Upgrade advice please

Current system: Unitilite though NAP200, UnitiCore playing ripped CDs and Tidal through PMC Twenty 23 speakers. Want to upgrade to a better streamer with a DAC. Open to new and used Naim kit (the NAP and Core are used, work great).

When I bought the speakers & NAP200 9 years ago, shop said best upgrade path was an NDX. Used NDX is an option or could stretch to an NDX2 which I read is better with more modern interface.

Alternatively a NAC 272 has a pre-amp and better streamer with on board DAC, but I read that the NDX / NDX2 sound better, and the 272 is becoming outdated.

NDX/NDX2 would have to run through Lite pre-amp or should I contemplate a better pre-amp for the NAP 200, ditch the Lite?

Am I right that NAC 202/282 etc aren’t controlled via Naim app - seems behind the times? I also have a Qute and speakers in my kitchen, hook the Lite & Qute together controlling everything from my IPad.

Easy to get carried away and change everything here - really don’t want to spend more than a few thou

Help and advice much appreciated.

Thanks, Alan

Replacing the unitilite with a 272 would be the cheapest upgrade and you are likely to get a 272 at a really good price now the 222 is out. Another route might be an Atom HE, which you could use as a pre-streamer into your 200 and have the up-to-date streamer platform.

It may be worth your having a look at TomTom Audio in St Albans, who specialise in second hand Naim equipment (and are very good at finding hard-to-track-down Naim kit).

(I would have checked in advance, but my Mac is out of sorts, and won’t let me search.)

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A pre-loved NDX and a 202 should have good availability and a good next step/great sound.
Otherwise a 272 would also fit the bill as another suggested.
You can control everything through the naim app. Volume will be adjusted through running a simple control cable from NDX to 202/282, works well.

If you want a substantial upgrade and full functionality, the Atom HE is the most economical way to go. A step higher would be ND5XS2 and a NAC202 or 282. You don’t get a remote for the streamer, so you’d be reliant on the app. You can connect the ND to the preamp, enable system automation, and control volume and switching via the app. The next step up would be the NDX2. Again you can use system automation, but you get a remote. Then there is the new NSC222, which will give you everything to need but at a price. Alternatively, sell the Lite and the 200 and get a Nova. So plenty of options to consider, all of which will be better than you have now.


Interesting idea about Unity Atom HE. How would you connect it to the NAP 200?

With an RCA to 4 pin Din lead.

Using a cable :slight_smile:

Your dealer should be able to supply it. Otherwise, ask someone local. Thats what I’ve done. I’ve just taken screenshots of the pinouts of the Atom HE and Nap 200 and he forged one for me at moonlight with stardust.

Worth noting that some of the items you are thinking about (NDX and 272) are Naim’s first generation of streamers. So it’s possible they would become obsolete and updates will be limited. Obviously this is reflected in the price.

The more modern ones (NDX2 for example) have more functionality and should be more future proof.

Was warming to NAC 272 as it provides a decent pre-amp, but the streamer becoming outdated is a concern. Also an NDX5S2 or NDX2 is a better quality source - I think?

So NDX5S2 or NDX with a pre-amp, probably the 202. But the 202 looks positively steam driven. So exactly how does it hook up the streamer so it’s all controlled and selected from the Naim app? Exactly what cables required?


Found another thread on connections. So connect streamer 202 with an RCA - 3.5 mm kick to control the volume from the streamer.

Should see NDX / ND5 XS on Naim app along with Qute & Core - 202 not visible. Control volume of 202 via NDX / ND5?

I’m not sure about the NDX, but certainly with the NDX2 and ND5XS2, you connect them with the wire and enable system automation. The app and/or remote for the streamer will then control the volume. Selected preamp inputs, say tuner or CD, can be chosen via the app. If you are playing a CD and then start the streamer, the amp automatically switches inputs. It’s very clever.

