Supernait 3 & ND5 XS-2 vs Separates

Greetings all,
This is my first posting and I am in need of some advice. I heard a Naim system for the very first time last week and needless to say, I was blown away! It was a Supernait 3 and the accompanying ND5 XS2. My dealer did not have additional separates for which to compare. Thus my question.
How much of a jump in sound quality is there if I were to purchase a NAC-N-272 with a NAP 250 DR? I am looking for value also. Is it worth the money to move to this next level or is the performance of these separates just a slight incremental increase in sound quality? Also, the Supernait’s performance can be upgraded with power supplies. Would this be a prudent decision to remain with an integrated system and just upgrade power?
Any insights would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks!

I would get the SN3. Over the 272/250. Purely as the 272 is slightly out of date. Apparently it’s a great preamp streamer. But it’s not got the streaming capabilities of the newer streamers. NDX2, ND5xS2 etc. Have had an SN3/NDX2 combo. And sounds sublime. Especially with an added external power supply - XPSDR. The jump to separates is huge amount of money. One I’m actually taking. When my bank account drops significantly I may well miss the SN3!! It’s a great integrated amp if you want to save space. But my NDX2 is carrying on the journey with me. Unlikely you can use the 272 in any future ‘lego’ upgrade. You could use the 250. But may well want the 300. It’s much about personal choice. I can recommend the SN3/NDX2 combo. Or the streamer you’re talking about is supposed to be good. Depends how far down the rabbit hole you wanna go. SN3 sounds superb honestly. I even question myself now why I’m upgrading!! Hahaha. Good luck. Any combo will sound good. But SN3 has just come out. You have a phone stage. Can probably pick one newish on fleabay too. :+1:t3: What speakers do you have?
You can also add a Hicap DR as separate power supply for the preamp. Nice little upgrade. Then the superlumina interconnect gives a great lift if you can find an ex demo one maybe - they’re quite expensive. Then you can upgrade the plugs to powerlines if needs must. Depends how much you wanna spend… :rabbit2: plus trust your ears… if you liked what you heard…

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Hi Mon

Thanks for the informative post! I am currently using Kef LS 50’s, however, that will not be the “end all-be all” speakers of my choosing.

Another option that I considered is the purchase of a Nait XS3 with the NDX2. I know this is a more costly option, but I would have the future opportunity to build upon the NDX2. I have no idea of the SQ of the NDX2 + Nait XS3 vs Supernait 3 + ND5XS2 or whether this is just a silly option.

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Welcome Remicub.

Not a silly option at all. Great to hear that you are loving the Naim sound. My belief is that the single most valuable thing you can do at this stage on entering the world of Naim is to establish which of the two options above you prefer. Take your time. Enjoy it.

Best, Chris

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I guess the best advice depends on where you would like to end up on the Naim ladder. Are you based in the UK where demos are quite easy, or do you live in a part of the world where this is more difficult, especially higher up on the Naim ladder?

I would be wary of buying a new 272 there are strong hints it will be replaced in May, if so, your purchase will tumble in value. It is on the old streaming platform which unfortunately cannot take new updates like Qobuz. Most on the forum are very pleased with Qobuz. In summary i would either wait to see what is launched, or if you are happy with nd5xs2 and SN3, go for it.

