Old or New

Hi all,
First post but a long time reader so let me initially say many thanks to all the past information written in this form as has been most useful, and entertaining, to read.

I started my journey a few years ago with Linn dsm and kans, but due to the arrival of our first, then second child, the late nite playing of music severely diminished.

I couldn’t be without music, so purchased chord hugo2 with hd800 to help the long hrs in front of the drawing board.

We have now moved house, with own office/listening room, so it’s time to buy some proper kit

I see extensive enthusiastic praise given to older equipment, CB and olive, and keen to open discussion on whether I should invest in either this or a more modern black box, believe it’s called triptic case?

I’m in my 30’s, so will a let’s say +30 year old amp last another +30 years if regularly serviced ?

I now have proac tablette and considering initially used my Hugo 2 as source with either
(all around the same price)

82,250
202,200 or 272,200
Supernait 2/3 with 200

Apologies for the rambling intro … it’s not just about me, would like to get a general option on people’s thoughts; buy old or new !

Hi and welcome,

I don’t know the older Naim kit except by listening to it at shows in the 80s, lovely music.

As you indicate if they’re maintained the amps will sound great if of course paired with the right speakers for room etc. And build standard and reliability 2nd to none. Earlier CD players unfortunately the lasers aren’t available.

As for comparing with the more modern stuff I couldn’t say but the music will still be great.

However, if you like the idea of a 200 seek out a 200DR model and see if you can stretch to a 2nd hand 282 with your Chord you’ll get sweet sweet music.

Regards,

Lindsay

I went new when having similar thoughts. I can’t really explain why, nor did I audition the older alternatives.

I replaced a NAIT3 I’d owned for 20 odd years with a new XS3. I like the simplicity of an integrated. Couldn’t afford a SN3. Wanted to support the factory and a dealer.

I effectively “turned down” a 72/140 or SN2, to buy the XS3, which is quite a decision. Thankfully I didn’t listen to either of those options X)

I love the XS3, it sounds great, and over recent months has easily shown up differences in turntables, streamers phono stages etc. It’s also one box, readily packed up, moved etc.

The XS3 really does sound good, my listening room isn’t ideal, though has recently improved with the addition of a sofa! But listening to my gear in various dealers listening rooms demoing source upgrades has really showed what it can do, it’s really good.

If any of that helps!?

[Edit: I bought my NAIT3 second hand, it easily lasted 20 years in my ownership. I had it serviced for a reasonable sum by Naim, and to my knowledge it’s still going strong. I wouldn’t worry about longevity with Naim amps.]

Welcome. I have a mix of second hand and new gear, mostly the classic range and a SC DR in an Olive casing. All I would say is that if you have an idea of where you want to end up, then going second hand will get you to a much better system for the money spent, and then plan to get there in as few steps as possible.

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Hi Riba, welcome to the community🙂
I too am new to Naim ownership and this Forum.
I recently purchased end of line 202/200 DR with HiCap DR & NapSC.
My source at the moment is my 2021 LP 12 and all running through a pair of Dynaudio Evoke 50’s.
The whole system is just a few weeks old and therefore still bedding in, but already sounds amazing and puts my old Roksan K3 based kit to shame.
I have never experienced older Olive or CB, but I have heard SN3, as we used it to demo speakers and was massively impressed using both LP12 and Streamer sources.
I haven’t yet heard a Naim Amplifier I didn’t like.
Hope you enjoy your search and final outcome.

Preamps rule! Get the 82. It would be just fine with a 200 or a 250. The preamp needs a power supply, which would usually be a Hicap, although the 200 has a preamp power supply built in which would be OK.

The 272 is only going to compete with the above if you add an XPS power supply, which makes it a lot more expensive. Also the streaming tech on it is dated, and in any case will be no use to you if you want to use the Hugo.

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Old versus new is the wrong distinction. Go with what sounds right to you. I found CB stuff far too monochrome and harsh. Dynamically tremendously exciting but not really representative of what music sounds like. I also continue to find it ugly. Others will rightly say that they see it differently. Whilst I have classic range stuff I adore the olive gear. The classic range has no consistent sound for me but the olive range, for me, set the Naim house sound in stone. Recently I find some of the design lovely and some looks plasticky and cheap. I find recent sources a step down from all previous sources but the amplification as great as ever.

We’re all different but go with sound and looks rather than old and new.

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If it were me, I would audition a SN3 at a dealers. If you like it you then have the choice of new or used dependent on your budget. The fun of upgrading is then something to look forward to but I wouldn’t even assume that you would want to upgrade from a SN. It depends on whether you get bitten by the bug. SN is a great starting point and might even be your end point.

