The art of diminishing returns

As the new Naim boxes leave the audio shops and the older boxes are recycled via various auction sites what becomes a bargain and what becomes a door stop?
Naim’s streaming platforms i.e. the older NDX/ND5 are less compatible with the likes of Tidal or Spotify, are they still worth the best part of £1000 and are no longer serviceable through Naim.
Is the Unitiqute 2 a better option via the pre amp out into a bigger system as the likes of this unit still offers connect ability.
Is this a viable way of streaming music for people on a tight budget or is the Bluesound Note the way to go?
For the rest of Naim’s boxes they are, and probably always will be supported so there is no worries there.

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Older kit is worth what people are prepared to pay. Plenty of NDXes advertised for close to £1000 still. Sold prices on eBay suggest half that is possible if you’re lucky/unlucky. Dealer prices are still up at £1500.

As for the servicing comment, can you substantiate that? I think there are issues with specific components, displays and streaming boards, but the boxes aren’t entirely unserviceable. I think it’s important to be clear about these things.

Very happy with my UnitiQute 1 - does what I need it for and was fortunate to have had it serviced before parts became NLA. It owes me £1000 - between purchase costs and the service & upgrade. Happy enough with that if it lasts me 10 years before needing more attention. I don’t know it will, of course, but think Naim build quality is pretty good despite the reporting bias on here, so I’m not worrying that it won’t :slight_smile:


The idea of diminishing returns should be discussed in more detail. I find that most upgrades that are costly bring the issue into focus.

I am facing this issue with regard to headphones. I have a SN3 and ND5XS2, both of which I am very happy with. I am thinking about adding Focal headphones. Maybe Utopia. Maybe Stellia. Maybe Clear MG. I could get the Atom HE, but then I would lose significant funds on a ND5XS2 trade.

I don’t see myself becoming a huge headphone user. I am doing this to allow my husband to listen to the TV in our bedroom, which is at the opposite end of our apartment. Maybe I might listen on headphones an hour or three a week. Light use.

The most economical approach would be to plug the headphones into my SN3 and get a longer cable.

Has anyone listened to the Utopia or Stellia on the SN3? Maybe all I need is the Clear MG, but I am looking for better Focsl headphones. I see this as a case of diminishing returns.

They run both Tidal and Spotify fine and can still be serviced at Naim AFAIAA. If you are interested in SQ rather than “features” they are great VFM still. A Bluesound Node will be a disappointment in comparison.

Just get some grado sr60x, there’s no need to spend multi 100’s; and the headphone socket in the supernait will be fine.

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@robert_h i hate Grado. I find them super uncomfortable. Thanks for your reply though.

@robert_h i wanted to clarify. I like the sound of the upper end Grado. I just can’t wear them.

I’m the same I assume it’s my ear shape as l refuse to believe other people would enjoy having bits of their ear crushed.

@dmu what headphones do you like if any?

I haven’t had a chance to try many traditional headphones as when I originally went looking for ones with a detachable cable as a teenager I was instead lead to Bluetooth headphones via google :joy:. The first pair I tried were some Bose on ears which I swapped after only a few days for around ear models which I owned for 2 years and my current headphones are apple AirPod max super comfortable but the reliability/quality control is an issue. I’m thinking of getting some hd 600’s (only demoed briefly in a store) and a portable headphone amp. I briefly tried the grado’s but as I was expecting I had the same problems I had with the Bose years ago (which was irritating as I loved the sound).

@dmu use the Apple AirPods Max while working at the desk, with my iPhone. They are great. I have not had reliability problems.

You raise some good points, but if you’d ever heard an NDS played thu even an SN2, you wouldn’t ever wonder if a Bluesound Node was the way to go. Astronomical difference. I will most likely be adding a preowned ND5 SX2 to feed my NDS a Qobuz signal thru the new streaming boards, but if it isn’t much better than Tidal then I’ll move it on and continue with just the NDS.
A preowned NDS is one of the best Naim deals. IMO, of course.

Regarding other Naim units, for many listeners the discontinued, preowned Naim units are the only way they will get into higher-end HiFi. And they are not going to care about whether they have the latest and greatest, they’ll just be thrilled with the Naim sound compared to other similarly priced HiFi.

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@Mickyh You make a good point re long term viability of the streamers and if they can be maintained by Naim in the long run. I’m now considering buying into a new streaming solution to replace my UQ2 (much as I love that little box) and one of the things that does slightly concern me is the repairability of the Original Classic streamers.

I’m on a tight budget and consequently I have been looking at the first NDX and the 272 (I only stream from local files), and it would be good to know how well they are supported… Are streaming mother boards and DACS available if they fail etc? The last thing I want is a ‘door stop’ in three to five years time due to internal component failure and no replacements at Naim HQ.

I’m no expert on what parts are or aren’t available but I purchased a secondhand NDX about 4 years ago and it’s been superb. I had the green screen replaced at Naim HQ last year but it’s a wonderful economical route into genuine high-end streaming. It’s hard to think of anything else at anywhere near £1000 that would come close…

Just like Naim’s old CD players these streamers are sonically really very special indeed and well worth the secondhand value in my view - especially when you consider that the newer stuff costs 5-10x what a used NDX costs…



completely agree. I had the screen replaced on my UQ1 2 years ago and have purchased both a used NDX and 172 over the past 18 months (both had recent screens replacement) For that kind of money - both at/around 1k - they’re hard to beat based on SQ. Not much else comes close.

Yes, it’s annoying with the occasional dropout and not having BT on the 172, but it’s a small price to pay. If you’re content with CD quality 16/44 from Tidal and enjoy streaming your ripped CDs, then I see little downside.

This is gear that you continue to maintain and pass down the line.


Here’s a post about streaming board availability

I’m not sure if this applies to both the 96 and 192kHz board versions.

Display screen replacement, as far as I recall, is now constrained to devices running the 192kHz streaming board. So if you have a failed screen on a 96kHz board based device, Naim can’t replace the screen. They still can do screen replacements on the 192kHz board based devices IIRC.

There are other, non Naim, options for screen replacement. At which point I’ll shut up, hopefully before Richard gets his stern look out.

Sorry to bother you @NeilS - is my information correct above?

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I took the photo a while back, for something related to speaker connections, but the UQ1 is a smart box, well built, sounds good, and is pretty fully featured, even if the streaming side needs a bit of help in my house from a bubbleupnp server.

Basically what @Maury_Finkle says. How many streaming products from the early 2010s are we comparing Naim’s ability to service against? I don’t know the answer, but I’d be surprised if many competitors are significantly better than Naim.

The UQ1/2 are basically a Nait 5i, with inbuilt streaming, analogue Radio, line and digital inputs, pre/sub out, and basic LF cut (@ 80Hz) capabilities - that’s quite the feature list IMO


I’m on my a replacement pair as my first drained a large percentage of battery when in rest mode no matter what settings I used. This pair has only a minor issues for example the find my setting won’t stay off I have to turn it off every time I connect them (I want it kept off for battery saving as I never take them anywhere.) I really hope if there is a version 2 it has a proper on/off switch.

100% correct!


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I think Naim gear is more durable and repairable/serviceable than most out there and for this reason is taken more seriously than from others which would hold almost no value a few years down the line.