Nait XS vs XS2 vs XS3 ... Thoughts?

Anyone here done the progression from original XS to XS2 to XS3? Any thoughts as to the differences?

I’ve compared XS to XS2 in the past and thought the XS2 was an improvement in refinement but possibly a little “sat on” in comparison, to me it didn’t have quite the joie de vivre of the original XS. Based on the reviews of the XS3 I’ve seen I get the impression it has the best characteristics of both the XS and XS2. Would that be fair comment?

Another option would be to keep hold of the XS I have and add a Flatcap XS, would this be more of an upgrade than going from XS to XS3?

Hi, not quite the same comparison but I chose the xs2 over the Sn2, just because each time I demo’d the SN (1&2) at home I just found it too forceful, or maybe insistent in how it presented various music, just felt a bit “shouty”. I did add a HCDR to the XS2 and was entirely happy with it for many years. One wrong step was to change the power cables from bog standard Naim to various brands but found it upset the natural order of things and quickly returned back to before, later did swap in the new “lite” cables and was an improvement whilst keeping the character.

Most recently have swapped in a Sn3, which I’ve found in my setup avoids what didn’t agree with previous SNs and given the nature of the changes are similar to what has been changed in the XS I would hope for similar improvements to those I’ve experienced.

So, sorry can’t comment directly but for my preferences the iteration 3 changes are all for the better. Bass particularly has more slam and texture but more organic, letting the music breathe a bit easier.

My guess is that the Xs3 could be a real star turn, have fun finding out.

I have recently bought a brand new XS2 and it is superb.

Very musical, great sense of space and musicality - it will need to be a good amp to get near it for the money :+1:


Thanks for your thoughts. @Adam1, interesting that you found the SN2 “shouty”, I thought I was being a bit of a contrary bugger in finding it rather “forceful”, so we’re definitely on the same page there. Good to hear that you were pleased with the HCDR / Nait XS(2) combination, that gives me something to think about.

Yes, it was one of those “I really want to like it moments” with the SN1 & 2, but just couldn’t square it off, at the time my main system was all Densen (now is the alternate one in a cabin/gym) and the Densen did all the bits I liked in the Naim sound but also more, so didn’t go with it.

I later listened to the XS2, CDX2 and HCDR which up until recently formed the basis of the main in house system, the XS2 and HCDR just was more to my taste than the SN’s at that time.

However, most recently when listening to some speaker options the dealer didn’t have an XS2 combination so instead used the new SN3, because the turntable couldn’t reach they put in the Rega Aria as the phono stage, and when listening to that I found it stunning, did all the timing bits with pace but also had the subtlety and delicacy that to my hears had eluded the SN’s.

So I placed the order for the SN3 and Aria and its been excellent, but definitely more in line with what attracted me to the XS2 and HCDR in the first place than previous SN’s in my opinion and more importantly in my room.

I remember a similar dilemma to the SN’s years ago (ok decades) when auditioning new Cd players, had a Copland, Marantz CD17KI and Densen B400+ all on dem, my head wanted the Copland, as I felt a natural aversion to single make system (densen), equally the Marantz was so well reviewed it must be good. The Densen slayed them, wasn’t even close, but I was convinced I must be wrong, so I started swapping them round and my wife, who was in the kitchen, picked out the Densen every time. “Ooh, that’s better”, unreal and she holds little interest in hardware other than in music, so the Densen it was and following a recent service it is still an amazing player, different, character, absolutely, but then their tag line is life is too short for boring hifi.

Thanks again @Adam1, good to read through your findings.

Just on the off-chance, here’s paging @GaryYeowell. I know from reading the forum over the years that he’s listened to just about the entire history of NAIT’s, and owned many of them. Gary, any experience with the XS3 yet?

