Hicap or flatcap xs

Good morning.
I am looking to upgrade my supernait - my source is a modded Mac mini via a chord qutest.
I dont live near a dealer and was therefore looking for opinions as to a hicap (which version) or a flatcap xs (would look neater because it has the same width)
there are alternatives which cant be “naimed” here on the forum.

There may be, but you would need to be very, very careful . Not something I would think about or consider (Naim user 25 years plus) as I think it could damage the equipment. Please remember that with Naim the power supply is absolutely crucial. I would personally stick to the HiCap.

Thanks. The fundamental question is if adding a psu makes a difference.

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If you have the original sn, I’d take it to a dealer and ask to demo the hicap dr.

Hi Richard
Oh yes , big time . Many years ago (sorry to sound old fartish here) I had a Nait. I wanted to add a power amp to the Nait. The dealer said no, it was better to add a Flatcap and demonstrated the options ie. Flatcap or power amp. The dealer was right it the Nait was improved more by the Flatcap than the power amp. These days I would (if starting over) go for a Supernait and Hi Cap for my amplification .
I do appreciate the inability to find a local dealer.
Best wishes

Hi Richard.

You don’t mention whether you have a Supernait 1 or 2, however when I ran a Supernait 1, I found that adding a HiCap (DR) made a difference in opening up the music and making it even more enjoyable to listen to. Thoroughly recommend this, and even if getting to audition is difficult, then would consider trying to borrow a ‘pre-loved’ one (“sale or return”).

I think you’ll find that original Naim components (designed to work 100% reliably with other Naim components) will give you more aural satisfaction, and peace of mind on being 100% compatible (and reliable) vs. any other options.

ATB. George.

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Could members please be mindful of forum rules - particularly with regard to discussion of unauthorised modifications to Naim equipment, which includes non-Naim power supplies, which at best will not allow your Naim equipment to perform as intended, and at worst, may possibly damage any connected equipment. Thank you.

I have a SN2 with a HiCap DR, this was previously connected to a NAIT XS 2. I found a few differences when adding both the HiCap DR and moving between the XS 2 and SN2. The main benefit I found was better control of the low frequencies and less muddle in the lower mids.
I’ve used similar sources to yours on both systems, in my case an iFi iDSD Micro and a Chord Mojo driven from a MacBook Pro running Audirvana, this is my main home office setup and gave a good balance between portability, ease of setup and having everything in arms reach of my desk!
I thinned that setup down a fair bit and it’s now running a ND5 XS 2 streamer source with control via apps mostly on mobile.
I did have a Flatcap XS for a CD5 XS for a short period of time, and tried it both on the CD player and the NAIT XS 2. I found it took away a little of the enjoyment of the CD player and I never ran it on the NAIT XS 2 for an extended period as I had a chance to let it go and get a HiCap DR which was a better fit for my longer term upgrade path. Regardless of where you take your system over the longer term, I’d expect you’d find the HiCap (ideally the DR version) a rewarding addition and one you can reuse in numerous system configurations through to classic pre/power setups.
If you have a SN1 then the DAC in that is redundant as you have your Chord DAC so an option worth exploring might be a NAIT XS 2 or a SN2 both of which I’ve owned and run for extended periods of time and found very capable. The SN2 gave better control overall to the sound and much better bottom end compared to the NAIT XS 2. Personally I’d prefer either of those over a SN1, I’d certainly listen to both in comparison you your system today and get a feel of what you like personally. The beauty here of course is you have multiple options and paths forward, I’d pick the HiCap DR any day regardless of if you use it on your existing amp or a different one later on, it certainly will have more mileage and value than a Flatcap.

As above, I ran an SN2 for a long time with a chord dac and audirvana and adding a hicap dr improved it considerably. When I moved from the SN2 to a 282 i was able to use the Hicap dr there.

Exactly my thinking and a good example of reuse of power supplies as you move between system configurations. In my case I’m shuffling systems between rooms and upgrading in multiple steps, passing hardware down the line between the two rooms.
Another thing that can make quite a difference is isolating the noise coming from your USB source, it’s one of the motivations I had originally for moving to a dedicated streamer vs a computer -> USB DAC -> analogue line level to amp. There are a number of ways of spitting the USB data and power signals for example as well as noise filtering on the USB interfaces themselves. If you haven’t done that yet it’s worth experimenting and at relatively low cost.
The Chord Qutest is a lovely DAC and works well in Naim systems, I use my Mojo/Poly pretty much every day, mostly as a DAP these days but when I ran it from the Mac it was an enjoyable listen. I think your best next step will depend in part on if you have a SN1 or a SN2.
If you have a SN2 then adding a HiCap DR will be a worthy upgrade and give tighter control of the music and extend out your bottom end a little. Certainly for the sorts of stuff I listen to across electronic music it was quite noticeable the difference and I liked the benefits, you may find it more subtle if you listen to more classical or vocal music however, mileage varies and of course the speakers, room dynamics, and you the listener have an influence on what ends up as a benefit/improvement or just more boxes and a smaller bank balance!
If you have a SN1 then try and get a listen to a SN2 or for less cost a NAIT XS 2, which I would think with a HiCap DR would be a nice combo vs a bare SN1.
In terms of your source, I’m not sure what you’ve modded on your Mac Mini, PSU perhaps? You’ll find the biggest difference in cleaning up the USB and ideally splitting out the data and power paths between the Mac and the DAC. When I experimented with that on my equivalent setup I found it made a big difference, going from a bare system with ok cabling to a filtered setup with decent USB cables. It mostly comes down to removing as much noise from the signal path as possible, a computer source is usually very noisy and all that ends up in the DAC and creates a flat and muddy sound potentially.

