Currently have a Nova and I’m curious what a reasonable upgrade path would be for the biggest sonic benefit. Add an external amp to the Nova with idea of replacing the Nova with a 282 etc or ditch the Nova and start with the 2 box configuration of NDX2 an SN3? Both options have obvious upgrade paths but they are very different first steps.
I would add a power amp, then you can replace the Nova with new source later.
Something like stage 1 . Nova plus power amp, stage 2 Nova, Pre/ power, stage 3 source/ pre/ power.
The other factor is that the much fabled 272 replacement may well be out then
I am not sure the200 would bring anything to the table, so you would have to look further up the chain.
250DR maybe I recall @Gazza went this route with a Nova, but best he confirm.
As for the NDX2/SN3, I waited not so patiently for this to replace my solo Nova, sadly I found it offered very little in terms of improvement, that was a dealer back to back demo.
Part of the reason I felt and have found more to gain SQ with maxing out the Nova.
Ideally, it depends on where you want to end up. Though that, it itself, can be difficult to know. Also, would you have a use for the Nova in a second system if you moved to the NDX2?
I kept my Nova for my media room when I got my NDX2 and SN2. The Nova is really a bit too good not to keep…
I’ve since added the power supplies and full Powerline and Superlumina looms to the NDX2 and SN2, and it’s a delightful system. Off course, if you then want to go separates with the pre and power amps, you are stuck with having to forgo the SN2. But this is probably my end point, cost wise and box count.
I guess, if separates with a 250 feature in your long term plans, adding the 250 for the Nova is a good stepping stone. If you are not going beyond a maxed out SN2 set up that is a great option.
You also need to be mindful of speaker and system balance, as if you need to upgrade speakers as you up the range, you need to factor that in.
Yes, i had a Nova while waiting for the new streamers. My dealer had a good deal on a second hand 250 dr, made a nice lift in sound. I then added a 300 dr, also a nice improvement. But i then bought into the new streamers and went nd555/252/supercap.
It was never my intention to stick with Nova and poweramp, but it was a lot of fun, and i enjoyed the sound into my pmc 25.26, as ever best to demo these things. When i demoed-the Nova i did try the 250 dr at that time, as it was the only upgrade possibility mentioned by Naim. I did eventually try the Chord dacs into the Nova,s analogue section, up to and including DAVE. But as the Nova does a adac then dac on that input, i could not hear any benefit.
Demo the two options if possible.
However if money is no object, I ideally would go for SN3 / ndx2 avoiding redundancy of the amplification sector
I personally would go to the NDX2/Supernait3 route if you are planning to head down the separates route.
That is a nice upgrade in its self over the Nova. You then can add the HiCap for another substantial upgrade before going over to the 282 where things get really serious.
I personally wouldn’t wait around for a 272 replacement. As good as it is, it doesn’t have the flexibility of the NDX2/Supernait and it will never be a true match for a dedicated streamer/DAC and a pre amp like the 282.
Naim are not going to let combined units sound as good as there dedicated components.
There will be elements that will be close but it will never match.
I won’t bring up the “ultimate mullet” (272,555,300) however.
It depends where you want to end up. If you ultimately want a pre/power there is no point going the Supernait route as you’ll lose more money later.
Thanks everyone for your suggestions. A couple more things about my situation:
• I am in the US so cost is more of a factor here. There are very few of these components on the used market, they don’t show up often and hold their value well. For this reason it is unlikely I would ever go any higher than the 282/250DR and would probably limit PS upgrades for this same reason aside from possibly the HiCap DR or XPS. My feeling is that it is very easy to blast right past the $25K mark on separates (a topped-out 300-level system is close to $40K here).
• I currently have a limited space for box count, really only 2 boxes at this point. I could make room down the road but it would be at a higher cost due to consolidating other home theater equipment. For this reason the NDX2/SN3 option is attractive.
• I do not have a local Naim dealer, so it is nearly impossibly for me to do any demo let alone home demo; I have a good relationship with a Naim dealer but they are a 4 hour drive away.
