Naim Nova - Why do they convert Analog inputs to Digital?

I have read many threads here stating that the Nova converts all analog inputs to Digital.
Why would Naim do that? Does the Nova use Class-D digital amplification?
I’ve heard Class-D amps and never liked them.

In the reading I’ve done here, it seems that people do not like the sound of their analogue
sources once they get converted to digital by the Nova but that they sounded great on
other integrated amps that keep the signal analogue straight through.

Anyone have experience on this? I have a Naim XS2 right now but I am going back and
forth in my head wondering if I should get a ND5-XS2 to go with my XS2 or just get a simple
one-box Nova and sell the XS2. Getting rid of 2 cables (The Snaic and one power cord) would
allow be put the savings into a powerline. Right now I just have the stock Naim cables.

I had a Nova but it didn’t do it for me at all

I’m thinking the ND5XS2/XS2 may well give a bit more clarity and depth to the music , but I’m only saying that as no first hand experience

What I can say though is a NDX2/SN3 is far better than the Nova , as I have that combo

As usual you need demos , good luck


I believe it is for the multi-room function. I have a Rega Planar 3 connected to a Star and it performs fine, and Naim claim there is no performance hit with the ADC set-up.

But as you have a XS2, I’d just add the ND5-XS2. It would be better value and likely sound a bit better than a Nova anyway.


Most comments I’ve read here reckon the analogue inputs sound very good. I think it’s the idea of converting to digital that puts some off. However, where you have a well matched ADC-DAC in the signal chain the results can be surprisingly transparent without any obvious “digital” signature. I guess that the key is in careful engineering and matching of the ADC and DAC stages.*

*back in the mists of time I recall this being demonstrated with the original Sony PCM F1. A test was conducted by reviewers with the a system were music played direct through the system and then with a PCM-F1 inserted within the signal chain. The result being that little or no meaningful difference was heard.


the nova is deffo not class D amp, but an ADC does convert the analogue inputs. i had a nd5xs2/ sn3 and the nova really does not give much away to that combo. I use atc scm11’s


I had a Nova and it was very good, in practice the A/d converter had little or no discernible impact.

It is there for multiple room applications

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Maybe some people, others IIRC have been quite happy and then surprised to learn that the input us digitised.

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The Nova is Class A/B, just like Naim separates. I really wouldn’t worry how it does things, just listen to the options and decide. Do you actually have analogue sources, such as a turntable? Some are put off by the digital signal path, though it seems to be more through principle than practice.


I’m a very happy Uniti Nova owner and have absolutely no negative feeling about the ADC → DAC conversion used when playing records from my Rega P8. However, there are some ‘hardcore’ purists who firmly believe that this has a negative effect on sound quality.

I believe this conversion is also done to be able to stream the signal in a multi-room environment.


Another happy Nova owner here. I’ve used it with LP12 and RP3 vinyl front ends and it sounds absolutely fine.
I’ve read most Nova threads and don’t recall any negative actual listening experiences, just a lot of negative speculation from the analogue Taliban.


As said above it is to support multiroom. You can even listen to your vinyl in another room if you have devices that support multiroom.

Having not plugged in my record player in a Naim pre-amp that has a full analogue signal path it is hard to comment on any difference but my RP6/Aria combinations sounds sweet into my Atom HE.

I think, for the capabilities of the Uniti devices, the ADC conversion will be very much on point with what the devices are capable of. There is a reason the NSC222 forgo that for a full digital path, but the entire unit is priced in and is in a different league.

So on Uniti level you can just go for it, IMHO.

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I was surprised at how little difference (if any) converting analogue inputs to digital had on the SQ with my Star. As others have said it was good for sharing analogue inputs to multiroom. Naim worked out how to get the best from multiroom in the current Uniti range and we benefitted.

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The digitised analogue sources sounded fine to me when I had an LP12 hooked up to the Nova some time ago and actually made me revisit my vinyl collection. I would not have known it was digitised until I read about it.

Had there been a significant downside I suspect Naim would have made the digitisation selectable or maybe automatic when using multiroom (which I don’t use).

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I’ve been thinking about this when deciding on my options between Atom HE, 222 and Nait 50. Not much in the way of real comparisons here, may be a decision based on priorities - multiroom, if a TT is going to be used, at what level?
My main one is TT use. I believe that anything up to Rega P3 or equivalent shouldn’t make a real difference if it was to be compared side by side at Nova level, and anything above would be a personal decision. If you like what you are hearing and want to keep it simple, all good.


Sure - but it is a valid question to ask - as ADC to DAC is a lossy process and in the real world is typically even more constrained - so there should be a good reason to do it.

Indeed, and I guess there is. Maybe something @110dB can comment on?

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One really good reason may have been the ability to have a single (all digital) pre-amplification path, eliminating the analog path altogether. I seem to recall this being cited in the early days - with better performance, not just better performance at a lower price point, also mentioned.

With the closely matched ADC / DAC scheme, any losses are minimized / negligible and probably treated in a similarly beneficial way as the optimized internal up sampling for the regular digital inputs… which are claimed to offer not just “as good as” but “improved” audio performance versus preserving bit perfect all the way through the internal signal path.

That was a very significant design differentiation from, say, the contemporary 272 (and indeed from the successor 222). Very much a systems engineering view of the entire path.

FWIW, I have an entry-level ClearAudio TT and it sounds really good to me, definitely with a “character” difference that in my mind reflects the (old? biased?!) “analog” vs “digital” source thinking.


I didn’t feel any sense of loss in using my P6 with my Nova. I kept the Nova as my second system when I upgraded to SN3 and P6-P10. There is clearly something analog and special about vinyl on top of a top Naim System (now that my amplification is 500s). Even with the Nova there was still that “feel” in my view. Obviously the knowledge of a digital piece can of course mess with your head! As a simple system the Nova is really excellent - and the Atom-Nova delta I felt was enourmous. P6/Nova is a sweet combo. As was P10/NDX2/SN3.

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The full Klimax Lp12 with Urika 2 phono stage converts to digital before feeding an Exakt system. Fancy that I thought when I found out. Never heard any complaints about it.


Why Naim didn’t offer a selectable analog bypass function would have been a better question, and I think the answer is it would have been more complicated to design, and would have yielded a higher price point.