New System Ideas

Hello new to the forum and looking for some advice on a new system. I currently have Musical Fidelity A5 amp and matching A5 CD player with Spendor A6e speakers and Project Experience 2 turntable with Ortofon Blue cart. I purchased this in 2005 and plan on keeping as a separate system in bedroom. I am approaching retirement and thought I would treat myself to a new system. My budget will be around £10k. I have around 2500 lps and 1500 cds so hope to get the best out of those, I did originally fancy a streamer but don’t think I will have enough funds to do that ? I have created a shortlist based on general advice on the forum as follows. SN3, Rega P8 or is it worth stretching to separate Pre and Power. I would appreciate any advice on appropriate speakers at around £2.5k thanks

I wonder if you will get much use out of a bedroom system. You could alternatively keep the amp and speakers and upgrade your sources leaving some funds for later upgrades?

Thanks Gazza, I forgot to mention that the system is also connected to a tv and I also use it for blu ray play back. I don’t really want to interfere with it too much it’s ok as it is. My plan was to get a separate system for music only. I do plan to get to a couple of local dealers and do some listening, I just want to get the biggest bang for my buck as it were. I’m hoping the naim amp will be a big enough upgrade to warrant the outlay and I would hope to get the best turntable my funds will allow


Speak to John Sampson about getting your a5 amp upgraded.

Well the biggest bang for your buck could be ex demo or trade ins at your local naim dealers as customers trade in for the new classic series……you should be able, if patient to get close to that budget with a trade in 250dr, preamp, etc etc

1 Like

Yes I don’t mind 2nd hand or ex demo to get a better deal and more importantly better sq

1 Like

What would the upgrade be ?

If I had any sense, then I would have approached HiFi your way - i.e. start again from scratch with a new and better system every 15-20 years, and leave it well alone in between. That way you ensure a well balanced system each time and can just focus more on the music. I did this once with my first Linn/Exposure system but then, after 17 years of good service, started dicking around piecemeal.

P10 is a great deck (not heard P8) and SN3 is plenty good enough to do it justice in my opinion.

Sorry, cant help with well matched speakers to dem with such a system, but you’ve come to the right place to get plenty of good suggestions.

1 Like

Definitely internal power supply. You’ll need to speak to him for the rest. I think you’ll be surprised at what an mf amp can become once all the inherent “corner cutting to keep the build price down” is removed.

You have lots of choices, and buying at least some of it second hand or ex-dem would get a lot more music per £. Can I try a few queries before making a tentative suggestion or two?

Does the LP /CD split show that most of your listening is and will remain on LP?

Would you be willing to consider including a ripper/server box like a Naim Core as part of your set up? Ripping a CD into its library takes a couple of minutes (just once) and you can then use a streamer to play it back from there. You can even put the actual CDs in the loft if you do that.

A key benefit of this approach is that the same streamer will play from streaming services (Tidal, Qobuz et al) and radio. That would give CD and streaming with a bit less total outlay than you might think, particularly since a Core (or a cheaper equivalent) is a pretty safe and uncontentious eBay purchase. That would not use up much of your budget.

How big is your room?
What is the floor?
Can you get speakers a decent distance from the wall behind them?
How loud do you like to listen?
If you could improve just one thing versus your current system, what would it be?
Has any other system ever really bowled you over?

Unless you have a mate willing to lend you boxes for a few hours, you will need help from a dealer because auditioning this stuff to decide what you actually like will be important. So…

What dealers are near you?

Ideally, you’d have a dealer that carries Naim amplification and/or sources so that you can hear the boxes most likely to be suggested here. Hopefully, they will also carry a few different speaker choices - Neat, Spendor and ATC might well be top choices here. However, B&W, ProAc, Harbeth and PMC all have a lot of fans here too.

Of course, just because you get some boxes and some good ideas from a dealer, that doesn’t stop you buying some other things from eBay, particularly once you know what sort of thing you like.


