Interesting demo experience

So I know I’ve made a couple of posts about possible upgrades and I’ve been scouring all past forum posts on the options I’ve been considering. Well the other day I took the next step of the decision making process going to a demo at my local dealer.

Turns out we are quite close to a great place, having discussed it beforehand with the dealer we had decided that the 282/200dr was too much for my planned source (nd5xs2) so the two main contenders were the sn3 vs 202/napsc/200dr. They were even happy to got to the extra faff of setting it up so I could try controlling the volume via the app with each set up so I could see that it worked just as flawlessly as my atom.

We started with the sn3 and even with the different set up, speakers and room and tidal rather than apple music I could still hear what I loved about my atom just more. The music just came together, the bass seemed better and I could definitely hear the extra oomph. So I was quite interested to see if full separates resulted in even more improvement even if it was more minor.

At that point I still thought I’d have a difficult decision between a cheaper second hand 202 combo and the simplicity of the sn3 if they were close in sound quality. That’s not what happened I don’t know if it was due an imbalance between the source and amps or my personal preference (though the dealer who was sitting with me agreed with my views).

There were harsh parts in one song that weren’t there before, the music was less cohesive and engaging and the bass didn’t seem as good. The dealer even swapped back to the sn3 so we could both see if we still felt the same. I don’t discount those who love the 202/napsc/200dr its surely a matter of combination with speakers and source, the room and personal taste.

It was hands down for me, so much so I immediately put down a deposit on both an nd5xs2 and sn3, with a good trade in on my atom. With the current manufacturing fun and games it will be a few months till I have my new system but I’m still excited.

Going to a proper dealer vs a more general hifi shop was an eye opening experience I hope they continue to thrive as their expertise deserves, I’m glad to have their support in all my future audio endeavours. It was definitely worth getting a chance to hear the differences for myself, otherwise I might have made a costly mistake (I already knew you guys were right about that but it was nice to have confirmation). I’m looking forward to having my amazing system but will enjoy my atom in the mean time.

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Back in the late 70’s and through the 80’s I was very lucky to have two excellent local dealers within easy reach of my parent’s house where I was then living. These were the days long before the existance of on-line forums and the only sources of information were the magazines and a good dealer.

I had many demos of equipment and some long chats. It certainly put things into perspective for me and was a great help in building up my system. I was only around 20 then so I was hardly spending mega-bucks but I still felt like a really valued customer. I was even offered a job but as I was on the verge of going to university to study chemistry I sadly declined. I often wonder what would have been if I had accepted that job and chosen a different path in life.

I think that really excellent dealers who give you their time, attention and advice, without putting the slightest pressure on you to buy anything, are much harder to come by these days. If you find one then stick with them.

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I can relate to your experience DMU, I managed to demo several combos during the pandemic. Initially I was drawn to a single box solution and thought that the Unit Star would suit my needs very well. From all sources it seemed very nice but possibly strained at higher volumes. I then looked at the Nova. Same here. My HiFi dealer allowed me to take the latter home for a trial but latterly suggested the ND5XS2 + SN3 combo. This provided the clarity I was after with much more presence with everything I played. My turntable sounded much better plugged into the SN3 than either the Star/Nova (due to the straight through analogue treatment). But then I started to think about the 202/2000DR - I listened hard to this expecting even greater things but felt underwhelmed by the experience. I know people on this forum swear by these and have very positive experiences but for me the SN3 sounded both agile and full bodied. Maybe my expectations were too great?
For one last comparison I tested the NDX2 at home to compare with the NDXS2. I liked the display but would never use it in earnest - as I generally sit about 4m away from my rack. Sound wise I could discern little difference between the two…so I asked my sons to do a blind test between the NDX2 and the ND5XS2 - playing their own music (very eclectic) their opinions mattered because they would definitely not bring any person bias to the table - they had mixed opinions one preferred the NDX2, the other two didn’t. That suggests that the difference between these two units is minor.
I settled finally on the ND5XS2 /SN3 - I don’t have any ambition to go any further down this ‘rabbit hole’. I might be tempted to upgrade on a power supply for the SN3 …but that’s it for me.
To all people the ND5XS2/SN3 might not be the last word in audio nirvana but it gets very close…very close indeed at this level without spending eye watering amounts of money!!!

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Absolutely true IMO. An excellent integrated amp such as the SN3 with a very capable source and a good pair of speakers will get you as much enjoyment as you can handle.

Yes of course it’s possible to improve on it but you are going into a never-ending black hole of ever escalating expense. Fine if you have very deep pockets…

My experience has been that such a system can get you as close to high-end as makes no difference in terms of actually enjoying the music. Only if you are the kind that likes to sit and analyse everything are you likely to notice any shortcomings. Beyond that it simply becomes a technical exercise in making improvements and the enjoyment factor remains much the same.

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Wow i’m loving hearing about others demo experiences, anyone who wants to share theirs feel free.

Suspect the ability of the SN3/Hi Cap is why the 200/202 re no longer around

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I don’t know whether it was down to luck, or the right timing - whenever I had a positive demo experience I bought it there and then at a reduced “ex demonstration stock” price.
Saved a lot of cash and time.
Things might be different today with dealers holding limited stock of available items.