I currently have a SuperUniti with Dynaudio Special Forty speakers. I’ve had the SuperUniti since 2012, and if I’m honest I’ve never been quite happy with it. In some ways it’s very impressive, but in others it’s a bit disappointing. With the right music (simple, well recorded, female) it can sound very smooth and revealing, but with the wrong music (complex, harder rock) it can sound hard, flat and constricted.
I still have an ancient A&R A60 (1984) which I hooked up the other day and found that although it sounded brighter and more confused, it had more attack, spaciousness and general fizz.
It’s tempting to assume there’s something wrong with the SU, but I’ve had it checked a couple of times by different dealers with no issue found, so I guess it just doesn’t work for me. I’d like something with more punch and life.
My question is, would an ND5 XS2 with a Nait XS3 be a useful improvement, and if so, which would you change first - I can’t afford to change both at the same time. Or, does my answer lie somewhere else altogether?
As I’m not keen to venture out to audition at the moment, I thought I’d gauge people’s opinions while I wait for everything to calm down on the COVID front.
The amplification of the SU was based around the supernait 2 so I’d consider that over the XS range.
It has a 4 pin DIN preamp output so you could use it in partnership with an SN2 (temporarily until you add a separate streamer) feeding the SN2 direct. If you use the AV in DIN socket on the SN2, and switch AV bypass to “on” then you can use the SN2 as a power amp and the SU as preamp + source.
Having said that, if you dont think the SU matches well with your Dynaudio’s then the SN2 might just be a sideways step.
Another option is the same as above but with a (used) NAP200 instead of SN2, then you add a 202 pre later. Or the combo of SU + 200 could be the final solution.
quote " The SuperUniti amplifier is derived from our reference integrated the SUPERNAIT 2. Its digital hardware is drawn from the NDX network player and its 24bit/192kHz capable DAC uses the same data-buffering jitter removal process as the Naim Audio DAC."
Before you go to separates try a Nova. I went from SU to Nova and the improvement in sound quality was very significant. I heard a Nova against a 272/250 in the Naim dem room and whilst the separates were better, in my opinion they were not that much better and not worth the extra cost. I used to have 8 boxes but would never go back from a single box - I just don’t need the hassle of supports and interconnects etc. and I always found that I got used to any improvements and always wanted more. Of course your ears may not agree but it’s worth a listen.
Just to be clear, despite the marketing speak that Naim put out, the NDX is a much better streamer than the SU, the NDAC is a much better DAC, and the Supernait is a much better amp. “derived from” and ‘sounds as good as’ are very different things.
The SU is a fine all in one player that I used for 3 years. Your experience is the mirror opposite of mine and I suspect you have a larger issue at play. On a properly set up network (switches/cables), powerline, and a good mains source, it punches way above its weight. I’ve never got on with Dynaudio so I can’t comment there. Considering you’ve had it almost 10 years indicates it’s not likely as bad as you let on. PS- the SU is an all in one player, not separates, so saying it’s not as good as a separate is stating the obvious. That said, I don’t have experience with the XS line but I’d be inclined to look at sh Nait 2, NDX, or 250DR to go 272 at a later time.
The SuperUniti isn’t terrible, otherwise I would have done something about it, but it isn’t as good as I think it should be from everything I’ve always heard about it, and given my only point of reference is an old A&R A60 I would have expected a much bigger improvement - and in some ways I don’t get an improvement at all.
It does seem to sound better sometimes than other times. I do wonder about the mains. The SU can sound horribly constricted at times. Is there a reliable way to check the quality of the mains?
As soon as we are allowed into other people’s houses I plan to drop over to a friend’s house and compare it to his Atom. If it sounds better in his house, then I guess it could be the mains. If the Atom sounds better, then maybe there is something wrong with the SU.
Checking the quality would involve measuring with a meter. If your line is not dedicated consider locating all the appliances/devices connected to the same line and remove them if possible. Perhaps they can be connected to a different circuit. Here in the states I use a Ultra HBL power strip from AV Options which improved the noise floor considerably in my system. You can get similar products in the UK and Europe. Also take a look at your network, if you’re connected directly to your router you’re going to have some noise so consider getting a switch to get your streamer off the router. Ciscos, EE, and ER, are popular here. And good ethernet cables, BJC, Chord, etc. Improving these things will help your SU perform at its best.
Same here, went from SU to Nova and am very pleased with the sound quality.
