Naim powered theatre & quality streaming solution question

Good Evening All,

I’m going to add either a Nait XS 3 or preowned Supernait 3 and an ND5 XS 2 to my system for stereo music listening and in AV Bypass mode with my Arcam AVR850 as part of a 5.1 setup (soon to be 5.2.1). The speakers are Bowers & Wilkins 700 series stand-mounters plus a B&W DB4S subwoofer which accepts both LFE input and two channel stereo input via XLR or unbalanced RCA, so no issues there.

A bit of a thought exercise at the moment but I was wondering about having a Naim integrated amplifier powering the front L&R speakers in AV bypass mode running off an an AV processor, like the Arcam AVR860 or something more recent and with pre-amplifier capability, then throw in a preowned NAP-V175 three channel power amplifier to run the center and rear speakers and possibly a preowned NAP-150 to drive two ceiling speakers. If the Naim AV2 was up-to-date that would be a consideration.

Does anyway have a recommendation for a decent AVR processor & preamplifier solution that would be appropriately matched to the NAP-V175 & 150, Nait XS3 or SN3 and B&W 700 series speakers?

Welcome to the forum Chaff.

I’m confused by your post. If you already have an Arcam receiver then what are you trying to achieve?
Stereo sound or av? Useful to know your budget.
The Naim NAP items you mention, are older models and likely rare.
You can connect a streamer to your Arcam, a Naim NAP for stereo fronts and use the Arcam for the other channels. IIUC your proposal is something of a duplicate.
I have an Anthem processor (not receiver) on order to replace existing 5.1 processor, to join an existing NAP250DR for front speakers with a REL9 sub et al.
Rears, centre and in due course sides, will be updated powered by an Anthem 5 channel amp. A UQ2 is used for streaming.

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I have an Arcam 550 avr. I run sound thru my main l &r speakers using my naim 252/300dr. Works great. All the other speakers are driven by the Arcam 550 and an Arcam 720 amp. 7.4.2 configuration. But combining the avr with the naim 2channel system gives me both great 2 channel music and great theatre

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Yes- AV Bypass mode allowing integration of a Naim amp to handle ‘front left and right’ duties for a surround sound setup; excellent! (noticable uptick in sound quality)

…and then - power amping the rest of the channels also using Naim power amps?
Sure thing- very doable…

I suppose I have been using Rotel power amps for many decades doing exactly this… .(with my ‘nicer’ two channel amp handling front MAINS)**

I’m not sure what I am missing in the original post- this is standard cinema affair for decades.

The nicest ‘processor’ I own is a Proceed AVP2, and whilst I am happy using it as a 2 channel preamp for high quality STEREO sound in the den,… I have at times rigged a bunch of outboard power amps to it and done the whole 5.1 surround.

I’ve used an Outlaw 990 and other dedicated ‘preamp processors’ and find that any half decent ‘processor’ (sans amplification) blows away the same unit ‘as an integrated’.

I’d take that a step further -
having two ‘near identical’ Onkyo boxes about a decade dated, one being an DHC80.1 and the other a DTR70.4 (eek model names from the top of my head- excuse me I am sitting riverside in the five am hour waiting for the sun to rise as I write this)(photography as a hobby)…
between the two Integras/Onkyos’ the dedicated processor smashes the quality from the ‘integrated’ (even using ALL outboard power amplification), and the older processor is only XT not ‘XT32’ reequalisation… (xt32 can mix multiple subs through more bands and is a noticable step up in room re-eq)

A dedicated processor just beats out using an all in one ‘as a processor’.

I presently use an Anthem surround amp, as they do a nice room reequalisation process (ARC), and the Naim with AV Bypass makes sense…

beyond that- unless using a ‘big ticket price’ processor, or one from a bygone era, like the aforementioned Proceed AVP2, probably not worth running five plus channels of Naim amplification…
Majority of modern ‘integrated’ AV boxes are pretty average in quality, even if their spec sheets tout all the latest formats etc.

I know I would have needed to buy at least five models up the Yamaha lineup to get a fairly entry level ‘mid tier’ range product to have not stepped MASSIVELY back in sound quality vs what I typically go with…

I have had flagship surround processors (and outboard processors) going back to the early nineties (and more mainstream products prior)…

A flagship integrated surround receiver can double as a ‘processor’, but to my experience they pale in comparison to the quality found in seperates and ‘dedicated’ parts.

