Using an XS3 as a power amp

Hi All,

Recently joined the NAIM club with a Qb2 to dip my toe in the water and am now keen to swim.

I am eyeing an XS3 but it would potentially be used in power amp mode only in the distant future.
With that in mind, I was wondering if anyone had experience of hooking up the XS3 in this way with a non-NAIM preamp?

Specifically, I am concerned about the 24V DC power supply output carried by the power amp in-socket (intended for Naim preamplifiers that require an external power supply).

If I am connecting a non-NAIM preamp (using a RCA - DIN connector) would this power supply cause problems with the preamp?

Any experiences would be really appreciated as I could not find much using the ‘search’ function.

Thank you

Provided the cable is correctly wired at the DIN end you should be fine. If not though you may cause damage so be careful.

Thank you very much for the quick reply.
I’m really pleased that this is a possibility.

A follow-up question:

  • Does NAIM have any recommendations on suppliers of this sort of RCA-DIN cable?
  • If not, what should I be checking to ensure a cable is correctly wired at the DIN end?

Thank you

Naim may be able to supply one, otherwise Chord cable co.

Thank you very much - that’s very useful.
Really appreciate your help with this as I had been trying to find an answer for a while.

Not sure whether this would be the best use of the XS3…

Also, perceived wisdom tells us that much of the Naim sound signature comes from the pre-amp.

Maybe look elsewhere if it is the plan to only use a fraction of this lovely integrated amp?

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Point taken, thank you :+1:

I would get the XS3 with the primary intention to use it as an integrated amp.
But having that degree of flexibility if things changed in the distant future gives me a little more confidence in going ahead with the initial purchase.

Thinking about the longer-term, you might want to fatten the piggy bank a bit longer and go for a Supernait 3 instead. Both the XS3 and SN3 pre can be improved by adding a Hicap DR — a nice little addition. I used one with my SN2.

Depending on your location you might want to consider used gear — the SN2 is a bit of a bargain these days.

To give another perspective, as is the XS2, only a couple of hundred more than a NAIT 5i/si. Compared to a new XS3, you’d save a bunch of cash that could go on source upgrades, or music. And still retain the pre/power flexibility.

But if the OP is considering a separate power amp down the line, the DR powered SN2 pre section likely out performs the XS pre stage. Anyway, options :slight_smile:

Must admit that it hadn’t crossed my mind to go down the ‘used’ route but all this has given me a lot to think about - especially as I am planning on new speakers too and had been considering how best to use my budget to avoid having to upgrade either the amp or speakers in the short/mid-term.

I’m based in the UK so suspect used Naim equipment may be a little easier to source than elsewhere.

Thank you for the comments and suggestions - I should know by now that things are never as straightforward as initially expected :slightly_smiling_face:

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Never underestimate the capacity of this forum to invent new and unusual ways to spend other people’s hard earned :slight_smile:

Good luck with the decision making!


Well, then getting a beautiful, used SN2 for considerably less than a new XS3 isn’t too much of challenge — no brainer if you ask me…

For the same price or less as a SN2 or a XS3 you could probably get used Nac152/Nap155xs pre power combo which will sound just as good or better and then you can upgraded the pre to whatever and just keep the Naim power amp… if you need a phono stage even adding a used stageline to this combo is still cheaper than an XS3…

Anyone correct me if I am wrong, but if the XS3’s AV bypass mode is used, shouldn’t the XS3 act like a power amp? In effect a pre-amp’s output is connected to the XS3’s AV input with the bypass turned ON?

Yes, correct. Alternatively, you could use the XS3 in AV bypass mode with a non-Naim pre-amp. However, in this mode the pre-amp will still be powered, so there’s likely some performance gain to be had by disabling power to the pre-amp.

Why not just use the NAIT XS 3 as is? By all accounts it’s a fabulous amplifier and has won numerous awards for it’s performance alone. Either that or just go for a pre-power to start with. Why upset things? :thinking:


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