Two-box streamer-amp recommendation

I am looking to buy a HiFi system (streamer, amp(s) and loudspeakers) from scratch in the next weeks/months. For the loudspeakers I have already set my mind on B&W 803 D3. For the remainder, I am prepared to shelve another 10.000 EUR / 8600 GBP or so. I would preferably like to keep the box-count at two (without power supply), and I am not planning to upgrade anytime soon thereafter.

I went to a dealer and heard N272+N250 with the B&W 803 D3: it sounded impressive to me. At home, upon googling I noticed N272 is from around 2015 and I started wondering what newer technology in the streamer part of N272 would be missing (I guess the pre-amp technology would not change quickly).

Reading the NAIM forum, I noticed that some contributors were talking about the combination NDX2+Supernait2. From what I understand, NDX2 is a state-of-the-art streamer, which has some newer features (e.g. support for Roon). But I am not sure how the sound is compared to N272+N250 (my dealer does not have all the equipment for me to listen).

Upon reading further on the internet, I came across the topic of amplifier with room correction.

I am a novice in the HiFi area and meanwhile increasingly confused by the many choices possible. Given my boundary conditions stated in first paragraph

  • What combination would you recommend: N272+N250 or NDX2+Supernait2, in terms of sound and functionality? Or something else?
  • Is the N272 streamer indeed missing some relevant newer technology standards/features?
  • What are the chances that a N272 successor will be introduced in the coming 3-6 months?
  • How important is it to have an amplifier with room correction? How would such amplifier pair with room correction at similar price range (e.g. Lyngdorf) compare with one of above two-box solution from NAIM, sound-wise?

Many thanks for any guidance and please excuse me if I asked something obvious. Greetings from Amsterdam!

I’d suggest that you are making a classic beginners mistake in selecting some very expensive speakers and then buying electronics with what is left of your budget. You just don’t drive £12,500 speakers with a Supernait.

There are those who say that speakers are the hardest to get right in your room, and they are right. It’s fine to get the 803s if you are later going to get a better source and amplification, say NDX2, 555PS, 252, Supercap, 300, but that’s over £25,000 of electronics. But if you are not, you’d be much better taking your £20,000 and buying a well balanced system to start with. Something like an NDX2, 282, Hicap, 250DR and some 805D3 is going to be a much better setup if you want to buy it and just enjoy it without thinking about constant upgrades.

This is of course four boxes. A three box option would be a 272, 555PS and 250DR. The 272 may well be replaced with a similar model but using the new streaming platform, which would be more future proof, but it depends is you are happy to wait for something that may never happen.

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I’m with HH on your choice of speakers. They need a lot more power to get the best of of them than those you list. Although B&W say they need 50W - 500W, the USA Stereophile magazine really rated the speakers but used 225W up to 300W per channel. Other on-line reviews seem to use similar power.
Naim will invariably give good sound no matter what load & no doubt what you heard with the 250 is good, but if I were you I would think carefully & maybe short list other speakers. I also suggest if you do select speakers before amps, then room size & where in the room to install them is another (first) consideration

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HH is right (as always). Be very carefully when you choose loudspeakers. They need to fit with the room. A home demo is needed. I recommend that you try a couple of loudspeakers (different brands) in your home when you have decided the electronics. The 272 is a very good streamer but the technology is older than in the new streamers. Why don’t you look at a Nova and then with an add on amplifier. Will you just stream or do you also need a storage for the CDs? If a storage you have the Core. And then a FraimLite to put the things on. No problem to spend KEURO 20… Just as HH say it must a balanced system.
When I home demoed speakers I listened for several hours with hardly any break for more than a week. Your ears must like what they hear and without fatigue. I bought the 3rd pair.

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David, first of all welcome to the forum.

My current configuration is a NAS, TIDAL and internet radio feeding my NDX 2 > SuperNait 2 > NAC A5 > NAIM Ovator S-400 and find that it is a pretty fine two box system.

