Naim Nait XS3: Is better as Poweramp than as Integrated Amp?

Hello Everyone, my name is Patricio, this is my first post so thank you and sorry in advance for the bad english.

As the title could refer, i have the impression (nothing objetive anyway) that my XS3 as a whole is not as good as in Poweramp only configuration.

I have a Cayin Idac-6mk2 that i had been using as pre-line conected to CD imput in the XS3, and what can i say, the Naim excels in quality, i love it.

But yesterday i perform a test conecting the Dac as preout (with volume control) dirctly to the Naim as Power, and it blows my mind, for me it was another level on quality, details, bass control, sound stage, etc. The difference is very noticiable, all my friends agreed with my in this one at least.

So the question is: Is this normal? is the 90% of XS3 performace due to his Power side? Does MY preamp have problems?, Does the Cayin bad as Pre-line and good as Pre-out?

Is anyone noticed some similar behavior with other preamp sources?

looking forward for you opinions!

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to bring the xs3 pre side up in performance then add a hicap dr…

What do you do with the volume - leave it on full on the xs3?

It’s possible to connect a preamp directly to the NaisXS power amp so the volume control would not be used. .

The pre section of the Naits has alway been compromised by sharing a case with the power amp and especially the power supply. The discontinued slimline separates were essentially Naits split in two and presented an upgrade path from the integrateds but the supernait eroded that market giving an upgrade option needing less rack space and they were dropped.
Upgrading the pre and keeping the Nait as a power amp is the best way towards separates, assuming your speakers are a good match for it in the first place, but it looks a bit strange having two arrays of input selectors. You also lose the built in phonostage if it’s an xs or Nait 3 you’re upgrading so with vinyl replay in the system an external phonostage would have to come first.

How does your DAC with volume control sound using AV bypass (see the manual)?

Patricio sorry no opinion, as I’ve not tried, but interested to know the interconnect used between DAC and Nait. Thanks.

It’s all in the manual.


Hi, with the Cayin as Pre-line, the volume its fixed, and the preamp side of the Nait controls the volume to the Nait Powerside.
Whit the Cayin as Pre-Out, the Nait volume its fixed so the Cayin controls de output volume.

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Hi, sorry but i don’t get the “AV bypass” meaning.

In the other hand, the Nait XS3 was a replacement for a Rotel 1582 MKII poweramp, so for me isn’t a problem not having the preamp side of the XS3, but in this case, isn’t better to use a former Poweramp like the NAP250, is this make any sense?


From the manual:

“8.6 AV Bypass
The NAIT XS 3 can be integrated within a multi-channel home theatre system, driving the front left and right channel speakers, by engaging its AV Bypass mode. AV Bypass mode enables a home theatre processor to take over volume control of signals connected to the NAIT XS 3 av input. It is engaged using the switch on the rear panel. The
NAIT XS 3 volume control indicator will extinguish when AV Bypass mode is engaged and the av input is selected. The remote handset volume control will also be disabled.
Note: The AV Bypass feature must be used with care. It bypasses the NAIT XS 3 volume control leaving any signal connected to the av input to be passed to the speakers at full volume.
Note: Inserting a headphone plug while AV Bypass mode is selected temporarily returns the NAIT XS 3 to normal operation. Removing the headphone plug will return the NAIT XS 3 to AV Bypass mode.
Note: The mute function is disabled when AV Bypass mode is engaged.”

If the Cayin is your only source then there’s no need for this but if you have another source as well than this would let you bypass much of the pre amp via the AV input whilst leaving the other inputs under the control of the pre amp.

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