Upgrade path

Hi all, first time here and suggested by a friend who is a Naim system owner………

I currently have the following setup: Squeezebox touch → Arcam IRDAC → Linn Kairn pro preamp → Linn LK140 power amp → Harbeth P3ESR speakers.

The speakers are quite recent and all the other stuff I’ve had for 10 years or so. I got the Linn amps second hand and both at least 20 years old now.

Music on a NAS.

It feels like the front end (especially the DAC) is my weak link here, I’m leaning towards replacing the Touch and Dac with a ND5-XS2.

Next step would be to look at the amplification, nowhere near even a shortlist at present.

Two questions really, (1) would getting the ND5-XS2 be a significant upgrade on the Touch/IRDac? And (2) would the ND5-XS2 ‘show up’ my amp setup?
many thanks

  1. Yes, undoubtedly.
  2. Probably. I’m familiar with the LK140, but not really with the Kairn. Both are now kind of long in the tooth, no? They’d be fine unless/until you tried something better, which, to keep things simple, might be a Supernait 3.
  1. yes, very much so, I’ve had the Squeezebox in a similar set up and also the the ND5XS2 - the latter should be a delight
  2. I think the more immediate question is how your LK140 drive the Harbeths (so in my mind it’s more if your new speakers give your amps a harder time and whether the P3s sound to their full potential).

I would never take it for granted that you will prefer one particular DAC over another. The irDAC was very well regarded in its day I would suggest that you listen carefully to the ND5XS2 before committing.

I was never a big fan of Logitech stuff, but it does support a very wide range of streaming services. Make sure that the services you want are properly supported by the Naim streamer, or you may end up having to use workarounds to access them.

Just in case the above seems a bit critical, I think the ND5XS2 is a great streamer and there’s every chance you will like it, but do your homework first.


Thank you bhoyo, yes the Linn kit is getting on a bit, I suppose I’m thinking one step ahead, and must admit the SN3 is looking like a strong ‘possible’ purchase down the road.

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Thanks garcon,

  1. I was kind of thinking the ND5 XS2 would be a step up. The touch was bought as a first foray into computer side of things, it’s great, does its job etc. But I can’t help think I can do better, plus the Touch is ‘old’ in terms of ease of use etc. And as I said i can ‘feel’ the DAC can be improved significantly.
  2. Re the amps, the LK140 drives the Harbeths ok (I think), as I said before, I’m beginning to lean towards a SN3 (or similar).

Something like a Innuos Zen Mini plus say Qutest Dac is in same ball park and could also dispense with NAS.
That said happy owner of ND5XS2 and XS3.
Given your speakers I would say SN3 worth a look too in time.
Demo if you can. Good luck and enjoy.

Thank you Chris for the pointers. Correct in that the IRdac was well thought of at the time as a good entry level DAC, and when I got it I was impressed, however, time and technology moves on and it feels like it’s now a weak link.
Re the streaming, at present, I only use local music and internet radio and nothing like Qobuz etc.

The squeezebox is a decent transport - if you want to go Naim a used Naim dac with the squeeze box would likely be a better solution than a 5xs… I’m not sure a Naim streamer/dac overall though makes sense I a non Naim system versus other options in that price range. The streamer and dac space is pretty crowded not least with great options from Linn if you like the Linn sound.

I loved my Squeezebox and had it with a linear PSU - especially in this way it’s more than a decent source, it’s just that formats and services are performing easier and better with the newer platforms and with an integrated streamer and DAC one can get SQ further optimised.

While far from the only option, I would argue that the ND5XS2 is still very competitive if one uses it fully (i.e. not just as a source) and offers and retains the Naim sound character and interface whatever the rest of the system.

In another thread I described my system and what I thought would be a good upgrade path. The consensus is that ND5XS2 and Nait XS3 is a good way to go (for my
Budget £5k-ish) So will audition soon.
The only thing is I currently use Amazon Unlimited (HD & UHD?) with an Echo dot and 3.5mm to RCA into my Amp
I have no idea if I am actually getting either HD or UHD?
Some music clearly sounds crisper and more detailed than others!
What I really like about this set-up is using Alexa on the Echo to verbally ask for virtually any song or album and most of the time it plays it!! It is rare that I don’t have music playing in the house! Do I have to keep this set up into my new amp or is there an alternative? We have iPads and iPhones with all the usual Alexa, Spotify including HEOS for our second system with a Denon CEOL networked streamer.
What music streaming services will the Naim streamer support? Which is best?
I do have a Naim NS01 music server networked currently connected to the amp via RCA (I’ve been told about the obsolete OS) I have around 500 CDs ripped on it!
Good to hear people’s thoughts!

Thanks for the great advice!
Do you know what is stopping Naim from supporting Amazon music HD ?
Just remembered with the second system CEOL
You can play Amazon music by voice command via the Alexa app! (Just don’t use that very often)

As has been mentioned, the Amazon Music service is not (yet??) supported on Naim streamers.

You may wish to check out the BlueSound Node 2i streamer as an alternative to the ND5SX2, since it has this capability built into BluOS according to their website:

Connect Bluesound to your Amazon Echo with the skill in the Alexa app and use Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant to control Players around the home

I don’t have one but lots of people on the forum seem to like this streamer, which is less costly than the Naim. Some users take the cash savings and add an improved external DAC, so you have some choices and a potential upgrade path if that appeals.

Good luck with whichever route you choose. Knowing the music service you prefer sets some very useful boundaries on what solutions can work for you and are a great way to differentiate between hardware choices.

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Thank you all, after some discussion with my friend I have taken the plunge and got a supernait 3 first. Main reason is it gives me the ability now (without buying a phono stage) to play vinyl. After initial listening I am blown away, I’ll let things settle down and then work out the next stage. Thank you again. :grinning:


Done it !
Went for the Supernait 3 and ND5 XS2
With an OKKI NOKKI vinyl cleaning machine. Part exchanged my Nakamichi’s and Linn Axis to get the price right. Few weeks wait for delivery.


That’s amazing, quick delivery prospects too, keep us posted!

Excellent work both I’m sure you won’t be disappointed :+1::grinning:.

Anyone any thoughts on WiFi or Ethernet using the ND5 XS2?
I only have one Ethernet port in the listening room. NS01 connected to that. Virgin Media Hub-3 is in another room no ports left.
Anyone use splitters or network switches?

I think people successfully use both. Before you start looking at hardwiring it, I’d just connect it wireless and see how you go

WiFi on the 2nd gen. Naim streamers is pretty good if you have a decent home network, so I would try that first.
Adding a switch is the standard way to get more ports if you have run out, so that would be the solution if you choose a wired connection.