DAC for 152/155 XS Combo

I bought this combo for my turntable setup about a year ago and have been super happy with it. Its being strictly used for vinyl listening through a pair of KEF R300s, but now I’m wondering how much more I can get out of it.

Is there a recommended DAC out there to pair with them for digital listening through my iphone/amazon music hd?

The natural dac / streamer would be the nd5xs(2), but there are many options around dependent on budget.

What is your budget?

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I’m thinking anywhere between $1-2k? However I was looking at the DAC V1.

Also, I’m looking at these now… it looks like there is a NDX, NDX 2, ND5 XS and ND5 XS 2. What’s the difference?

None if the Naim streamers currently support Amazon HD, so if that is your priority, you need to work out how you will access it. It’s possible that the current NDX2 and ND5XS2 will support it in future, either natively or via Roon, but that isn’t guaranteed.
You may find that it’s better to use a DAC to which you can connect a computer or phone for Amazon. Alternatively, try Qobuz or Tidal which are already widely supported.

If it’s just your phone you wish to use as a streamer you might find that a reasonable Bluetooth receiver will do the job. The Arcam Rblink is reasonably good value, uses AptX and is surprisingly musical for it’s price

What is the benefit of using a streamer vs iPhone and external DAC?

I looked at both Tidal and Qobuz but I’m pretty sold on Amazon, especially at the price.

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Naim streamers all have a DAC built in, but the streaming section gives you access to a range of online streaming services, internet radio and any locally stored music you have.
A separate DAC needs a standalone streamer, or a computer or phone connected to it in order to access any music. Naim’s V1 was developed specifically to play from a computer’s USB output.
The problem with Amazon HD is that it’s a very new service, so it’s not yet widely supported by most HiFi manufacturers. Naim have said that they may consider supporting it, but they will want to see that it’s a good sounding, reliable service with a reasonably large customer base before they commit, and even then, it will no doubt take them a while to implement it.

This is great, thanks Chris!

Is it safe to assume that a streamer will outperform an iPhone with an external DAC?

Looks like I either find a good DAC that matches the 152/155 or find a streamer that supports Amazon Music HD.

If the phone is connected to the DAC via Bluetooth then performance is definitely compromised. Bluetooth is fine for convenience but even Bluetooth APTX fairly low down the performance pecking order. Better would be to connect your phone via Airplay or better yet, directly via USB. Best is to just use a the phone as a controller and stream either locally (from a local server) or via a high quality streaming service via the streamer itself.

Generally, yes, a streamer should be a better option than a phone with a DAC, but of course, that depends on which DAC and streamer you are comparing.
A separate DAC will be a more versatile option, and maybe a better option if you want Amazon HD. You will, though, need to check that the output of your phone will play whatever format Amazon HD uses.

I would have a look at a Bluesound Node 2i to start with…

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This actually looks pretty compelling

Article on the web mid September stating Bluesound Node 2i is among the first to integrate Amazon Music HD and Ultra HD.

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couldn’t I just connect to it through airplay using the amazon hd app?

Would there be a difference in sound quality vs it having direct AMHD support like it does with Tidal/Qobuz?

I thought Airplay didn’t deteriorate sound quality for some reason…

Yes, you could use AirPlay, but you will only get 16/44 as it doesn’t support HiRes streams. There’s also Chromecast, which does support HiRes streams, but not from the Amazon app, so at the moment, there is no simple way to add Amazon HD.
If your happy with a standard 16/44 level, you can try AirPlay, although many people find that it doesn’t give you the best sound quality.

I went with the combo of Naim DAC-V1 and BlueSound Node 2. Cannot beat that for the price IMO. Yes, the Node has its own dac, but it sounds flat in comparison to running it through the DAC-V1 … giving it that extra boost of in your face naim sound.

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Thanks for getting back! Yes, most Naim devices having a dac have that attractive ‘aggression’. Personally I use chord, but I miss a Naim dac every now and then. Saving pennies …

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Why not get a second hand UnitiQute2 , I don’t know if it will give you exactly the streaming you need but it might be more flexible than a DACV1 plus radio and you should be able to pick up for less than a grand.

Being Naim , it will be built like a brick and you can happily buy knowing that Naim can service the vast majority of its products.

Is it safe to say that most “upgraded” DACs will be better than whats in the Node 2i? Not exclusivley, but say a dragonfly red/cobalt?