System combinations

Hi,
I do not remember if there was a discussion here about component combinations in the system,
I intend to test, (due to moderate pressure, from management) a combination of supernait 3 / hicapdr / nd555 compared to the existing system- nd5xs2 / nap135s / nac52 supercap / Ndac / 555ps
I am curious to read impressions from the experience of the members who have tested / made such a change. And especially to understand whether reducing the boxes, will necessarily cause a decrease in audio quality, in the existing system, due to a decrease in pre-amplification / amplification quality?
Thanks’

When I was considering ways I might downsize my 282/HicapDR/NAPSC/250DR I tried a Supernait 3 for a while at the suggestion of my dealer. No way. It was a big difference and just didn’t give me what I wanted. It’s still a great integrated amp, but having lived with separates it was too big a step down, as you might expect.
Source was NDX/Chord Dave.

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Anybody else?

I swapped from a 272/555DR and 300DR to NDX2/555DR with bare Supernait 3 and didn’t miss the bigger system at all. However… the crucial thing is that I changed speakers at the same time, to something that works really well with the Supernait. Going from 272/555 to NDX2/555 meant the source was strengthened, which compensated for the reduction in power amp quality. It’s all about finding a new setup that works well together.

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I had a ND555 with a Supernait 3 and HiCap for a while in a small apartment. I thought it sounded wonderful. Now I have a better preamp I understand that I wasn’t hearing anything near the ND555’s potential performance, but of course I probably was hearing something near the best the Supernait could produce, which sounded wonderful to me at the time. The ND555 was an opportunistic buy and allowed me to trade in my old tech 272 and donate my 250 power amp to my son. Based on my experience, I’m converted to a source first approach. Not saying a more balanced approach doesn’t work too, and can ensure maximise quality on a sound per pound basis. But putting my best performer first worked for me. The ND555 is making a 282 HiCap sound great at the moment, but that’s soon to be replaced by another opportunistic buy, a NAC552. Balance restored? I’ll know in a few more weeks

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As has been pointed out by HH a main consideration when making this type of change can be the speakers.

Not a direct change but within a year or so I went from LP12/82/SC/250 to Rega P8/Supernait 2 via Quad and Hegel H190 all with the same Dynaudio speakers and today I do not feel I am missing out.

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Agree! My speakers for the Supernait3 and the 272/250 combination were very easy to drive DeVore Fidelity stand mounts. Whilst the pre power had better grip of the speakers and better bass drive, the Supernait with a better source produced an overall better sound. Either amp sounded great.

I cannot speak from any experience of box count reduction, but I have owned NAC52/SuperCap and NAP135s and I’d find it hard to imagine how a SuperNait 3 could fill those shoes. If I were in your position, I’d probably sell the ND5XS2 and Ndac and replace these with an NDX2, which could be powered from your CD555PSDR. Alternatively, if you were planning any further upgrade of amplification, you could go for an ND555 of course. Either would result in one box reduction.

I can’t answer your specific question directly but can say that when I downsized following redundancy five years ago, CDS3, Nait XS and SBLs was a stunning combination in my room.

I think I would like to land with a nice source and a really nice integrated amp - should be enough to carry me through life with musical enjoyment. Of course, there will be better, but there is always going to be that, and I just want to enjoy my music…the systems I have had from Naim exceeded anything I ever dreamed of owning as a young person, so I can’t complain about not scaling the peaks.

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As others have aptly mentioned, reducing boxes will not necessarily cause a reduction in sound quality. There are several factors at play here which include amp/speaker match and personal preferences which will determine if a one box integrated, or perhaps two boxes SN3 + Hicap DR will be superior to multiple boxes. My own experience is an increase in sound quality rather than a decrease. In my case, the outcome is more to the match between the speaker and amplifier.

In your case, going from ND5XS2/NAC52/SC/NAP135/NDAC/555PS to SN3/HCDR/ND555 with the same speakers, I would expect a slight decrease in sound quality but that may not affect the musical enjoyment depending on your own expectations. Please update this thread if you decide to go with it.

Thank you very much guys, for your answers.
If I understood you correctly, there is no absolute answer to the process. And everything is more based, on your personal taste.
It seems to me that I will have to nod to my importer in the near future … :wink:
If anything comes out of it, I’d love to update.

I can throw in another vote for loudspeaker / system / room synergy as a very important factor.

I was happily running a ND5XS2/SN2 system, when I had to change the loudspeakers for aesthetic reasons. It’s taken upgrades of every other component to get the performance close to what it was before the speaker change. Now running NDX2/282/250-2 and I like it… almost as much.

My experience with external power supply on a SN2 was somewhat inconclusive. Some clarity benefit to splitting the power delivery, though the SN2/3 pre-amp section already has DR and the internal transformer would still be in use.

So, you could achieve a 7-box to 3-box reduction with ND555/555PS/SN3… you would be testing the reasonable limits of source-first principles.

No doubt there will be a difference in sound between 52/SC/135s and SN3.

The speakers and room probably end up being the driver of whether it ends up engaging or underwhelming vs. your current system.

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