Star vs. Nait 5SI or XS3

I love my Star (70wpc) for listening to almost anything EXCEPT rock. It sounds too ‘thin’, too much treble and doesn’t have enough muscle, body or rich enough for my taste. Listening to vinyl through my Star is great as it gives more body, but I’ve stopped buying vinyl and am not going to start again.

So I’m considering returning to a traditional integrated amp with my Monitor Audio Silver 300s. The system is in a condo living room of 8.5’ w x 11’ d. Yes, tiny and my speakers are a bit overkill perhaps.

Would the Nait 5SI improve sound to my liking or would I need to go a step further to the Nait XS3? Would I need to go even further to the Supernait 3?

did you try adding a sub? It is not just about the base but the added resonance one gets.

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I haven’t yet. Space is so limited so I’d consider one sub but wonder if I’d actually need two subs.

If that’s the case, perhaps i could get the same results with a new amp rather than add more things in the tiny living room. It’s 8.5’ x 11’ and very limited floor space?

A Naim Powerline will give it a bit more weight. Adding a single sub would likely fill the gap, it does with my Nova. Otherwise you are looking at a Supernait (plus a streamer if you want one).


You have identified that the system CAN sound ‘rockish’ (a hard genre to render).
That suggests changing your digital front end might ‘get you there’.

with regards to ‘which amp’; Naim tunes the kit in a way that renders rock right.
Even the ‘lowly’ 5si.

If your speakers are somewhat sensitive ie 89dB or greater; then I assure you the XS(3) is borderline overkill, in terms of power, as my 90dB sensitive towers fill a room larger than yours, with 85dB peaks in CDs like Graceland, before the volume dial even gets to 9am.

I suppose it comes down to listening preferences- but I assure you- the XS3 is overkill capability for my family, as the missus enjoyed The Waifs Live in the front yard and, ‘all around the block’ with the amps dial ‘below the first quarter’.

It isn’t close to running out of head room.

the 5si seems to have a higher quiescent current and doesnt lose power to a phono stage nor a class A headphone amp (reasons to consider the XS, certainly).
My understanding is the 5si has a passive (‘non active’ preamp circuit).
my plans for the XS3 was for unity gain mode (AV bypass) which limits potential gains from piwer supply upgrades etc

I’d certainly be happy with the Nait 5si for rock. It has the Naim tuning (/‘house sound’).

in my experience it isnt the power rating, necessarily,of an amp that qualifies how well it renders rock and roll.

Naim does brilliantly.
Naits will ‘get you there’!


okay, I’m on a train so hadnt looked at your speakers-
they ARE 90dB and 8ohm affairs, but 3.5ohm lows identified in a review on the absolute sound…

I feel most work the ratio of equal cost into your amp as your speakers… and as those speakers are units that punch WELL above their pricepoint, no doubt they would continue to scale up the Nait range (yes even to Supernait territory).

I question why your Vinyl gives rock visceralness on the Star, and guess that your phono stage might be valve or is doing something right to make it feel powerful.
Some further questions, then, that I would want to redress when considering the 5si/XS or Supernaits is whether the onboard phono stages (top two Naits if present catalogue) wpuld be a sidegrade or upgrade.

I use nice RCAs cables and for me, I’d want the Supernait due to the wiring from the RCAs not being fed through a ‘thin’ internal cable. (the fat copper tracks on the amp boards is the reason I chose Naim), so I am tempted to buy a rca to din cable to use the ‘preferred input type’ that Naim recommend.

Factors like that, and the top tier phono stage would lean me towards the Supernait, and yes, your speakers will be able to scale appropriately… (fair equipment tier matchups)

Would you run out of steam on either of the 7cm tall units?
3.5ohm woud drive much better from the doubled amperage that the Supernait offers.
I’d suggest trialling the 5si as it most likely will meet your needs (assuming 95dB isn’t your preferred listening level when listening critically)…
but if it does not, then I’d suggest going to the Supernait for the extra bass driver control it would offer.

I wpuldnt get caught up comparing one brands ‘watts’ vs anothers.

I ‘downgraded’ (not really) from a 275Watt musical fidelity.
I certainly could turn the dial up much higher on THAT bigger amp.
Naim Watts are greater than the average :wink:

5si should do the task beautifully,… but there might be value in the phono stage of the upper models; if not- the the older Supernait 2 would be a good pathway (ie you have an expensive phono stage already)

apologies for the third post (in a row); (I’m a newbie and dont see an edit button)…

please DO NOT worry about subs.

the low ohm drive of your amp will need be redressed in order to have them give low down bass frequencies.
and a DAC change (/few extra weeks of amp break in/ and even a few more months of speaker burn in) will all contribute to crazy low frequency extension.

for a room the size you are in, subs just run a greater risk of being difficult to integrate
more likely to hurt than help.

that changes when using xt32 or Anthem room correction etc (sound processing) but isnt viable for Vinyl and, again, better off with a better DAC.

hence why I recommended the Nait 5si (money saved could net you a ‘nice’ R2R DAC ie a Denafrips or even an AudioGd unit (probably my recommendation))

I know the Supernaits have doubled current which will bullishly drive those speakers (plenty of bass)…
the 5si might has roughly equal to the Nait XS3,… so , if you do not need the phono stage, I’d recommend either 5si or Supernait 2…

and avoid subs!

