i know this topic has been partially covered before but I wanted to bring it up and discuss it under another slightly different perspectives.
I am looking to upgrade from a Uniti-Star to a 2 box system. My dealer has a used NDX2 with about 40% discount so I was interested to demo it with the SN3 to compare it to the Star. The NDX2 even comes with about 4 years of warranty.
First I have to say that the Star sounded really amazing and even after going to the SN3/NDX2 combo, I didn’t feel an immediate improvement. I was listening too hard for single characteristics and overlooked the overall presentation, which is what the SN3 seemed to do quite differently than the Star. Going back and forth during certain tracks made the differences quite clear but also I would not call it night and day as some people in this group describe rather small differences in sound. But the difference is subtantial enough to make me want to upgrade.
The KEF R3 speakers were the same I use at home so I am familiar with their sound and presentation. Cables were NACA5 and regular Naim power cables.
If money wasn’t a consideration the obvious path would be to sell the Star and go for the SN3/NDX2 Combo. But as funds are limited several other options came to mind and I would love to hear your thoughts about it. The problem is that the used NDX2 will probably be sold pretty quickly, and NDX2 upgrade for the retail price is out of the question.
Here are my thoughts:
- get the NDX2 now, and get a used XS2 for a year or so until funds are available to upgrade to a SN3. I gave up the idea of a used SN2 because what I look for in sound change is exactly what most people refer to when describing the differences between SN2/SN3. Also worth noticing is the 2 box limit, so a power supply upgrade for the NDX2 is out of the question.
- ditch the idea of the NDX2 altogether, save for a SN3, hook it up to the Star and use it as a streamer. Next step would be to replace the Star later on with a streamer (maybe another used NDX2) or the upcoming pre-amp streamer everybody is waiting for. I bought the Star for less than a new ND5XS2 so maybe the idea of keeping it as a streamer for some time is not too bad. Especially since I use it’s CD/Server functionality.
Hope this discussion could also be helpful for others who are looking to upgrade within a reasonable budget. Looking forward for your thoughts or alternative solutions I may have overlooked.
If you want an ndx2 and you’ve found one at a good price, then I’d buy it. Run it with your star. Replace star whenever. I wouldn’t get a temp amp if you can manage to own both the ndx2 and the star ie the star value isn’t needed to buy the ndx2.
Interesting thought, but i expect that the most obvious sonic improvement would come from a better amplifer. In case of getting the NDX2 now would mean using it for a year as an improved DAC/Streamer only. Maybe it makes sense, but my wife will ask why i have added this box with a second screen to my system
I would agree with Robert too. Carpe Diem!
I would keep Star and add nap 250
I suppose the preamp section of the Star will be the bottleneck then. Of course this would make sense if Naim would release a preamp/streamer following the 272, but nobody knows. Otherwise this would make 3 boxes in a classic setup.
I have uniti Nova with exposure 3010s2 power amp (small difference compared to nap 250, even my exposure sounds better for me) and it sounds really good. I didn’t notice much difference between the Naim separations (3 devices) and my combination.
As a purist and especially with Naim I like to stick with the brand as i feel that is how Naim designed their gear.
Then buy the amplifier. If you are strict on a 2 box Naim system then you’re going to either buy the ndx2 or the sn, and use half the star until you find and buy the other box.
Or left field - get one of the remaining 272s and a 250.
Surely a 3 box system because I presume you’ll want a CD player/transport to replace the Star’s CD facility?
Not necesserely - i can rip my whole cd collection with the Star and be happy streaming it later on.
I fully understand to catch an opportunity when it is there. (System you want at a good price and still 80% of warranty time. Sounds a good deal.)
But for my understanding: how would pairing the NDX2 and the Star bring benefit beyond using the Star alone?
If you use the DAC section in the NDX2, it feeds into analog-in on the Star and - to my understanding - the analog input on the new Units goes through ADC-DAC chain. (To allow streaming the analog input through multi-room function.)
If you use the digital-out of the NDX2 (the streamers have that, right?) and digital-in on the Star, you essentially have moved the streaming to the NDX2, but use everything from DAC onward on the Star. Understanding discussions on the forum, you might benefit from “offloading” the Star from the streaming part - but some benefit between streamer and DAC within the NDX2 might be lost, since it traverses between the units and through the input section of the Star.
(Can the NDX2 feed the Star via multi-room option? Just a thought.)
(I ask, because I myself would be more inclined to put the NDX2 into storage, until I have another amp. Strange enough thought. )
That’s the problem with building up a system in stages; at some point you have a perhaps non ideal system. Would you pass up a deal on an ndx2 because the amp you want isn’t ? I can’t really answer, that’s up to the individual to decide.
If it were me, I’d be talking to a friendly dealer to see what can be done to get me to my end goal system.
Storage won’t make it last longer and would probably offset the saving as the device gets nearer the end of its product cycle - even if it is currently at the beginning
Won’t your dealer take star in on trade? If so buy the ndx2 and trade star in and get sn3
I, myself, would upgrade the amp section to an SN3 or SN2. Some members find there’s a big difference between the SN2/SN3, some members find there’s very little difference, and some members prefer the SN2.
I have no opinion on this, because I have yet to compare the two. The phono is not thing for me as I am not currently playing vinyl, and when I do, I’ll be buying an outboard phono stage.
The Star will sound great thru either integrated (I run an NDS thru mine), and the Star has all the new digital tech so there’s no rush. Rushing for the NDX2 is also not a good situation.
Best of luck.
@Mike_S has both the SN2/NDX2 combo and a Nova. I have a Nova and listened to a SN3/NDX2 (bare) combo and decided that the difference was not big enough for me to warrant the cost. I also listened to the Star and felt the Nova was a big enough jump over the Star to warrant the cost!
My vote would be to try a Nova and an EE switch with a Melco (2 boxes) The music my system makes is fantastic and while different in terms of presentation to my 500 system it is not second best its independently fantastic. The EE switch really made a difference to the Nova. I am going from memory but I would say it closes the gap even further. The thing with the NDX2 and SN3 are that they are both geared up to take advantage of an external power supply and then you have the interconnect upgrade… SL makes a big difference the support makes a big difference… The Nova can be placed on a regular surface without much thought.
Anyway just some thoughts.
that is what i feel is the most sensible way to go. No rush here. I will probably wait for a couple of months until there is a good deal on a SN3.
Another question coming to mind: would hooking up the SN3 to the Star use both the amp and preamp section of the SN3 or just the power amplifier part? Is it possible to try both?
You can only use the pre-amp output of the Star and then run the SN as a power amp only. The main benefit, I think, would be adding the NDX2 to the SN - as you demoed.