I’ve decided it’s time to upgrade things a little, especially in the streaming department.
The current system is non-Naim, LP12, Sonos connect, Musical Fidelity X-Ray CD Player, MF A-P100 pre amp, MF NuVista 300 valve power amp and ProAc Studio 125 speakers. I listen to vinyl around 10% of the time and the rest is streaming, either from Tidal or from ripped CDs stored on my iMac. All the gear is about 20 years old (except the Sonos) and all in great condition. The LP12 and the Nu Vista will stay.
My thoughts are:
a) change the Sonos for NDX2
b) change the Sonos for ND5 XS2 plus Hugo 2
c) change the Sonos for ND5 XS2 and spend £2k or £3k upgrading either/or the speakers or pre amp (NAC202 maybe)
d) keep the Sonos and add Hugo TT2
e) keep the Sonos and add the Hugo 2 plus a few £k to upgrade speakers and/or pre amp
f) something else I haven’t thought of…
I’m not really looking for a buy X and then add Y at a later date, cashflow isn’t a problem, it’s more just a case of this seems a reasonable budget to keep thing going for a few years. The budget is pretty flexible to get a good result, it could be a bit more than £5k or a bit less (never seen that happen yet though).
I should add that the streamer needs to be wireless, it’s not practical to get an ethernet cable from the router to the location.
Looking forward to your thoughts…
Are you using the phono out from the Sonos? If so, how does it compare with the sound from the LP12? I’d hope it sounds way inferior to the LP12 otherwise I’d say an amp upgrade is definitely needed. The answer to that question might help suggest the best way forward.
I ask because I was using a Sonos Connect with its phono out in to a Nait XS2 and both my Naim CD5si and Michell Syncro showed that the Sonos was hopelessly out of its depth in such company. I swapped the Sonos for a ND5 XS2 and the difference was night and day.
An ex ( mainly ex) MF user/ fan here.
Unfortunately there is no easy naim answer here. Pre owned is your friend, to keep in budget. Streamer wise the nd5xs2 is great. Pre amp wise, you will ( and will want to anyway) need a hicap, if you keep your nu vista 300. That means adding money. If you can find a nac282 in budget great. If not don’t rule out an older olive 72. It’s a far better pre than your MF. ( I used a 72 in place of my nu vista pre).
But option C is where I’d be going, and to some extent did.
But, you are right to keep the MF power amp. But consider having them serviced, or, as I did, upgraded.
I would sell the MF pre-amp and the Sonos connect. Then buy a Naim Atom with a decent cable to connect the power amp and I would invest in an AudioQuest Niagara 1200 power conditioner. That should be possible within the given budget.
It will bring you great joy, flexibility and excellent sound quality, with or without your MF power amp. I am not sure about the LP12 (I don’t have a TT myself) but assume you can connect that to the analog RCA input of the Atom, with a phono pre-amp (which might be already in the LP12).
The power amp you can connect to the pre-out connections of the Atom. Your CD player can best be connected to the Atom using the coaxial output. Also playing music from your iMac is no problem over the network, or you connect the iMac to the Atom using a TosLink cable.
- a Meridian 210
- a Chord Qutest (2nd hand);
- an SBooster + Ultra II to power the Qutest;
- a Chord MScaler (2nd hand);
- a Krisdonia battery to power the MScaler.
I suppose, to be consistent, I should advise you to listen to lots of other stuff to ensure your taste is the same as mine!
I didn’t buy 2nd hand, but I am trying to keep to your £5k budget.
Love to hear those Nuvista amps!
I would go for a Nac 82 preamp with Hicap. Then a 250 olive or CB. Factor in a service from Darran at Class A as he is an authorised Naim service agent. And then get the ND5XS2. You will have a great pre and power amp. And a great modern streamer. Or if you are flush get the NDX2. To which you can always add a power supply to in the future XPSDR , XPS2 or 555PS/ 555DRPS
Sell the rest and enter the world of Naim separates. Serviced, this system will be hard to beat at the price.
Yes, I’m using the phono out and it doesn’t match the LP12 certainly which is why I know it either should go or have a good DAC added, it also doesn’t compare with the CD player.
I should also have added option g) lose the Sonos and get the NAC 272…
If you like the sound of your amps then I’d go with c) if you are going to use Tidal more - change Sonos for ND5XS2 - you will be very pleased with the difference. Then think about speakers later once that upgrade has settled.
