This time of the year always give me time to spend listening to potential upgrades and the start of 2020 is no exception. I currently have a Nova with Marten Duke 2 speakers and I’ve started researching where to go from the Nova.
Yesterday was a vey interesting first step at my dealer and the session went something like this:
Mission was to compare NDX2+SN3 with Chord Hugo TT2+Ttoby and if time allowed, show potential future paths with PS upgrades on Naim and M-Scaler on Chord.
First up, NDX2 and SN3. It was obvious from the start that this combi bests the Nova, which is no surprise, but after about 30 minutes or so, I was a little disappointed as there wasn’t the uplift I had set my self to expect. My impression was that the uplift would not be worth the 4-5k it would cost to change, although we’ll come back to this.
Next the Chords… that’s more like it. The clarity of the TT2 is immense and brings a realism I could easily live with. The little Ttoby was very impressive considering its size and rated power and had no trouble driving the speakers to a level comfortably in excess of what would be needed in my little room. However, after 20 minutes or so I felt there was something missing with the overall way the music made you feel. A bit sterile maybe…
As a left field contender, we tried the YBA IA 350 with the NDX2, whilst its bottom end was very strong, I just kept wanting to turn it down, overall the top end was too spikey for my liking, although it may not have been on long enough to show its true colours. So back to the Chords, where I found myself enjoying it more and more as time went on.
Next add the M-Scaler…. Blimey, that is a revelation. Whilst the sonic signature doesn’t change much, there is more of nearly everything, detail, imaging and soundstage improve massively, but the bottom end seemed less inclined to show the same scale of improvement. Which was a real shame.
So, back to the SN3 and NDX2, although I had already decided it was unlikely to be for me. But wait, now it sounded much, much better, nothing physically had changed, maybe it had warmed up a bit, although the SN3 had been off whilst listening to the Chords. This is more like it, everything was sounding right, the overall balance, the low end was full and controlled, mids were strong and the top end was clear and detailed. Nice…
But I hankered for the TT2 with M-scaler… I know, try the Chords with the SN3. This was the best combo of the session for me. The SN3 trouncing the Ttoby and providing everything we know and love from Naim and the TT2/M-scaler bringing new insight into every piece of music I played. I started to lose myself in the music and just wanted to try another track to see how it would sound. I eventually ran out of time but would have stayed all day.
When I got back home I immediately listed to my Nova and was pleased that it still sounded great, albeit comparatively sounding more compressed and enclosed than the higher level kit. Of course the other kit is better, but they cost at least twice as much… but I doubt that will stop me upgrading.
Thinking about my preferred combo, the TT2 includes a pre-amp, which got me thinking that maybe a 250 DR would be more sensible than the SN3 as I don’t use vinyl and it would only be for streaming via Roon.
Interested in any views or suggestions from others who use the TT2 or on the the NAP 250 vs SN3 route.