I recently purchased an XS 3. Much different than my Rega and LFD amps, but much more exciting to listen to.
I’m loving it so much that I can’t believe this is near the bottom of the range of products.
I’ve looked through the forums a bit and people seem to recommend going up to the Supernait 3 and adding on separates from there, but wondering if it makes more sense to add in a NAP 200 or 250 DR or is a better power supply like a flatcap or hicap the next step?
As an interim situation, you can add a 200 or 250. But as a final set up, it’s not ideal, because each pre, at each level, has to be matched with inferior or same level amp level, like 282 with 250 or 200, 202 with 200 or 150. The preamp is very important.
So if you don’t want to upgrade later for a matching pre, better take an SN3 instead.
I have an XS3 and used it standalone initially. Then added a HiCap DR, which I thought was a fairly dramatic improvement. After a period of time I was able to add a 282 using the HiCap DR to power the 282 and the XS3 as the power amp. That was a BIG and POSITIVE change. Next came the 250 DR again BIG change. The XS3 is now in my bedroom system with ProAc Tablette 10s Signatures and sounding great. My primary system has improved massively from the originally XS3 as it should for the money spent. Just be aware that once you start, at least for me, the changes came fast and furiously based on the improvements. Still love the XS3 by itself. It truly is a lovely amp.
The XS3 in itself is a star performer as you recognise. If it were me I’d do as @hungryhalibut says and for the time being enjoy it for what it is. As the other guys have said it would be useful if we could see the rest of your system. Normally people suggest upgrading the pre-amp or source first in which case adding a HC is probably the best way forward at the moment. However, if your speakers are particularly demanding then adding a power amp might be the better way forward.
Yes, you’ll need a PSU upgrade (Flatcap or Hicap) first before you add a power amp on the XS3 (unlike the SN3). As others have mentioned, at this point it may be better to upgrade to a separate preamp and just use the XS3 as a power amp in the interim. If separates don’t appeal then then the SN3 is the place to go.
As HH mentions, the XS3 is a lovely amp on its own so just enjoy it as is for the moment and don’t worry about the upgrade path for a while
That’s really helpful. I your position I’d be sticking with the Nait XS3 and going for an ND5XS2 as your source. It’s a perfect match for the Nait and the pair make for a wonderfully balanced setup. Link by system automation and control the volume from the Naim app. You really shouldn’t even contemplate improving your amplifier until you have a better source in place.
It’s very easy to get caught on an upgrade spiral and never be happy with what you have. It’s perfectly ok to just enjoy what you have. That said, I’d get the ND5XS2 and then stop.
I think that adding a power amp makes the least sense from a system perspective. The Nait XS, in your case the “3”, is a lovely integrated amp. Turning it into something it’s not – the right pre-amp for a NAP – again seems to make little sense.
When would it make sense? If you’ve fully committed to going the separates route and find a great deal on a NAP and don’t want to or cannot afford to do the entire system at once. Thus you could step-wise add a NAP and subsequently trade the Nait towards a pre-amp.
The Nait will show you the benefits of a better digital source. The Bluesound Node can be improved upon; you’ll hear the improvement of improving this source.
I run a XS3, with a variety of sources. Love it. I’ve had dark thoughts about upgrading it too but wonder where that would ultimately lead.
In the meantime I have what I think are a very cost effective set of sources
Well looked after Systemdek
Primare NP5 & Hugo mk1
Importantly I think they suit the XS3, and much further up the amplification ladder I feel I’d need at least one of them significantly upgraded.
I could justify a Supernait 3, on the grounds that it would likely get the most out of all my sources, without mercilessly exposing them. But I don’t think I would try a 282/200/250.
If it was me I would definitely try a separate DAC for your Node. 2nd hand Hugos are c. £500 in the UK, I’m fairly sure that would make a nice difference. Edited to add: If you have NAP200/250 money then of course the ND5 XS2, or 2nd hand NDAC would be good options too.
I’ll echo what’s being said just stick to what you have for the time being.
Probably the hardest thing to do is just be content with what you have. Most of us have been in your exact position and know how hard it is to resist the upgrade bug. You’ll likely upgrade and the path can take many directions but do yourself a favor and postpone the upgrade train for now. In the long run you’ll be happier to get fully accustomed to what you have. The XS3 is really freaking good. I had a XS2 previously and if at the time I knew how important the source and balance is, I’d think long and hard before upgrading. (My previous source and speakers didn’t do me any favors)
It’s the standard premium service - you may be right. With headphones, I could definitely tell the difference between Qobuz hi res and Spotify, but couldn’t do it through my speakers. I should say it’s very subtle to my ears.