Add a dac to NDX?

Happy New Year to my friends on the forum! I’ve received lots of great advice from folks here as many of us are spending more time than ever listening to our systems because of the pandemic. I’m considering the next potential system improvement and leaning towards adding an external dac to my ndx. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the performance now but like many I’m always looking to improve! From what I gather the ndac or the chord qutest are the usual suspects. I don’t have the option to audition so if anyone has compared the performance and sonic qualities of each vs using only the ndx I appreciate your insights.

Current set up for streaming is NDX in to Supernait 2 with Neat Sx5i’s.

Given the personal preference factor, and big difference in sound quality with some, I suggest you really have to try for yourself – if not a comparison of one DAC against another, then at least the NDX against whatever DACs you consider. If you are in Britain, you can certainly try the Chord DACs by telephone order: I did just that, from Nintronics, first getting a Hugo(1) to upgrade my ND5XS (and big difference it was), subsequently trualling TT and Dave. I had to pay upfront, and cover the return postage. Upon return they refunded full original payment including outward postage.

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Have you thought about doing an A/B with the NDX2? Keep it simple?

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Before I moved onto the newer streamer in the ND5 XS2, I had the NDX/XPS-DR and ran my Rega Saturn-R DAC with it. It was difficult for me to definitively say it was an improvement…just a different presentation, and one I happened to overall prefer. This isn’t apples-to-apples in that you haven’t mentioned having an XPS, so my experience may not amount to much within the context of your post. I would assume adding an external DAC would improve matters for most so long as it was a competently designed one, obviously. However, by the time you’ve spent funds on a new DAC, it might have been well worth selling off your NDX and supplementing it with the DAC money (plus maybe a bit more set aside) toward an NDX2, even if it has to be a demo or second-hand unit.

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Thanks @Innocent_Bystander . I’m in Canada and no dealers in my part of the world but that’s an interesting suggestion about paying return postage if I found a seller willing should I want to consider a DAC.

Thanks for weighing in @Mike_S . I don’t have the opportunity to A/B where I live but you raise a factor I wasn’t considering that the NDX2 might sound significantly better than the NDX. Since you’re post I’ve searched this on the forum and it appears many feel the NDX2 performs like an NDX plus ndac. I was hoping to spend in the $2k +/- range for the dac so going from an NDX to and NDX2 is more than that but in the next year or so we might see some of the 2’s showing up on the used market which could put in in reach.

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Thanks @jsawyer09 another member mentions the ndx2 as well which wasn’t on my radar until reading up on it as a result of your suggestion. This seems like something to consider so I might put the dac $ aside and wait for a demo or used ndx2 to come up. Good advice!

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I would go for an ND5XS2 rather than NDX2, and put the substantial saving towards a DAC of your choice. You’ll still get the same newer streaming tech, plus the flexibility to find a DAC that works for you.
In my view, the NDX/NDX2 really needs a PSU upgrade to shine if using the analogue out, and that isn’t cheap.

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Absolutely agree

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I’ve never had the opportunity to listen to any Chord DAC and the consensus of this forum is that they’re very positive. I use a s/h Naim DAC that sounds great to my ears and I’m sure if you’re interested you can buy one and move it on with very little loss if it’s not to your liking.

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I find that an NDX works very well as a transport into an nDAC and PS555 for streaming files on my NAS and Tidal. A home demo of an NDX2 paired with the PS555 suggested that I would not gain much over the existing three box solution in terms of sound improvement.

Since I have no space problems or impending service deadlines, I’ll stay with what I have for the time being. Unless, perhaps, an inexpensive NDS turns up.

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The NDAC/555 is still a great DAC to my ears, despite its age. I would probably have chosen it in preference to a Chord DAC when I had my NDX/282, but for me a 3 box source, coupled with a 3 box preamp, is just more clutter than I’m prepared to tolerate.

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Your ears should be the judge. All I would add is don’t discount the possibility of exchanging the NDX for an NDS. It’s a huge upgrade and not expensive for the performance hike - according to my ears. Your ears may think different.

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You may want to try a mk1 Hugo. I ran from my NDX into a 282, 252 and 552 for a few years and was very pleased with the results… though best results were with 552.
Used a hiline to connect Hugo to NAC.
You can probably get a Hugo mk1 for good money, though demand has picked up recently seemingly, perhaps by collectors?.. anyway you can get a little taste of world class DAC.

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Where in Canada are you?

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Hi David I’m in Newfoundland

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@dave709. Newfoundland. I can see how having a local dealer would be a problem then. But the Canadian Naim dealers aren’t like the UK dealers anyway. They’ll sell you the stuff, but there’s no in-home loaner units unless you’ve known them for years and have already spent $20-30k in their shop. And even then, I believe one would have difficulties arranging an in-home test. When I walk into my local dealer who is about a 5 minute drive away; there’ll be 3 sales guys sitting there chatting away, no one else in the place (about 1000 sq feet), and none of them even look over and say hello or anything. they just ignore you unless you have your wallet out, I guess. That happened twice, and I’ve never been back in.
When I need something now, I drive 20 kms to the downtown Toronto Naim dealer. They’ll at least acknowledge your presence. But still no loaners.

I find that Quebec tends to have the largest Naim presence, maybe because of Head Office being there. So generally, there’s some very good Naim gear available thru CAM in Quebec. It’s usually in great condition too, as Naim owners tend to baby their gear a little, I think.
Cheers.

Dave

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Thanks David. I have bought some great gear via Cam over the years. Actually just picked up my SN2 from Quebec. In Toronto I’ve bought from Steve at Hi Fi Fo Fum a couple of times. Good guy and loves to chat about audio and really knows his stuff. Unfortunately with the pandemic I haven’t travelled since February and likely won’t for some time yet so auditioning the gear is a way off.

Cheers,

Dave

I have an SN2 that came from Quebec as well, Dave. It’s an excellent integrated and It drives my Kef R107’s beautifully. I have an NDS for streaming; they are available very inexpensively now because they are discontinued.
I’ve heard of Steve, but I’ve never dealt with him. Thanks for the recommendation.
And I haven’t gone anywhere since February either … except to the liquor store …
Cheers.

David

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Hi all, I have an NDX which I’ve been trialling with a Mk 1 Hugo (thanks @Simon-in-Suffolk) I’m really impressed and happy with the performance on 85-90% of my music, however on some Rock albums I find it maybe a little to clinical and loosing some of the fun from the music so I prefer the NDX Dac, is it ok to run a BNC to Coax to the Hugo whilst keeping my interconnect connected to the pre amp, allowing me to switch from Digital to Analogue output on the NDX (and change the input on my pre of course) depending on my listening mood? Thanks in advance.