£1000 on Naim DAC or Hicap DR?

I have a simple SN2 / Bluesound Node 2021 setup, and am wondering which of the above would give me the best bang for my buck as a relatively cheap upgrade?

Both the Naim DAC or Hicap DR seem to be available at a similar price in the second hand market.


DAC or DAC V1? That’s a good price if its the full width DAC.

Easy one to answer … Naim Dac for sure


naim nDAC for £1K sounds about right if it’s in very good condition. You do see them slightly cheaper.

Although discontinued it’s an excellent DAC. Plus you can in future add a power supply which takes it to another level.

1 Like

For the full width DAC

Get a used NDX for £995. You will NOT be disappointed.

Its not a forgone conclusion that the NDac will improve things. One member here has tried it on a Vault…similar to the node… and heard no noticeable improvement.

I’ve often wondered whether a quality DAC would significantly improve my Node2i. To my ears it sounds superb as it is - and that’s streaming through Spotify - which isn’t meant to be the best.

Might try it back-to-back against an NDX2 one day to hear the difference… :wink:

If you really must keep the Node, there is a 3rd party power supply upgrade available from TP for a few hundred quid.

1 Like

this with a hicap DR

I think that’s me, and yes I’d say there’s no discernible improvement with my Bluesound Vault as transport into the Naim DAC/SN3.

I wasn’t expecting the Bluesound’s own DAC to be at least the equal of the Naim, but it is to my ears.



On a budget ?
Definitely the Hicap DR.
As is, a simple plug and play solution using everything that should come in the box.

Not on a budget ?
Definitely the Naim dac.
Some serious TLC given will pay dividends.
This could mean paying out somewhat more for the best cables you can afford and beyond.

1 Like

Whichever you buy will be easy enough to sell on with minimal loss if you don’t find it improves things. My instinct would be that the DAC would be the one to try though

1 Like

I thought the Naim DAC was supposed to be better than the one in the NDX/NDX2. Maybe not?

I’m also reluctant to acquire a streamer with the old streaming platform. I don’t do any local streaming. All via Tidal or Spotify.

Interesting. I’d assumed the DAC would be plug and play. I suppose the cables could be additional upgrades down the line.

The Dac is sensitive to input and installation.
Sounds are very different in presentation when I compare the audio from my sky box to my Unitiserve.
Yes, movies sound great using my Audioquest optical cable and take a nice turn with BNC connection.
You still need to work at giving something to get its teeth into, whilst also looking to make sure it’s little feet and toes are in tip top condition.

Interesting feedback on different sound from different sources.

We’re about to set up nDAC fed by NDX2. We are wondering whether to feed Sky Q into NDX2 or nDAC.

Pros/cons to both approaches.

Using NDX2 means never having to change nDAC input, and NDX2 seems to provide a very good digital signal going by how it sounds into a lowly SuperUniti.

Using toslink to nDAC keeps NDX2 out of the signal stream and lets the nDAC do it’s thing directly.

Probably something we’ll need to experiment with.

I use the NDX for Spotify and it’s all the streamer I need. I have no worries about it being and old platform despite what the doom mongers say. There was a firmware update late last year to address a Tidal login issue and although it was a challenge for Naim, they delivered the goods.

Whether or not the standalone DAC is superior to the inbuilt streamer DACs is a matter of personal opinion. I personally prefer a one box solution and the performance of the NDX is outstanding for £1k even with Spotify within my system.

It’s not a great leap of faith to try an NDX first (And a great cosmetic match for your SN2). You can sell it on and recoup your outlay if disappointed, though I very much doubt you would be. It’s a low risk gamble if you are sceptical. ND5XS is also an option if you want to save a few hundred £. Either will blow away the Node.


I had the chance to try a blue sound node vs ndx into my 202/200

The ndx was way better than the node

Source first applies

When ndac is in the system you’re listening to a naim source

With blue sound in the system your super nait is amplifying that signal from the blu sound

There a lot more going on in an ndac and while it may seem that they sound similar, they are not at all and it will be reflected in the rhythmic qualities of the music and the lower noise floor then NDAC has over the other source as it has a better power supply and more complicated engineering

Music played on a naim source is a quite a musical event !

1 Like

If you connect to the NDX2 the signal still passes through the Sharc DSP in it before being fed out to the DAC, and this may well have a noticeable effect, (possibly for the better, although I can only speculate) so there’s no harm in giving it a try.