Would a NAC upgrade affect the HeadLine?

Since the HeadLine’s input passes through the preamp, I am wondering if a NAC upgrade would also be a HeadLine upgrade?

For example: If I upgraded from a NAC 202 to a NAC 282 would there be any change to the HeadLine?

Doubtful. It is just a record out relay. The NAC is not really adding any value to the record out other than convenience. I’d be amazed if there was any audible difference. Maybe if you’re talking about a 552 where the relays are on a damped board but even then, iffy.

Best upgrade would be if you had just one source, to take the NAC out of the picture and have the HL captive lead changed to take line out from a source directly.

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feeling_zen, thank you for your response.

I never considered plugging the HeadLine directly into the source.

My source is the NDX 2. Unfortunately, my HeadLine has a DIN connection and the DIN output on the NDX 2 is connected to my preamp. If my HeadLine had RCA connections I would try connecting it to the NDX 2 directly.

Thanks again!

You’d find an improvement if you upgraded the preamp’s power supply. So it would sound better with a 282/Supercap than a 282/Hicap.

I did that change on my 282 and it made zero difference to the HL. Which didn’t really surprise me as the relays are powered by the NAPSC rather than the HC/SC and a NAC doesn’t do any signal normalisation on the tape out.

@razzzor1963 You’d only want to get the DIN changed to line out if both of the following is true:

  • You only have one source.
  • You only listen to headphones.

Since a source like an NDX will only allow the use of one output type at a time. However, Naim can change the captive lead quite easily if requested. Or you can re-solder the pins to line out yourself if you know what you’re doing.

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I’ve found with headphones on my SN2, that adding power supplies, a Superlumina interconnect from the NDX2 and adding Powerlines on everything have all made significant improvements in headphone performance.

Interestingly enough, it has been reported on the old forum on a few occasions that Headline performance and record out performance improved with a move to a NAC552. As you surmise, it may well be down to the effects of the mass loaded suspended boards.

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Yes almost certainly, though perhaps dependent on how good your headphones are… you will be taking advantage of the NACs line gain and impedance matching, a part of the buffering and optimisation circuitry… essentially a key part of what the NAC is about.
Look at the recording out / headline out as a line level NAC output… I have done and appreciated the benefits in the past with a non Naim headphone amp… it underpins in my mind the versatility of the Naim NACs.


Sorry, I misread the question as relating to the Stageline, which of course can draw power from the preamp and will be affected by the power supply. That will teach me for replying so early in the morning!

The biggest improvement in SQ that I have experienced is the upgrading of power supply to the Headline irrespective of the NAC used. Although running the Headline through a 552 did add a perceived improvement as well.

I’ve powered my Headline at various times from NAPSC, Flatcap & HiCap (all Olives).

The PS hierarchy appears to hold up as much for the Headline as it does for preamps, even though the HL is on the end of 10m interconnect from my 102/82 (Note: no secondary DC power supply lines were harmed by this configuration).

Currently running with the HC into Senn 650s.

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