I do appreciate that I can improve my system by upgrading the power supplies etc…
Originally I decided to go down the stand alone DAC route, served by my Roon Nucleus, which also contains my stored music on a SSD drive. Using the Roon Nucleus and a stand alone DAC does work well, but could I do better to complement my Naim amplification?
At the time (9 months ago) I wasn’t sure whether to go for a dedicated Streamer/Player, like the NDX 2, or other high end brand. I recall at the time, some people had issues with the NDX 2 screen?
I used to keep all my music on a NAS, but this was old and on it’s last legs. I love Roon, and the Nucleus serves as my storage as well as the Roon Core. (An expensive way to do it, I know) My small music library consists of ripped CD’s and 24/96 Hi-Res downloads.
I would like your advice please…Would a dedicated Streamer/Player, with it’s own on board DAC, be better than my Roon Nucleus/DAC set up? Thanks guys.
My system: Matrix Audio Pro Sabre MQA DAC - NAC 282 - NAP 300DR - HiCapDR - Kudos Titan 606. Audioquest Interconnect cables.
As far as i can recall you may be one of the only people on the forum using that particular dac, if so you will get a lot of opinions. But not necessarily the comparison you are looking for. You need to borrow an Ndx2 for a home demo or take your dac to a dealer.
For what its worth you have a great system that an Ndx2 would be a great front end…just an opinion, best of luck.
A great point Gazza, thanks. Believe it or not, before my DAC/Nucleus purchase, I was using a Bluesound Node. (which was from my previous system) I did a demo at the the dealer, with the same amplification, Bluesound v NDX 2…Personally, I couldn’t hear the difference. Must be my ears!
I appreciate the best place to do the demo was in my own home.
Gary, you are right, it’s impossible to give a useful opinion without practical experience of the dac. It may be wonderful or it may be useless. My main concern is whether it is sufficient front end to do justice to a 282/300 and Kudos 606. A sensibly balanced Naim source would be NDX2/555PS. Sure it costs £12,000 but that’s the point of a comparison. The other unknown is how good the Nucleus is as a USB source. Most people use it as a streaming source but maybe there are those who use it directly into a dac. If it’s a superb USB source then maybe a really good DAC could be as good a solution as the NDX2/555 for less money.
A streamer like the Auralic Aries g2.1 is a lot cheaper than an NDX2/555. Only you can decide what is best in your system.
It certainly is, though you need a dac to go with it. It’s an attractive product. Listening is the only way to come to a sensible decision.
I agree hungryhalibut. Originally, that was the method in my madness, to achieve the same, but cheaper. But have I cut too many corners? Just because the Nucleus and DAC do the job, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s doing the 282/300DR justice.
I have been looking at ‘Transport’ only streamers, which then require a DAC.
This leads me to another question, what is most important, the DAC or the Transport?
In my experience the DAC is the most significant part of a digital replay source, in terms of both character and sound quality. Some people prefere Naim DACs, some prefer Chord, some others. You would need to compare your DC with Naim, and possibly others, to decide if something else better suits you. The renderer stage can make a difference, but less so than the DAC. If your Roon Nucleu is your renderer, how much better anything else as will sound doing that duty may depend, amongst other things, on what your Roon Nucleus is computer-wise, how it feeds the DAC, and how susceptible your DAC is to any RF noise. A Naim (or Chord) DAC wouldn’t give you the second stage MQA unfold on MQA streaming, but it’s value In terms of sound quality is questionable anyway.
Sorry, I can’t answer that as I have no experience of either as separates. There is however something rather nice about a matching set of Naim boxes.
I think the OP has a DAC already.
You have a great DAC there is no need to change it. It already has a good usb implementation going by the reports and measurements so this is not a weakness. Roon do recommend to have the core seperate to the audio chain by having another endpoint over the network connected to the DAC. But you DAC has very good usb implementation to reduce noise etc much like my RME does so it becomes much less of an issue and I tried mine using several streamers and inputs all sound as good as each other.
I have my core seperate but as I want to cut down on the amount of boxes I decided the other day to try it connected to my RME DAC directly. Can’t say I noticed any difference to what I was using before and still sounded sublime. I do use an LPS on my core though it might help a bit to.
The only way you will know is to try something else out and see. But I would look at a transport only rather than one with a DAC as you have a very good DAC already. Perhaps Lumin U1 mini or Stack Audio Link ii.