I’d listen to ‘lossy’ dolby digital via that ancient Proceed AVP2 before I’d listen to anything from the last decade…
proper kit renders lowly dolby digital as sounding better than many amps doing ‘modern lossless formats’.

the truth is of course somewhere in between…

having bought more flagship surround amps second hand than I own 4KUHD discs (and I have to keep them filed in draws, due to owning many well selected recordings!!), I have toyed with many of the surround amp products from the last two decades…

I’d take a flagship processor, pre ‘4k HDR’, that does XT32 (or better) room re-eq, as the best bang to buck…

playing with Atmos stuff, the cheapest affordable was the Anthem but Lyndorf and ‘others’ have raised the bar further…

A modern box that is capable of Atmos and has all the multichannel preouts (and can be upgraded external amplification), will sound better with outboard amps, but the ceiling on sound quality is set pretty low.

(when a few hundred dollars on a processor and buying pre 4k HDR@60 4/4/4 second hand part, will net massivley better sound for a lot less coin outlay (leaves more coin for better amps/speakers etc)).

a half decent video source will have multiple outputs (video and audio via seperate HDMI cables)… and can easily fire off lossless multichannel sound to the processor AND give the HDR 4K feed direct to the screen…

succinctly: (again, next to a river, watching sun rise,… writing this on a phone)

Integrated surround amp vs processor? Processor is MUCH better… (even when running all channels from outboard amps)
Modern amps are getting pretty horrible quality (too much to include whilst the price has had to keep coming down)…
unless you are buying boutique or ‘very high up the lineup’; probably better with slightly aged FLAGSHIP kit, and then working around the limitations (eg a source player with two outputs can mitigate a surround amp not handshaking with 4K HDR @ 60 frames per second etc)

The quality of the room re-eq is almost as important as the quality of product.

flagship AV integrated can be ‘bitten at’ with a decade old processor and some power amps to boot…

Some prefer extra speakers overhead in a few handfuls of titles… others prefer EVERY DISC and MEDIA sounding fantastic using only 7-11 speakers total (still enough to simulate great surround sound)


Hi @Chaff
As others have written, using Naim for front stereo and a processor / surround amp is a well worn and very successful path.

I have the 285 / 250 combination for stereo with an Arcam AVR 550. Initially the Arcam was driving the centre and rears in a set up much like yours and I wondered about a dedicated power amp for the centre channel. I tried an old Audiolab 8000P I had and while that was good, it wasn’t significantly better than the Arcam - I reasoned the Arcam wasn’t providing a lot of amplification so wasn’t too ‘stressed’. Like you, I wondered about a legacy Naim amp on the centre and was lucky to pick up a serviced NAP v145 at a great price - less than a new powerline!

I was really impressed with the improvement. Dialogue was much clearer and the expected coherence across the front three speakers was very evident. Particularly impressive with TV that didn’t have much surround. I don’t know about the second hand market where you are but it is definitely worth speaking to a few dealers and monitoring on-line sites to see if you can pick one up.

I’m waiting for some work to be done to add front Atmos speakers so will be using the spare amplification from the Arcam to drive these. Personally I wouldn’t spend on Naim for rears / Atmos. The Arcam is very good and I’d rather spend funds on the HiFi rather that the AV.


Thanks everyone for sharing your experience and useful insights, (whitedragem - was quite jealous of you watching the sunrise by the river, bet the photos turned out great!).

It seems at least from what people have written my thought process isn’t completely crazy… The Arcam AVR 850 was Arcam’s flagship AV receiver and I love it for films but I don’t love it with music. It might be the acoustic treatments in my room, speaker pairing, my ears etc. but long story short I’ve had several AV & Hi-Fi setups before and I’m sold on separate amplification for the two front speakers, a Naim XS3 or SN3 looks to be ideal for integration with AV Bypass mode. Currently using a Bluesound Node streamer as the AVR850 being an older generation has limited streaming capabilities but I cannot get on with BluOS and I missed the native support for streaming services like Qobuz which my old Yamaha RX A2070 had, one of the appeals for the acclaimed ND5 XS plus it would match aesthetically with a Naim classic look amplifier. I need to actually demo the Naim integrated amps but from a bit of reading the Naim sound seems to fit the bill of what I’m looking for.

A Eureka! moment for me concerning more dedicated amplification per speaker was bizarrely when I sold my old Bowers & Wilkins HTM62 centre speaker; I demoed it for the chap who bought it by disconnecting everything else from my AVR850 (you can’t turn off the two front channels). I was astonished at how much more dynamic it sounded being the only speaker wired in to the amp, I actually checked to make sure the subwoofer was off - I had never heard such depth from that little center speaker before. I had been advised to try power amps before but this helped plant the seed of potentially going down a processor/pre-amplifier/power-amplifier route.

The AVR850 doesn’t have amplification for height channels, something like the matching class G P429 is suggested but I had one and it failed. I will be ‘outsourcing’ the amplification of the height channels and now the front LH & RH channel.

For reference the The AV860 is essentially the AVR850 minus the internal power amplifiers, but with the addition of a high-quality XLR analogue output. I am wondering about running an AVR860 with last generation naim power amps plus a naim integrated amp and streamer rather than a mix & match of amplification across the 7 speakers. Hopefully that explains the duplicated mention of AV Receivers/Processors in my original post.