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Hi @RIBA ,

Welcome to the forum.

Your ears are the best arbiters. Given the opportunity listening at home is the only way to find what sounds best in your room.

My experience:
CB is preferable to Olive; but, olive is more detailed. If going CB I would go with a 32.5 or 42.5 and eschew the 72 cards, which add a dose of Olive detail. HOWEVER, these amps were built for a pre-digital world, this can be ‘interesting’ when using a modern source.

Be careful with CB and Olive wrt speaker cables. Also, the older pre-amps did a degree of filtering as to what is passed to the power. That said, I have used a wide range of non-Naim pre-amps with my CB250s with no issues.

I personally much prefer modern Naim, which is more round world.

I think a good first step is finding a dealer who has a decent amount of second hand stock. I have invariably found a good dealer to be price competitive with private second hand, with the advantage of a guarantee AND the ability to listen up front.

Being where you are you are not a neophyte, BUT I would say please take your time. Listen to the changes not only with great recordings but also with music you love that is not so well recorded. Listen for extended periods and see whether you are still as engaged as time goes on.

Hope I am not teaching grand-mothers to suck eggs but I know that I can always hear the differences, especially detail and dynamics; emotional connection can get lost.

I think your current kit is well considered.

Look forward to reading about your journey and choices.

M

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Hi Riba,

I would buy new. But I do aspire to a Georgian townhouse.

If you are considering a ‘NAP200’ in any pre and power amp combination that lacks a Hicap DR, then please make sure it’s a NAP200DR. I’m a big fan of the DR tech in Naim’s amps.

C.

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I have gone for a mixture of old and new which is another option. My amplification includes an 82 Olive with Supercap 2 (Black) and CB 135s. It’s all serviced and is a great amplification set up.

However, new gear is fantastic too. You can mix and match or go all Olive, CB or Classic or DR.

An 82 is a very good value pre and will go with a nice HiCap and 250 to start with. This would be preferable to a 202 200, or Supernait 2/3 for my money. Obviously I have a mixed system so I would say that!

Have a think what you want and whether you want fewer boxes or like the different generations of boxes. A 202 with 200DR and HiCap DR may well be more your thing if you want the more modern look.

I love the look of my system and believe I have alot for the money.

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Why do you feel the need to add a 200 to a supernait?

I run a Hugo2 with a Supernait 3 and it’s a great combo

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Hi RIBA, and welcome to ‘The Cuckoo’s Nest’ :wink:
With a question like that you are of course going to get what other individuals like or have owned/own. As said above go hear for yourself and as also suggested go DR.
I haven’t owned a Supernait 3, but had the joy of hearing it at a friend’s driving a pair of Falcon LS3/5As…. and in my humble view it was a corker of a Music Machine :partying_face: ( I wouldn’t even add an amp to it with your Proacs). Loved it and good luck Peter

In terms of musical value versus second-hand financial investment -
Olive-NAC52+SUPERCAP
Olive-NAP250 or even better NAP135
Both, after comprehensive service, will give you pleasure and musical peace for another 50 years…
In terms of a new hand - depends on the budget you are preparing to invest…

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Interesting dilemma. It’s important to find synergy and something that sounds ‘right’ and that gets increasingly difficult with older ‘less neutral’ kit although a modern digital source should help mitigate the problem.

I’m trying to see the big picture and the best way for you to approach this. There are two very different routes I’d consider. Option 1 would be to find a good Naim/Chord dealer and with their guidance build a complete modern system that will suit your room and ears. I think you should also listen to a complete in-series Naim system as well though, such as NDX2 with SN3. Once sorted, leave it alone, and maybe think about upgrading again in 15+ years.

Option 2 is to buy the Hugo and experiment with used Naim gear at home over a period of time, leveraging Class A servicing using Naim-supplied parts (if you’re in the UK). I took a similar route and I’m still faffing around 3-years later, but I’ve learned a lot more than I would have otherwise and I’m really happy with both systems. I’m still not there yet though but it’s much trickier with vintage turntables / speakers and modern cartridges.

As a generalisation - for VFM, buy kit 5-25 years old ahead of nearly-new and buy nearly-new ahead of actually new.

You’ll get lots of answers here because none of these options is bad, and the pros and cons are pretty subjective.

If you have not heard good olive kit you should do so before buying it. IMHO, olive boxes are a bit less quiet in background, less detailed and less neutral than modern boxes, but they do at least as well in foot-tapping, infectious boogie. As you can see, other ears with other systems and preferences may report different views.