Thanks. I twigged that and was simply pointing out the the Aries is not a direct comparator with the NDX2. The Aries/dac is the appropriate comparator. I know some use the NDX2 as a pure transport. It may be worth trying both that and indeed the cheaper ND5XS2 into the existing Dac. So many options!
Like others who have replied to you, I have not heard your dac in a system so it is not really possible to provide an informed view on how it may sound versus a dac from Chord, Schiit, Holo Audio etc, let alone a direct connection from the Nucleus versus Nucleus via network to an NDX2.
What I can say based on personal experience is that a decent USB cable, such as that made by Curious cables in Australia, improved the musical performance of my Audiostore Prestige 3 Roon server usb connection to a Chord M Scaler & DAVE, which is a similar server + dac set up.
However, going from Roon Server out via ethernet switch to a Sonore opticalRendu, which acts as streamer & Roon endpoint, then usb from opticalRendu to dac was substantially more musically satisfying to us than server to dac via USB. This server - streamer - dac set up was preferable to us than a Moon 780d v2 streamer/dac or a Naim ND555 streamer/dac. We would however readily acknowledge that others may prefer the ND555 with 1 555PS as the end result is different rather than inferior or better.
You may also consider an Auralic Aries G2 or a DCS Network Bridge as the dacless streamer if you wish. We compared these two a couple of times and preferred the DCS network bridge over the Aries G2 each time.
In summary, given your amp & speakers, an NDX2/555PS may provide a more balanced system for you than a bare NDX2, as @anon4489532 has already indicated.
If you wish to keep the streamer separate from the dac, as we have done, then our experience would suggest that either a DCS Network Bridge, Sonore opticalRendu or NDX2 in dacless streamer mode would all be well worth auditioning. Given the august company of the other products, the oR represents astonishing value for money though.
Enjoy the auditions.
Best regards, BF
Thanks @CrystalGipsy, I wasn’t aware that the Roon Nucleus advised that. I have looked at the Lumin. Will also take a look at the Stack Audio.
@CrystalGipsy I forgot to ask you, where is your Core?
I haven’t personally any experience of your specific DAC, but by all accounts and according to the reviews I have read it’s a very decent DAC indeed.
Unless you have a specific requirement to add a streamer (for example a desire to go down the route of external streaming services with Tidal or Qobuz), I would be inclined to leave well alone. The difference between your DAC and those of a similarly priced or slightly more expensive alternative DAC are likely to be subtle, and there would be no guarantee that you would prefer the alternative DAC. There will no doubt be better DACs if you are prepared to spend a lot of money, but they are likely to be significantly more expensive unless you go down the second hand route.
If you do go down the route of external streaming services from Tidal or Qobuz, then I would second the recommendation above for the Auralic Aries G2. This would sound great and would be pretty much a plug and play option. One of the Sonore options would be cheaper (and still pretty good although it would require an additional power supply) if you don’t mind a little ‘noodling’ to get it to work perfectly.
If I was in your shoes, (and I don’t know your budget) I would keep the DAC and everything else, and take a look at the Sonore Signature Rendu. Still expensive, but it will knock the socks off of a lot of even more expensive gear. You could save some $ (almost half) by doing their separates (opticalRendu, Sonore Power Supply and opticalModule). With my DAC V1 (perhaps about on the same level as your Matrix) every improvement I’ve made coming before it has netted in improved sound quality, so yes the DAC is important, but for streaming it’s not the end all be all. I’m currently using the opticalRendu Roon Lite version with the Sonore PS and it’s quite sublime imo.
In support of the “try it and see” approach, I can echo @CrystalGipsy and say that the DAC input circuitry has rather a lot to do with the nature of perceived differences in streamer (I too have an RME).
My suggestion, since you have Roon and while you explore and schedule demos with the other streamers suggested in this thread, is to buy a RPi4, load up RoPieee, and use it as a first point of comparison. It’s the easiest (and cheapest, at about $100 in the currency of your choice) way to get a networked endpoint between your DAC and Roon Core, so it will tell you something right away. Then, as you bring other pieces in and out, it can give you a bit of continuity for evaluating any differences you hear… that could be useful especially now when logistics are complex and it may take some time to work through the options.
This is my advice for choosing an approach to answer the question in the subject of the thread, as well as for establishing a value-for-money scale to help with your purchase decision. Have fun, enjoy the process, then enjoy whatever you choose moving forward.