Separate phono stage for Nait XS3

Would I likely see any significant improvement if I added a separate phono stage (such as a Stageline) to my existing set-up? I have a Project 1Xpression Carbon with an Ortofon 2M black MM cartridge, which is connected directly to the phono input of my Naim XS3. I also have KEF LS50 speakers and a ND5 X2 for streaming. I have only recently upgraded the cartridge to 2M black (a big improvement over the cartridge that shipped with the turntable), and being new to the world of vinyl and of Naim, wonder if the built-in phono stage in the XS3 is likely to be getting the most from the cartridge. My pretty basic set-up (compared to most on here) does sound really good to my untrained ears, but a separate phono stage could be a relatively inexpensive way of upgrading whilst I desperately try to delay the inevitable descent into separates and large floor standers.


I would be tempted to stick with what you have and enjoy it.

Should the time come, you could always put the separate phonostage money into a better record player. I think most here would agree that that is the way to get more out of vinyl.

Hi Sburke… the onboard Phono stage in the xs3 has great reviews, Naim wouldn’t cut corners here as it’s one of the main developments from the xs2, which I have.
I use a Graham Slee Solo Phono stage into my xs2. This is after trying Project and Rega stages… which I wasn’t taken with. Can I suggest you join the Graham Slee forum.they offer a free home loan of their products, so no loss to you if it’s no improvement on the naim internal stage.
Richard…apols if this post breaches any rules.


Thanks very much for the replies. I do think the system sounds great and the phono stage in the XS3 does get really good reviews (it was one of the reasons that I went for the XS3 in the first place). I will look into the Graham See suggestion though (they also seem to get good reviews). I think that I probably need to take a bit of time and enjoy what I have, rather than constantly feeling the need to look for an upgrade!


The only reason I bought my xs3 was for the excellent phono stage. Vinyl is the ultimate listening experience but does need undivided attention hence the move to serious streaming for many

…if you are looking for an uplift in the music, I would look to upgrade the speakers. I had the KEF LS50 speakers when I first bought a XS 2 and were in the house for about 7 days. I bit a big bullet and went with a pair of ProAC D2’s and was worth every penny.

I apologize for the diversion but no experience with XS 3 phono stage.

I would love to upgrade the speakers, but my wife has made it very clear that she won’t be authorising funds for new speakers anytime soon. The LS50s were the product of some fairly intensive negotiations a few years ago (I was set originally on a pair of Focal Aria 936s, but floor standers, and even any bigger bookshelves were vetoed pretty much immediately). I’m targeting a pair of KEF Reference 1s (which will be a big step up) but I suspect it will be three to five years before she will give in. I should say that I do really like the KEF LS50s - for their size and price point they really do sound fantastic.

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…domestic tranquility has its own value in listening quality of music and I completely understand where you are coming from. Nothing wrong with the Ref LS50’s, I was only indicating that the Nait XS systems can support a higher range of speakers and were worth investigating which from your statement above you have already journeyed down that path.

Go luck with your search and negotiating skills!

…harmony is more important in domestic relationships then in music.

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