A NAP v145 would be great but they are a bit out of my budget at the moment for the centre channel. It sounds like you got a cracking deal there. I think you’ve all actually got a solution roughly along the lines of what I’m aiming for which is helpful. I quite like the idea of matching amplification for cohesion and aesthetics. I know the NAP V175 isn’t going to match the V145 though it would reduce the number of boxes & cables, in terms of sound quality though is it likely to play nicely with the B&W 700 series and is there a big difference between between the V175 and XS 3? I know they are generations apart!


I think if you check the manual, you will

I think if you check the manual, you will see that each of the AVR range can power height speakers - assuming you only want two. I think it has processing for more but has amplification for two. I hope I’m right as that is what I am planning on using!


Yes, sorry, I just checked the rear panel and you are completely right; I’ve been using those channels to ‘bi-amp’ my front speakers then earmarked them for SBL/SBR duties driving some little B&W M1s and got the P429 amp to run off the preamp out for height 1 & 2, (and two subwoofers at one point). I was also thinking of using them for zone 2 in the kitchen, forgot they were configurable for height 1 & 2, thanks for reminding me to check the back panel!


This has been quite useful as a bit of a sanity check, thanks to all that replied. I’ll go with the AVR850 running the height, surround speakers and centre then almost certainly a pre-owned SN3 or new XS 3 (both circa £2K) plus ND5 XS then keep an eye out for a NAP V145. Rather than wire in a zone 2 in the kitchen off the AVR850 I think I’ll pick up a Mu-so Qb.

Stupid question time - the B&W HTM72 S3 can be bi-wired, if I can’t get hold of a NAP V145 mono amp can I use a stereo power amp like a NAP 200 to ‘bi-amp’ the centre speaker or is that going to sound like trash because I’ll have to use some sort of RCA splitter and reduce the impedance of the speaker too much? Last thing I would want to do is come up with a Heath Robinson solution that doesn’t sound any better than simply leaving the AVR850 hooked up to the centre!


Hi Chaff you sound enthusiastic. My recent experience on considering changes to my av may be useful.
You already have av receiver, speakers, + sub, iiuc, maybe consider the following

  • Budget first - rather than the kit you would like
  • Keep it simple at first, step by step, checking that each addition over time achieves what you want
  • Achieve good 2.1 to your liking (and budget) - some films have great sound tracks, but many will sound excellent with just that combo
  • Add a Naim NAP for the front speakers, NAP250DR would be the target and plenty around at different price points
  • Consider an Apple tv for streaming, which has a Tidal app, perhaps not Qobuz
  • Add centre speaker using your avr
  • Consider avoiding kit that is long out of production, unless it comes with a length warranty (unlikely), since repair and service costs are now a lot higher
  • Since you have an existing set-up, try and purchase anything you add, as audition or return if it doesn’t work

I concentrated on stereo sound first (+ sub) which has prompted me to go step at a time, after I made a mistake by targeting what I thought would be ideal, ymmv.

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Hi sound-hound, sorry I’m evidentially causing a bit of confusion.

The B&W HTM72 S3 is a centre speaker, I currently have the Arcam AV850 with a Bluesound Node 2i hooked up to it for streaming. B&W 706 S3 standmounters up front with a B&W DB4S subwoofer, 607 S2 standmounters rear. B&W CCM362 Ceiling Speakers being added (I’m currently renovating so the ceilings are being over-boarded and the house is being rewired - seems like a good opportunity to add in Atmos capability).

The only issue I have with my 5.2.1 setup is for 2.1 or 2.0 channel music listing it doesn’t match previous 2.0 HiFi systems I’ve had. As I’m going to incorporate a Naim integrated amplifier & upgraded streamer (unless I don’t like the audition) I wondered about switching out the AVR850 for an AVR860 (processor/pre-amplifier + Naim power amps for the other speakers so that all the passive speakers would be Naim powered.

Unfortunately budget means a new Supernait 3 is too much however I can afford either a new Nait XS 3 or preowned Supernait 3 and get it serviced (I happen to live in Salisbury so not too difficult). Then I’m looking to replace the Bluesound Node with an ND5 XS2. I wasn’t planning on spending more than another thousand pounds to amplify the centre channel so the NAP V145 is out of range, possibly a NAP 175 + 150 would run centre, rear, height but probably not much point doing that?

If 2 channel is the issue, then I think I already suggested, audition / add best NAP within your budget. That provided a real benefit for my existing system, possibly with upgraded front speakers. If budget is limited at this stage, a second pre is likely unnecessary. Best advice is involve a dealer; there are several who stock used kit and will give you good advice.

In case you aren’t aware, all servicing in UK must go through a Naim dealer.

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