Answer to a recurring question: a better streaming front-end for your ND5XS, NDX, NDS or NDac

The question is asked several times a month. If you want a better streaming front-end, which has Qobuz natively, and you don’t want to buy a ND5XS2, a NDX2 or a ND555, what are your options?

I will break them down in

  1. Software solutions (some of them with 0 costs, some of them at a cost)
  2. Streamers
  3. PC/Streamer + hardware interface

Software solutions
There are several software only solutions which work using the standard UPnP streaming interface of the Naim legacy streamers. The NDac is excluded from this section, since it doesn’t have a streaming board.

The software solutions stream Tidal or Qobuz over UPnP. The app to control your Naim isn’t the Naim app anymore, but something else.

The easiest solution is installing the MConnect or MConnectHD app from the App store on an apple phone or tablet, or the BubbleUPnP app on an Android phone. Enter your credentials for Tidal or Qobuz and you can stream from your phone to the Naim. Sound quality is adequate, but not stellar.

A free step-up is using BubbleUPnPServer which you can install on a Mac, a Windows PC, a Linux PC or a NAS. What it does is adding a UPnP interface on Qobuz and Tidal. It takes some IT skill to get it running, but when it does it is robust. The computer on which BubbleUPnPServer is running must be on and in the same network as the Naim streamer.

The advantage of BubbleUPnPServer is that you can configure it to transcode the incoming FLAC stream to a WAV stream, which is a sound quality upgrade on all first generation Naim streamers. To be able to select and play music, you need the Linn app on your phone or tablet, or the Lumín app. Both interface with BubbleUPnPServer.

A third alternative is using the Audirvana software. This is a subscription software, but it delivers excellent sound quality and a nice interface. Audirvana needs to run on a Windows PC or Mac and that computer needs to be running when being used for streaming and in the same network as the Naim streamer.

If you don’t want a laptop or PC to be the interface, you can run Audirvana on a Mac Mini or an Intel NUC machine and download their app on your phone or tablet to select and play music.

Buying a dedicated streamer with Qobuz and Tidal integration in the software of that streamer is a way to modernise the interface, but keep the Naim streamer as a DAC. The connection between the streamer and the Naim is a SPDIF cable. The coax input is preferred over the TOSLink (the glasfiber) input for sound quality.

There are a lot of streamers on the market. One of the beliefs many people have is that bits are bits and it doesn’t matter which streamer you put in from of the Naim. Almost anyone who experiences using different streaming solutions in front of an older Naim streamer will tell you it does matter. Especially if you own a Naim NDac or NDS, investing will pay off. But you certainly should read on to the third topic.

Some suggestions for streamers (the list is far from exhaustive and doesn’t pretend to be). All streamers have SPDIF out and their software does include both Tidal and Qobuz integration. Some models will have Airplay, Bluetooth or Chromecast support, if you want to use those protocols, but at least they must offer native Tidal and Qobuz integration. That requirement does exclude a lot of solutions on the market.

In order of price:

  • An Allo DigiOne or DigiOne Signature player. A raspberry Pi and Linux software based turn-key solution. Adding a lineair power supply will improve the sound quality, so there is an upgrade path.
  • A Bluesound Node 2i. Although equipped with a DAC, using its SPDIF out and the BluOS software is a very user friendly and affordable solution. In terms of sound quality, it isn’t the best. This is often recommended, but if you want good quality sound with a NDX, NDS or NDac, something better is needed.
  • Lindemann Limetree Bridge II. A German manufacturer, paying attention to electrical design of the streamer and having adequate and easy to use software. A large step up in term of sound quality and at a retail price below a 1000 Euro in most European countries.
  • Innous Pulse Mini or Pulse. Pricey streamers, but for NDS or NDac owners worth a look.

PC/Streamer + hardware interface
This option is almost never mentioned on this forum, but it is a great alternative if you are really looking for optimum sound quality. It delivers great flexibility in what to choose as a streaming front-end.

The hardware is a Mutec MC-3+ USB . It allows connection over either USB or SPDIF and it has a SPDIF out. It will reclock the incoming signal and puts out a much cleaner signal into the DAC. Mutec is from the professional audio world and is used for its signal clocking solutions. It takes an effort to set-up, but once running it will work without a hitch, probably outliving the Naim streamer. It really opens up the sound and soundstage of Naim streamers.

The interesting feature is that you can choose to use a PC with a USB connection to the Mutec as a frontend, and pick one of the software solutions mentioned like Audirvana. Using a PC also means you can use the native Tidal or Qobuz PC apps and choose USB as the audio output device, if you would prefer. For Mac users, using the Tidal and Qobuz native apps over USB is a bit tricky, since a Mac doesn’t optimise the output based upon the bitrate of the music played. Audirvana is a better solution for Macs.

You can also choose one of the streamers mentioned, or even a streamer with a USB out. Since the Mutec is in-between the streamer and the Naim, you can invest in a lower cost streamer than you would do without a Mutec. Still, using a better streamer is clearly audible, but you don’t need a very fancy one. Bottomline, this isn’t a cheaper solution, but in terms of optimising sound quality one worth auditioning. Also, because it offers a lot of flexibility in future upgrade paths: the Mutec will keeps its worth when upgrading the streaming front-end or the DAC or when reselling.

Please, add your suggestions below.


Another way that is simple to configure and works, although it only works to 96kHz 24 bit, is Chromecast Audio.

