I recently walked into my dealers to replace a worn cartridge for my Rega planar 3 and came out with an XS2 on demo, a good price with the XS3 release. Not one to pass up a bargain, I walked out with it, along with a Rega fono Mk3. Mightly impressed over my current Rega Brio and good synergy with my ProAc Studio 140Mk2’s, but with the XS3 coming I thought the phono stage ought to be great and the XS3 would keep the box count down.
So I returned the XS2 with a view to an XS3 demo that I got when in the UK last month. Almost 2 years ago I demo’d a Rega RP8/Apheta2, Rega Aria, Supernait, with my ProAc Studio 140Mk2’s and decided that was ideal, testing the Naim Stageline and Rega Elicit 2 to reach that conclusion. Since then other interests have diverted funds and I’d reconsidered such grandeur, until the XS3/SN3 release lowered the price of XS2 & SN2 stock…
I bought a Rega fono Mk2 secondhand a few weeks ago and had been enjoying that addition to my current system. I’ve recently added a Swagman Signature Linear Power supply to that and which was a worthy step toward the Aria.
I Demo’d the the XS3 with a Rega Planar 3/Elys2 (my current set up) & Spendor A7’s. It didn’t excite me and I was left feeling that I might just prefer a Rega phono stage sound. It didn’t sound as dynamic and the the sound stage didn’t have the same presence as the Rega fono Mk2. The Demo began with a rather confused and boomy sound which had us repositioning the speakers further off the wall. That helped but it didn’t come to life as I’d hoped or remembered the Rega fono mk3/XS2 sounding.
That left me deciding to return to a path toward my ‘ideal’ and go for one of the ex-Demo Supernait 2’s available locally. With a view to upgrading my phone stage and deck in the future. I pick up the SN2 next week and look forward to seeing what that can do with my front end.
I find it difficult to get excited about the Stageline, although I have a nagging suspicion that the sound might grow on me and that part of it’s 20 years enjoying the Rega bounce. Putting a Swagman power supply on Fono Mk2 in place of the wall adapter, has clarified the sound / spaced the instruments further and I look forward to seeing how that sounds with the SN2 next week.
I do wonder if the XS3 / SN3 are a perfect for folk that want a the simplicity of a low box count Naim sound, on board phono stage ease and the other inputs give the upgrade heads the ability to find a phono stage to thier taste with these great Naim intergrated amps.