Can a one box set-up compete with a multi box system

I am very impressed with the number of multi-box systems on the various threads, their owners seem to get an huge amount of pleasure out of these systems irrespective of whether their source is vinyl, CD, streaming or a mix of all three.

In my mind this is the route that I planned to take as I go through an upgrading process this year. But then I started reading threads on downsizing from Multi-Box to One-Box and this got me thinking, is this route better?

Naim the bastion of multi-box set ups now has an impressive range of one box systems just needing speakers to give you music. Linn goes down a similar route albeit there is possibility within their system to have a single box or create a multi box set-up, and I am sure that there are other brands that do something similar.

Which direction to go?

Initially my intentions centred around retaining a TT and CDT as main sources but adding a streaming option as I am enjoying it more and more via Apple Music and want to explore this area further.

Taking this into account I had a new system along the lines of; TT / SuperNait3 / NDX 2 (or ND5 XS2) / CDT and then out to speakers - excluding power supplies a 4 box system.

Now I am contemplating having a set-up comprising of a TT / Linn Selekt (Or Uniti Nova PE +phono stage) and then out to speakers - excluding power supplies a 2 box (3 if Nova PE) system (CD’s ripped to external drive and CDT sold).

What I would like to understand from those that have gone down the one box route is whether they missed anything compared to their previous set-up. Also, if you were able to rewind time back to the moment just before you said yes to making the payment on that one box set-up would you still make that same decision?

The notion of owning a one box set-up (okay 2 if TT is included) is very appealing, minimal space taken up, a reduction in cables and wires, a sleeker and modern look and very much a ‘today’ item. But what is the offset to all this, is the ability of the unit sufficient to give me the SQ that I would like, is it a long term purchase as a SN3/NDX2 would be or would it be a unit that is part of today’s disposable society and only fit for the skip if it fails in 5 years time.

I understand that I have a lot of listening, thinking and considering to do and need to spend time auditioning each aspect of any changes I make, but if you have gone down this route how did the change go, what have the positives and negatives been for you.

Apologies for the rather wordy post and I hope people understand what I am asking. Thanks.

Simple answer is yes. You might need to move from Naim though. The linn selekt dual organic I auditioned at home (through ATC actives) was preferable to my ears compared to 300 level Naim. My Thrax is an all in one with phono and Dac for about £16k and is better to my ears than both. Vitus also worth a look

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There can’t be a definitive answer. All depends which separates you compare with which integrated.
For example Naim Statements will sound much better vs a SN3 or even a Vitus 30 k integrated.
But a 50k integrated will sound very probably better vs 30/40 k separates.
Then you have the preference and tastes. I prefer easily, for example, an SN3 vs a 10 k Soulution integrated.

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Not if the separates are Naim and the integrated is from a bland brand.

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Less is more had the box collection and seen the light. :wink: :+1:t2:

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Moi aussi, mon ami! :grinning::+1:

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In the Naim world you need more boxes for better sound. It’s as simple as that. They have obviously tried to simplify things by releasing streaming preamps, and now even a separate preamp with a built in power supply in the 332. So I think they are responding to the demand for fewer boxes. Still, if you want just one box it’s going to be a Uniti, or a switch to another brand.

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NSC222 (using internal MM phono amp or external NVC TT) into active speakers? Add NAP250 for passive speakers. Low box count and Naim far beyond Uniti.

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Hi @Oxfordian. It’s extremely unlikely that you’ll find a one-box system that beats a 555 setup, let alone a statement based rig, but lower down the hierarchy, there’s far more possibilities. My own recent audio journey has explored some of these.

Though I’ve never had a mega multi box setup with brain and brawn stacks etc, I did at one point get to four: CD5XS, 272, XPSDR, 250DR. I eventually gave up waiting for a 272 replacement and swapped the latter three out for an Auralic Vega G2 with active ATC speakers. The Vega was eventually replaced by a Linn KDSM and I’ve now got a Selekt on order. Each of these changes was done in pursuit of SQ rather than box count reduction, but nevertheless I seem to have ended up with just one box in my setup.

I guess you could argue that the amps in my active speakers should be included in the box count, but active speakers take no more room than the passive versions, so aesthetically, effectively just one box. Obviously this saga is a reflection of my personal tastes in music and how it should be reproduced, but my overall conclusion is that, for me, fewer boxes does not inevitably lead to poorer SQ.

Roger

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Well we all hear things differently. From the person with 3 sources, 4 box pre/power and 2 Fraims this might sound strange but I’ve been very impressed with Linn Selekt and Nova with Titan 505 and 606s. BUT not enough to make a change.

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@Oxfordian Hello . I think it all depends on what World you’re in. There are numerous ways to play this. Devialet makes great all in one systems, there are many super integrated amps… Bolder Audio makes the wonderful 866 amp , Auralic makes a really good preamp, Dac, streamer in one box… Naim has the new Nova PE… that has real power to drive a lot of different speakers … lot of choices. Good Luck and have FUN !

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Yes…although I still use power amps into passive speakers rather than on board power amp modules. I have 2 less boxes and vastly better music. But, bear in mind that the 2 options you mention are VERY different. Feel secure in whichever option you go for, you can trust either company. They both care about what they deliver.

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100% it can, and better it, just not naim, you will have to look elsewhere.

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Thanks, nice to hear of someone having moved to a one box system and most importantly enjoying it.

The fact that you haven’t missed anything in terms of sound quality is a confidence boost if I head that way.

About time I had a demo of a Linn Selekt.

So the SQ was more than comparable between Linn/Naim and your multi-box set-up, if you were setting out to buy now for the first time which way would you go?

Thanks, I think my ears are going to be well used in the forthcoming weeks.

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I went from a top level olive system to a Uniti then Superuniti and now have a Nova.
I have had the Nova more than 6 years and it gives me immense pleasure - I haven’t regretted downsizing for a nanosecond in all that time. It’s not going anywhere near a skip for the forseeable future!
Of course I can hear differences between the Nova and a higher level system in a direct comparison but for me the differences are not enough to justify the cost and the complication.
My system sounds great to me in my home and that’s all that matters to me.

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Great to hear from a one-box user, thanks for the reply, you are giving me more confidence in going down that route.

…be prepared for a bit of a shock when listening with Space Optimisation implemented. You might like it, you might not. You will need an excellent dealer if you are thinking about comparing the offerings from Naim and Linn.
We’re pretty lucky here in the UK, where this is an expectation.

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I have a Linn / Naim dealer not far from me, so i’ll book a few auditions.