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Just to set the scene, in the Naim hierarchy, you can take yourself all the way up to a spend on new equipment in excess of £100k. However almost all of us end up levelling out somewhere a little further down the ladder as our systems evolve and adapt.
In your position, I’d be inclined to get an NDX 2 and add a suitable amp to that based on your remaining budget. A NAIT XS 2/3 or a Supernait 2/3 will do a fine job paired with that streamer source and the NDX 2 can grow with you as you evolve the rest of the system, taking you quite comfortably up to a 500 level system if needed.
The great thing about any of those black boxes is you can run them quite happily off their internal power supplies and over time and as funds allow add dedicated power supplies to refine the system and improve your listening experience.
I’ve owned a number of NAIT based systems from a 3R, 5, XS, XS 2, SN1, SN2 and most recently a SN3. I’ve also owned a NAC202/NAP200 system in amongst all that.
I’ve made minor changes to my speakers over the years but ultimately I’ve found that changes elsewhere in the system just gave me more and more from the speakers I had and let me focus budget on refinements elsewhere.
I’ve gone through a number of sources including multiple Naim CD players and streamers including the ND5 XS and in the current system and ND5 XS 2.
My next step is to replace the ND5 XS 2 with a NDX 2, I already have a HiCap DR which I’ve used on multiple amps and found it to be a really flexible and beneficial addition to all the systems I’ve used it in, and it can drive quite a few of the amps in the range including the NAIT XS and Supernait then on to the NAC202 and NAC282 as your budget and upgrade needs evolve.
In line with other comments on the viability of the N272, this is at the end of its lifecycle and based on a previous generation of streaming subsystem whereas both the ND5 XS 2 and the higher spec NDX 2 are based on an entirely revised streaming platform which is more up to date and supports a wide range of services and connectivity options including Airplay from Apple and Chromecast as well as Qobuz and Tidal native integration. The current generation streamers also support Roon which is a great library management tool and front end option which myself and many other forum users have added to their systems with positive results.
To summarise, I’d be inclined to focus on allocating your budget primarily to a higher specification source, the NDX 2 and adding to that an amp that fills the remainder of your budget. If funds allow you can add to that a suitable interconnect like the Hi-Line and later on add things like the Naim Fraim racking system and external power supplies to both the NDX 2 and the amplifier.
Regardless of what amp you evolve in to as a phase 2, you can take the rest of the system along with you and gain incremental improvements over time whether thats based on a NAIT integrated or a pre + power combination of boxes.
Only your budget and aspirations limit what is possible here!

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SN3- Nd5XS2-Hi-Line with some better speaker= the best match.

The hi-line is the most money/upgrade avaible. The SN3 is a pratt beast way beter than the xs3, and the nd5xs2 is really not far at all than a bare NDX2 at all. ( if you add a xps the game change but is 4 time the price vs an nd5xs2).

@Remicub welcome to the NAIM world

to be honest the first thing I would look at is a full demo, little concered your dealer could of offer other NAIm systems so you can make an informed choice on SN3 vs seperates (accept the 272 would have to be SH) but plenty of members on here are very happty with 272 either with SN or seperate 250

I believe in source first with a balance in the system very close behind so IMO look at where idealy you want to be in a couple of years time and build around that

Hi @Mr.M, I’ve seen a few of your post about moving to the SN3 from your SN2 before going to the NDX2 - what has been your rational there? I’m running the SN2/HiCap/NDX2/XPSR and wonder how much of a change the SN3 would be?

Good question @Mike_S
I’ll attempt to put some context to the choices made. Towards the end of last year I had to take apart and box up my whole system and this had meant everything was boxed up and being stored in another room, this was due to building work.
I’d recently done a factory tour with my local dealer at Naim in Salisbury and had a listen to a few systems there and got talking about the SN3 and how I had a SN2 currently.
Cut to present day and my dealer had mentioned he had another customer who was looking for a SN2 and another customer looking for a modest integrated for a second room system, kitchen or den I guess. So I had a chance to make him an offer on a trade in as I knew he had demand for the kit I had and I’d likely get a good deal out of it.
So I traded in my NAIT XS 2 and SN2 which offset the cost of the new SN3.
I was also able to use a discount from the recent Bristol show to get some Fraim shelves and I’m working on a possible deal on a demo SL IC from same dealer as well.
So my motivations weren’t necessarily a pursuit of improvements in the system as such. My NAIT’s were of an age when it made sense to let them go and start with a fresh box again!
I’m still intending to move to an NDX 2 at some point in the coming 12-18 months once the new stuff has bedded in.
In the meantime I may experiment with the new add ons for the Chord Hugo 2 which adds a streaming module and also they do a digital out module for connecting to any DAC.
In terms of SN2 vs SN3, If I already had an NDX 2 and a trade in deal hadn’t popped up I’d be happy staying with the SN2. Once the SN3 arrives and it’s had a chance to settle in I’ll certainly share some thoughts here on how I feel they compare. Bare in mind today and for the foreseeable I have an ND5 XS 2 as a source but it’ll still be a point of reference regardless.

