Possibly silly questions- one box vs seperates

So I have my naim uniti atom which I absolutely love. However looking at this forum I’ve realised just how long certain components can last. So I’ve wondered about the differences between one box system and say either a xs3 or sn3 and a nd5xs2. This would be a while away due to cost but I had some questions for people who have gone from one box to more before I even consider it something to aim for.

  1. do integrated amps or power and pre amps go on standby like the atom or is it just the streamer?
  2. would I need to switch off anything or physically alter things at the boxes (due to my wheelchair this can be awkward)
  3. Would turning everything on and starting music be just as simple
  4. XS3 doesn’t have a balance control apparently does that mean I wouldn’t be able to change the balance via the app (i’m guessing this is a very silly question but just want to check)
  5. Are there any other aspects of increasing boxes I should consider (please feel free to make this as obvious/basic as possible lol)
  1. Just the streamer. The amps stay on always (as recommended)

  2. No, a separate streamer can be switched off by the app and put into standby just like the uniti.

  3. Yes.

  4. Not sure. Although I assume that you can’t adjust balance on the XS3 as it doesn’t have a balance pot.

It can get expensive, fast! If you can’t afford it all at once, the wait to save can be painful. Speaking from experience here, cough cough.

The gain in audio quality might not be worth the extra cost to YOU.

You will always be wondering what the next one up will sound like.

If you go for separates, make sure your planned system is balanced otherwise you will not be maximising your investment


Correct. As per the XS3 manual:

“Note: The NAIT XS 3 does not incorporate any facility for channel balance adjustment.”

The SuperNait 3 does have a balance dial that can also be adjusted with the remote


Thanks for all the info I really do appreciate it. Yeah I can see how it would be slippery slope lol. It started with realising that an all in one means that to update means either a full replacement or at the very least adding a newer streamer as technology changes/develops at which point its two boxes anyway. So I began wondering if getting a good integrated amp I could get serviced every 10/15 years and trading in whatever streamer I have towards the next one would be the better investment. I just want to be fully aware of the pros/cons.

Thanks for confirming currently I use the app balance control to counteract awkward speaker placement. I’ll need to consider how much I could alter that in the future and if I want the additional option of a balance control which would mean a supernait 2 or 3 or 202/200 if I went full separates.

1 Like

If you were to get both Naim streamer and amplifier, you can link them together with system automation. That allows you to change volume and sources on the amplifier using the streamer remote or the app. It’s really handy.

Note that the ND5XS2 does not have a remote control, so you’d be entirely dependent on the app. This may or not matter. As said above, there is no way at all to alter balance on the Nait XS3.

I have a NDX2 and Supernait 3, and it’s very much better than a Nova. The other natural combination to try is the ND5XS2 and Nait XS3. That again will beat a Nova, and therefore be a big step up from your Atom.

1 Like

Thanks for the info it definitely gives me a better idea of what to demo in the future and possibly save towards. While my atom has a remote I’ve honestly been thinking of removing the batteries as I always use the app :joy: so that’s not an issue. If I went for sn3 I think I’d have to keep the atom as a front end while I saved for the nd5 xs2 (the next streamer up is definitely out of my price range).

If the NDX2 is too expensive, I’d counsel you towards the ND5XS2 and Nait XS3. They are literally made for each other and will be miles better than the Atom. Don’t forget that you’ll need a shelf for each; you shouldn’t stack them one on top of the other.

1 Like

You can also go for SN2 SN3 and Nd5xs2 first. And later upgrade the Nd5xs2 with an outboard dac.


Resistance by people living in the same house? (file under: obvious)


definitely an option

1 Like

lol as long as I’m not being completely insane and if I could keep the amp part long term (seeing some of the pre/power stuff staying current and stuff from well over 30 years ago still in use gives me hope) it should be fine

1 Like

I would say that rather than think you need/want to upgrade you should firstly carefully consider what it is you are aiming for. Do you feel something is lacking from your Atom, something you feel a desire to address? Or is it just a vague feeling that you want something better?

I’m not trying to put you off upgrading and there’s nothing wrong with it. Virtually everybody here has done it or is still doing it! It’a part of the hobby. It’s just what you do.

Please be aware though that you can get through an awful lot of money very quickly. Fine if it’s really what you want, but it’s very easy to ‘jump on the train’ and get carried away. Before you realise what’s happening you have spent a small (or large) fortune.

