Atom HE vs NDX (v1) & 202

Hi all
I currently have the original NDX, 202 with napsc (recently serviced) & ‘equivalent’ Hicap (+ 200).
Would the Atom HE be ‘equal’, & just keep my 200?
I would treat my self to 660’s for headphone listening, but also have the ‘newer’ platform. I would not be streaming until Spotify do higher res, it would be locally from NAS.
I don’t want to ‘upgrade’ anything else, & the NDX2 is out of reach - no more ‘boxes’ either :smirk:
Would I be doing a ‘disservice’ to my setup, & just keep what I have got: thoughts please :relieved:

New Naim products always get a great deal of adulation here, but to suggest that their entry level all-in-one player can compete with Classic series systems like yours on sound quality is rather far fetched. Sure, the HE will give you a nice headphone amp and updated streaming services, but really……?

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If you can find a buyer willing to pay a meaningful amount of money for the NDX & 200 and you want to use headphones then maybe it’s a good idea.

Must be depressing for Naim preamp engineers to never be allowed to create something nearly as good as the 202.


Thing is if Naim created the best they could given a specific amount of money they can’t really better it if prices aren’t lowered or a cheaper way to achieve the same level of performance surfaces. Another option is if Naim change direction which they did with the classic Line compared to the Olive, at least to these ears. A change of direction could be interpreted as better for less of course, or the opposite depending on preference.

Just looked at TT2 :scream:

It looks expensive but it’s about the same price as an XPS, and then you have a top class headphone amp, and can potentially sell your 3 box preamp.

I’m not sure it’s a great idea using a TT as preamp if the 200 is still going to be used. The Naim preamps define the operating conditions for the power amp.

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Please respect and abide by forum rules, specifically with regard to discussion of unauthorised modifications, which includes non-Naim power supplies. Thanks.

Don’t just look, listen if you can. The strengths and weakness of the Chord and Naim DACs/streamers are quite different. You could be disappointed if you buy without a demo to confirm/infrom your choice.

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That’s the theory, but in practice I found running a Chord DAC into my 250 worked fine, and enabled me to follow a similar route to fewer boxes. It did sound a little different without a Naim pre in there, and of course I wouldn’t suggest that anyone did it without a very careful demo, but it worked for me.

I recently compared the Atom HE to my NDX2/XPS DR combo and it was not a fair fight. The NDX2 is superior in sound quality by a fair margin. Don’t get me wrong, the Atom HE sounds good for what it is, and if you are willing to take a step back in sound quality to cut down on your box count, you’ll still have a fine sounding system. But make no mistake, it WILL be a step backwards in your system fidelity-wise.

However you have no more the 250 dr but the Chord Etude. As most here with a Chord dac, they end with chord amp. ( as Simon S, Bluesfan…)

Sorry :grimacing:

Op has a bare NDX.

Yes, I made no comparisons between the Atom HE and the NDX2 sans-XPSDR.

I tried a TT2 into my 250DR, and I really wanted to like it to avoid the expensive pre-amp route on the Naim ladder. But it sounded somewhat “recessed”. I preferred my SN2 cum Hugo 2, and in the end I got my 250DR a 282 to sing and kept the Hugo 2… In the future a TT2 might feed my 282/250, but that won’t come for a while. Obviously, the story might be different with DAVE, but in my view the TT2’s preamp isn’t quite there…

The 202 has about eight Din & rca inputs. The 282 and above all include a fairly ridiculous “tape out” feature that is unlikely to be useful to 99%. This is overkill in 2021 where the average number of inputs utilized is less than two and maybe 1 in 1,000 are making mix tapes. Since I’m not an engineer, I can only speculate that today a single input preamp could be made cheaper and better than the 20 year old designs.

In 2014 I owned a nd5, ndx, and V1. The V1 sounded better than the nd5 but not as good as the ndx when connected ndx-> bnc ->V1. The headphone amp in the V1 was, according to Naim, the same as found in SN2 which I also owned. Listening via headphones on the V1 with usb from my iMac was substantially better than the ndx->hicapdr->SN2-> headphones. If the headphone amp is in fact identical then maybe the V1 was better sounding with usb than the ndx via ethernet. The streamer in the Atom is the same as the NDX2 & ND555. The dac design in the Atom is unlikely to be worse than the V1. The headphone amp and output stage appear to be a significant improvement vs V1. If all these are true then it wouldn’t surprise me if the Atom sounded better than the ndx.

Unfortunately my nd5 died, the ndx is worthless since the screen stopped working, I’ve sold my V1, and the SN2 sits in a corner ready to be boxed up destination unknown. My daughter’s Atom HE will be here later this week so I might get a chance to listen to it at some point.

The problem with the ndx is that the screen is going to die. Mine died after only six years and I always kept it shut off. Once the screen dies you can’t really change the settings. The resale value is already quite low and will continue to drop. If I were in op’s position, I’d buy the Atom even if sq is a bit lower via speakers. The secondary market for this product should be quite strong so the risk is minimal.

As a disclaimer, I’ve never heard 202 or 200. The only thing I know is what I’ve discovered through threads like “SN3 vs 202/200”. My impression is that 202/200 is better than SNx but they’re both good enough. I do own a 282 and I know it is a significant improvement vs SN2. It was purchased ex demo for slightly more than a new Atom HE. Op didn’t want the usual “other upgrades” we all like to propose so I’m not going to suggest he sell the 200 and buy a 282. He isn’t really looking to upgrade his system. He just wants to add headphones.

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I haven’t made the comparison with TT2. For me Dave didn’t sound better or worse without a Naim preamp, just different, and it was a difference I was happy to live with.
After that I became aware of the Étude and felt it made sense to try Dave with its matching power amp. That was a very clear step up from the 250DR, with or without 282. Thus my incremental move from Naim to Chord amplification. I never planned or intended it, but each move made sense at the time.

Just in case this sounds like a ‘Chord are better than Naim’ agenda, it’s not. It’s just that climbing the ladder with Naim requires more boxes than I’m prepared to accommodate (and more money!) If I was willing to run a large stack of boxes, I’d have a PSU on the streamer and a 300DR instead.

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How is NDX2+XPS DR relevant when op has the original NDX without a power supply? Doubt many would believe your source doesn’t outperform the Atom. Sadly I’ve never heard the NDX2 but by most reports it is a meaningful upgrade vs NDX.