Hi. First post here. I’m in the process of putting together a high end home audio system. I started my research last March and have been pretty intensely looking at all the countless components one can assemble a system around. After about 5 months of research I’m starting to narrow my focus. I’ve been working with a very reputable dealer and he has been a tremendous help, even recommending brands he doesn’t carry.
A little background…I’m assembling a new system after approximately a 40 year hiatus from serious, high end, home audio. High end audio so different now vs the '70s. It’s been a very steep learning curve, especially with all the digital hardware and software. I still have a LOT to learn.
Since I’m using money from a pension I’m purchasing my system in 2 stages, for tax purposes. The first stage this year and the second and final stage in January. The total budget for my system is about $25,000. I’ve already purchased equipment for the first stage (2019). In fact, my speakers are arriving on the brown truck today. I’ve also ordered and am awaiting cables, connects, and speaker stands. The second stage purchases will be made in January (2020). My post here has to do with components for the second stage.
My speakers are Harbeth Super HL 5+ Anniversary models, chosen to fit my room, the type of music I listen to, and the “general sonic personality” I’m looking for. As a bluegrass musician about 90% of what I listen to is bluegrass music and 10% is small combo jazz and blues. My dealer has highly recommended the NAIM Supernait 3 (SN3) as a first choice and the Luxman 509x as a very close second choice. For the purposes of this discussion, right now I’m primarily interested in the SN3.
Which brings me to my questions…Does anyone here have a SN3? Does it have a particular or describable type/style of sound? How do you like your SN3 so far? Can you compare it to any other amps? How is the frequency response (lows, mids, top end)? For lack of other terminology, how is the stage imaging? Is it open, air-y? How would you describe it’s “sonic personality”). Does it have a more analytical or more colored personality?
Since it’s a relatively new model it’s currently a little difficult to find much personal ownership info on the SN3. At least other than what I’ve been able to find on the net. There is a good bit of info on the specs and features of the SN3 but very little info on how the SN3 sounds. I know I need to hear it. But, as I mentioned, they’re still a rare commodity and it’s going to take a while for them to populate in the field. Thank you so much for any info you can give me.
I think most would agree that you should get to listen to any new purchases at a dealer, or better still at home with your other equipment before you buy.
What will be the source?
Is the intention to use your new speakers with other equipment between now and January? If not why did you not defer any purchase until you had sufficient cash, you could have put the money on deposit, it would probably have been best to choose the system as a whole rather than in parts, but if the brown truck is coming, that ship may now have sailed.
On a general note Naim is a very good brand, the SN3 is expected to be a great integrated amp, but unless the nearest Naim stockist is too far away, you really should listen to the system first, ideally as one system and ideally at home.
For $25k I am sure you are going to get a super system, much better than was available in the 1970’s (though some may disagree if it was the late 1970’s )
Does your dealer still have a SN2 on demonstration? If you like the SN2, I am sure you will also like the SN3. Easy peasy lemon squezzy… [I am sure we soon have a few people saying that they liked the SN1 but not the SN2… Really?!]
I can’t help being a little sceptical about a dealer recommendation for an amp which is not yet on the market. Perhaps he has heard one at a promotional demo for dealers if he’s lucky, or maybe not even that?
My main source will be some kind of streaming. I’ve ripped most of my CDs for additional listening. A TT could be in the future but it’s not currently a priority. But, streaming will be my main source.
Not sure if my dealer has actually heard the SN 3 or is maybe basing his observations on the SN 2?
That is a very health budget and what I great way to spend some some time in retirement listening to a lovely system.
As others have stated, the Supernait3 isn’t out yet and therefore any comments regarding its sonic capabilities are just speculation.
I am not sure how you are planning on allocating your budget but bear in mind ex-demo equipment, as it’s may enable you to get a little higher up the ladder than you anticipated.
Unfortunately it sounds like Naim dealers are not on your doorstep which is a shame as I would take your time in listening to your options and enjoy the ride!
