Tuner Nat 05 versus Nat 05 XS

I understand this has been discussed before, and yet the topic was closed.  For that reason, I am restarting this discussion on Nat 05 Tuner.

I recently bought a used Nat 05 Tuner, and I have been extremely happy about it because it has exceeded my expectation big time.  I never thought radio can sound this good.  That said, I am curious to know how much better the Nat 05 XS is.

It's always not possible to accurately quantify outperformance given hardware combination variations, but can someone who own both please give me an estimate?  Other things being constant,  if Nat 05 is a "7" on a scale from 1 to 10. 

Nat 05 XS / HC = ?

Nat 05 XS / SC = ?

many thanks in advance.

Original Post

Well I've never heard an O5 XS but the very original O5s (like mine)  had a Phillips head as opposed to the Sanyo configuration which I understand is used now and I have on authority that the original is a better performer over the later models.  But as for adding an HC or SC on the XS I wonder if anyone has ever tried?

Regards,

Lindsay

When I had an 05, I was tempted by the new product and a chance to add an external PS (hicap and supercap would work BTW). I spoke to my dealer at the time about upgrading to the 05 XS but he said the difference was hardly noticeable and not worth the expense. If I really wanted an improvement, look for an 02 or 01.

I found an 02 for my friend and that was a major step up from the 05. But I finally got my 01 and that's where the true magic lies with FM radio - stunning. It is my best source. It plays music in a beguiling manner like nobody's business.

Arun

Interesting - thanks for the 01 recommendation.  I never thought such an old model would beat the lastest Nat 05 XS with PS on.

Found the followings from the previous discussion, which is quite a differenct opinion. 

So now group A  = 01>02 > 05 and  Group B = 05XS > 05 from two different group of users.

Looks like my Nat 05 is the worst product in the hierarchy - lol.

 

"

To answer the original question, I've had all four products mentioned (Flatcaps 2 (and 2x) and XS, NAT05 (both matt and shiny!!) and NAT05XS.

 

My feelings are: 

a) the NAT05XS is far superior to the NAT05 and

b) I didn't gain much by connecting the FlatcapXS but

c) quality interconnects made a big difference.

"

The Strat (Fender) posted:

For clarification later 05s used an ALPS head.   I think I read that the 05XS used a Sanyo head but I wonder if that is true or perhaps confuse with something else I read.

what other brand of tuner also employ this ALPS head ?  are they very expensive ?  Anyone here own it ?  please share your experiences - thanks.

To clarify the tuner head issue: the very early NAT-05 had a Philips tuner head.  When the Philips became hard to source, the NAT05 was redesigned around an ALPS tuner head.    The easy check for the 05 users is how the “pre-set” LED on the tuner display behaves,  it will illuminate with the Philips head,  but although the pre-set LED is still on the display, it will not illuminate with the ALPS head.

 

Chag... posted:
PTCM posted:

Chag,

NAT05 XS/SCDR = 11 (HL and PL on all PSU) < you tried this ? 

Yes I did. Rather special indeed. After second thoughts, I had no PL on it at the time though.<:)

Chag -

Nice - that right there is probably the most luxurious radio combo in the world.  I wish you are in Hong Kong and lemme try it....

That should be a Philips head.  Really good.  I was told by one of Naim's engineers that the Philips could be made even better by refining the power supply arrangements and allowing an off board PSU (he said he had tried this and it sounded really good), but of course an off board PSU upgrade option didn't arrive until the NAT05xs, by which time the Philips head was long gone and instead the ALPS head.  I guess at the time with the arrival of DAB and satellite radio the future of FM was very much in doubt and the assumption was that digital radio take-up would be far quicker and more widespread than it actually was, hence demand for a tuner even better than the 05 would be too limited.  Oh for a crystal ball....

PTCM,   according to Naim (Product History) it says NAT-05 started production in 2001  (which is SN 170623 - 180714)  however if your SN is correct then it seems it did start in 2000.   This means its a Philips tuner head (there was no Sanyo)  If you read my previous post on tuner heads & how the preset LED behaves this will confirm if it is Phillips (or ALPS)      

I don't think too may people are able to say what, if any, sonic differences existed between the Phillips & ALPS heads.  The change to 05XS did make sonic changes,  I am not convinced the 05XS is better,  its a small change & I prefer to say its just different,  but I actually prefered 05 as I feel its a bit more natural.

