Which set of electronics?

Hello all,
Quick inquiry to the collective knowledge pool for the most coherent choice between 2 scenarios…Would appreciate your insight.

Speakers are Focal Sopra 1 (finicky yes, but excellent with Naim) and source is ND5XS2 (feb by roon, Qobuz, fiber Ethernet).

Option 1: SN3 + HCDR + NDX2
Option 2: 282 + 250DR + HCDR (upgrade source or external DAC later)

I am leaning toward option 2 and would have trouble criticism the ND5XS2 in terms of SQ, but I’ve never heard an NDX2.

Just trying to avoid making a costly and frustrating mistake.
Thank you for your feedback.
Brgds.

I hope you can demo both options so you can compare the sound quality preferences vs cost. Looking at your profile it seems option 1 is essentially just a source upgrade as you already have the sn3 and hicap is that right? In that case id compare adding an external dac vs ndx2 as there are mixed views as to which is better. As long as the sn3 isn’t lacking general wisdom is to upgrade your source 1st then look at doing the 282/250dr swap possibly in 2 stages as funds allow. of course your view on this might change depending on the sort of deal you could get on either option

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I’m sure someone will quickly advise you, such expensive speakers need similar level source and amps.

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Hi, thanks. I should update the profile, no longer have any Naim except for the ND5XS2. But, I do miss the Naim punch and PRaT in my room and with my speakers, hence the idea to return to Naim. I am hoping that separating the amplification units will be largely superior to the SN2 and/or SN3, which on paper atleast, would seem logical.

I haven’t tried the 280/hicap/250dr combo but lots of people seem to consider it a step above the sn3. I think its a case of demo if possible and consider if sq increase is worth the increased cost. Also think about if you would constantly be thinking about the what if of upgrading if you were to go for the sn3.

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I have Option 2 exactly, with the ND5 XS2 routing via M Scaler/Qutest and it sounds - fabulous!

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Thanks. Frankly, the ND5XS2 is a good unit and it’s always been stable and reliable. Your option to use it as transport feeding and external DAC seems like and easier upgrade path then going for the NDX2. Are the pots on your 282 perfectly balanced…?

I should hope so - it’s only a month old!

Plus, buying an NDX2 is like putting a SuperCap on your 282 - you’re really only paving the way for the next upgrade (XPSDR/555PS or 252), but with no change - in this instance - to the streaming quality. Holding on to the ND5 gives you multiple DAC options, if that’s your intention, while the added expense of the NDX2 would surely limit that?

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Both will be great as has been said there’s only one way to find out for yourself.

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If you were planning to buy new, can I suggest eBay instead? these are all very popular (i.e common) boxes.

An NDX2 for £3500 or so is a chunky saving versus new. It is better than a naked ND5XS2 - I have both in different systems. If selling the ND5XS2, the net cost would be around £1500.

The alternative source upgrade of adding (for example- an n-DAC to the ND5 XS2 is also an eBay job. Opinions differ on whether that matches/ exceeds a naked NDX2 - it’s fine line, but the net cost of those two source options is pretty similar.

You can find 282, 250DR and HCDR in the same places. A 250DR can probably be found for £2500 and HCDR for rather under £1000. 282s look rare atm, but go for £2000-£3500, depending on age. An SN3 looks to be worth very roughly £2500 now.

If forced to pick, I’d usually say Source First, but the 282/250 is probably a bigger upgrade (even if adding HCDR to the SN3) than naked ND5 XS2 to naked NDX2. That means I lean to option 2 if forced to pick, and that’s a testament to the ND5 XS2 as a bit of a bargain.

On the other hand, given the sums involved and the speakers you have, I reckon you will be probably back soon & doing whichever upgrade you don’t do this time. If that looks plausible to you too, I’d just suggest you hit the auction site, make offers, and accumulate the new boxes in whichever order bargains can be found.

I’d also agree with @Stilts that an NDX2 benefits from an external PS (not a DAC) if that becomes affordable, but then so do just about all Naim boxes so we shouldn’t be surprised. The existence of an upgrade path does not make it mandatory but is also not a bad thing in itself.

There’s wriggle room on all those numbers of course, depending on luck and patience.

Is that any help?

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I would go with the SN3 + HCDR + NDX2 for now.

Down the road add a NAC 282, then trade in/sell the SN 3 towards a 250 DR. Then when ready add the XPS DR to the NDX 2.

Either way you go, enjoy the journey…

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If you can afford to buy the better stuff thats what I’d suggest. It’ll cost less in the long run and you’ll be happier in the short run. Always costs less to get it right on the first go round

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Not sure. Ndx2 first, then Xpsdr, then 555 dr. Oh ! I have a 555 dr, why not trade now my Ndx2 to get an Nd555 ? :joy::joy::chicken:

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I think a bare 202 with 200 or 250 (non dr) offers better sq than sn3- the 202/200 are often overlooked but are great amps and are super value as can be had for £1300 for both & the 202 may be upgraded with napsc and hi cap ps, if u have ample cash the dr nap200 with 202 may offer all u want and are a step up on the sn3, or of course the 282/250 is quite a step up on the sn3… regarding streaming the nd5xs2 has same transport as ndx2 whilst a used nDac would have the nd5xs2 punching well above the ndx2… less money can be more and buying pre and power offers way more flexibility for future dabbling and IMO better sq over the sn3

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Thank you, Nick. Very useful take on the subject, much appreciated.

My point exactly! Sticking with the ND5 severs that upgrade route. OP already has the same world-class streaming board that is common to all 3 models allowing the potential for multiple - newer generation - DAC choices and/or improvements to signal noise etc. The NDX2 route will almost inevitably lead to a desire to scratch the upgrade itch. I’m not belittling it as a choice - God knows, there are many here who’ve done exactly that and love the result, but those same people will likely remark - if OP gets a NDX2 - that not only is a power supply needed, OP really should be considering a 252… And so it starts again!

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Indeed, at my age I’m attempting to jump off the upgrade roller coaster nightmare and just settle down for a few years and enjoy the music. I am currently thinking that the ND5XS2 is “good enough” for my hi-res files and streaming Qobuz through Roon. I am not looking for more detail or resolution, especially with the Sopra’s beryllium tweeters, and the sheer musicality of the ND5 is very enjoyable. Afterwards, I could always upgrade or just add an external R2R DAC or maybe the replacement of the Qutest. For the moment, I want to get the amplification to a satisfactory level. Thanks for the comments/suggestions.

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Excellent advice, thanks.

Having had all the kit you’re talking about with the exception of the SN3 (I had SN2), I’d normally say go NDX2. HOWEVER, given your speakers I think I’d actually say 282/HCDR/250DR is the way to go. A good friend of mine has those speakers with a 250DR, having recently upgraded from a 200, and they really appreciate the extra grunt. The ND5XS2 is excellent and certainly wouldn’t be out of place in that system, but it could be upgraded (several routes) if you so please. Basically what I’m saying is that I found the jump from SN2 to 282/HC/250 to be larger than the jump from ND5XS2 to NDX2 (although that was significant), and with your speakers I think the amp upgrade would be even more pronounced. Do try and demo the options if you can though!

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