I had to replace a dying CD player a few years ago, and decided that streaming was the future not CD, so bought a streamer instead of a CD player and ripped all my CDs, but only 5-600. I’ve never looked back as it is so convenient while being space-saving, opens the door to higher resolutions, and also opened the door to moving up sound quality wise principally by improving the DAC. Simplest would be something like an ND5XS2, ex-dem if possible, plus a NAS for file storage (latter not needed for purely online streaming - but for that you have to be happy with a commitment to subscription service and lack of absolute certainty over availability of particular music). There are other approaches that can achieve as good or possibly better sound quality at lower cost, but are more hands-on to set up.

This is a difficult one as, of all system components, speakers have the most significant effect on sound character, what one person likes another may dislike, and all speakers sound different. First perhaps you need to decide if you desire full spectrum sound or if curtailed bass is acceptable to you? Does your taste in music require minimal contribution by the system such as is often the case with classical music, or do you want it made “exciting”, perhaps by emphasis of upper bass/midrange or other colouration? personally I require full range and as neutral as possible, and from experience prefer transmission line designs such as by PMC. The buying power of your £2.5k would be maximised by buying secondhand or ex-dem. Speakers last for many years.

Beyond those thoughts, it may be appropriate to question whether it is worth spending any more money on vinyl replay, as opposed to simply maintaining its capability by stylus/cartridge updates, as it can be an expensive rabbit-hole. (In my view good digital now beats vinyl - and need not be hugely expensive.)

Meanwhile one option possibly worth considering is one of Naim’s “one box” systems to give you CD, streaming and amplification in one compact unit, Atom, Star or Nova. I can’t advise on them but I’m sure others can.

1 Like

The room I intend to use is another bedroom approx 15 ft x 7ft it is relatively small but would be dedicated to the system, I hope the room doesn’t have too much of a bearing on what I can get.

I tend to listen to vinyl slightly more than cd, however I am slightly disappointed that the vinyl reproduction can sound quite thin in comparison only on great recordings does it get anywhere near. My goal is to get a turntable system that gives me that punch and depth that I get from cd.

I would definitely consider a core to store the cds but I wouldn’t want to spread my budget too far in order to get that. The room would allow me to place the speakers a couple of feet from rear wall and my listening chair would be around 2.5m from speakers.

I mainly listen to prog and rock at reasonable levels if the recording nearest dealers are sound org at York and hi fi shop at Stockton on tees, I plan to visit both when I get time. When I bought my MF system years ago I did audition 202/ 200 at York but funds wouldn’t allow at the time. The best system I heard was at Chester hi fi show a couple of years ago it was 250/282 into spendor speakers the grip and drive was what I noticed most, this is ultimately what I’m looking for

Funnily enough, I have a SN3 and a Rega P8. They sound great with my Harbeth P3ESR speakers. I use an EAR 834 Deluxe phono pre-amp but I’ve tested the system with the SN3’s phono stage and did not find it lacking at all. To add to the coincidence I also had the MF A5 for a number of years, as well.

The A5 was “fine” and powerful, but kind of flat or just OK in my system. I replaced that with an all tube Rogue Audio amp to try something really different and liked it very much. It was really different than the A5 in a good way.

I picked up a used SN3 only a few weeks ago and it’s brighter and livelier than the tube amp, but still with plenty of mid-range. The A5 is long gone, so I can’t compare it’s sound to that amp. But by memory the Naim is miles ahead of the A5.

One suggestion - the A5 has a “Home Theater Bypass” to allow you to connect directly to the power amp within the A5 bypassing the A5’s pre-amp. You could get a simple pre-amp for your CD and Phono sources and test your separates ideas out with your existing A5. The pre-amp in the A5 is the weaker of the two sections in that integrated amp.

With retirement approaching I want to get the best I can afford now so that I don’t spend time worrying about upgrades and just enjoy the music


I’ve been retired for 5-years now and really loving every minute of it. Enjoy.

Let’s assume the speakers are a touch under 6 foot apart, with a foot free behind them and you sitting no more than about 10 feet away (so not necessarily hard against the back wall) and perhaps more like 7 feet away.

