DIN vs. RCA - an ageless favourite!

So I have been checking out a newly-acquired, pre-owned Supernait 2 with my ND5 XS2 and B&W 804S loudspeakers. My natural instinct was to continue using the standard grey Naim DIN-DIN cable that came with the streamer, as I had in the past.

Since the ND5 XS2 provides simultaneous DIN and RCA output, I decided to do some A/B testing. I used a pair of Audioquest Viper cables, connected to an unused input on the SN2. These cables trade for a fairly high premium over the stock grey DINs so not sure it’s a totally fair comparison.

Result is - I really just couldn’t tell the difference. I tried a variety of hi-res streams of different musical styles. Granted it was just a 15 minute exercise and not scientific (just kept flipping back and forth between sources on the SN2) but with so much talk about different cables and terminations I was expected to at least hear something discernible.

So - for those who love this particular topic… what am I missing?

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Never have both connect at the same time. The result is that performance is lowered and pretty much levelled as a consequence. Quite apart from that just flicking back and forth looking for “differences” can mislead, as you tend to end up focusing on the wrong thing. The only way to properly test one against the other is to only have one connected at a time. Play a piece of music you know really well with one. Then unplug and fit the other i/c then play the same music again (same volume etc…). Go back and do it again. And if there’s still no difference to your ears then go with whichever is the cheaper!

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The other thing to bear in mind is that the lavender interconnect that comes ‘free’ with Naim sources is actually extremely good. Din connections should be preferable to phono.

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Yeah the stock Naim cables are very good…

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I did the same with my ND5XS. Easy doing fast switching. Heard zero difference.

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Well there should be some difference unless the DIN and RCA cables are otherwise identical. If there isn’t then you aren’t saying there’s no difference between DIN and RCA. You’re saying cables don’t make a difference, which is another argument entirely.

But assuming they sound the same and the cable bit is identical, DIN is still better: it cuts the cable nest in half and eliminates hooking up the wrong channels.

I would not put much faith in running a quick switch comparison between DIN & RCA when both cable types are connected. The ND streamer end has the output selection relays, but at the amp end the DIN & RCA sockets are common… So although one cable only is passing the signal, both cable’s capacitance, inductance & other parameters are combined.

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Yeah, I thought there should be some different since we had both things going on - different cables and different connections. Maybe my ears aren’t as good as I thought! I certainly agree on reducing the cable nest. Every time I find a way to simplify and remove an interconnect or mains plug it makes me happy.

Perhaps a fair comparison should be Din/Rca with Din/Rca.
I had modified the same cable from Rca / Rca to Din / Rca , between my non Naim pre to Nds, and was surprised at how better the Din / Rca improved vs Rca/Rca.

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I had thought putting the cables through to different input sockets on the amp would avoid combining the capacitance, inductance, etc. The A/B was done by switching the amp input.

No, you should never have both the RCA and the DIN outputs of a Naim source connected to the same pre-amp at the same time - this will impact on performance of both.

There’s no convenient or “lazy” way to do the comparison (otherwise there’s no real comparison at all) - you have to select the output you want, connect up one interconnect between that source output and the pre-amp, then disconnect when finished and you move on to the next interconnect to try.

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I want to hijack this thread with a question I’m worried about. Recently I made tests between RCA and DIN cables between my nDAC and SN2 and since I was lazy to turn off both devices and then plug the cable I wanted to try I just temporarily changed the input of my SN2 to an empty/free input and pressed mute then while both the nDAC and SN2 were both powered on I unplugged for example the RCA interconnects and installed the DIN cable and then switched the SN2 back to the correct input. I made this action several times and even played with the RCA/DIN switch on the back of the nDAC while it was on. Is there a chance I might damaged something? It might be that the DIN cable (Hi-Line) I use currently has a different sound signature than my Chord Signature RCA but after the tests I found the midrange more distant and closed in. I started worrying I might have damaged the preamp in SN2 or something like that.

No, you should be fine. Main thing is to try to avoid nasty noises getting to things like speakers, which can be damaged by them if changing interconnects while the system is powered up.

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Especially with RCAs that disconnect the ground first. :wink:

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And SNAICS. Never disconnect a SNAIC with the system powered up. Something you only ever do once…

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Do I detect the voice of bitter experience? Was it a loud bang?

love those locking rings

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Oh yes… but more like a very high pitched screech.

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First from the speakers, then from you right after?

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Richard, is it ok to have both the rca output of my nd555 connected to my headphone amp and the din output connected to my 52 ? I have both cables connected to the nd555 at the same time and I switch outputs ( ie RCA or DIN) in the Naim app based on whether I’m listening to headphones or speakers.