Audio quality from ripped cd on streamer vs cd player

Hi @chergui and welcome to the forum.

I have to say I was surprised by your observations on rips vs CDs, but of course, we all hear things differently.

FWIW my experience of streaming started with a CD5XS/nDAC/SN1. I also had a spare Mac Mini to hand, so tried using the digital output from that into the nDAC to listen to CDs ripped into iTunes. To my ears, the rips sounded just a little superior to playing the CDs. The uplift was small but consistent and particularly noticeable on orchestral music. I moved on to a 272/250, but kept the CD5XS and found that the sonic advantage of rips over CDs was reinforced and that is even more true with my current (non-Naim streamer). In all cases, I was using the CD player as a transport, so not really comparing DACs. Your comparison involves two different DACs which makes your findings even more intriguing.

I hope you continue enjoying your system.


I’m using Transparent Musicwave speaker cable. The dealer said most people notice more of a difference between the ND5XS2 and NDX2 when a power supply is used and the upgrade path is another reason I went with the NDX2. To me, the difference was night and day even without the PS. The improved audio quality with the streamer is there with certain sources, just not the CD rips.

I’ve found classical tracks on Tidal that also sound flat so I’m leaning towards going for the best quality recordings.

Thanks Roger. I am really enjoying my system. It is strange that people have different experiences with different systems on the cd rips. One thing I might add is that the Totem Tribe Tower speakers are very very good. They weren’t cheap but I felt they revealed details that all the other speakers I compared them with didn’t. I tried B&W (can’t remember model) at a bit lower price point and they didn’t compare. Maybe I’m getting more detail out of my setup with them.

I found this free download that has 10 different audio files of varying quality. My next question was how much of a difference the audio quality makes on the streamer. There isn’t much of a difference on my system between CD quality, 24-bit/192Khz, and DSD256. The difference was very subtle between the lowest and highest quality (or file size) and in most cases inaudible to me. I suspect as I upgrade the system there might be more of a difference. But there was no difference as great as between the ND5XS2 and the NDX2 which was completely different on my setup. It’s a fun test. I would be interested to hear what others find. Of course, I’m not sure how these files were produced. I’m assuming each was re-mastered from the original source. The difference is so little that I think a good recording is more important than the format. This is what I would expect. For years CD’s were enough to create high end systems. As long as it’s a good recording it shouldn’t hold the system back. Yet I can’t rip a CD and get better sound on a play that costs 5x as much as the cd5si. I guess I need the power supply, and possibly an amp in the same series.

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If you want to compare different resolutions the website has a page called hi res testbench with different resolutions all produced from the same master by simple downsampling, all high quality recordings.


Can you please tell us a bit more about the connections between the computer with the CD rips and the NDX2 and between the NDX2/XS2?

The computer is connected to the same router as the NDX2. PC uses 1Gbps ethernet and cat 5e to the router. The NDX2 uses a new 50 ft Cat 7 ethernet cable. NDX2 is connected to the XS3 with the DIN cable it came with (SNAIC I believe). It uses the same power cables that came with the components. The router is a good quality Dlink. The network should be good. I could upgrade the PC ethernet cable to the router with cat7 also but it should be good. It is short.

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I think that the NDX2 should be outperforming the CD player, so I suspect the issue is the computer and router introducing noise that is masking some of the detail coming through from the NDX2. The best option is probably trying an audio switch between the router and the NDX2, I use the English Electric 8.

If you are ripping CDs to play, a dedicated ripper / server like the Uniti Core may be a better long term option over the CD5si.

Thank you so much @Innocent_Bystander for the 2L website referral. It’s an excellent way of comparing all the various music file resolutions with the exact same source material.
We don’t get Qobuz here in Canada … bit of an outpost, y’know. So the SL files are a big help in determining what makes my system sound the best.

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