Upgrade path for Qute 2?

Since my Qute 2 is no longer getting updates for streaming from NAIM, I am going to need to upgrade it sometime and this time was planning to go with separates, given that I have already added a (used) NAP 200 to the Qute (my Dynaudio Evoke 10s are not very sensitive and so I needed some more power than with my previous speakers) and also separates seems a better way to avoid the whole system becoming obsolescent at once, since amps aren’t changing as much as streamers.

So presumably, to go the separate route, I will need both a streamer and a preamplifier, but buying them both at once woould be a little indigestible financially!? So my first question is - would it be possible to use the Qute just as a preamplifier, at least for a while, with something like Naim’s ND5 XS 2? Also I really want to integrate my Hi-Fi with my TV, as it is a big improvement on my TV (LG C9) speaker, but (I think) that would require an HDMI Arc input… somewhere. I know the Uniti Atom now has HDMI, but I don’t consider the Atom to be a sufficient upgrade sound wise over the Qute and wouldn’t want to get locked into a higher level all in one, as already mentioned.

My full system as of now is: Uniti Qute 2, NAP 200, Dynaudio Evoke 10.

Would appreciate any opinions!

Hi, I’d say that the best answer really depends on how far you want to go up the ladder. If you think you will eventually aim for a higher Classic range system, going for separates now would make sense. It’s certainly possible to put a streamer in front of your Qute as a short term measure. However, I suspect its preamp will let the rest of the system down quite a bit, and you will only really reap the benefits once you have changed it for a proper preamp. Remember, also, that system setup really starts to matter when you use separates, and you should budget for a decent rack etc.
If you don’t want to go that far, selling the Qute and 200, and getting an integrated amp (Nait XS or Supernait) would make a great 2-box system.
Finally, take your time and enjoy the process. A good dealer can be a real help, and can save you making costly mistakes. Good luck!

You could use the qute as a streamer into a preamp which may be a better option. I used to use one as a transport into a hugo which also worked ok

I think the point for the OP is they want to replace the streamer to the newer streaming platform, so using the Qute as a streamer into a preamp is an irrelevant option.

The ND5-XS2 could be used as a external source to the Qute as an interim option to getting – for example – a 202 to replace the Qute.

Thanks! - Useful to know I have that option. As of now, I’m really just puzzling things through and doing the basic research as to what my options are, given that I have lost touch with this area of technology. I don’t know where I will go later, it depends entirely on whether I consider an upgrade will be a worthwhile improvement for me, or will hit a point of diminishing returns, given that I’ve somewhat downsized my house in the last few years. Probably I’m not going to be getting a Statement or those huge orange things (Graham Audio VOTW, I think) I noticed in my dealer (Gulliford in Exeter) the other day… at least any time soon :).

Useful to know I have that option too. I was really intending to go streamer first but if I something tempting on the used market I may pick it up - maybe a used 202 would be a good option. Do you know which outputs on the back of the Qute would be used to bypass the Qute’s preamp? I’m using the RCA sockets marked “Preamp Output” to power the NAP 200 so clearly they don’t bypass the Qute preamp and I don’t see anything else that looks like a reasonable candidate. Or will this just work if you connect both units to the router? I’m a little hazy about the division of labour on modern gear…

I would also need to address the problem of lack of ARC HDMI so I can control volume on my TV if I went this way - Having a bunch of remotes is getting really old. Maybe I could get one of those expensive Logitech universal remotes to solve this, but I’m not confident they would work with either the LG controller (which has a pointer) or the Naim remote for the Qute. I was sort of hoping Naim would add HDMI to everything sooner or later, rather than just their integrated stuff.

Yes - that is what I was considering, although mostly I’m just looking for what the sensible options are at this stage. I always do a lot of research when spending this much cash to try to make sure I don’t screw up.

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If you’re considering a Naim streamer, you would have to use an optical connection, as only the Unitis have HDMI. Also, the ND5XS2 has no remote, just the app on iOS or Android. You would have to use this for input selection as well as volume.
Your existing Qute would also work over optical, and probably with a Harmony remote, although I haven’t tried this.

Currently my Qute is connected to the LG TV using the optical connection - so the problem is, not that I can’t get sound, but that the optical cable does not carry a volume signal so there is no way for the TV remote to control the Qute volume.

As to the ND5XS2 I did realise it doesn’t have a screen or remote, but surely it isn’t the streamer that controls the sound volume anyway, but the preamplifier - so if I did add that without making any other changes I would be still be using the Qute to control volume and select inputs… wouldn’t I? And if NAIM were to add HDMI to separates in the future, surely the input would be on the preamp, not the streamer… or would it? I don’t see a need for a screen or remote for streaming functionality, since it is so much more convenient to manage UPNP selection etc. with the Naim app on iphone/ipad.

