So, I have recently bought a Supernait and absolutely love it.
I watch a lot of TV through it (optical into DAC) and have built a Raspberry Pi streamer to get me going with Qobuz/Spotify.
Question is, what’s the best next step?
I know I can add a Hi-Cap and/or BI-amp with a NAP200, but what difference do these two upgrades make?
Does one make a big difference over the other? Is a NAP200 a better bang for buck than the Hi-Cap?
Just looking for experienced opinions at this time, not sure which to do first.
The question you should ask yourself is where do you want that system that you love today to be in a year or two’s time?
The Supernait is a great amp that gives a lot of the pre/power Naim sound with a low box count. It’s a setup you can leave untouched and enjoy for many years!
It is of course, by design, capable of being upgraded and that typically includes a HiCap external PSU to feed the NAIT preamp and also to run the NAIT as a preamp only and use an external NAP power amp.
You can in theory bi-amp a Supernait with a NAP as well, usually the advice is to not bother.
I’ve certainly used a HiCap on various NAIT’s and typically what it adds is tighter control of the bottom end with a little more punch and opens up the soundstage a bit in the mids.
Adding a NAP to a NAIT is usually done as a step towards getting rid of the NAIT and replacing it with a better preamp which arguably is the part of the system that will “tune” the sound the most as you go towards a NAC282 typically, the benefit when you get there is the HiCap comes along for the ride on the back seat and can be used to power the NAC282.
So you have a few choices here, the HiCap is a very flexible PSU and can be used on a range of amps and other components so you can usually find a home for it as you change your system like powering a Stageline as an example.
I’d get the HiCap first, bed that in and live with it for a while then look at where you want to go next. An obvious choice then would be a better source, at least an ND5 XS 2, ideally an NDX 2.
Once you’ve got to that point you can figure out what your appetite is to go to a higher box count and start looking at things like improvements to your cabling including your power cords, interconnects and speaker cables. Then there’s the question of what it all sits on, the accepted standard is a Naim Fraim either skinny or full fat versions.
I’ve certainly added Naim Powerline and Hi-Line cables to similar systems which in themselves are refinements to the system as a whole and can move between systems as you evolve it.
I’d maximise your fun with the SN first, add a HiCap then get a decent streaming source and after all that, if you want to go to a Pre/Power system ideally do that in one step and just replace the NAIT entirely and get a NAC + NAP to your budget.
If that’s your preferred goal, a decent place to find yourself is with a NAC282 + NAP200 (DR version ideally) and adding the HiCap you used with the SN to drive the NAC.
Hi, adding more boxes to an integrated amp is something I personally would only do as a step towards a full separates system. Sure, you may like what a Hicap does, but not everybody does, so despite any opinions you may read here, you will only know for sure if you try it for yourself.
As regards biamping, if you have speakers that need more current than the Supernait can provide, it can be a good option. I would hold out for a 250 rather than adding a 200, and perhaps just run it alone rather than biamping. Then, you are in a position to switch the Supernait for a 282.
With all these options for amp upgrades, don’t neglect your source. (If you end up with a separate preamp, you’ll lose the DAC in the Supernait). If your main sources are digital, a DAC would be high on my list of things to improve. The Naim NDAC is a good option to consider, and there are plenty of non-Naim DACs to consider, or maybe a streamer.
I have a SN3 with a Hi CAP and it’s a worthwhile addition as it tightens the lower end and focus’s the overall sound. It would also be my choice in your situation if you intend to upgrade to 282/250 separates as you can reuse the Hi CAP.
Guys, I really appreciate the time you have put into these replies, your collective knowledge is greatly received.
At present I am really enjoying the system as it is, just mindful that I would like to send a bit of time with this and improve as things move along.
I had initially thought the Hi0-Cap was the first step, and had seen that it is reusable no mater where this road takes me, so it would probably make sense to do first.
I am also keen on getting a good source, so the NDX2 would be something that I would be interested in, when funds are available. Just trying to sort out where the different levels sit and what the difference is between the Naim streamers.
Always happy to share a personal perspective as are many others here.
It is certainly the case that the best principle is to trust your ears first and foremost.
Most of what can be given in advice here can only be generalised to an extent and until you yourself make changes and add new components, gaining knowledge of your own as you go, you won’t know if something is right for you at that time or not!
What I tend to do personally is take a “give it a year” approach to changes made to a system.
If the kit is new from the factory for example it can take a while for its sound to settle down, sometimes months of regular use, even used kit takes a while for your ears to adjust to. So in that sense I tend to see how it settles down over 6 months then after a year if I still like the benefits it brings I probably keep it.
As has already been highlighted, your SN1 has its own internal DAC which means you can connect digital sources directly to it without having to first go through a separate DAC or streamer, the later SN2 and recent SN3 do not have their own DAC and neither do any of the NAC preamps.
I had suggested initially an ND5 XS 2 as whilst it’s not where you’d likely end up, it is a lot cheaper than an NDX 2, there are used ones now in circulation and it means you get a taste for the Naim ND range and decide if it is right for you or not. If you enjoy the features and the user experience, you can then always go on to improving the sound by replacing it with an NDX 2.
I’d say you have two choices really in terms of your long term system goals.
