XS3 to SN3 to Separates

For anyone that’s done this upgrade path how much better was it when you arrived at separates? What were the biggest changes you noticed from the upgrade aside from the lightening of your wallet :slight_smile:

I really like the XS3 for the few months I’ve had it, but I’ve got $2k bookshelf speakers (Gato Audio) so this really makes me wonder if there’s more to be gained from source (currently a Bluesound Node 2021), speakers (ProAc, PMC, Dynaudio) or new integrated to eventually separates. I don’t have a lot of room for large floorstanders, but for any speakers eventually the price would be under $10k max.

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I’ve done the long Naim road from NaitXS2 to SN2 ultimately to 500’s.

Each system was musical and enjoyable in its own right. 100%

Speaker matching is often overlooked and the simple truth is that your XS3 with the right speakers can fill a room with music just fine. I dont know your current speakers.

These amps are absolutely capable of revealing the benefits of better source components. I’ve not heard a Node. If you can borrow a Naim streamer you should take a listen.

How important is Roon integration and/or online streaming integration (Qobuz etc) to you? If it’s not, you could surely find a used previous-generation Naim streamer (NDX) at a very favorable price.


I used to think digital sources were much of a muchness until I got a Rega DAC and it has totally blown my socks off, unbelievable difference. Maybe upgrade to a decent DAC.

Also floorstanders can work in a smallish room. I’m using a Allaes at the moment in a 3.5m x 3m room and they sound awesome.

Main reason why I chipped in though is that I’m using a Rega Elex-r which sounds really great but am thinking of going back to Naim amps poss XS3 or SN2. Last Naim I had was a 72/Hi/140 system back in the early noughties.

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Without getting into possible alternatives to speakers, sources, etc., the jump from one Integrated to a better one to mid-to-high-end separates is, IMO, very drastic.

I’ve made the Naim journey over the years (separates prior to this, but I’ll leave those out) from a
5i—>XS2—>SN2—>NAC 282/NAP 250, each one with a PSU in the chain, save for the 5i, which did not wow me in the least when I had it. Moving to the XS2 was a revelation in its own right. I still to this day own it, but remember at the time how much it changed my view of music-listening through a solid-state Integrated. I then picked up a new SN2, and that also reaped massive rewards over its predecessor. I enjoyed that very much with each listening session until a recent move to the separates, adding a second HiCap-DR as well.

Each ‘upgrade’ prior to the separates was obvious to me, but in a very one-dimensional kind of way; in a hi-fi way, but it always left me wanting more. There were simply aspects to the music and instruments that were improved in some areas but lacking in others. The balance just couldn’t be had, enjoyable as it was. With the 282/250, I am astounded by the realism, weight, separation, timbre, focus and dimensionality present in pretty much every recording and genre I’ve thrown at them. The space/soundstage just fills the room when applicable, rather than just an annular area between the speakers and every so often falls outside them, in essence ruining the illusion of realism to a detrimental degree. Tough to reproduce sounds like piano and electric or upright bass strings are absolutely incredible; kick drum and the striking of skin on the snare just punches you in the breastplate; complex music mixes are so much more easily sorted out to the point that music I used to avoid or rarely listened to no matter how much I historically loved them don’t seem to break much of a sweat here, either. I’ve mentioned it before, but even my speakers have benefitted from the combination. They have such rhythm, drive, delicacy when called for and focus…like tenfold from what they were doing before. Some have said quite accurately that music now feels detached from the speakers, owning their own relative spaces. The 282/250 seem to have really brought about the best of a newfound ability in everything connected to them.

I’m attempting not to make this sound like hyperbole, because everything I’ve experienced since adding them to my listening room is true. I just didn’t know how much of a difference they would make in reality. Because, quite honestly, nearly every upgrade I’ve gone through has reared some kind of ugly letdown, leading to fatigue, frustration, boredom or wonder. I let go of those when I got my speakers, but knew they could do better. This latest combo is in the same realm, and it’s quite a feeling. Sure, I may wonder what a 252/SC/300 combo might bring, but it’s honestly something I’ve not thought about in the least. Maybe someday. Who knows? And right now I don’t care.

