Need advice on next steps for my Stereo system


I am struggling to understand the naim pathways and products. I am looking for advice on what I can do next. My system is:-

Naim Nait 5
Naim CD si5
Record Player
Vinyl pre-amp (not a great one)
Sonos amp, bridge and various speakers
Mac Mini 2012
Kef floorstanders ( very old and need replacing).

I know speakers will make big difference and there is plenty of advice out there on that.

The issues I need too address are:

  1. improving the vinyl pre amp for my record player
  2. better integrating Sonos system and replacing the Mac mini which I use for storage and to drive the Sonos speakers

It’s probably a bit early to say budgets I don’t know what to look at yet. It’s fair to say I am entry level and probably settle for the next step up.

Any guidance is much appreciated.



Could you say exactly what the mysterious record player, phono stage and speakers are? That will help with suggestions I’m sure.

Old does not of itself mean bad…
Mac Mini will do as a music store, serving to a streamer, or with decent playing software can go directly to a decent DAC. I’ll leave Naim suggestions to others, and will come back to that later if it seems appropriate. However, in the meantime at least some indication of budget would help people not go way over the top. Also, whether you want this as a system to serve you unchanged for a long time, ir whether you see yourself periodically upgrading, maybe every two if three years or whatever.

Hi Adrian,

my advice for what its worth,
Re: phono stage, personally ive found the Musical Fidelity X-LP (cylinder shaped unit) to work pretty well in my (fairly entry level) Olive Naim Setup - I previously used the Naim 322 phono boards in my NAC 72 which were fine, the MF X-LP was marginally better using the regular wall plug power supply, however, if you can get hold of the matching external power supply (X-PSU) it makes a massive difference (and it has the added benefit of being able to power up to 4 units).
I don’t have loads of spare £ to plough into mine so being able to get the p/stage and then add the power supply later worked well for me (but id be surprised if you had to part with more than 250-300 for both).

Re Speakers, im currently using a pair of Naim Credos, again these can be found easily for £200, just make sure you find a pair with the crossovers still on the back as some ive seen are removed.
I ran mine in passive mode when I only had the one amp, then when was able added another amp and an Ixo (cheaper version of Snaxo that doesn’t need a Hicap) so I could run in Active mode - for me, that was a huge upgrade in terms of sound for not a lot of cash.

Definitely need more info on your system (turntable and cartridge, in particular). Also do you have a Nait 5 (above) or a Nait5Si (your profile). The 5 has a powered Aux2 socket for use with a Stageline phono stage while the 5Si does not. Finally, newer speakers tend to be much more “analytical” than the older speakers. You may or may not like this balance of sound.

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Thank you all

The phono is Pro-ject 250 (but that might have been the price)
Cartridge is Ortofon (red)
Phono amp is a musical fidelity V90_LPS
Speakers are KEF Q35.

To clarify I have a Nait 5Si, budget wise probably looking at £3k now with view to adding later if necessary. I am thinking is there bits I could add now that helps with the digital side an bring in more naim elements. Is my existing naim limiting me?

Appreciate all advice.

Is the TT your main source? Also are you comfortable with buying a/h?

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So I use a mixture of TT, CD and digital, probably equally I like TT the most though. Not sure what a/h is but if s/h, sure.


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Thanks and apologies for my typing.

There is a lot you could change here.

If your speakers really need replacing, you should be able to find some great value options on eBay. You’ll find lots of suggestions on other threads, but a quick look suggests that good options from KEF, Spendor, Neat, Linn, Naim and more are available for less than about £600.

Your amp could certainly support a dedicated streamer - this need not be from Naim of course, and newer versions are likely usually to be better or more functional than older ones.

Having said that, a Naim ND5XS2 ex-dem might well be affordable and it is very good. It will work well with your amp and even better with a better amp should you one day also change that.

Others will make better suggestions than I can for lower cost non-Naim streamers.

If you don’t use Qobuz, even better value can be found in a Naim 272 combined streamer and pre-amp from (say) eBay now, but that really leads to ditching your current amp to get a s/h Naim 250 to go with it. If I were you, upgrading the amp would not be in my first collection of things to do. Ditto the CD.

