CD3.5 vs CDX2

I’ve just recently had the opportunity to upgrade my system from Nait5/FlatCap2/CD3.5 to a SuperNait1/FlatCap2/CDX2 combination - the CDX2 is an early version.

The change from Nait5/FlatCap2 to SuperNait/FlatCap2 was stunning, worth every penny. On only the second track from cold my wife came in from the other room and said it sounded much better!

But I’m not finding the same with the source. I have to listen very, very carefully to detect any real difference between the CD3.5/FlatCap2 combo, and the CDX2, I’d say the CD3.5/FlatCap performance is around 95% of that of the CDX2.

So now I’m wondering, is the CD3.5/FlatCap2 really that good (at half the current value of the CDX2)? Or is there something in my system that’s preventing the extra performance of the CDX2 coming through.

I know my equipment support is far from ideal and the CDX2 doesn’t have a power supply but these aren’t going to change any time soon. I’m using the old grey SNAIC interconnect so maybe an upgrade to a Hi-Line or WitchHat Morgana? Speakers are TDL RTL2’s which have revealed every other change to my system to date rather well (but are likely to be the next big upgrade).

I’d appreciate peoples thoughts on this. Thanks.

I absolutely loved my 3.5 with hicap. I did progress to a CDX2 with XPS-2 but enjoyed the 3.5 more.

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We have a 3.5+FC(olive) in my wife’s office system and a CDX in mine. They are very fine, and I do think that the 3.5+FC was a real star in Naim’s CD lineup. Where the CDX does pull ahead of the 3.5+FC is when I connect up my XPS (olive). Unfortunately the XPS is on nDAC-duty at the moment; my poor CDX is “XPS-less”, and probably pining for the fjords!

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A free upgrade could be to remove the Flatcap from the sn1. The SN1 benefits greatly from a hicap - preferably the dr model though.

I’m a bit surprised that you found the Nait 5 to SN1 a big step, maybe there is better synergy between the loudspeakers and the amp now.

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Definitely recommend an interconnect upgrade. Try the Morgana without reservation. The Chords are also excellent, albeit more expensive. Beware the HiLine, unless Naim have changed the design / construction.

A HiCap is on the wishlist, but it might be some time, my budget was stretched getting the SN1 and CDX2.

I feel the SN1 has kept the character of the Nait5, now there’s just more of everything, more detail, more soundstage etc.

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That was my experience too. I found that when I paired them with easy loudspeakers, there hardly was a difference, but having more difficult loudspeakers in place resulted in a happy SuperNait. Here the difference was obvious. I found that the SuperNait likes a bit more inefficient loudspeakers so that the volume knob had to be around 10 which was the optimal position in my situation.

I still have both, can’t part with them.

What music do you like? I found the cdx2 a bit disappointing for classical music, I preferred the Cd5i or even cd5si. They say that the powersupply changes the cards, but I’ve never heared a cdx with ps.

I have heard this said before, and not just on this forum. The CDS2/3 has been cited as better for classical.

I’m totally with @Ardbeg10y on your FC2, please try without.

I love what my FCXS does in my system, but IMO any generation of flatcap is not suitable for the ‘classic’ kit you now own.

I had a CD3.5 some years ago before (regrettably) selling it. It was my first foray into Naim kit. I have never heard a more musical and enthralling presentation from a front end since. Wasn’t a relaxing listen but was absolutely gripping…

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The CDX2 comes into its own on a full Fraim shelf. On my old Target rack the CD5x/FC2x was preferable.

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The cd3.5 is a very musical player and punches way above its weight imo.

You made so many changes that I’d be hard pressed to attribute the shortcomings to the CDX2 on its own. The SN1 leaves a lot to be desired imo so it wouldn’t surprise me if this is the weak link in the chain. As others have said definitely get a HCDR, that will help. The CDX2 should sound a lot better, fraim or not, so I’d take a second look.

@Ardbeg10y @Christopher_M I never considered the FlatCap might be detrimental to the sound. The previous owner forgot to give me the SN1 link plug but it’s on its way so I’ll have a few more days using the FlatCap first then will try without - thanks for the suggestion.

Interesting comments from everyone regarding the CD3.5, I almost want to keep it now but my limited budget dictates I need to sell it unfortunately to help pay for the newer kit.

I think the speakers do take a bit of driving, so that’s likely helping. I also have a pair of Royd Apex speakers I’ve nearly finished restoring to it will be interesting to try those also.

Music-wise, I do listen to a wide variety - jazz, blues, folk through to rock, alternative, a little metal - but classical has never really done it for me.

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I haven’t really made many changes. I used the SN1 in place of the Nait5 for about a week (with the same FlatCap, and then only yesterday tried the CDX2 so only the two steps really.

I’m more than happy with the SN1 over the Nait5, and happy with the CDX2 also. But I was expecting a bigger difference from the CDX2 over the CD3.5/FlatCap2. I’m impressed just how well the CD3.5 stacks up against newer kit.

I go the SN1, FC2, CDX2 and a StageLine S all for little more than the price of a new HiCapDR here, so no complaints at all really!

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When you compare the two CD players do you have them both connected to the amp at the same time? If so, this will essentially lower and level any performance difference between them, making any comparison invalid.

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Keep the cd3.5 and sell the cdx2 and get a hicap for the sn1

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I did this very upgrade 17 years ago and at the time I was a little unconvinced. Could hear
more ‘energy’ and drive to the presentation with the CDX2 over the 3.5 but as for extra detail and finesse, not much coming through.

That was via the standard ‘Lavender’ interconnect into 202 + Flatcap2 at the time.

Today: CDX2 + XPS2 → HiLine → 282 + HiCap and the CDX2 just keeps on delivering. I’ve also made other upgrades to my power cables that have made significant differences without exposing weaknesses in the source.

Upshot, the CDX2 still hasn’t run out of steam. I would suggest that if you are serious about CD replay in the long run then keep it in place, safe in the knowledge that it’s well capable of exploiting further system upgrades elsewhere.

A HiLine would be a very good place to start IMO.

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Ah, that sounds something like my experience.

I have a CDX2 (early version) and these days a Nova . I borrowed an Audiolab 6000CDT from my dealer (cracking good player -outstanding value) as a digital player. For whatever reason (and I can’t think why) I ,mentioned this to Naim. They were gently concerned that a budget Audiolab had outperformed a CDX2 and suggested it be returned for a service.

The dealer came to collect the Audiolab and down came my Olive CD3 , which again was very good.

It had been consigned to it’s box in 2002 , so at that point my CD3 was equivalent or better to my CDX2 . We both agreed how good it was .

The CDX2 was sent for service and came back as a CDx2.2 with digital output. (My request)

It now sounds superb and restored to a sound " straight out the box"

My point being that your CDX2 probably needs a trip to Naim.

The caveat being that mechanisms are now scarcer than hen’s teeth . It’s a risk I accepted

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A long time ago now… (2009) I had a dem of varios CD players I was considering. I had a Rega Apollo - so I tried the Rega Saturn - and the Naim CD5X - and a pre-loved CDX2. All were excellent, but the CDX2 was the best, IMO. I bought it - ans still have it, although now it has a XPS2 powering it.

How about hearing what an XPS2 can do…?

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