The system could be upgraded with adding Power Supplies to either the NDX 2 or SN2 or to both.

I did have a demo of the 272/250DR vs NDX/SN2. From my time listening to the two configurations I choose the NDX/SN2 and subsequently upgraded to the NDX 2.

My goal was to keep a low box count and to have a system that I can spend hours at a time listening to music. I am quite happy with my decision.

There are certainly many directions you can go and many factors that can come into play. I choose a two box system because I am heading towards retirement and currently live in house. That may change if we choose to downsize to a smaller house or condo in the future.

I chose NAIM after doing research and seeing that many of their users had systems that they owned for 20+ years. The other was the users of NAIM providing testimony regarding the NAIM sound. The members above that provided some insight are long time NAIM owners and offer some valuable advice regarding matching speakers and having a balanced system.

Lots of decisions, and lots of fun researching…

Good luck with your decision.

Greatings from Seattle!

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While the Supernait2 is a very good integrated amp, I would like to suggest that the B&W 803 D3 needs an amp that is more capable.

You have already heard how the NAP250 drives the 803s, I would say that this is the minimum power amp you need to drive these speakers. (I am making the assumption that your room is sympathetic with these speakers).

Clearly the NAC272 + NAP250 works to your satisfaction (you will get major sound improvements adding a XPS DR + 555PS DR to the NAC272 - but that adds another box)

One other options you may want to consider is a NOVA + NAP250 - this is still a two box system, with the NOVA having the latest streaming technology and the addition of the NAP250 giving the possibility of bi-amping the 803s.

Neither of these solutions will give you the full potential that the 803s are capable of - but if you are happy with the sound, then it’s a step in the right direction. To get the full potential of the 803s you really need a more powerful amp - in the case of NAIM you are looking at a NAP300 - which is a two box power amp on it’s own.

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First I would ask for a home demo as those speakers may sound different at home. Personally I’m a believer in buying the best speakers you can for your room and then over time tailoring your system to get the best from them if however this will be a one time purchase with no thought of future upgrades then you need to get it right hence the need for a home demo.
But if your heart is set on those B&W’s then see if you can stretch to ND5XS2/282/250DR. The ND5XS2 does not need a power supply so no worries of it sounding better with one and the 282/250DR is more than capable of getting those B&W’s rocking.

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In my experience getting speakers that sound good to me is of vital importance, more so than other components, however the amp has to be capBke of at least driving adequately, and sometimes budget can limit what can be achieved. However, if the 803s are the speakers for you, and you found the 250 could make them okay well to your ears, that would seem a readobable basis for a system for now. You say you have no upgrade plans in the near future - however you will know from what people have said that if one day you decide to look at improvement, upgrading the amp could be worth trying.

However, there is another path, which is to go secondhand: speakers and amps should last several decades (though I understand that Naim amps benefit from a service every 20 years or so), so maybe you could go secondhand and get a better amp from the start…

There are of course alternative approaches: one might be a combined store-renderer (player) like the Innuos Zen, feeding a stand-alone DAC with inbuilt preamp like Chord Hugo, or better still TT, Feeding direct into a power amp like a secondhand Bryston 4B. Buying the speakers secondhand might let you either go for the 802 instead of 803, if they sound better to you and suit your room, or alternatively an even better DAC like the fabulous Chord Dave,

Room correction can be a good thing, but it cannot fix some issues (and indeed could cause unpleasant distortion and easily damage speakers if you try to compensate for room cancellations). It is better to try to optimise room layout, particularly speaker and listening positions, before using electronics to compensate, and only use electronic tool correction for final tailoring. Athough I do apply some room correction in my own system, to a modest degree.my understanding is that most people don’t, so I would suggest it’s availability should not be a deciding factor.

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I agree with IB that buying used is an extremely useful way to build a system and IMO is the most cost effective way to buy Naim.
Go to a reputable used dealer I’ve dealt with Tom Tom who are excellent and you can even factor in a trip to Naim for added piece of mind.
For just over your budget you could buy a new ND5XS2 and a used 282/SC/250DR or 282/HCDR/300.

