HiCap DR vs Chord Hugo

You’ll find it similar but not the same, what it may enable you to do is incrementally work towards an NDX2 + XPS DR setup. nDAC first, then add an XPS DR, then sell the ND5 XS2 and nDAC and add an NDX2 to the XPS DR, kettle on, feet up.


I’d rather go direct to the ndx2 and then add the xps dr. The suggestion was that the nd5 plus ndac gave the same sound as the NDX2.

I really like the NDAC (although I chose the Chord DAC route) and I would be surprised if it didn’t perform better than a bare NDX2. As always, there is no substitute for listening for yourself though. In the current market I’m sure you could sell the gear on for no loss if you didn’t want to keep it.

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If you can afford to go to the NDX2 that’s likely the best choice, I also considered the nDAC “add on” option, I’d had my ND5 XS2 for around 1 year from new and was happy with it, but not entirely satisfied. I enjoyed the product but always felt I could get more refinement and synergy from my system. I found that by adding the NDX2 ultimately beyond the various steps I outline above.
If you lack patience and funds adding an nDAC to an ND5 XS2 would be a meaningful step but ultimately it’s just delaying getting an NDX2 to replace the ND5 XS2 in the end.
By comparison I found adding the Hugo 2 to the ND5 XS2 was a little “polite” to my ears, accurate and graceful no doubt but lacking bite when you expected it.
I do enjoy the Hugo 2 though with headphones, I don’t think I’d have wanted to leave it running through the SN3 longer term, but many do that or similar and enjoy what it offers, hence the no “best” answer comment earlier, if you don’t know or are familiar with Chord DAC’s presentation and can try it out for comparison purposes it’s worth doing, if at least to know if you like it or not, and not everyone does!

If I get a window, I may try my Hugo 2 on my NDX2 for a few weeks and swap back to NDX2 only, just as an experiment if nothing else. I’ll admit I was so bowled over when I got my NDX2 I’ve not felt the need to try that since. I also moved house in the middle of all that.
I’ll pencil that in and feedback…
Having said that, your Chord Dave is a very capable DAC and sure to shine in most systems it found itself in!

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Before Dave I bought a second hand Hugo for £500 just to see what the fuss was all about. I thought it was well worth what I paid, but my experience was a far cry from those who sold their NDAC/555 because they liked it so much.
Dave was in a different league altogether for me (but not for everyone it seems. I recall @Simon-in-Suffolk thinking long and hard before making the move from Hugo to Dave).

The real bonus for me was when I realised that my eyewateringly expensive £8k DAC was actually a bargain, because it allowed me to dispense with my £6.5k preamp.

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Also look at the Chord Qutest, available new for £1500 or used for half that and you can resell for the same amount if it doesn’t float your boat.

I introduced a used one to my system last year and it’s very impressive. Much, much more detail to music, this is with an SN3 and a non-NAIM streamer.

There is a huge thread in the Streaming section of this forum about Chord products so take a nose in there. YouTube is your friend too but ultimately only your ears will tell.

Certainly worth looking at what Chord offer in terms of DAC as if you like what you find it’s a good combo for sure. I mostly use mine as a portable (Mojo+Poly) or for podcasts in bed through headphones (Hugo 2), certainly one to try with ones own ears to make a meaningful assessment if it’s something you want in your main system at least. Their options do stack up favourably financially, hence part of the appeal.

One other thing to consider is usability. I run a Hugo MK1, non TT. It runs off batteries and I chose not to leave it turned on when not in use. When in use I also choose to run it without being plugged into its charging supply, so it isn’t sat at 100% charge all the time.

When I want to listen to music I switch it on, in line mode, tweak the volume a bit and switch the input source to optical (fed by a Primare NP5), it doesn’t remember the source between power cycles.

That process isn’t awful, but it is a load more steps than just selecting a track in the Naim app and sitting back to relax.

I probably have to charge it every few weeks, which again isn’t awful, but is something to remember.

I’m not sure if it can be left on permanently, or if doing so reduces battery life significantly. I’m fairly sure keeping the batteries at 100% isn’t good for their long term life.

None of this takes away from the music it reproduces, which is lovely, but it is a bit of a faff :slight_smile:

That’s about what I paid for my Hugo. I think a 2nd hand Hugo mk1 is an absolute bargain for the SQ it offers.

Thanks, that is the plan, or was until I saw the comment re the nd5 plus ndac.
I have the Chord Qutest running on the Node at the mo (3 of them) and have an Aries G1 on the way to test. The Ndx2 is the aim with an xpsdr but I am waiting or hoping that Naim will have Amazon HD on board this year. If they don’t I will probably go with the G2.1 as my final streamer of choice.

Obviously an NDX2 will beat an ND5XS2 by a good margin.

And an NDX2 with a 555DR will give far better SQ again.

But the 2 streamers have the same superb NP800 streaming board.

So if you use an ND5XS2 or an NDX2 digital out (i.e. as a transport) there is hardly any audible difference - the differences in that use case are all about the screen, remote, etc.

I have twice demoed NDX2/555DR at dealerships, but never at home.

I have opted for ND5XS2 via Naim DC1 into Naim DAC/555DR in my system, and it sounds sublime.

I did want to separate the DAC from the streamer.

The nDAC has the same DAC chip as the ND555.

Read the nDAC white paper.

I prefer Naim streamers and dacs to the Chord, Auralic, BS Node 2i, dCS Network Bridge, dCS Debussy that I’ve tried in my system.

I hope that helps.


Why would you choose hardware to suit your music streaming service?

Surely, choose your streamer based on its ability make music you enjoy.

E.g. ND5XS2 and Qobuz.

Thanks for posting this @JimDog perfect explanation from another ND5XS2 into nDAC user.


Do you think separate DAC’s are on their way out Jim?

Yes I think good to keep separate but looks as though most streamers now have them incorporated


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Personal choice on my music source.

Thanks JimDog for the nd5 ndx detailed comparison.

Hi Bevo
Well, there’s more of everything out there.
Lots of dacs integrated in other units, lots of pure dacs.
I’m interested in SQ, and I think that’s more likely with the DAC decoupled from the streamer and the preamp.

…but there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

E.g. the ND555 decouples the DAC within the same case:

“…a suspended brass sub-chassis isolates sound-critical circuits from vibrations.”

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Indeed there is Jim

I guess Naim have taken the view that they get just as good result having the DAC within the one streamer box

I have a nDAC which still sounds excellent to me