NDX2+XPSDr and Focal Utopia Still Evolving after 250 hours

I have new gear. NDX2, XPSDr, Focal Utopia, Cardas Clear Beyond Headphone Cable. Using the SN3. Even after 250 hours the SQ and tonal balance continues to evolve. Upgraded from the ND5XS2. My former streamer was warmer after the same number of hours. Bass is tighter and more pitch defined with the NDX2. Also I am finding that the NDX2 can more deftly articulate streaming album differences. The good albums sound better and the not so good ones sound worse than with the ND5XS2. Lastly I am finding that all HIGH RES is not created equal. The ND5XS2 seemed to gloss over differences that the NDX2 allows to come through.

Is this how it should be? I am new to Naim since October 23, so I don’t quite know what to expect.


As you’ve said, the system is still evolving and bedding in.

What I did with mine, including the headphones is to play a radio station 24/7 on a low volume even when you’re not listening to it.

With regard to HiRes, a lot depends as to how it was recorded in the first place. Some records sound better than others.

All I can suggest, is continue with it and enjoy the music. It will click into place.


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The NDX2 is more resolving than the ND5 so you are hearing a lot more of what’s actually there - both good and bad whereas the ND5 was masking a lot of info. I had a similar experience going from a Nova to NDX2 but it will settle plus your hearing / brain will adapt over time - just be patient. There are a lot of variations of SQ of hi res recordings so what you’re experiencing is fairly normal and again the NDX2 is merely exposing this.


What you are highlighting is often a problem, that the more expensive the equipment the more it shows up the defects

best wishes



If headphone listening is a priority for you, I would be looking at a dedicated headphone amp rather that using the one in the Supernait. Not that the SN3 headphone amp is bad, but still, I think you could do better, and I can’t help thinking that for the cost of that fancy Cardas cable you could probably get a headphone amp that would seriously improve your setup.


@ChrisSU Thanks for your thoughts on a better headphone amp. I won’t rule one out, but there are issues that perhaps you can suggest solutions to?

I am still unclear how it would connect to my SN3. I don’t understand the diagrams. I am new to Naim.

Can it share a shelf with my HighcapDr? That is the only shelf that does not have a full width component. Otherwise I am out of shelf space.

Placing it in a different location than on the rack is not practical.

The biggest unsolved issue is wanting to use the headphones with multiple sources. I have a Rega P9, Naim CD5SI and NDX2 streamer. I want to use the headphones will all these sources. Unless I am missing something, this would be difficult with an external amp. That is why I am using the amp in the SN3.

Speakers are still my primary sound source. I would venture to say 75% speakers.

I don’t need an amp with a streamer or a DAC. I ruled out the Atom HE because its streamer, while good, is inferior to my NDX2/XPSDR.

BTW, the fancy headphone cable was because I needed a long cable (4.5m) and my dealer could only get me the Cardas. I am not sorry as it is a great cable with the Utopia headphones.

I am open to problem solving suggestions.

Thanks so much.

If you later decide to upgrade your headphone amp, the half width ones I would go for are the Violectric V281 Re-Issue or the Ferrum Oor, you could then also send your Cardas headphone cable back to Cardas to get it re-terminated to use the better balanced connection which will further improve the sound quality.
That is all dependant on being able to connect the 281 or Oor to the SN3 whilst also having your speakers connected, if you can switch the SN3 outputs from speakers to I assume a DIN output connection so the SN is only driving one output at a time, if that is at all possible.
If so you just need a DIN to RCA cable between the SN3 and 281 or Oor.
The SN3 can connect an external power amp so maybe that is possible, to switch between speaker output and DIN output, best to check with your dealer if it can be done.
However, as Ive previously advised the headphone amp in the SN3 is very good and it will cost a lot of money to significantly better it with an external headphone amp.
For comparison, In my main system I use a Violectric V550 Headphone Amp with my Focal Stellia’s and they sound excellent. However, I also use the Stellis’s on my SN3+HiCap DR and they still sound very good and not too far behind the V550, especially considering that the V550 also has a much better source feeding it and the higher quality balanced connection to the headphones.

