System Advice 202 and P3esr

Posted by: AndrewJS on 09 October 2018

Hi, I know topics like this have been posted ad nauseum but have reviewed many previous posts and my head is in a spin from all the options. I'm looking for advice on upgrades in my system. I know there are specific weak points but am looking for feedback on what order I should focus my upgrades.

I currently have a nac 202 with napsc and nap 150. I'm using Harbeth P3esr's and really happy with these. For source I'm solely streaming FLAC, Tidal and Spotify using a raspberry pi with digi+ pro board into a beresford caiman dac. 

My dilemma is what should go first? I'm currently mulling over a nap200 to replace the 150. Adding a hicap is another option or replacing the beresford dac with either an ndac or hugo. I can't do all at once but looking for advice on what would give the most impact. 

Any advice appreciated.

Posted on: 09 October 2018 by ChrisSU

With your system, I think I would start with the DAC, but there are many to choose from and the only way you can do this is to listen for yourself. Then I would look at a Hicap, which would not be wasted if you later decide to go for a 282.

As you climb the ladder, remember that setup becomes increasingly important. If you havenít already done it, get a dedicated mains circuit and a decent rack. 

Posted on: 09 October 2018 by GregU
ChrisSU posted:

With your system, I think I would start with the DAC, but there are many to choose from and the only way you can do this is to listen for yourself. Then I would look at a Hicap, which would not be wasted if you later decide to go for a 282.

As you climb the ladder, remember that setup becomes increasingly important. If you havenít already done it, get a dedicated mains circuit and a decent rack. 



I agree that a better DAC makes sense.  From a cost efficiency standpoint I think I would look outside of Naim DACs


I'm a bit confused as to investing in a "rack" at the price point of your system.  Maybe from Ikea.  

Posted on: 09 October 2018 by Bob the Builder

What so a £3,000 amp only deserves a rack from Ikea?  Every system especially separates benefits from being on a rack and in my direct experience did more for SQ than any box upgrade and so should have equal investment.

Posted on: 09 October 2018 by ryder.

Looks like the thread has taken a little diversion. The rack is surely an important component. I have an Ikea Gettorp rack and the only Naim equipment I have on it is the NAPSC. All my Naim amps, source and DAC are on a dedicated (and decent) hifi rack. I've briefly placed the Hicap DR on the Ikea Gettorp when setting up the system in the new room for the first time and the result was unsatisfactory. The notes become distorted with jagged edges and the overall sound took a slight echoey character. No detrimental effect with the NAPSC though so it remains on the Gettorp rack. 

Going back to the thread, if it's a 202/Napsc/150 driving some Harbeth P3ESR, I don't think the 200 will bring much impact if it replaces the 150. Chrissu's suggestion is quite spot-on. The biggest impact would come from the DAC, the 282 next and Hicap DR after that. 

Hicap DR to 202 will also bring an appreciable difference but the 282 will bring a larger difference than the 202/HicapDR, in my experience. Hicap DR will bring more refinement to the sound and make everything sound more in focus. On the other hand, the 282 will transform the sound by bringing more dynamics and life to the presentation, a larger than life sound when compared to the flatter sounding 202. 

Posted on: 10 October 2018 by hungryhalibut

Neither a 202 or a 282 will give anything like their best when powered by a 150, or a non-DR 200 come to that. Iíd have a good think about whether you want to stick with the 202, add a Hicap, switch to a 200, maybe later get a 282 or.... sell the 202, napsc and 150 and get a Supernait 2. That and a better Dac of your choice - a Naim Dac, which is bargain used, a Chord offering, or something else altogether - makes a lovely simple system that sounds great. 

Posted on: 10 October 2018 by Massimo Bertola

Mr HH,

for once I beg to differ and find your advice somehow inorganic. I have long compared the two SuperNaits, have owned three of the first model, and not only I think it is globally better than the SN2, but I always feel a tiny pang of annoyance about those who don't even experiment its onboard DAC assuming any other boxette will be better. So, while I agree that perhaps a 150 won't make the 202 sound at its best, if it was about replacing all with a SN, I'd buy the 1, not the 2, and would use Ė at least temporarily Ė its own DAC. Especially with the slightly condescending and bass generous HP3/ES.

My opinion only, but for once I happen to know very well how every mentioned piece of gear sounds.


