be a big upgrade from there, but if a Nac72/Nap250/Hicap is another step up I’d better go for that I guess.
That’s how I got into Naim. I have never listened to Olive Naim, but I know that the XS2 is a very fine amp, and also worthwhile step up from the 5si. Only a few key strokes of Beethoven’s Moonlight sonata and we knew we wanted the XS2. Both I and my wife couldn’t go back to the 5si — budget blown…
P.S. And we demoed Neat‘s entire SX range with the XS2 — great synergy. We tried the SX1 in our living room, but unfortunately there the down-firing ports didn’t work… Then we tried PMC 25.23 — budget blown one more time…
The 72/Hicap/250 is a fantastic amp, but you need to be aware of what you are getting into:
It needs proper setup to sound as it should, including a separate shelf for each box, preferably on a dedicated rack.
It needs to be recapped every 10 years or so. Budget for this if it hasn’t been done. Try to check the service history before you commit.
Improving the amplification like this will reveal the weaknesses of your source. If you don’t have the budget for a much better source you might consider getting the NaitXS instead to end up with an enjoyable balanced system. If you want a Naim streamer that would be ND5 level as a bare minimum, but really you want an NDX. Keeping your Allo with a better separate DAC would be more cost effective.
You are in serious danger of unbalancing your system. A substantial upgrade to the amp without a matching improvement in your source is a recipe for unhappiness. Given your implied budget, I’d be thinking about a Nait XS2 and nDAC. You might even try a late Nait XS1 but would need to factor in a service in the next few years.
Although I like the looks of the olive set it’s probably better to look for a used XS2 as I understand now. My room and the placement of my equipment is also not optimal, so the 72/250/hicap might be too much for me.
It’s a great amp, and if you are prepared to grow your system around it you could end up with great sound. The XS2 is still a nice integrated amp though, and if it gives you the space or cash to put into improving your source maybe it’s the best choice.