Supernait 3 - Addition of HiCap DR

New Year, New Naim system, as the old saying goes. Scene set, I’m on the cusp of swapping out my dear friend the Supernait 2 for a Supernait 3.

The current setup has now settled down to a mix of a SN2 + HiCap DR + ND5 XS 2. The longer term goal in mind is a sensible box count built around a new SN3 + eventually an NDX2 + an XPS DR even further out and as my appetite to add boxes waxes and wanes. I have a spare Rega TT as well so the ability to utilise that for occasional use, plug and play so to speak is appealing, beyond the obvious performance uplift associated with moving from a SN2 to a SN3 in the heart of the system.

Broadly the question posed here is, of those in similar situations, given the design changes made between the SN2 and SN3 and the uplift in performance of a bare SN3 vs a SN2 (with and without an external PSU), do I let my existing HiCap DR go and run the new SN3 bare or would I be listening in a state of constant regret running it without the HiCap DR?

I’d be curious to hear from any other SN3 owners, especially those with a history of running a SN2 in the same system and what the feeling is of how the SN3 compares both with and without a HiCap DR?

I’m leaning towards keeping the HiCap DR during the run in period of the SN3 then doing a more conclusive evaluation of if I keep the HiCap DR longer term or not, but curious at this pre purchase stage anyway as a source of guidance. I’m also assuming here that a longer term swap in of a SuperCap powering a SN3 does not make either performance or economic sense, unless it ends up with a NAC252 hanging off it that is.

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It surely depends on how urgently you need the money that the sale of you hicap dr would release?
If you can afford to keep it in the wings and try it when the system has settled in …then that’s what I would do
It’s not going to loose any value between now and 6months time really is it?

Thank you JTS, yes I’m not relying on it going to make the SN3 swap in possible, I guess I was more curious what people had felt having lived with a SN2 and then moved to a SN3 and if they felt the change was a positive enough improvement with or without either reuse of a HiCap DR or adding one to a SN3 later on. I’ve only really had a listen to a SN3 for a brief period of time so my personal perspective is minimal to date. The HiCap I’ve used on both a NAIT XS and later on the SN2, with the more desirable improvement to my ears on the SN2. I’d expect the same “uplift” to be present on a SN3 with the addition of the HiCap DR but I’d also expect improvements overall moving to the SN3 from a a SN2 even without an external PSU.
Sometimes it just helps to think out loud and have impartial input from others in the know to answer questions you yourself probably already know the answer to referencing your comments!
Appreciate the feedback regardless.

Unless you are getting the SN3 primarily for the phono stage I’d question whether the SN2-SN3 upgrade is the best use of current resources - the SN3 is an incremental improvement on the SN2 but not transformational. Without the HC DR you’re almost certainly going to be downgrading your amplifier.

If you have the funds why not get the NDX2 now as this would likely be the better ‘intermediate’ system on the way to your end goal.

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Ahh, I like your thinking here. I think my “justification” if that’s the right word, was the abilty to drive a TT easily and without getting caught up in a world of options with different phono preamps.

That said, it’s not a key feature and I had hoped that moving to a SN3 from a SN2 would give the overall listening experience more composure in the mid range and a little more grip and control vs what I achieve today with the SN2.

I do agree fully that the step up from the ND5 XS 2 to even a bare NDX2 will be an “ahh” moment once it’s settled in whereas swapping out the amp could be a change that’s hard to pinpoint, even after running it in for many months. I expect the HiCap DR will just give the usual polish and top and tail I’ve come to expect from it on previous NAIT’s.

If funds allowed it I’d certainly do the NDX2 swap out of the ND5 XS 2 and either keep the SN2 or even swap that in for a SN3 as well at the same time, whilst it may not be a transformational change moving to the SN3, it gives my amp a refresh and is not likely to be any worse than what my SN2 gives me today.

Appreciate your source first perspective and I tend to agree I’d see a better improvement with that approach, ultimately I think it’s the larger leap in cost of bumping up the source that would hold me back whereas swapping out the NAIT is an easier to swallow step for now!
Appreciate the feedback and insight.

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I was in a similar predicament between my SN2 and the SN3. Had a demo at my dealer and it is a very capable amp. I just couldn’t justify the price to change especially as I don’t need the phono preamp. Not enough of a difference for me and I’m now more than happy to stick with SN2 and HiCap.

I have now decided to hold back funds and do the exact upgrade mentioned above NDX2.
Then possibly when my wife stops shouting at me add the XPS DR.

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I’m feeling swayed towards the source camp!

Regards the shouting issues you reference, this is where a good pair of closed back headphones may prove of use.

