Naim XPS DR – HiFi Review

Naim XPS DR – HiFi Review


This is my HiFi Review of the Naim XPS DR, it is a power supply to numerous Naim Classic and other sources in the Naim ranges.  The Naim XPS DR therefore, is a bit niche, to say the least.

hifiandmusicsource.comHowever, this is not going to be a long HiFi Review; quite simply, without hyperbole, this Naim XPS DR upgrade is incredible. I have read people talking of night and day outcomes with power supplies and not really thought it was realistic, but it is.  It is the single most stunning addition I’ve ever tried or reviewed. The problem it raises for me is can I get hold of one and then what am I going to with my speakers, which are on the edge of their capabilities.

quite simply, without hyperbole, this Naim XPS DR upgrade is incredible

Naim XPS DR Design

Naim XPS DR

It’s all looking a bit dusty!

The Naim Audio XPS is a highly sophisticated power supply with six separately regulated, very low noise outputs, featuring a huge toroidal transformer and six power regulators. These supplies are branched and re-regulated to deliver a very low noise power supply.  This XPS DR features the Naim Discrete Regulator (DR) configuration, delivering Naim Audio’s best-ever standards of stable, low-noise power.  The DR technology was developed in 2012 for the Statement pre and power project.  There’s a fair bit of chat about ‘Brains and Brawn’ in the Naim chat forums.  My ‘Brain’ is the Naim NAC-N 272 and the XPS upgrade powers the 272 instead of the straight power supply into my streaming pre-amplifier.

Quality

Obviously, with Naim, there is a quality finish oozing from black powder-coated casework.  The front fascia has a brushed and black anodised look.  The rear has just the one output to the Naim Burndy cable, the substantial locking multi-pin connector that carries both signal and power effortlessly.

Power Outputs – ± 22V, ± 10V, 2 x 15V

Shipping Weight – 15.1 kg

Weight – 12.4 kg

Naim XPS DRDimensions (HxWxD) – 87 x 432 x 314mm

Power – Mains Supply – 100V, 115V, 230V; 50 or 60Hz

Supplied with Burndy cable

Performance

Set-up

Paradigm Persona 3F

Paradigm Persona 3F

I’ve got the XPS DR driving my NAC-N 272 which in turn is going to my NAP 250 (not DR).  I’ve had to move my Unitiserve to an alternative location because I’ve run out of shelves on my stack of boxes.  I’ve also had to move the Rega Fono stage on top of the 272 and I’ve located it above the transformer which is now out of commission.  The 272 serves the 250 through the Vertere cable I reviewed a few weeks back which did, in turn, provide a hike in performance.  I think I will upgrade my 250 with DR next year.  I have an Atlas-based power supply so the Atlas Eos Modular Mains Distribution block, several Atlas Eos dd cables, etc.  I’m very fortunate that I also have the Mavros speaker cable to deliver the quality on show.  I’ve not turned the XPS DR off at all since it arrived.

The NAP 250 is driving a pair of KEF R700 speakers through Atlas Mavros speaker cable.  I am bound to say the KEFs are probably at the edge of their range with such a good set up as this.

Towards the end of my HiFi Review, I took in for review an amazing pair of Paradigm Persona 3Fs which have proved to be a serious beryllium infused step up from the KEFs, more later.

Verdict

As I’ve already noted, this XPS DR has delivered a step-change in performance and I am at a loss to understand how this works so well.  I get all of the low noise stuff but how can it really deliver this level of change?

The principle problem I have is that the KEFs are on the edge of their performance envelope and I’m sure a pair of PMC or Focal speakers could be epic.   However, listening to what I have in front of me I’m hearing ‘Towerblock’ delivered effortlessly by Julia Fordham, but with a renewed vigor and energy from this system.  The KEFs are still a delight to listen to, even if they lack low-end control.

Overall, with the XPS DR I feel the vitality and increased energy from my system, be it the astonishing ‘But Not for Me’ by Ella Fitzgerald or Grant Green’s laconic ‘Idle Moments’.  My favourite moment of the last few days has been the atmosphere in the background from the 24-bit recording of ‘Some’ by Nils Frahm.  With the XPS you get the fizzing energy from the recording that was made in single takes with no overdubs on a near two-ton Klavins M370 piano.  It really is a very special listen and even the waveguided Uni-Q tweeters on the KEFs are smiling with delight, along with their mid-range siblings.

It is a no brainer at this point to go to my favourite pieces of music including ‘A Deeper Understanding’ (War on Drugs) and then ‘OK Computer’ and ‘In Rainbows’ on vinyl.  The XPS has transferred, or dugout maybe, the vitality and urgency in these recordings and ‘House of Cards’, as always, send shivers down my spine.  I’m bound to say, I’m having a very special time.

When I end on ‘2049‘ from the soundtrack of the same name, the power from the 250 threatens to delaminate the mid ranges on the KEFs but no bother, the 3Fs are waiting to be introduced.  I’m not going to go on about the Paradigm Persona 3Fs and how good they are because I’ll run out of superlatives.   I think to suffice to say the 3Fs have the feel of the Sopras I had a couple of years ago; direct, accurate, but with a wonderful tone and control.  My review of these will follow, probably backed by the XPS DR.

Overall

I have always wondered if and how a power supply could add value to my Naim system (or any system come to that).  This XPS DR has delivered the performance boost you’d expect in spades for me, to such an extent it makes you vaguely suspicious of the underlying products.  But I won’t go there.  At these sorts of price levels and equipment specifications I think a power supply upgrade is a worthy consideration, although I read on various forums (fora?) that a 250 DR to 300DR upgrade (that also has a separate power supply) is worth consideration too.  My first award of 2020 is an ‘Outstanding’, without question.  hifiandmusicsource.com

Love 

Incredible soundstage upgrade.

Like 

Totally understated

Wish

You’re going to need another pair of speakers (in the wide-eyed style of Roy Scheider in Jaws)

 

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