SN3 plus ? Vs Nova

Hello - seeking a little bit of advice please. I’m considering a Nova as a second (but important system) . However, I’m conscious that the SN3 is a brilliant amp. I can’t stretch to a Naim streamer at the moment to partner it, so wondered if anyone felt the SN3 plus a Bluesound Node would be a good/better choice for now? Or perhaps an Innuos pulse mini? I don’t intend for any cd/phono connections to be made to the amp or Nova. Many thanks for your thoughts.

Hello- and welcome back to the forum
I have an sn3 and although vinyl is my preferred medium I bought a Bluesound node earlier this year.
It was good enough but I felt the sound was a bit thin, so I purchased a secondhand chord qutest and this has transformed the sq.
Many on the forum use a Bluesound and I can highly recommend one.

1 Like

For a 2nd system I’d go used, why not try a SN2 plus an NDX. All for much less than a new SN3.

1 Like

Thank you Endon - your advice is appreciated. I hadn’t considered adding a Qutest.

Thank you - that’s interesting - would you think better sound performance than the Nova?

I am currently plotting replacing a Nova with a SN2 (have a hicap already) and NDX. Had an NDX and SN3 (plus the hicap) and remember that being better than the Nova, though I understand a Nova is much improved by a power line. I am not entirely sure that I can remember accurately what the SN3 + hicap + NDX sounded like a couple of years ago though - am a bit disappointed with the Nova into nSats (in study system)


Not sure what your system speakers and room are - which is important as the Nova may be all you need in fact? But if I was to improve on this I would not sacrifice the modern Naim streaming platform for the old one and if to fit approx. within the SN3 alone (or NDX2 only) as a budget overall, I would get the Atom HE + SN2.
I use the Atom HE with SN3 + SCDR and it sounds phenomenally good to me (and I’ve had the NDX2 before and have no itch to bring it back in…).

You could probably swing a used SN3 and NDX2 for a little more than a new SN3. I’m all for used electronics if they are pretty current (performance and spec wise).

1 Like

Or even a used 250/250DR plus a NAC-N 272………?


I have been going round in circles on this very point myself pondering what to get in place of my nova. Not convinced the depreciation on sn3 is anywhere near enough to cover a used ndx2 - I may be looking in the wrong places but the cheapest I would have thought that is possible is around £6k. Occasionally ponder atom he and 250dr which would be around £4500

The old streaming platform is still perfectly good and great vfm. I wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand if you are on a budget. Quobuz may be an issue to some but other than that it still does the job. I wish I had the luxury of being able to afford brand new gear (or even nearly new gear) but I, like many of us have other priorities competing for my cash and the new gear depreciation can be eye watering. With the old gear you can recover much (if not all) of your expenditure when trading up.


Welcome aboard!

A Nova is a great 1-box but you pay for more than just SQ per £. How much you value extra sound quality versus ease of purchase or keeping box count down is up to you, and may depend on room and speaker details not mentioned.

ND5XS2 plus Supernait 2 is more boxes but definitely better SQ than a Nova - you probably don’t need SN3 (or its MM phono stage) to beat the Nova. A s/h (but far from old) ND5XS2 should cost £2K or less on eBay and a SN2 is a little less. SN3s are better but several hundred £ more.

You can improve on that source by adding (also second hand) a nDAC (£1000?) or by getting a second-hand NDX2 instead. You can go even further by adding a separate PS, but there is no need to go that far here imho.

Either of those sources will be a bit better with SN3 than SN2, but a bigger uplift comes from adding a Hicap PS to the Supernait. If serviced in the last decade, a Hicap can be old (i.e cheap) and still do the job well.

My second system is ND5XS2 + 82 preamp + Hicap + 250 power amp - all old ‘olive’ boxes, but serviced in recent years. You can buy all of those for less than a Nova costs. To me, that amplifier setup is well above SN3+ Hicap, esp on detail and bass grip. It actually deserves a better source than ND5XS2, so I may well buy a s/h nDAC for it at some stage, but again there is no need to rush.

The suggestion to try an Atom HE + amp is a good one. However, they are pretty new and don’t offer the same VFM as the s/h market to those prepared to have more boxes - unless you see a screaming bargain of course.

Finally, while I like the older boxes, I’d agree with the comments here about the older architecture NDX and 272 streamers. These are excellent machines, but a bit more clunky to use and lacking Qobuz and more likely to eventually stop getting software upgrades. Mind you, for SQ per £ today, I can see the attraction for anyone who who doesn’t care about Qobuz or can arrange a work-around.


Better is often very subjective in this hobby. Of course loads of love for the Naim sources around these parts but I for one, and many others on here, love the blend that Chord and Naim bring.


Not sure I’d agree with this. You use the app, either Spotify or Naim (for Tidal/local streaming). I never actually touch the streamer (or remote).

Fair enough. If you stick to a direct source, do your updates and d everything through the app, that must be right.

1 Like

Hi Rjt36,
I think you advise this is a second system- I’m unsure of siting space and room but if limited the plug in and forget nature of Nova may appeal.
If you like to tinker going separates gives that flexibility to build and fine tune sound over time which may suit you best.
Sorting out one system is challenge enough (for me) so good luck.

Thank you so much for all your helpful thoughts. Lots of options that I hadn’t considered at all. Maybe a used SN2 (or 3) with an ND5XS2 would be a very credible alternative to a Nova. And then it comes down to slightly better SQ in the former vs the ease of living with a one box, Nova……

1 Like

My advice would be to avoid the Nova, particularly if your speakers are any good. I had one for about a year and found it brash with a wallowing bass response. It’s not remotely cheap and for the money should be considerably better imo. Others are really happy with theirs and that’s great but not for me. The SN3/NDX2 was a huge leap forward and that’s without psu’s but for the money I think they should be better too, prices are ridiculous now for what you get and no longer represent value for money imo. Controversial I know, but there you go!

SN3 and a node would be. Great simple system - add something like a Naim DAC and you would have a killer set up for not a ton of money - esp if you buy all these things used.

I would take a node and a Naim Dac over an NDX2 from both an SQ perspective and because I most don’t like Hifi with screens - the streamer is realistically the only part of this that will become obsolete so it makes sense to keep the DAC and the Streamer seperate IMHO…

Interesting. Why not an ND5XS2 streamer, leaving out the extra preamp/volume circuitry while gaining a piece dedicated to streaming, better PS, DIN out with the appropriate output voltage for about the same money? The HE at 100% volume is a bit hot for the integrated, so it should be gained down. Not sure the effect on SQ that has. I’ve heard the HE used as a streamer and it works fine and sounds good—love the form factor and screen. Just curious!