Good Integrated to better Integrated to better separates is entirely worth it.


I can’t answer the specifics of your question but when I went from a NAIT XS to a NAC152XS and NAP155XS, I lost the puppyfat. This was desirable.

XS 2 to SN 2 to SN 2 w/HiCapDR to SN 2 with NAC 282 w/HiCapDR then to NAC 250 DR with NAC 282 w/HiCapDR.

An improvement with each update which you would expect with the cost of each upgrade. The biggest impact was when I added the NAC 282 to the SN 2 which was a huge improvement in the sound quality of the music. My ears, my system, my room…


I’ve heard this before with the 282 - this would be the bigger upgrade than the 250 DR.

Part of me wonders if the future won’t just be more improved integrated amps - XS4/SN4 or is a HiCap to a 282 on an XS3 a legitimate upgrade over the next year or two

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I’ve followed a similar path, but with a 252 (used) fronting a SN2 as a power amp, and then later adding a new 250 - so now 252/250.

I found that the 252 brought all the musical refinements of detail, soundstage, depth etc even with the SN2 as a power amp. But the 250 greatly improved on the delivery, drive and scale of the music.

If the end, if you are after separates, I don’t think the order is too important, but try to do it in as few steps as possible.

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That’s interesting to hear. Seems like such a mixed bag on here with the HiCap upgrade. I have heard Flatcap xs is ok, but sort of a stop to further upgrading.

I started the Naim journey with a XS + CD5i2 + Spendor S8e. Moved forward to Supernait (1) + HiCap HR, CD5XS + Flatcap XS, all the way to the current 272 + 555 DR + 250 DR + Focal 1028 + Rel T9i + Superlumina full.
I’d say that the most impactful were 250 DR, Focal 1028, Rel T9i, 555 DR and Superlumina (both IC and speaker). Not necessarily in this order, but each one brought tangible improvements when added. The biggest (and last) one was the 555 DR, but the system was already good enough to hear the major difference vs the XPS DR it replaced.
There’s little to no comparison between the system I started with and the current one. Hopefully is should be like that, given the cost difference.

Used one of these with sn3 with great results in second system (nSats) for a few months. Enormous step up from previous unitiqute and later Atom (as of course it should be). The mconnect app on my phone enabled me to get Qobuz running through it

I found the 282 to be a huge improvement when adding to the SN2. That was my experience, others have added a 250 DR while using the preamp section of the integrated amp and reported positive findings. If you are considering going the separate route and are considering buying previous owned models you may be open to purchasing the first one that becomes available.

Hopefully you have a dealer close by who can loan you a 282 for a week to use with your SN 2 and then a 250 DR for a week and have a home demo then decide which would work best in you setting if you are going to move forward in separate steps.

Good luck with your decision and have fun along the way!

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I have just upgraded from my first Naim, a Superuniti, to a Naim DAC, a Supernait 3 and an NDX 2 (the DAC eBay, the SN3 ex-demo; and the NDX 2 second-hand, but mint - so the overall lightening of the wallet was considerably less than it could have been!).

The SU was great and really sold me on Naim, but the new separates give me greater flexibility as well as better sound quality.

The next stage would be a separate power supply(ies) or a 250DR power amp, but fortunately I am constrained by lack of space on the rack :smiley:

For now…

I sold my 250s and active SBLs and now am happier with my XS2. The biggest bang for the buck is not the speakers, amps and preamp, its the source.

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And your source is ……?

Similarly to @seakayaker it was the 282 that really showed me what modern separates (it had been many years since my 32/250) could bring to my music enjoyment. More so than the 250DR that came a few months later, very good though that was.

(The 300DR was for me the big step up in terms of power amps.)

But the 282…I still remember the (very pleasant!) shock when I first played it. Layers in the music opened up and, to use an old cliché, I found myself playing damn near every record I owned.

And a while later, a nicely priced 2019 252 hove into view, and of course…but the 282 will live long in my memory.


Naim CDS3 player


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