Hi all - about 2 years ago I found my way to Naim via what I suspect has perhaps been a gateway system for many. I currently have a DAC-V1 and NAP100 with a Blusound Node 2i and Acoustic Energy AE309 floorstanders. It’s been very enjoyable during that time but feel the sound is a little thin. I’m currently in the position to spend around £4k (likely to be it for 3-5yrs), maybe a little more depending on selling other items. I think the speakers would benefit from having more power driving them. I’ve been quite happy with the speakers though can find very few reviews elsewhere so happy to take any views to the contrary if this is an area I should focus on. I currently only stream, though have toyed with the idea of getting into vinyl at some stage.
Unfortunately its not really feasible for me to demo (I know this is always the first recommendation), however, having spent considerable time reading up in the forums, I’ve set out what I think are my best options (in order of preference balancing performance and cost). Any views or alternative suggestions would be very much welcome!
- ND5 XS 2 / NAIT XS 3
- ND5 XS 2 / Supernait 3
- Node 2i / DAC-V1 / NAC202 / NAP200DR
- Node 2i / DAC-V1 / NAP200DR
- Node 2i / DAC-V1 / Supernait 3
Having used a DacV1 Audirvana into 202/200etc, then going to a NDX (v1), having both briefly while auditioning, the NDX was significantly better. All my system, apart from a power supply, were ‘preloved’ - don’t dismiss going second hand.
I would say option 2, or 3 with a preloved streamer
would be the better options.
Good luck on your journey.
Thanks very much for your suggestion - I hadn’t considered a pre-loved streamer. I am relatively new to streaming and was just wondering if I’d run into any limitations going with an older streamer e.g. do they stop getting software updates or stop working with certain online services?
If I went with the ND5 XS 2 would I see any benefit connecting it to run through the DAC-V1?
There is the tried and trusted 272/250 combo of course. The 272 can be picked up for a bargain price, maybe some new stock at second hand prices (if you are in the UK). A used 250.2 which could be later upgraded to DR spec would probably fit in your budget too or alternatively a new 200DR.
The 2i could be kept as a streamer to give you access to the services the 272 doesn’t offer, but using the 272 DAC.
Thanks Weekend Warrior. I hadn’t really considered going the used route when postng originally - but responses thus far have given me some further options to research this afternoon!
If going new it looks like ND5 XS 2 and SN3 might be the best option. I’d be interested if anyone has any thoughts on whether to keep the Dac-V1 to put between those 2 or whether it would be of little benefit?
I found that, although on it’s own with an amp, the V1 to be very good, especially ‘on paper’, the pre/power with a streamer is far better.
As to the older gen streamers: if you’re looking to do on line streaming they will be outdated in that area, but if like me, it’s all done from a NAS - they are still awesome beasts.
In my original reply I had forgotten something: it was an original (preloved) ND5xs I compared the V1 to & the ND5 sounded far better, also tried it through the V1 - ND5 was better on it’s own. A week later my local dealer had the preloved NDX in and gave me the exact price I’d paid back towards the NDX - a good dealer is a must
Depending on the budget.
On your options I would go ( ideally) 2.
Long time V1 user here with no intention to change. Having done lots of upgrades around the V1, I would say you will get better performance the better your streaming input is (and that includes the power supply, USB cabling, etc) and the amp proceeding it. Not sure how @JR007 above tested an ND5XS against a V1 as they do two different things - if the streaming input into the V1 isn’t up to the same quality as the ND5XS then of course it would beat it. I’m using an opticalRendu into mine and a NAP 160 BD after. Obviously lots of ways for you to go, but upgrading just the streamer with another non-Naim option is something to consider before you ditch the V1 altogether.
Others may shout at me, but what about a NAP200 with the DACV1 as a pre-amp as a first step .
Much more power to the speakers , then you can assess what to do next
Yep, that could make a big difference to the 100. Plus a better DIN cable (Witch Hat is what I use) and the improvement might be enough to forego ditching the V1.
Happy owner of V1/SN2 here, prevously V1/5Si. Before I swapped amps, I was wondering what would be my next step, I was considering to keep the amp and change the front end to a nDAC, but my prevous speakers needed more power than 5si could provide, thus my decision to go for the SN2 instead. I am glad I took that route, as the Supernait was a significant upgrade, it was obvious it was driving those effotlessly, and if I had switched dacs, the 5si even with a better source coundn’t have done the same job as the SN.
