That’s a big can to open.
You can do a search using the term ‘Balanced System’ and it will return quite a lot of reading material. The subject has been discussed a lot.
Lots of good reading…
you are making things difficult here …
( financially speaking)
And the best things tend to cost…
Thank you for the link, I know I have a weak link in my set up but the changes tomorrow.
So could it be said people who are upgrading one piece of equipment at a time - like me - may be going balanced, unbalanced, to balanced etc. until they’re at the final system?
Yes, lots of people will add a component at a time when they are building towards a balanced system. A lot of opinions on which component to start with but source first seems to get mentioned quite a bit.
If your happy with what your hearing that is the most important factor. I have found the advice from a lot of the members on the forum to be quite valuable on my journey.
Good luck with your decisions…
The stressful threads to avoid :
- Ethernet cables
- Ethernet switches
- Focal speakers
- Blind tests
- gear measurements
- balanced system
- DCS and Chord vs Naim
I had an Xs2 with hicap dr, lived with it for some time and preferred it to Sn1 (which I tried a few years before on home dem).
However I now have a SN3, which was bought with a Rega Aria phonostage and kept the hicap dr.
The Rega wasn’t really needed in truth as the internal phono stage is rather special, one fat I might upgrade front end to justify the Rega.
The Xs2 is a lovely amp with HCDR in my experience , the SN3 does offer an evolutionary improvement and is a stunning amp.
I’d also be tempted to try the Kudos Ks-1 cable, did wonders in both my systems for not much outlay, seems to love Naim.
Your route is more logical. It’s difficult to have always all balanced at one time.
But some start with unbalanced and have no desire to upgrade, like for instance a Nova into Wilson Sabrina speakers. It’s more problematic.
But as Seakayaker said, if they are happy, it’s the most important. But then they should not search advices from the community.
I think what comes out of these types of threads is the need to always consider the system as a whole, hence the comments referring to balance or synergy. That in combination with an idea of where you want to take the system over an extended period of time, with major and minor changes along that journey.
The fact that the Naim portfolio offers and encourages an owner to progress through the range in the pursuit of more refinement and further enjoyment from your system is both a blessing and a curse!
It’s great in that you can usually add incremental changes as you go but frustrating in that it can be hard to know when to stop and enjoy where you are right now.
I’d agree with others that the XS 2 is a capable, engaging and enjoyable integrated, I also ran mine with a HiCap DR for much of the time I owned one and combined it with a Naim CD5i and later CD5 XS CD player.
Once I’d added a ND5 XS to the mix I started to see where the limitations of that system were and beyond that moved to Chord DAC’s and eventually ended up with a ND5 XS2 and now an NDX2.
I also moved between XS and Supernaits along the way, eventually ending up at a SN3.
I also confess to buying speakers not best suited to the system at the time and growing in to them, but they did always do an ok job and later did a very good one, in my case those were PMC OB1i floor standers, I got them used at a favourable price and bought them knowing I’d likely need to replace everything else I had then to get the most from them.
I think I even ran those off a NAIT 5 for a while, shame of shames
Getting back to the OP’s dilemma, yes he does have big speakers, and a NAIT XS2 is probably not pushing them to their limits, but they’re probably efficient enough to do ok and not leave you reaching for the OFF switch in disgust.
Replace the NAIT with a SN3 will see them driven harder and with better control and grip, even with the existing source you’re taking a step towards refinement and system optimisation. Beyond that adding in a better DAC/Transport will yield further results and at that point then you can look at PSU’s on the NAIT (HiCap DR, not necessary in my view) or source if you have suitable Naim sources (worth it if it’s an NDX2, a XPS DR is sufficient here) or if you have something from Chord or someone else, just have it connected and enjoy what it offers.
The SN3 might sound subjectively good to a lot of folks here, but it’s one of the noisiest Naim amps in terms of SNR / distortion:
63dB Sinad for SN3 means it’s comparable to vinyl in terms of noise level.
So an expensive, high end streamer/DAC like the NDX2 may not necessarily be the best investment in that scenario, an ND5 XS2 might be better matched in terms of performance.
The NDX2 would then be better matched with higher end amps like the 250DR or 300DR.
Well, as we all know, either from hearing it discussed on the Naim Community on a daily basis or having spent our money and sat in front of it, there’s always a “better” to be had one way or another!
Your only real limit in that respect being free time to enjoy it and cash to fund it and to an extent a suitable space to locate it all and allow it to perform favourably.
I had the house to myself and gaps between work commitments for an hour today and sat enjoying my system and it delivered, taking me away from the here and now for that brief window of time. The noise on this occasion being rather enjoyable, if a little on the loud side
With a Vega G2, you’ve got it. Just add quality active speakers and you’ll have a fine two-box system, or even one box if you don’t include the RP8.
But why? If you’re planning to spend a couple of grand on upgrading your electronics, why not consider investing it in the source, with something like a ND5XS2? Subsequently, when finances allowed you could add an nDAC which would give you a front end worthy of a SuperNait.
I owned a Nait XS for a while and upgraded to a SN1/HiCap with a big improvement in SQ – a much fuller and more realistic and musically engaging sound. But I did have a commensurate source (CD5XS/nDAC).
Based on my underwhelming experience with the Nait XS, and assuming that the XS2 is a minor improvement over that, I’d recommend to go for it.
What comes out of threads like these is the importance of auditioning a range of different options. This is the best way to ensure you’re spending your funds most appropriately for you. All of the opinions offered by others should be viewed as useful input, nothing more and nothing less.
When I upgraded my system a few months ago I was convinced I was going to buy an Atom and some small stand mounters. Only after I listened to a whole range of different options did I start to appreciate the differences between components and start to understand my own preferences. There’s no substitution for a good dealer and lots of auditioning.
Now that’s interesting, @litemotiv. It didn’t improve upon the original Supernait at all. The SN2 I own as reviewed and measured by Martin Collums and staff at HiFiCritic is down -11dB, -6dB and -5dB, respectively, from the original (and thusly comparably down to the SN3). I wonder why this is?
Regardless, I always assumed the NDX2 would be in the classic sense a preferred partner to the SN series of Integrateds. As I’ve stated, when I had the ND5 XS2/Qutest pairing, I’d be hard-pressed to tell any difference between those and the (bare) NDX2. The better power supply (a Paul Hynes SR4) went on the Qutest. A memorable and lovely sound it was.
I have been considering another system which would possibly require different speakers and you raise a great point to consider active and keep it all smart with minimum box count! With a next 272 I would have considered a matching Naim power amplification, otherwise, quite agree with you.