Last week I made the decision to upgrade my Atom to a Nova. I have big expectations using the Nova with my speaker system; the Kef LS50 Meta’s and the KC62. It already sounded pretty great, but can’t wait to see what the Nova is capable of. Since I bought the Atom I’ve been a regular anonymous visitor of this Forum looking for Hifi suggestions and now I’m on the verge of buying two headphones. I took a deep dive in the rabbit hole of headphones. I’ve read all the topics regarding headphones and the Nova and spent way to many hours watching and reading reviews. The Nova gives me the possibility to use some relatively easy to drive headphones and in in all the posts about this subject I’ve also seen forum members saying some harder to drive headphones also sound great.
The ones I have in mind are the FocaI Elegia’s and the Hifiman Edition Xs. The Focal is closed back for nights with my girlfriend on the couch and I can get a new one for 300 euro. The Edition XS has got really nice reviews and I want to use it when nobody is around. My concerns are about the ability of the Nova to drive the Hifiman Edition xs. The numbers of the XS are: 18 Ohm, 92dB, Difficulty to drive is suppose to be the same as for the Hifiman Arya. Is there anyone that can give me some advise before i import these to the Netherlands from the US? Any help is much appreciated!
Hi, I haven’t tried the Nova with headphones, but my experience of Naim boxes generally is that headphone amps in the Atom, 272 and Superuniti for example are really nothing special. If headphone listening is important to you I would look at one of their more recent offerings such as the Atom HE, Nait50 or 222 which have a much improved headphone amp. Either that or look at a dedicated headphone setup, which would likely take you into non-Naim territory.
The Atom HE with any half decent amp would sound significantly better than the NOVA with speakers and headphones. And will allow you to adapt in the future, should you change room or speakers.
… of course, in case you can still change your decision and would consider (and if feasible and practical for you).
Having owned a Nova and a 500 system I would say don’t underestimate the Nova. Your theory maybe correct but a HE plus a 250DR for example is quite a lot more money both new and used.
Headphones are a little bit like speakers I.e. personal preferences come in to play. Balancing comfort with sound quality is important.
I use the HIfiman edition xs and they are very good and I preferred them to headphones costing over £1K.
I use a lehmann headphone so nothing to fancy and they work a treat.
That would be the best option if listening to headphones was my main activity. I only want to use it occasionally next to listening to the speakers. I will have to donut with what the Nova can offer me…
I am trying not to underestimate the Nova and hoping the Eligia and the Edition xs will both sound reasonably good. I am aware there are much better options but I also saw a member of the Naim team commenting under another post that the headphone output of the Nova was better then On the Atom. I am really curious to hear what the result will be
I am thinking about buying an extra iFi Audio hip-dac2 for using both Headphones on the go and for work with laptop/phone. streaming Qobuz. This way the output of the Nova does not really matter that much anymore. Do I miss something here? Or is this a good option?
I can’t comment on the iFi Audio hip-dac2. I’m not even sure what that is. With respect to the Nova however, I believe it has the same headphone amp as the Atom, in which case I suggest not getting hard to drive headphones. The Atom and Nova will be fine with more sensitive and higher impedance headphones, and there are lots to choose from. As ChrisSU says, the more recent offerings from Naim have better headphone amps.
The nova is probably finer because it has a better pre section which also benefits the headphone out.
Thank you all for your comments. I bought the Focus Elegia and the Hifiman Ananda Stealth including a portable Dac/amp. I will try them connected to the Nova but if this isn’t satisfactory I can always use the dac/amp
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