Budget audiophile

I’m a new-ish member here so this is an intro as much as anything. I don’t have a lot of money to spend on gear - sometimes it seems some of the cables mentioned here are worth more than my whole system!

So I monitor the 2nd-hand market and slowly trade my way up and if something doesn’t work out I can usually sell again for similar money. This approach has also enabled me to experiment more with different components without significant outlay, and develop an appreciation for just how good some of the vintage gear is.

I’ve had a little Naim gear in the past, notably a Nait 2 and Nait 3, regretted selling the Nait 3 but have returned to the fold with a Nait 5 and most recently a Flatcap 2 - powering the CD3.5 with this was a revelation! And am expecting this week a SNAIC 4 to complete the Flatcap-Nait connection.

My system currently;
Technics SP-10 with SME 3009 S2 Improved and Shure v15 MkIII MR or Stanton 681 EEE-Jico, through a Dynavector P75 MKII
CD 3.5
Flatcap 2
Nait 5 (original)
TDL Electronics RTL2 speakers
I was fortunate to get black SNAIC’s with the Flatcap, though still have a grey from the CD player. TT cables are a cheap ProJect to the Dynavector then an old Chord to the Nait. Speaker cables are labelled Proel but don’t know anything more.

The Technics TT came out of a radio station along with a Japan Piezo arm, my current boss grabbed it and had it stored for years, but recently gave it to me. It’s currently installed in a Moldovan plinth I got through a big auction site and is a major step up from my Heybrook TT2 (which I still have).

The big question is what next? I need a streaming solution, the Bluesound looks good but an old Sonos Connect can be picked up pretty cheap just as a fill-in for now - short-term I only need something functional. And I think the speaker cables probably need sorting but the stiffness of the NACA5 is a problem.

Is the CD5 a significant improvement over the CD3.5? Or is it more of style upgrade (newer case style).

I don’t have any particular issues I want to fix, just always looking for improvements. Listening priority is TT, then CD, then streaming is only for convenience. Any tips or suggestions welcome, keeping in mind a lowish budget.


I would highly recommend you seek out a preloved Bluesound Node 2i for your streaming side.


A5 is stiff but it can be managed using a hair drier to gently warm it to get around corners. Plenty available second hand, just remember you need a minimum of 3.5m.

You may be able to get some Linn K40 (I think) grey colour. it is very similar to Naca and always a bit cheaper. I use Chord epic and Chord Clearway in 2nd system which is also ok with Naim.

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Please don’t, if affordable for you, dismiss WH N2, slightly more than Linn, but far better :relaxed:

The CD5 is very similar to the CD3.5 so not a worthwhile upgrade in my opinion.

Do you still use the Piezo arm? It’s a classic and a great match to the Technics decks. We used them on SL-150 mk2s when I did radio DJing at school. A great match with the Denon DL103…

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Yes, I see Witch Hat has a great reputation and it is tempting but not available here in New Zealand so I’d have to import it - will watch the auction sites.

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I’d start with having the flatcap Naim authorisedely serviced. This is quite cheap - sub 100 GBP I believe and benefits both the amp and the CD player.

Replacing it is another strategy, by e.g a flatcap xs which is a newer model and does not need a service yet.

The Nait 5 is a very good amp and an absolute bargain for what it does. I personally like the Timbre it has. If you don’t need the watts, the Nait 5 is a comfortable place to stay.

Some on this forum have used the Nait 5 with seriously capable frontends like the CDS3.

I have a Cd5i connected to it at the moment and look to upgrade this.

Oh, and the budget Naim amps is the best place to stay. Every time I hear big expensive main street sold amps, I realize that Naims low end is already much better.

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I do have the Piezo arm but am not currently using it. It was a great sounding arm on my Heybrook, but was prone to bounce due to my not so solid floor. The SME handled this better but am keen to try the Piezo with the Technics at some point.

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Yes, I’ve always felt the budget Naim amps are something special. I’m really pleased to have one again, and looking forward to the improvements the Flatcap offers when the SNAIC cable arrives next week. I’m pretty happy to stay with this for a while now and focus on other parts of the system.

I didn’t realise a service on the Flatcap could make so much difference. Do you know what they actually do - is it just replacing capacitors?

I would suggest an Auralic Aries Mini if you can get hold of one (discontinued so used market only) - gives you access to very high quality trouble free streaming and access to one of the best Apps in the business to organise music and stream.
I wouldn’t change the amp unless you need significantly more power
you have a great system and may be tweaks in the existing sources as advised above

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Hi Carl,

Be DAMNED careful with older Sonos gear. It ‘phones home’ and can result iin it being disabled …permanently.


The Allo Boss2 streamer + DAC might be your best budget audiophile option. It’s available from $150 and a separate linear power supply is available for around $50. It’s Roon compatible and test results have been very good.

I added a 2nd hand Chord Hugo recently, from an auction site. With my phone as the streaming source via USB. They seem to go for £400-500, same as a 2nd hand Bluesound (well, a teeny bit more I guess) I suspect the Hugo&phone sounds considerably better than the Bluesound. It is a very very nice thing indeed. The Hugo sounds technically better than either my CD5 or Systemdek, even if I enjoy music through all my sources. Still making up my mind on it, but the quality is undeniable.

If you want to keep your existing source types as the focus, vinyl in particular, maybe think about a 2nd hand Rega or LP12?

Or, how old is the stylus? My Systemdek just had a very good lift from a new and upgraded stylus and arm cable, I upgraded Goldring 1012 to 1042 stylus, and added a Roksan arm cable, a fair few arm cables on auction sites. Not sure if your cartridge can be upgraded similarly, but if it’s old& worn then a new stylus would be a nice “upgrade”

You do not say what it is all mounted on? Another option might be to take the opportunity to get it all on a decent rack, with reasonable cables, making a good foundation to build on. I found a 7 shelf Atacama rack for reasonable money, yes, on an auction site X)

I use pre loved A5 - 2x5m lengths - bought reasonably… from an auction site (there’s a theme here :wink: ) It isn’t unmanageable.

…maybe ignore the Rega/LP12 suggestion, that Technics looks awesome!

Did you mean Linn K20 or K400, perhaps…?

Thanks gthack, you’ve made some good points there. Chord are typically fairly expensive here but that Hugo looks reasonable - I’ll add it to the list.

My styli are pretty good, the Shure has a low-use genuine micro-ridge stylus (VN35MR), and the Stanton has brand new Jico D6800EEE-S shibata stylus. I also have an AKG P8E that needs a stylus so that’s high on the shopping list.

The tonearm cable I’m sure could benefit from an upgrade away from the budget Pro-Ject cable but I have no idea which brands would fit in well. And I may consider a Stageline phono amp should one come along.

To be fair, everything is cramped together on a 3 shelf no-name stand without decent physical separation so this could be a good place to start!

The Technics is something!


Thanks mayday, and MrUnderHill, as I dig into it more, there’s some good reasons to stay away from Sonos.

Great suggestion thanks. I hadn’t heard of this before, it looks good and I do like the the semi-DIY aspect of this.

Try Sonos Port

I had Witch Hat Cable from the manufacturer posted to Sydney- really pleased with it - postage was $30AU

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