I’m a new relatively convert to Naim and love the sound I’ve found with my XS through my Harbeth bookshelf speakers. I’m looking for advice for the next step up in an upgrade to my sound.
I currently have an older XS integrated amp and a HiCap clone made by a guy in the UK. I’m streaming through a BlueSound/BlueOS streamer. I’d consider the SuperNait 3 or Uniti Nova but they’re a bit over my budget.
So here’s my question -
Would a NAC-152XS & NAP-155XS Preamplifier and Amplifier separates provide a better sound than my older XS integrated amp? If not, what would be a decent step up from my current XS integrated?
Thanks in advance!
I’ll say it before someone else does. You really need to upgrade your source before thinking of upgrading the amp. You don’t specify which streamer you’re using, but a ND5XS2 is the obvious partner for your amp. Many would say that if you’re aiming for a SuperNait you should be looking at an NDX2 but I presume that’s way over budget.
I am not sure the 152/155 would give enough of an uplift over what you have. The hicap plus a 202/200 would be the one to listen to first. I disagree about the Node. I think it is perfectly suitable. If you find it lacking after upgrading your amp system then you could add a dac to the Node later.-Ndac or Qutest.
Also, I should mention that I also have a vintage Thorens turntable which I use as well but I mostly stream. From what I can tell, streaming through my XS2 via the BlueSound streamer is not a huge difference from vinyl source. I don’t know how much of an improvement the ND5XS2 would be compared to my BlueSound streamer but it looks like the ND5XS2 is around $3,500 USD which is not too far from a Nova at $5k-ish. Would I be better off investing in a Nova with its integrated DAC and better power rather than a separate streamer?
Yes of course I realise that, I did read your post. My point is that you need a better source for a Nait XS and a much better one for an improved amp like a SN at least if you want to hear what those amps can do.
There’s some debate over the merits of Nova vs ND5XS2 with a Nait XS, but since you’ve already got the Nait, I’d be inclined to stay with separate boxes. That also offers more opportunities for future upgrades!
I did a google search and came across mention of the BelCanto 1.5 DAC connected to a BlueSound Node 2i. I have the Node 2i but doesn’t it support an internal DAC? Why would you need the BelCanto DAC? What is the point of the BlueSound? I see the BlueSound does support a USB output. I assume that would be the digital input to the BelCanto DAC. Is the advantage that the BelCanto has a better DAC?
The Node 2i has a perfectly good dac, but there are also better dacs out there that can add to the experience. I run Nodes with a Chord Qutest and find an improvement in sound. I still think though that given your original question is about amps then if you would like a bigger sound then the 200/202 with your hicap would be worth listening to before you upgrade the Node in any way. Others will offer alternative ways to move forward.
Thanks for your reply. Doing an initial search, it looks like the cost of a 200/202 would be close to the cost of a SuperNait 3. Is the conventional wisdom that the 200/202 separates would be an upgrade from a SN3 integrated?
You say you want a better sound. I wonder what you mean by better? I’m my experience, given your system, the best way to improve it - which to me means making the sound more engaging, natural and believable - is to improve the sources. I’d say that the weak point is the Node, and that fact that you feel it’s as good as the vintage Thorens could be taken in two ways - that both are good or that both are equally not so good. If you have weak sources, improving amplification can make things sound worse because it allows weaknesses in the source to shine through more clearly.
You may be sceptical about this view of course, so I suggest you try it for yourself. Borrow a better DAC, a Naim ND5XS2 and a better amplifier, and see which gets you closer to the music.
You also say you have a Hicap clone ‘made by a guy in the U.K.’. Does this actually make the sound better, or simply different? Non Naim power supplies generally make the Naim amp sound less like it was intended to.
Are you saying my XS2 can be connected to a NAP200? I assume this would use the preamp section only of the XS2 and use the NAP200 as power amp to the speakers? If so would this be a noticeable upgrade in sound?
Yes but I don’t think you should be starting there (282 or SN). Are your Harbeths demanding? I don’t know them. If they’re not I’d leave the amp alone for now. I don’t always say this but I’d start at the front, can you borrow a ND5XS from a dealer, I appreciate that’s not always easy outside UK, see how you think that compares with your current streamer.