Interestingly i had similar mains issues with the SU, that was also why i replaced it. I don’t have a dedicated mains feed for the system, and depending on the circumstances or time of day (neighbours doing stuff on the mains net), it could sound better or worse. When it had trouble it would sound muddier and more confined. When it sounded good, mostly this was also when i knew the net was more stable, it was quite a pleasure to listen to.
The Nova seems to have a lot less trouble in this area, the sound quality is just pretty stable overall. There are some slight variations noticeable still but not to a degree that it would bother me.
The Nova has a bit more punch than the SU as well, so you could consider to just try one out at home for a few days (if the Nova is within your budget range when selling the SU).
When considering other amplifiers i don’t think i would personally consider the smaller Naim amps like the XS3, since it likely won’t give you more punch than the SU has. Since your issue is likely mostly in the amp stage, as @robert_h suggested a separate 200 or 200DR might be interesting as well to hook up to your SU as an end stage.
I have the same problem: one night my system sounds sublime, another night fatiguing (NDX, 200, 202/psu’s & ATC 11’s) - a friend (qualified) created a star earthed mains block, that helped, but you only have ‘one lead’. Decent mains cables also helped (Titan Audio).
I did have a pair of Dynaudios previously; changing to Chord speaker cable gave them a little more clarity; a change of speaker/mains cable could be an improvement & they can ‘go forward’ if you do change the system
When you listen to your A60 vs your SuperUnity, you are hearing a difference. Whether this is better or worse, is the debate. Logically - it should not be ‘better’ - but your ears may perceive something about the A60 that seems better…?
I think there is some sound advice in the posts above, as to what you might try. But - again - you may just find differences.
This is how - IMO - people can find a particular interconnect lead or speaker cable to be ‘better’.
Ultimately, they are your ears - and its your choice.
In terms of separation, clarity and resolution, the A60 is definitely inferior to the SuperUniti, as one might expect. What is strange is that the A60 seems to be better than the SU in terms of punch, attack, life and space (by which I mean a sense of air around the music - if that makes sense). As you say Ian, logically that should not be the case, so my suspicion is that all is not well with the SU.
I doubt it’s that I just don’t like the sound (Naim is far too well regarded for it to be that - although not impossible I suppose), but much more likely that the SU isn’t performing as it should for some reason.
My next step is going to be taking my SuperUniti out of my house into a completely new environment (my friend’s house) and comparing it with his Atom. That will mean different mains, different NAS and ethernet system. But that will have to wait until COVID restrictions allow.
Thanks for taking the time to give all your thoughts. I’ll report back once I have had a chance to make the comparison.
Quite a few years ago I went to the Bristol show and in the Neat room they were demming the Iotas with the SU, it sounded warm, rich and no small amount of detail. I’ve heard several times since with different speakers and it always was great.
So 2 possibilities from me. First are the Dynas a good match with the SU? well it’s universally accepted that Dyns pair well with Naim so I’d rule that out. Second, are the Dyns the right speaker for your room? Given that you seem content with certain recordings I doubt this the problem but you might experiment with positioning.
What to do? I’m reluctant to say this BUT I’d be cautious before committing to other Naim products as it could be that the “Naim sound” is just not for you.
I began my Naim journey with an SU, and after about 2 years I added an SN2, and just used the SN2 amp section. Nice improvement. Then, about a year later, I picked up an NDS and sold off the SU. So now I was also using the preamp section of the SN2, and with the NDS, the SQ is excellent.
Add a PS to the SN2 later on of course, and you’ll be impressed. At that point, the only thing you’ll want to replace it with is a 282/250dr.
Just some thoughts … worked for me.
I wouldn’t entirely agree with that, in that the NDS is a good enough source to partner with pretty much any Classic level Naim amp from 202/200 up to 252/300 and beyond. In fact I think even the humble 152/155 would be preferred by some to a Supernait. Of course there’s an element of subjectivity in this, but there’s something to be gained by separating all those components into 2 or 3 boxes, or even up to 6 boxes in some amps, that you don’t get from an integrated, even the mighty Supernait. But yes, 282/250 would be a good point to aim for if you’re climbing the ladder.
Yes, I agree entirely Chris. As good as the SN2 is, a 202/200 and the like, would be all over it. I was just thinking that it’s expensive to take thise steps in between getting a 282/250dr. But only if the 282/250 is the goal tho. And yes, the NDS is quite a substantial piece of kit.