I posted a while back looking for some advice and that thread is now closed, thanks for all the replies.
I have a ND5 XS 2 with the NAIT XS 2 and a set of Focal Aria 926’s. I had them in a relatively small room. Since the post and the advice I have moved them to a bigger room and done the best I can to position everything. I am very happy with the results.
Upgrade wise I have spent many hours on this forum and other research.
I have on loan a NDX 2 and a SN3. Same shawline X cable and focal speakers.
My word even on day 2 I am hearing a real additional level of control, warmth, sounds fantastic, almost effortless. One previous reply on a very similar topic mention toe tapping, certainly found myself doing that with a big smile on my face.
Obviously the upgrade cost is significant even if I trade in the 2 units I have.
The NDX2 I think is the way forward source wise with upgrade capability in the future but box count is a consideration. The SN3 versus going pre / power is in the back of my mind however. The combination on loan sounds fantastic so how much better would the non integrated path really be?
What pre / power options should I be considering for around the same cost as the new SN3 and does it really give me a further noticeable improvement?
Also I would welcome thoughts on the speakers and cables, assuming I do upgrade to the NDX2 no matter which amplification route I take my belief is although not urgent and budget being available down the line I should change my speakers, what options should I be considering?
FWIW I was recently in your shoes. The real question is where do you want to be system wise in the future? For me it’s hard to answer but in the meantime I’m enjoying the hell out of a balanced system with my SN3. I don’t have a NDX2 but I found a great second hand Naim nDAC so I use my ND5XS2 as a transport to the nDAC, SQ wise its equal if not slightly better IMHO.
I had the same questions as you. ND5XS2 and XS2 is really good(I just upgraded), but as you have found the NDX2/SN3 is better. One thing you could do is add a HiCapDR which will be useful if you decided to go to separates(at least at the 282 level and below). Some folks like it (I do) and some can’t hear much of an improvement to the SN3. I’m not familiar with your speakers, but NACA5 cables if you don’t have them are great.
Hopefully @Mr.M or @Stephen_Tate will chime in as they’ve both done the same upgrade path that you are on with Stephen just recently adding a NDX2.
For me if I had to only add one thing at a time, I’d go for the SN3. Others would say NDX2(Source). The ND5XS2 is really good.
The NDX 2 and SN3 are obviously good natural partners and will gel really well together. If i were looking at changing one component in your current position then i would go with a SN3 first as ND5 XS 2 is really good and will still shine through with musical fun, regardless.
When i chose my path, and this was mainly through financial constraints, so had to bite the bullet from the get go, i went with a HiCap DR on my NAIT XS 2 first. Then a SN3 and finally a NDX2. It all worked out it the end so have no regrets at all in doing so, as each upgrade was done within a few weeks from each other and i knew where i was heading all along. I think the SN3 will give you the biggest ‘bang for buck’ if you only to change one component first from your XS pairing.
Also, it may be worth looking at finding a pre-loved HiLine and some NAC A5 cables made up by your dealer if you’re after that Naim synergy and system completeness that folks on here so often talk about.
P.S If i were looking at a pre-power combo to significantly take out a SN3 then i would look at maybe a NAC282/NAP200/250DR. Not forgetting the appropriate PSUs required to get up & running at the same-time.
Doug, I think you should think long and hard about the direction you want to be heading. Staying with an integrated amp or separates.
From my own experience I knew I wanted to stay with a low box count and I know that means there will always be a higher level of HiFi that I may not experience. If you know you want to go in the direction of separate boxes you should work with a dealer to figure out the best road map for you.
My experience is I started with ND5 XS > NAIT XS 2 > ProAc D2’s and then upgrading over time to a NDX > SN2 > Naim Ovator S400. Then started adding components along the way to reach where I am today with XPS DR > NDX 2 > HiCapDR > SN2 > ProAc D30RS. The speaker cable all through the journey has stayed the same, NAC A5.
The majority of the components were bought individually spread out months apart. This was for both financial reasons and so that I could listen to the change and let the system settle down before making the next change. I also worked with a dealer who let me home demo all the components prior to purchase.
So try and build your roadmap on where you think your ideal system will look like and if possible work with a dealer to get where you want to go.
Best of luck with your decisions that lie ahead and have fun along the way.
My view is that if a SN3 is being considered, then a NAC202 and NAP200DR should be also.
