Gateway to separates: Convert Nait XS 2 to pre- or power- amp?

Hello All,

Current kit: NDX 2, Nait XS2, Quad Z-3’s.

As the first halfway house step onto the Naim separated amps upgrade-ladder would you:
• start with a pre-amp (with the XS2 as a power-amp)
• or get a power-amp (with the XS2 as pre-amp)?

I’m speculating I’ll plateau at around 282/250DR over a few years, but of course the beauty of separates is the extensibility, so… you know. I’ve ditched a previous plan to get a £5k-ish integrated amp and stick there, having realised (resigned myself!) I’m always going to end up wanting to upgrade, so I need to make it easier to scratch that itch.

I don’t mind things being a bit unbalanced during the periods between upgrades, within reason. It’s not a huge room so sound quality is the motivation (the Nait is already plenty loud enough).

(For simplicity I’ll talk below as though it’s pre-amp first, but presumably it’d just be the same but inverted for power-amp first?)

Everything depends on that intangible alchemy of patience vs dosh but I’m interested to hear if there’s any broad consensus on the logic of things.

The obvious routes seem to me:

  1. INCREMENTAL: NAC 202 then later NAP 200DR (can remove the XS2) then later 282 then later 250DR
  2. LEAPFROG: Save up a bit longer go straight to 282, then save up a bit longer and straight to 250DR (easier & simpler, but obviously constrained by the XS2 in the mean time)
  3. BLENDED: Some permutation of the above, e.g. 202, then save up a bit longer and straight to 250DR; or straight to 282 but get to 200DR as quickly as possible then later 250DR; or 202 » 200DR » 250DR » 282 etc.

There are also, of course, all the different power units, but I’m assuming excising the XS2 as soon as possible makes the most sense.

All thoughts and reflections welcome.


Personally I prefer to make fewer, larger jumps as it’s usually more cost effective in the long run. First I would buy a Hicap, then a 282, then a 250, and you’re done.

Having said that, 202/200 is still a very nice amp, so if one comes along and it’s a good deal, why not?


To my ears:-

  1. 202/200 are ok but Supernait plus Hicap is better according to many - hence their being dropped.

  2. I’d say step 1 is to get a Hicap -any sort, but serviced in the last 10-12 years if old. That will power your Nait’s preamp to give more control.

  3. A 250 is a good deal better than a 200.

  4. SN3 is better than your current Nait, assuming both or neither have a Hicap. However, the big step is probably olive 82/Hicap/250 or a 282/ Hicap DR/ 25DR.

  5. After the Hicap, I’d get 82 (or 282) then finally 250 (when selling the Nait).

Does that make sense?


I would go SN3, and/or 282, then 250DR, and SCDR.

SCDR really pays off if you have or will soon get a 252. With 82 or 282, many find that I Hicap is just about beaten by 2, Hicaps, which is just about beaten by Supercap DR.

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I would get the 282 first. I believe the xs2 can power a separate preamp so hicap not mandatory.

Then a hicap, then a 250.

I had a XPS DR > NDX 2 > HiCap DR > SN 2 > NAC A5 > ProAc D30RS.

I went with a new NAC 282 first:
XPS DR > NDX 2 > HiCap DR > NAC 282 > SN 2 > NAC A5 > ProAc D30RS.

Then a short time later added 2 year old previously owned NAP 250 DR:
XPS DR > NDX 2 > HiCap DR > NAC 282 > NAP 250 DR > NAC A5 > ProAc D30RS.

My suggestion would be to add a HiCap DR first to the XS 2, next be on the look out for a used or new NAC 282, then trade in the XS 2 towards a used or new NAP 250 DR.

Many good recommendations above and several ways to reach your destination. Important thing is to demo at the dealer and at home prior to making a decision if you can. …and of course enjoy the journey.


Personally I would either go 202/200 or 282/250DR from the Nait XS2. Nothing in between.

202/Nait XS2 or other interim moves will not give you a satisfactory enough impact so I’ll skip them all. I went from Nait XS to 202/200 many years ago. A worthwhile upgrade with improved detail, separation, refinement and dynamics. 282/250DR adds higher level of realism and dynamics with a bolder sound and beefier, deeper and more controlled bass.

The pre amp is the most compromised part of the integrated amps, theoretically and it was demonstrated to me using and early supernait and a 202.
If a 282/hi/250 is the long term goal and the Nait adequately drives your speakers, than the first step of a 282 would give a lot more detail and remove a bit of unnoticed glare. Powered from a Nait xs2 it will sound fast a bit small scale, depending on speakers, and maybe a little uptight. The next step of a Hicap will relax it and fill out the body.


You might start looking around for pre-loved items (any/all of those listed so far) and see where that takes you…

Serendipity… :slightly_smiling_face:

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Nait xs is really quite good.

I had a nait xs1 and them upgraded to 202/200 and then over the years bought a 282/Hcdr250dr

Knowing what I know now

I would add an xps dr to your ndx2 before upgrading any amplification

It’s really a big upgrade to my ears

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Thanks all - very much appreciated.

Lots of sound advice (and I’m reminded why I appreciate this forum so much :slightly_smiling_face:).

Happily this all very much tallies with what I’d broadly had in mind, and nothing seems surprising (except one!) or controversial. Significantly, nobody has suggested going power-amp first, which I was curious about.