Altho these things can be subjective I have found musical subs like REL to add and now cannot be taken away. I am always looking for that “feel” of the music, make me dream, send me to sleep, wisp me away … and I have found high end gear can thin the music … subs bring back emotion, like Naim amps, especially the SNs, altho I also have the XS3 which I truly love too. In the end I am not into audio to show off but to elevate my soul. I would try a small sub like a t5x or something similar, rent if needed, dial it in well and then let it sit for a week. I now cannot go back without some low frequency addition into a system. But in the end it is always personal preference.


you could swap to the nova that has a darker more meaty sound than the star


If I got one Rel T5x, where would the optimal placement be in an 8.5 x 11 living room? The speakers are on either side of the TV (wall mounted).

I had a Nova , I added a full Powerline ( not the lite version) and it produced a significant improvement

On a pound per sound basis it is highly cost effective


Welcome - and look for a pencil icon to click. You should only see it on your own posts

I used it to add this!

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It really depends on the room … sometimes you can even place it on a side wall and it works well. It really depends on the reflective nature of your space and your own preferences … I , for example, do not like subs pointed “at” me. I prefer them to be unseen and unfelt even for films. The sub needs to carry the other frequencies like a carpet:) but be invisible otherwise. It is really trial and error. And it takes a few weeks to dial in a sub for me … like the crossover levels and volume set and then once that is done I then find the best position for it as I am used to it being in the room. I am a bit sensitive though and for me speakers can take 2 months to “burn in” so your experience might be different.

Hello -the reason I encouraged to NOT add a subwoofer (yet!) is that the sound for digital sources is NOT MUSICAL for rock…(as the OP clarified by stating they enjoy Rock from Vinyl)
I have found rock musics’ rendition is in the ability to have high dynamic range AND the ability to do phase shifting effects et al admirably.
(sometimes a DAC change or transport quality can bring the phase shifting /‘speed’ and power to where it should be!)

I looked into the Nova (and a few threads where people were for and against it as an upgrade over the Star)…

Those speakers need low ohm drive. end of discussion.
until they get that they will be anemic and messy. (no bass driver control, arguably the measurement ‘damping factor’ is correlated to that measurement).
(so we know several things are likely issues to be sorted; DAC+transport quality may not equal what Vinyl is doing (I hinted at tube preamp for the turntable quite possibly), AND speakers are unlikely to be driven with correct power ‘push’ they require (certainly in the woofers that are 3.5ohm loads, and not all amps work well with THAT requirement).

I have mates who go without sub, and as a rule of thumb for the first twenty odd years of my hifi journey I toyed with and without…
What I have learned is that ‘yes’ a subwoofer can ‘bring the boom’ (good ones are felt and not heard!); yet a nice source can add a low down -=thump=- that makes you think a garbage truck is emptying an industrial skip into its belly 100metres away AT A LOW VOLUME LEVEL on the amp. (without a ‘sub’!; and if anyone looks up the main speakers the OP has, they arguably have TWO very capable ‘subs’ already; better to get them driving properly rather than incorporate two subs into the room, and yes ‘two’; if anyone reads articles on why TWO subs is a necessity/‘good thing’ when trying to generate TRUE bass waves that incorporate well with mains speakers sound!!)

Great amps make the same speakers drive down low in ways that make you feel it.
Heck I have looked around in large show room auditoriums with two meagre looking bookshelves on stands, in the appropriate spots in the room, and been looking for their accompanying subwoofer. (none in use!)

I have changed digital cables and had to taper down my sub by 1-1.5dB because of the better delivery of the analogue waveform sent down the cable. (when it lands correctly the eyelets give less ‘misreads’ (where zeros become ones and vice versa); due to the length of a bass frequency, like 20hz, a lot of ‘perfect reads’ are needed for true low down frequency’; it is why scratched CDs sound ‘really trebly’ (bass frequencies can be hard to replicate due to their length and the required system integrity needed to keep them flowing the way they SHOULD BE).

