DAC choice for CD5 XS

Hi everyone! Ben reading for a long time but this is my first post and i need info and ideas from you.
I own CD5 XS, Nait XS and Spendor D9.2… I have lots of CD’s and have no problem with the format. Streaming is inevitable I know and I’m OK with it, but don’t intend to deal with computers.
As you’d guess, Spendor is a new addition but that’s another story. Along with the Spendor, I originally intended to upgrade to a Supernait2 and about to, but decided to make one change at a time. And froze the idea for a little time. Then I found a deal with a Naim DAC, second hand, and get that also 'cause for years i know CD5 XS will benefit from the nDAC very much.
Just recently, i found a good deal with an ND5 XS2 (I know, there’s a lot of deals going on in this topic!) and it’s two birds with one stone. Streaming and a DAC for my XS2 Cdp, using the player as a transport.
Now, i will definitely buy the SN2, but after that, what i need to know is, from which my XS2 CD player will benefit most as a transport? ND5XS2 or nDAC???
nDAC has the BB 1704K dac like the CD5XSs 1704 and gains are massive from what I read but it’s like 10 years old tech. On the other hand ND5XS2 uses BB 1791 dac and has the obvious advantage to stream. But again although obviously they’re not at the same ball park, i can always get a Yamaha wxad10 or Auralic Aries Mini streamers later for a little money 'cause I’m in no hurry with streaming.
Than again, the price for the ND5XS2 is tempting, but does it’s dac will elevate my CD5 XS sound like the nDAC?? What will be the difference between them?
So which way to go? nDAC or ND5? Is the price advantage of the ND5 makes it a stupid decision to pass?
Waiting for ideas and comments… Appreciate it. Thank you, stay safe.

With those speakers I’d suggest you should be looking at an NDX2 and 282/HicapDR/250DR as a bare minimum within the current range. Your CD5XS is well out of its depth.

RedWhite - welcome

I have CD5XS with NDac

Trust me - it completely transforms music. Completely opens everything up

Do not hesitate as a first step

Next step - Sn3 and XPs - yes more boxes but I can assure you excellent value with great incremental uptick in everything musical

You will not be disappointed


Bevan ( Naim owner for 35 years plus )


Agreed. I had a CD5XS and the nDAC transformed it. Adding an XPS took it even further as it should for the price. If your source is CD that’s the way I would go.

I agree with @hungryhalibut that you really need a much better amp as well, but I would start with the nDAC.


I added an ndac to Cd5xs and it made a significant improvement. I used it with xs pre and power amp. A few years ago I home demoed 272/250dr (which I now have) and compared the cd5xs/ndac as a source vs the streamer of the 272 and noticed little if any discernable difference.

I had CD5XS into nDAC with 555PSDR. My amp at the time was SN2.

I agree with other comments that nDAC transforms it and is even better with a PSU added particularly the 555PSDR. The nDAC is sensitive to the digital input but the CD5XS S/PDIF out is excellent and works well with the nDAC. I used the Naim DC1 cable to connect them.

nDAC. Terrific product that works properly on its own and can be upgraded with power supplies.

I have one in a non-Naim system and it’s quite brilliant.

Thank you all, friends. Your inputs are so valuable.
That’s a 5 out of 6 in favor of nDAC! I really didn’t think ND5XS2 get this kind of beating!
@hungryhalibut, the gear you recommend is wonderful, unfortunately for now it’s a dream, it’s way out of reach for me. One day, maybe!? For now SN2 is perfect for me.
So, Is there anyone in favor of ND5? My first concern is its DAC for my CD5XS, remember.
Stay safe.

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I go with Hungry Halibut , the Nait XS is a very fine amp , but I think at a list price of around £2.2 k it won’t get the best out of £7.k speakers.

I would keep the Nait XS and add a power amp , probably a NAP 200 as a bare minimum then I would add the DAC

Thank you @Ian2001, power amp can be considered too. And i just read the ‘NDX2 vs nDAC’ post. More than one say that nDAC is an improvement even for NDX2, so now I understand nDAC is the way to go over ND5XS2’s digital input to supercharge my CD5XS. Even if i buy the ND5, it will go into the nDAC. Or a much cheaper streamer and pass the ND5 offer…
Now it’s time for other questions.

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No suggestions

But welcome to the forum!!

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nDAC on CD5 XS is a no brainer really. AAMF they were optimized together back when they came out in 2009…

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Agree completely - a no brainer - excellent value

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Thank you @anon23139555, thank you all.

