Crazy Box Counts - Other Alternatives

Just looking through the ‘System Pics’ thread and it’s evident that many have a large collection of ‘boxes’ … whether or not of the Naim variety.

But is it all really necessary and does it really enhance the appearance of your home or indeed completely satisfy that search for musical heaven.

Not sure, but trying to fit all those boxes into homes and dust around them, is a complete nightmare. Furthermore, the pictures often show speakers squashed into corners because the large equipment frames are dominating the available space.

Surely the speaker is what produces the sound and its location shouldn’t be compromised - if it is to deliver its best.

Interestingly, some years ago it was always deemed necessary to have a separate DAC from the CD Player for ultimate performance (not Naim of course, they had a separate PSU).,… and yet with developments, the DAC found its way back into the same box and the shorter signal paths were hailed as an upgrade in performance! At lease it was one less box to accommodate and dust.

I once owned a top end Linn Aktiv system consisting of 7 boxes, just for CD replay alone (CD Player, DAC, Pre-amp and four power amps). Cables everywhere!!! Ridiculous really.

At the time, I thought it looked amazing with all the boxes … but actually it didn’t … as visitors would often subtly remark :grinning:

I later swapped the lot for active ATC’s and the sound quality was unbelievably better. No more silly cables and boxes and the sound was actually far better!

The top flight Naim Statement doesn’t need separate power supplies … so surely, a power supply can be incorporated within the same box, without a compromise in audio performance.

Even the top flight fully loaded LP12 now has the PSU built into the turntable, rather than separate.

So why on earth do we need so many boxes? Is it really because that is the only way to produce the best sound or is it simply to provide a modular upgrade path?

I guess if you like lots of boxes, hifi racks and cables everywhere … resembling an IT Server room, then great … but not everyone wants to see all this kit spread out in the lounge.

The new range of products from Naim, seem to recognise that one box solutions are now sort after and there doesn’t seem to be a compromise in performance. For what it is, my MuSo sounds awesome.

So what’s the point of this rant?

I currently have the ND5XS (without an external PSU!) and prefer the sound through my Chord Hugo. I’ve had that set up for many years and hopefully digital improvements mean that there will now be something far better to replace it … or is there?

The NDX2 springs to mind and would be a great ‘one box’ replacement for my two boxes (ND5XS and Hugo).

It seems, however, that some users prefer the NDX2 with the Hugo - two boxes again! Even the ND555 needs another box (PSU).

I am no longer a lover of Linn equipment, but at least their streamers have built in DAC’s and a pre-amp and don’t have an external PSU. With their balanced outputs, they can readily drive active ATC’s.

The nearest equivalent seems to be the Naim 272, but it doesn’t have balanced outputs … though cables can be made to work.

Many others have sought a replacement for the 272 and let’s hope that Naim will incorporate balanced outputs and a high quality DAC and PSU, so no other boxes are needed :grinning:

Unfortunately, Naim don’t make loudspeakers anymore … so we have to shop around. Why just provide standard speaker connectors? The provision of balanced outputs on pre-amps and the 272 replacement, would only enhance their products.


This is something close to my heart. I once had a CDS3, 552 and 300, plus a tuner, so seven boxes, sitting happily on twin Fraims. After downsizing to a SuperUniti and not being satisfied with it, I ended up with a three box setup of 272, XPS and 250. I added the XPS because it brought the bare 272 up to a level appropriate for my speakers. I’d love it if the 272 could be made as good by itself as it is with the XPS. But if you have looked inside the 272 and XPS you will see that they are already full. Statement, of course, has the power supply in the bottom and the low voltage bits in the top, joined at the waist. If you have ever stood next to Statement you will know how huge it is.

Using the 272 as an example, you can add an XPS and it becomes effectively another, much better, thing. I later swapped the XPS for a 555PS and the level goes up again, and by far more. So you have effectively three different streaming preamps. Would it be better if they were all self powered? To get to where I am now I would have had to do two trade ins rather than one, and lost more along the way.

If Naim could ever get a small SMPS to deliver the same quality as their massive torroids, top sound from a couple of boxes might become a reality, but until then we are probably stuck with lots of boxes.

As for balanced outputs on the preamps, there seems little motivation to do this. Naim preamps and power amps are designed to work together so it’s seems unlikely they would add balanced to facilitate use with balanced active speakers.

The balance, rather than balanced!, I’ve arrived at is a 272 with 555 and 300. Four boxes that sit discreetly in the corner on a single Fraim stack. My experience of downsizing and upsizing has shown me the gains and losses of box count with Naim. I’d love to get the enjoyment I get from my four boxes from just one but I’m not sure it’s possible. A Linn Klimax and ATCs would do it, but ATCs are not SL2s, which I just love. A Vitus would do it, but a Vitus is not a Naim.

I doubt any of that helps, but then there is no right answer.


Naim have always ploughed their own furrow, often ignoring industry trends. I listened to the new Linn DSM Selekt, it looks and feels quality, innovative modular design for £6k. However, it still could not convey the dynamics and emotion of a Naim Nova which is £4k. So we all have a choice, if we want the Naim sound we have to put up with the designs that Naim feel provide the best SQ at the price point.


The Statement has got separate power supplies - they are in the lower section - it’s just that they are attached to the upper box housing the amp electronics. With a big enough box, you can incorporate the power supplies within the overall “box”, providing enough separation between PSU and electronics without compromising performance. But, like the Statement, you need a rather big box to achieve this…

I’m in the camp of a great system but less boxes so that it’s harmonious with family life and looks good without being intrusive.