One thing I would try to avoid is using V1 as a pre amp, your 4th option. When I compared its pre amp section to the one in the SN2 in AV bypass mode, the SN2 working as an integrated amp was far superior than when used as a power amp only fed by V1’s pre section. But that does not mean V1 is a bad product, as a dac only it has been compared to a far more expensive combo, cds3/555 in particular (HiFiCritic).
I am pretty happy with it, I do not need a streamer as I am feeding the dac directly from my MAC. One day I might go for a nDAC, given their low prices currently, but for now I find the V1 to be very good at what it does as a dac only. Hope this helps.
…and you don’t need the DR version so would be very cost effective.
Then look at the front end. Sonore microRendu v1.5 (v2.8 SW) + ifi iPower circa. £450 is going to be better than the Node 2i and you will be utilising the DAC-V1 USB input. The power supply can be upgraded later. Talk to Martin at the Audiostore.
Then look at the speakers.
Spend the savings on more music.
I think you could be quite happy with option 1. I started with a ND5 XS > Nait XS 2 and it was a fabulous system.
If you could stretch to option 2 you would be a nice uplift.
Good luck with your decision!
I would almost bet the house that you will find the V1 to be significantly better fed by a purpose built audio streamer rather than a MAC.
Yeah, I’ve always been curious about the preamp of the V1 - you do know fixed out doesn’t actually bypass the preamp section of the V1, it just fixes the digital volume control to 100%. Going separate preamp route would mean two more black boxes for me, and I just don’t see that in the future unless I got rid of my 160 BD and went integrated. I just don’t see that happening as I love the 160 so much. Worse problems to have…
Wow - some great suggestions and more to think about… though feeling slightly less clear on the direction to go now. I’m not overly tech savvy and don’t have an awful lot of free time so I think I’m probably going to stick with just Naim gear for now (more boxes of different styles would also bring in another decision-making body to the mix!) I appreciate I’m probably missing out on some cost savings and performance gains
At the moment I think I’m leaning more towards option 2 (ND5 / SN3), or possibly start with option 4 (NAP 200) and then replace the DAC-V1 with a NAC-N 272.
Another question I’m afraid - looking at the revies there doesn’t seem to be a lot between the XS3 and the SN3 - am I likely to get the benefit of the SN3 with the ND5…?
Yep, I do believe this is the better way too, but I just like controlling the music from the computer, fast-forward a song faster, skip faster, do other stuff meanwhile, etc.
I am aware of that too and it is such a pity, I always wondered why Naim designed it that way, their products are usually multi purposeful - integrated amps working in power amp mode, network players working as dacs only, etc. Yes they had a dedicated dac at the moment V1 was released, but still, typically Naim build products for multi use in a long run. It was promoted as a NAP100 partner, but they were sold separately, so must be another reason. Again, sounds great even with this little “flaw”.
As someone who went from Nait 3 to NAC92, NAP90 and Flatcap to NAC202/NAP200 /Flat Cap etc and then to Nova (a journey of 30 years) , all I can say is that each move should be done on it’s own , so you can identify the effect each change has on the system
I would also say with those items to trade in a Nova might be within your price range and that should certainly add “oomph” to your system
I don’t know for sure, but would have thought so. I have an XS3, and I’m fairly sure the SN3 would be a significant upgrade. From what I read on here, plenty use the SN3 with some pretty high end sources, less so with the XS3. I know that’s not quite what you asked, I demoed a s/h CD5 with a Nait 3, a Nait 5si, and a pre-power, I could tell every upgrade in amplification. I’m sure others with direct experience of the ND5 XS2 will be along soon
It’s an interesting budget. Lots of options even with the amplification
Olive pre power
High end integrated
Lower end classic pre/power
All seem to be doable. Maybe post lockdown we could arrange a forum system showdown at a friendly dealer with a set of typical systems to compare !?
Thanks every one for all the suggestions. Have finally decided to go for the ND5 and the SN3. I figured if I went for the XS3 I’d have a nagging feeling I was missing something and hopefully the SN3 provides a better option for upgrading later even if that is 5 years down the line. The SN3 arrives this week but unfortunately the ND5 will not be until end of month. Will be interesting though to use with the DAC-V1 and Node 2i for the next couple of weeks. Will be selling these once the ND5 arrives and may be back for some advice on cables and interconnects. Thanks again and love the forums!
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