Do we need System Automation on new front end?

In our lounge we currently have a 272 controlled by a variety of apps, and a remote handset where we can change the digital source (uPNP/internet radio/TV) and control volume/mute.

The front end to our new system is going to be some sort of streamer into nDAC/XPSDR and 252/SCDR.

We’re trying to pick a streamer, and obviously an ND5XS2 looks a reasonably good bet, but there are other dedicated transport only options we’re looking at as we have no need of the DAC or analogue section on an ND5XS2 or any other streamer.

One of the things we are weighing up is how system automation could be useful to us, but I’m not sure what could be configured, or how it would help so I’m seeking answers.

Sources would be connected as follows:
Streamer → nDAC [BNC DC1]
Sky Q → nDAC [optical]

Effectively we would only ever use a single DIN input to the 252, so that would never need to be changed.

From reading other forum posts my understanding is that buttons 7/8/9/0 on the 252 remote can switch the nDAC input, so “source selection” really would be us choosing to listen to streamer or TV.

In this scenario, where we can both choose the nDAC input and control volume/mute from the 252 remote is there anything at all which system automation would bring to the table, or is it redundant? We’d have to use the naim app to change the streamer between NAS/Tidal/internet radio I think.

Well, the main thing (only thing?) would be controlling the volume via the app, which you’d already be using to select music from your NAS or Tidal. You’d still need the remote to do the input switching on the nDAC.
The input switching through automation can cause issues. My use case here is when my wife is listening to the TV through the speakers and I want to listen to the streamer through my headphones. With system automation in place, this would automatically select the streamer as the source for the speakers too.

System automation across multiple Naim boxes is achieved through patch cables linking the IR remote control sockets on the back of each box. Your dealer should be able to supply a suitable and inexpensive cable. My ND5XS has two remote control outputs which I have connected to my nDAC and Supernait 2. I can control inputs on both the nDAC and Supernait 2 and the volume on the Supernait 2 through the Nain app. I think the ND5XS2 has a single IR remote socket.

Yes I can see how it works in theory and can locate the PDF showing that an ND5XS/NDX can control preamps, cd players and the nDAC.

The nDAC has remote in and out so would sit in the automation chain between ND5XS2 and 252.

However the naim documentation for ND5XS2 doesn’t provide the same level of detail and online help shows only control of a preamp.

Therefore my concern is that the ND5XS2 cannot control the nDAC like an NDX could (which kinda makes sense, it is after all a DAC so why would you need to control another DAC!)

I will email naim support.

If the ND5XS2 can’t control nDAC it would make the Lumin U2 mini attractive as it is a dedicated transport and quite a bit cheaper.

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If I wire the system automation patch cables from ND5XS to nDAC and then from nDAC to Supernait 2 (equivalent to what you would need to do with the ND5XS2) then I am no longer able to use the Naim app to control the Supernait 2. With both patch cables going from the ND5XS then automation works fine.

Still worth contacting Naim, there may be a solution that I’m not aware of.

Hmmmm…

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What about routing the Sky box through the ND5XS so that is your main input switch for sources?

That makes us 100% dependent on the app as opposed to us being able to come into room and switch input using remote handset. We don’t always have phones to hand so perhaps a dedicated iPad is needed. If we go non naim an iPad will be required anyway since most streamers don’t have remotes. It’s the way of the world perhaps we have to suck it up.

On the other hand I might be able to convince the wife to spring for the 3k needed to get an NDX2 instead of an ND5XS2 because it has a remote! But I suspect that means I’d try and fill our 6 slots with NDX2/XPSDR/252/SCDR/300DR so it would cost her 3k but me 8k for a 300 :smiley:

Sounds like you might have a solution!
A refurbished iPad could be a cheaper interim though :slight_smile:

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Hi, @Nathan.

I had the same question. Turns out, daisy chain does not work. You only use the IR-Out of the nDAC if no NDx is present — and it worked great for me with NARCOMs before I added the NDX-FM, thus moving to the Naim app for iOS.

I found there are two IR-Outs on my NDX-FM. I use a split mono lead on one to allow the NDX to control three components: the CD555 and NAC 552, and the nDAC using the Naim app on iPhones, iPads, and M1 Macs of family members.

Because my NAC plays over analog wiring in six zones all over our house, full remote control of the main system using any device at hand is a huge benefit of System Automation.

Nick

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A split lead from ND5XS2 to nDAC/252 would be an interesting solution if the ND5XS2 can control an nDAC via system automation.

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Hi, @IainO .

Any of the ND players would allow you to experience what System Automation adds. From there, you could decide if some other benefit from non-Naim streamers justified forgoing the operational benefits of the all-Naim system.

For best control experience, all digital sources should run through the ND.

The nDAC raises most, if not absolutely all sources, especially if powered by a good Naim PS.

Nick

Not been able to confirm an ND5XS2 can control an nDAC though? The naim documentation for older NDX/NDS streamers is detailed (in product manuals and a separate system automation PDF) and covers this.

For new devices system automation isn’t covered in manuals as far as I can see and the online help only has some basic “control a preamp” screenshots.

Fair caution. I’ll bet it works; but it is your money I’d be betting with. :grin:

I have stuck with the older NDX-FM for operational reasons. I am sure the newer models have benefits, but none worth losing FM controlled from the Naim app, to me.

ND5XS, NDX, and NDS are relative bargains, for patient tinkerers, with nDACs.

Good luck.

Nick

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I’m going to email naim support on two things now:

  1. can ND5XS2 control nDAC input selection via SA
  2. is a split cable only/correct way to have streamer control 2 components (nDAC/252)

If both are confirmed ND5XS2 becomes a very strong contender for our streamer slot. I’d have to crack out soldering iron to build a 3.5mm to 3.5/RCA split lead though!

Whilst quick switch to TV input on nDAC and volume control will be possible via physical remote (which will keep the wife happy) it would be very useful to also have the app able to control everything. Based on forum feedback we’ll likely invest in a used ipad mini for this.

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While I find System Automation controls the nDAC in my system, it is worth emphasizing that if all digital sources go through the ND, no switching is required at the nDAC.

In my case, I have one more optical source than the NDX can handle; so it goes straight to the nDAC. The only downside is that source is unavailable to the MuSo Qb2 (wi-fi only). But System Automation switches the nDAC to it perfectly.

Nick

Splitters are very available off-the-shelf items. Mono is the somewhat-unusual bit. Put away the soldering tools, this time. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Mostly because some dealers are less knowledgeable about networking and connection issues than the average goldfish. I reported one bunch of clowns (a long established Naim dealer) to Naim but they didn’t want to know.

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We recently sourced the mint nDAC and serviced so it’s going nowhere! Fantastic piece of kit. Split of streamer/DAC was a deliberate strategic decision.

We’ve no qualms about putting the nDAC/XPSDR as source into a 252. Just need something to ship the bits n bytes.

Dealer has already advised on long lead times but there are always lightly used options. If push came to shove we could use our 272 as a streaming transport (digital out) in the short term and delay its demotion to office system. If we go non naim we wouldn’t face supply issues so that is also a short/long term option.

Hi, @IainO.

How do you like using the Naim app with your 272? That is what System Automation delivers to separates.

You say you use other apps with the 272. What for?

Nick