Sorting out your sound BEFORE you add a subwoofer means that when you do add a subwoofer it will sound good; Not just being a headache inducing affair that can also prove a hassle to integrate with the mains regarding timing and frequencies (/phase being an issue with timing discrepencies,… )how many people have subwoofers ACTIVELY CANCELLING OUT their speakers low frequency drive?.

Those small integrated ‘do everything amps’ (Star and Nova) simply are not going to have the low ohm drive as the bigger dedicated amps @parksung has been considering.

Friends setups that have rotated in a nice ladder DAC have yielded exemplary bass.
Some of the best speakers in the world are single driver affairs, or ‘two way’ due to system simplicity allowing a sound integrity.
Clever speaker design, decades ago, started really focusing on ‘time alignment’.

If the Vinyl/turntable renders Rock fine… then what(?): tune down the sub for vinyl ?(working off some assumption that simply adding low down boom is the fix for the digital sources not sounding ‘right’…)

There is a lot to this…
now - Devils Advocate; let me be very forward…
I own around six/seven subwoofers.
I have theatre setups that incorporate two or more… and use the appropriate XT32 or Anthem Room Correction that generally only measures the timing of ONE subwoofer and integrates the sound, factoring standing waves and furniture and allows for stereo setup (with sub) that is worth using.

For my den setup, not being able to rope family members into the drama of helping me tune the sub into the speakers for ONE listening position (mine!), I have used surround processors, briefly in my two channel ‘den’ setup to show me the frequency response of the room at the listening position. (and then moved the speakers and tuned the sub accordingly) Once setup I have then swapped out the crappy surround amps (never as nice as equivalent priced ‘stereo’ stuff), and been ‘happy’.

Without the frequency and time alteration that a ten point microphone check and ‘room read’ provides, having speakers and a sub integrate well might require tarot cards and consulting an oracle and the wind in your favour, the moon in conjuction with the stars and A LOT OF MATH AND MEASUREMENTS to ‘get in a ball park’ that is still likely an experientially less cohesive experience vs two speakers in phase with each other, and a neat triangle to the listening position.

I get it, most don’t know this is a thing.
Many/most believe ‘bass’ IS what hifi is all about.

The half truth of that is that ‘really good equipment gives legendary bass’ without a sub.
Most subs are really just woofers.
Going ‘sub’ requires transmission line speakers or crazy large cabinets or, like my Sunfire: a lot of watts to load a tiny enclosure.

I place my sub in a chimney as it reinforces the bass frequencies as well.
Clearly I am a ‘do as I say’, ‘not as I do’ guy!

Am I envious of the holographic imagery that my friends achieve for far less outlay than my own setup? YES.
Yes- they have a much better sonic setup.
I enjoy rock at their house(s) much much more so than what my 3x-4x the pricepoint system renders.
It is simple and honest rendition from great recordings,… and their bass is beyond what I feel their system should do. (I have asked on occasions: subwoofer? -always met with a disgusted look, and ‘no thanks’)

By all means ‘add a sub’; but perhaps sort out the system issues first so there is a chance that some sound coherency can come about.

Good tight bass (felt and barely heard) is a factor of many things; but requires a sorted front end to achieve.
The OPs speakers are capable, so why not use them first?

This viewpoint has merit btw … I use Triangle speakers only, with some custom additions, so altho their base is wonderful with the SN1 and the Pontus II they still lack base body, it is too crisp for me. Too exact with little fall off. So for me a sub is an absolute necessity. Resonance is emotion so when things are too defined it feels like something is missing and does not give you that inspirational feeling. BUT … using more full and deeper speaker ranges might require no sub if that is your preference. I have a Turkish friend who only listens to a singular stereo type of music and he hates subs. I like to hear when I shoot down a plane in a game :slight_smile: as well when I play an orchestral piece.

apols for not PM’ing this.
Just as a FYI: (My) Newbie posts cannot be edited. (even now that I am a ‘trusted’ member, they remain uneditable)

Same way in which I do not have a PM ability to send this privately.

I appreciate the effort to encourage editing of posts where possible/when needed; alas some things just are…

The good news is I am happy using the edit tool when it presents itself. (all my posts since I got approved ‘worthy’)

Good day 'sir.

I dig your community commitment- top marks- wish I could double like your post, but am sure in time i will find another to treat the same/‘in kind’.

thankyou again

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There is no PM facility.

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Spiritually or we talking only physically? :slight_smile:

Think separates, those MA need the juice.
Forget the small integrated or change the loudspeakers.

Which speakers do you suggest that would work well with my Star?

@whitedragem, you mentioned “Those small integrated ‘do everything amps’ (Star and Nova) simply are not going to have the low ohm drive as the bigger dedicated amps @parksung has been considering.”

I’m not techy and don’t know about having an amp that will have low ohm drive. Would the 5SI or XS3?

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