I am in the fortunate position to have £15,000 available to spend on upgrades but where is it best to put my money for maximum musical improvements?
My current system is
CD5XS + NAC152XS + NAP155XS
Project 2.9 turntable
Sonus Faber Concerto speakers
My current thinking is
CD5XS + NAC282 + NAP250DR + HC
Rega RP8 + ALPHETA 3 MC + FONO MC + dedicated wall bracket
Quadraspire Q4 EVO rack c/w bamboo shelves
NACA5 x 4m pair speaker cable
Do you think the Concerto’s are good enough for this set-up given they are over 20 years old or would you replace them for, say, PMC 25 23i’s? Another option is to pimp the CD5XS with a DAC-V1 and FCXS or replace the CD player with a non-Naim new one. Any new speakers would have to be suitable for near-wall use (200mm max).
I plan to book an audition at a well-known dealer in Birmingham shortly but would value some opinions beforehand to focus my choices.
Instead of the rega fono, I would consider the Aria; it’s a better stage and would bring more out of the apheta 3 (which is a top end cartridge by anyone’s estimation).
The 282/250 is quite a jump up the amp ladder and will expose weaknesses in the cd5 level player.
Are you more vinyl or cd? as that might swing where the investment goes.
I agree that that the CD5XS will be the weak link in the system.
Whilst the 282/250 is outstanding I would also consider using a Supernait 3 and improving your source choice. i.e. change to something like an NDX2 or CDX2 instead.
Alternatively if you want to stay with a separate pre/power then get a better source now and use it with a 282/HiCap DR retaining the NAP155XS for the time being and consider replacing that at a later date.
I am probably 75% CD and 25% vinyl although I buy more vinyl these days. I am really looking for an endgame upgrade overall.
I have those exact electronics, and a FCXS
If you wanted to keep your existing CD player then I think the addition of a FCXS (on the CD player and upgrade 1 of the preamp) and the replacement of your NAP155XS by a NAP200DR could be excellent with your existing speakers. It would also give you a bit more to choose from if you wanted to go for different speakers in the end.
I agree with the others that a better digital source would be required were you to head towards a NAC282/HCDR/NAP250 etc.
I would avoid the Fono MC. I had one and it wasn’t as good as my old Trichord Dino Mk1.
The P8/Apheta 3 is wonderful.
I thought that might be the case tbh. Worth paying extra for the Aria to fully appreciate the quality of the RP8.
Yes, an Aria or various other good choices at a similar price point.
I ended up with a deal on an ex-demo Trichord Diablo and NCPSU that I couldn’t resist.
The CD5XS would be hopelessly out of its depth in the the company of a 282/250. If you want to stay with CD I’d suggest a nice used CDS3 with XPS2. The player is still fully serviceable and I’d say it’s the best CDP Naim ever made. That would cost under £4,000 and match well with a 282/250. Alternatively you might be happy as Larry with a Supernait 3 for under half the price.
The Planar 8 is great, and if you go with the SN3 you can stick a good MM on the P8 and plug it straight in. Don’t get carried away with the amplification - it’s the quality of the source that you should focus on.
As to speakers, who knows? They are so personal. You’ve just got to try some, ensuring that you end up with your favourites at home for a week of two.
Just thinking about the SN3 (quite like the option of headphone connection without an extra box) can it run with both a NAP200 and a HC? Is anyone running with this combo? Also I assume the onboard phono stage can be bypassed and the external Rega Aria connected instead? Sorry if the answers seem obvious to most of you!
You could run it with Hicap and a power amp but why would you? You may as well get a preamp in the first place and would be wasting the excellent power amp half of the SN3. You can connect an Aria is you wish.
Rather than speculate further, I suggest you book a dem with your dealer - and just listen to options. That’s what your Naim dealer is there for.
And - I would not look to do this change in a single step. Take your time. Change things gradually. Enjoy the improvement journey…!!!
Another stupid question; can I use a FCXS to power both my CD5XS and the SN3? I could try this as a starting point and then try adding my existing 155XS to compare it to the onboard power amp. I can try a HC to power the SN3 at a later date if I feel the improvement justifies the cost.
My understand of the FlatCap is that it CAN power 2 devices - no other Naim PS can. I thinks its therefore likely.
Whether this is a good option, only listening will tell you. You dealer is available…
CD Player, yes.
SN3, it’s doable but the forum lore is to use HCDR or better.
You’ll find the inbuilt DR power supply in the SN3 to be better than a flatcap. The 155 power amp is less powerful and would very likely be worse.
Rather than asking ever more ‘stupid’ questions, you’d do well to study the details of the various boxes on the Naim website and read the manuals. Then, equipped with the knowledge of what does what and what matches what, you can try preferred options at your dealer, as has been suggested. Otherwise, you are just floundering around looking at increasingly bizarre options.
You are correct; I think I am underestimating the quality of the individual elements inside the SN3 as it seems to offer so much in one box. I am sure once I hear one I will realise just how good it is.
Please - make a plan to get to listen to some options, at a dealer (or dealers) of your choice. Otherwise… you could end up with an expensive mess.
How to eat an Elephant…? In bite size chunks…
It might be worth adding: don’t get too stuck on the idea of a Supernait just because it was mentioned above. I have one having had bigger Naim systems in the past. It’s very very good but a 282/250 is better. It’s all about what you want and can afford. If you go with used equipment an NDX2 or CDX2, 282, HCDR and 250DR is within budget, and a P8 too. But you’d also need a phono stage. That’s what the dealer demo does - lets you decide whether a 282/250 is worth thousands more. So keep an open mind and take your time. I’d probably start by getting really good front ends and then turning to the amplification. You may be perfectly happy with your 152/155, which is already very good. It may be the time to consider streaming as an alternative to CD.