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I think people agonise too much about what particular Naim route they should take.
Demo the integrated route, separate alternatives, sources or stick to a given budget.
If after a period of time you wish to improve sound quality demo further options. If you stick with Naim you’ll get a significant proportion of your original cost back.
I’ve gone from Mu So to SN3/ NDX2 via Nova and have been able to recoup 70% of my original outlay each time.
No matter what you settle on sooner or later the bug will bite and you’ll start to wonder how you can further improve the sound.
Next stop for me at sometime will be 252/300 I’m sure but I know if I do I’ll get a significant amount of my existing investment back and in the meantime enjoy a wonderful system.

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Apart from maybe the SN1 I’ve enjoyed what I’ve owned along the way and that’s covered both integrated and separate systems, not just from Naim either. It’s included a fair variety like Arcam, NAD, Leak, Quad and so forth!
I think the one that captured my interest and has seen me stick with Naim hardware was the NAIT 5 which was such a musical and enthusiastic amp but with limitations.
The journey continues, next step SN3 then I’ll sort out the source and I may eventually cascade the SN3 out and build in a new separates system, see where I end up with it next!
Whatever you buy in to it’ll be enjoyable, The appeal for me of the Supernait is you get a lot of the Naim separates sound in a low box count, either a 2 or 4 box setup. I know theres more to be had beyond that as I’ve owned it myself in the past but to me and a lot of others here it seems, there is a certain sweet spot around the SN + NDX 2 either bare or with PSU’s.

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Agree with your sentiments regarding SN3/NDX2 being a sweet spot.
The diminishing returns come into play thereafter.

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Not silly , just factor in the cost of better quality speakers (which you will probably find yourself needing. Probably Neat, KEF or PMC

JohnF
You hit the nail on the head for me but I was not articulate enough to express the fact of diminishing returns. I would be happy at an 85% performance of separates. I would hope a SN 3 + NDX2 would get me there. But then I also have the option of power supplies.

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Have to say I agree. Been demoing a 252/supercap/300 at home. Although moments sounded stunning, involving and sublime. I’ve decided to return it. I got a decent price. But still around 10k if I sold my hicap dr and SN3. So I’m gonna stick with the SN3, when I plugged it back in listening to the same playlist, it really wasn’t that far off at all… certainly not 10k away… for that reason gonna keep the money in the bank… realised it’s on the verge of obsession, diminishing returns… it already sounded bloody good anyway :rofl:

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Have to agree with the sentiments expressed above. I’ve changed all the major components of my system in the last 3 months including speakers. I did pause at nd5xs2 and sn3 into pmc twenty5.23 but the nd5xs2 had a very noisy relay noise on waking up from standby, which after discussion with my very helpful supplier and naim, was changed for another but I asked for it to be upgraded to the ndx2. I have therefore arrived at ndx2 into sn3 into pmc twenty5.23. The system is now coming fully on song and I am very happy. As others say there is the option of psu upgrades and the like but I think I will stay where I am for the foreseeable future.

With all due respect, this post is kind of out of context, I mean, there should not be even a comparison between those components you mention. Me, myself I have a SN2 and yes, it is that stunning and everything, but… it’s like comparing a regular porscha to a gt, rs whatever the letters on the back, yes, the gt rs is double or tripple the price of regular, but the regular is still a ferocious car. Is the gt rs worth the xxx K more, well depends on your budget…

I’ve went from SN3 + ND5XS to for the same money a 272/250DR. The latter is much better with my Harbeths. The SN3 was borderline in getting them going. The 250DR has no issues with that at all IMO. Everything feels more relaxed, controlled and joyful to my ears with the 272/250DR. The SN3 is by no means bad but the 272/250DR second handed will cost less than the SN3 + ND5XS2.

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