Pre or active

SN2 with hicapDR and 250DR

Would upgrading the SN2 to 282 be better than going active and getting a 242 and another 250DR? (It would mean using the hicapDR to power the 242)…

Do mean upgrading to a 252 preamp? If so, the 252 uses the SuperCap only, you can not use a HiCap.

Also, what speakers would you be attempting to drive actively as you will need an appropriate active crossover (that may be powered by a HiCap) or do mean biamping? These are very different equipment setups.

I suppose he means a

I am running

SN1 >> hicap >> hicap dr >> snaxo >> nap 200 into Ovator S600 in my home office.

The snaxo also feeds back into the SN1, so I use the dac, pre and poweramp of the SN1 to drive them.

I do prefer this setup over SN1 >> hicap >> snaxo >> nap 200 (x2).

I think one of the dealers showed the SN3 / hicap dr / hicap dr / snaxo / NAP250DR into Kudos on the Bristol show. According to this forum it was a very good sounding system.

The benefit of this setup is that you get a very nice active system without many boxes.

Oh, in my living I run Nait 5 >> hicap (olive) >> ixo >> Nap 140 & the ixo back into the Nait 5 >> SBLs. Sounds fabulous too.

I think I just like active setups …

Edit, here is the link:

I can’t really answer (since I’ve no experience of the SN2) but if you want to go active you’ll also need to power the SNAXO242 so I think that means you’ll need:

  • SN2 (pre)
  • HiCap (for SN2)
  • 242
  • HiCap (for 242)
  • 2 x 250DR
  • Interconnects from SN2-HiCAP, HiCAP-HiCAP, HiCAP-242, 242-250 (x2)
  • 4 runs of speaker cable.
  • 6 shelves of racking (maybe 5 if the HiCAPs share a shelf)


  • 282
  • 250 DR
  • HiCAP
  • Interconnect 282-HiCAP, HiCAP-250
  • Two Runs of speaker cable
  • 3 shelves of racking

Active adds a lot more cabling, racking, complexity (oh… and cost) and greatly reduces speaker options (not sure if that’s important though).

I went active with 2 200s and ultimately regretted it when a better amp in ‘passive’ mode sounded better. Ended up going active again with 250s but wonder if a single 300 would have been better (for the cost of 2x250s, 1xSupercap, 1xSNAXO242 I suspect it would have been a similar price if purchased second hand, possibly less).

Don’t get me wrong, it sounds great but it’s a lot of equipment and a lot of fiddling about setting things up and getting them ‘just so’.

I wish I’d spoken to a dealer more before just diving in.

At least when buying new, one 300 DR is quite precisely the same price as two 250 DR.

Yes I’ve worked out how the kudos active works but for the difference in the price of a 250DR and another hicapDR thought it would be easier just to get the amp (snaxo needed for both active options).

I think my guts telling me to do the pre amp as the kudos 606 must have decent crossovers inside

Active are superb, IME. I think that, assuming that you can go active, that would beat a pre-amp upgrade.

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@mickdale I am not sure how relevant my experience is for you, but last week the local hifi store did a demo with Kudos 707, first powered passive and later switched to active. The difference in sound quality (and in price) was huge. I definitely preferred the active setup.

De demo started passive with an NDX2 powered by (I think) a SuperCap DR, NAC 552 and NAP 250DR. That played nice, but for the total system value I was not too impressed. This setup was around 60k Euro.

Then they switched to active, by adding the SNAXO powered by (I think) a SuperCap DR and the one NAP 250 DR was replaced by two NAP 250 DRs plus adequate cabling. The total extra cost was around 20k Euro, bringing the total system value up to 80k Euro.

Finally it sounded as open as I would expect from a setup with such a price tag. You could really hear the difference between the passive and the active filtering. I thought it was a huge difference. Of course the gain depends on the quality of the passive filter in the loudspeakers you are using. I would assume the filters in the Kudos 707 are of good quality.

Below you find a picture of the setup I listened to.


How about true active as you did it vs getting modern active speakers?

An old, unserviced bolt down NAP250 sounded (overall) better than two serviced NAP200s in active mode.

However two serviced CB250s in active mode sound far better than the bolt down 250 did.

Haven’t compared this to a single 300 in my room with my SBLs though.

I like active but it is a lot of hassle and I don’t know if I’d do it again knowing what I do now to be honest… Especially when almost all of my listening is with headphones at the moment!

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That’s interesting.

I suppose the expense and hassle is what drives some people towards active speakers with built-in amps.

Dutch & Dutch, ATC, Acoustic Energy, et al.

No matter how good the passive XO in a speaker, directly powering the drive units with no components between the amp and speaker driver is better, though how much better varies from speaker to speaker. However whether active with lesser quality amps is better or worse than passive with a better amp is a different question, and the answer will depend very much on the specific amps and speaker - and of course listener preference.

Where active speakers score, like the active ATCs and PMCs is not just active drive, but the amp being matched to the speaker, and also no speaker cable to be concerned with (it extremely short anyway, and a single interconnect to each speaker from the preamp (or DAC with suitable buffered and volume controlled output), avoiding the multiple speaker cables and interconnects of active driving with separate amps. However, given the possibly longer interconnect cable run to active speakers, a balanced preamp output may be beneficial if tge active speakers have a balanced input option.

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I have an active system, 3 black Nap 250s, Nac 52, CDS3 PS555, Snaxo 362, with NBL speakers. Sound is excellent and it woud be difficult changing. However the system is much more complex and is can be frustrating at times.


Thanks for the feedback
How do you mean frustrating at times?
Once set up I don’t understand why it would be temperamental- just more often costly servicing during the life of the kit

Six speaker cables, three XLR connecters to Snaxo, tight space behind the Nac 52 combined with a cat that has free reign can cause problems. If a hum occurs due to new coffee maker it takes longer to track down with 3 amps and 4 power supplies. When on song however active is addictive.


Since I have a bit experience now running active systems I conclude that it really is not that difficult if you use your mind. My suggestions

  1. make sure the stuff is serviced, especially power supplies
  2. ensure signal cables are routed as far as possible from mains cables
  3. make sure the gear is positioned well, no wobbling et cetera
  4. make sure you have the right cables, no shortcuts

Regarding the ‘on song’ thing, I think that my own emotions are a far bigger aspect on this matter.

Some music benefits more from active than others. I listen to a fair bit of organ music and especially baroque (Bach) can be complex music. For me the primary benefit of Active is bass control and that is what I like.

Active - even cheap setups - feels like a very significant source upgrade to me. Much cleaner sound, not faster but actually slower since the system is more capable to portray the music.


I had an active system - SBLs, NAP135s, NAC52. No frustrations - just great music. Before that I had an active system - Naim 702s (or were they 602s - can’t remember now) driven initially by two NAP120 and a NAC of some early sort (22, I think). Also really good sound - much better than when it was passive, as it was originally but still with the same pre and power amps. At some point I upgraded the power amps to a pair of NAP250s. Always pleased with the results. Now, I have gone back to passive (NAC52 into NAP500 driving Ovator S600). I would go active if only I could afford it.


Never heard Nap 500s but sure they are awesome active. Major investment however.