• I do have my end-game speakers that are a dream match for the Nova, I assume they would be an excellent match for either SN3 or 250DR
• The SuperNait 3 would allow me to sell/trade up both of my Novas to come quite close to eliminating the cost difference. The 250DR would require keeping one of the Novas so I would have less $$ to trade up without a preamp or streamer.
• I do believe the Nova is already at a very high level, so I’m concerned about VFM and I think either of this upgrade paths would need to have a decent “wow” factor early on or I would likely have buyer’s remorse.
I am thinking with the NDX2/SN3 it would be easy to start with the 2 box count and hear a modest upgrade early on, then as space allows adding the XPS and HiCap DR could get me very close to end-game. With a 250DR I could see the same or slightly higher increase in SQ but it would likely be a longer waiting game to move to the 282, power supplies, and NDX 2 at a bigger expense.
I’m very impressed with the Nova and like many of you I’ve experimented with tweaks to get the most out of it. I do think there is a final step in refinement and engagement and control that an upgrade could bring. But it’s very hard to consider how far that final step would get me at the vast difference in cost ($6,000 for the Nova vs close to $30K + for the full 250-level system).
Being a XPS DR > NDX 2 > HiCap DR > SN 2 owner I will state with confidence that you will be extremely pleased with the sound of this combination.
I had the NDX 2 > SN 2 bare for six months then added an XPS DR and it was, for me, on wonderful performance improvement. Then five months latter added the HiCap.
Good luck with you decision…
When I sold my 250DR, the chap who bought it added it to his Nova as part of a step to a bigger system. He told me that he found little improvement, and now has a separate source and preamp. Bear in mind that if you get a 250 you will need a power supply for a preamp: it’s not optional. So with a NDX2 source you are looking at four boxes minimum, plus the napsc. That’s four mains leads. If you are already happy with your Nova and only have space for two boxes (remember that you should not stack them - they should be on separate shelves or side by side) it seems that the logical thing to do is to get an NDX2 and SN3. It will be much better than the Nova. You may well be so happy with it that you never feel the urge to add separate power supplies.
Just to complicate things: when I moved from a SuperUniti, the predecessor to the Nova, I was faced with a choice of NDX/SN2 or 272/250DR. I chose the latter. If you go the SN3 route you rule out the option of the 250DR and ‘new’ 272 if and when it appears. But you can’t wait for ever, so if you want to get on with things then the ND/SN will be lovely.
I wanted to follow up on this post for anyone searching in the future. I did go ahead and sell both of my Novas as well as some other gear and upgraded to the following system (including tweaks carried over from the Nova):
• Supernait 3 with Transparent High Performance power cable, direct into wall (US voltage) also supported by 3 Stillpoint Ultra Mini isolation footers. Speaker cables are Transparent Super cables going into 6 ohm Volti Rival speakers. Supported with 2 JL Audio e110 subwoofers, each crossed over at 40Hz.
• NDX 2 with Transparent Premium power cable, direct into wall (US voltage) also supported by 3 Stillpoint Ultra Mini isolation footers. DIN cable into Supernait 3 is a custom Transparent DIN (1m). Wired ethernet via EtherRegen switch & Wireworld 8 ethernet cable. NDX 2 is used as a Roon Endpoint streamer, with the Roon Core hosted on an Innuos Zen MK III server.
All of the cable, footer, and ethernet tweaks were also used with the Nova, the only difference here is the addition of the Transparent custom DIN cable.
I have been running it on since last Saturday so going on 7 days and close to 200 hours at this point, using Roon Radio aside from my listening time about 90 minutes each evening.
I can say it is about a 20% improvement over the Nova all-in-one, which is actually pretty big. It’s hard to tell what gains are attributed to the NDX2 vs the SN3, though I would guess that the control and increased bass I am hearing is from the NDX2 and the overall power and shift in presentation is the SN3.
