An upgrade to a SN2 - 3 perspectives


A few of you would have noticed me badgering folks about adding a HCDR to my SN2 - i had so many questions.


After discussing with a friend i am pointed to the direction of source first.

The logic being - adding an HCDR may or may not cut it for me but improving the source is the safest bet and is guaranteed results…

My primary source is the trusty Philips CD960 and i must be frank that i like it.

.But i would not know how much i am missing something"better" unless i dont try

so here goes my questions

a. Get a Naim Dac and use my Philips CD960 as transport

This will insulate me against the possibility of a second hand CDX2 breaking down on me and the associated nightmare of living far away from Naim service center.

This is also the cheapest i think and the Naim DAC requires no service at all.

b. My friend tells me my previous experience with a CD5XS would have been a one off - he is asking me to consider a CDX2 to partner my SN2. But the catch is the CDX2 will have to be 2nd hand.

Cant buy new - too costly for me.

and certainly the XPS is an impossibility for me.

c. My friend points me to the AMR CD 77 but this is expensive ( for me ) .

d. There is also another french CD player in the Euro 1600 range which interests me with a PCM 1792 DAC

As i pen down my thoughts on this thread - the writing is on the wall ( i am clearer that option 1 is most feasible ) but i realize that a dedicated CDP may outperform a DAC in most cases and will not have the headache of 2 boxes.

So i want to know if any of you use a CD transport into a Naim DAC and what has been your experience.

How far away would this combo of a Naim DAC + transport be from a dedicated player like CDX2 ?

would i be then ready for the HCDR ?

a discussion on other options is open too.

It appears to me adding the HCDR at this stage might not be advisable as i might need to up the source game.

I am not into streaming and i dont foresee it.

I like to hit the play button and be left alone - no android or ipad apps or no music apps for me.



I’m not sure I mentioned it in the other thread, but what interconnect are you using between the CD player and the SN2? A high quality connection would also improve things I think.

I guess if you are up for the challenge, a new Naim streamer with the SN2 would be a good option too,

The interconnect is a BIS Audio 2 RCA to 5 pin DIN - and it lives up to what i was told it would be. No complaints here.

But a cable can do only so much ( IMO ) so thats why my question about the source itself considering my logistical / geographical location and importantly financial limits.

A streamer is not in my shopping list - for the medium term.


1 Like

The nDAC can only be as good as the SPDIF source. The things you like about your Philips CD player may not be there using nDAC. However if you like CDX2 then nDAC will please also.


1 Like

I know this question cant be answered like that but i ask it anyways - will the Naim DAC give me the Naim - Naim synergy which i had with my earlier CD5XS and Naim nait 5i-2…


I used CD5XS as transport into nDac for several years, eventually adding an XPS as front end into SN1/HCapDR. To me, it sounded excellent. I even preferred the combination to a bare CDX2 (but that’s a player that splits opinion).

It’s worth bearing in mind that the SQ from the nDac typically depends on the transport used, so hard to say how it will pair with your Philips CD player. The Philips is a great player, so I would go ahead and try it with the DAC. If you don’t like the result, you should be able to resell with minimal loss. Or, if the budget stretches, you might even try a dedicated Meridian 200 transport.

Incidentally, my nDac setup also gave me a route into streaming (digital out from a MacMini at first). So, in view of the final comments in your OP this might constitute a warning! :grinning:



Hi, I think the thing to do within the context of where you live is buy a Naim dac, if you want more of the Naim sound.

That said, part of the charm of the Philips CD960 that you evidently love so much, may be the marriage of its transport with its dac…

1 Like


yeah - it might lead me inadvertently to the streaming alley… and make me a frequent flyer to the streaming audio section on this website :thinking:

as an aside…

I see that Philips CD960 had a brother - the Philips DAC 960 ( which could be used as a pre amp too )

but hey… maybe they are not so popular now.

Absolutely. Risk is low. If the CD player fails, a new transport is not that expensive. In case you don’t like the Naim dac, you still have your trusty old Philips.

1 Like


My experience during nine years with the Naim DAC is that matching a CD transport is very much hit and miss. I’ve tried a variety of them (digital outputs from Bryston, Electrocompaniet and Creek CD players, along with a few others) - as well as with different digital cables - but have generally preferred the sound of the standalone CD players themselves. Better integration…

If I were in the market for a standalone CD player, the Creek Evolution 100CD would be at the top of my list. It reconnected me with CD replay in a big way. Very good spatialization, definition, timbral accuracy and an accurate portrayal of note “envelope” (attack, development, extinction). I found its greatest strength was to draw my attention to the way the musicians played, or how singers articulated words. Listening sessions were immersive and prolonged.

It is also a top notch DAC with a more complete set of inputs than the Naim DAC. It gives up little to the Naim DAC, while also being easier on the ear. I believe it is in the same price range as the French CD player (which brand?) you mentioned in your first post.

Hope this helps,



I used a CD5 XS transport connected BNC to a ND5 XS2 then over a Hi-Line IC in to a SN2.

Sounded fine, worked from a setup perspective well, ultimately though I ended up just using the ND as a source and relied on CD playback (if needed) from rips and a Roon server.

It would seem in your case you want to stick to having a transport and separate DAC, you’ve probably though about it already but would you also consider streaming CD rips and then having the benefit of all the other features in a ND streamer? Less boxes and shelves if nothing else.

1 Like

Thank you for sharing your perspective.

As far as i can i wil avoid use of mobile phone or laptop or i pad in my music listening sessions.

Biggest advantage i see with CD players - i like to listen to full albums and my hands are free and i dont have to look at the phone for whatever reason.

The LP’s bring their analog sound which i love too despite having to change sides every 20 odd mins.

I think i am old fashioned in a few ways :grinning:


Happy to share views and opinions and having read back through your original post I see your goal is to stick to the simplicity of playback from a fixed source, namely a CD or vinyl. I own both a SN2 and a HiCap DR which is powering the SN2. The other comments and perhaps also your own conclusions that point to the CD player as a priority are sound in my view. There was reference to a CD5 XS in your original post, not sure if you’ve tried one and not liked it or felt it was somehow lacking for your needs but having owned a CD5 XS as well as other 5 series CD players in the past, I felt it was a competent player for my SN2 and they got on well together, both as a standalone player and as a transport in to a ND5 XS2. I ended up with that CD player myself as it gave me options to both add an external PSU to it, like a Flatcap or to use its digital out and in to an external DAC. I think if you go down the route of mixing and matching different transports and DAC’s you could end up buying and selling a lot of different options to get to where you want to be as matching them and the cabling between them can produce mixed results, both good and bad in my own experience. At least with a CD5 XS you could get one used at a reasonable price, know it will sit well in your system and also be able to tweak it later as appetite and funds allowed including adding a PSU and using it as a transport. Happy to provide any more insight having owned similar equipment as you explore your options.


Go for the DAC. Three reasons:

  1. It should sound significantly better than the 960 on its own.
  2. If you don’t like it, as someone else said, you still have the 960, and you’d be able to resell the DAC, most likely for very close to what you paid for it. Put another way, it’s very low risk - high reward.
  3. It provides a relatively straightforward upgrade path should you ever want to upgrade.

Hope that helps!

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.