I’m only saying all this because in your opening post you say you really love your Atom, but you don’t mention what it is you want to achieve or why. Before deciding anything why not arrange some demo’s and listen to what’s on offer. Maybe you will be hooked and can’t wait to upgrade. Or maybe you will decide to stick with the convenience and simplicity of a one box system - and there is a lot to be said for that.

Whatever you decide - enjoy the journey.


I completely get that, thanks for the considered advice. Its not so much upgrading specifically though I will admit to wanting to hear the next steps up. I will definitely take your advise to demo options to see if I hear a difference once I’m close to having money saved. This was more a very early fact finding mission. its more that I hadn’t realised that I could keep the amp part of separates essentially forever whereas with a system like the atom its not modular so eventually I’ll likely have to fully replace the system (which considering the way prices are going I worry i’ll be priced out of at least if I stay with naim) . Basically with prices always going up I just wanted to look into the idea for any downsides I hadn’t considered. I could of course decide that with the increasing popularity of one box systems to just replace my one box with another when it gets outpaced but that will most likely mean also considering naim’s competition. Hope that makes sense not sure if i’m over thinking things i’m just really impressed by people who have an amazing sounding system they’ve had for decades and know that streaming technology seems to advance quickly. I will say that purely due to having to save either way my atom will be my full system for a few years yet.

I had a discussion with my local dealer (not about Naim) about downsizing to a GOOD integrated; he sells the Gryphon and some others. His comment was that separates always trump an integrated within the same product line/ series. Obviously some license has to be taken when comparing specific pieces of hardware but his point was that overall benefits are had by separating the pre from power amp into separate boxes.


This doesn’t really answer your listed questions, but for an easy/simple upgrade, you can get a used SN2 for cheap these days and they are excellent integrateds. Mine continually amazes me …

1 Like

Have you thought of keeping the Atom and adding a power amp to it?

The NAP :sleeping: 200 often got mentioned in this context and if I recall one user had a Quad power amp to it ,

1 Like

With the greatest of respect I think possibly you are over thinking things a little. I get where you are coming from but I personally don’t see it as a reason for buying a separate amp/streamer. The reality is that when you come to replace the steamer due to it being out-dated it will probably cost as much or more than buying a new one-box system. Bear in mind that you will require a better quality source for a better quality amp. And taking into account the expense of buying an amp then financially I can’t see much, if anything, to be gained.

But just taking a broader view for a moment. Nobody knows what the future holds for any of us. Circumstances change. Priorities change. Needs change. In all kinds of totally unpredictable ways. What I’m trying to say here is that you really can’t successfully plan ahead in that way - life just isn’t like that. If you want to upgrade then fine, but if a one-box system is your preference then stick with it. Don’t worry about what may happen in 5 or 10 years time. Your life may be unrecognisable by then. Just enjoy what you have today.

It’s interesting that way back people used to buy something like a music centre as a sort of lifetime purchase. Instruction manuals would often say something like “with proper care this product will provide a lifetime of enjoyment”. That concept now seems alien. Everything has a limited life-span before it is junked for the next new and shiny piece.

Just my view as an old git - I’m guessing you are rather younger than me - I’m 61. Sorry if some of this seems patronising - I really don’t mean it to be.

Have fun with whatever you decide to do - that’s the main thing. If it’s no fun then there’s no point.


I’ve bought a few things in my life as long term buys. And deliberately did so at the time.

A steel bike frame, Reynolds 631, custom built. That is shortly going to receive it’s second respray, and third set of components. It is now 23 years old. I hope the last coat of paint sees me into decrepitude. I bought steel for the ability to repair it.

My first turntable, a Systemdek, is now in danger of being replaced, 26 ish years old.

I didn’t know it at the time, as internet forums weren’t really a thing, but my NAIT3, bought second hand, was a great buy, it accidentally lasted me a good 20 years and I’m assuming still providing pleasure to its new owner.

BIFL - buy it for life - is almost a movement now. I see total sense in buying a damn good Naim integrated now for the long term. Particularly given the number of NAITs still providing great service and sound.

I actually think buying a ND5 XS2 would be a safe bet too. I’m sure it will be replaced in the lineup in years to come, but acting either as a source, or network music device into an uprated DAC, I see no reason it wouldn’t last a decade plus.

I think you can plan ahead for things like this. And buying good kit also gives you flexibility, if life takes a different turn, to recoup at least some of the initial outlay. A SN2 would make a great buy at today’s prices, paired with a ND5 XS2, I think would be something of a sweet spot value and longevity wise.

IMO :smiley:


You are absolutely right on that. A better setup makes sense if one wants a better setup, but if the current box is fine then what might happen in the future isn’t really relevant.

1 Like