Thanks for inputs, it’s the raw comparison between the SN2 and SN3 that’s helpful here and I appreciate your views and findings. I’m certainly happy with what I have and it’s no slouch, the source however whilst it was helpful in decluttering my setup and much better than the v1 ND5 XS I had for a period of time in terms of features and functionality, the SN2 does expose its shortcomings whereas any SN2/3 + NDX 2 setup I heard demoed left me smiling and wanting a slice of that cake.

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I have not heard or seen a SN 3 as of yet. My dealer has got some in but they have been all pre sold up to this point. I am quite happy with my SN 2 and at this moment in time I am quite content with the status quo. I have no interest in adding a TT, if I were that would be the driving reason to make the change. When and if I upgrade I would bring the HiCap DR along. I would most likely run a new SN 3 bare for a period of time to get aquatinted with the base line sound before adding in the HiCap back in to make a fair comparison.

I am looking forward to listening to a SN 3 in the future to see if it grabs my immediate attention. For the time being I am quite happy with my four box system.

NAS > XPS DR > NDX 2 > HiCap DR > SuperNait 2 > NAC A5 > NAIM Ovator S-400

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[quote=“Mr.M, post:7, topic:6692, full:true”]
I’m feeling swayed towards the source camp!

Regards the shouting issues you reference, this is where a good pair of closed back headphones may prove of use.

Thank for the advice of headphones, I’ll just use cheap earplugs and save the money for the upgrades.

Also I think you’ll get the same smile by adding the NDX2 to your SN2.

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Lovely system you have there, and exactly where I have set my end goal.

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Have you heard both? I challenge to say SN2 and SN3 are quite different. More different than similar to my ears. They both have their benefits depending on your preferences.

Curious with the comments here @Slamdam.
In my case my conclusion was that the shortcomings I experienced in my listening in my own setup at home were almost certainly the source, in my case an ND5 XS 2.
Where I lack insight is in an appreciation of the signature of the SN3 vs the SN2 especially in a setup with a single ND based source. The opinions here seem to suggest that focusing on my actual goal but in a different order and replacing the source with one that is more capable and a better match to the SN2 (and ultimately SN3 of course) and doing that first is a preferable approach in refreshing my system.
I’d be keen to better understand your comments and in turn what preferences may play a part here.

Thank you for your insight @seakayaker. Did you add your NDX 2 to replace something similar such as an older Naim streamer for example?
In line with other comments, your current system is where I’ve set my sights and it would appear it’s something you yourself are happy with.
Should you have a chance to hear a SN3 for comparison hopefully you can share your findings for reference.

Mr M., I would endorse the thinking of adding a NDX 2, then the XPS DR, prior to exchanging the SN 2 for the SN 3. I went from an ND5 XS to a NDX to the NDX 2 and there was an uplift with each upgrade. Adding the XPS DR was a significant uplift. So taking care of the source first is where I would recommend you spend your money first prior to moving to the SN 3.

I will be listening to a SN 3 at some point in the future. I dropped by my dealer about three weeks ago and still no demo unit. Every SN 3 he has received to date was pre sold. Eventually inventory will out strip demand and their will be a unit in the shop to have a listen. I am in no rush and very happy with my current configuration.

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Nice post…well thought out Sir👍

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Appreciate the feedback and guidance as always from all posters. I’m going to reconsider my next steps, enjoy what I have for a little longer perhaps then swap in the NDX 2 as this seems to be the most considered way forwards. Safe to say the HiCap DR will also stay put regardless, momentary lapse of reason concluded.

Thanks to all!

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I’ve answered a similar question else where having recently upgraded to SN3, Hi Cap DR, NDX2, XPS DR. For a while I was without the Hi Cap and ran the system without it. When it was returned there was a noticeable improvement in sound quality. The music was tighter and better detailed.
I chose the NDX2 as it was a very noticeable upgrade from the base model and this was further improved by the XPS.
I heard this system a year earlier using an SN2 at a Naim demo and from memory I think the SN3 is a very noticeable improvement. I do however think the star of my system is the NDX2.

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Excellent input @JohnF and appreciate your sharing your own personal experiences. In my case I think the reason I ended up with an ND5 XS 2 rather than an NDX 2 about a year ago when I bought it new was partly financially driven and in part wanting to evaluate if I would get enough “sum of the parts” from one of the new ND range from Naim vs other options I’d considered around the same time. I took a chance on it and have for the most part enjoyed it a lot but have over those months found its limitations and appreciate that longer term to maximise my enjoyment without spending more than budget allows and without adding a higher box count on the amplification that a sweet spot, as many have found is a SN2/3 and an NDX 2. This thread has helped me broaden my thinking out a little and all inputs are helpful to better understand what order to progress the system in.

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I was lucky I heard the demo as it was obvious that the NDX2 was very good, so I waited a year until I could afford it.

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Can’t argue with that at all, my own listening confirms the value unquestionably!