And yes, @IanRobertM , it will very likely all be used/ex-demo. I’ll probably buy something new to salve my conscience for auditioning time with my local dealer, but I’m very happy buying non-new and it saves a chunk (both the XS2 and Quads were ex-demo – which also means they’re already run in, too!)

@ChrisSU @seakayaker These are basically my own instincts, too, and is probably the way I’ll go.

I’ve heard excellent things about SN3, but I don’t feel there’s much point going integrated again knowing I’m heading to pre-/power long term – just seems to delay things and add another part-ex loss into the mix.

Power units, I think, is the most interesting area. @NickofWimbledon Lots of good food for thought, thanks. Realistically, whilst I’ve no doubt it adds greatly, I think a Supercap is a long way off.
But definitely adds further upgrade options down the (very long) line. Similarly a 252 – a lovely pipe dream for now, but fingers crossed.

Whether I get a HicapDR before (very likely straight to) a 282 depends more on whether I have sufficient patience to save up for the 282. But a Hicap before the power-amp seems a good bet either way, I think – particularly to get more out of the 282 sooner, whilst saving for the 250DR. Given the current climate (I’m in the UK [sigh]) nothing’s going to be happening as quickly as it might have done, oh, say… 6 weeks ago!!!

@Analogmusic Really surprised to see your recommendation - this is the only thing that’s caught me off guard. Is it really such a big uplift than over amplification, do you think? I’ve read many good things about the XS2, but I’m struggling to imagine that it’s delivering the best of what the NDX2 is already putting out? Either way, being honest I’m not sure I could go there psychologically – an XPS is not cheap (particularly since it couldn’t be shared with an amp later) and having almost £10k of source going through an XS level amp feels very uneasy.

I think my next move is to go audition some permutations of power sources and 282 with the XS2 to see if an obvious sequence emerges - or at least to plan my prospective roadmap. I guess I could throw in the XPS there to hear its impact in comparison.

As noted, though, the time tables are all pushed back and likely much slower, now (my current mortgage deal finishes next summer, alas), but I wanted to start my thinking and enjoy the researching (i.e. the psyching myself up!).

Thanks again for all the input, measured and thoughtful as always :+1:t4:

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Given where you want to end up, the HiCap and XPS DR seem the best places to start, as that will benefit the system as it is. Then the 282 and then the 250, but if buying second hand I wouldn’t worry about the order of those 2 too much.


Start out by deciding where you want to end up, and then get there in the fewest steps possible. Every time that you trade in/trade up, the dealer will take a chunk of your money - which is better spent on the equipment or, better still, the LPs or CDs or whatever form your music takes.

Classic advice is to pay more attention to the ‘front end’ components in the musical chain (the old ‘source first’ mantra).

Get as much advice and guidance as you can from this Forum, but there’s no substitute for going to a good dealer to discuss your aspirations and the options available to you to get to where you want to.

Do you have a good Naim dealer close to where you live?


I think the suggestion to get an XPS now is good advice. (I chose a DAC upgrade instead of a power supply upgrade, which is another, possibly cheaper option you could consider). It might seem like overkill now, but it certainly won’t be when you have a full pre/power setup, and as you make those incremental amp upgrades your system will blossom more with a top quality source. In my view too many people neglect this, deterred, I suspect, by the high price of the XPS and 555 power supplies.

Another thing you should plan for is proper shelving for your endgame system, and enough space for it. The benefits of doing this increase considerably as you climb the upgrade ladder. Naim Fraim is the gold standard, but there are alternatives if that doesn’t appeal.

In every case that I have bought pre-loved, some form of demo was always available (at dealer or at home). I am still surprised by this - but pleased… :grin:


FWIW, I added an XPSDR to my NDX2 and thought it lifted performance significantly. I wouldn’t say it was bigger than adding a Hicap or 282 to your XS2 (good though an XPS is), but some people think so (as you can see). ‘Front end first’ is a good guide, but only that - I wouldn’t suggest a swap to ND555 & PS with your XS2.

I was also not suggesting you chase SCDR or 252 - I just thought it useful to extend the able past a 282 as it shows how far you can usefully go with a 250DR. Sorry if it confused.

I should also say that my NDX2 was new, the rest has come over the years from eBay and/ or dealers’ recycling second-hand kit.

if you’d like to jump to 282/Hicap/250 now but think the high prices will make it take ages, bear in mind that older ‘olive’ 82/ Hicap/ 250 has a slightly different presentation but is also VG, and costs vastly less. If shopping for s/h kit, I’d also agree with the advice here to get boxes when you see bargains, irrespective of the order.


I went down the route of converting my Nait 3 to , pre-power many, many years ago

My dealer then demoed the Flat Cap V adding the Power Amp.

I went in expecting to buy a NAP90, came out with the Flat Cap, (Oh and a NAT 03 - that’s still in the rack today ) , so I would audition the HiCap, one word of warning some have felt the HiCap is not as good with the XS2 as the Flat Cap


I hadn’t heard that before. Given the OP’s comment that he envisages heading to 282/250DR eventually, would you not jump to Hicap first and avoid temporarily owning a Flatcap?


Oh yes, the HI CAP would be first on the list , then switching the pre-amp and finally the Power Amp