Building my first Naim system - advice required

I’ve always aspired to owning Naim so I’ve recently bought some pre-owned (but well loved and serviced) equipment. I’ve got a Unitilite (late model streaming Tidal etc) and a Nap 200 (from 2014 and serviced by Naim last year).

I have a Clearaudio Concept MM turntable and a Cambridge Audio CP1 Phono Amp and at the moment I’m using this setup to drive a pair of Q Acoustics 3050i floorstanding speakers.

The Naim gear is a massive improvement on the amplifier and streamer that I was using previously but clearly there is room to improve things either at the phono stage end or the speaker end. I use the turntable less than the streamer so my first thought was to upgrade the speakers. I have a budget of £1,000 but I’m time poor for going out to hifi stores. So that I don’t waste too much time, does anyone have any suggestions of where to go next - any speakers that I should listen to or even thoughts on whether I should upgrade the phono stage?

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I can’t help with any suggestions about a replacement phono stage, as I don’t do vinyl, but, assuming you’re based in UK, or have access to their products, I would recommend you consider speakers from the Neat range. (silent groan from other forum members, as I would always advise a listen to Neat speakers)!

I’ve been through several of their models as part of the upgrade process, and there is a definite synergy between their speakers and Naim kit … they just seem to bring out the best in each other.

Bob Surgeoner, who runs Neat, is a very approachable chap, and would give you the best advice about speaker / amp pairings, but nothing beats your dealer arranging a home demo to see how your room affects things.

Good luck.


As Dave says with your equipment and budget definitely look at Neat , probably from their Iota range . I set up 2 systems over last 5 years, my parents with Unitiqute and friend with Unitlite . They both chose Neat Iota’s which are fabulous little speakers . One of the most enjoyable nights music I’ve had recently was with an Atom , Neat Iota’s and Spotify connect at my parents. The Iota Alpha which are floorstanding would be around your budget I think ? I also had Neat Motive 2’s for a few years.

Alternatively as we all recommend brands that we use and you have a NAP200 with extra juice maybe some ATC SCM7 ? I have just installed the wall mount HTS version with a Uniti Atom for my parents and even though we haven’t been able to have a proper listen yet , first impressions were very good .

For my bedroom system I have a Unitiqute into a pair of pre-loved Linn Kans (mk1). Well worth looking out for … if not the Neats are good.

Firstly congratulations on your purchase, a nice place to start with Naim.
You don’t say if your’e looking for floor standers or bookshelf, I’ll assume you want to continue with floor standers.
You are correct in going for either turntable or speaker upgrade as splitting your budget you won’t better your Q Acoustics which are great value for money speakers. So I would search the forum past posts for what people are using for a NAP 200, you will find lots of info. I’m also assuming you would go second hand ? you will get more speaker for your money but this will clash with being time poor, speakers are perhaps the most difficult and personal aspect of a system and can depend on listener preference, room size etc.
If you were considering new I would agree the Neats are a good fit and you would be able to track down a pair of Motive XS2’s with little help from google for your budget, another speaker I would also look at for this price would be Fyne Audio 501’s.
If you go second hand lots of choice from, Neat SXI/2, Spendor A4/A7, Kudos X2/X3, PMC older Twenty series. There are lots more and I’m sure others will be along with suggestions. Have a look on past posts compile a list, read reviews but most importantly listen before you buy.
Happy hunting.

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I prefer floorstanders for purely aesthetic reasons but I’m not averse to changing to standmounts. To be honest, I love the sound of the Q Acoustics but having never heard the equipment I have driving anything else, I could be missing a trick.

I’ve checked out Neat distributors and it appears I live literally around the corner from one (Doug Brady Hifi) so I might take a walk and see what they’ve got. I’ve bought other equipment from them in the past so they may be able to let me do a demo.

Thanks for all the advice guys.

With your budget I would try and listen to Neat Iota Alphas, which I use with my NDX2, NAC202 and NAP200. These are lovely small speakers that punch well above there size. I auditioned larger speakers by Neat, Kudos and Rega, but I found the SQ from the Alphas to be superior, but as always it is a personal choice and subject to your room acoustics, an audition is paramount, preferably a home audition.

Kudos X2. Can be picked up for around £750 - £800 used.

Hi Spiderlover,

Although you are ‘time poor’ (yes I know that situation well), I would still suggest setting aside time to audition speakers. Speakers are the most sonically variable part of HiFi, and hence the most influenced by individual preferences. There are some speakers that are both technically excellent and really liked by other people , and yet for you still sound awful.

