Audio quality from ripped cd on streamer vs cd player

Hi. I just bought an XS3, CD5si, and NDX2 with some Totem Tribe Tower speakers. All of my music is on CD (mostly classical) so I wanted the CD player. But after hearing the NDX2 I couldn’t resist. I first tried the ND5XS2 streamer but I found the NDX2 far better comparing Tidal and the Internet radio so I upgraded.

I’m new to digital music. I thought if I ripped CD’s and played on the NDX2 I would hear improved sound quality vs the CD5si, but they sound the same to me. It’s not what I expected. If Naim still had different CD player models I assume I would hear improved quality on better players. I know the NDX2 is a superior source because I can hear it with various music on Tidal/internet radio and there was a huge improvement comparing the ND5XS2 and the NDX2. So I’m confused about the CD rips.

I have some 24 bit FLAC that I obtained off the internet (free legit samples) and they generally sound better than a CD source. I tried various CDs of varying quality and it always sounds the same on the two players. Can anyone explain this? My dealer said I could rip a CD and it would sound better on the streamer but I haven’t found that.

Tidal is great but the CD selection is extremely limited. I buy my CD’s on Arkiv Music. My strategy to rip and play on the streamer doesn’t seem like it will give the best quality. In some cases I’ll have no choice just because of Arkiv’s large selection. So should I prefer 24-bit FLAC recordings from a site such as HD tracks whenever possible?

And I love my system. It is amazing!

If you have a CD5si and an NDX2 connected too the NAIT XS3 at the same time, make sure that the NDX2 signal ground is set to floating. That will avoid two signal grounds which can result in a lowering and levelling of performance between the CD player and streamer.

Also, how are you ripping the CDs? For the best sound quality I would advise using a ripping program like EAC or DBpoweramp and rip to WAV, or at least FLAC.

Since they sound the same now you could just remove the CD player from the system and set the NDX2 to default to make that your signal earth. My ND555 sounded much better like that compared to having it on floating with another box providing signal earth.

You are right - ripped CDs should sound better on your NDX2 than on the CD5si. I wonder if you are ripping the MP3, which won’t sound that great. Rip to Flac using dBpoweramp, store them on a nas and use Asset to play them.

A lot of the stuff on the Arkiv site is available as high res downloads, which usually sound better than CD quality versions.

I prefer my rips to WAV on a Uniti Core to Qobuz streams, even hires ones. Metadata handling is a bit clunky but I can’t fault the sound. Some say something like a Melco does an even better job but I’ve not put that to the test. I bought my Core when it was announced as I didn’t have the patience to rip all my CDs by PC. I haven’t regretted that purchase.

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I would say the difference between CD and ripped CD is not night and day but it is there. If it’s not there for you then I wouldn’t assume it’s a box quality issue. I would start by thinking about cable dressing; box order; what your boxes are sitting on and the cables you’re using.

High res files in my limited experience are a mixed bag indeed and they’re not necessarily the best inducator as to what’s going on as some can sound detailed but a little thin and that doesn’t necessarily show up on some classical music.

I’d rip to FLAC rather than WAV. I personally can’t hear any difference between them although some people swear they can. Mainly though, if you’ve a classical collection you’re soon going to get fed up managing the metadata of wav files.

When I had a CDX2 I was able to compare CD to the same CD ripped & played on the then new NDX. Yes there is a difference in SQ, but impossible to say it was because of the different players or the ripped file.
Also on NDX the files ripped & played in WAV was better SQ than FLAC. However as soon as Asset UPnP software became available for Synology NAS & the fact that it included a transcoding system that worked correctly, I’ve converted all my WAV to FLAC & transcode (play as) WAV.

I have ripped tracks to WAV and FLAC using Dbpoweramp and stored them on my laptop and also copied them to a USB stick. Played via UpNp or with the USB I hear no difference compared to the original CDs. Speakers or headphones - no difference, no better, no worse. What sort of difference should the ground switch position make? Again I hear none. As I commented in a different post, I am very lucky because all my sources sound great to me :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:!


