Where to pull the pin? The Sweet Spot in amplifier upgrades

Hello Forum Members, This is not meant to flame audiophiles. I aspire to be one, one day. Though as a guide for those on more humbler budgets to obtain best bang for our dollar.

I have been going over the specifications for different NAIM amplifier equipment and reading into the sales advertisement bursts for a little while, maybe longer.

I have recently purchased a second hand Linn LP12 Akurate to go with my NAIM XS system. Namely a Nait CD5 XS CD player, a Nait XS 2 integrated amplifier and a Naim Flatcap XS power supply.

At the time I was just wishing to have music back in the home after a 20 year absence due to the number of hours I spent on shift work. Well something broke and it was my wallet and my desire for music back in the home. Out with the third time broken Amber 50B amplifier and in with the Nait XS 2.

I had no idea about the Naim line and the ever progression of upgrading one’s system at the time. The goal was to power my speakers with my MARANTZ CD-85 CD player at the time.

11 years later and after purchasing the Linn LP12 which is yet to be picked up due to COVID-19 in Oz and after being disappointed with the way CD discs end their songs via fading I have wished to go down the vinyl track where the songs in my example are ended correctly with a few bars more rather than the fade out.

Well this has led me to think after my Naim Dealer recommended a possible upgrade being the 202/200DR. There is nothing wrong with that suggestion, though it had me thinking where do I stop on this slope of progression.

  1. My dear wife does not enjoy my choice of music or at least she says so. Therefore the most of the time I am relegated to headphones. No problems, when Shelley is away shopping out come the main loud speakers for that full fat encompassing sound enjoyment.

So I looked at the inevitable upgrade path and this is not based upon hearing though reading between the lines in the sales documentation.

If a SN3 can be upgraded to add a NAP 200 DR. One may assume that the there is not much difference between the NAP202 and the frontend on the SN3. This upgrade allows the SN3 to handle complex loads down to 2 ohms.

Please follow me if however incorrect. My Nait XS 2 is on the border line of head room and handling 8 and 4 ohm impedances of my 84dBSPL speakers. The purchase of a SN3 would now bring it back into safe territory power handling wise of 4 ohm loads.

The 202 appears to not bring much to the argument other than NAP 200 DR. Having a discreet DR regulator and a 2 ohm load impedance handling capability.

The next step up the rung is the 282/250DR. Now here I think we have found a sweet spot. Not only is there a step up in preamplifier. The power amplifier the NAP 250DR has not only the ability to drive 2 ohm loads though also contains the NA009 output transistors. By this I believe we have entered game changer territory. Anything up from this a plus and incremental. Though for achieving sweet spots and bang for your dollar we have two exit points that NAIM owners should feel happy to bail out on and feel well satisfied with their systems and step back and enjoy them without chasing the ever distant mountain peak of money outlays that I and maybe you do not have justifiable reserves for.

To summerise:

Sweet Spot one would be with an XS setup either with an Nait XS 3 or Nait SN3 if your speakers required a more demanding load. With external power supplies. I do not know why the SN3 has provision for one. Though it does and my Flatcap XS will not be wasted.

If you own speakers of a complex impedance then possibly a 282/250DR would be the next exit point. Of course with the associated power supplies.

This not meant to flame and is not based on hearing. It is based on the available NAIM literature on their website about each component. Input connections and power supply options from an electronics technicians point of view with the limited information available. I would love to see circuit diagrams and parts lists.

Yes I could upgrade my Nait XS 2 to a 202/200DR or even a 282/250DR with the sale of my Harley Davidson Motorcycle. Though I think my dear wife would like to claim some of those available proceeds for her garden and I will be happy with my SN3 or whatever is available in that category in six years time.

Warm regards,


Please do not burn me, just my thoughts and jottings. Your situation will most likely differ due to size of room and loud speakers involved.

1 Like

You could keep your present system and look at some new speakers that are a more friendly match.

1 Like

G’day TJ, You do have a very good point. Though a box upgrade maybe easier to get past the home commander. New speakers opens another area all together. I was just hoping to pass my thoughts and pondering onto others whom might be befuddled with all the different selections in amplifiers. Also I love my speakers.

Hi Mitch

What cartridge does the LP12 have ?

