Uniti Star Amp Upgrade Recommendations

When I got my Star I was not considering getting a turntable, but then I did. So, now I have a Rega Planar 3 through a Simaudio Moon 110LP phono stage, to the analog inputs of the Star. It sounds good but I am thinking that upgrading the amplifier in my setup would bring improvements to the analog circuit but I don’t want to downgrade the digital path.

(Background info: the Star digitalizes the analog input to feed it to the amp and it sounds OK but it could sound better just by not running that signal through the DAC)

So I would use the Star’s Stereo power amplifier outputs to the AV input of a receiving amplifier to be able to control the volume from the Star and the phono outputs to the appropriate inputs of the receiving amplifier and control the volume from that new device.

My assumption would be that the Nait 5si is not an upgrade while the XS2 or XS3 would be both good choices. Supernait 3/2 would be the best option but there is a budget constrain for those. Consider my assumptions based entirely by reading the front pages of the amplifiers and not actually listening to them (only the Star, of course).

Any thoughts or practical experience with the Star amp. vs. the XS2/3?

Is my assumption correct that the Star is a better amp than the 5si?


I’m going to say that the turntable part is more of a bottleneck than the Star.

I have a Planar 6 with ANIA Pro MC and also a Moon LP 110 v2. It’s sounding pretty sweet to me on my Star.

The digitization of the analogue input is not the issue here. It’s using the same high quality chipsets as the DAC part as far as I know. It should give pretty much true to source conversion.

Sure, a better amp will give better sound but IMO try out a better turntable/cartridge first and see how that goes. You could get better bang for your buck there.

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I could maybe be helpful here. Since ca. two weeks I have nait xs3 after two years with uniti star. One of the main reasons for me was the digitalisation of phono input. Not sure if this was really affecting SQ but since I realised I couldn’t sleep well :slight_smile:

I my opinion my current setup with nd5xs2 is more detailed and powerful sounding. Uniti was more easygoing: I would say easier to mix with more speakers and rooms (maybe). Current setup could sound too enthusiastic in some applications.

I also got rid of external project phono box S2 - built in phono amp in nait is good enough for my cheap AT lp5 with AT cart.

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I have a Michell Gyro, Ortofon Quintet blue, Graham Slee Reflex phono stage on my Star and it sounds slightly better/different to the Tidal HiFi streaming on most comparisons. Kind of Blue, Miles Davis, is bigger on vinyl, as is most of my vintage Genesis LP’s. Tallis Scholars choral is great on vinyl, but Elbow, Counting Crows and Eels are better streamed. I enjoy using records, but streaming is far easier and being able to call up almost every piece of music ever, has its advantages too. I’m under no illusion that the Michell is as good as it gets, it is a superb mid level disc turner and it looks great, but there are better performers available. I have a feeling that a Rega 6 or 8, the next step up, would give you a big lift in performance.

similar experience with Star, ATR Celebration 40 (Pro-Ject Xtension 9 Evolution), Ortofon SPU and ST-7, Goldnote PH-10

the phono pre-amps that i had tested were a huge difference, and you will still have potential there

I think that because we experience music with our minds, the placebo effect can upgrade our experience. But, like with your comment, it’s important to be honest about it.

I am 100% sure my Star is more than capable of reproducing the analogue signal with at least as much fidelity as the digital inputs.

Otherwise I can just picture the Naim design session: Hey guys I have an idea, let’s digitize the signal so we can play it on other boxes too. The drawback is that it’ll degrade the sound so much that even lower spec Rega TTs will be affected… After which everyone gives the thumbs up and goes YOLO!!!

No, I think the OP will end up upgrading the turntable either way. A better Naim amplifier will reveal even more of the RP3 level of performance.

Starting with a better turntable will show what the Star can do and the OP can then decide if more is needed.


Thanks for the insight. I got to say, when I auditioned both the Planar 3 and 6, I chose the 3 because the difference was not so compelling for me to spend the dollar amount of the 6. I had an RP1+ before the Planar 3, so there is also the factor that the 3 might have impressed me enough since I was comparing it against my previous TT. That said, I do plan mid-term upgrades to my Planar 3 and the MC cart is one of them.

Thanks, I have plans to 6 my 3 through upgrades.

Can’t agree more with you about the placebo effect. Once you’ve spent the money it takes to get an XS or a Supernait, there’s no way your mind is telling you it sounds worse.

You gave me a laugh, definitely this is not what I’d expect of the Naim design session. But, I believe the Star was designed when Naim was not yet considering bringing back the phono stage into the SN3/XS3 therefore the Star/Nova did not get it either. So, the analog input in the Star is a feature they could not miss but really not a selling point (maybe future Stars will have it?). My assumption of what happened at that coming-to-fame Star design meeting is that they considered the easiest path to get the analog input amplified; and it was to pass it through the same flow as the other sources (and therefore an ADC for the analog inputs was born).

I know I’m going lengths about my assumptions here, but the inclusion of the ADC stage to the analog inputs, to later be DAC’d for the amp makes me speculate. From the signal point of view, that’s an unnecessary stage and subject to loss, no matter how good the digital path is.

We might need to hire a private investigator to solve that mystery :slight_smile:


The digitization is to allow multi room support. It’s very much an intended architectures.

And as for loss, it uses a lossless digital format.

And yes you suffer something because of the extra circuitry but I really don’t think that an RP3 will be affected by this.

Try an RP6 (or maybe even RP8) with MC element with your Star before turfing it. It’s a tremendous bit of kit.

Just heads up from personal experience. The standard ANIA MC exhibits a lot of sibilance. I’d suggest looking at least at the ANIA Pro.

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