Can two SN3s sound different?

After receiving my first SN3 with a volume control that promptly fell off, I have now received my replacement SN3. However… it doesn’t sound quite as good as the previous one! Of course, I’m not doing a side by side comparison and there has been a 2 week gap - but it just doesnt sound quite as lively and muscular. Am I just imagining it or can 2 of the same items sound different? This replacement also apparently came from the european warehouse in Belgium and spent 3 days with a certain local courier company being driven around in a van before being cancelled on the first 2 days. Could it have been damaged, could it just sound different, or am I being paranoid!

Was your first SN3 brand new out of the box, or was it used prior to you purchasing it? How long did you use your first SN3 for before you stopped using it? Are both units used in same place, connected to same power and same components and speakers?

Both were Naim tape sealed boxes on arrival (although the plastic wrap inside the second box was creased like it had been repackaged). Used the first SN3 for 2 days over weekend. Both units in same place using all the same equipment.

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Interesting, personally I think its possible for two components to sound different but saying that I would give it some time. All Naim components sound better when warmed up and run for a while, hopefully there is nothing actually wrong and the sound will get back to what your heard with the first SN3.

All Naim components go through the same rigorous build, test, listening test processes to ensure they are all the same. The build area also houses one of each model with a clear Perspex lid so you have a guide when building. (eg for confirming the location of the cable ties). All sn3’s should be clones. ie indistinguishable from each other, given the same amount of use.


It’s probably just me then! I think the first one sounded a significant step up from the DAC-V1 / NAP100 but this one, less so. Perhaps I’d set my expectations higher during the 2 week gap between each SN3!

And answering the other question, no I don’t believe that several days of being driven about, even by the worst courier, short of actual visible mechanical damage, could harm a SN3 packed by Naim and still in its original box.




All companies have tolerances signing off a product from production meaning not all are identical because it would simply cost too much. In the headphone industry for example you normally have a ±3dB tolerance from production line meaning a Focal headphone can sound very different from another. You can implement sorting etc do get down to say ±1-2dB but that cost lots of time and money and still they will not perform identical but close enough for the majority that never will AB test the same product. In an amp like SN3 having 100s of components all with tolerances on their own it is impossible to make two identical products IMO.

While you are surely right about high levels of “identical”, presumably all units pass Naim’s quality threshold in the listening test, so I would expect differences to be small


I think you’d be surprised by the level of tolerance that is accepted at the factory. For example, when a diode or resistor needs to be replaced due to non availability, first there are listening tests which need to be signed off by r&d before a replacement part is accepted into the bom (bill of materials). Plus there is a component selection process before the bits even go into stores in the factory. So these very fine tolerances are built into the very essence of how Naim build an amplifier or any other product before a soldering iron even gets hot.


Improving consistency from one example to the next has been a priority goal for Naim since the early days. It’s what drives many of the processes that may otherwise seem unnecessary or even arcane to an outsider, and why anything that requires hand soldering is only done by the best and most experienced people. It’s also why, when it comes to consistency, that Naim are regarded by dealers as one of the best (perhaps even THE best) manufacturers around. For all that, 100% consistency is probably not possible. As such if you ever do have a serious concern then talk to your dealer and let them take a listen, and if necessary, it can go back to Naim for them to evaluate. In most cases though this shouldn’t be necessary.

One thing to bear in mind is that Naim kit improves in performance quite noticeably from the point where you first take it out of the box to having run it in for a few days, even weeks. Naim has bit of a reputation for this amongst many - the theory espoused by some is that it’s down to the Tantalum caps, but they’re just one of a number of things, no doubt. So in a way I’m not surprised that you might think that you hear a difference between a unit run for some days or weeks compared to one just fresh out the box.


I believe they can. Two weeks ago I demoed an NDX2, comparing against my half the price ND5 XS2, and the NDX2 sounded much worse, with a smaller soundstage, and a louder left channel. It was built in Nov 2018, but was advised to run it in. After a week of 24x7 playing, still the same. I took it back and demoed another, and the second NDX2 was now better than my ND5 XS2, so I ordered one :blush:

This is however a clear sign that something was broken (and frankly nobody should have told you to let it run in :slight_smile: ) . This can of course happen

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I quiet agree, but I felt the dealer belittled me when I suggested it


I can very much understand that!


Yes, that sounds like an obvious fault rather than inconsistency.


I think you’ll always have nagging doubts about that second SN3. You should get the dealer to find another one - easier said than done.

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Yup. I did the same. No regrets. :slightly_smiling_face:

My experience for what it’s worth.
I’ve owned three SuperNait 1s. The first I bought brand new from my usual dealer; the second was a rather older model that I bought second hand from somewhere in Scandinavia - sorry for not remembering from whom; the third was my brother-in-laws, who had bought it more or less when I bought mine from the same dealer.
This is to say that the three had different ages and have been used differently. The oldest one had probably been used more and more intensely judging by the cosmetics - and it sounded audibly better, more lively and dynamic than both my new one and the third, similarly aged one.
It was that difference that made me start thinking that perhaps amplifiers not only need some break-up time but, like automobiles, react positively to being pushed to the limit sometimes.
This doesn’t answer the OP’s question about two apparently brand new units, but suggests that whatever the unit, it may be a good thing to make it sometimes play loud if possible.
Hope it helps,

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I’m thinking perhaps that Belgian warehouse was pretty cold. As well as “burning in” the second SN3 could have needed to come to normal ambient temperatures.

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