Stay Olive series of go Classic? NDX/102/hicap/180 vs NAC-272N/180

I would love to have the opinion of this forum.
After redecorating our house and being awarded a much better spot for my hifi system by my wife, I am currently finding the best way to revamp my system.

Current system: Bluesound Node 2 streamer, CDX, 102/hicap/180 (all unserviced and 20 years old) and Sonus Faber Electa Amator I.

I want to do two things: get a recap and find a better streaming source. I see two possibilities and would love to hear your opinion about it.

1) buy a 2nd hand NDX and recap the 102/hicap/180.
2) buy a 2nd hand NAC-N272, sell the 102/hicap, use the 272 as streamer and preamp, connect it to the 180 (and have only this recapped).
Good thing about the 2nd option is that I can control the main volume of the 272 via the app, whilst with the first option I can only control the output signal of the NDX. Apparently that is not the best audiophile solution. And I do want to control the volume via the app.
Moneywise both are quite similar.
Main audiosource for me is streaming.

What would your choice be and why? Any other suggestions?

Control of the volume would be done via the 102 remote. :thinking:

Not possible: it is in a cupboard behind doors. And prefer to use an app anyway.

My 82 is in a different room too.

So are you planning on setting the 102 volume to the maximum you require and then using the App to reduce to your required level?

Yes indeed. That would be the plan when buying the NDX, partner is with the 102. Set the 102 on a fixed, maximum required, volume and then control the volume via the app of the NDX.
My most important question; would I go for that setup, or buy a 272 and sell the 102/hicap?
What is your opinion about that?

You can’t do that. The output on the NDX is fixed. You’d need a pre that supports system automation input like a 202 or 282.

The original NDX (which I assume is what you considering) has a fixed output. The volume control within the app uses system automation which is a link between the NDX and pre-amp to send the equivalent of IR signals to the pr-amp. As you already know this only works on the latest pre-amps, not the Olive series. The NDX2 has a variable output, mainly added for compliance for Airplay I believe.

You can work around this issue with Olive pre-amps quite nicely using a Logitech Harmony Hub. This is a small device that you could locate in your cupboard which would send IR signals to your pre-amp either using a Logitech universal remote control or an app on your iPad. With an iPad you can install a widget to allow easy control from your home screen. It’s not as elegant as the in application control of volume but works very well. I use this to integrate my system into Roon.

Turning to the question of 272 vs NDX it’s a difficult one to answer. The 272 is the swiss army knife of pre-amps and very capable. To me it comes in to its own when it has a power supply added. The NDX is more capable than the 272’s streamer when the 272 is powered on its own and the pre-amp is probably on a par with the 102. As you add power supplies then the 272 rapidly improves and with a 555 power supply comes close to an NDX/282.

Of course you can also upgrade the NDX with power supplies which can take this further as well!

I wonder if you should also look at an ND5XS2 as well. It uses the latest generation streamer and isn’t far behind the original NDX.

The other suggestion is before having the 102 serviced see if there any 82 pre-amps around. This could be a cost effective upgrade as you would save on the service price and an NDX/82 would put you in a very nice place.

I would get the 272

I wouldn’t. I keep the NDX and replace the 102/180 with a second hand SN2.

I agree, keep the separates and get them serviced if sound quality is your priority. Having said that, the 272 is a much neater setup with a great volume control and neater cabling. Add an XPS to it and it might compete with your proposed separates system on sound quality.

Regarding streamers, what are you intending to use one for? If you want to use one to play locally stored music files these older generation Naim streamers are a good option, especially at used prices. If you want to access a range of online streaming services their abilities are more limited.

You’ve really answered your own question here. You cannot control the 102 with the app as it lacks system automation, as you know. So it you want to control volume with the app then it’s the 272. I’ve owned a 102/Hicap and have a 272 now, and I’d say the latter is better. If you do go the NDX route you could always get an IR resender and put the receiver on the outside of the cupboard so you can control volume with the 102 remote.

If you stick with the 102 then do get a napsc. It makes a big difference for not a lot of money.

Thanks for the responses.
It mostly helped me to know that the NDX does not have variabel output. That was new to me.
That means that buying the 272 is the easiest to get to a system in which I can control the volume with an app on my phone.

Option 2 is the better solution in my opinion, then re-cap / service the 180 and see how that fares.

Thanks for the advice.
Just bought a brand new n272.
I couldn’t resist it, in the sale for 1999 pounds. new.


Good choice it’s an excellent pre amp. :+1:

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Thats a very good buy, well done.

It was quite a nice surprise. I was looking to a few on Ebay, selling 2nd hand for 1500. And then read on this forum about two stores that were selling them new for a great discount. And then it was an easy choice.

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Thats great, Perhaps keep the HiCap, if you expand your system to add anything that may be powered by it ie StageLine and sell the 102.

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