Thinking about replacing my Nova

I generally love my Nova, mainly when it comes to how it sounds and looks. The streaming section however, well it’s a little bit underwhelming perhaps, mainly in terms of features. So i’m somewhat cautiously contemplating to replace the Nova with separate components, for instance:

Naim NAP 200 DR / SuperNait 3
NAD C658

This setup would give me a number of advantages over my current situation, including:

  • Dirac
  • MQA folding
  • Amazon HD (and ~20 other services)
  • Home Control integration
  • HDMI IN+OUT (expansion board)

With a NAP 200 the preamp in the NAD would be used, with the SuperNait the NAD would only be used as a streamer/DAC.

What are your thoughts about this? Do i have other alternatives? Are there other products on the horizon that could also be considered, a Nova 2 for example?

Hi Litemotive

I am curious to your selection of features you would like.

Have you heard MQA? If you have and like it fair enough but there is a large majority that don’t, myself being one of them.
If you have access to Roon even via a free trial you can experience the first unfold.
For me it sounds over processed in some way. Naim could implement MQA if they wanted to and enough people wanted it but they don’t.

Dirac if I am correct is a DSP room correction software? If so again, Roon can do all this so worth a look.

All the streaming services can be accessed via the built in chromecast so no real benefit having it built in. They can’t integrate them all.

Home control and HDMI you need to elaborate a bit more, obviously the Nova has ARC.



Thank you @popeye, you raise some good points.

I have heard some MQA but probably not enough, i would need more time with it to make a good assessment. Having the option to play MQA would primarily be nice to have, as opposed to not being able to play it at all which is currently the case with the Nova.

I have tried Roon but wasn’t completely sold on it. If i would have to invest $700 in the software and a few hundred extra on a NUC or something similar, i think i would prefer to spend $1600-1700 on a dedicated hardware solution like the NAD, which would also have a bit more resale/upgrade value.

I like and use the Chromecast option on the Nova a lot, unfortunately there is no high resolution support for that for a number of streaming services (including Amazon HD etc)…

Considering the HDMI: i have a 4K beamer which i use with an Amazon Fire Stick 4K for streaming (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video etc). The image quality of the beamer is pretty great but it’s sound output options are a bit lacking unfortunately. It has an HDMI ARC port as well but the sound quality is very poor through that, it comes in boomy and hollow in the Nova.

The best quality that i’ve currently found is by using the beamer’s optical out, which is good enough for watching a movie but feels somewhat lacking when playing music or live concerts. It doesn’t feature a passthrough option for instance, which means that the audio is going through the (sub par) DSP of the beamer. A DAC/streamer with HDMI IN+OUT could perhaps improve this, by plugging into the DAC and then relaying the video to the beamer instead.


I had the NAD C658 for a few months, starting Nov 2019. This was because I needed a streamer solution, considered the 272, but decided it’s too outdated and I’d wait (which finally ended in not waiting and the current system). It was nice, and when things started to develop during this year, I replaced the weakest link first, which was the power amp. I tried 200, 250, and 300 with the NAD, and have to say that it grew with the amps, it was not the case that the better power amps exposed its weaknesses more. I ended up with the 300, the idea being that this would set the level and I could live with the NAD until the 272-2/372.

Feature-wise it was nice, especially for the price. @popeye, while both Roon’s solution and Dirac are categorized under DSP, they are not really comparable. The NAD comes with a microphone for room measurements and the Dirac system performs impulse correction.

The sound with Dirac was interesting and I do think beneficial in a hifi way, but it was also rather tame. In part this depends on the frequency correction curve that you apply, but it did not feel very “musical” in the Naim sense. It’s also a bit of faff to set up, and only after you have done it do you start to realize how much the room changes all the time.

The NAD then contributed to the current system by starting to fail in January, it randomly made high-pitched sounds. This seemed to only occur when Dirac was enabled. I lived with it through the first lockdown, then sent it to service, from which it never returned. After several months and inquiries, the NAD distributer told my dealer that there were supply problems due to the pandemic, and other manufacturers were also affected - I suppose some kind of chip. So the dealer took back the NAD and I bought the 252/SC/NDX2/555 instead right away instead of waiting for the 272-2.

All in all, I’d say it’s a capable piece of kit, especially wrt features at the price, and can sound better than you’d expect. It does not hold a candle to the 252/NDX2 of course, but why would it.