If you stick with a NAIT based setup the current sweetspot would be a 4 box system that includes:
SN2 or SN3
Apart from the NAIT itself all of those things can be part of a pre/power system as well if you choose that route
HiCap or Supercap
NDX 2 or ND555
XPS DR or 555PS
At this point you’re likely to change out the PSU’s which in turn opens the path for a move to a better preamp NAC252 and better source ND555.
By the time you get to that level of system (282/250) with at least mid range sources, you’d be thinking about having two separate racking towers, one for the electronics and one for the power supplies to optimise isolation of noise and vibrations.
You’d also likely have moved from Hi-Line to Super Lumina interconnects and from NAC A5 to Super Lumina speaker cables and you’d probably have at least 1 rack of Naim Fraim and be looking at building out 2 to give you a “brains & brawn” separation between electronics and power supplies.
I’ll sum up with a personal view, I’ve been up and down this ladder a few times back and forth between NAIT and pre/power based systems, at every step of the journey the system you can build will give you a lot of enjoyment and a lot of engagement, the system that really got me hooked was based on a NAIT 5 and a CD player and that gave me a lot of pleasure.
I’m now on a path back up again to settle on a 4 box system I’ll add a turntable in to as I move from a SN2 + HiCap DR + ND5 XS 2 to a SN3 + HiCap DR + NDX 2 + XPS DR. Once I’m there that’s a point to stop and enjoy for a few years
Certainly enjoy what you have and give it time to really get a feel for its sound, try and work out which direction you are happy going with the system, a 4 box NAIT system is a good place to end up, if you want to go Pre/power I’d suggest just jump in head first and get the pre/power at the same time rather than running the NAIT as just a preamp, it can do that and lots of users find it’s good, but you usually do it because what you really want is a NAC + NAP!
If an NDX2 is on your radar, I would consider doing a source upgrade first. Your Supernait is good enough to show the improvements it will bring. (Although I still think an NDAC would give you a comparable improvement for a lot less cash.)
Hi @pootle, which version of the SuperNait do you have? If SN1, I’d consider a HiCap DR essential. If SN2 or 3 which DAC are you using?
SN1. To start back into all this again, the integrated route really suited me, and the built in DAC, of whatever quality, allowed a lot more versatility with sources.
The conclusion you may reach after having lived with your current SN1 for a period of time in the near future is that it itself is your weakest link in the pursuit of improvements.
Most of what has been discussed are options that replace parts of the thing you already have namely the SN1 which is both a preamp and a power amp, has its own internal PSU and DAC and gave you a lot in one black box to start from.
If you begin the process of offloading functionality from your SN1 to additional boxes (black or otherwise) it’s worth defining your steps through evolving your system with a particular end game in mind.
I’d summarise that again as in previous posts as one of either an improved NAIT based system or a progression towards a Pre/Power, NAC/NAP based solution.
What intermediary steps you take from where you start from today can in part apply to either route, the HiCap for example applies to both an enhancement to a NAIT and as a standard external PSU to a NAC282.
A NAP probably only makes sense longer term if you intend to eventually get a NAC to replace the preamp functionality of your SN1
The internal DAC on your SN1 is less obvious, and you have a few options!
The benefit of one of the current ND streamers (ND5 XS 2, NDX 2 and ND 555) is that as well as having very capable DAC’s and the same digital inputs your SN1 supports, also support streaming from a local NAS, have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios, natively support Airplay and Chromecast as well as
multiroom streaming and also natively support Spotify, Qobuz and Tidal. So essentially they do a whole lot more as a digital source beyond what is possible with just the DAC in your SN1.
As the ND products are a separate standalone blackbox that integrate a digital transport, IP networking and a DAC with both digital and analogue outputs, it gives you a lot of flexibility to use one in almost any system configuration you may evolve into over time.
If I had your system, and as your budget allows, I’d be inclined to add a better source first and foremost like an ND5 XS 2 and a HiCap DR, both will improve the enjoyment of your SN1 whilst you define your system evolution goals.
Beyond that you could then either move to a SN2 or SN3 in a NAIT based system then eventually swap in an NDX 2 and then eventually add an XPS DR to the NDX 2.
Alternatively, you could as a next step replace the SN1 with a NAC/NAP pairing, reuse the ND and HiCap and evolve a Pre/Power system from there.
I would add the Hicap. It’s a really great combination with the supernait 1. Really impressive upgrade
Best bang for the buck as it powers the internal Dac and preamp
Source first in the naim world !
I’d sell SN1 and get a SN2 with a newer separate DAC. I’ve done that path and the later will give you a better result.
Picked up a HiCap DR, figured I am in this for the long haul, it will be useful at various stages along this road if I keep going.
Get it next week hopefully, will let you know what I think.
So, it arrived and made such a difference.
Supernait with my old Keilidhs before were really boomy, I was considering changing them for something smaller as I just thought they were too big for the room, not anymore.
Bass is tighter and less flabby, top end is rolled off a bit and less harsh, and the vocals seem more forward in the mix.
Well pleased and the thing has hardly warmed up yet, or settled in.
Thanks for all your advice guys, well pleased so far and hopefully this will only bed in further throughout the coming weeks and months.
Glad to know that you have a positive result from your purchase. It sounds like the synergy with your speakers / system has stepped up a notch.
Not surprised. I have had several Naim power supplies on various boxes and the one that made the most difference was HC on SN1. When I had the HC DR’d it made a bigger SQ improvement than DR’ing my XPS (on nDAC) even though the latter cost a good deal more.
Enjoy your new setup.
This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.