Correct, you can use the preamp (Qute) remote for volume control. With ND5XS2 you would need Naim app for selection/playback, or do what I do and use Roon. The user experience with their Roon’s is much better, IMO, but not everyone agrees.

The input would have to be wherever the dac lives… so It will definitely not appear on any all-analog pre or integrated (including the new SN3) and, if past decisions are any indication of future implementations, Naim tend to keep the streaming section and the dac (where you could reasonably expect to find multiple digital input switching added on as a bonus) together as a rule.

You may wish to check out the Nova (its performance might just meet your requirements, and lots of folk are happy with these, including me, but then you are all-in for the single box again) or take a browse through the lengthy love-fest for the 272 and its eagerly anticipated successor (all singing, dancing digital streaming pre). But for “separate everything with individual functional upgrades to dac and streamer and no redundant bits left unused inside the box”, Naim do not have you covered afaik.

Regards alan

Roon is intriguing and one of the reasons I’m considering a streamer upgrade, since Qute doesn’t do that (there may be a solution involving a small widget box) - would be really useful to integrate all my music and streaming services into one GUI. I don’t imagine it we be that easy to set up - I had enough problems getting Asset to index my ripped FLACs sensibly on my NAS :). Thanks for clarifying the box functions.

Hi Alan

Thanks for that suggestion. I Checked out the 272 upgrade thread. Could be a good solution, if they do it, and would keep my box count down - I’m really limited to 3 boxes without the system taking over. Also they would probably include ARC/HDMI in any new version solving my AV integration aims. I guess if they do launch one this year it is likely to be at Munich high end in May, but no hurry, will probably wait till then anyway to see what new options they may have. As to the Nova I was considering it, but it does limit upgrades more as you say and also cosmetically it looks a bit as if they’ve taken an atom and tacked half a power amplifier from their separates range onto it.

Agreed, now that they have the HDMI/ARC module for the new Uniti line, it’s an appealing (no-brainer?!?) feature to bundle into the 272+ … which I’m imagining will be a Nova sans power amp (ie improved streaming platform, fancy decoupling for digital signals, etc.), plus a couple of analog inputs (probably, and that’s a huge request from the update thread anyway), plus (if they have an all-analog signal path, as opposed to the ultra-high-res ADC with matching DAC path implementation of analog inputs on Nova) maybe the new phono input module from the SN3, and then whatever they decide can work in the way of potential power supply upgrades (up to and including the possibility of using “both sides” of the 555PS, if I’ve understood the requests again from the update thread).

Ha, but gently reminding that not everyone despises the Nova aesthetics (even if the love for the truly gorgeous Atom is almost universally higher!)… It’s easily the best looking thing on my rack (which has the lovely Nova, the innocuous cable / per box, and a plain stealth-but-shiny black “brains” box for the Samsung Frame tv)… yer basic home electronics industrial design for the present.

Regards, alan

ps - thumbs up for giving Roon a try and using a cheap and cheerful way of sending it to your existing Qute: free with some effort to set up a UPnP bridge on your NAS, probably best to check out the how-to thread by @trickydickie; cheap with a Chromecast Audio and TOSLink cable; still reasonably cheap with a Raspberry Pi running RoPieee as a Roon endpoint. With this last, you have full flexibility to go as cheap or expensive as you wish, choosing a hat (to get SPDIF into one of the Qute digital inputs) or DAC (to go into one of the Qute analog inputs. This would also allow you to get yourself organized for your plan B in the event that the updated 272 doesn’t float your boat when it arrives, since you will have all the logistics in place to use an analog preamp and combine with your in-house streaming and DAC solution.

This very morning I just resurrected an old NAD receiver for the bedroom system (the Atom has moved to Munich) with a RoPieee / USB DAC solution, and it was a ton of fun and very satisfying to hear streaming music coming out of a box that has been earmarked for de-cluttering / disposal via the good will shop)… the goal is not to succumb to expensive DAC experimentation, but we will see how that goes!

pps - you could also be the first to explore one of the many cheap but effective-looking HDMI/ARC extractor boxes, which connects to your tv and provides an optical or coax SPDIF signal to, say, you Qute; not very expensive, possibly fit for purpose, and a guarantee of Forum Fame ™ if you’re the guy to figure out how to teach an old streaming platform dog yet another cool new trick!

Best wishes for fun times between now and May (and beyond)!

I don’t see how this would improve on just using an optical cable?

The issue was volume control via the tv remote, rather than via the Naim app - this is the main convenience feature of HDMI ARC. I don’t know that anyone has tried the extractor, but if the HDMI line already carried the volume-adjusted digital signal, then the optical out would too… hence the tv remote would control the volume, which is what Roqxide is after (he already uses the optical out from tv to Qute). At least, that’s what I was suggesting is worth trying anyhow.

Regards alan

Are you sure about that? It’s the HDMI ARC interface that is able to bring the Atom out of standby, switch input, and control volume. SPDIF cannot do this.

