SN3 Vs Nac202+Nap200 dr

I would like to upgrade from my Naim XS3 . Which one is better between the Naim SN3 and the combination of Naim NAC202 + NAP200 DR ?
thank you in advance

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Listened extensively to the SN3, testing with different sources and speakers.
Eventually purchased 202/200DR with HiCapDR and NAP SC. This combination was definitely better than the SN3 for SQ, Soundstage and all round listening characteristics IMO. YMMV😉

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Try to listen for yourself if you can. For me the 202/200 is a significant step above any Supernait. They do have a slightly different sound signature, and I would say that the Supernait has more weight to the sound, which is normally something I would be attracted to, but in other areas I find the 202/200 well ahead, so that would always be my choice.
Bear in mind that separate boxes need to be given their own shelf in order to perform properly. If you can’t do that the integrated may be a better choice for you.

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I thought that the SN3, being a much more recent project, would have surpassed the NAC202 in the preamp section. But from what you’re saying, the NAC202 still holds its ground. What do you mean when you say that the SN3 has more weight in the sound?

I found the Supernaits to have more weight and power in the lower frequencies. The 200 by comparison has slightly less powerful bass, and a more delicate style with a lower noise floor and more detail in the mid and upper frequencies.

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There are many threads on this and not everyone agrees, and it depends how far you want to go.

The commonest view seems to be that SN3 is good but 202/200 probably wins (refinement, detail etc).

However, add a Hicap to the SN3 and most think it at least as good as 202/200, perhaps better.

Of course, you can have 202/Hicap/200. Some definitely put that ahead of SN3+HC, but it is 3 boxes.

Still not finished? If you can make proper room for that 202/HC/200, then you could probably spend the same money on 3 (serviced) olive boxes. 82 (comes with NAPSC) plus Hicap plus the legendary 250 is well ahead of all the above combinations.

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I would choose the SN3 because it’s one box and close enough in performance to the 202/200. Adding a HiCap to the SN3 improves it even more. Keep in mind that if you ever want to upgrade, the 202/200 are some of the hardest pieces of Naim equipment to resell. On the other hand, reselling an SN3 is easy.

The secondary market prices on 282 and 252 are falling quite fast, so maybe it would be wise to wait going the separates route.

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That point on OC box pricing is very relevant.

I have just looked at eBay and it seems that one can buy perfectly good (but probably unserviced) 52+52PS plus matching olive 250 (serviced) for just under £3K.

Many of us rate 52 ahead of 252, though plenty of others disagree. However, 252+SCDR+250DR would have to come down a very long way to match that olive option for VFM even if you like the newer box looks or sound quality 1% more. Picking 82 and Hicap is much cheaper still of course (total cost little over £2K?), so now that 282 et al are also not the current products they too may have quite a way to fall.

In any event, this is still a rung or two above SN3 cost, with or without HC. However, there is as yet no NC SN4 (or Hicap), so the SN4 has not really been superseded.

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If to take 202/200, only with HiCAP and NAPSC. Otherwise it is not to full potential, but that is 4 boxes.

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I would go 202/200 and in time seek a 282/200, which even without HC is a fantastic combo.

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I doubt you’d get a 250 included for that. Unless you think no one will bid on that 52/SC in the next 9 days? :wink:

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I’ve tested the SN3 against the NAC202/NAP200 DR, adding sequentially the NAPSC and the HiCap DR. The differences between them is not night and day IMO but enough, for me, to prefer the NAC202/NAP200 DR with NAPSC and HiCap DR. Plus such a system is easier to upgrade and opens up more possibilities.
I agree with @QuickSticks about the soundstage and, as @ChrisSU said, there’s more refinement. Bass is just a little bit less powerful but I didn’t perceive it as a problem at all, it’s just a characteristic.

Of course it depends if you don’t mind having multiple boxes or if you are concerned about reselling them in the future.

In the end, as always, you should test these systems yourself to understand what is worth for you; if it was for me, I would easily choose the NAC202/NAP200 DR, it’s a great sounding kit and can’t understand why it’s not loved as much as it deserves.

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Oops! That’s a fair point. That’s not the first time a Quick Look from me has failed to distinguish between Buy It Now and current best on an auction with ages to go - sorry.

Mind you, in the last year we have seen cheap Supercaps and cheap 52s with no PS sell on eBay and on PFM, and there have been some very cheap olive 250s (supposedly serviced but I had no reason to check) on PFM, so I wouldn’t call it impossible to get a real steal.

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From the comments, I see that many recommend pairing the NAC202/NAP200 DR with NAPSC and HiCap DR, and the same for the SN3 with HiCap DR. Does this mean that without HiCap DR, both solutions are not optimized for good SQ?

Not really. They should both sound good without the additional power supplies, it’s just that with the power supplies they will almost certainly sound better.

It’s just the way the Naim upgrade path works. If you were to buy the 202, NAPSC and Hicap, a 282 would only be one step away. Once you have the 282 you will probably be tempted to buy a Supercap to replace the Hicap. A 252 would then be only one step away.

The power supplies make a worthwhile improvement to the sound most of the time.

Just a word of caution regarding the upgrading path. In a few years you might find yourself the proud owner of a 500 series for example. By chance you hear a friend’s standalone 202/200 or Supernait and think it sounds wonderful. You then look at the mountain of boxes in the corner of your living room, wonder how you got here and why you didn’t spend the cash on holidays instead. :joy: Only joking well sort of!

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Really - Is it ?
Looking at New Classic prices there’s a healthy market for much cheaper top spec old Classic or Olive/CB kit.

As for 202/200, I wouldn’t run that combo without at least a Napsc.
A Hicap will be a massive upgrade.

In short, I’d choose a Supernait vs 202/200 (if not wishing to add further boxes.)

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Just an ‘outsiders’ view in so much as I owned an SN3 for 5 years but never any OC ‘separates’. So, the 202/200 seems like it was the first rung on the ladder if you chose the separates path - you didn’t. You chose the integrated as the first step.

Purely by gauging the comments on these forums, it would seem that the 282 is an appreciable step up over the 202 and then the 252 is the top. The 200 is a base model but the 250 or indeed 300 is the more significant separate.

The 202/200 is a separates version of the SN3 (maybe controversial but that’s my opinion). If you want to upgrade from the SN3 and don’t want to be on an update conveyor belt (going through the Naim hierarchy bit by bit) then bite the bullet and get the 282 or 252 with 250 or 300. Depending on finances this could be done in one go or 282/252 with SN3 as power amp or SN3 as pre with 250/300 as power.

Obviously the 252 requires a separate PS as well.

My absolute recommendation though would be to consider the NC. 222/250 with or without the NPX300. While a more costly outlay you do get a full warranty and do not have to consider a service for many years.

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I think there are some pretty unrealistic suggestions being bandied about here! The OP is asking for advice about a 202/200, and people are trying to push him towards a 252, which alone could easily cost 3 or 4 times as much. A New Classic 222/250 would be more like 10 times a much.

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But the take away is probably stick with SN3 or do a significant upgrade.

He has an XS3. There are many variables such as amp/speaker matching and personal preference, but to my ears a 202/200 is a pretty substantial upgrade over an XS3.

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