It’s even better if you can persuade a dealer to let you try a home audition, as the sound from speakers is also heavily influenced by the room.


Some thoughts; Ultimately I think that the Unitilite may be weakest link here. Or rather, the pre-amp stage of the Unitilite. Your speakers are good ones - Q acoustics have something of a reputation for squeezing a high amount of performance from boxes that look like they should cost a lot more. You obviously chose the Q Acoustics because you liked them, and they could certainly live on the back of a good number of upgrades to the front end and pre-amp, and show quite a lot of improvement in performance by doing so. Having heard how some Q floor standers sounded on the end of a big Naim separates system, I was impressed considering their relatively modest price.

I assume that the NAP200 was purchased with a view to pairing it with a more appropriate pre-amp and source at some stage - think at least NAC202/NAPSC for the former and maybe an ND5xs2 or NDX2 for the latter.

As for the vinyl front end, do you not listen to it much because it’s relatively a disappointment compared to digital, or for other reasons not to do with performance? If for other reasons, then save your money for digital source and pre-amp, but if its because performance is relatively lacking then a step up in the cart and phono pre-amp area might be an idea. The Concept MC is a big step up on the MM, for starters…

Also, make sure you are using suitable speaker cable - NACA5 terminated with soldered Naim SA8 speaker connectors at the amp end and whatever matches best at the speaker end would be my recommendation. You need at least 3.5m per channel, better to be at least 5m in my opinion. This is a make or break detail if this area is not done properly.

p.s. out of interest, one of the people behind the Q acoustics 3050s is Karl Heinz Fink - who also was involved in some Naim speaker development too.


Hi Spiderlover and welcome to Naim.

My advice is more of a general thing rather than which upgrade path to choose.

First, figure out your end-game. Demo different levels of balanced Naim systems, and pick one that gives you an emotional connection to the music, and is within your long term budget.

Next, figure out how you want to get there (upgrade path). Conventional Naim wisdom is source is the most important thing. Start as high up the chain as you can realistically afford. You will save money by doing so.

Always, always, get a home demo before you part with your money. What you hear in a dealers demo room will be very different to what you hear at home. Consider your room as part of your system.

Don’t be afraid to walk away if you don’t like what you are hearing. I know people who have bought things they later regretted because they didn’t want to upset their dealer.

Enjoy the music. It’s what this game is all about after all. You will critically analyse each new piece of equipment you buy, but once done, just kick back and enjoy the music, and let the kit disappear.

That’ll do for now. If you enjoy your Naim kit half as much as I do, you’ll be ecstatic.


I’m inclined to agree with Richard here regarding the Unitilite being a bit out of its depth. One relatively easy solution would be to trade it in for a 272, which with your £1k budget, would be just about do-able.
Perhaps better still would be to go for a full separates system, but this may cost more still, and requires a proper rack with more shelves and careful setup. It all depends how far you want to go.


Spider I think two more considered, and better, suggestions on the way forward from Richard and Chris, either a 202 or a 272 added to your 200 would give you a good system. The 272 option would I think be the more expensive but perhaps give you more. As others have said it depends on where you want to end up.

The 202 would be cheaper, but then you’d have no streamer.

I have to admit, I like Chris’ idea of a NAC-N272 - that way you get a superior streamer and pre-amp to the Unitilite, a great matching partner to the NAP200, and with trade-in it should come in on budget. Of course, as ever, it all depends on where you want to go and how many steps you’re prepared to make to get there.

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I thought, but I am not sure, he could still use the streaming section of the Unitilite ? but agree the 272 would give the best solution on the streaming/pre front.

Not ideal, as it has no line out, only a pre-out, so the signal would be passing through two preamp/volume controls. I imagine that would negate any advantage of the superior separate preamp.

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I went from Neat Iotas to ATC SCM 7s in my small listening room but I do use a Rel 7i for the bass. The naim equipment is a Core feeding a NDX 2 streamer with a Nac272 and a Nap 250DR. The ATCs made all the difference to this set up.

100% upgrade the speakers used you will get an excellent set of speakers for £1000 the rest of your kit is fine

On further thoughts, I actually agree with Chris and Richard, the 272 is a remarkable product for the price (I know, I use one). It’s a very natural partner to the 200 and if bought s/h with the UnitiLite in part exchange, it may be available at or near your budget. Like Chris and Richard, I believe that if you like the sound character of the Q-Acoustics speakers then you’ll get a bigger performance boost by upgrading the streamer and speakers.

(It’s also worth noting that the 272 isn’t of itself the end of the upgrade path, as it can, in future, be given a remarkable uplift in performance by adding an external power supply.)

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