I don’t know enough to be confident about your current turntable, but imagine that that will be completely replaced sooner or later. You could spend £500 on a better turntable (with Rega as one of the more obvious names), but I’d suggest going up a rung or two from there if and when you are ready for change here.

£1500 or so buys a lot of s/h turntable - with Rega, Technics and Clearaudio among the best choices. Spend a bit more than that and significantly better models from those are joined by Michell, Well-Tempered and of course Linn.

Your Ortofon is good value but a better cartridge might be worth considering- after all, it can follow if you later upgrade the deck. How old is your cartridge?

Similarly, getting a good and flexible phono stage makes sense. I am a huge fan of the Dynavector P75 mk 4, but they are not the only good phono stages eBay can provide - Rega is another obvious choice. However, these options all flourish with better (read more expensive) cartridges than your Ortofon.

in your position, I’d probably sort out the speakers (repair or replace) and then spend the rest of the budget on one source - better vinyl or better streaming. Then, when cash and inclination are next available, I’d upgrade the other source.

Does that help at all?


You could rip the CDs, I believe the Innuos ZENmini MK3 is well-liked for that as a ripper/streamer having a sound compatible with Naim’s. It is also upgradable with a power supply. You can use the search function here for user opinions on that device.

In my experience in a Naim context, source first always comes out on top (within reason). Personally I would rather have the source top notch, the amp fine, and the speakers last. However there are different opinions on that on the forum.

So my personal recommendations based on what you wrote so far are:

  • Buy a Innuos ZENmini MK3 for streaming and cd-ripping. If you do like to play CDs then upgrade to a used CD5 XS, it is really a world of difference.
  • Buy a decent turntable like a Rega P6 / Exact with a Rega MM Fono stage.
  • For now keep the Nait 5Si, or if budget allows upgrade to a used Nait XS3 which has a very good MM phono stage built in, so no need for the Fono anymore.
  • Make sure you have Naim NACA5 speaker cable for the whole Naim coherence. Pairs can be found everywhere used and in various lengths.
  • Do the KEF speakers last, have them refurbished or replaced (so many really affordable second hand options).
  • Sell everything else and start listening again for a while.

Not sure how the Sonos system ties into all this, though. Good luck and keep us posted!

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Thank you,

Very detailed and very insightful. It definitely gives me something to think about. I had a follow up question if you have the time. My Sonos currently links to my digital music on the Mac mini. I was wondering if this would be possible for the Innuos?

I am trying to find a good long term home for my digital library that works via the naim kit and Sonos (until I replace that).

Thank you

Thank you so much, this is extremely useful. I had a follow up question, if don’t mind. Would the naim 272 or ND5 XS, need is separate music library. I am trying to find a long term home for my digital library which works fo both Naim and Sonos.

Thank you

You’re welcome! I certainly have the time for your follow-up question but I’m not sure if I have the knowledge on Sonos and Innuos to answer it, so here’s a hunch:

I’ve copied all the digital music (ripped CDs) that was on my MacbookPro onto a quality usb stick. With most streamers nowadays you can plug in that usb stick and it will neatly show up in the app and you can play the music from there.
I see the Innuos has several usb-inputs so I trust it can do the same. Moreover, I believe you can then even copy it onto the Zen’s internal storage! There are several Innuos Zen users on the forum like @ratrat that might want to chime in.

In that case you can sell the Mac Mini I guess. Beyond that I’m not sure what else you’d still want the Sonos to do, but I’m sure others have experience with that. Hope this helps!

Neither of the Naim boxes has a NAS drive built in to it. However, a decent NAS drive can be connected to them and will show up as a server in the Naim app, and you can play music through it.

Having compared music on my Mac to music on a Naim Core (an expensive but good ripper/server), I am confident that the latter sounds better. However, that should be true for any similar box - you don’t need to buy Naim to get an upgrade.


Thanks @daddycool for a prompt

Having read the OP and other comments, I would say quite a lot to consider here.
So, breaking it all down into separate topics…

Digital Source(s)
IMO, thinking a Mac Mini is a pretty decent piece of kit. (Used one for myself in the past)
Connected to a large screen TV, there are so many things that can be done, as a “media centre”.

