Hi-res - iPad to Naim DAC

Hi - been out of the loop for a while and couldn’t find a clear solution to this.

I’ve got the first version of the Naim DAC. I’m using Apple Music for music streaming.

If possible - what’s the (cheapest) way of streaming lossless high-res files provided by Apple Music to the Naim DAC? Preferably using just my iPad.

I’m using a Lightning to USB cable ATM and the music plays fine. But the hi-res light on the DAC does not light up and I don’t think it’s being streamed in high-res (above 44.1/16bit).

Thanks and regards Bjørn

The hires light indicates 48kHz or above.

So. 44.1/24 bit won’t light the high Res light.


Ah - okay.

Did a bit of digging and it seems Apple calls 24/48 lossless and that high-res lossless is above that (and up to 24/192).

The high-res light still won’t light up for me though (iPad is set accordingly and indicates that the high-res-version is indeed being played). So something must be amiss between the iPad and the DAC.

Mind you - from my digging around it’s not entirely clear to me wether this is possible at all.

Topping D10 DAC. It has a USB to SPDIF converter as well. So iPad → USB lightning dongle → usb cable → Topping D10 → SPDIF cable → Naim DAC

We are using an SMSL PO100 Pro.

Allows hires to nDAC via lightning port and Apple Camera adapter.

Also does MQA.

24/192 works flawlessly (if you can find the right Tidal content!)

Temporary workaround in lounge until naim release a firmware with Max support, at which point it will become our permanent solution for SuperUniti (with a Raspberry PI driving it).

Thanks jmtennapel - I see. Just for my own understanding.

Would it be correct to assume that the USB input of the Naim DAC (in the first version I have) is not capable of receiving a high-res signal? But that in indeed can on the SPDIF-input.

So the workaround, as per your answer, is to route the signal via a some device (such as the Topping) which can take the high-res signal of the iPad - and at the same time forward it over SPDIF.

If so - I guess it makes sense - and I will be looking to get a Topping.


Not at all. The USB input can take hi-res no problem.

According to the Naim DAC white paper; “USB memory stick – Naim DAC will play WAV files with sample rates of up to 768kHz (although some USB sticks may be too slow to deliver audio at high sample rates - 768kHz audio requires up to 6.1 Mbytes per second constant data flow)”

I have only played files of up to 24bit 192kHz - these can be absolutely stunning via the rear USB socket.

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I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet that Naim will not attempt to support hi-res streams on 1st gen streamers in Tidal, for the same reason they didn’t give them Qobuz support. The proxy server workaround seems like the neatest solution to me - or just bypass the streaming board completely and connect another streamer straight to the DAC - is that what you do with the RPi?

Files on a USB stick, but will it work with an Apple lightning to USB connector too, where the iPhone sends the data instead of the Naim DAC pulling data from the stick?

I seem to recall that Apple limit to 48kHz. I may be wrong though, so perhaps someone who is more of an expert on all things Apple can advise here.

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My iPad (pro) has usb c not lightning but definitely outputs hi res to my mojo 2. That is via Qobuz though not Apple music

That is true for the lighting to 3.5mm headphone jack. That dongle will limit its output to 24bit / 48 kHz.

This is the support page on the Apple website:

  • You need to enable high res playback in the settings (see the support page)
  • You need an external DAC. That means that the lightning to USB dongle should be sufficient. I’ve tested that dongle not with Apple Music, but the Qobuz App, connected with USB to an external DAC. That DAC confirmed it received Hi-Res music.

I did not know that the USB input on the NDac could also be used for transmitting a Music stream from the iPhone, so that’s actually quite nice. I thought it could only support thumbdrives or harddisks with music files.

The NDAC has Apple ‘Made for iPhone’ certification, as did the 1st gen streamers, so any iOS device should work with them via USB. Naim chose this inpreference to Airplay which they use on the 2nd gen. streamers.

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Thanks all for the answers. Here’s what I can confirm so far:

  • Highres wav-files on USB-stick makes the HD-light come on.
  • Using an iPad pro with USB-C to A into the NDac works, but no HD light. I tried using both Apple Music and the Qobuz-app. This setup works according to Ryder35 using the mojo 2.

I’m a bit reluctant to try the Apple camera adapter as I’ve seen mixed results reported. Can those who have tried this exact setup confirm that it indeed works. By exact setup I mean iPad Pro → USB C to A → NDac using the Apple Music app (this app does indeed play highres up to 24/192 - it can be confirmed on the playback-screen).

To me the most viable solution is still the one suggested by jmtennapel - routing via the Topping. Only challenge is that it’s not readily available in DK AFAIK.

That’s the whole point.

The SMSL takes hires over USB (from both iPad and RPI) and provides to any naim device using SPDIF.

We are currently using to get Tidal Max into NDX2 but will stop once naim provide a firmware for NDX2 which supports Tidal Max (hopefully soon, many other hardware vendors now support this).

For the office SuperUniti we are well aware naim won’t be providing Max support via firmware. So we’ll use SMSL from RPI into SuperUniti - there are other options such as RPI digital hats, but we’ve found the SMSL actually sounds a little better than this via SPDIF.


Tried this tonight…

Same track 24/96

iPad lightning to USB front input nDAC - NO two lights on nDAC.

Pause mid tune,

iPad lightning - Apple Camera Adapter - SMSL - toslink - nDAC… two lights on nDAC (hires).

So it does seem that direct USB connection is somewhat limited (I think to 48kHz).

Playing from Tidal the track Stevie Wonder, Superstition - via our normal setup (SPDIF to NDX2)…SMSL lights go red (24/192) so an iPad can output hires, it’s up to the connected device to interpret.

Let’s not forget, that the original Apple-USB connect was made for the iPods of the time (inherited by phone/tablet) and was done sometime in 200x. It´s Apple proprietary, and at that time handling HiRes on devices measuring Megabytes (not Gigabytes) was not priority. Using the same limit like for AirPlay at the time (similar to CD quality) made perfect sense, given that Apple did not start offering HiRes (or even lossless) until +/- 15 year later.

When using any media converter (e.g. USB to SPDIF) these days, you use general USB-standard protocols for device type „audio playback“, and here iOS/iPadOS support hires just so, since it’s part of/on top the standard USB protocol.

So both paths take a very different route through the software stack

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@IainO: thank you so much - your findnings confirm the understanding I have. Very useful for me!

For anyone searching up this thread I think the conclusion must be that the original Naim DAC can not, via a direct cabled connection, receive a high-res signal from an iPad to its USB-port. This seems to hold no matter wether using a Lightning-to-USB connection using Apple’s Camera Connect dongle or a USB-C og USB-A cabled connection on iPad pro’s. *Noting that the USB-port is indeed capable of playing high-res wav-files off a USB-stick as per @Richard.Dane’s post.

The solution seems to use a device that can take the high-res signal of the iPad and forward over SPDIF to the Naim DAC. 2 such devices are so far mentioned here: The “SMSL PO100 Pro” and the “Topping D10 DAC”.

From a quick Google search it seems that the SMSL PO100 Pro is most readily available - at least in DK as per the date of this post.


I just ordered the SMSL and will report back when I get it. Thanks!

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The SMSL PO100 Pro is the best £40 we’ve ever spent on hifi, been using for a while now and still no news from naim on a firmware upgrade to support Tidal Max so it is looking less of a short term and more of a medium term option……