This is my first post here. Apologies if this has been asked numerous times before, I strongly suspect it has but several searches didn’t yield an answer.
I have been away from the HiFi world for about 15 years but as life is about to become somewhat less hectic and chaotic I thought it was time to dip my toe back into HiFi again.
My last “proper” system was Cyrus based (CD-8x, Pre-X, Mono-X, PSX-R, Spendor SP3/5a) which should have been a fine system but I never truly enjoyed it and could never get to the bottom of what was wrong so with life/children/several house moves and more looming I sold it all and bought a Sonos AMP and a pair of Monitor Audio Silvers and it served us well.
Going back to the 90’s I had a system I truly loved and wish I’d hung on to: LP-12, 32/110, Ruark Talisman. I spent so much time listening to that little combo and never tired of it. I came into some money and caught upgraditis around the same time that everyone was ditching their turntables hence the Cyrus CD based system.
I am now looking for a turntable (probably a Rega P3 or similar), CD and amp, I’ll keep my MA Silvers for now at least. I like to buy used equipment where I can. My question is should I be considering older amps such as a 62/140, 32/110 etc or has more modern equipment like the SuperNait 2, XS2/3 or Nait 5si eclipsed such offerings?
The majority of the system’s use would be vinyl and CD but I’d likely connect up a cheap streamer for casual listening too. My musical tastes are right across the board; Jazz, folk, rock, blues and occasionally classical. I rarely listen at high volumes so I don’t need anything too thumping.
What’s your budget? I started my Naim journey with new CD5Si and Nait 5Si. Within a year I went to an 82 HiCap and 250, mix of Olive and CB. It sounded much more detailed and wider soundstage. But I needed better sources to match so went CDS2 and XPS, LP12 and NDS with 555PS.
The better the amp you choose, the better the source you’ll need. All about system synergy.
The older Olive and CB stuff has a different sound and is a bit warmer than the newer Classic Black boxes.
A lot of this is about what will make you happy rather than what is ‘the best’, whatever that may mean. Something like a 72/140 is lovely, and has a phono stage for a TT. A Rega 3 isn’t really up to them, so a P8 or LP12 may be the place to look. Do you actually have CDs? If you do, would you be happy to rip them to a server and then use a streamer? That way you wouldn’t need a CD player at all. Do you still have your records? If not, can you afford the high cost of buying new ones. How do others in the house wish to use the system? It’s worth reflecting on what you really want, rather than simply replicating what you had many years ago.
I tend to prefer modern systems for listening to digital recordings from 90s onwards, as a broad generalisation. But for pre-90s vinyl then I prefer the older amps, especially 12/160 and Nait/Nait 2, but the 110 is really sweet too. If you want old skool Naim with more detail then 62/HC/140 is a well balanced combo available in CB or olive. I found 62/72 + 140 needed the Hicap to calm down the pace to a more natural level, whereas 32.5/110 worked better without. They were my system and preferences anyway, using '89, '92 and '08 (Klimax) LP12s and vintage Linn speakers.
I have sympathy with @Dan_M though I’d argue that better amplification doesn’t need a better source, so much as deserving it and usually getting it sooner or later.
With a Rega Planar 3, I’d definitely suggest buying second-hand in you can - it’s a great budget deck, there are lots around and they are hard to ruin. Buying amplification second-hand is even more obviously a good idea.
If you don’t envisage getting a better source than an RP3, then I’d suggest olive 72, Hicap and 140 probably being as far up the ladder as you need to hear the RP3 at its best. As HH suggests, even at that level you might be more satisfied either stretching to a P6 or P8 or a lowish-spec LP12 for max sound-per-£, or getting a P3 but combining it with an old Nait (or even Supernait) if those are cheaper than the separates.
Given how old they could be, I’d suggest that amplifiers serviced in the last 15 years are worth pursuing, but serviced 90s amplification will compete with much more recent 1-boxes very well.
A 62/90 is the cheap separates option, but 72 beats 62 noticeably, and the benefits of stepping from 90 to a 140 or to a 140 with a Hicap (and then a 250 with the Hicap if you want to keep going up) are pretty clear.
After much comparison, I’d also endorse getting a streamer and ripping your CDs to a NAS of some sort.
Also, if you have been away from vinyl for many years, your ears may be shocked at the state of LPs in charity shops. Do you have a mate with a record-cleaning machine? If not, truly satisfying second-hand vinyl will probably be more expensive than you remember.
A decent RP3 with a Rega or AT cartridge in decent nick and an RB300 or RB303 arm looks to cost well under £400. By contrast, Tomtom in St Albans has an RP8 (no cartridge) for just under £1000.
As Dan says, a 72/Hicap/140 combo might well cost close to £1500 - cheaper (and imho better) than a Supernait, but more than twice the price of a Nait 5Si.
If vinyl were your only source, I suspect that several of us would suggest an RP8 or equivalent plus a Nait might well sound more satisfying than an RP3 through 72/ Hicap/ 140. However, if you will also be playing CDs (in real time or ripped) and/ or streams through the same amplifier, then spending less on the turntable and more on amplifiers might well make sense.
A Naim CD5 CD player would cost very roughly £400, and there is one for sale now with a nait XS2 for £1250 and another with a nait 5i for less than £1000. A Nait 5Si alone would probably cost £700+ if a quick glance at eBay is representative.
Thank you so much for all the useful advice and recommendations. To address a few points; I do still have all my old vinyl and it all appears to be in excellent condition despite having not seen the light of day for almost 20 years. I also have my CDs.
