Integrated amp choice - help needed

daddy999

Active Member
Wow, now that’s a “can of worms” question! 😂

Best advice i can give is not take anyones advice, demo Amps as many as you need or want to try on your own speakers in your own home and judge for yourself.

I personally love my Yamaha AS2100, smooth and neutral was the sound I was looking for. I also have an old Cyrus 3, and I still rate that although a totally different sound, it’s also placed in a different house on different speakers which also affects the sound.

You can pick up so many amps for that price range, Marantz, Denon, Roksan, Cambridge, YBA, Cyrus, Yamaha, and I tried more expensive Naim, Luxman, Sugden etc, etc, I tried them all......happy testing.
 

mikeinthemidlanda

Novice Member
Quick update on this.

Hooked up the XS3 and started with Sinatra as I know the album well and 😳. Man alive this amp is good. Much more smooth but with more detail and separation. Bass doesn’t sound boomy at all now even with the speakers about 3in from the wall and no port bungs.

The main thing I noticed is that I didn’t need to keep adjusting the volume down on the louder parts of the music which annoyed me with the Rega.

The XS3 sounds very even over different records too. After a while I just found myself enjoying what I was listening to without thinking of playing with the volume dial.

Lovely amp.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
The XS3 is a step up from the Elex without question. Going to try the Elicit or perhaps a MF M6i?
 

mikeinthemidlanda

Novice Member
I tried the Elicit in the demo room at the store and I didn’t like it. I should probably try it at home.

The issue is that the XS3 is over twice the price of the Elex R. Anyone know whether the 5SI would give me the same kind of sound as the XS3? I could get an x demo XS3 for £1600 odd online but it kinda feels out of order if I don’t buy from them after they’ve helped me with the demos 🤔
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I don’t buy from them after they’ve helped me with the demos
You can always try to push for a deal with them, they want your custom after all. I prefer to deal with my local AudioT and have bought a lot of gear from them and have never been refused some kind of deal. It's also easier to talk to the purchasing dealer if problems arise.

As for the XS3 being better than the Elex so it should be being twice the price. A Marantz pm8006 would be a comparison against the Elex but that would not be as good as the XS3. It sounds (pun unintended) as if you are more at home with the rather relaxed and warmer Naim signature than the attack of the Regas. Musical Fidelity, I feel would fall between the two camps with Marantz being warmer still.
 

LampPost

Member
New you would like it! Did you try the XS2? It is 98% of the XS3's sound... Forget the 5SI it' not in the same league, I have owned all three over the years.

Re the dealer, ask him for a price for the XS3 he lent you as it's now ex-demo!! Dealers can offer good discounts on Naim units so haggle and see what they can do.
 

mikeinthemidlanda

Novice Member
The Naim sound is def for me. I think home demo is the only way forward. The Neats have never sounded so good.
Not heard the XS2. Prob is by the time you’ve added a phono stage you’re about the same price as the XS3. I’d also prefer fewer boxes on my cabinet too.

Best I’ve seen the XS3 for is about £1,600. For me personally I don’t think there’s any point going up the ladder any further with amps. I’d maybe spend any future money on the turntable Although I’m really happy with the sound of the system now.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I’d maybe spend any future money on the turntable
Forget snap crackle and pop and buy a good SACD player. :)

I think the Naim is more than capable of driving better speakers than the Neats. Providing that is your positional woes can be altered. I'd love better speakers with my Rega but life keeps getting in the way.
 

mikeinthemidlanda

Novice Member
I’m loving vinyl atm. I like collecting records too 🤓. What would better speakers look like for my system? In the future I’d go for Neat Motive Sx2 floor standers for a bit more bass.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I've not heard the Neats with any Naim but have listened to Focal Aria speakers paired with a XS2, fair while ago. Focal and Naim are owned by the same company and it's a fair assumption that they would have been developed together. I would avoid KEF speakers with Naim.

 

LampPost

Member
Agree, KEF and Naim are not a good match, what is your room size Mike?
 

raptor

Well-known Member
I have been happily running a Naim 5si with Neat Motive SX2 for 12 months now and well chuffed with my setup (yes more money better amp) but when do you stop ? only way i will go further up the ladder is if i had a dedicated room for music.
As for Naim & Neat speakers i think make a good pairing but that's me others might say different.
 

nikhps

Novice Member
Agree, KEF and Naim are not a good match, what is your room size Mike?
An interesting thread. I’ve recently bought a pair of KEF R5’s ‘blind’ as couldn’t resist the deal. Currently I’m running them via a creek evolution 2 and Creek 8 mk2 Pre amp and I’ve been surprised at how well the creek combo has driven the KEF’s, particularly considering their £700 and £120 rrp. I have however got the upgrade bug and one of the amps on my radar was the naim xs3 but notice there isn’t much love for it as a match for the KEF’s. Whats the main issue with this pairing?
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Whats the main issue with this pairing?
Bass response and control. For some reason the Naim seems too slow for the KEFs, may be different on the XS3, I auditioned the XS2. The Elicit gives a bass note, it's quick enough for you to discern the start and end of a bass note on a bass guitar. With the XS2 those notes were lost one into the other. Same with drum strikes. There was little to choose between the mids but I also though strikes on a high hat were cleaner with the Elicit.

I was really disappointed with the Naim as on paper it was the amp I needed, HT by-pass good headphone circuit. It's inability to make the R300s sound good was something of a shock. I went back and forth a good few times in the audition room The Elicit had me grinning like the Cheshire Cat, still smiling even now.
 

nikhps

Novice Member
Thanks for your insight. I’ve got the elicit on my radar but yet to audition. How would you describe its overall presentation with the KEF R series? I’m also potentially thinking about a Marantz ki ruby although having had Marantz amps in the past I have found them a bit dull so have my reservations. I have tried an Arcam SA30 with my KEF’s but not convinced it’s the best pairing.
 

LampPost

Member
Thanks for your insight. I’ve got the elicit on my radar but yet to audition. How would you describe its overall presentation with the KEF R series? I’m also potentially thinking about a Marantz ki ruby although having had Marantz amps in the past I have found them a bit dull so have my reservations. I have tried an Arcam SA30 with my KEF’s but not convinced it’s the best pairing.
The Ruby is a different beast from other Marantz amps as it is class D, there is nothing dull about it. My Harbeth's need a lot of watts to work well so the choice of class D was a no brainer. Have a listen with your R5's and see what you think.
 
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Khazul

Well-known Member
You'll certainly get musicality with the XS2 and good voicing, that didn't disappoint with the Naim. It may suit the Neats better than it does KEF as they don't dig as deep. Can you get them on home demo first as that would be the best way to tell.
IMHO Naim amps seem better when driving smaller speakers where bass control may be less of an issue. Then I find they sound very good. But throw huge floor standers at them, then TBH my impression was the Naim amps I listened to a few years ago didnt really seem any better than my cheap yamaha AVR (but with a lot of added detail of course however I just couldn't get over the unsatisfying bass and expected a lot better really).

I can imagine them being very much enjoyed by those into classical and any music genres whos production tends to lack and/or roll off bass (which seems to include a lot of rock/metal etc too). But for most EDM and a lot of funk, soul etc - I wouldn't touch them with a barge pole.
 

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