Life after Nova

I have a very simple system - Nova, Powerline, Chord EpicX and Neat XL6. I have come from LP12 62/140, 102/180, HDX nDAC/XPS/282/HC/200 over the space of many years.
I have been pretty happy with the current system but am developing a few problems…
Now entering my 6th decade…I think my hearing is off, just a bit, and I have a degree of hyperacusis with tinnitus. Just mild, but I find myself yearning for something a bit softer, less harsh on the ears, with more delicacy and transparency.

Option 1: Change of speaker. As far as speakers go though, I have always loved the Neats, and am not keen to go down a rabbit hole trying to better them. I don’t think it’s too much of a mullet system, and talking to a Naim factory rep here at a demo of the Nova, he indicated they could handle up to a $20000nzd speaker… The only other speaker I’ve heard that grabbed my attention was a Harbeth 30.2 and I’m wondering if their sweet midrange - where the ear is most sensitive - might be an option. Or Kanta No.2.

Option 2 - move out the Nova. My feelings are that a change to the electronics might be the ticket. I would simply move the Nova to another area, add some Proac Tablets or Falcon LS3/5a and use it for watching tv and background music where there is a Kef LS50W system…
My Naim dealer also has AVM and I’ve had a brief demo. Not enough to be convinced but nice. My thoughts have also drifted to Prima Luna, Hegel, Norma or Accuphase Integrateds with an Auralic front end.

Option 3 would be some way of staying with Naim, without going to the rats nest of multiple boxes. Say Auralic streamer in to Supernait 3.

Everything I’ve mentioned is available locally so I will demo away, but appreciate any advice or thoughts here. I also still have the nDAC in a cupboard somewhere…

Cheers Andrew

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I’ve heard the SN3 and Auralic Altair and they make a great combination and, to my ears, a worthwhile step up in sound quality over the Nova. Whether that combination gives you the softer, less harsh sound you’re looking for, I’m not sure. I would think that a change in speakers would make the most difference. Having also recently auditioned both the Proac Tablette 10 sigs and Falcon Ls3/5a, both have a more relaxing, gentle sound that many other speakers. I liked both - not much to choose between them. These sort of speakers have a more grown-up sound; less shouty and upfront than many other brands. A gentleman’s speaker :grin:

Maybe try some NACA5. It may just balance things just right for you. You should also try some Totem speaker options, again may well balance things to your taste.

I wouldn’t change the Nova… It sounds like you may need to test a few speakers with a Nova to find something more laid back. I myself am sensitive to treble and prefer a laid back presentation as I can’t stand bright sounding speakers. I am lucky that I build DIY speakers and have the option to attenuate the tweeter. It’s a real shame that this option isn’t added to more speakers as all that is required is a different value resistor and the whole speaker changes.

One thing you could try is to use the Naim plugs that came with the Nova (if you aren’t already). For me, these seemed to tame the top end a little in my testing and reduce brightness.

Then I would stay away from the Kanta. Its tweeter is pretty lively and bass fairly boomy.

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Tough one Andrew

I just love Neat Speakers and have a couple of pair - stand mount XLS’s ( smaller bro to XL6) and Ministra’s I love em

I have owned the Neat XL6’s driven by the full 555 series (CD) but they love a fair bit of grunt , but my word what a speaker, I only downsized as moved into smaller premises

I did have a Nova but it didn’t do it for me at all. I have a SN3/hicap driving the ministra’s and they are perfectly matched

As much as I don’t want to say it I think the XL6’s really need separates with power

But I think your thought patterns are correct. Move Nova out to a secondary system if you can afford it and maybe downsize the Neats to another model - there are a couple of new floorstander neats thatget great reviews



I was multi box active, took some time out and then a quick Muso, Atom, Nova and stopped.

I have considered the NDX2/SN3 for the cost a minor SQ uplift, was even tempted by the ex demo statement that was on hear, also various Innuos server/ switch additions.

With the Nova i just like the minimalism and concede a SQ trade off, but and optimised setup helps.

Speakers wise i started with Focal Chorus and later settled on 1008be2.


A simple way to ‘passive eq’ your system to your taste would be to position your speakers differently.

You should be able to reduce apparent treble by reducing toe-in and introducing some off-axis characteristics to the sound.

I also have tinnitus and have a Nova partnered with ATC SCM 11, this is a new system to me and took some time in experimenting to find the right choice. I have a very lively room with hard floors, vaulted ceilings and open plan. I found the ATC speakers to be the best solution, they have a balanced and natural presentation. I would suggest the speakers would be the beat starting point and home demo a must. I found lowering listening levels to around 60 to 65 dBc beneficial.

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With a spare nDAC, adding a ND5 XS2 to that with a SN3 (or a used SN2) would be a good option. I’d keep the Nova either way as you say though, it’s too good to move on.