And @litemotiv, when you compare the price for Roon and the NAD, you can of course only compare for the multiroom features. Roon is so much more, but of course it depends on whether you need what it does


Oh and I did have Tidal Master and tried with MQA, but frankly no strong difference or opinion either way

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Thank you @Suedkiez, that’s great feedback :+1:

Glad to have helped :slight_smile: I wanted to add that the BluOS app that it uses is rather nice. It’s not comparable to the Roon app regarding organization, metadata, etc., it’s more like the Naim app in concept. A bit better to me, but not lightyears ahead, some things are nicer in the Naim app as well. The main difference to me in daily life was simply that the Naim app works rather poorly on my Samsung tablet (Android 10, 2019) with being unresponsive etc. But this is apparently not the case for everyone, so between Naim and BluOS app it’s a bit of a toss-up otherwise

Edit: I also tried other power amps with the NAD, like Cambridge, Moon, NAD M22. The NAP 200 was better than all of them, the M22 was particularly poor

I forgot: I had a Nova on loan between the NAD and the new boxes, playing into the 300, and I liked it much more than the NAD, both the sound and to the touch & eyes - it feels and looks much nicer

Thanks again @Suedkiez, i’ll add that i also have a Samsung tablet (2020) and have also had some issues with the app at times. So you’re not alone in that regard!

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Wildcard suggestion, have a listen to a Linn Selekt DSM.
I’ve had one for a good few months now and love it, due to clutter in the house I’m using it a lot more than my Naim system.
You can configure it a dozen different ways and it sounds rather nice.
I got one as a happy medium
between a Nova (less flexible) and a room full of boxes, my main intention being to use it as the hub of a 5.1 AV system and 2 channel family room system.


Thank you for the suggestion @Mr.M, i see that the Linn also features an expansion slot for a HDMI switching module, so i will check that one out too.

It does, 4 inputs and one ARC output and a surround processing daughterboard if you need it can be added.
It has 3 output modules as well which can be configured multiple ways.
Mine is setup with integrated power amp modules for a 5.1 setup.
You can even swap the DAC independently of the amp module and mix pre-outs with power amp outs or configure it to bi/tri-amp even.

Thanks for the info. I reported it to Naim too, by the way. Of course it is understandable that the proliferation of Android hardware and the various UI adaptions make it harder to support than iOS, but I also think they understood that it’s not optimal if Samsung tablets, being one of the few Android tablets models that even exist with current hard- and software, do not work well.

When I use it on the Motorola G8 Power phone, also with Android 10, it works quite well, but being a phone it is less fun.

Looking at your feature list,

Dirac - Naim said that they looked at the whole digital EQ thing during the development of the 272, and thought the negative effects on sound quality were too great to use it on a Naim streamer. Who knows, perhaps they will revisit it at some time, but don’t hold your breath. The closest they’ve come is the different room settings on the Musos. If you really want to try it, Roon is worth a look as a good implementation of DSP for room correction etc. Still, there seems to be a price to pay in terms of overall sound quality. Perhaps not that surprising given that a digital ‘tone control’ is fundamentally a lossy process as far as I’m aware

MQA - Meh! Clever, and who knows, perhaps Naim will go for it if they see enough demand. For me as things stand right now, lossless Qobuz is better than Tidal/MQA, and that’s where I’m staying.

Amazon HD - who knows? If it looks like it’s going to stick around, I wouldn’t be surprised if Naim integrated it. As a relatively small company with sound quality a strong priority, you can’t expect them to jump on every bandwagon as soon as it starts out.

Home integration - maybe, but to my mind it’s not really in Naim’s DNA.

HDMI - it seems to be a constantly moving goal post as the standard is so loosely applied by TV manufacturers that reliable support for every device out there seems like a tall order.

As for a Nova 2, I’m pretty sure the current streamers are nowhere near the end of their life cycle. They have much greater potential than their predecessors, so I think they will continue to evolve for some time before they are replaced.

In the end i think most if not all of the points i mentioned are not dealmakers (or breakers) for me, i do really enjoy the sound coming from the Nova and there are workarounds for all the points in question. Maybe it’s just the boredom of sitting at home too much and having too much time to think about potential tweaks and improvements (without wanting to contemplate going for a full rig with a lot of separate components, which would be a whole different ballgame). :wink:

I will let all you guys’ feedback sink in for a bit and check out some of the mentioned options, thanks for all the insights!

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