I started a thread a few weeks back wondering if a SuperCap DR would benefit my SN2, as I had a chance to get the PSU from a good friend at an unbeatable offer. So I went to pick it up to audition it and he springs on me how after so many years he’s decided to go full-on with a different secondary system (all tubes) and streaming platform. He’s owned Naim for as long as I can remember, dating back to Olive.
In addition to the SCDR, he lets me take home his NDX2 and XPS-DR to compare to the ND5 XS2, Chord Qutest and Hynes LPS combo I currently use. He tells me if I like it better he’d sell those at a great price as well. I had my doubts, as I already auditioned the NDX2 at my dealer’s and came away with the ND5 XS2, but…different system and space.
After several days of switching components in and out, then listening to each iteration with source material I’m pretty familiar with, I started doing some math, trying to conjure up ways to make a purchase of at least two of these boxes.
I’ll make this relatively short: I started with the SCDR on the SN2 and discovered that there was a generalized ‘lift’ to the sound, but ultimately for the cost this juice just wasn’t worth the squeeze over the HiCap DR already in the system. As many have predicted, it just didn’t transform anything to a next-level, afford greater insight into the music or provide any of the typical audio accolades (more texture, separation, wider/deeper soundstage, etc.) as I had hoped. I didn’t bother leaving it in for the next phase, as I knew I couldn’t afford all three boxes if I liked the next combo…
After substituting the ND5 XS2/Chord with the NDX2 and XPS-DR, I let it bed-in with some Radio Sputnik for a day and sat down for an evening/night of serious listening. What’s interesting about the comparison when it’s all said and done is that I undoubtedly prefer the Chord presentation, which to me is precisely transparent; each layer of the recording, the musicians, the instruments, the recording venue—they’re all in their own space, clearly delineated and effortless in how each is perceived, yet flow as a whole.
That said, the NDX2/XPS-DR combo did something the Chord/ND5 as transport couldn’t, and that was have this almost analog/vinyl presentation to it. In my system and room, it brings many of the positive aspects I love about the Chord, but with the additional benefit of lending serious ‘weight’ to the sound. This weight is what I love about vinyl, and is an attribute that is difficult to parce when discussing the qualities of digital vs analog to a non-vinyl individual. The Chord sound is very ‘etched’, almost perfectly carved out and allows one to ‘see’ what each part of a musical piece is doing, nearly all at once. When achieving this it lends this sense of airiness and nimblemness to it that is quite pleasing. However, with the Naim boxes, it owns less of this general quality but fills in the ‘airy’ gaps (those spaces between the overall presenatation, for lack of a better description) with an unmistakable ‘weight’ to it that fills the room better; almost envelopes you. It is really quite something—recording after recording, genre after genre.
So I repeated another listening session, then another and decided to sell-off the ND5 XS2/Chord and some other cables and ancillaries that I’ll no longer need in order to fund my latest change. My friend is too kind and offered them up to me at a price I just cannot turn down, and I’ll only really be about $1.2K lighter. I only wish I could keep the SCDR for a future separates upgrade that I’m certain will happen a few years from now. Maybe someday I’ll even be able to afford a Chord Hugo TT & M-Scaler (which I what I’ve always really wanted to try) and add it to the mix. One can dream, but for now I am ecstatic with the NDX2 & XPS-DR. They lend quite a musical experience to an already very good SN2 Integrated. What’s great is that my SN2 and NDX2 are both 2019s, too (with the XPS a 2018)…I’m a nerd that way.
Overall, I am more than pleased with the decision. I could’ve just purchased the NDX2, but the XPS-DR, I felt, is a must at the very least for a machine like this. It just makes the streamer create images that are that much more tangible in a room. I cannot stress this enough. It is a valuable addition to this particular product. If I had to pay full price for a new one, I’d still feel the same about it, but I’d have to forgo it begrudgingly until funds allowed. Unfortunately, it would bother me, though, and would likely compromise my enjoyment. If you don’t compare with vs without, then you’d never know what it lends, but after having the PSU paired, you really see how it vaults an already wonderful streamer into a higher level of the atmosphere compared to where it stands. Thanks all for letting me share the experience!
Here’s my Naim connection: XPS-DR > NDX2 > HiLine > SN2 < HC DR