Naim Integrated & Combo Recommendations

Hello Folks,
Recently sold my Rega Elex-r and I will be in the market (hopefully) for a new/used Naim integrated or pre/power combo. Looking for some guidance/recommendations based on the following information. I apologize now if I meander on a bit…

Room size: 12ft x 14ft (approx. 4m x 4.6m).
Speakers: Vandersteen 2C.
Speaker Cable: NACA5.
Interconnects: Naim lavender DIN-to-DIN, and lavender DIN-to-RCA (Chord Chrysalis).
Sources: Naim CD3.5 and Naim CD5i-2. The CD5i-2 is currently at Focal-Naim in Quebec for repair.

I used to have an XS-2 (60 wpc version) that I sold to pick up another integrated (Krell). Why? I’m not totally sure, but I now regret selling it. The Krell was not my cup of tea so it’s gone. Tried an Elex-r as a friend of mine was selling it, but still wasn’t satisfied. Sold the Rega and here am looking to get another Naim power source. I’m most likely looking to get another XS or XS-2 (70w). Also wanted to get your opinions on the 112/150 combo?

Are there any sonic differences between the XS, XS-2 (60w) and XS-2 (70w)?

How does the XS/XS-2 compare to the 112/150? Particularly, low bass response?

Some background. I remember when I auditioned a Nait 5i, it sounded too full and sounded as if it had little or no bass response. Now, the cd player I used to demo the Nait 5i was the CD3.5. In this case, the CD3.5 may not have been the best match? Compared to my CD5i-2, the CD3.5 is so much more dynamic and bold. It’s sound is forward and full. This makes me assume then the CD5i-2 would be a much better match to the Nait 5i/5i-2? When I had the XS-2 (60w) I was using it with the CD5i-2 and it sounded wonderful. Maybe I just answered my own question?

I guess the bottom line is that I need to decide which cd player I am going to build the system around? Or in this case, determine which power source best mates with my selection. I guess with the distinct sound difference between these two players, there isn’t a power source that would mate well with both?

1 Like

I had a NAIT XS-2 ( the mark 2 original one) and a CD5i system for a while, that was some time ago
but that worked well. I later moved to an XS 2 after a brief side journey to a Supernait 1 and changed the CD to a CD5 XS which I stuck with and later used as a transport to a ND5 XS2 streamer/DAC.
I still have the CD player but it’s boxed up and likely will find a new home. I changed the amp through those steps and also added a HiCap DR from the XS 2 onwards which again I also still have, I now have a Supernait 3 which is a recent change from a Supernait 2.
It seems you are happy to stick with the source you have and aren’t looking to move to a Streamer/DAC setup?
If you can find one and have a budget for it then a Supernait 2 will give you a lot more than a 5 or XS NAIT for not much money and with a HiCap is a really great setup that’ll work well with most of the Naim CD players.
Be curious to know if you would consider a streamer source instead of sticking with your CD player. Nothing against it but eventually they won’t be repairable, one of the reasons to let mine go and having had a very positive experience with an ND5 XS2 found it hard to justify the need for my CD player, good as it’s been.

If you can find a 122x/150x, I would go for that.

Hi Mr. M,

Thanks for your advice and recommendations.

At this time, CD is still my reference. As for streaming, I use an HRT i-Streamer with my iphone and ipad. My provider is Amazon Music.

Some additional info I forgot to provide:
When I had the XS, I used it with a Flatcap 2 for a short time. The sound was more refined when using the XS with the Flatcap, but at the same time, I lost something. When I removed the Flatcap, I immediately noticed the “refined” aspect was gone, but I feel I gained back the “boogey factor” or “musicality” of the XS alone. Whatever it was, I preferred the XS by itself as opposed to the XS w/ Flatcap 2. That being said, what is the sound characteristics of the Supernait 2 and Supernait 1?

I found similar changes with a Flatcap on an XS, prefered it without and eventually added a HiCap which did improve the XS a bit but not as much as the move to a Supernait.
I did have a Supernait 1 for a while but didn’t get on with it personally and let it go and moved back to an XS 2 followed by a Supernait 2 and now most recently a move to a Supernait 3.
I think in your case it’ll depend in part on your budget and longer term goals, in my case I’m happy in the 2 to 4 box type systems with a current plan to add an NDX2 to my Supernait 3 then later add back the power supplies!
I found the XS 2 to be very capable and my move to a SN2 at the time was because I was able to get one for a really good price and took the plunge.
If you can afford it I think you’d be really happy with a SN2 but if that’s a stretch and you aren’t fussed about a longer term pre/power plan then an XS 2 is a good choice.
I owned a 202/200 system for a time but let it go and moved back to NAIT’s as children arrived and I had to tame my aspirations somewhat!

1 Like

Budget is around $1,000-$1,250 USD. I have some flexibility, but I doubt I will be able to get into Supernait territory.

Regarding the XS Series, did you notice any difference in sound between the XS/XS-2 60w and the XS-2 70w?

It’s a good question, I think as long as your speakers are fairly easy to drive and the rest of the system fits in and the kit matches well enough I’d expect you’d be equally happy with an XS v1 as much as an XS v2. They do sound somewhat different, it’s not just a case of more of the same. It’s been a while now since I had that system but from memory I seem to recall prefering the XS v1 as it was a bit more “fun” and willing to let rip a bit, the XS v2 is a bit more “tuned” and in a sense a little less fun, I ran both with a HiCap DR which did help to open them up a bit, if anything the thing that drives you towards the Supernait is more punch and grip and more weight on the bottom end.
I found myself at the XS’s from the original NAIT 5 and prior to that a NAIT 3R, never owned a 1 or 2 but would like to one day, always thought the 2 was the definition of what a NAIT should be, and for me the one which still stands out and which I had a lot of fun owning is the NAIT 5 which was always enthusiastic and carefree if limited in subtlety, like a drinking buddy who’d join you for a pub lunch at the drop of a hat sort of amp!
So that said, perhaps a mix of an XS v1 + a HiCap DR could be a nice combo to aim at. You could also factor in a used Hi-Line DIN-DIN at some point too, they open things up nicely and will match well with whats either end of it.