I’ve tried a Nova before getting my NDX2 and SN3. To me, the latter is much better and more like proper hifi, which I like. The Nova was pretty poor at driving my SL2s, which are a far easier proposition that your Neats. So I’d say you are hit with a real case of the mullets and I suspect that’s at the root of your problems.

I lost the hearing in my left ear last year, and my right ear wasn’t great anyway, so I now use aids. Despite that, the NDX2/SN3 with Tablette 10s sounds great. As you have a nDac already a ND5XS2 may work for you, though I was advised that the NDX2 is considerably better than ND5XS2 and nDac.

That sounds like dealer talk to me. As a digital transport the two streamers are more or less identical, and I would be very surprised if an NDac didn’t outperform the DAC in the NDX2.


Another option is to use DSP. Roon allows simple “graphic equaliser” type adjustments but more importantly also allows convolution filters.

I detail my journey in the thread

But basically if you send measurements to Thierry he will tweak the sound to your preference. You may find just having the filters changes things but Thierry is very responsive and is really into understanding and solving customer’s issues.


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The dealer was selling a used nDac, advised me thus and lost the sale, so who knows. For me, the NDX2 justifies itself on its better UX, in particular its remote. Who wants to use a phone all the time?

Yes, I do like my NDX2 too, although I think the remote is rubbish and never use it.
I admit I haven’t compared it side by side with an NDAC, which I’ve found it to be an extremely accomplished DAC despite its age. To me the real strength of the Naim streamers is the digital transport, and if I wasn’t bothered about box count I would probably run ND5XS2/NDAC/555.

A very good option Mike, very well balanced

But I think it would be time to downsize the Neat XL6’s, they are a brute of a speaker and need power

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Before going & spending a lot of money on new speakers, amplification etc. I strongly recommend visiting my thread below which attracted a lot more attention than I was expecting.

If you are noticing changes in your hearing then, given your age, it is quite likely that your hearing is changing & possibly deteriorating. I doubt buying expensive new hi-fi will do anything to improve the situation & if you do have hearing issues, it certainly won’t.

I am no expert at all but do understand the most typical hearing loss in people of our age is a noticeable reduction in the treble & mid frequencies, making everything, including music, sound muffled to a lesser or greater degree. From what you say, this is the opposite to what you are experiencing & suggests to me that something is not right.

The best advice I can give you is to save your money for the present & get a hearing test from an audiologist. These are usually free if you use a high street chain. This will establish whether you have a hearing problem or not &, if so, the best way of dealing with it.

This is not what you will want to hear (no pun intended), but if you have problems you can get it sorted properly & then enjoy your music pretty much as it was intended to be heard.

You may then decide you are perfectly happy with what you have got or, if you still wish to make any changes to your system, you will select new components which genuinely enhance the sound quality rather than mask sound traits which you now hear, but never used to, with your existing equipment.

Without a hearing test I really fear you could be wasting an awful lot of money.

However you proceed, good luck.


TLDR: Audition the Harbeth Compact 7es3 if you haven’t already.

Like you I also have mild tinnitus and hyperacusis. When it comes to Harbeths I found the 30.1 and P3ESR share similar sonic traits in that they are more monitor-like compared to the Compact 7es3 and HL5 which are more laid back. I love my Compact 7es3 as I can listen to them for an extended time without my tinnitus going up in volume. The PRAT elements are still there with the right electronics (Superuniti and then 272/XPS DR/250) Not sure if I could do that with 30.1…I did own the P3ESR for awhile but replaced them with Neat Iota Alpha in my secondary system. I like the sparkly Neat ribbon tweeters but I can only listen to them for awhile before getting ear fatigue.

Hey finally got back to this thread. Thanks for all the great ideas and thoughts. I did not think it would come down so heavily on the speakers though!
In the meantime I have added some Chord Silent Mounts to the speakers - expensive, but on a massive discount at the local dealer. Well, I have to say, these things are not snake oil. The system is so much smoother, with a definite reduction in edginess. There is another thread here on them which says similar things.
I also had a listen to a higher end AVM/Fyne system but not convinced. Next step for me is to get the audiogram etc. But I am thinking that a power amp on the end of the Nova might be worth investigating - eg Benchmark

Hi Andrew,
Best of luck with the audiogram outcome.

With regard to the Nova, as indicated in your latest post I would highly recommend auditioning it together with a discrete amplifier through the Nova’s outputs. This proved invaluable to me when deciding which path to take, allowing a direct comparison of the Nova’s output stage with a range of quality alternatives and ideally with your own speakers.
Try the Supernait 3, I found it very delicate and detailed so may be to your liking. Personally it did not have the drive or dynamics that I wanted to play the music I enjoy, but it was a (small) step on from the Nova alone.