Okay I attended the demo at Cymbiosis a couple of weeks back. It’s a superb piece of kit no doubt but before purchasing I would need to be convinced that the treble is not a tad harsh?
you'll never sort that. Every piece of Naim equipment has a point (in volume, or frequency, or type of music or song) where it becomes a tad coarse – or harsh, as you say. It is the brand signature, is necessary to the feeling of realism that sometimes strikes you with their gear, but you cannot take it away from their sound. Look at all the discussions, those about cables, about anything: 98% of them, be the poster aware of it or not, are about the fact that Naim sounds great but at the expense of some coarseness. In fact, all the shamefully costly ultra high end audio I have heard in my life tries to sound realistic and smooth, which is not doable and is useless. One must know that before buying Naim: he/she will have great moments of realism and foot tapping, but sooner or later a few seconds – or minutes – of music will sound too loud (no matter what the position of the pot), or not enough refined in the top end. Unavoidable.
The efforts that Naim has done to correct this haven't taken the brand very far: the SuperUniti was unlistenable, and all the new versions I have heard of renewed gear (which I have heard, all of them, starting when they changed the CD5x into the XS), like the XS2 and the SN2 have been relative failures, because you can take Naim out of a mild coarseness (changing brand, for example, or spoiling it all with cables), but you can't take mild coarseness from Naim – it won't be a Naim anymore. To my ears, whoever prefers a NaitXS2 or a SN2 to their originals, can't hear properly or is not made for Naim or is in malafede.
I have tried hard: 4 or 5 CDX2s, a number of XPSes one of which DR, lots of HiCaps, twice the SBLs and five times the N-Sats, all amps from Nait to 282/SC/250 (safe the NAP100), all sources from CD5i to CDS3: it is either Naim or bore. You have to choose, there's no other option. 20 months ago I swapped 282/SC/250 for a Luxman L590ax, it must have played for 10 hours. I started therapy and patiently began all over again.
Then, let's face it: a thread on a 20,000 streamer with double ultra costly PSU has triggered 40 pages of discussions, and there's still someone who shyly admits he finds the ND555 not completely up to the price: I can't even imagine the level of detail it can reproduce, but I can imagine why someone is not convinced – everybody hoped the day would come when a sweet sounding, yet perfectly Naim voiced piece of equipment would pop up. It is impossible. Naim is great, but it's either realism with some shouting, or it is domestic HiFi and the ghost of boredom lurking somewhere in the dark living room. Shall we talk about all those who have surrendered to the last resource of sticking a pair of Harbeths to their Naim amp? Even my Ovator S-400s – smart units, very very smart – have something in the BMR which, at moments, can be less airy and mannered than necessary.
Just my opinion, but I was caught like a fool in reading the same bullshit for the 10,000th time here, and I decided to answer to you because I thought I saw something in your post that sounded sadly familiar.