My view would be to just go firstly with the Supernait 3. It’s very impressive and has MM phono input. I have one and also the CD5XS ( although gone further with that with nDAC and XPS-2)

I would just keep it simple to start off wth and just see how you go. I reckon you will always get a good trade in price for the SN3 should you go further to the seperate preamp/amp path. Bear in mind if you go the MC cartridge way you will also require perhaps a stageline and napcs ps as a first step

But don’t rush it Mitch




G’day Bevo,

The cartridge is a Lyra Delos MC. I think I jumped in the deep end with this turntable. Now to slowly bring the rest of the systems up to spec as best as I can afford. Thank you for your input. It was meant to be more of a guide to others as I struggled with all the pre-amplifier and amplifier combinations out there by NAIM.

Warm regards,


You certainly have a great TT there as the platform Mitch. You will just love getting back into vinyl as I have over the past few years

All the best on your journey


1 Like

Hi Mitch

On the technical side, I think the DR in the 200DR is for powering the 202 preamp. If, as I would recommend, you add a HiCap DR power supply (and NAPSC) to 200/202, you might be able to save money by buying a used non-DR 200. Also I very much doubt if your FlatCap XS would improve a SN3. I think a HiCap is the minimum PS for a SuperNait and even then, some folk prefer it without a PS.

I am not convinced there is such a thing as a ‘sweet spot’ in absolute terms. Personal taste, lifestyle, funds available, room size and shape all come into play. We’re all different, thank goodness, so one person’s ideal system may be far from best for another. Having said that, a 282/250/HC setup is a great system, but then your CD player might be shown up and need upgrading. I think the suggestion of sticking with your XS setup and changing the speakers has considerable merit, but I find auditioning essential in speaker choice.

Finally, you mention that your wife doesn’t appear to enjoy your music. Could you let her choose some of her own music and perhaps even listen together? You might find that you eventually come to appreciate each other’s musical tastes. Apologies for the marriage guidance counselling.



I believe that many people feel the 282/250 is an all time classic system. 252/250 even better for most folk.
Where in Australia are you? If in Sydney, I highly recommend Harry and Norman York of Audio Genesis.
They (and any decent dealer) should be willing and able to guide you down the right path for you and hopefully, your wife. Trust your own ears!

1 Like

I went from a fc2/112/150 combo to a fc2/202/200 and was under impressed with the cost to sound improvement ratio. I now have a sc/252/250-2 combo and it is a real delight to listen to and worth every penny. I would imagine the 282/250-2 is a real good vfm upgrade from where you are. I’m not so sure about the uplift to a 202/200 and would leapfrog that.

1 Like

You could instead, stop worrying - and buy more music… :thinking:

The upgrade train is endless… But… I have owned a 250 since 1985… :sunglasses:

1 Like

I regard the Nova as the sweet spot in the Naim range at present. Of course you can get better sound but at a huge additional cost. I had a day at the Naim factory and heard a dem which went from Atom to Nova to 272/250 - all driving mega expensive Focal speakers. All sounded good but there was a big jump up from the Atom to the Nova which I thought was worth the extra money (around £2K). There was a noticeable jump up from the Nova to the separates but if I had to quantify it I would say it would be worth between 1 and 2£K to me. Nice but I could and do live without it.
There are two ways to look at it: the separates were about £4k more than the Nova but no way were twice as good; however if £4k is not much money to you then you may have a different opinion about value.
I did have a top end olive system for many years and don’t miss it - I spent a lot of time worrying if it was performing at its best and fiddling with cables and supports etc. I really don’t miss that! Clearly many on this forum enjoy the greater involvement with the set up and value marginal gains much more than I do. No one is right or wrong here - it’s just person preference and priorities. I must say though that these days the price to move up a Naim level is eye watering - roughly double the cost to get a decent uplift!


Hi Mitch,
I think your analysis is pretty much spot on.
The sweet spot for me is the 202/200 with a napsc.
I won’t be going there because the XS set that I own (and yours is near identical) runs it close. The key to the lower end stuff like the XS range (I have just paused and gasped at my description, truly we are talking of first world problems) is to match it with sympathetic speakers IMO. For our purposes, this means around 88dB sensitivity, and possibly a 6 Ohm load without awkward phase angles.



You could buy a sh 272/200 or 250 and add a phonostage…sh 272’s are reasonable…and it is really upgradeable…just a thought…

FWIW… I would trade in your flat cap for a Hi-Cap DR power supply and the Nait XS 2 for the SuperNait 3. A nice uplift in amplification and would support your TT.

Box count stays the same and wife may not even notice. Go to a dealer and listen in their demo room and if you like what you hear then ask for a home demo.

Yes, I am sure the 282/250 would be better but then you may be buying a green house for your wife’s garden as well.