The obvious answers would be a Rega P8 with Neo power supply and Ania MC cartridge (c.£2500 new for the lot), Rega Fono MC phono stage (£280), Rega Saturn CD player (£2000 new), plus Naim Supernait 3 amp (£3800 new).

For speakers you could opt for several great stand mounts for less than £2500, or ex-dem Spendor A4s for about the same. You could seriously consider the small but remarkable Neat Iota Alphas (£2000 new) - even though they are technically floorstanders, they take up less space than most stand-mounts and are vastly smaller than (say) A4s.

It’s all good stuff and you will make a dealer happy, but I think you can do better.

Instead of a new Supernait 3, I’d probably spend my cash on a second-hand 82 preamp, Hicap PS and 250 power amp.

Instead of the CD player, I’d spend c.£1000 on a second-hand Core and £2000 on a second-hand Naim ND5XS2 streamer.

For a lower cost option, I’d spend c.£1000 on a s/h Naim 272 (preamp, streamer & DAC) and about the same on a s/h Naim 250 power amp (making sure that it had been serviced in the last 15 years). Add that Core or just an Audiolab CD Transport (£300 - £1000 depending on which one you get), and I reckon that you have more music and enjoyment than the new boxes can offer for a good deal less money.

What to upgrade from the ‘standard’ choices, now that you have saved all that cash (taking either of the above routes)?

Instead of the Rega phono stage, I’d definitely get a Dynavector P75 mark 4 (£800 new or £400 second hand).

Instead of a P8 turntable, I’d certainly consider a Rega P10, perhaps with a better cartridge. I might even talk to a shop like Cymbiosis and ask what Linn LP12 they could put together for c.£4000. And I’d definitely talk to Sound Org or a similarly good shop about hearing any ex-dem speakers that they reckon would beat A4s or Iota Alphas.

FWIW, I just did a similar exercise for a holiday home. I ended up with Naim ND5XS2 streamer, Naim Core, Naim 82 preamp/ Hicap PS and 250 power amp plus Neat Xplorers and mid-range (very second-hand) LP12 - even the Dynvector phono stage was second-hand (and half new price). My actual spend was little over £10K, but it took a bit of patience and a couple of car trips to get it all. The only new items were the cartridge on the LP12 and the cables - some of the rest was ex-dem or traded back to dealers and the rest was from eBay.

Finally, I’d encourage not spending a packet on cables and supports. However, a wall shelf for the turntable and Naim A5 or Kudos KS-1 speaker cable (rather than a budget choice) would be good ideas.

Given how much you plan to spend, it’s worth investing a few afternoons in phone calls and a couple of visits to suitable dealers to hear some off this stuff before buying.

Good luck!

1 Like

In your place I would either:

a) keep the record player and speakers and stretch to a 222/250


b) find a good dealer with plenty of used stock. It’s a good time to buy used. Tom Tom would be a good place to start.

Happy hunting.

I have decided to audition sn3/ hi cap v 282/250 when I can get to dealers. I also fancy listening to the nd5 xs2 streamer. Do you think Dynaudio Evoke 30 / 50 would complement the amps I’ve mentioned?

Think I’ll probably hang on to the Project turntable for now to see how it sounds . I currently have the Rega fono MC, would this source be lacking?

Would I be able to connect my MF A 5 CD player to the above systems.

When I first auditioned my Evoke 50’s it was with an SN3 (no HiCap) and that combination sounded amazing. So much so, that my wife insisted we buy them on the spot along with a full fat Fraim and NAP SC :man_shrugging:t4: :joy:

Hi, all sorts of solutions , out there .

I would be looking at a “hub” something , (say a decent DAC) that will take the signal from the blu ray and TV and either feed it to a separate amp , or have something like a Star that takes the signal from the blu ray and TV and feeds that into speakers .

Funnily enough reading this , I wonder about the furniture supporting the TV and how big that is ?

If it was me, I would be looking at a Star , a ClearAudio Concept - with built in phono stage (or Technics) splitting the rest on cables, furniture and speakers. That will enable CD, streaming and vinyl from quality manufacturers with just two boxes .

Some brands like NEAT or PMC are known to work well with Naim