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I would agree strongly with hungryhalibut. Spend about £6000 to £8000 on speakers and go for NDX2/282/250DR.
The NDX2 is very good. I’ve heard it with a SN2 Naim demo and it was well worth the extra over the ND5XS2 which was demoed at the same time.

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I’m not familiar with the B & Ws the OP wants to buy, but I notice they appear to be of a very similar spec to my ProAcs, particularly the sensitivity which I always understood to be an indicator of how easy/difficult a load the speaker is in terms of amp used to drive it?

If true, the fact my my 250DR drives the K6s beautifully may indicate the B & Ws May be a good match? Just a thought.

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Speaker sensitivity and ease of driving are not the same - In effect it is a measure of the efficiency of conversion of the electrical signal to sound: the loudness for a given power input. You can have speakers of 90dB/W that are an easy load for an amp, and others of the same sensitivity that are not such an easy load.

I don’t know how easy a load the 803 is.

I had a feeling you would correct me, IB! Is there any measure that does tell a prospective buyer just how easy or difficult a speaker is to drive, or how to match speaker with amp without necessarily having to physically demonstrate? We’re constantly told that simple power (watts per channel) is meaningless; if speaker sensitivity falls into the same category how can a prospective buyer narrow down the field of what does match well?

A good dealer would know the answer to that I would hope?

The figure quoted for the 803’s are 90bB and 8 Ohm, should indicate fairly easy to drive ?

That’s what I thought. My speakers are 4Ω but are driven with ease by the 250DR. I appreciate the value of a good dealer’s experience, but not everyone has access to one. There must be physical constants which can be measured (i.e sensitivity, resistance, power output etc.) which will indicate with accuracy whether or not a given amp had enough power to drive a specific speaker or not.

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When manufacturers quote 8 Ohm then the reality might be very different. Copied from wikipedia…

Nominal impedance

|300x154

Diagram showing the variation in impedance of a typical mid-range loudspeaker. Nominal impedance is usually determined at the lowest point after resonance. However, it is possible for the low-frequency impedance to be still lower than this.[1]

Due to the reactive nature of a speaker’s impedance over the audio band frequencies, giving a speaker a single value for ‘impedance’ rating is in principle impossible, as one may surmise from the impedance vs. frequency curve above. The nominal impedance of a loudspeaker is a convenient, single number reference that loosely describes the impedance value of the loudspeaker over a majority of the audio band. A speaker’s nominal impedance is defined as:

Z n o m = 1.15 ⋅ Z m i n {\displaystyle Z_{\mathrm {nom} }=1.15\cdot Z_{\mathrm {min} }} Z_{{\mathrm {nom}}}=1.15\cdot Z_{{\mathrm {min}}}

The graph above shows the impedance curve of a single loudspeaker driver in free-air (unmounted in any type of enclosure). A home hi-fi loudspeaker system typically consists of two or more drivers, an electrical crossover network to divide the signal by frequency band and route them appropriately to the drivers, and an enclosure that all these components are mounted in. The impedance curve of such a system can be very complex, and the simple formula above does not as easily apply.

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Thanks for the detail Steve. I am aware that many factors will impact on the indicative resistance/ohms, a bit like all car engines of the same size and BHP won’t necessarily have the same speed/performance statistics.
The stated figures are only an indicative guide to help buyers narrow down choice. In some cases I doubt dealers would have the knowledge or experience to advise expertly. If there were no “indicative parameters” for speaker selection it would be an even more lengthy and difficult task.

803 really deserve a well designed and based on nap300 system.

Not unless the speaker manufacturer oublishes more information, such as the impedance data such (e.g the curve copied by Solwisesteve).

However the most important measure is whether a particular speaker-amp combination sounds good to the intending listener, at the volume levels and in the room where it will be used.

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