I just swapped from olive 250 to 300DR - that’s the first modern amp I’d rate as more musical/ enjoyable/ pacy than the olive 250 - all upside and no compromise from that change. With most power amps, comparison to my 250 just showed how brilliant it was, and I’d rate an old 250 as well ahead of a 200 or lesser amp.

I’d also agree with comments above that the DR gives a lot more dynamism versus any ‘classic’ (i.e modern-looking) non-DR boxes.

On pre-amps, I won’t be changing my olive 52 for anything short of a 552. I chose not to change my 82 for 282 or even 252 but kept on looking for the 52 - which tells you what I think. I like the old 72 a lot for VFM and would much rather have 82+HC than a newer 202 or even a 282.

Separating power supply from pre-amp is something of a Naim obsession, and with reason. I’d agree with comments here that adding a Hicap to a Supernait will suit most people a lot better than adding a 200 power amp or a 202 pre-am, for example.

The 272 is imho a great preamp (around 82/282 level) but attached to a less good and perhaps outdated streamer. @ChrisSU is right about PS too - an 82 needs a Hicap (which can be cheap) but a 272 won’t work that way and really benefits from an XPS (harder to find and not so cheap).

It is also worth noting that many think the key reason for dropping 202/200 from the line-up was a good decision, because SN3 +HCDR sounds a least as good for marginally less money. As I understand it SN3 + HCDR is significantly better than SN3 + 200DR - and cheaper.

Assuming you don’t have a strong preference for the presentation differences, all that means that I’d lean strongly toward 82/ Hicap/250 here. I think my overall ranking for amp choices for you would thus be: -

  1. 82/HC/250.
  2. SN3/HCDR or older Hicap.
  3. SN2/ Hicap.
  4. 202//200.
  5. SN2 or 3/200
  6. SN3.
  7. SN2.
    However, that’s very much my list and others may disagree. I also don’t know whether adding a Hicap PS to a 202/200 (as @QuickSticks has) makes it a bit better than SN3+Hicap, but I suspect that it does.

Finally, classic boxes over 15 years and any olive boxes (but Hicaps and power amps most of all) will need a service if they have not had one in the last 10-15 years, and a service is a major exercise and not that cheap. A serviced Hicap and 250 are often much better value than bargain un-serviced boxes.

Can you try hearing some of this kit before buying?

Do let us know what you finally do!

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I have both an olive system based on a serviced 82/HC/140 and a newer one based around a 282/non Naim Cap/SN2 (currently in PowerAmp mode).

Both are superb, you simply won’t go wrong with either, they highlight the importance of source first - and that’s where I’ll keep improving as the 82 and 282 can both be end game equipment :heart_eyes:

They are both next due to get a serviced Olive 250 for the 82 and a 250DR for the 282 and then then they will need no more upgrading for me.

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Interesting to see various experiences and thoughts on this here.

I’ve been some way from older to new Naim and in between, and still am (for amplification). Looking at more relevant recent experience, I’ve had the chance to use decent modern sources from Rega (P8), Naim (ND5XS2, NDX2 previously and now Atom HE) and Auralic (Vega G2) through a Nait 2 in an average room and it’s been spectacular at all times, no funny stuff, just fun. The choice of speakers with any amp according to the room is important and with the above I have been using mostly ls3/5a or similar small monitors. But these have been very good with my SN3 in a larger space too.

Btw I found the combination of Nait 2 and ProAcs Tabs which I had until recently very special and preferred the little Nait to the SN3 when in my smaller listening room.

Buying the new stuff is simpler and safer, with the older generations one needs patience and a bit of luck but the joy can be huge.

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One thing I missed from the OP in my response was the question if an already 30 year old amp had another 30 years in it.

@RIBA - were you asking that as you have no desire to board the constant upgrade train?

I guess the very earliest Naim kit is close on 50 years old now, I assume people still have kit from that era in every day use? The Chrome Bumper thread is full of lovely looking examples that seem to be at least

That’s a good point on longevity.

One of the reasons that there are so many still-relevant Naim options and so much brand loyalty is the fact that Naim does support every box it can in terms of servicing- even the very oldest. For a product range stretching from under £1K to over £100K, that’s most unusual.

Not much has changed in the principles behind an amp in the last 30 years, and IME a 30+ year old Naim amp that has been serviced in the last decade will sound as good as it did in year one, and very competitive with current amps.

Given all that, I expect a service every decade or so will keep my olive boxes from the 90s working perfectly (and comparing well with other options) for the next 20 or 30 years.

Whether you like or dislike the understated but rather dated look of olive boxes is a different issue of course.

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