It’s interesting you mentioned the Nait 5 and Nait 3R. Those are two integrateds that were recommended I pair up with the CD3.5. This of course is if I decide to base the system around the 3.5. I had read that both the Nait 5 and 3R are more laid-back in character? If that is the case, I can understand the match with the 3.5’s full, forward character. This would be another way to go if I wanted to really keep costs down. However, from the reviews I have read, the Nait 5 and 3R are somewhat lacking in low bass response and punch? Reviewers also recommended that Flatcaps be used with these two integrateds as it improves the sound considerably. From your experience, is this accurate?

I can only speak for the Nait 5 (of which I owned one) but I disagree. The knack with Naits is to match with the right speakers.

Edit: From the spec that I have just found for your speakers in Stereophile, especially the manufacturer’s amplifier power recommendation, the Nait 5 won’t give you the knack. Hopefully this will point you in the right direction.

This comes back to thinking of the system as a balanced whole, from mains to speakers to be accurate in fact.
When I had my NAIT 5 I was mainly using it with a CD5i and also an Apple iPod, The NAIT 3R I used mainly with CD players and of various types and quality levels, I had a Marantz one for sure and an Arcam one also, models I’m not sure, was a long time ago!
Bare in mind that whilst the older hardware is still very good and usually good value used, they will likely not be performing at their optimum and will probably benefit from being serviced.
Things like amplifiers are usually straightforwards to service and repair as required right the way back to the products made in the 70’s. Things like CD players are more challenging as the parts (laser assemblies from Philips for example) are no longer manufactured and so Naim rely on whatever buffer stock of service/repair stock they’ve managed to accumulate over the years.
If you take something like a NAIT 5 for example, which was manufactured from 2000 - 2003 then it potentially is 10 years beyond a sensible service interval of around 10 years from new.
If you are going to invest in the vintage products, it’s sensible to budget for service and maintenance if you are expecting to get a good listening experience from those products. If you look after them and have them get a service every 10 years or so they’ll last a lifetime.
Eventually CD players won’t be repairable, the laser and transport assemblies at least, however you can of course carry on using them until the eventually fail without issue.
I still have a CD5 XS which I ran with a Flatcap for a time and later ad a transport in to an ND5 XS2. I no longer need or use it having now moved entirely into the streaming based setup, I do still buy CD’s though as they are good value compared to alternatives.
I just saw a comment above on getting the speakers matched right to get the system singing and I do agree with that, I always found the NAIT 5 to be very musical and what I would describe as enthusiastic, if you have a big space to fill it won’t do that job well but in a small to medium room and with sensible speakers it’ll do a fine job.

I had a 112/150 when I started my journey back into Naim separates. The 112 was not the best bit of equipment ever to leave the factory in my opinion. The 150 wasn’t too bad though and served well for a while fronted by a 202.

How long have you had the Vandies? 2c are pretty old aren’t they? They’re on like 2ce signature mkll ? If you’re in the US I’d call John Ruttan at Audio Connection, Verona NJ. He knows more about Vandersteen setup and what works well than anyone I know of, multiple best of show winner. Anyway a Plinius matches up well, Musical Fidelity, a Super Nait, Bryston. Vandies like current and power to control the woofers.HTH

1 Like

I’ve had the Vandys for at least 5 years. They are old speakers… late 80’s/early 90’s. I’ve actually spoken with John at Audio Connection in the past. At the time, he recommended a Rega Brio-r (which I tried) but it was too soft. The Elex-r was much better, but still didn’t give me what I had with the XS. The Vandys are a laidback speaker and the Naim gear give them a wake-up call to say the least. A lot of folks over here recommend McCormack gear with Vandersteen–which I have also tried. Still preferred the Naim sound. I should have kept my XS (XS-2 60w version) and will probably get another one. There are several for sale right now and I am trying to determine what is best value for my dollar.

As of right now, there is a used XS (XS-2 60w version 2011) available for $1,150 USD. Or, there is a used XS-2 (70w 2017) available for $1,400. Or, I can pick up a brand new XS-2 (70w) for $1,800. What would you guys choose?

Assuming that the 2017 is in really great shape and the buyer is legit l’d probably go for that one.

The 2017 one if it’s been looked after is a good pick.
It’ll probably have had enough running hours to be at least a bit run in and will have a decent run before coming close to needing a service.

I would go for the new one, I had one and loved it and that is an outstanding price for new with full warranty. I am assuming it is a 2019 build.

Good luck with your decision.

Well, after much debate, I decided to go for the new one. It really came down to the peace-of-mind knowing I’m getting a brand new piece of gear that has never been used by anyone else. Also, this will be my first NEW piece of Naim gear–which is something considering the cost of these items new. I guess I’m looking at several hundred hours of burn-in time, huh? What should I expect out of the box? I imagine it might initially sound like crap a while? Btw, I’ll be using my Naim lavender DIN to DIN and I forget… is the sleeve end on the source or amp side?


Nicely done!
I’m sure you’ll enjoy the journey as it settles in, main thing is to leave it on all the time and have it playing music as much as possible, even if at low volumes!
The green band on the grey/lavender interconnect connects at the source end.

Please don’t overthink this. There’s a lot of nonsense on here. My one-time new Nait XS started very well and got better. Yours will too.

The collar goes at the source end.

Good decision btw.

1 Like

Thanks for the help and info guys!