Nova or Supernait

Hi all, I’m going to start replacing my existing amp and source with Naim components as I love my Atom so much in my small system. I will be using Neat Acoustics Momentum SX7i’s for this system and was intending starting with a Supernait 3 and NDX streamer but then looking at reviews on the Nova I’m very tempted to try one, has anyone else been down this route? If so what conclusions? Will the SN3 be much better than the Nova with these speakers?

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Hi, I use SX7i’s as well. My main system is 500 based and my pre had to be sent back for a while due to a fault and while it was away I put my Nova (which is normally in the study) in the main rack in listening room. I must say I was VERY impressed and if I did not already own the 500 system I could easily live with a Nova. It is now back in the study and as I WFH I am listening to it 10-11 hours a day (different speakers though) and I really do like it and it is a great one box solution. I dont have any experience of listening to a SN3 at home through my speakers though as a comparison. I suppose it really depends if you are thinking about upgrading in the future as the SN3/NDX would make more sense if you are.


Brilliant thanks for the advice, good point, I have tended to replace rather than upgrade which is why I’ve got 5 amps at the mo, I did try Atom with the Neats and really really liked the sound so I figured the Nova would be like the Atom on steroids?

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What a great excuse to head down to your Naim dealer and compare! :slight_smile:

I like the idea of SN3+NDX2 myself cos it provides a bit more flexibility whilst still being relatively compact. Flexibility in terms of driving speakers and also in terms of upgrading your digital source in the future - bearing in mind that digital streaming technology is moving forwards much faster than analogue amplifiers. Double the price though!


I moved from a Nova to SN3/NDX2, big jump in performance, I never really got on with the Nova, I think my speakers exposed it a bit. If you can stretch to the SN3 with a good source it’s the way to go, speaker dependant though.


In light of the year I (we all) have just had I thought I’d share my experiences. Last year I was in the market for a new streamer/all-in-one/ amp…such a dilemma - didn’t know what I really wanted , being new to streaming. I did however know that I wanted to continue listening to vinyl, but the Naim Atom or Nova seemed very appealing. I used the lockdown opportunity to do more home auditioning - (dealers were more open to this I found during this time).

Initially I had my sights on a Rega Aethos - great for vinyl and probably would have made a good platform to introduce a streamer - tried the Aethos - sounded full bodied with my Rega turntable with great clarity. I wanted to try this with a Cambridge CXN V2 streamer , but didn’t quite manage to secure one for trial. Another day and another dealer(s) allowed my to audition a Uniti Nova (from one dealer) and a Uniti Star + ND5X2/SN3 (from another) at home. At last I was going to be able to hear for myself the reported differences between these different set ups for myself !!! Did so for another 2 weeks and these were my impressions:

First up - the Uniti Star - really liked this - particularly the CD player and the ability to rip your CDs easily - sound was precise, tight and controlled but maybe lacked a little clout when the volume was cranked up (but not much - this thing really can pack a punch and I could easily live with it)
I was expecting an improvement with the Nova - there was, but it is really splitting hairs to discern the difference, though the Nova maintains its poise, definition and bass better than the Star when the volume is cranked up. I liked both and could have easily lived with either I thought. Initially, I like the displays on both, but do you know what? …within half an hour of using either I realised the display to me was a cosmetic ‘nice to have’ and I realised I was doing everything from the Naim app on either my phone or iPad. The display at the other side of the room became superfluous (and the irony was that I, like many, really wanted a streamer with a display at first!). But I didn’t look back - the Naim app is really very good.

Next up was the SN3/ND5XS2. A combo that again really projects beautiful definition and controlled bass - the difference in sound between the Nova and this is really small , maybe the SN3 is a little warmer with a slightly firmer bass, the projection and imagery is also slightly improved- to appreciate the differences you really have to concentrate on listening!. But I wasn’t going to swayed by my own subjectivity. So, I sat my sons down for a blind listening test - (they are both in their 20s have diverse musical tastes and more importantly - very good ears!!) They were divided between the Nova and the SN3/ND5XS2 combo (they are so similar) and we spent a good half an hour discussing the merits of each…

But then I went back and tried playing vinyl. The Star and Nova effectively take an analogue input from your turntable, perform and A/D conversion and then a D/A conversion on the output. The sound is still very good but I noted that it sounded a bit ‘thin’ - don’t get me wrong - good definition but the bass was a little lacking for my taste. By comparison the SN3 brought all that goodness back again and this is where it excelled! In the end I bought the SN3 for this reason and of course the ND5XS2. Both my sons also preferred the vinyl sound from the SN3 - this was the biggest difference between the SN3 and the Nova - never night and day - subtle in every way but ultimately more listenable.

So, in conclusion I would say that if you want an all-in -one and don’t have any aspirations to play vinyl - the Star / Nova are brilliant and I would buy the either tomorrow! If you wish to play vinyl as well then the SN3/ND5XS2 is the option to go for. The display might be a deal breaker for some - but I reckon you’ll stop using it within a short time period! Also, as tactile as the large selector /volume control on the top of the unit is - I stack my units and access to the top is awkward - much prefer controls on the front face of the unit, but conversely if this is your only unit (which it is designed to be ) then this feature is brilliant!