Another vote here for the Atom HE. I got one a few days back. Excellent sound. Like you, all my sources are digital: Core, Streaming, CD, and TV. There is no fully analog channel on the Atom (the analog input is immediately digitized in use). The Atom preamp section simply has to route the appropriate digits to the DAC, so I don’t think you miss anything by not having a separate preamp. As a bonus, you get one of the best headphone amps in hifi today, should that be of interest.

I would avoid any discontinued streamer solution from the past, as these don’t have all the functionality you may expect, and are unlikely to get (or be able to get) much in the way of updates going forward. I would even discount the ND5XS2. I wouldn’t expect it to sound better than the Atom (same DAC, same streamer), and I find I really like the display of the cover art etc. The Atom also costs much less than the NDX5S2. So you pay more and get (much) less functionality. I am inclined to think that the NDX5S2 and even the NDX2 are likely casualties of this years move to “new” classics.

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You just need an inexpensive additional cable between streamer and preamp to get system automation to work. These instructions explain how it works with 1st gen. streamers. It’s not as slick as a device with a built in volume control such as the Unitis and streaming preamps, but that’s the price you pay for the sound quality you get from Naim separates.

Thanks for all your help. Much to think about.

I was thinking NDX2 or ND5 XS 2, not NDX (definitely ageing)

As to costs

  • used ND5 XS 2 - 2.1 k; used NDX2 double that, plus a used 202 another grand - so 3k / 5k
  • uniti atom HE 2.5 k
  • used NAC 272 - 1.5 - 2k (“cheap” 'n cheerful)

Atom option - intriguing. Will see if I can demo Atom, NDX2 & ND5 XS2 back to back at local dealer.
Still unsure about connecting an Atom to an NAP though - no RCA output sockets - each L/R pre-amp o/p looks like a type of 3-pin DIN. The NAP 200 has one 4-pin combined input & power supply socket…

Gen 1 NDX does support system automation - I used mine with a 202 for 9 years.

Whilst it’s an older platform, it was designed for local streaming which you have said you use; and it supports Tidal natively.

Oh and it still sounds superb despite its age. Naim has said that there will be further support this year for first gen streamers.

Hi @Chestermana I’m in the very same situation as yours with a Unitilite preamp out into a Nap200. And I have my eyes set on a Nac 272 as the next move.

The way I see it, it is a matter of how many boxes you are willing to accommodate in the end. NDX+Nac202 can be easily found for less than a grand each (and is probably better than a 272). But it is already 3 boxes (with the Nap200) and could quickly become 5 with a power supply for each. I have decided I don’t want to end up with that many boxes.

Regarding older gen streamers obsolescence as far as I know they are as of today still doing exactly what they did when launched. I am happy with functionality of my Unitilite so I will get more of the same with a 272.
I also note that users who’ve dumped their older gen streamers are quick to warn others about that possible risk of future obsolescence but might just be spreading their own worries. Plenty of old gen streamers in the wild doing their stuff.

Anyhow I don’t think there is a wrong path, as any of the alternatives mentioned should yield sound quality improvement compared to current Unitilite preamp out. Just a matter of where you want to get and at what cost.

Curious to see where you’ll end up.

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Thanks, Sinewave!
I wondered about the NDX, used to be the bees knees before the new-fangled stuff came in, can get a used one under a grand. My Unitlite and Qute are 2012/14 vintage, work and sound good. Just updated the firmware on both to v 4.8 without issue.
I’m just looking for a quality step in my big system that doesn’t cost the earth. From what you say, used NDX + 202 has to be an option.

NDX is a quality bit of kit. Just because it’s been superseded doesn’t stop it sounding very good.


Thanks, Zinc!


I concur. NAC 272 maybe not quite up to NDX / NR5 in quality, but looks like a good step forward and cheapest by some margin. And plugs in straight in - same connectors, hooks into Naim app - no worries of faff. And it’s a preamp - can add a better streamer later if I want. And I get a free Unitilite to use elsewhere or give to my daughter!!

I’m torn …