Hi Allan, sorry i can’t help you there i’m afraid as i have yet to listen to the XS3 :smiley:

No long term exposure to the XS3 but have owned both the original XS and XS2. I added a HiCap to my XS2 and subsequently used this on a SN1 and SN2. I certainly found the 1 and 2 somewhat different sonically and concur with your own insight. I’d expect that moving to the XS3 would give you more benefit than adding a Flatcap to the XS.
I currently run a SN3 without a HiCap for reference.

Shocking :astonished: … Would love to hear your opinion if / when you get the opportunity (I’m sure it’s just a matter of time!)

Thanks all for thoughts and opinions so far.

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I have a XS2, with sole source being ND5 XS2, and have been very satisfied. Speakers are Audio Physics Tempo Plus floor standers. That said, I have contemplated (like many on this forum) an upgrade. The two most likely choices are the addition of a HiCap DR or a SN3 (or perhaps SN2, as I’ve no need for phono stage). I’m curious as to what HiCap brings v either SN3 or SN2. Thanks.

Very curious to that as well!

I would throw in the mix also the 152/155 XS …

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I’ve not done the comparison though twice in my hi-fi life I have owned a Nait XS, the amplifier that you own now.

In order to better it I bought a NAC202/ NAP200. This thought is possibly not what you want to hear but well meant.

Chris, sounds like we’ve both been around the houses a few times. I’ve owned an XS previously and several other NAIT’s (and a few of the higher range pre/powers) and now back with an XS again. I’ve given the 202/200 some thought, in fact, I think a 202 powered by a 200DR would make for a really cool pre/power combo … maybe in the future. It’s another league price-wise and just want to explore a few options at the XS level for now.

Totally with you Allan. I am very happy with my NAC152XS/ NAP155XS which I own now… after my second Nait XS. The pre-power is less Tigger-ish, seems more powerful, and the bass notes especially are better defined. It’s also fantastic vfm.

Perhaps best of all, it gives me no cause to look further.

I’ve done both namely run a NAIT XS and XS2 as well as a SN2 with a HiCap.
With hindsight, I’d pick a swap to a SN2 or even better a SN3 (which I currently have) rather than adding a HiCap to the NAIT XS.
I wasn’t overly fond of it on the original XS, it did provide some improvements to the XS2 but to my mind only made an overall tangible benefit when driving the pre in the SN2.
You’d also be better off spending the funds on a better source component first. It may seem a bit back to front but I’d choose an XS + NDX2 over a SN2/3 with a ND5 XS2 as an example.
I had a SN2 + ND5 XS2 setup for about a year, also with a HiCap DR on the SN2.
It’s all gone now and replaced with a SN3 + NDX2.
If I had to keep only one and replace the other, I’d keep the NDX2.

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@Mr.M I’m starting to come around to your logic (Lot’s of folks actually). I recently found a second hand nDAC which I added to my nd5xs2 which has made the largest improvement to my XS2 thus far.

To the OP what is your source? I’d maximize it if possible before switching amps. Awhile ago I did have a XS then added a Flatcap it was an improvement but I didn’t jump for joy. Traded both for a XS2 and HiCapDR that’s when I started to first enjoy my system. I don’t know the XS3, but the XS2 is a really good amp especially if your source can better or match it.

Naim tend to favour the middle part of a system. Take the Statement amplifier for instance. There is nothing in the Naim hierarchy quite like the Statement. Before that it was active amplification. Although i do agree here that source first is best served. I don’t think things are as clear cut as people believe. For instance, i have just upgraded from a XS2 amplifier to a SN3 and the difference is much larger than going from a Cd5si to a ND5 XS 2 with a NAIT5si. Also introducing a HiCap DR in my system is better still than without it. Yes an NDX 2 will bring more but even now things are already superb.

I have a feeling once you hear the NDX2 you’ll be surprised at the overall jump. Naim makes great products regardless of price IMHO.

If you watch a demo by Naim themselves on Youtube they upgrade the SN3 with a HiCap DR first before upgrading the NDX 2 with a XPS DR. I think it’s all about balance.

Being speaker heavy however is a completely different ball game altogether.

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