Another thing that may also be considered here is that the CD5SI is a formidable machine that punches way above it’s weight, more so than it has any right to. I’d expect a NDX 2 to show it a clean pair of heels but i also think it’s fair to say that those who have not heard a CD5SI would be a little startled to be fair.

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Mike-B, my upnp server was originally just windows (it is built in if enabled). Like most microsoft s/w, it doesn’t work. I’ve switched to Universal Media Player. Does the upnp server do any processing on the audio files? In UMP there is a transcoding settings tab. The only audio transcoders are FFmpeg Audio and txMuteR audio. I thought it just packetized the data raw file, transmitted, and the player does its thing.

My components are on a TV stand that has glass shelving with big glass posts separating two shelves. I’m wondering how much vibration there is in the glass. It’s pretty thick. I have the XS3 on the bottom and the sources beside each other on the upper shelf. I’m using the shipped Naim power cables. My dealer suggested upgrading the power cables when I’m ready.

I’m starting to think the following are going on comparing to Tidal.

  1. Later recordings are better recorded than one from 10 years ago .
  2. Re-mastering from original source using latest tech is better than ripping a CD.
  3. Classical music is recording a large group compared to vocals of a small group of musicians that are likely recorded differently.
  4. The CD5si is just an awesome player as suggested.

Also I should mention that I had a lot of humming in my XS3 and CD5si and none on the streamer. The manual says can happen when the mains circuit is shared with household equipment which causes distortion in the waveform. But it says it shouldn’t affect sound quality. Having said that, I turned it on this morning thinking switching to floating instead of default might work. But the hum disappeared completely regardless of the setting. Not sure why sometimes the hum is not there.

I just tried changing the ndx2 to floating instead of default. It didn’t make a difference to me. I’m ripping using EAC. It creates WAV first then I convert to flac. I tried db power amp as well but it sounds the same.

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A Naim system is designed to be grounded via the source. As you have a Naim CD player, you don’t want the streamer to provide the ground as well, so you should set the ground switch to ‘Floating’ so that only the CD player handles it.
Sometimes you may get an audible hum if this isn’t set correctly, but not always.

Sorry I can’t help you much on this; I’ve used a NAS media server with UPnP from day one with streaming & even when copying files for mobile or car use I’ve never had any success using MS or Windows or UMP.
If you are using the MS/Windows machine as a server, I recommend you get a pukka music UPnP software package such as Asset UPnP for Windows.

I’m set for floating but I hear no hum or sound difference if switched to chassis

Hi Chris
Quick question if I may. I very occasionally connect a Rega Fono Mini phono preamp to input 8 on my 552 when I want to listen to an LP on my old Rega Planar 2. Should I switch the ground switch to floating on the ND555 when I have that connected? I often leave it connected when I go back to streaming on the ND
Sorry for detour.

This is often the case as far as I can tell, so if it makes no difference to the sound I think you can safely ignore the issue.

Correct. Back in my early Naim days my dealer demonstrated the effect of a hicap dr on a SuperNait 2 by only using the cd5si. It showed all the virtues of the cd5si and the difference the hicap made.

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Hi, to be honest I’m no expert on this, but given that the Fono has a wall wart PSU which will be double insulated rather than earthed, I can’t imagine it is taking the signal ground from your system, so probably best to leave the ND555 switch in the Default position. Again, it often seems to make no audible difference, at least in my limited experience, in which case I think you can safely forget about it.

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I don’t own any of the components here, but the system strikes me as unbalanced, I know “source first” is the Naim Mantra. However I am wondering if the XS3 is the limitation and not revealing the differences between the two sources, which should in theory be very different. Also what speaker cables are in use?
I have a very different system, ND5XS > Chord Qutest > SN1 (with HCDR) > WH Phantom > Dynaudio. Qutest and speaker cables were new last year. I rip to lossless FLAC using dBPoweramp and replay with Asset transcoding to WAV. The transcoding is supposed to be better with older streamers.
I continue to be blown way by how much detail and musicality I get from ripped standard CDs that I had never heard before. Just my two cents

Same here. I’m still randomly working my way through ripped CDs I’ve had for years where I’m currently hearing things that were barely there with my CDX2/XPS2.