New to Naim: Nova vs 272 vs ND5XS and 250DR vs 300DR

Hello,

I'm new to Naim, but spending a reasonable part of my time in Oxford (when not in West Lafayette) and considering moving away from my current McIntosh 6700 integrated. My speakers are a pair of Focal Sopra 2's that I'm madly in love with. My only source is streaming: currently a Synology NAS to home-made raspberry to USB into the McIntosh's DAC. No plans for phono, tuner, reel-to-reel, CD, or any other source. Just streaming, mostly high-res digital, some CD quality. Living room is 30x40 feet with 18 foot ceilings.

Went to Axpona in Chicago last week, and loved the sound of the upcoming Naim Uniti Nova into the Focal Sopra's in the room and thought why not? Then I started poking around the Naim site, and now I'm thoroughly confused. I've read as much as I can on the forum, and I've written to customer support, but would love your opinions and advice as well. If I go forward, I'll pick up the gear while in Oxford for work, use it there, and eventually bring it back with me on return a few weeks/month later. UK prices are attractive.

 

My current McIntosh runs between 2-20W per channel normally, so I'm not worried about power. 70W should be fine, 90W is the same for all intents and purposes. I do care about sound quality. £8-9k is my limit budget-wise. Options:

1) Naim Uniti Nova (£4,099)

2) Naim Uniti Nova + NAP250DR (£4,099+£3,680=£7,779)

3) Naim Uniti Nova + NAP300DR (£4,099+£4,539=£8,638)

4) Naim NAC-N 272 + NAP250DR (£3,469+£3,680=£7,149)

5) Naim NAC-N 272 + HiCap DR + NAP250DR (£3,469+£1,329+£3,680=£8,478)

6) Naim NAC-N 272 + NAP300DR (£3,469+£4,539=£8,008)

7) Naim ND5XS + NAC202 + NAP200DR (£2,430+£2,100+£2,160=£6,690)

8) Naim ND5XS + NAC202 + HiCap DR + NAP250DR (£2,430+£2,100+£1,329+£3,680=£9,539)

9) Any others?

I'd like to buy once and forget it for many years. I like option 1, because I can move to options 2 or 3 without trading anything in, and because it comes with Airplay (nice for the wife and kids). But if options 4-8 are much better I'd rather start there than feel like I need to swap out the Nova later.

Thanks in advance for your kind advice!

---Pedro

Original Post

Hi,

First you can't use a HC with a 272 you'd need a XPS which is highly recommended.   From the options you have listed the 272 will be superior but as I say I would recommend a XPS. Both the 250 and 300 are excellent with the Sopras with the 300 you get more resolution and greater soundstage. 

Regards,

Lindsay

PS: Can I come over and help you set it up in West Lafayette

I think it's going to be hard to get definitive views, as the Nova is still not on the market. 

  • I have heard the Nova into Supras at a show as you have, and I was very impressed. Unlike you, I don't like the Focal presentation, but I was very impressed by what I heard knowing the speakers.
  • To set my baseline, I use an NDX into 1980/90s vintage Naim amps into B&W 804s,  which sounds fantastic.
  • As suggested above, the ND5XS is good, but below the 272 from what I've heard, so that leaves us 272 or Nova.
  • My feeling, and I don't think anyone had done a good sound qualityA/B yet, is that the Nova makes more sense, it has the newer technology, what I've heard was very high quality, and has the future-proofing my NDX and the 272 lack. 
  • Either wait for a demo and try Nova with power amps, or get the Nova and see if you are happy enough with what it does and save some money if you decide you don't need the power amp.

For me, I'm sticking with the NDX/82/HICAP/135s for the main system, demoing an Atom/StarNova for the second system.

perizoqui posted:

 I'll pick up the gear while in Oxford for work, use it there, and eventually bring it back with me on return a few weeks/month later. UK prices are attractive.

 

Pedro - don't forget to factor in the cost of having the Naim kit modified to suit US mains voltage when you take it home.

James

james n posted:
perizoqui posted:

 I'll pick up the gear while in Oxford for work, use it there, and eventually bring it back with me on return a few weeks/month later. UK prices are attractive.

 

Pedro - don't forget to factor in the cost of having the Naim kit modified to suit US mains voltage when you take it home.

James

Also make sure you get the VAT refunded.

I've considered buying a Linn Klimax Exakt system. The US price is nearly 30,000$ more than UK. I can just fly to London, have a nice vacation, ship the system back to US, pay customs and local sales tax and still have >20,000$ savings. Nice thing about Linn is they have auto sensing power supplies so the system in UK is exactly the same as the one they sell in the US.