With that budget you may be able to get something like an NDX2, 282, Hicap and 250DR, especially if some can be found preloved. Those speakers deserve that sort of setup. Don’t forget you will need a good stand to put the Naim boxes on.
The Luxman L509X is twice the price of the SN3. Also looking it up it looks gorgeous. Still keeping that retro look, but bang up to date.
It should be an interesting audition for yourself if you can get the SN3 and 509X together with your speakers and cables for a shoot out.
As others have said, if your budget can get to the Luxman - which at £8.5k. You might find going through the separate options more worthwhile.
Or, with the SN3, NDX2 plus a power supply.
Your research options may go full throttle once you get closer to finalising your outcome.
Not sure if he’s actually heard a SN 3. But he did say he thought the SN 3 or Luxman 509x would sound wonderful paired with the Harbeth Super HL 5+ 40th Anniversary model speakers.
My dealer also said, “[…NAIM has one of the most sweet and musical engaging sounds you’ll hear. NAIM has a cult like following like you can’t believe. It’s sound is addicting. I thought SuperNait 2 for you, but it was already over 10 years old! NAIM takes FOREVER to bring out new models. Buying now - SN3 and NDX 2 Streamer ensures you are buying very early in their product life cycles…]”
That’s a rather subjective statement your dealer makes, and your ears might hear it differently. Harbeth has a good number of faithful followers in the Naim community, others here feel Harbeth speakers are a bit dull.
I am not sure the dealer comment makes sense, from what I understand the SN 2 was launched in 2013/14, so only 5-6 yrs ago. It replaced SN which featured a number of digital inputs.
XS 3 and SN 3 Launch
It’s great fun buying new gear but can be challanging when you can’t demo all units you want to hear. I even started thinking about a quick trip to UK to see family and demo some gear…crazy idea But justifiable when one considers Naim pricing in places like NZ!
I have the standard Super HL5 Plus (not the 40th Anniversary). I did not try the Supernait 2 with the Super HL5+ but have used the Nait XS, 202/200 and 282/250DR to drive the speakers instead. The speakers sounded very mediocre / unexceptional with the Nait XS. The 202/200 provided more detail, verve, excitement and everything more. The 282/250DR brought further enhancement by providing a fuller and more dynamic and robust sound from top to bottom, overall a more sophisticated and matured presentation. The Super HL5+ sounds more complete and accomplished with the 282/250DR than the 202/200 and Nait XS.
I believe you are in the right direction by considering the Supernait 3 (or 2) for your SHL5+ 40th Anniversary. Avoid the Nait XS if you can though if you have the Super HL5+.
Not exactly the SN2 or SN3 but since you have the SHL5+, I might just share my experiences. I have used many amps with the Harbeth Super HL5s (non-Plus) about 9 years ago when I first bought the speakers. I was using Audio Research LS16 and Plinius SA100Mk3 separates to drive the speakers back then. The sound quality was far from satisfactory and I tried not less than six amplifier combinations within 1 year in an attempt to salvage the speakers. In the end I ended up with the Naim NAC202 and NAP200 with the SHL5s for seven years before I upgraded the SHL5 to SHL5+ and 202/200 to 282/250DR.
Another amp which combines well with the SHL5 is the LFD Zero LEIII. I didn’t manage to compare the LFD directly to the Naim separates though as I was using a Rega Elicit Mk2 to drive the Harbeth when the LFD came in. The SHL5s sounded very open, dynamic and illuminating with the LFD. In comparison the speakers sounded flat and uninvolving with the Rega Elicit. As the Rega Elicit sounded almost the same as the Nait XS (I compared both Rega Elicit and Nait XS with the SHL5s), the LFD is a better match to the SHL5 than the Nait XS. However, I recall the bass of the LFD to be rather lean, a one-note bass which does not go very deep. The 282/250DR combination which I have now has superior bass performance than the LFD. I suspect one will need to go to the top-of-the-range LFD NCSE integrated to get the best out of the Harbeth.