Which is the best small system with very good DAC?

I need your advice to update my second system (for my desk, in a 20m² room). Right now, it is composed with : musical Fidelity V-DAC II/Myryad Z142/ KEF LS50.
My sources are only digital (85% squeezboxTouch (33%web radio and 66% of Flac CD (16b/44kHz) (still no DSD or very high resolution audio file) ; 15% Computer (Movies and 16b/44kHzFlac with Foobar). I can connect my computer either with usb (like now with the V-DAC II), or via toslink from the soundcard of my computer. I listen 90% with the speaker and 10% with headphone, and I do not like the heaphone sound from the myryad. So I need a true upgrade on this point, event if this is not a lot of time spent in this configuration. (Percentage of time utilisation).
Firstly, I want to update my Dac, and I think seriously to do it with the Dac-V1 (very good USB, good DAC, and good headphone amplifier). I could eventually stay with the DAC-V1+the myryad z142.

Due to budget constraint, I will buy only SH, and maybe quite old, so it will be quite impossible to do some comparative listening, and that’s the first reason I need your advice.
I can only put the boxes on my desk, so I’d like to stay to one big boxe and one little boxe. (I had to confess that I’m tempted by the olive 82/250 with the DAC-V1). As my chair is a little of-center of my 2 speaker, a quick balance setting would be appreciated.

I begin to think about the update when I saw a SH SuperNait1 (DAC/preamp/headphone amp/Amp in one boxe) around 1000€. But by reading about the SN1, I think I should go for Dac-V1+SN2… This solution is a little over budget (more than 3000€, maybe 3500€ ?, it is hard to find a second hand SN2), but, I could eventually buy the dac-V1 this year and the SN2 next year. But every component should be used at it’s best condition (DAC only and headphone amplifier for the DAC-V1, and preamp and amp with the SN2 (with a balance setting). And after I think to go for the Dac-V1+NAP 250.2 (or maybe DR) (around 2600-3000€). Still quite expensive, but this solution let me the possibility to do latter a system with a double 250.2 (or DR after upgrade) (My main system is : SqueezeTouch/nDac/282/250.2). But I am afraid this solution is maybe not the best because of the pre-amp of the dac-V1 will be the limiting element? (too much?) Another solution is the dac-V1+nap 200 (min 2000€) : less ambitious but more homogeneous? Or even more budget friendly : DAC-V1 with an Olive NAP180 (1500€) (on my desk, I don’t care about the mix between Olive and Black). Or the last solution, a SuperUnity? I gain also a true radio (I could connect it to a wall FM plug), less expensive than a combo with the dac-V1 (around 1700€, so half the DAC-V1+SN2 setting), but no balance setting, and just one boxe. How is the headphone and DAC on the SU? I do not really know the last generation of Unity, maybe there is potential good answer also?
My first priority is to gain the most in sound quality, in globally all the case I tried to explain. my second one is not to overspend. So like everybody, I’m looking for the best bang for your buck…
Thank you for your help

In my view it is hard to beat the Chord DACs, from Hugo upwards (possibly Mojo as well, though O haven’t heard it.

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I ran a Unitiqute 2 with Kef LS50 speakers for quite a time and the combination was very good (to my ears) before I embarked on the separates route.For a compact and very versatile system, its good value for money especially as a 2nd system. Later added a Chord Hugo (1) to good effect and without increasing the overall size much and without the need of a rack. The Unitiqute should be available on the used market at sensible money…like the rest of the first generation Uniti products (UnitiLite, SuperUniti etc). In your position I’d be tempted to keep a second system as simple and inexpensive (relative term)’ as possible otherwise it will start challenging your main system for your affection and funds.

The V1 and NAP100 were designed for this situation. I wonder if a 110 or 140 would suit too but then you’d best use NACA5 speaker cable.

If you have freedom of speaker placement a stable image off centre is possible but it can take a bit of faffing about to find the nodes where they will drive the room.

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Not heard the Chords however only read good things about them. I did have the DAC V1 for a while and was extremely impressed with it.

I agree with Yeti, it sounds like the DAC-V1 and a Naim power amp such as the matching NAP100 is the ideal solution to your requirements.

What about one of the older Units products Uniti 2 or SuperUniti just plug speakers in and go these can both be had for under £1,500. I’ve just bought a Uniti 1 with upgraded streaming board so that it now streams up to 24/192 and Tidal has FM and Dab and a CD player all for £600 albeit with a faded screen.
I cannot comment on the headphone amp but it sounds very sweet to me and would better your current set up by a margin. I’ve actually heard a Uniti 2 with your Kefs and it sounded excellent you can also hide a small sub somewhere as all the old Uniti all in ones will take one.