 

Kevin Richardson posted:

I've considered buying a Linn Klimax Exakt system. The US price is nearly 30,000$ more than UK. I can just fly to London, have a nice vacation, ship the system back to US, pay customs and local sales tax and still have >20,000$ savings. 

That is sobering if it's correct,  a new complete system with a (free) vacation & money left over,  what is going on ??  who's controlling (or not controlling) the marketing ??   And I believe Naim is a near match for the same UK/US pricing differentials as Linn.  

Mike-B posted:
Kevin Richardson posted:

I've considered buying a Linn Klimax Exakt system. The US price is nearly 30,000$ more than UK. I can just fly to London, have a nice vacation, ship the system back to US, pay customs and local sales tax and still have >20,000$ savings. 

That is sobering if it's correct,  a new complete system with a (free) vacation & money left over,  what is going on ??  who's controlling (or not controlling) the marketing ??   And I believe Naim is a near match for the same UK/US pricing differentials as Linn.  

The US price with local sales tax is 94,000+ $. The U.K. Price with customs, my state sales tax, shipping is 70,000 ish USD.

Hi Pedro, the new Uniti series are something rather special... however the differences are not really all about SQ with Classic series .. it's about approach as well. The Classic series is all about maximum SQ through separation (albeit there are hybrids like the N272) and provides modular options.. perhaps more suited to the audio enthusiast who wants to explore. The new Uniti products have had a break through in integrated product SQ for Naim and a new approach to power supplies and digital streaming architecture and noise management, but are not modular and tend to be one stop solution, albeit you can add an additional poweramp/sub. Of course it's the Nova Star  that is the most integrated one stop shop.... and then there is the reference version the Nova with slightly less integration (no inbuilt ripper)

If you are looking to find a solution to put in and forget the nnew Uniti series may  be compelling, if you are looking at different ways to enjoy and experience recorded music/audio over the years then I would strongly recommend the Classic series. Think of them as parallel evolutions as opposed to being part of a sequential food chain. That is certainly how Naim explained it to me last December at their HQ and I can see why.

Simon

Adam Zielinski posted:

Option 4.

You can always add a separate power supply to your N272 at a later stage.

I agree. Having been quite far up the Naim ladder I've now settled with 272/250DR S400. I think the 272 is an amazingly player (and not just 'for the money'). It has a transparency & musical coherence other naim combinations struggle to better ime.

You should at least try it. You might be surprised.

G

Hi Pedro , I tried option 4 at home last week, its a very impressive 2 box solution and I would normally suggest this no question . However with the impending release of the Nova , I'd at the very least compare options 1,2 and 4 . You / We may well be pleasantly surprised . You say you want to buy then enjoy for years so the latest streaming architecture , easier software updates and a maximum 2 box count would really suit you . 

Hungryhalibut posted:

In that room, which sounds enormous, I'd go for option 6, and add an XPSDR or 555PSDR later. 

Exactly what I was going to say, if it's affordable in one hit that is. That way you're not going to be trading in any lesser products along the way which loses you money. 

The Strat (Fender) posted:

Hi,

First you can't use a HC with a 272 you'd need a XPS which is highly recommended.   From the options you have listed the 272 will be superior but as I say I would recommend a XPS. Both the 250 and 300 are excellent with the Sopras with the 300 you get more resolution and greater soundstage. 

Regards,

Lindsay

PS: Can I come over and help you set it up in West Lafayette

Thanks, didn't know about HC. XPS pushes things out of my range, but as you and others say it could be added later. Certainly you can come over, bit far though!

Eoink posted:

the Nova makes more sense, it has the newer technology, what I've heard was very high quality, and has the future-proofing my NDX and the 272 lack. 

I would love to know whether the Nova technology is indeed newer and/or better, or whether it's just a pared down 272 with a pared down 200 stuffed in the same box.

Why do you say the Nova has future-proofing and the 272 doesn't? Because of over-the-internet firmware upgrades?

perizoqui posted:
Eoink posted:

the Nova makes more sense, it has the newer technology, what I've heard was very high quality, and has the future-proofing my NDX and the 272 lack. 

I would love to know whether the Nova technology is indeed newer and/or better, or whether it's just a pared down 272 with a pared down 200 stuffed in the same box.

Why do you say the Nova has future-proofing and the 272 doesn't? Because of over-the-internet firmware upgrades?

