Upgrade UnitiQute2 or NAP100 (for Dynaudio Contour 3.5 LE)

Hi

I have been reading my way through several post regarding Naim equipment and Dynaudio speakers, but I still haven´t found quite the information I need. Therefore I hope there are some people with some insight that can provide me with some guidance.

 

My question:

I have a UnitiQute2 + NAP100, driving a pair of Dynaudio Contour 3.4 LE. However I´m not completely satisfied and now I have the finances to buy a better setup which makes my “new” speakers justice (bought them two years ago…). I think the setup (while sounding good) lack some “power”, “a more full sound” (the sound can sometimes fell a bit thin) and more “depth” and presence in the “sound”.

I have auditioned a SuperUniti, a NAC-N 272 + NAP200 and a NAC-N 272+NAP100 – unfortunately not on my own speakers!

There is no discussion that to my ears the NAC-N 272 + NAP200 was the best by far. Combining the NAC-N 272 + NAP100 sounded a tiny bit “thinner” to my ears. The SuperUniti was good, but not to the level of the NAC-N 272.

I do not have the finances for both NAC-N 272 and NAP200 so which combination is recommend when taking these Dynaudio speakers into account?

  1. Replace the NAP100 with a NAP200 and keep the Qute2
  2. Replace the Qute2 with NAC-N 272 and keep the NAP100

 

However I do not know if the lack some “power”, “a more full sound” (opposite to “thin”) and more “depth” and presence in the “sound” is due to the NAP100 not having sufficient power (can NAP100 drive these speakers???) or if the preamp in the Qute2 isn’t up to the task.

 

Regards

Soeren

Original Post

Some considerations to confuse you even more.

I have an old 23 watt Technics mid-fi amplifier driving 30 year old speakers. Using the Technics mid-fi cd player back from '94 (I think), the sound is quite bad. horrible bass, terrible shouty highs. Then, I added a Naim AV2 (the AV pre-amplifier) having a good Dac section. Suddenly my 23 watt old Technics tiny amp was able to drive my old speakers having an well defined and controled bass.

In your case, If I was only streaming using Spotify, an upgrade of the UQ would not really make sense. If you have good cd-rips or high quality downloads, it would make much more sense to upgrade the Streamer / Preamp.

There are stories on this forum where people use a Nac 52 with a small Nap 140 and prefer that above a lower rated pre-amp and higher rated poweramp.

But many things are relevant in your choice. I would say source is very important, listening levels (if listening loud freqently, a PowerAmp makes more sense), the speakers, your room and positioning, what is your target system etc ...

Until now, I read only about the ability of a Nap to control your speakers. Well, thats only one dimention.

However, I would go for option 2 and wait for a bargain poweramp later. E.g. if your dealer is selling his Nap 200 ex demo or so.

First I would like to recognize everyone which have taken (and will take) time to share their experience and discuss my options with me.

Secondly; I do not stream music from any streaming services (Spotify etc.). I almost exclusively play my own music from my NAS, which consist of a mixture of lossless ripped music from my CD collection and high quality downloads (all files are FLAC) and occasionally I listen to internet radio (but for this, i think my current setup is more than adequate).

Usually people would advise "source first" which would be option 2), but I guess this is under the assumption that the power-amp is sufficient powerful to drive the speakers - which I don´t know if is the case with the NAP 100 (Contour 3.4 LE are 86dB/4Ohm). I really love every aspect of these speakers and my current upgrade is mostly driven by the fact that I want to explore more of these speakers potential.

Innocent Bystander posted:
Hungryhalibut posted:

How about a 272 and a used 200 for under £1,000?

Now that even I'd consider! (Does that mean you're selling, having learnt that Hugo can cook breakfast as well as play music and sing and dance with you?!)

Here we have HH selling a 272 and IB indirectly and jokingly selling a Chord Dac!

Did you guys know that Hugo drinks only Vodka?

If i can throw my two pence in

I used the UQ/100 for over a year loved the combo but felt on certain material it lacked drive to my AE301 speakers. 

Borrowed a NAP200 and paired this with the UQ and preferred my NAP100 strange but true

Couple of months back I acquired an ex demo 272 mint for £2200 and now run 272/100, what can i say over the past month things have really opened up and the 100 isn't going anywhere, what a combo!!!