Hi Richard,
In all the years of there having been SNs, originals or mk2s, I don’t think anyone has reported that a FC does anything on them.
When the SN2 came out, I vaguely recall a leading dealer saying that any Hicap applied to it had to be a HC-DR, and not a straight HC. I seem to remember it was speculated that SN2’s DR tech was negated by a non DR HC.
Hope that helps.

Chris

Awfully sorry to have unwittingly broken a rule - but the post which has been deleted only made a point which is still valid, and it was in no way an invitation to get a non-Naim PSU. What I was suggesting was that Naimees are sometimes - mistakenly - tempted to look elsewhere because Naim PSUs are expensive, although they are definitely better and safer. I’m not sure that this post is acceptable, please delete if you feel it is not - and again, I apologise.

Interesting discussion folks. I’ve just upgraded to a SN2/NDX2, wanting a 2 box system with the headphone stage. Of course, the door is open for power supplies for both units, so I’m interested in how much they would add. I had read that for the SN2, it was subtle, but maybe not? For the NDX2, the consensus seems that a PS is a big step up? I’d probably want to “hide” the supplies, so wonder how far they can be from the other units?

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Just Google an inside picture of what’s in a hicap and what’s in a flatcap …then buy a hicap
Simple!

And yes …I have owned both …and there is NO comparison … though I only have supercap and XPS at the moment

I’d say the SN2 by itself is very capable and in a sense you are right that the differences (i’m loathe to call these things improvements as it’s system based and subjective to an extent) are subtle. I originally got my HiCap DR for a NAIT XS 2 and found for that it did add a little control and accuracy to the timing, it didn’t add a lot to the bottom end which was good enough but vs what was possible from the SN2, quite noticable. In fact the main difference apart from punch between the two amps was the extended bottom end and much better control of that as well on the SN2.
Also in my case I had a longer term end game which was that it could use the HiCap DR right away on the NAIT’s I had and then as systems moved between rooms and I aimed for a pre/power classic setup I could shuffle the HiCap DR in to that system to drive say a NAC282, so I knew that PSU investment would span multiple systems and many years of use. It’ll keep me going at least till I get to the point where I need a SuperCap to drive whatever I have but it’s likely I’ll end up with the SN2 bare in the lounge and a pre/power classic system in the office. I also like the headphone amp on the SN2 and use that now instead of a iFi iDSD which I also used to use as a desktop/portable DAC, it’s pretty good but I was wanting to reduce overall clutter and move away from USB based sources. NDX2 as with the ND555 will be at their best with external PSU’s and whilst you can drive it bare, the likelihood is you’ll add an XPS or ideally a 555PS DR which then gives you a nice step to a swap in of an ND555. I heard all of the streamers in various settings including alongside Uniti systems as well as putting a ND5 XS 2 in to a 500 system driving Focal Utopia’s. I came to the conclusion that even in a top end system the ND5 was very good and capable of handling multiple sources and formats very well. I was aiming originally for the NDX2 but wanted to focus on next steps on preamp rather than source. In terms of how you situate the external PSU’s it will come down to how much space you have and the length of the SNAIC cables mostly. I don’t have the room for a brains/brawn split racking setup so my HiCap DR sits on the bottom shelf then has the SN2 above it then CD5 XS then ND5 XS 2. That may or may not be optimised and aligned with the phases of the moon or levelled with a laser, but in my case, it all fits and I can reach it from the desk I work at!

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Thanks for detailed response M. A bit to think about, I’m in no hurry, happy to enjoy things as they whilst thinking ahead. I need to let the new system settle in and save for retirement as well!

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Mr. M. Your posts look really interesting but I really struggle to read them. Would you be able to break them into smaller paragraphs and do a double return so there is a gap between paras? Thanks!

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Noted and appreciated, I’ll add some space to my thoughts in future!

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Thanks
How do you separate the power from the data on the USB? I bought a wireworld cable that has separate strands. Likewise I have a jitterbug. Is that what you mean ?

@richardwalker I can’t recall the context fully here but certainly iFi have USB products and cables that split the data and power wires and also provide various noise managing features.

I used this in the setup I previously had on my desktop which included various iFi products and an iFi DAC/Headphone Amp.