The new Uniti  series is very different from the N272 and the rest of the streamers and amps.. Some new thinking, architectures and designs, but similar Naim sound, at least when I heard some prototypes. There is, so I was told, a very conscious move away from the internal modular designs of earlier products and more of a bottom up design approach. If you are interested see if you can arrange a factory visit and talk to the chief designer, you might also be able to listen to them in the audition room. I heard the Uniti series drive Sopra 1 speakers there.

Simon

james n posted: 

Pedro - don't forget to factor in the cost of having the Naim kit modified to suit US mains voltage when you take it home.

Is that really necessary? I'm looking at the back of the Nova photo (attached) and it looks like it can take either voltage/frequency.Nova rear panel

The 300 won't work without its dedicated power supply, which brings the cost to about £7,500. Listing the PS separately is a bit stupid if you ask me. 

The Nova includes the new streaming architecture, which allows you to use google cast to send music to the player. 

This may or may not be important. 

As others have said, remember that you will have to pay to have the boxes converted to 110V from the UK 230V. 

Simon-in-Suffolk posted:

Hi Pedro, the new Uniti series are something rather special... however the differences are not really all about SQ with Classic series .. it's about approach as well. The Classic series is all about maximum SQ through separation (albeit there are hybrids like the N272) and provides modular options.. perhaps more suited to the audio enthusiast who wants to explore. The new Uniti products have had a break through in integrated product SQ for Naim and a new approach to power supplies and digital streaming architecture and noise management, but are not modular and tend to be one stop solution, albeit you can add an additional poweramp/sub. Of course it's the Nova Star  that is the most integrated one stop shop.... and then there is the reference version the Nova with slightly less integration (no inbuilt ripper)

If you are looking to find a solution to put in and forget the nnew Uniti series may  be compelling, if you are looking at different ways to enjoy and experience recorded music/audio over the years then I would strongly recommend the Classic series. Think of them as parallel evolutions as opposed to being part of a sequential food chain. That is certainly how Naim explained it to me last December at their HQ and I can see why.

Simon

Thank you Simon, this is extremely helpful. Would love to know what about the Nova is a breakthrough over the 272. The catch is that the 272 has the upgradable power supply and the Nova doesn't. Everyone on here seems to feel those upgraded power supplies make a huge difference.

GraemeH posted:
Adam Zielinski posted:

Option 4.

You can always add a separate power supply to your N272 at a later stage.

I agree. Having been quite far up the Naim ladder I've now settled with 272/250DR S400. I think the 272 is an amazingly player (and not just 'for the money'). It has a transparency & musical coherence other naim combinations struggle to better ime.

You should at least try it. You might be surprised.

G

This seems to be the closest thing to a consensus, I agree I should try it. Worried about futureproofing comments and the possibility that the Nova streaming and preamp section might be better than the 272.

Hi Perizoqui, see my later post above... they are very different indeed and somewhat of a fresh approach from the current Classic series and even the powersupplies are quite different... there are no 'upgrade' options in the new series as there has been new thinking on noise management and design apparently. Of course what counts in the end is how they sound for the money. Early prototypes however sounded very good indeed. Hopefully the production ones will be equally as good if not better.

However despite that the holy grail and the core Naim DNA so we were told  is still seen as decoupled source, pre, poweramp and powersupply

perizoqui posted:
james n posted: 

Pedro - don't forget to factor in the cost of having the Naim kit modified to suit US mains voltage when you take it home.

Is that really necessary? I'm looking at the back of the Nova photo (attached) and it looks like it can take either voltage/frequency.Nova rear panel

It's a standard linear supply (rather than a universal voltage switching supply) so some (dealer performed) configuration will be necessary to suit the local supply if different from the UK. The labelling is pretty standard for regulation purposes across different markets. 

Simon-in-Suffolk posted:

 If you are interested see if you can arrange a factory visit and talk to the chief designer, you might also be able to listen to them in the audition room. I heard the Uniti series drive Sopra 1 speakers there.

Fantastic idea! Didn't know you could do that. With the wonderful train system in the UK that would be easy to get to. Always surprises me that the English complain about their public transit. For visiting Americans it's amazing by comparison to what we have with Amtrak in the states.

Hungryhalibut posted:

The 300 won't work without its dedicated power supply, which brings the cost to about £7,500. Listing the PS separately is a bit stupid if you ask me. 

The Nova includes the new streaming architecture, which allows you to use google cast to send music to the player. 

This may or may not be important. 

As others have said, remember that you will have to pay to have the boxes converted to 110V from the UK 230V. 