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You could add a NAP200 or NAP250DR as a first step

I also own a CD5 XS and did use it as a transport for a short time in to a ND5 XS2. There wasn’t a lot in it but they did sound different and in many respects I prefered the CD playback through the CD5 direct but not always. Ultimately it was redundant and is boxed up now.
I’ve also owned all the Supernaits and the SN2 will be a solid improvement, you’ll only going to get the most from it and your speakers by adding a HiCap to it so do factor for that overall.
Certainly the nDAC added in the mix will give some improvements but your current and target nearterm system overall does sound imbalanced and you can only get the polishing cloth out so many times before you aren’t getting value back.
If CD is your preference you could also get a better CD player like a CDX2, that can be driven with an XPS and feed a nDAC as well of course. I think the right box mix depends partly on what your longer term system goals are. You could for example look at something like a Uniti Star or adding in a Uniti Core (or something similar, marmite as it is) to create a ripped library and give you more flexibility for improvements overall. Moving from CD playback from a physical disk to a music library isn’t as big a shift as you may assume and doesn’t require a computer or lots of technical overheads. It does require some thought and setup but a mix of a friendly dealer and forums like this have most folks up and running quickly enough.

I would go with nDAC plus a cheaper streamer, then add in a s/h SN2 later, unless you need a phono stage (SN3)

Welcome @RedWhite55

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Thank you for welcoming and thoughts/ideas. It’s feels so good to interact, good to know help is near when needed.
Thank you @Mr.M, for sharing, experience is important.

A very warm welcome to you @RedWhite55 and as long as you avoid talking about Ethernet cables, you’ll find most folks here on the Naim forum are welcoming and happy to share their own ideas and experiences of building and evolving their own systems.
I would say having done multiple incremental system changes over the years, it’s important to balance improvements to your current setup to a longer term goal and overall system synergy and balance.
It’s also worth factoring in all the changes that you can make beyond just adding or replacing “Black Box” system components. This includes things like AC mains supply, internal mains cabling, interconnect cabling, the rack your equipment sits on, the isolation of the system and speakers, the speaker cabling and the speaker positioning and room dynamics.

I’ll give some examples here to highlight my reasoning.

Mains supply - A dedicated radial circuit where only your Hi-Fi is connected, isolating it from other sources of noise in your home. Some users also add in hardware to remove unwanted DC noise on the supply.
Mains cabling - Naim Powerline is an obvious choice, other cables available
IC Cabling - Swapping in a higher quality IC such as Naim Hi-Line
Rack - Fraim and Fraim Lite are obvious choices here, lots of other examples from forum members.
Isolation - Decoupling/Isolation of equipment and speakers.
Room Treatment - Moving the speakers around and experimenting as well as optimising layout and removing sources of reflection

You have a few choices in terms of system evolution overall. I’m not intimately familiar with your specific Spendor speakers but it would seem that they are of a high quality and more than capable. You could spend quite a lot of money and effort squeezing every last drop of potential performance from your existing CD player or you could replace it with something at least as capable in terms of CD playback but with more flexibility and convenience. There are many options and combinations that would be suitable, which is preferable in your case will come down in part to your budget, longer term system aspirations, the room and available space for new equipment.

Some examples to consider here:

Uniti Star - Integrated solution with a CD transport, integrated amplifier and streaming engine. This would remove the need for your CD5 XS and NAIT XS and replace both with one box.

Uniti Nova - More capable model in the current Uniti range, would do the job of a Supernait 2 + ND5 XS2, you would keep your CD5 XS and input either analogue or digital in to the Nova. You could also add to this a local ripped CD library based around a Uniti Core server or similar.

Supernait 2 + ND5 XS2 - A more capable Integrated amplifier, this would be the basis of a system you could evolve towards as a replacement to CD disc playback. You could add the ND and a HiCap power supply to the SN2 over time to evolve it further. This would also open the door to later improvements including a move to the NDX2 and adding in a NAP power amp as examples.

Once you go beyond these sort of options you are well in to the classic range of products and options with separate pre and power amplifiers and separate power supplies on all the electronics. You will continue to experience improvements in the system as you climb the ladder however you can expect to require more space, more precise racking and powering requirements including the cabling and how the cabling is installed/laid out, and the cost will increase measurably as you scope in the more refined equipment. It’s usually a combination of space and budget that limit a system design and longer term evolution plan. Needless to say, we don’t all own Statement level systems, there are a number on here that do as well as many who own systems from Mu-So and above and have moved between systems and learned what they are capable of as they go. I would add here that overall system synergy is important and the principle that improving the quality of the source equipment as a priority usually holds true.
In your case you have speakers which some have already considered in this thread are not working at their best given the rest of the system that is currently feeding them. That may be the case but it doesn’t mean that you can’t take incremental steps and evolve a system that allows them to work more efficiently and give you more musical enjoyment.
I would take those examples I gave as a point of reference and starting point and perhaps map them out to relative costs and consider the complimentary improvements like adding in a Naim Fraim rack and improving the cabling also, this can be based on retail pricing and used pricing.
I would suggest if you are looking for certain replacement hardware to track those products on the used market and auction sites and get a feel of average selling prices and where you are likely to need to be in order to bid on them or offer a sensible price for them to an owner or dealer selling ex-demo or trade in stock.
Do come back with updates on your journey, I’m sure if you need any other pointers, help or experience from other owners you’ll get suitable feedback here that should help you refine your options and future purchase commitments.