Hmm… Yes I noticed there were some mysterious black boxes on Amazon that take an HDMI/ARC connection from the TV, but surely they still would have to connect to my Qute through the digital cable and I would still be running into the problem that the optical cable doesn’t carry a volume signal… I think (edit: isn’t that what Chris is saying?), but really I still know so little about it. The only other input appears to be analogue RCA, presumably for attaching one of those old record player thingies that some people still use for some reason best known to them (yeah I know :))… Unless you can do something via the network - Actually you can alter the volume on the Qute by establishing a bluetooth connection from the LG to the Qute, but it is more trouble than it is worth since you have to reconnect every time you use the TV… and then some.

As to Roon - thanks for the suggestion of installing Roon on the NAS. I haven’t had time to look into this yet, except to establish that my QNAP silent NAS may have the capability to run some kind of Roon software. My NAS is much underused anyway, because although I have a large collection of classical and some Jazz FLACs on it, which I ripped from my CD collection, it still has plenty of space - I did buy their top model back in 2015, so I hope it still has the power for a Roon solution. I’d also like to connect with Qobuz (apparently best for classical and jazz compared with Tidal and I’m not too happy with Tidal’s policies) for streaming both on the Qute and on the Muso 1 in my bedroom and I’m not sure whether that is possible, we’ll see. These things can be very difficult to set up.

That TrickieDickie thread was mostly about setting up Asset rather than Roon, unless I’m missing something. Actually, I’ve already come up with a custom scheme not too dissimilar to TDs for indexing my ripped FLACs with Asset and am not particularly keen on editing my whole collection all over again, if I can even remember how I did it :). Really the whole way music, particularly classical is labelled is a mess that needs standardisation - but if Roon is flexible enough with the metadata that could be at least a step in the right direction… I really like the idea of being able to integrate my streaming library with my FLACS on the NAS… just anticipate a lot of struggles ahead and I don’t have a lot of hair left to pull out!?

Thanks for all your help BTW, am definitely getting a better handle on the situation.

No, I’m not… hence the suggestion to give it a try!

Agreed… and I was suggesting that the volume control function would “pass through” the converter to the optical SPDIF output: I was imagining that the HDMI ARC digital audio would already be volume attenuated by the TV, in exactly the same way that the (regular) HDMI audio volume is controlled on the way into your TV by an external device - like when you connect a Mac mini via HDMI to your TV as a monitor for both video and audio, you can still control the volume (coming out of the TV) using the Mac mini.

So you would certainly lose both the wake / power on and input selection features, but might retain the all important volume control via TV remote.

But yes, it’s a guess, (not quite) idle speculation, a theory, a suggestion, an idea to try for someone looking for a workaround and willing to plonk $30 and an afternoon into the experiment! I looked at a few such boxes on Google, but did not delve into the details. Sorry if my suggestion came across as more authoritative than it was intended!

Regards alan

Bit of a misunderstanding there…

You can indeed install Roon Core (ie the server side of the Roon client-server architecture) on some NAS, but they need to be Intel based so check yours for compatibility before going further with that thought. I’d be surprised if your Qnap from 2015 is up to it. But installing Roon Core on any computer in your home network is a prerequisite… but that’s easy and you have a ton of choices.

The hard bit is that your Qute, like the existing 272, is not a Roon Endpoint (the client side of the Roon client-server architecture). So even if you buy a Roon subscription and install the Roon Core somewhere, you can’t stream it to the Qute anyway.

There is, however, something called a Roon Bridge, which converts the Roon stream into a UPnP service … think of this as a “middle man translator” in a client-translator-server architecture if you like. Your Qute (and the 272) is a UPnP client already. @trickydickie details how to install something called LMS (or the like, maybe lmsBridge?) to act as the translator… and this (much simpler thing) can run on your NAS (or on another more powerful computer on your home network, such as the one running the Roon Core if that’s on a Windows/macOS/Linux box). That suggestion was for a “software only” way to get your Qute to seem like a Roon endpoint. Search for the thread on “adding Roon to 272” or the like.

For “hardware” Roon endpoints (there are many…) I was suggesting the cheap solution of adding a Raspberry Pi running RoPieee … and then you have to decide how to go into your Qute from that little computer, which has only a (crappy!) internal DAC with headphones out analog (yuck) and USB out (incompatible with Qute). One way is to use a cheap USB DAC (like a Dragonfly). Another way is to choose a HAT (hardware attached on top) device to provide a digital output you can make use of (ie optical or coax SPDIF for the Qute, but there are others too…). Many people use the Allo DigiOne (and it’s Signature bigger brother), but there are, again, lots to choose from.

Anyway, I’m hoping this is coming across as enthusiastic support for your pre-purchase decision searching… there are many paths in front of you, and they are all interesting to explore since the “new 272” isn’t available to home demo, and since you might not want it anyway when it is!

Regards alan