I am really happy with my Atom and Neat Iota’s, it continually surprises me at how good it is in my study, which is narrow at about 8’ by 18’.
However, out of curiosity a couple of months ago I had an audition of a SN2 and ND5XS 2 (with my speakers) and I expected to get blown away. In fact there were some really good moments but a lot of the time I was not sure how much better it was - in fact from an overall enjoyment point of view I would rather had been at home!
Anyway, I did not upgrade then, but with the 10% discount and a pretty generous trade in for my Atom, the upgrade seems a relatively low cost change and I am pretty convinced the issue last time was the very large room I was in, rather than my snug study which is filled with books on shelves and paintings on the walls.
The answer of course is to get a home demo (or borrow the kit for the weekend, which might well be possible), and my intention is to keep the Iota’s, but I do wonder how much of a step up should this be; should it be really noticeable and much better all round, or is the Atom such a fine performer than this upgrade will be fairly subtle, certainly at first, until I get used to it.
I know this is a bit of a silly question as I should be guided by my ears alone, but I wonder what others have found with this type of comparison.
You might want to try a Nova too. It’s one box and from the couple of times I have heard it, it’s way ahead of the Atom in sound quality, but for a lot more money, so it should be. But probably less than changing from an Atom to an ND5 XS 2 and a SN2.
I have not heard the Nova and so yes you are right, I should listen to it.
I can switch from Atom to SN2/ND5 XS 2 for about £3,600 and I guess the Nova might save about £1,200 on that.
I would not rule out upgrading further and changing say from ND5 XS 2 to an NDS 2 might be worthwhile at some point, though I guess there is an argument for staying with the Atom, saving the £3k difference and go straight for the NDS 2, if indeed that is the right move.
My current home office system is a SN2 + HiCap DR + ND5 XS 2. I’ve never owned an Atom all in one but have owned a Unitiqute 2 in the past so a similar environment so to speak.
It sounds like you’ve got a curiosity to see what lies beyond the capabilities of the Atom, certainly against a 2 box system and beyond you’ll get more music for your money, but you’ll have
to balance that out against both your budget and your appetite to add more hardware and in turn take up more space in doing so. You also have to factor for connecting all these boxes together and the inevitable journey towards adding outboard PSU’s much as I did.
You may also want to consider a NAIT XS 2 which is a very enjoyable Integrated (I have one of those as well) and pair that with an ND5 XS 2, a system known to work well and give a lot for a modest budget.
The Nova is a very capable all in one but if it’s upgradability and more music you want rather than space saving and bang for buck that path may just be putting off the inevitable.
I think if you were to aim for a very good two box system combining an Integrated amp and a Streamer/DAC then the SN2 + NDX2 is hard to beat, you can add plenty to it over time like PSU’s on both and higher spec interconnects and power leads.
I’m quite content on the ND5 for the time being but my thinking is to end up with an NDX2 and at some point get a SuperCap DR with the intention of moving the SN2 to another room and using that to power a NAC282 at some point.
If you have the budget and enthusiasm for it then whatever path you take you’re sure to find rewarding, I’d say a 2-4 box system is a very capable sweet spot, if you can try some systems out and get a feel for what you like, more isn’t necessarily better and you may find a NAIT XS2 for example a nicer match based on your music tastes, room acoustics and speaker ability.
Keep us posted as you try out the various options of course!
That is helpful, I really need the SN2/ND5XS2 at home in my room, and then get down to some serious listening.
I have seen people commenting here about fewer boxes but I must say that is not a concern as it will not be in the living room.
When I move home I might look at bigger speakers (ATC I think) if I get a bigger room, and who knows where that will lead, but opinion is divided on a move at the moment, so I am kicking that can down the road.
Can I ask what the improvement was like when you went from Unitiqute 2 to SN2 + HiCap DR + ND5 XS 2? Was it jaw-dropping or more subtle?
Seems a pretty decent price. Dealers never seem to tempt me with these amazing deals. A few years ago I tried to part exchange a Unitiqute 2 in mint condition about 2 years old. The dealer offered me £300, I laughed and sold it on an auction site for approaching £900. Vowed to never use that dealer again.
I guess the Atom has had good press recently, mine is only a year old and the price has just risen £200 for a new one.
With Naim’s 10% off promotion for the next few weeks it is a slightly less painful upgrade.
…but I want to make the right move. I need to use my ears
dThey didn’t replace each other and ran in parallel in different rooms. The Unitiqute 2 I had was in a bedroom system and used mostly for TV audio and radio streaming. It served its purpose well enough but then I never really asked much of it and it was never my main day to day system.
The SN2 is a different beast entirely and has a lot of punch and composure against both other NAIT’s and Uniti’s, I find mine is happier when it’s being pushed a bit, at lower volumes, say Radio during the day it can sound a bit flat at times whereas the NAIT XS can be more engaging and musical and not give that sense it wants to shout out loud. I enjoy both and felt that unless I moved well in to the pre/power range I’d not gain enough beyond the SN2 based system I currently use to warrant the effort and cost.
The intention is to move to a NAC252 and a NAP200/250 mainly to experiment with system setup, I’d keep the SN2 and run that as the front channels on a split 5.1 and vinyl 2 channel system.
In your case going from an Atom to either a XS2 or SN2 should be rewarding and gives you options on the source side. I tried both the ND5 and NDX and picked the cheaper option mainly down to budget earlier this year and that it was very capable and something I knew I‘d be happy living with for a year or two whilst I worked out what to prioritise next.
Lots of good advice here. I have a Nova and a NDX2/SN2 in two different set ups. The later is certainly well above the former for SQ and the SN2 has way more slam and control over the Nova. But, these are both good systems for their room and speaker configurations. The Nova is in my office, a similar size to your room, and it’s the perfect match. The SN2 drives larger speakers in our lounge, and they need more air to move than the office provides. I think you need to match the best option for the speakers in your room, which needs a home demo really. You should also be able to get a good deal on the SN2 now as well…
Yes, you should ask your dealer for a home demo. It’s much easier to assess the character of a new system in the comfort of your own home, and in the room you will be using it in if you buy it.
I would expect the ND5/SN2 to be a big improvement. You may find that you get a lot more bass though, and this may cause problems if your room acoustics aren’t right. Be prepared to experiment with speaker positioning to compensate for this, and maybe consider a Nait XS instead of the Supernait.
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