If you can stretch to a 272 then go for it, its an amazing pre and transformed my system.

PS the AE301 don't get much of a mention but for the money they are an absolute bargain and work well with Naim amps.

A big thanks to everyone who has taken time to share your experience and opinions - it are much appreciated.

 

I realize that when I changed my speakers to the Dynaudio, I may incorrectly have blamed the NAP100 for being the bottleneck in the system and therefore the reason for the shortcomings described above (NB; the "new" Dynaudio speakers were clearly better the speakers they replaced, but I always thought that the remaining system (Qute2+NAP100) could not reveal the full potential of these speakers). Now I realize that the Contours 3.4 LE may actually reveal the "shortcomings" of the Qute2 (especially the preamp), something my old speakers did not. So now I think I may give the NAP100 another chance to drive my speakers using the NAC-N 272 as source/preamp.

I thought that I would do a follow-up on this subject.

My local Naim dealer, provided me with a NAP200DR (demo) and a NAC-N 272 (demo), which I tested at my own speakers. My wife did the test together with me (“blind” since I did the switching) and I asked her to comment first so my knowledge of the setup had as little influence as possible.  In spite of this, we always agreed on the conclusions of the tests.

The tested setups were:

A)

          A1) UnitiQute2 + NAP100

          A2) UnitiQute2 + NAP200DR

B)

          B1) NAC-N 272 + NAP100

          B2) NAC-N 272 + NAP200DR

“A1” vs “A2”: This was my initial test and at first I could not hear any improvement by exchanging the NAP100 with a NAP200DR – maybe even a slight lack of enjoyment in the music of “A2” compared to “A1”. Leaving the NAP200 in the system over night (plugged in) did seem to improve the sound of “A2” ever so slightly over “A1” in some regards (the bass seemed a bit better in “A2”). So maybe the NAP200 takes a bit more time to heat up?? However, I’m still not sure if I slightly preferred the sound of combination “A1”, but the systems performed so equal, that both the “better bass” of NAP200 and the “more enjoyment” of NAP100 could be placebo or simply a matter of which of the power amps that had been plugged-in/powered for longest time.

Anyway, the conclusion was quite clear: in my system, the NAP200DR simply could not be regarded as an upgrade over the NAP100 (especially when considering the price of the two power amplifiers!!!).

 

Then something “magical” happened when testing “A” (either of them) vs “B1”; without any preheating of the NAC-N 272 (simply plugged it into the system, powered it up and started the music), it was like a blanket was removed from my speakers and the sound filled the room - and this happened as soon as I started the music even though the volume was way below my usual listening level!!! The difference between “B1” and any of “A” was so stunning, and although “A2” had been plugged in all night; it simply was no match for “B1”.

And no surprise; the sound of “B1” improved even further as the NAC-N 272 heated up. Switched back and forth between the Qute2 and NAC-N 272, but the result remained the same.

The sound of my system with a NAC-N 272 (“B1”) is hard to describe but compared to “A”; it filled the room with music so enjoyable, that I’m now a proud owner of a NAC-N 272!

What about “B1” vs “B2” you might ask? Well I/we did that comparison and actually both my wife and I found “B1” as the best combination; 2 out of 2 times my wife picked “B1” as the best, as did I (we were both surprised). However, it should be noted that the difference was very minor.

Please note that I´m not saying that the NAP100 is a better amp than the NAP200DR! But in my system (in my room) the difference was, at best, insignificant (or slightly in favor of the NAP100).

 

The addition of a NAC-N 272 really gave the NAP100 a new life; I would not have thought that this little power amp could drive my speakers (86dB/4Ohm) so well – even at higher volumes.

And the NAC-N 272 really provided my speakers with the quality I think they deserve.

 

Best regards

Søren

I moved from a Qute 2 to NAC 272 into my NAP100 a couple of weeks ago, I'm still surprised at how good the 100 now sounds! It really is like a new amp, any doubts i had about it are now gone. So now the question is - where to go when upgradeitus next strikes? XP5 XS or nap200, 250?? hmm.

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