Ah! Now I see it. Sneaky. That puts the 300 out for now. Google cast isn't important, but airplay would be nice for the lovely people I share the house with. 

If I'm reading the back panel correctly the only thing I have to do is change the fuse, and going from 230 to 110 maybe not even that. Is that correct? If not, anyone know how much this costs to do?

Simon-in-Suffolk posted:

However despite that the holy grail and the core Naim DNA so we were told  is still seen as decoupled source, pre, poweramp and powersupply

I think that along with all the other comments bring everything down to two options (just realized the prices include VAT which I'd get refunded):

1) Naim Uniti Nova + NAP300DR ((£4,099+£4,539+£3,130)/1.2=£9,807)

2) Naim NAC-N 272 + NAP300DR ((£3,469+£4,539+£3,130)/1.2=£9,282)

Slightly over my price range, but doesn't it always happen that way? Option 1 has the latest streaming architecture, and could start out with no PA. Option 2 can be upgraded with an external PS for the 272 down the road if desired. I need to know whether the streaming and preamp on the Nova are as good or better than the 272... A trip to Salisbury might be in order.

 

perizoqui posted:
Simon-in-Suffolk posted:

However despite that the holy grail and the core Naim DNA so we were told  is still seen as decoupled source, pre, poweramp and powersupply

I think that along with all the other comments bring everything down to two options (just realized the prices include VAT which I'd get refunded):

1) Naim Uniti Nova + NAP300DR ((£4,099+£4,539+£3,130)/1.2=£9,807)

2) Naim NAC-N 272 + NAP300DR ((£3,469+£4,539+£3,130)/1.2=£9,282)

Slightly over my price range, but doesn't it always happen that way? Option 1 has the latest streaming architecture, and could start out with no PA. Option 2 can be upgraded with an external PS for the 272 down the road if desired. I need to know whether the streaming and preamp on the Nova are as good or better than the 272... A trip to Salisbury might be in order.

 

Please remember that the actual sound is largerly determined by the pre-amp section. Ipersonally would not add a NAP 300DR to a back of an integrated player. It just does not feel right.


Secondly you may have a bit of a problem connecting the two together - Nova has only one DIN pre-out connection and NAP 300 requires two (one per each channels). You could of course run some sort of custom cable, but.... i

N272 is designed to handle NAP300DR easily on the other hand, with two DIN pre-outs.

From your posts above I detect a sligth sense that you're trying to buy the equipment from a price list, rather than actually listening to it first. Which in my experience is not a good idea at all.....

Adam, the N272 is an integrated player... and you have to add a poweramp. Seriously unless you have heard the new Uniti series and their new techniques and architectures don't try and jump to any conclusions, they are quite different I feel to what has gone before... very impressive indeed. Naim also recommend adding a Naim poweramp to the Uniti series if you wish... they were designed with this in mind. This is how you upgrade the Unitis rather than using powersupplies which is how you would potentially upgrade Classic series. Your comment could be construed as a bit like don't add a powersupply to the N272 as it doesn't feel right as it's an integrated player.. and clearly many people enjoy the benefit.

S

Adam Zielinski posted: 

Please remember that the actual sound is largerly determined by the pre-amp section. Ipersonally would not add a NAP 300DR to a back of an integrated player. It just does not feel right.


Secondly you may have a bit of a problem connecting the two together - Nova has only one DIN pre-out connection and NAP 300 requires two (one per each channels). You could of course run some sort of custom cable, but.... i

N272 is designed to handle NAP300DR easily on the other hand, with two DIN pre-outs.

From your posts above I detect a sligth sense that you're trying to buy the equipment from a price list, rather than actually listening to it first. Which in my experience is not a good idea at all.....

Hi Adam. Not trying to buy from a price list, just trying to narrow down my choices without going over budget. I've written to Naim to ask whether they feel the streaming section and preamp on the Nova is better/same/worse than that on the 272. That will ultimately determine which way I go. But, as many have advised, I'll try to get a listen before buying. The trick is that there's nowhere to do that in Indiana, plus I'd feel bad leaning on a local dealer (if there was one) and then buying at almost half price in the UK. I can listen in the UK, but it won't be my speakers or my room... so in the end I will have to buy without a true audition. So the recommendations of folks here and at Naim support are very important I think.

Wouldn't mind making a custom cable for the Nova to 300DR, there seem to be a few online as well, but the connections seem pretty straightforward either from the DIN out on the Nova or from the RCAs next to it. I get the sense that using the RCA is Naim audio heresy though

Thanks for your advice, greatly appreciated.

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