Incidentally, one of the bonuses I found with the ND5XS2 is that I can use my old Arcam CD player as a transport only, and let the streamer do the D/A conversion - this has improved my CD experience. An added bonus is that with the 3.5mm remote cable plugged between the streamer (ND5XS2) and the amp (SN3), I can control my CD player! …change /skip tracks/ pause / play etc …all from the SN3 remote - so now I just need the one remote and my iPad/ phone! I also like the fact anyone in the house can jump in and use their phone and start streaming without going near the amp - so the streamer can control the amp also. The synergy here is so very good!


Interesting findings indeed! and I had heard that the difference wasn’t huge between the two alternatives digitally. About 50% of my listening is vinyl and I figured if I went down the Nova route for analogue and digital the cost differnce between the SN3/NDX and the Nova would allow me to buy a very good phono stage and still be in pocket, so if the amplifier section of the Nova is comparable to the SN3 it should lose any more with a very good phono stage? Plus I’d have the streamer built in.

This is great write-up and matches my experience as well. I had a Uniti Star before and easily could have lived with it. If you don’t want to get into the hi-fi merry-go-round i suggest to use an All-in-One and do not think about upgrades.

Is my current setup better? Yes. Does it make me enjoy the music more? Not really :slight_smile:

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I don’t think that the amplifier section is comparable even though the listed output is the same. From what i understand the SN3 has a lot more going on, and it also use the DR technology which i think is not present in the Uniti range.

However the Nova may may be all you need.

Personally i would not buy an NDX anymore unless your focus is streaming from your local network.


Great post Markzero ! On streamer, did you have a chance to compare ND5XS2 to NDX2 ?

Don’t forget that the Nova also offers an upgrade path and an option to incorporate DR technology. I have a P10 fronting a Nova plus a 250DR. I have no doubt that the separate power amp frees up some additional capability from the Novas preamp offering more clarity, etc. It thus effectively becomes a 2 box solution. It depends where you are going long term, I chose this route as a stop gap as I await the inevitable updated 272 replacement with the newer streaming platform (and perhaps an upgraded DAC?) that will then replace the Nova. In the meantime the combination is very good indeed, and vinyl replay in particular is excellent…


I did listen to the NDX2 later - before I decided on the final purchase - but not in my home environment - could not discern any sound difference when comparing the two in the shop - the ND5XS2 was therefore much better value for me… even when I tested the two side by side in the context of another system. I think I was expecting to hear great strides of improvement when going further up the hierarchy (after reading loads of reviews on this and other forums) but this simply is not the case - improvements are subtle - the NDX2 certainly did not justify the extra ~£2k expenditure


My guess is that the NDX2 only makes sense if you are planning to add an XPS-DR further down the road. Otherwise (and if you do not need a screen and that awful remote) you may save you some hassle and stick to the ND5XS2, as i did :slight_smile:


Someone is going to say “mullet”, but I prefer to think in terms of balance. A Nova plus the Neats would be around £12k new and the question I would want to ask is whether that is the best Naim sound I could get for the money. If you’ve already got the speakers, I suspect upgraditis will set in soon and the ND/SN combination gives a lot more flexibility in that respect. But I strongly agree with the recommendation to find a helpful dealer and work with them.


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It’s a very good point and I do agree with balance (£8k speakers-£8k amp-£8k source) and I have tried £8k ish amps with these neats and I have a £4k Yamaha analogue amp and all worked very well as they are quite forgiving speakers but I really thought the Atom woke them up and they rocked! so maybe Naim and Neat are a good match?

Very good write up and mirrors my experience of the Nova and SN3. The Nova (and probably the Star - I haven’t heard it) are very good indeed. The SN3 is also excellent and the phono stage is much better than when using the Nova (via a Rega Fono).

The only point where I differ is with the screen which I find invaluable and one reason (albeit a minor one) that I ended up with an NDX2 instead of an ND5XS2.


I moved from Nova to Supernait 3 / NDX 5 SX 2 two months back and the biggest change is the way the vinyl sounds (I had a MoFi Ultraphono on the Nova), the phono stage on the SN3 is just fantastic. I do miss the one box Nova at times, it’s just a very elegant one box solution that I could easily live with if it would include a proper phono stage.


All good advice thanks, I think it just boils down to the Nova and SN3 are different animals ans really depend on listening source, the issue I have is it’s half digital and half vinyl so from all the comments I’m leaning towards SN3 and a streamer

My current setup is a SN3 + NDX2 and I’ve recently added one of my Rega decks to the mix.
I could add more to it, like a PS or two, maybe some fiddling with cabling, but I’ve not found it lacking, it does an awful lot with 2 boxes and will likely give you a somewhat more grown up system than a Nova alone, the built in MM phono input on the SN3 is pretty good so that may be a selling point in your case. You’d need a seperate phonostage for the Nova if nothing else and whilst you can add a NAP power amp to a Nova, it’s not really it’s intended configuration, the bottleneck is then the preamp in the Nova and it’s primarily a means to an end to ultimately replace the Nova with a NAC and seperate source.
The more separation between components, the higher the ceiling in performance attainable, the cost there a mix of cash and space.
The SN3 + NDX2 gives you a big slice of classic performance without the box count, both products give you options to grow down the line with more choice than those possible on a Uniti product.


Even more convinced now to stick with seperates (which is what I’ve used for 20 years), I guess I was just so impressed with the little Atom I have in my dining room it just made me curious to investigate it’s bigger brothers!