Time for a One-box?

I am half way through the annual deep-clean of the (mostly mid-90s) hi-fi system. This comprises a turntable, a cd player (neither of which are used very much these days), a ND5-XS streamer, a Chromecast (a real, Google one) into a NAC82, (with phono boards), powered by a HiCap and a NAPSC and on to a NAP180. Not forgetting the little Topping A30 headphone amp. It all sits on a Audiophile Base rack with “Vibration Control Platforms”.

It also comes with about 95 connections, a mile and a half of cabling, cobwebs and a mass of dust. I am starting to yearn for a one-box system (and my wife’s face also lit up in a way that doesn’t normally happen when I mention hi-fi gear).

So, my question is: how would a Uniti Nova or a ND5-XS2 plus Supernait 3 compare sonically with the setup I already have?

Speakers are ProAc Response 2.5, by the way.

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I’d hang on a couple of weeks and see what the new product launch brings. You may find the 272 replacement and a power amp would do you nicely…

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Supernait 3 lives here and I don’t really imagine needing much more in a domestic environment.
I prefer my system now it’s not a huge collection of boxes and lossy connectors.
Well minimised anyway. :thinking: :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

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Not entirely surprised at the domestic disharmony , let me throw something into the mix you haven’t mentioned - when was your equipment last serviced ?

If it wasn’t recently then you probably aren’t getting the best from it.

I had a five box system 200/202/HiCap , also a cataract , two surgical hernias , a weakened pelvic floor and a dodgy knee.

They needed a service , but I knew I wouldn’t be able to put them back -to cut a long story short I now have a Nova , a CDX2.2 player , and a very simple Graham Slee phono stage .

The Nova draws heavily on the ND5XS2 and Nait XS2 or 3, I have a Powerline and Witch Hat speakers .

In a nutshell I am very, very happy with it - but the only way you can tell is to audition it in your home WITH a full fat Powerline

best wishes

Ian

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Yes - should have mentioned that. Both the NAC 82 and the NAP 180 were serviced less than two years ago.

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I’ve had a Star for 3 years and love it.
Downsized from Musical Fidelity A701 Dual mono Amp, Chord Dac 64, Musical Fidelity CdTransport . Dab Tunerand a power conditioner all Connected with expensive interconnects.
The Star sounds so much better than all those and have empty shelf space and does the same job.

I had these very thoughts about 18months ago. I was thinking of my NDX with a SN2 and a pair of Dynaudio floor standers to replace my main system. I ended up upgrading my NDX to and NDS and feel much better now. I’ve downsized before and regretted it. If you do it, I would highly recommend keeping hold of the current stuff for at least a year in case you want to go back.

In answer to your question, I’d go the SN3/XS2 route but have a listen to the Nova as well side by side. Sometimes we don’t actually Need the ultimate in SQ. I find this with my 2nd system in my living room. Is just right for the way it is used.

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A properly set up, serviced separates system like yours will sound way better than an all-in-one system or integrated amp, although your streamer is not really up to the standard of your amp, so putting some of your resources there would be worthwhile.
If you are prepared to take a few steps down the ladder, a Supernait is still a nice amp. NDX2/Supernait is a great combination.

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I went down the road of active ATC’s and was able to give up power amp, speaker cable, inter connector and a couple of levels of fraim so there are different ways to achieve less complexity.

I think the perceived thinking is one box solutions can be great but they don’t compete with separates….

Prob sensible to do some demos as simplicity is advantageous in my view……

Gary

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I went from 6 boxes to a Nova and am very happy. There comes a point when tweaking and adding bits loses its allure, especially when you are continually worrying about set up and cable dressing etc. It used to be fun but not any more for me. If you are at that point then go for it.
Of couse it won’t sound the same a separates but it will still be very enjoyable to listen to and give you great pleasure. That’s enough for me these days.

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Will it though? Few people who have downsized regret the move. Most find that the difference is not that their new smaller system is “way worse” which is the implication of “way better”. The idea that it’s all about sound quality doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny nowadays on several fronts.

One only has to read the number of posts on here about beautiful versus ugly and the many varying opinions. The numbers who wouldn’t buy product x regardless of sound quality because it doesn’t have the WAF or is simply ugly or impossible to live with in the posters eyes.

Equally the number of cables and the, frankly ludicrous when you step back and see what the rest of the world sees, idea of cable dressing. It exhausts more than it enhances and, whilst there will always be a market for both, the trend towards one box solutions is not a coincidence.

Then we have the reality that actually there are one box solutions which can better separates. Throw in room correction etc. There used to be a simplistic perspective that integrated offered coherence whereas separates offered detail. That was simplistic even then but nowadays it’s about as far from the truth that solid state bass is always superior to that of valves or the idea that each have their own distinct signature. Many here will, like me, have heard solid state offer the best of valves and valves offer the best of solid state.

If I were the OP I’d ignore all the talk of one box solutions to which you can add power supplies. That’s just more of the same. There are plenty of choices nowadays and we’re in a period where few products are terrible. Find one you like and it will definitely be more than good enough.

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A Supernait would have been a step too far down the SQ ladder for me, but I can see that some may be happy with it.
I did briefly consider it at the suggestion of a dealer when looking to downsize a bit from my 282/250, but I found a different path that allowed me to reduce boxes and increase sound quality at the same time.

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If that’s the case why even bother. Just stick with what you have.
The way the pricing wars have been going and I’m not Naim bashing here, I would not bother. All my kit was serviced august 2021 and that will see me out for quite some time.
That said the likes of Naim, Linn, DCS are way outside my reach unless of course I was stupid enough to ‘treat’ myself by dipping into savings. Just look at the prices since 2020 and the changes in service costs, it’s eye watering

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I don’t think I could ever downsize. My system was aspirational. The fact that I am ‘there’, it fits in the corner of the lounge and most of the cables are hidden means the wife is happy. I do love the look of a simpler system in a stylish room but it seems to me the style has become more important than the music. YMMV of course.

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A one box system requires careful speaker matching (and room) but may work, and of course easier in a smaller space. I’ve found that a bit challenging in a main system and kept amplification separate. I’ve found reducing box count a happy path and very liberating, coming down from 7 boxes (including the phono stage) to 3 (Atom HE + SN3/SCDR) and maximising the fewer connections and mains as much as possible on the way. Obviously I could do without the extra PSU but in my experience getting the SCDR was what made my system complete and organic, and never to feel wanting - in fact my Martens have never sounded sweeter and more alive. I know that’s midway in terms of box count but it’s what’s worked for me as a main setup.

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I’m intrigued as to how the signal gets from your preamp to the ATCs?

Directly from 552 ps to Active ATC’40’s.

I’m no audio designer but I get a sense that a lot of performance is lost in traditional speakers with a crossover.

Gary

I think Naim will go this way with focal speakers. Not long to wait and see what 2023 will bring.

Well I was completely wrong here. I can’t say that I’m unhappy about that and guess after all it was a sticking with the knitting approach and make sure that the core business works

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Having been entirely happy with my ancient 90’s Naim kit, oblivious to the forum and ‘out of the loop’ generally up until 5-6 years ago I found the brains vs brawn and cable dressing concepts quite alien as there was nothing in my old manuals AFAICR to suggest such measures were essential. They may indeed help but by how much?

I’m a bit OCD about many things but really can’t be arsed with cable dressing even if it would work, largely from a practical viewpoint.

‘Big props’ to those who have the time and patience to implement such tweaks. I’d probably have wanted to do so years ago, but now I really want as much simplicity as possible.

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Mola mola kula, sorted.