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A good CD player used but only Naim I’m looking for myself …

Something like this perhaps?

Synology NAS drive, mac mini, Naim DAC-V1, NAP140 and PMC DB1i. It has provided 6 years of bomb proof reliability and musical joy. Having recently listened to a Chord Qutest in a Naim system, I’d still choose the DAC-V1 for emotional engagement in the music over the Qutest.

Hope this helps, BF


Thanks for your replies and sensible point. I really like the desk with the DAC-V1+NAP140.
Still not made my decision at 100%, but I do the route either for a SuperUniti (with BT) or a DAC-V1. I will take the first I could find with a good price and good state. The SuperUniti gives everything I need, plus a better radio than webradio (FM+DAB), and stop the path to the naim never ending upgrade ;-). If I go with the DAC-V1, I will probably go for a nap 140/nap 180 or NAP 200. In the past, I had an NAP155XS and wasn’t really conviced by it. I think the NAP 100 is not better than the 155… Will see, and I let you know what I found or choiced.
Thank you

I’ve recently spent a week auditioning a SN2 w/HiCap, a ND5XS2 and Dali Rubicon 2 speakers. It was both a once in a lifetime experience(a whole system audition) and my first time with Naim. Promising as all these elements are, the eureka moment really didn’t come for me until I removed the ND5XS2 from the system and replaced it with my own Chord 2Qute. For me, this combination led me at last to the “sound” that I’d spent the last 10 years chasing, If you’re looking for an ideal SN2 and DAC combination(assuming it’s not too late), don’t overlook the 2Qute in your search. I’ve owned mine for a few years now and the SN2 got something out of it I was never able to achieve with either Krell or Bel Canto amplification previously. Being new to Naim, and PRaT, there’s some kind of magic going on between Chord and Naim that I’ll be happy to spend the next few years chasing.

Have you tried a NDX2 with the SN2? That might give quite a lift? I have this combo on order, but the NDX2 is stuck in Australia enroute to New Zealand.

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That was the original intention, but I’m kind of glad for the happy accident that the SN2 and 2Qute turned out to be. It was just the experience I wanted from HiFi. I actually stayed up until 4am the next morning going through my library, throwing everything I had at the combination. Good recordings, bad ones, you name it. EVERYTHING sounded great. Maybe this is common for Naim, but to finally have the system “disappear” for my ears and keep me in my seat was new for me. Even better, I felt a deep almost physical reaction from the first note onward that I hadn’t experienced in ten years of trying. If this is “PRaT”, I’ll take it.


Boom! If you’re replaying your collection, you’re on a winner. Have fun!

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Fantastic, if a system has that effect, joy in music and the urge to just keep listening, it’s right for you. Enjoy it, And welcome.

Still haven’t buy anything. Just missed an occasion with a chord hugo (v1), but not really fan about the batteries, it is quite expensive to change them if not in DIY.
The “small” combo of my dream is the SN2 + Chord Qutest. It checks all the boxes : very good DAC with the chord, and with the SN2 very good headphone amplifier, pretty good pre-amp (but could be better with a second alim) and very good amp. Still very small, etc… In one word : perfect. But perfection comes very often with high prices… But hard to be found below 4000€ (5500€ with the both new).
In a more affordable system, I was thinking about this following combo : Chord 2Qute + NAC72 + NAP 180. Check all the boxes but the balance and the headphone amplifier. The latter could be add with a Naim Headline (if the Nac 72 have the tape recording card…, the 324 if I’m right). The NAC72 has the reputation to be a very good pre-amp, and could be even better with a HiCap (Better than the SN2 ?). but It has a bigger footprint than the first one. I think this all could be bought for less than 2000€. Still not cheap, but more acceptable, and the sound quality should not be far from the dream combo (even if the personality between black and olive is not the same).

Please correct me if I’m worng: the NAC 72 has some entry capable to accept signal until 7.5V. The Chord (at least the Qutest) can be set to either 1V or 2V or 3V. which setting is providing the better audio quality ? the 3V output from the chord ? the higher the better ?

With a Naim preamp, modern sources are nearly always higher (2V or more) than you really want, and this means that only a very small range of the volume control is usable. I suspect that the 1V level would be best. With the Hugo, having a variable output, most find it best to have it a fair way below full output too.

With the Qutest, I set output at 1v into my 82. I have found this best for volume control in the pre.

Around 1v from my Mojo into the 72 here too.