Good luck with your decision and have fun a long the way…


G’day Blythe,

I am in Inverloch Victoria. Two streets north of Bass Strait. Sunny days and freezing to the bone water.

\ :sunglasses:

1 Like

G’day to all Forum Member Responders,

My post was not meant to be a question. Though an evaluation of technology changes between different separate systems, whilst also including my current system. The post was to define at what level which systems actually offer a technological change from a technicians point of view.

At what level do you actually receive a technology change for your money and not an incremental change. This is not meant to be a slight on anyone’s personal choices as I guided in my post that I think the next logical step from a Nait XS2/SN3 would be to jump into the 282/250 if one was to go from a SN3 as an example into the world of separates. This I believe is the next major step on the ladder rung. where technology takes a physical change and not an incremental change by the use of different power supplies and I do not like to use these words, fluff and cosmetics. This is not meant to flame. My post was trying to highlight were one goes from taking baby steps to an adult stride. I am not saying that I can afford a 282/250 which I can not and I would be happy with the 202/200DR. Though possibly bang for buck for myself would be a SN3.

If my dealer would accept my currently owned Naim equipment as a trade in, maybe I could take an incremental change up the ladder to a 202/200DR.

If I were to use a car as a guide. Yes it might be nice to have indicators on the outside mirrors and that is a good move looking forwards to safety which is something that should not be glossed over. Though it is not a physical change as such as going from a four cylinder turbo to a lopping V8. Both get the job done where one is working hard under high pressures and the other just lopes along and more can be asked from it. Possibly a bad example, though this is what came to mind whilst typing,

My post is to help myself and others where major steps on the ladder of upgrades occurs and where one could safely step off knowing that they had actually incremented a step in technology and not a baby step in incremental change. A couple of the forum members understood where I was coming from. As it was meant to be a statement not a question. Though I did have a question mark in the title.

Having written this post it gives me some direction where I know technology wise where I will be happy and satisfied to step off the ladder. Another look could be at the Harley Davidson range of motorcycles. Let us look at the Softail range. The is a base model which is beautiful as they all are though as one heads towards the top of the range the Heritage it has more features and allows for two up riding and all bikes in this range are about the same. Just some have more bling, white wall tyres and etc that do not go to the handling of the motorcycle.

In my case I have the softail deluxe which allows me to incorporate three hard bags for long distance trips, added cruise control, windshield and comes standard with ABS. I could have purchased the Heritage which comes standard with all these features though it was the deluxe that caught my eye and it had an agreeable seat height.

A technological step up would be the touring range though they are too tall in the saddle for my legs. Though are meant to be a better handling bike as wells as softer in the saddle.

Again maybe a bad example.

For me the upgrade if I do choose to go that way. One gentleman pointed out a speaker upgrade and that was thinking outside the box and a very good idea.

Now I have two things to consider:

  1. SN3
  2. Speakers

As a passing interest my wife does not miss out. Her spa is going in next week and she already has a green house. It is that she does not appreciate, Dire Straits, Pink Floyd, Handel and Bach as I do. Though does enjoy seventies and eighties pop rock which is one reason for purchasing the turntable so we both could enjoy our old vinyl.

Trust me, she does not miss out.

Thank you for readying all this. I hope my post was helpful to some as it was for me.

Warm regards,


1 Like

I’d be inclined to look at the speaker first. The Celestions were good speakers in 1982 but there are MUCH better ones now. Alternatively, if you must keep the Celestions and feel your Pre/Power has inadequate power, you could go with a Supernait 3 or a nap250.

1 Like

We have the NaitXS-FlatcapXS-CD5X system. My advice is to find a pair of nSats, with factory stands. Against an outside wall, with the FlatcapXS, the nSats have plenty of bass and are very tuneful speakers. We love ours!

I possibly should have labeled it:

  1. Speakers.
  2. SN3.

I did pick this up when I posted though did not proof read after posting. Family duties happened.

Thank you for pointing this out.

Warm regards,


You could just accept the inevitable and buy the best pair of ear buds you can afford, second hand even. Doesn’t annoy the wife, and you get an amazingly high quality sound for pennies compared to what many here spend on a full hihi system. Which DAC and how to play it? Audioquest off your phone for starters? I’m amazed at just how good buds can sound and how much more you need to spend on a system drving speakers to get the same detail. And if you’re on shift work and nobody’s looking, pop them in at work too. And use them on the Harley you won’t have to sell. It’s not the same as a proper system, but it can be incredibly good.