In their wisdom Google stopped making these a couple of years ago but you can still buy them on eBay, albeit they cost a lot more than when they were still in production.

Anyway right now I am listening to Qobuz streamed from my iPhone to my Office SuperUniti. The Chromecast device is connected by an optical cable to a digital input on the SuperUniti.

I believe this isn’t gapless playback and I am getting short breaks that don’t happen when I use the Naim app into my Nova, but I expect that is sortable as it didn’t use to happen!

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Chromecast audio is not gapless, unfortunately. And the Chromecast Audio device rates in sound quality in the lower segment of possible solutions. Not to give it a thumbs down or anything, but to give perspective on someone reading your suggestion.

Thanks a lot for your informative post. I just wondered if it would make sense to use a mutec between the blue sound node latest version via its usb out. Would that improv3 the sound quality of the bluesound?

Primare use Chromecast for streaming Qobuz from its devices and is certainly not a poor relation in quality terms…

An NP5 streamer is noticeably better than a Bluesound node digital output when streaming Qobuz for example.


Make your legacy streamer as a Roon Endpoint - use a UPnP Bridge with a Roon Core for music management, format conversion, internet streaming services (Tisal/Qobuz), Tidal Master support etc.
This continues to use the Ethernet input of the Network player (its best input for SQ verses SPDIF when used just as a DAC IMHO).


Yes, but given its price I think ( not know, think ) that investing in a better streamer will have a more significant effect.

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Yes, but it doesn’t meet the Qobuz integrated criterion, and Chromecast is not gapless.

PRIMARE will introduce Qobuz integration in their Prisma software, but it is not available now.

Understand, looking at a low(er) cost power supply solution for the node may then be an alternative way forward

The node doesn’t have an easy upgrade for the power supply. There are kits where you can replace its internal power supply, but you got to open the Node and replace some stuff inside with a chance of breaking it.

Even then, the result of the upgrade kits are not that significant. Again, better to upgrade the streamer if you want better sound quality.

Yes, I agree. In my current set up I leave some SQ ‘on the table’ and the only way to improve seems to be to spend more and replace the streamer. You don’t mention Lumin and Auralic. Is that because in terms of cost you are approaching Naim territory?

Those are nice options as well. They are in the price league of the Innous streamers and up

A very helpful and informative post, thank you. I’m actively looking at at this right now for my NDS.

Tried streaming to NDS in DAC mode from for Bluesound Node 2i but SQ dropped substantially.

Tried BubbleUPnP server running on my laptop but couldn’t get it to work.

Currently running Qobuz from Audirvana via laptop. Works perfectly apart from HQ radio (eg Paradise) which plays for a few secs then drops out. It’s a pain having to use laptop though.

I’m looking for a dedicated streaming server that will sit on my network and be controlled by my phone.

Currently considering a Mac Mini or Innous Pulse or Pulse Mini.

I had hoped the Innous would send WAV files to my NDS ethernet port via my Cisco router but is this not the case? If not then it’s looking like a Mac Mini as I want to use as much of my NDS functionality as possible, so not in DAC only mode.

Just to add to your list of mid priced streamers, the Silent Angel Munich M1T and the Nuprime stream 9. About the Nuprime, I have not seen reviews. Would be interested if anyone gained experience with this one.(although no Roon)

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For the record, if you use the Logitech Media Server you can get gapless playback from the Chromecast Audio puck. It’s a compromise, of course. You need to load the Chromecast Bridge plug-in. Then in settings, set Transcode to FLAC and check the Flow box next to it.

Note - I have tested Chromecast with my ND5-XS2, but I do not use it. I use JRiver as a server. And JRiver has confirmed to me that it has no equivalent feature. Hence - JRiver for Naim; LMS for Chromecast pucks.

Maybe you could try an Innuos Zen, the Nds connected to its port, and then you can have Innuos Sense app, with all the online streaming platforms. ?

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I think the Innuos Sense app has the option to transcode to WAV, but not sure.
Can any Innuos owners confirm?

I’m in a similar position: Mac Mini / Audirvana into my NDS works nicely. Wondering if an Innuos Pulse Mini would be a worthwhile upgrade, but unable to demo : (

If you want to upgrade the sound from that setup, adding a decent switch powered by a good and fast lineair power supply will give you a lift (if you haven’t done that already), or alternatively, adding a Mutec and have an USB out from the Mini into the Mutec. That last setup I’ve heard and it is very good indeed. It is hard for a streamer (which is a small computer with hopefully optimised circuity if you look at it from a design point of view).

A pulse mini – which doesn’t have the power supply niceties - is a thousand Euros and adding a Mutec to most 1000 Euro streamers I heard, really makes a difference. The Pulse is 2600 Euros and it should really outperform will it better a 1200 Euro investment in a Mutec USB+. Given that you already did invest in a Mac Mini and Audirvana, the choice would be a bit different when you would start from scratch. The price gap is much closer then.

There is a lot of ‘marketing premium’ you pay for consumer grade audio devices over pro audio devices, which are priced much more sensible. They don’t market themselves that much, it is all reputation in the professional world, which spread by word of mouth + some investment in ‘ambassadors’ for the brand.

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I currently access Qobuz using my 2017 Melco N1A. I connect a Topping D10s to the Melco using USB this gives me a SPDIF coaxial out that is then connect to the NDX. The downside is I have to use the Linn Kazoo app to control Qobuz.

I will eventually get an NDX2.


I always wonder when people figure out that an unbalanced setup is not doing them any favours. But to each their own.

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