£5k would get you some really lovely used items. A Uniti Atom or Nova, plus some PMC or Sonus Faber’s. I am, of course, biased. You have a lovely turntable already, and streaming is taken care of. There is a set of Olympica I’s up for auction, loads of Cremona’s, some PMC 24’s…all within budget. All easy speakers to drive so an Atom would work fine if you cannot stretch to a Nova.
I think you are right to look at your source. You can decide later if you ever want to change the amp.
The problem with DACs is that there is a lot of personal preference involved, and you really need to listen for yourself. Personally I like the Chord DACs, and you could consider Hugo, Hugo 2, Qutest, TT or TT2. The Naim NDAC has quite a different character which some prefer. Lots of other brands out there too, of course. Either find a good dealer to guide you, or buy used but be prepared to sell on and try something else until you’re happy.
Your Sonos would be an adequate digital transport for a DAC to get you up and running, but look at replacing that too. I think Naim streamers make very good SPDIF sources, and an ND5XS2 would be a good choice. I wouldn’t go for a 1st gen. Naim streamer despite the bargain prices. They have poor WiFi performance and Tidal is not their strongest feature.
The problem you have here is that the 272, while excellent, is not great at wifi. Is wiring really not an option?
I’d be very wary of the suggestions to get an Atom - it’s entry level and not up to your Linn or power amp, and why buy something and then not use half of it? I’d suggest the best way forward is to simply get an NDX2 and keep everything else as is. You could always try a Naim preamp at a later date.
That was my thought too, certainly about why buy something with a built in amp which is certainly going to be worse than the Nu Vista
There is very likely a replacement 272 streaming preamp in the wings, with new platform capabilities and decent wifi. You could of course be waiting ages! The ideal preamp would be the 282 and Hicap DR but even used it’s a lot of money. The older Olive 82 is nearly as good and if you don’t mind the looks you could get one with a serviced Olive Hicap for £1,500 or so. It would give you remote control but you’d miss out on system automation, which is really good. Of the MF boxes, your power amp is highly regarded but the preamp a bit less so, hence a Naim preamp being ultimately a good idea.
Thank goodness for that, if the LP12 wasn’t beating the Sonos by quite some margin that would mean either the amp or speakers were a weak link. In which case I’d be tempted to go all in on a NDX2. The ND5 XS2 for me was a huge step up from the Sonos and the NDX2 should be even more so. And if you’re anything like me you’ll probably find that once you have your streaming sorted your CDP will be redundant.
So I’ve sat down and compared the same recordings on various sources which I’ve never really done before…yes, I know that maybe some people would have done this long before but I’ve focussed more on the music than the system. Anyway, LP12 certainly the one that makes me want to listen the most, the CD is good but now I can’t stand hearing the Sonos…I guess the upgrade can’t come soon enough…
With the Atom Headphone Edition just being launched, I believe my post before in this thread is even more relevant for your case.
82 is a fine preamp for the money. Worth a look with an olive hicap. Have had one, then two olive hicaps and now have Supercap 2 with 82. Sounds great with 2 x 135s, and previously 250, all CB, all serviced. Very, very good value for money.
If wireless is a necessity Auralic have an excellent WiFi implementation. I use the Aries G2 but the Altair G1 might be just what you need with money to spare.
Have a google.
Keep the LP12. Keep the ProAc’s for now. I’d look at the Luxman L-509X. It has both MC and MM phono, 120wpc into 8 ohms, 220 into 4 ohms. This gives you an amp that you’ll be able to use to drive any speakers that you may change to, this is close to an endgame amp!
Then consider how you want to do digital. Separate streamer and Dac. Combination Dac and streamer. Lots of choices.
Lastly speakers I’m a big ProAc fan as are a lot of folks here. The D30RS would be wonderful with the Luxman!
And as @Sloop_John_B mentioned Auralic has great digital products, excellent software, excellent WiFi, and excellent sound. I use an Auralic G1 with Chord Qutest and Chord Mscaler.
I wanted to add that Naim gear is also excellent. If you want to get it right the first time a Nap 300DR amp with Nac 252 preamp. But you’d still need a phono. The thing to remember is that separate preamps and power amps need to match electrically. Input impedance output impedance, gain structure. Always best to match pre and power from same company… Naim w Naim, Mark Levinson W… and so on. That’s one of the good things about getting a top flight integrated, much easier to get great sound.