Large difference in Streamer and Phono outputs

I noticed that even with the same volume setting, the output loudness when using the streamer (internet radio) is very high compared to the output loudness when using my turntable (via XS3’s built in phonostage).

Given this, is it advisable to use the variable output of the streamer and lower the volume there in order to match the output of the turntable? Is this ok, or is there another better alternative?

Depends on the phono stage’s output. This tends to be lower than the streamer output and apparently it is in the XS3. Others, e.g. the Rega Aria, are nearly the same.

You can lower the streamer output with the variable volume, but this was not intended by Naim to be a first-class volume control but rather implemented to fulfill some Apple (I think) requirement for Airplay licensing or something. On the other hand, forum members tried it and found that it did not affect the quality. YMMV.

If the difference does not bother you, it is fine to leave as is

This has always been pretty much normal with vinyl vs. digital. It all stems form CD being given a standard output of 2V, which was probably way too high (by more than double), normal line level being somewhere nearer 500-800mV. Phonos stages typically equalise and amplify the tiny phono signals to line level. There will be differences even here though due to differences in output of various cartridges - MM carts can range from 2.5mV to 7mV.

For best performance from the streamer I would leave the output set at full.


Yes, I do hear a very slight deterioration in sound when I use the variable output and lower the volume. I only notice it when I really try to analyze and do “critical” listening.

I’ll just leave it at fixed setting and just adjust the volume setting accordingly.


When the cartridge and phono stage are well matched, this difference is reduced or eliminated. What cartridge are you currently using?

I would consider changing the cartridge to better match the built in phono stage, or add a new phono stage better suited to your cartridge — you would need to use an input other than “Phono” on the Nait XS3, of course.

There are many fine cartridges with outputs not well suited to a given phono stage - it is a deficiency in neither.

Adjusting output levels of other components will usually impact sound quality adversely — it will not be optimal, at least.

My old NAC 112 allowed adjusting input levels. I believe I read this capability was removed to improve sound quality in superseding models.


With my Supernait 3, the phono input is a little quieter than my NDX2, but nothing significant. Maybe the cartridge makes a difference?

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It’s a good point, with a constant gain in the phono stage it certainly does
@fdm what’s your cartridge?

I’m currently using a Rega Elys 2. I believe it has an output of 6mv….

I did notice that the big difference is if I compare the loudness of the turntable vs. Internet radio via the ND5XS2. However I also noticed that internet radio is louder compared to say Tidal or Spotify. So when I compare Tidal or Spotify vs. the turntable loudness, the difference is not that big.

So my next question, is your internet radio’s output louder than say Tidal or Spotify?

OK that’s just fine and even a little on the higher side. “The gain is perfect for 5mV moving magnet cartridges” says the XS3 product page.

I’m not noticing much of a difference between radio and Qobuz in a quick try, but might depend on the station as well?

I concur.

I have not noticed a difference between iRadio, Spotify, and Tidal.

Sometimes I forget when using Bluetooth or Apple AirPort Express that the output volume of the computer or phone is usually involved, AND sometimes the app I am using does not follow the device volume, and has to be set, too.

I think YouTube works this way — I forget if it is in their app, or in Chrome or both. Microsoft Teams and Zoom work this way — they let you set the app volume lower than system volume, and remember your preference from session to session.

Live performances over Zoom, especially, have brought this to my attention.


You are correct, after going through several other internet radio stations, I did notice that some have unusually high loudness, while others are weaker. Some even sound over “equalized” . :slightly_smiling_face:


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