It can also act as a music source. I happen to like Apple Music. Their UI works well and have used Apple AAC format (for ripping and storing) in the past. It’s all okay. Sound quality is decent too. So, one option is to keep using this (with an attached Apple disc reader, for ripping CD’s ). Add a decent external DAC **(such as a Chord Qutest) to take the digital audio out - into analogue - onwards to a system controller / amplifier. Which is currently your Naim NAIT 5si.

** Note : depending on the Mac Mini (version) there may be a connectivity solution required to connect Mac Mini to an external DAC. (A good local dealer - supplying such a DAC - might advice)

If you wish to consider a separate and dedicated music server, you can’t do much better than an Innous ZENmini, (at about £1k). It acts as a ripper / server. It also has a streamer included, allowing connections over the internet to online streaming platforms such as Qobuz, etc. Lastly, it has a built in DAC, providing an analogue audio output. So it’s a complete audio source by itself too.

@daddycool YES, it is possible to import music files (most formats : WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC, AAC, MP3 ) into the ZM internal storage, (choose between HDD or SSD). It will also play directly from attached USB devices, such as USB memory sticks, etc

The ZM also allows several upgrades, if you wish to improve things, by adding : (1) an external LPSU (2) a better external DAC, (such as a Chord Qutest).

Lastly, I’m pretty sure the ZM works with the Sonos eco-system. It also works well with Roon.

Hope this thread is helpful, for background reading…

Vinyl Source
Ortofon with Project turntables are considered a decent match. The Ortofon red is okay. Maybe consider trading up the Ortofon range if you like what you have, but wish to improve ?
Or move to another turntable platform and better sounding solution.

I’m not familiar with the Project TT range. So, thinking Rega, for example : Rega P3 + Exact + Fono MM. Or, for a few hundred £ more : Rega P6 + Exact + Fono MM.

Maybe you need to hear these and other options to decide ?

Knowing what I know now, I would be inclined to look for a nice pre-loved Rega RP6 or Planar 6, (around 400-600). Spend £50-£100 on a check over and service with a local Rega dealer. Fit a new Exact MM cartridge, ( new is 295). Then also add a nice pre-loved Rega Aria phono stage, (mk1 for 400-600). (All for target budget of around £1k or a little more). That’s a really decent vinyl source, with room for you to upgrade to Rega MC cartridge, later, if you fancy this :+1:

Naim CDP and Integrated Amp
The Naim CD5si and NAIT 5si are great products, well matched. I might be tempted to suggest leaving this element of your exiting system. In Fact, maybe considering building the rest of a solution around these two great components.

Then, only consider upgrading the amplifier upwards, later, when all the audio sources are working well. Longer term, to consider NAIT XS3 or equivalent, at some future time. The XS3 has a decent internal MM phono stage. Also, offers the prospect of adding an external PSU, such a HiCap DR, for a further nice improvement too.

Apologies, as I’m not familiar with the KEF Q35. However, suspect this might be the weakest element. Suggest you consider alternatives in the £1k market sector. Such as the excellent new PMC Prodigy1 speakers.

The combined effect (of all the above) would be a nicely balanced system. Spending around £3k across three key areas (1) digital source @ £1k (2) improvements to cartridge / phono amp / record player @ £1k (3) loudspeakers @ £1k, etc.

A Good (Naim) Local Dealer ?
A relationship with a good local dealer is always a great start point. Preferably a Naim dealer, who can get to know you (and your specific likes / budget / room / music requirements) and assist on a longer term journey. Importantly, (at the start), they will know the Nait5 and CD5si and what works well with these two pieces.

Hope all those ideas and thoughts help ?
Good luck with your project

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Thank you @ratrat and @daddycool this has given my lots to think about and a good sense of direction.

Definitely agree the speakers are letting me down and will do that first, then the Innous looks interesting I am keen to have a separate music server although the Mac mini is still very good.


Interestingly just found an innuos Mk3 1tb HDD with LPSU for £1k seems a steal.

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