 

Being a radio man myself including holding a current full CEPT licence, can I ask what is meant by a FM 'head'. It's not a term I recognize. What functions are contained within this 'head' and does it include the ever so critical stereo modulator,  discriminator and IF stages. And if so what is left for the Naim specific none 'head' end other than an audio buffer stage, control logic and the PSU or is that it and essentially the tuner is the 'head' end?

thanks

Simon

Simon, in this case "tuner head" will sometimes includes not just front end - the little metal box encased tuning stages (can you tell I'm not a tech?) but also a good deal of circuitry right up to the output stage.  I can't recall the exact extent at which Philips or ALPS begins (I think Naim used more of the Philips circuitry, whereas there's more Naim in the ALPS version) and then NAIM takes over, again you would need a Naim R&D tech to give the exact details here - certainly with regard to what is pure Naim you're looking at power supplies, analogue output section etc..

Cheers Richard, I have found an image of the NAT05 innards and it could be the stereo demux is also a Naim circuit built around some dedicated third party device too..but yes you can se that a significant proportion of the quality of the radio would be derived from the non Naim 'tuner head' .. as you say the screened box. I can imagine very careful procurement would be required by Naim ..

and looking at the innards of a NAT03 there appear severeal Naim tune circuits outside the 'tuner' head, so perhaps they used the ALPS module you referred to

Simon

 

Thanks Mike, however it doesn't make it clear the functions. As Richard suggests, the module is not just a front end in all designs. The image on the web of the NAT05 suggests the module does far more than the RF module in the NAT03 where there are possibly three Naim specific IF stages.. so perhaps more Naim bespoke R&D in the 03 than the 05..

I am now reading that even the earlier NAT05 was built around an OEM "head" while it is often argued that the quality of the 01 and 02 may have been with Naim engineering them throughout. Why would be the reason then for Naim to issue somewhat of a lesser product with the XS? Why not having stayed with the NAT05 and the Alps head?

Chag -

Hi Simon,  I first became familiar with these front end units years ago when I was working in the marine industry.  Although not directly involved, (I was generators & distribution) I worked with the radio people to ID & fix the sources of interference from my side,  & I remember a lot of head scratching & wishing for the old valve units.    As I see it these are the forerunners of the DAB/FM SDR modules that Naim & practically every other tuner have today 

Mike, SDR can be good, I use it for my main transceivers and spectrum analyzers, but more for selectivity and low intermodulation distortion rather than for sounding good, but it does have its issues, not least because of the DACs and the frequencies sometimes involved .. But great developments coming onto the market every few months with SDR at the moment.

I think I'd prefer analogue IF and a strong aerial signal which does seem to align to the best sounding radios I have heard to date... But when it comes to selectivity and RF intermodulation distortion SDR is very hard if not impossible to beat.  So the NAT05 /SX use SDR discrimination? That's surprising, given the 05 was developed when SDR was relatively quite crude.. but it does perhaps explain why the NAT03 has possibly visible IF tuned circuits using an analogue RF tuner unit and they are either absent or not visible on the 05.

Yes it appears the 05 started with a Philips tuner module, and then perhaps through supply issues was replaced with an ALPS tuner module. I believe the 05SX still uses the ALPS module.

The Strat (Fender) posted:

Arun - strange.  I've heard PBs 01 so recognise how good it is but what I don't get is how.  After all I know Radio 3 use Denon CDPs amongst other stuff.  

I briefly heard PB's 01 and he has the XPS-T which is another step up that I would like to take - unfortunately, those were limited production. I don't know how those two small showeboxes sound so good either but for me and a few of my friends, nothing beats it.

I'll be looking at some upgrade boards for it soon. But adding the Chord Chorus Reference IC was a stunning upgrade...I want more.

Arun

Simon-in-Suffolk posted:

...........  So the NAT05 /SX use SDR discrimination? That's surprising, given the 05 was developed when SDR was relatively quite crude..

I don't think so Simon,  the NAT-05 (after the Phillips unit) & up to today with the XS has the ALPS head tuner.  The current streamers use a SDR type of module but I'm not sure details, & wouldn't be surprised if there are different types/make/models as I heard them on some streamers sound a bit dull & lifeless whereas the 272 I heard was a lot better.

PTCM posted:

Interesting - thanks for the 01 recommendation.  I never thought such an old model would beat the lastest Nat 05 XS with PS on.

Found the followings from the previous discussion, which is quite a differenct opinion. 

So now group A  = 01>02 > 05 and  Group B = 05XS > 05 from two different group of users.

Looks like my Nat 05 is the worst product in the hierarchy - lol.

 

"

To answer the original question, I've had all four products mentioned (Flatcaps 2 (and 2x) and XS, NAT05 (both matt and shiny!!) and NAT05XS.

 

My feelings are: 

a) the NAT05XS is far superior to the NAT05 and

b) I didn't gain much by connecting the FlatcapXS but

c) quality interconnects made a big difference.

"

My opinion exactly. The XS is the best - and much more reliable than the 02! - and the FCXS didn't add anything I could hear. Only problem I've had is the display which has that annoying flaw after a few years where the film looks like it has fluid under it. I asked my dealer and Naim quoted £200 to fix it!!!!!! 

!!!!

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