System Recommendations?

Hi, I currently have an LP12/CD5XS/Sonos into a 282/HiCap (pre-DR) into 200 out to Harbeth SHL5, and I’ve been thinking…

  1. I recently acquired an XPS: is there a simple way to use this as an upgrade to my HiCap?

  2. When I bought the 282, I figured it would be the last preamp I ever bought ($$$). I’ve been looking at the ND5XS2 as an upgrade to the Sonos. I’m wondering how the NSC 222 compares to my 282/HiCap/ND5XS?

  3. Besides needing an upgrade to streaming, does anyone see the 200 as a weak link? The new 250 is apparently very impressive. I designed my system source-first, but I wonder if the amp could be considered a weak link.

  4. Does the new NPX 300 only power 1 device? It seems that the new 222/250 can work without the power supply: if so, is the 250 providing power to the 222, or does the 222 have its own power supply?

I’m guessing that this is enough for 1 post, thanks for any advice! :slight_smile:

1 No, an XPS power sources, not preamps.

2 The ND5XS2 is a great source, but it’s Naim’s enrty level separate streamer. You really want an NDX2 with XPS at that level of amplification.
Haven’t heard the 222 so can’t comment on that I’m afraid. It would need to be a massive improvement on its predecessor, the 272, to compete with a 282.

3 The 200 is fine as long as your speakers are not too demanding for it. Sure, a 250 will be an upgrade (although not everyone’s subjective opinion was in favour of the 250). Again I’m referring to older 250s here, not New Classic. My advice would be to put your resources into getting your source up to the same level as your amplification before you upgrade your power amp.

4 A 300 powers only one device. The 250 can’t power anything except itself. The 222 has a built in supply.

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Hi Charlie, if you can track down an nDAC it will be an excellent upgrade to your CD5XS (used as transport) and the XPS could then be used with the nDAC. You could use the nDAC/XPS with an ND5XS2 as well.

How easy you’d be able to find one will depend on where you’re located, of course, but speaking from experience, I found it a very worthwhile move.


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Thanks ChrisSU for the considered response.

It looks like the XPS will power an NDX2, am I correct? That might be an incentive. I was hoping for a ‘new series’ of the ND5XS2 but who knows when that might happen, and maybe I can get a good deal on the ‘old classic’ NDX2.

I wasn’t familiar with the 272 but it’s good to see that the 282 is a nice step above.

Hopefully there’s someone out there who has the SHL5’s and can report on the results of an amp upgrade.


An XPS will power an NDX2 very well, as long as it’s not an old ‘olive’ style one which is not compatible. The ND5XS2 cannot, as you probably know, use a power supply upgrade, although it does respond very well to DAC upgrades.

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An nDAC will accept a digital feed from the Sonos too - ugrade for both sources in one box!
OK, two if you count the XPS.

An excellent solution…I run my CDX2 via nDac and used to have a CHC XPS (old one and a nice bit of kit)…I then bought an ND5XS2 (ran it through the nDac as well) and then in the run outs replaced the CHC XPS with a new XPSdr…Boom!!, to both the streamer and cd player…No NDX2 needed imo

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Several people on other threads suggest that ND5XS2 + nDAC is slightly different in sound to NDX2 but just as good.

You can even add an XPS to the nDAC, just as you would with the NDX2 (it’s the DAC element rather than the transport that really benefits).

Which route to pick may depend on how you feel about box count and what second hand bargains you can find.


I’d say the Sonos is the weakest link here, followed by the 200. As always with Naim there are lots of choices on how you could upgrade which depend on what sound you’re trying to achieve, budget, usability etc etc
I’d say with the 282 and a spare XPS knocking about (assuming it’s a 2 or DR) you’d be best off going NDX2. As some have pointed out, an nDAC would be an option but you’re still going to have to upgrade the Sonos at a later date (trust me you will, been there). The dac in the NDX2 may well (should) be better than that in the CD5x so it will still be an upgrade to your CD replay too. I suspect with the imminent launch of the NSS333 we’ll see a fair few NDX2 coming to market and prices will fall as a result, making it not that much more than a nDAC plus ND5 XS2.
After that, then yes I would certainly address the power amp and having been through this already, a 250 with your speakers would certainly make a step up. I’ve had a non-DR and a DR, they’re both excellent, just down to budget really as there are some absolute bargain 250.2 out there now (in the UK at least).


