Naim XS3 and SUPERNAIT 3 Launched now with Phono: Why Digital Audiophiles should care

System synergy.

It’s one of the most critical factors in building a high-fidelity kit.

I say kit because it is very much like constructing a model – the wrong pieces together (or something missing) and it won’t ever be finished. Add in the fact that there are no real instructions and things are even more difficult.

Choosing primary components such as amplifiers, integrated amplifiers, preamps, CD players, streamer/DACs or turntables/cartridges that are designed and voiced to work together is one of the most fundamental underpinnings of any successful sound system because everything else you do after that step (speaker, cables, power conditioning, etc.) will only be building upon the sonic foundations of those key pieces.

Many music lovers get caught on the audiophile merry-go-round of component swapping because they bought an amplifier from Company A, a phono stage from Company B and a DAC/Streamer or CD player from Company C. This is great, as long as you have the experience to properly curate the sound and know what each ingredient brings to the recipe. But, most of us don’t and then start trading-in (or selling and buying) their amplifier (or whatever component) in an effort to ‘improve’ the sound, which then makes them feel a change in DAC or CD player is necessitated because the signal path has been altered… on-and-on it goes.

But then we have companies like Naim who build, design and voice their components to work together with the goal of synergy from the start. This makes choosing and putting together your own hi-fi a much simpler proposition because you can start with pieces that are meant to be with one another. Holistically.

SUPERNAIT 3.

This preamble to the news of the new Naim XS3 ($2,999) and SUPERNAIT 3 ($4,599 USD) integrated amplifiers being launched came about because I was intrigued by the update (six years coming) and wanted to make it pertinent to this site’s focus: computer audio. So, when taken in this context of system synergy, it became very clear to me that I needed to write something about the new gear, but with a twist: component-matching. I reached out to my contact at Naim and relayed my intentions: Could I have an XS3 and a Naim ND5 XS2 network streamer/DAC ($3,495 USD) for a system review?

I’m happy to say the answer is yes, and that the pair shall be joining me here at AudioStream this August.

New XS3.

Back to the new XS3 and SUPERNAIT 3 announcement though, while it has been awhile since these models saw improvements, to be honest, they certainly weren’t in need of any, but with upgraded power-amplifier sections, Alps Blue Velvet attenuators, individually hand-wired and chassis-decoupled inputs along with built-in moving magnet phono stages and a Class A preamp-output stage for the SUPERNAIT (among other things), the wait – as with all things Naim – seems to have been worth it.

XS3 rear panel.

The upgraded circuitry and the inclusion of a phono stage is great news for anyone looking to build a top-tier separates soundsystem with a low box count. Either of these integrated amplifiers would be perfect for a two-box analog and digital system with the addition of either the ND5 XS2 or NDX 2 ($7,495 USD) which is why I’m looking forward so much to receiving the XS3 and ND5 XS2. Simply add a turntable, speakers, cabling and Roon and you have the making sof a world-class, high-fidelity digital and analog sound system with years of future-proof built in for what I consider a very reasonable price if value for money is important to you.

SUPERNAIT 3 internal layout.

Press release highlights below

In the six years since the last NAIT integrated amplifiers were released, Naim Audio’s research and development team have worked on a range of amplifier improvements, detailed below. The result is upgraded power amplifier sections for both NAIT XS3 and SUPERNAIT 3, delivering greater pace and and intimacy to their musical delivery – whether they’re driving a pair of loudspeakers or your favourite pair of headphones.

The new phono stages built into NAIT XS3 and SUPERNAIT 3 are based on classic Naim designs and crafted from audiophile-quality components – expertly grouped and selected before manufacture for optimum accuracy.

  • The Naim R&D team has found a way to more than double the speed of the voltage gain stage, which in turn doubles the rate at which the speaker output stage can react.
  • The second gain stage transistors have been optimised, so they no longer need to be shielded by a cascode stage transistor. Removing the cascode means less amplifier stabilisation is required: that doubles the slew rate and delivers an uplift in sound quality.
  • The phono circuit topology comprises 3 stages: the gain stage, passive equalisation and final gain and active equalisation. This enables excellent noise performance, extended RIAA equalisation beyond the audio band and great overload headroom.
  • All RIAA equalisation capacitors are ‘through-hole’ mounted film designs, with low microphonic pickup and excellent transient performance. As phono stages are 1000x more sensitive than other inputs, this greatly benefits the sound quality.
  • Input impedance is 47kΩ in parallel with 470pF capacitive loading; the gain is perfect for 5mV moving magnet cartridges.

With Naim’s typical obsessive attention to detail – all in service of achieving the most authentic musical performance – the NAIT XS3 and SUPERNAIT 3 also benefit from the following features:

  • Class A headphone amplification
  • Alps Blue Velvet volume control
  • Reed relay input selection
  • Ceramic insulators for the power transisitors
  • Galvanically isolated microprocessor control section
  • Microphonic-isolating PCB mounts

NAIT XS3 and SUPERNAIT 3 will be available from Naim Audio’s global network of specialist retailers from August, with suggested retail prices of £2,199/€2,699/$2,999 USD for the NAIT XS3 and £3,499/€4,299/$4,599 USD for the SUPERNAIT 3.

COMPANY INFO
Naim Audio

COMMENTS
jeffhenning's picture

test

Musicman256's picture

Rafe. As a long time consumer of all things hifi, I can say without reservation that you are among the best writers in the business today. It’s a true pleasure to read your work.

One request please. We would all benefit from more in-depth reviews from your pen, as opposed to the many “teasers” about equipment you’ve received or will receive. It’s not that I don’t enjoy your introductory pieces - I do. It’s more about being hungry to get your deeper reactions and opinions.

Thanks for listening.

Rafe Arnott's picture
I truly appreciate the positivity!

I love digging deep into gear and music – the thing with in-depth is the time it takes, and with all the news, show coverage and new products coming out these days (along with manufacturer meetings for new gear acquisition, shipping out gear that's been reviewed, and arranging delivery and set-up of incoming gear) it can be a balancing act on content creation.

Please count on me delivering many long-form reviews, it's just it takes time to do it right (and I don't let anything get published unless I'm 100 per cent happy with the writing).

It's great feedback from readers like you that help inspire me to do this, so a big thank you for taking the time to reach out.

ErikM's picture

The SuperNait 2 retailed in the USA just 2 months ago for $5695.00 Are sure of your US retail pricing ? Are saying that the New SN3 with an added Phono Stage is going to sell for $1100.00 dollars less than the SN2? Are you sure someone didn't just convert the British Pounds to Dollars? Also why are you showing two UK prices I think someone's messed up. But I could be wrong :-)

Rafe Arnott's picture
The prices are right.
ErikM's picture

Yup you're right. I stand corrected.

X