Posted on: 10 October 2018 by AndrewJS

Thanks all for the feedback appreciate the time and thought for the responses. Looking at the general consensus it seems to suggest DAC > Hicap > Nap 200. The 282 feels like a jump too far at present as moving to that would mean i'd likely want the 150 out of the system sooner in addition to a hicap +dac so would delay that change for the foreseeable. Likewise upgrading furniture is out of the question as the kit currently is decent enough stand. 

Looking at DACs I'm seeing s/h Chords either Hugo or 2Qute that are interesting me, or alternatively stretching further for an ndac.  Does anyone have any feedback on how any of them would match the current system or alternatives in the <£1000 price bracket? 

In addition if I went to a hicap DR, would that negate the need to get a 200 DR? 


Posted on: 10 October 2018 by ChrisSU

Yes, a Hicap makes the 200DR unnecessary, as long as you don't get a 200 old enough to need a service.

I think you really need to listen to some DACs to make a choice that works for you. Used Hugos are quite cheap now, so you could try one and sell it on if you don't want to keep it.

282 is a nice jump up from 202, but no need to rush, 202/Hicap/200 is still a very nice amp to my ears, so I would leave it at that, get everything set up nicely, and maybe think about a 282 later.

If you don't want a dedicated rack, just make sure the boxes aren't stacked one on top of the other, as this really affects performance. I'd say that the further you climb up the ladder, the more important a decent rack is if you want the system to perform properly.

Posted on: 23 December 2018 by Ian from Berks

Listening to a 200/202/HiCap with P3ESR at the moment on a Quadaraspire rack. Lovely combination . I think the amp would be where I would look first. 


Posted on: 24 December 2018 by Svetty

Depends on your final destination tbh.  I'd start with the HicapDR then consider a 272. This would be fine with the 150 and your current speakers for a while then when funds allow you can look at a 200 or 250.....

Posted on: 24 December 2018 by Huge

If you're intending to go down the route of a 272, the HiCap DR makes no sense (as with a 272 it'll become redundant).  A 200DR on the other hand then makes a lot of sense, it's not just a better power amp but will also improve the performance of the 202 until the 272 arrives to replace it.

Posted on: 24 December 2018 by AndrewJS

An update from me, I have made a couple of upgrades in the setup and have had some decent improvements.

First I took the plunge on the Hugo DAC and this has been a good step up as brought more openness to the sound, it was hard to hear at first but there is a fuller sound, not sure how else to describe it.

Then I upgraded the pi from the hifiberry digi pro to the allo digione signature with a lps for the clean power input on the signature. This has also added an additional level of a fuller sound to the system. 

And have just added a s/h hicap which im still listening to the impact it is having, at the moment I haven't been able to play this to any decent volume due to the little ones, but am hoping to hear an improvement from this. 

I'm not really looking at the 272 or other streaming equipment as it all seems to be moving so fast and am happy with the pi'si as have 4 of them around the house playing in sync or independently and so switching cost to replace the existing setup would make it prohibitive. I'm gonna spend some time with the current setup but guess the next logical step now is the 200 to replace the 150. 

I have a fairly decent rack and the equipment is all separated on different shelves so not stacked, but due to limited space its placement is probably sub optimal being in between the speakers with a fireplace and TV also between the speakers, that said it still produces a great sound. 

I am really enjoying the sound just wish I could play it at louder volumes (not crazy loud just it's mainly always fairly quiet almost background levels currently) to really hear it sing more  often than I currently can, and also never realised how unforgiving it can be on badly produced recordings.

Thanks for all the input and happy holidays!

Posted on: 24 December 2018 by Ian from Berks

Well one of the great things about the P3 ESR is that little is lost at low volumes. , I think they are super little speakers, well suited to my tastes. I listened to the Service Of Nine Lessons and Carols yesterday on my Naim system and the signal provided by tube Magnum Dynalab, an awesome listening experience. Then I did the sprouts ????

Posted on: 26 December 2018 by gramophone

How about a 250. You have indication of a disease / addiction. Cut the crap, admit the long path to full indulgence /  recovery and push the boat a bit. P'raps get a non DR 250. I did and heck! since got DR'd  -  hickety heck!

Thing's a classic and 202 is good enough to do it a lot of justice.