I’ve had most if your system but not in the same configuration to comment as one. If you would like to keep the 282, I would go with an NDX2. Moreover, as BBWan mentions, in recent months the prices of used prices of NDX2 are becoming more reasonable and have gone down by may be 15-20% with the launch of the 200 NC and likely to become even more affordable soon with the 300 NC becoming available.
In my personal experience of owning the SHL5s I always felt they need a lot of power (sounded lazy to me even with 100w monos) and the 200 is probably just about coping but in a small room may be enough for you so the room factor clearly is important.
If in a larger room and if you are prepared to push the reset button button harder, I would listen to the NSC222 or the Atom HE which is not far behind in SQ (and assuming you have a phono and don’t want the 222 integrated one)? You are then able to add a power amp to match your speakers and room. Your system could be as simple as Atom HE + NC250 (if you can fit in the LP12?) and sound superb with the Harbeths. I’ve had practically all Naim streamers apart from the 555 and find the “new” sound in the Atom HE and the 222 the best to my preference (and now own both).

btw e.g. @ryder may be able to help advise better with the SHL5s


I only tried 202/200 with the SHL5 for 7 years before I upgraded to SHL5+. I then upgraded the 202/200 to 282/Hicap DR/250DR.

202/200 is fine with SHL5, much better than Nait XS. 282/200 better than 202/200. 250DR adds more in the bass and refinement. 282/Hicap DR/250DR is quite balanced and would be nice. @Blackbird also upgraded from 250DR to 300DR on the SHL5+ and thought the 300DR is the minimum requirement for the SHL5. In other words the speakers sound broken with the 250DR. :sweat_smile:

My Harbeths are all gone now. I prefer SHL5+ to SHL5 non Plus.

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I have my doubts about that! Once you’ve heard the way a 300 can grip and control a speaker it’s hard to forget, and this applies to speakers that are very easy to drive.
This was apparent when I compared a 250DR to a 300DR on a pair of Kudos X2 I used to own. The difference was dramatic, but whether buying an £8k amp to drive £1.5k speakers is a good idea it another matter. Obviously it’s easier to justify such a purchase with more expensive speakers, but still I think you’ll find the vast majority of SHL5 owners are happily using more modest amplification.

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Well we have that amp driving £3k speakers and it made a noticeable difference.

We also have a £7k power supply on a £1k DAC.

Go figure :laughing: :laughing: it’s a topsy turvy world, hi-fi.


It’s only ‘topsy turvy’ for those of us who choose to make it so!

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With each step going from SN3 to 250DR to 300DR to 500 I’ve got more headroom, dynamics, control and all such. It’s as always I guess. But some speaker need more amp to come to life and low sensitive speakers around 85dB will wake up the higher up you go with amplification. That’s not that same that 250DR will sound bad. Not at all :blush:

I’d somewhat agree. I used to have £11k amps driving £3.4k speakers and on the verge of widening the gap by upgrading the amps. Fortunately I came to my senses and revamped the system. I now have a £7k amp with £7k speakers and it currently sounds… more balanced.

I have a £2.2k mains power cable on a £2k DAC. Actual price paid. No power supply on DAC :grin:

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It’s all relative isn’t it.

SWMBO bought our speakers when we only had a SuperUniti. They’re not particularly low sensitivity, but 4ohms.

We thought they sounded good.

Upgraded to a 250DR.

We thought they sounded much better.

Upgraded to a 300DR.

They sound excellent!

Dealer advising SF Serafino if we go 350s.

I use a 300DR with my 52 (quite like a 252) and SC, between NDX2/XPSDR and B&W 804 D3s. I also tried box swapping before sending my spare kit (ND5XS2, 82, HC, 250, Neat Xplorers) to Tasmania.

Imho, any 250 is a long way above a 200 and good enough for NDX2/52/SC and many £7k - £10k speakers.

The 300 DR is better, but to my ears it needs a source and preamp at the above level to show that it is materially better than a 250. I had previously heard a no -DR 300, and didn’t think that was much of an upgrade over a (recently serviced) olive 250 unless the chosen speakers are desperately in need of more grunt.

Critically, all these boxes are bargains on eBay and may be well get cheaper as more people swap to the New Classic style.

A 300DR looks to cost £5k is you are lucky, but a non-DR 300 goes for little over half as much, and a serviced 250 is a lot less than that. Serving is not inexpensive but matters a lot on boxes much more than a decade or so old.

More importantly in this case, an ND5XS2 costs £1800 or less and is the minimum source I think you should consider here. Adding an nDAC may need more patient hunting but probably costs less than £1k. £3500 or so should get an NDX2 instead.

All of those prices look compelling compared to the new price of New Classic boxes, and all should be pretty safe second-hand or ex-dem buys.

The cables ‘that come in the box’ should do the job perfectly well, whatever if these upgrades you pick, though they can be modestly beaten once everything else is done. However, in many houses ( including mine), spending £500+ on a dedicated mains supply from meter to hifi can be more of an upgrade than swapping from (say) 250 to 300.

Good luck!


Thanks all for your thoughts and suggestions.
I would like to keep the box count down, but we’ll have to see what develops.

A couple of notes: my speakers are SHL5 30th Anniversary, and though the XPS reads ‘XPS’ on the back, since it’s black like my current classics (and if I understand correctly), it’s apparently an ‘XPS2’.
Phono pre is a Heed Quasar which is supposed to be somewhat of a giant killer.
I tried a couple of Stagelines in the past but they sounded muffled in comparison to the Quasar.

Thanks again.