So, I am rationalising and upgrading. Nova is moving to the media room/office and a new SN2/NDX2 is on its way for the lounge. It will fit snugly in the TV cabinet on some glass shelves I organised and should drive the Totem Forest Signatures with a passion.

Win win, low box count, legendary PRAT, looks great.

Having been happily listening to my SuperUniti through Neat Momentum SX5i’s for the past 4 months, returning home to my main Naim system has been nothing short of a revelation.
It really is so much better, clearer, more engaging, and enjoyable.
So, from 1 box and a pair of speakers to many more boxes REALLY can make a HUGE difference to my ears.
LP12/Lingo/HDX/XPS2/Supercap/252/Supercap/SNAXO 3-6/3 x 250’s/NBL’s is quite a box count but, I have yet to hear anything significantly better, without blowing the amount of money which could buy a house.
Active ATC’s I haven’t heard but having heard many other systems, I find it hard to imagine ATC active speakers truly being way beyond what I have heard!
However, I know I’ll be happy enough when I return to my SuperUniti system later in the year.

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Our system comprises more boxes that I would like in an ideal world, but they are Fraimed in a tucked away location. It’s not so much the industrial stack per se, as the number of components to service and potentially repair that sometimes gives pause.

However, our system has been slowly and painstakingly built up over many years to provide us with exactly what we want. It’s been matched to the room and our ears. Other candidates from a variety of manufacturer have had a shot at the prize from time to time, as have many Naim components that didn’t come up to the required standards in our room.

A Linn system would take up a lot less space. He have listened and cogitated on many occasions and for many hours. Superb musical presentation, comparability priced but not the presentation we favour. If Naim didn’t exist we would probably have a Linn system. Devialent would be aesthetically better still and very practical. Again, much to commend but not what we are looking for. We are happy where we are. Nowadays we are not inclined to seek other possibilities, although we remain curious about what’s in development across the whole industry. In my experience, itchy feet or boredom are indicative of discontent with the status quo of the system. Been there many times.

Until recently I was living in Hook’s NDS Retirement Village. We’re in the next Village over now, where we will probably stay. What I would like to see is a push towards less power consumption. To me, this is now more important than looking for the next 1%. If PSs can be brought in that will go to sleep without the system needing days to warm up again, I will jump. And fast. For over 20 years we were used to the routine of a valve amp coming on song during the first 20-30 minutes of operation from cold. I could live with something like that again.

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Been there done that - in a similar situation to HH.

I had a pretty vast olive active system into SBLs several years ago which I was never really that happy with. Loads of boxes in a dual rack that seemed to have lost the Naim boogie factor altogether. It was never truly set up properly by the dealer (who has since gone out of business - unsurprisingly) and I was always disappointed with the outlay (£££) and the box count.

I ditched the whole system for a SN1 + the legacy SuperCAP into SL2s, and it sounded magnificent by comparison; eventually being replaced by a 272 system.

My take on this is the difference between being a music fan and a hifi fan. My music collection is worth far more to me than the boxes it plays on.

Yes, each of us needs to find that happy place in which we are comfortable, like baby bear’s bed.


I have 5 black boxes, but 3 of them are hidden away and only the streamer and preamp are visible. I no longer agonise over having ‘too many boxes’ and the wife is happy. I highly recommend this approach.

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Would this apply to adding an XPS, XPS2 or an XPSDR to a 272?

I only have experience of the DR version. The original Olive XPS cannot be used.

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It doesn’t actually… you have the option of having an onboard phono stage, but that is powered by a separate box that also powers the TT (the Radikal).

As for the rest, you’ve always had the option of using just an integrated vs. separates,etc. I think it is possible to integrate a large system into a family room from a design perspective (as long as it doesn’t involve Fraim) but it’s a challenge.

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BB[quote=“Mr.Frog, post:1, topic:1653”]
I currently have the ND5XS (without an external PSU!) and prefer the sound through my Chord Hugo. I’ve had that set up for many years and hopefully digital improvements mean that there will now be something far better to replace it … or is there?

The NDX2 springs to mind and would be a great ‘one box’ replacement for my two boxes (ND5XS and Hugo).
It seems, however, that some users prefer the NDX2 with the Hugo - two boxes again!

You sure liking naim sources?
Just ask yourself!

“It seems, however, that some users prefer the NDX2 with the Hugo - two boxes again!”

It’s just crazy, isn’t it. Running an NDX2 via a Chord Hugo demonstrates a complete and total lack of understanding when it comes to digital audio.

Understanding of what, exactly? Plenty of people have chosen an offboard DAC with a Naim streamer, whether it’s an NDAC, something from Chord, or others, based on what sounds good for the money. Why do you have a problem with that?

Yes, my statement was a bit unclear and I should have elaborated. I don’t have a problem with anyone using an external DAC if they think it sounds better, but it comes back to the argument about source 1 vs source 2 through the same DAC. ND5 XS into a Hugo should sound the same as an NDX2 (or another decent streamer) into a Hugo, though of course the NDX2 has more features but that’s beside the point.

I remember reading posts on the old forum where people were adding a 555PS to an NDX then sending the digital signal to a Hugo or another DAC, which is just silly IMO.

Wayne, you say that they ‘should’ sound the same, but have you actually tried it for yourself? One esteemed Forum member has swapped from NDX to NDX2, both via the same Dac and I’m sure he is not so muddle headed that he’d drop the cash for no sonic gain. Transports are not all the same.

Similar story here.

I await the arrival of my 555PS next week.


Didn’t you have a 555PS before and preferred the XPS or am i mixing you up with someone else Graeme ?