CD Player, Streamer and DAC…..source

I have a great 1980’s marantz cd52se player paired with a XS3. In truth, with my new XS3 , it sounds great but having moved from my 5si I now want to improve this element of my source in my search for even better sound. (I am very happy with my Rega 3). I have over 1400 cd’s and whatever happens still like to listen to them even though I have them all copied onto a Brennan 2. Having said that, I also want to buy a streamer. At present , I am considering buying a 2nd hand naim CD player, or a new one, if need be, and a naim streamer. However, I wonder whether a better alternative would be buying a Dac say Chord Qutest or RME and then using my CD player as a transport and then using the DAC with a cheaper streamer like the Bluenode, or buying a transport say Audiolab with a DAC.I notice that often people buy the naim ndx5 streamer but still buy the Chord DAC, which surely removes the point of buying the naim. All thoughts are welcome.

Apart the Cd5i, the other Naim CD players are a risky plan, because you may not be able in the future to have a mechanism replacement. See some threads on it.
With your XS3, a balanced source would be an Nd5xs2. You can eventually upgrade it later with an outboard dac, if you upgrade from your XS3.
You can rip your cds and store them on a Nas. Or use something like an Innuos Zen mini, which will rip and store your cds. The Nd5xs2 will just stream them.

Thanks Red Rooster but I have already ripped the cd’s about 2400 of them ( just counted them!) but I still like to listen to the cd,s . I ripped them solely for my Astell Kern SR25


One not-too-risky route would be to get the ND5XS2, the obvious streaming match with your amp, and then use your CD player either as transport into the streamer or as an analogue input into the Nait, whichever sounds best.

Whether you would prefer a Chord DAC to the Naim’s own DAC in the ND5 will depend on your ears and musical tastes. If at all possible, I’d compare them before purchase rather than relying solely on recommendations on the forum.


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Luxman CD players have digital inputs so you can use the DAC. I use a modest Luxman D-N150 which outperforms my NDX in many areas. Coupled with something like an ifi Zen Stream and you have a compelling, not super expensive CD and streaming solution.

Of the other way. You could get a low cost but good transport (TEAC?) and pair with a Naim ND5XS2 streamer.

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Why don’t you put the xs3 into the 5, with the 3 and the 2 running SAP into an audio lab and use a Chord DAC to stream?

Out of interest and being in the market for a replacement CD player myself, how can we sure that replacement lasers and parts will be around for the Cd5i in years to come?

Secondly, why is there no digital out on this machine? It’s got the most basic DAC and output stage probably of all the digital sources in Naim line-up and would be good to improve sonics by passing the digits to an external DAC.


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Technics have a combined streamer/ CD player, the Grand Class G700

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I have been saying the very same thing, it would be a Cd transport into some of Naim’s more expensive offerings.

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The reason I advised more a streamer, like the Nd5xs2. The Cd5i has indeed no digital out.
You can find transports with digital out elsewhere. Like Project, Cambridge, Audiolab…
Some here use them with their streamers.

The way things have gone re. Naim CD players, you can’t.

Like yourself and Ian above, it is really baffling that the only Naim CD left has no digital out.

For people like me (and Ian I believe) that has an aging Naim CD player, I feel that when it eventually goes to ‘CD player heaven’ and I need to replace, I will buy a non- Naim transport and link it to an external DAC.

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For years Naim were opposed to separating transport and DAC, unlike, say, Meridian. The only two models which had digital out were CD5XS and later CDX2. Why did they not take this down to the CD5i? My guess would be cost on what was their most basic CD player, but that’s just speculation on my part.


I managed to get my CDX2 serviced - and have a digital only output fitted, sounds very good with my Nova.

But there’s the caveat of how long the mechanism will last. Depending on funds it will be either an Audiolab 6000 CDT or a Pro-ject.

Interesting that Roksan have just produced a very affordable CD transport

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Hi Greg, could you expand a bit more on this solution. I assume you are suggesting the cd5 and ndx but what does SAP mean?

Thank you all for your comments I had no idea you could feed a CD player into a streamer. What I can’t get my head round is why spend the money on a ndx if the dac is not used because say a Chord is better. If so, why not purchaser a cheaper streamer and use the Chord. The same for the CD player , if I am not going to use the inbuilt dac in the naim cd why not a transport and then an external dac that can then be used for both the CD player and the streamer. I am not necessarily trying to save money but impressed with my naim journey to date, I am just trying to get the best sound, but it seems that the external dac solution may be better and thus even if I purchase a naim cd or streamer, I won’t be hearing it anyway?

How do you know you prefer a Chord vs the internal dac of the Naim streamer ?
Have you compared?

Thank you both FR and jmt. It may be when I hear the naim ndx5 I prefer it to an external dac and as I understand it now I could then feed a cd transport into the streamer when I want to upgrade my cd source. I will be comparing sources later this week. Many thanks.

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My speculation is that the NDAC was so good that it wouldn’t have mattered whether you fed it digits from a cheap Naim CD versus an expensive Naim CD player. A competent digital out is hardly going to break the bank on the cheapest Naim CD machine. Probably a strategic motivation.

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A couple reasons for this:

  • Some claim that the quality of the transport in the NDX2 is sufficiently good at reducing unwanted noise from the digital output (which is picked up by affects the analogue circuits ultimately of an external DAC), that the NDX2 is justifiable at it’s cost purely as a dedicated transport.
  • Some really want the Naim interface and the cost isn’t a burden to them.
  • Finally there is upgradeability. You may have an NDX or NDX and 10 or more years down the line feel that you’d like an upgrade, yet if you haven’t outgrown the functionality of the streamer, adding an external DAC may be more cost effective.

Different strokes for different folks I guess.