Your primary constraints are time and money, not least the time it takes to build up upgrade funds but the time you have in your days to sit and enjoy your system.
I’ve owned and lived with most of the systems at or around what you have today including a 202/200 based system. If you feel you want more than you have today and have an appetite to evolve your system I’d encourage you to consider where you are prepared to take it over the longer term, say 5-10 years.
Personally, I’d focus on the source first then look at your preamp and the rest beyond that as time and budget allows. Inevitably you’ll get comments here about dedicated mains supplies, Fraim racks, Hi-Line, Powerline, Super Lumina and NAC A5 speaker cables and so forth as steps to enhance your listening experience. I have most of those things apart from Super Lumina cables and each has merits and benefits generally accepted as valid changes to a system to enhance its performance.
If you have the funds and time to enjoy it then a NAC/NAP based system will give you a more capable system, any level of integration is a compromise and that includes the Uniti and NAIT ranges.
I’ve found the Supernait and especially the 3, to give enough performance without it ending up becoming overly complex or expensive, it does have limitations but with a decent source like the NDX2 and with speakers you enjoy, it’ll be plenty good enough for most people and outperform most systems at a similar price point.
You can add external PSU’s to almost any system you’re looking at as options, a HiCap will get you all the way to a higher spec NAC282 and an XPS DR is usually what most folks end up with adding to a NDX2.
So even with a somewhat modest system based around a Supernait 3 you can still get it up to a 4 box system quite easily and once you’re there if you should want to keep going there’s the option to add a NAP then swap out the NAIT for a NAC and off you go again for another 5-10 years…
Speakers I’d always encourage anyone to demo in an equivalent system and ideally try them in your own listening environment.
I helped a friend put together a new system recently and luckily had a chance to demo a selection of speakers in store, I was quite surprised how different they sounded, all ok but one pair did stand out which we both agreed on. He ended up with a Rega Brio, Rega P3 Turntable and B&W 707 standmount speakers, speaker cable was Chord Clearway I think. He spent about £2k and it sounds fab.
I would skip the 202/200, which is, for me and other have reported also, not a big step vs SN2 , SN3.
282/200 second hand would be better vs SN3. All depends if you want or not to upgrade in the future.
Then later, a Supercap, 250, 252 , 555 dr would be the possible upgrades.
If not, I would go for an Ndac, with the Nd5xs2, and SN3, as a definitive system.
If you go for Ndx2, SN3, you will be probably quickly tempted by an Xps dr or even 555 dr for the Ndx2.
However an Ndx2 bare, 282/200, sounds better than Ndx2 / Xps dr, SN3, ( even SN3/ hicap). IMO and personal tests .
All, thanks for all the thoughts and insight. Very helpful.
I returned the loan units yesterday after a great week of listening and enjoyment. Running my original setup last night re-enforced the quality of the upgrades.
I think I have decided to go this route for now (NDX2 SN3), down the line the Hicap / XPS DR could be options but that is a while away.
Thanks again Doug
Doug, If you don’t mind me asking, why wasn’t the 202/200DR auditioned?
A few things Chris, right or wrong for now the box count needs to be low given the room it is in and my wife’s acceptance of the Naim journey I (we) are starting on (again). I know if I go 202/200 I will almost instantly be tempted on upgrading power supply wise, so another box (or even 2 boxes) and more cost. I have read threads and had dealer conversations about the SN3 v 202/200 bare and what the bang for buck is, some say not that much. Again all personnel taste and I have not heard the combination. Also many conversations over multiple years regarding Naim I have had have been around spend the money on the source first so I am holding true on that guidance for now.
It is a journey I intend to take over many years and hopefully I will really enjoy it. If and when the circumstances allow I may well end up on the NAC / NAP path but for now I am settled on the 2 box solution and had a great week listening to it.
Doug a few of us here are running a bare NDX2/SN3 and it’s a really nice combo with lots of upgrade options too if you feel inclined
Thanks, and pleased you enjoyed your home dem.
I don’t think you’ll find it lacking in any way, you can fiddle about with these systems endlessly and ultimately not gain more time or pleasure from the listening experience!
It’s always worth considering certain things in your list of modifications in the longer term including Naim Fraim, Hi-Line or Super Lumina DIN IC, Powerline mains cord and seperating off the mains supply to the kit, lots of generally positive experience in these respects.
Do report back once you’re up and running, always nice to hear how others find similar setups.
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