SN3 & NDX2.....interesting musings

As previously posted I received a new SN3 & NDX2 plus two Powerlines from Naim just before Christmas, these replaced 4 year old identical units that were repeatedly faulty. I also had a brief interlude with a NC250/222. Although the NC’s had some very good attributes I thought the resolution of the 222 was a bit off however it did have a volume control fault which may or may not have contributed but either way they were returned in preference for a new SN3 & NDX2.

On receiving the units I thought it would be an interesting exercise in terms of burn-in myths to see if they sounded any different to the older units, I set them up sans PL’s initially and thought they sounded broadly the same, I introduced the PL’s after about a week and dident notice any major change beyond possible expectation bias. The one thing though that was immediately noticable from the start was the complete lack of channel imbalance on the SN3, the previous amp was always I felt down on the right channel despite been checked by Naim, also as is typical with the ALPS pots one channel would disappear when volume was reduced right down. The new amp has none of these attributes and I can reduce vol right down to being barely audible and its identical left & right, it actually sounds like a dual mono amp it’s that solid. I continued to listen daily over xmas and things remained fine and pretty much as I remembered old units to sound until…I turned on the NDX2 one morning after xmas (SN3 always left on) and it literally sounded like a different system, like a switch had been pulled, loads more detail and a little bright and bass had diminished quite a bit, it reminded me a little of the NC’s I had previously. The change was not subtle at all, now I’m a burn-in sceptic so this was quite a shock, over the next few days it all settled with the brightness abating (or I got used to it perhaps) and the bass returned in spades but much tighter and controlled. It has continued to improve and has about 700 hours up now. It really sounds incredibly good with lots more sparkle and detail than the previous units ever had and with a massively improved sound stage and it’s also seriously quiet, like inky black quiet! I’m hearing phrasing and nuances in tracks I know well that I never heard before and remember there’s no power supplies being used here.

So the big question is what is going on here? I have yet to swap back in the powerline lites to see if the PL’s are contributing but I cant believe they would have such a large impact. I also dont know if it’s the SN3 or the NDX2 that the improvement is coming from (or both) as I only have a single source, I suspect it’s the SN3 and that my old unit was not 100% although it did sound good and I was happy for 4 years - I just dident know any different. I did think sometimes it lacked a bit of zing and sparkle but just presumed it was the way it was. It begs the question as to how many of us have units we think are fine but actually they’re not performing as they should, unless you have a direct reference you will never know. It all seems to point back to QC issues at Naim, not only did I have repeated faults but in fact it seems my amp was well below par all the time despite been checked. Anyone else have experience of two units sounding quite different or did I just get a Super Supernait? I’m also curious about the ALPS balance pot issue - are Naim now using a different type or supplier? Anyway needless to say I’m more than delighted now but slightly miffed on what I was missing for 4 years! Interesting journey!

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I’ve always found it to be odd when owners of a NDX 2/SN3 have found them to be a slight let-down. They are a fantastic combo in every way and both respond very well to external PSU upgrades as well. I’m willing to bet that both units have been a flying success for Naim, which is maybe why they are very reluctant to pull them out of production so soon.

Great to read that you have finally got there in the end. Enjoy.

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Maybe there’s inconsistencies in build quality which might explain it. Certainly seems to have been the case for me. Listening now and I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on this for so long, the old cliche of rediscovering my records comes to mind!

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I’ve found that the SN3 likes to be left on. The sound is significantly better than when operating from power up (which in my case would usually be after a fairly long period of being off). Recently I added a fairly hefty power cable (3 x 6mm2), well made with gold plated connectors. This also made a really positive difference to the sound.

I continue to get some slight imbalance down one channel. I wonder if this has anything to do with how the balance knob is fitted - i.e. misaligned? I say this because my volume knob came clear off with just the slightest of touches minutes after being unboxed…

What’s a PL?

Pretty sure it stands for power-line.

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Ah, that works :rofl:

I went from a Nova to a SN2 and NDX2. Certainly the NDX2 improved substantially over the first few months, and I believe they have a longer burn in due to the low current in them compare to the SN2. My ND555 has been similar with a vast improvement over several months of playing.

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On a new unit…? That would have gone straight back for a replacement if it were me…

I do increasingly have concerns re QC from Naim these days….I don’t know if they’re overwhelmed at Salisbury, if it’s the Slovakia factory or if the parent company are forcing corners to be cut….any of which surprise me re the Naim of old……Sure, the occasional defect or fail will always happen in manufacture and assembly, but there just seem to be a lot of reports these days….

SC

Yes. The fix was simple, but that makes the occurrence even more inexplicable…

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