The run in period has not been without a few oddball moments here and there, it has jumped back and forth in fidelity over the past week. There were times when the bass sounded very weak and wooly, other times where the balance and soundstage seemed to shift a bit. I do wish the volume and balance had absolute numbers on them. I was very spoiled with the Nova digital volume where I always knew I could listen at “38” or “42” or “48,” etc. It has taken some getting used to because the SN3 is also more dynamic and the differences between the songs is more evident with the SN3 - whereas the Nova seemed to have a smoother presentation overall across songs.
It has presented a few issues which I am sure I’ll iron out. The SN3 doesn’t seem to really unfold itself dimensionally until a certain volume level. Because I listen mostly in the evenings I think the Nova has a more uniform sound at lower volumes. Versus with the SN3, where I need to raise the volume until I feel the overall presentation come into its own. Hard to describe, but sort of an unfolding where the soundstage spills into the room and the separation becomes more apparent.
Another weird thing is that even though the relative volume doesn’t seem different, it does seem LOUDER somehow. Like before with the Nova I could turn the volume way down to 18-20 or so and barely hear it from my listening chair. Then I’d go upstairs and not hear it at all though the floor. Right now for example, I have turned down the SN3 to a very, very low volume where it is extremely quiet from my listening chair… but as I am upstairs typing this, I can STILL hear the music and they rhythm coming through the floor. This actually woke me up several times throughout the week as I slept upstairs and thought I had left the music playing downstairs barely audible.
Anyway I am looking forward to spending more time with the system! A HiCap DR and XPS DR are definitely in the cards, though I will have to downsize my home theater separates first to a one box AVR to make the room in my cabinet.
So far I’m happy with the upgrades.
Congratulations and thanks for the detailed update!
…you will enjoy the upgrades when you add the XPS DR & HiCap DR!
Congratulations. Sweet system. Enjoy👍
Congratulations just give it some time for everything to settle in. I know every situation is a little different and we all hear things differently, but I had very apparent SQ improvements (at least for my ears) when I replaced Transparent cabling with Naim.
Regardless enjoy your system.
Are you suggesting the stock Naim cable could be an improvement over the Transparent DIN I am using? And likewise with the power cables? Or are you saying the Lumina cables were an improvement over the Transparent?
Great post to read - thank you for taking the time to update. I suspect your SN3 is still burning in and will improve in the weeks ahead. Enjoy
I wouldn’t go that far to say SuperLumina cable is an improvement over Transparent as I haven’t heard SuperLumina in my system and I was “only” at the Plus level. As for the Naim stock DIN cable I wouldn’t discount it.
I never purchased a custom DIN-DIN from Transparent but I had the Transparent Plus RCA-RCA so still not apples to apples, but I replaced it with a Naim HiLine DIN-DIN and there was a huge difference for sure (IMHO).
At this point I wouldn’t do anything except let your system settle and enjoy it (yes there will be ups and downs for a bit). I’d come back to cables/tweaks later if you chose. Tough call because each level in Transparent is better than the previous. I was coming from the Plus level except my power cables were Premium power cables. Reading the forum and talking to others they kept recommending NACA5 cables so I tried them and was impressed. That led me to reevaluate the rest of my cables (minus the HiLine which I already had).
BTW Your system kicks ass (just give it a few weeks). I listen to mine daily! It’s the highlight of my day
Are you in the US? My dealer seemed to imply the Naim cables were $3K and up and that Transparent was a good US alternative. Not sure what the US price on the Hi Line DIN is but I’d love to give it a try at some point.
What a great detailed description of your journey and sound differences. I have both the Nova and the SN3 (though not with an NDX2 but with a ND5XS2) and my experiences are EXACTLY the same as yours.
I really feel you need to crank up the volume on the SN3 for it to sound exciting and fun to listen too. I often found it sounding soft and dull on low volumes, especially during the burn in period. When played above a certain volume the soundstage opens up and the bass becomes interesting/full and punchy. Below that volume it just lacks all warmth and energy.
I gets better after more hours on the clock but the volume thing remains. I am still not 100% convinced about the SN3 after 600 hours but I am still experimenting with what causes this dullness.
I also have a XS3 and it seems it doesn’t sound so dull on low volumes. The SN also seems to be much more sensitive to where it is placed. i.e. on the floor vs inside an oak cabinet.