The best advice I can give you is to stop obsessing about the hifi. All the time you are focussed on run in, counting the hours and comparing the sound quality of different albums you’ll never enjoy your music.


There is a FAQ entry for this, it does explain it, if it helps, and sorry if not, here’s another description.

If you use a RCA based headphone amp then you need to ask your Naim dealer for a “A DIN5-4 x RCA Phono Tape interconnect”

On the back of your SN3 there are two sockets labelled “…in/out” Stream and AV.

Plugging the DIN end of the DIN to 4 RCA lead into either will mean that whatever source is selected on the SN3 will have its output sent at line level out on two of the 4 RCA connectors. Connect those to your RCA based headphone amp input RCA sockets. In the simplest case that’s all you need to do, the other RCA connectors remain unconnected.

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That would work, but you only need a DIN 180 degree 5 pin to 2 Phono lead. But… it must be that direction - DIN to Phono. Not Phono to DIN.

Not The Same.

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Mmmm… :thinking:

Both options are covered in the FAQ. I agree that a din to 2 RCA is the ideal, but given the challenges sometimes reported in getting the appropriate lead, the din to 4 RCA is at least guaranteed to work.

If using the DIN to RCA Line Level Output how do you stop the speakers connected to the SN3 from also working at the same time as this would be required?

Use the left hand rotary control on the front of the SN3?

I’m 99% sure that you just press mute. This will mute the variable output but not the line output.

Looks like the OP now has the solution to using an external headphone amp with his SN3 if he chooses to go that way in the future.
Appreciate the input from everybody, I was very curious myself if and how it would work.

Thanks Everyone. For the moment I will continue to use the amp in my SN3. I may look at this next year. I have spent a good bit on the system so far—even with my dealer’s trade in offer for the ND5XS2. My dealer keeps suggesting we consider better speakers than our Spendor A4. However we like the A4 speakers. They work well in our acoustic challenged room. We have had a history of speaker room mismatches so we are reluctant to change. One important consideration is that better speakers are often taller which would interfere with our NYC skyline view. My husband says preserving the view is non negotiable. I need to respect that.

We had not listened to HiFi for years b/c we could not see how to operate our Rega system. When a home renovation destroyed our Rega system, we started afresh with Naim, which is much easier for us to operate.

As we return to HiFi usage patterns are emerging. Streamer followed by CD followed by LP. Although I have a very good TT (Rega P9)/Exact, I don’t listen to LP often because it is difficult for me, given disability to get the LP out of the record jacket and back in after play. Operating the TT is not an issue.

At this point I am 75% speaker and 25% headphones. I listen to my Focsl Utopia about an hour a day. I am not sure if that balance will change over time.

Given my usage I am not sure where I go from here, so I might just get into the music more.

I have about 2500 LPs and 500 CDs if that changes anything.

Again thanks to everyone who offered assistance.


I listened today and I am truly vexed. I am listening to streaming. NDX2 with XPSDr. Qobuz. SN3 and Spendor A4. On some albums I find a variation in loudness from one track to the next that can be considerable. On some tracks the words are garbled from the vocals. Other times they are quite clear along with phrasing. Some tracks within the same album have tightly defined bass that is easy to follow and well articulated. Othe times bass is ill defied. Same for venue acoustics. Variable. Sometimes it sounds warm other times thin.

The better recordings sound great. Those not well recorded are more difficult to listen to. Hi-Res is not always better.

When I had the ND5XS2 , things sounded much more homogeneous with less variation and even warmer.

Is this b/c the new streamer is more resolving and neutral?

More than 300 hours. Overall the NDX2+XPSDr sounds louder with improved imaging and soundstage compared to my former ND5XS2.