Bluesound Node2i+Naim NDAC vs Naim ND5XS2

I now use a Bluesound Node 2i connected to a BelCanto 1.5 DAC; I also connect a CD transport (Audiolab CDT6000) to the BelCanto.
I also own a Naim CDX2 + XP5XS, which for several reason I’m thinking to sell (I use to listen mainly to LP’s and to streamed music, moreover I need to save space, etc).
Nevertheless I can’t deny the Naim combo is neatly better than the more than honest BS+BC one.
so I’m thinking about two ways to get sound improvement while keeping my aims:

  1. ND5XS2
  2. NDAC
    in first case, I would connect the CDT to ND5XS2, whilst both BS and BC would go; in the second, only the BC would go and both BS and CDT would be connected to the NDAC.

Dealing with SQ only, which one of the two solutions would be better ?

I haven’t heard the exact gear you are referring to but when I first started dabbling with streaming I bought the original Bluesound Node and shortly afterwards added a Naim DAC V1. I wasn’t really happy with the sound of the Node to be honest. It seemed to be a little bass heavy and this remained even when plugged in to the Dac V1. Shortly after I sold both and bought the original ND5XS which was very good.

Based on this I would go for the ND5XS2 but others may disagree…

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Option 3, ndx2, keep only the audiolab transport plugged into the ndx2 for your cd collection.

first of all, welcome zulele!

to answer your question, I would go for ND5 XS2, first, then eventually would add the nDAC! :wink:



I tried the nDAC on a node 2i and there was a difference but it wasn’t big. Same story with the Qutest.
The node 2i isn’t the cleanest transport I guess. I now have a ND5XS2 and it’s much better. I also tried an nDAC on that but I didn’t agree with the positive opinions that you often read here. The soundstage was bigger and bass was better but the sound signature was too dark and relaxed compared to the bare ND5XS2. Especially with female voices the clarity of the nDAC lacked and the bare ND5XS2 sounded clearer and more open.

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Thank you all for your comments.
NDX2: too expensive for me, though I know it would be the best choice
@Weik3: some told me the DACV1 is not as good as NDAC, so I’m sure you are right, but maybe the response would be different about NDAC
@essezeta: thanks, but actually I’m not really new here, I had an account I’ve not used for a long time now, so maybe it went off. Apart from that, no: or ND5XS2 alone, or NDAC alone, not the two of them.

thanks, very interesting.

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You are right that the DACV1 is not as accomplished as the nDac.

At the time and contrary to dealer advice I thought that the quality of the streaming transport wouldn’t affect sound quality much and it was the quality of the DAC that was crucial. Unfortunately I was wrong!

I tried the node2i with nDAC. Didn’t do much in my opinion. So it was returned. Now I run the node2i bare but with a better power cable. If upgrading from the node2i I would probably look at a overall better streamer and internal DAC rather than trying out different ”bolt on” solutions. For example the ND5xs2.


I currently run a Node 2i into an Ndac for my streaming requirement but actually find it very good. Initially I was running the Node in Wi-fi mode into the Ndac. I thought it was very average and almost sent it back but my dealer convinced me to hard-wire it with decent Ethernet cable and to try the EE8 switch. This made a huge difference. I will get round to trying a more upmarket streamer but for the moment I’m very happy.


Interesting! I don’t really doubt the nDAC but I could not pinpoint what was holding back the improvement which should be noticeable.
Might have been the ethernet cable, or the specific DAC unit, or the digital output/cable from the node2i. Got impatient and did not fel like trying a lot of cables, switches etc. and pay extra for that. Decided to put the money into a HiCap DR for the superline. No doubts whatever about the improvements when I tried it out! That is how a good upgrade should work. :blush:

I’ve been surprised how sensitive the streaming chain can be. Just one thing wrong and it can sound very off but get it right and it can sound quite amazing.

I cut the kettle plug off an old Naim mains lead and soldered on a two pin figure of eight plug for the Node and even this made a big difference. I’ve also so listened to a few Dac’s now and always preferred the drive, rhythm and pace of the Ndac, so typically Naim! Plus, it’s so universal. I have my Sky box and DVD connected, which also reduces the inputs into the pre-amp. I find it a great little device.


Yes, I also experienced improvement with a better power cable for the node2i. Had access to a nordost purple flare which is connected since.


I’m running a node2i with bifrost2 and there is a very noticeable improvement with bifrost2 over node2i by itself!

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Hi @zulele . I don’t have an ND5 XS2 myself, but from all the posts I’ve read and research I’ve done; in your situation I would get the ND5 XS2.
The BS can be very good at a certain level, but for streaming with Naim gear, I believe you’d be leaving a fair chunk of SQ on the table with it.

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You mean the Node2i DAC performed similar to the nDAC?!

Not exactly. I couldn’t hear a clear improvement with the nDAC connected to node2i. Why that was so is still a bit unclear to me. It doesn’t mean the two DAC:s perform the same, but that my configuration/connections didn’t show the improvement I expected with the nDAC. A few reasons for this was suggested here on the forum and by the dealer. Mostly concerning connecting cables like coaxial, ethernet or rca, quality of the digital output from the node2i or perhaps an nDAC in need of service or firmware update, or even unrealisticly high expectations on my part :slight_smile:

The most interesting test though, was to play Flac files from USB on the nDAC, and I had a hard time to hear clear improvements compared to node2i or CD5x even then. I really wanted to, but felt it was somehow wrong when you have to struggle to hear improvement, for whatever reason.

I might try other DACs on the Node2i in the future, but most likely I would demo a better streamer/DAC (like ND5XS2 ) to try to avoid most of the complexity. But who knows maybe I will try another DAC again and see how it turns out.

At the moment the node2i is doing ok with a better powercable and I’m happy that the vinyl playback still is better, which sort of justifies the new HiCAP DR on the Superline :slight_smile:

I think your question is the best use of abbreviations ever. :wink:

Keep things simple and go for ND5XS2 but demo first.

The nDAC likes a good feed. I replaced my Arcam rPlay with an ND5XS for a significant improvement.

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