I hadn’t considered using a streamer instead of a CD player but I see how much sense that would make. I ripped my CDs to a NAS using Apple lossless format for use with my Sonos kit. I don’t know much about streamers etc, would I need to re-rip my CDs depending on which streamer I bought? Could I play from an iPad say via Bluetooth into a DAC and get decent quality?
I always leaned towards buying a pre/power combination because of the upgrade path but if an integrated gave me what I was looking for I’d happily consider it. I was concerned that I slightly romanticised my relationship with my old 32/110 but I played music constantly, never tired of it and didn’t feel the need to change it for a very long time. Now if only I could pick up another for £250 (what I paid back in the late 80s I think!).
I don’t have a set budget but if I could bring the whole thing in under £2.5k it would make for a happier household.
I picked the RP3 as an example because I didn’t really know what was out there for sensible money. Having had a quick look I realise that a decent LP12 is probably out of reach but a used RP8 might be doable. I’m not in a hurry to buy so I’ll perhaps keep an eye out for a well priced (and ideally serviced) 72 or 62 and 140 with a view to perhaps adding a HiCap at a later date. I’ll also be keeping an eye out for a RP8.
Ideally I’d love to demo a few options but I know it’s difficult to do so with used equipment. I’m not chasing the perfect system (yet!), as long as it’s musical, isn’t fatiguing and doesn’t break the bank that’ll be enough to get me started. I’m sure I’ll look back on those words one day and laugh .
I use an old Olive Nac 52 and 4x 135’s in an active system with an Innuos Statement server as source and considering it’s old Olive stuff I find it sounds very good.
The only thing to remember is if you go down the streamer/server route you will probably/possibly also need a Dac and maybe a USB to SPDIF converter.
I recently went to the Bristol HiFI show and there was a number of rooms who were just using a laptop (controlled from an ipad via an app) to stream the music to their systems and they sounded very good.
A nice streamer/server/CD ripper with an app is nice to have but not sure if it’s required.
One room in particular used this set up into a Supernait 3 and it really sounded good.
A Supernait 2 or 3 will be alot easier with an RP3 and a Streamer or good CD player such as CD5Si.
I prefer pre power combo and when I went from Nait 5Si and CD5Si to an 82 HiCap 250 system the difference was huge. But I did need to upgrade my sources as they sounded a bit flat. Went with NDS and 555PS eventually and CDS2 and XPS and LP12.
You won’t get that for £2500. A good compromise system could be:
72 HiCap 140 £1500
Maybe get a CD3 or CD5 £450
Or Bluesound Node for streaming used £400
This will get you started and give you options for upgrading sources or power amps and power supplies.
Hmmm, that is really interesting. I have been doing a bit of reading about streaming and I like the look (and price!) of the Wiim Mini. It appears it will stream from music services and from my NAS at 24/192. It has SPDIF output so presumably I could run that into a half-decent DAC and feed that to my amp?
Wise words. I have around 400 LPs and 600 CDs that I’d love to get back in touch with again. However, I suspect that while I might find one or two evenings a week to sit down and enjoy my music most of the time the system will be used day-to-day to play either Spotify/Tidal or my own local playlists while we are either working or just “around the house”. I may have to look at this from a different angle.
I like it! I am leaning towards the 72/140/HiCap or SuperNait 2 as it appears they are about the same price used. The jury is still out on a turntable but I’m starting to see that the £500+ I would have spent on a CD player might be better spent on a modest streaming set up. I can always look at a CD player later if I think I still need one.
And I thought this was going to be straightforward .
I think Spotify sounds really good these days, and that’s just via Smartphone/headphones. It can sound amazing with a quality streamer and then you’ve got all your CD collection, or surely 99% of it.
Also, I connected my Planer 2 to Kairn/Klout/Kans for a short while and was surprised how enjoyable that was. I understand the comments about a better source but based on what you’re saying about your listening patterns then maybe even a second hand P2 will do, at least to begin with and see how you get on.
Lastly, you clearly like the Naim sound so what about a Naim streamer? But perhaps continuous improvements in this area have made second hand ones unappealing compared to what you have in mind. There’s always the one-box Unity players.
Good point about the turntable and my anticipated listening patterns. I’d like to try a P2 or P3 just to gauge whether it’s “good enough” for my needs…for now! A friend has a P1 (or possibly a P2, not sure) so I might ask if I can borrow it for a couple of days and see how I get on.
I appreciate that I’m probably going about this slightly backwardly in that the source should be my primary focus but until I know a bit more about my new listening room (we’re moving house in the next few weeks), my future listening habits (I’m likely to be working more from home/home workshop) and how involved other members of the family will be (I suspect I may become a lone listener in the evenings as while the family love music I feel that they won’t share my appreciation for great musical reproduction) I want to get the amplification nailed down and build around it.
I did have a Linn Majik integrated for a couple of years with a Marantz CD and it was OK. I am not averse to Linn, I’ve heard some killer Linn systems at dealer demo evenings etc, I just remember how much I loved my 32/110 and how unobtrusive it was (in all ways!). I didn’t really like that Linn went very push-button and digital displays etc. I like switches and knobs .
Regarding Naim streamers and one-box systems - they make me nervous. I don’t like the idea of having all my eggs in one basket. If something fails it seems like I’m left with a very expensive brick. I know there have been a lot of reports of screens failing on Naim boxes and being expensive to repair, that would turn me right off. I like simple and I like things to be as separate as possible, perhaps it’s an outdated line of thought but having worked in electronics I have an aversion to unnecessary complexity. That said, I don’t know a great deal about those products so I might be way off in my uninformed opinions.