Home Demo: ND5XS2

I think COVID lockdown had given me upgraditis.

Current streaming front end: Sonos Port into a Hicapped SN1 via coax.

Media, mixture of ripped FLAC cds and Tidal. Trying the Naim app, but also using/testing Roon.

Also a little disappointed I cannot test the BNC digital out since I don’t have a cable but hey ho.

Setup was easy, let’s see how this goes after everything warms up…

Just a note, streaming is my second source - my RP6 and vinyl is my no1. I mainly use digital for background, discovering and critical for anything I don’t have on vinyl.

I’ll Be considering:

  • Sound
  • Usability
  • VFM
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Could you stretch the budget to a pre-loved or ex dem ND5XS2? You’ll then benefit from the new generation streaming platform and Qobuz in hi-res which on the 2 is delightful.

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Title edited! It is a ‘2’.

Good point, will re-enable my Qubuz.

Well, it has been running for 2 days now - probably about 10 hrs total (WFH) with 2 hrs of critical listening. Will do some more tonight with a whiskey and over the weekend.

This test was in my lounge, my music, SN1/HiCap/JBL L100 I must admit, I am not blown away as I was hoping. The difference between the ND5XS2 and the Sonos Port> SN1+Hicap is minimal if none at all. It definitely reminds me how good the SN1 can sound with a hicap. It certainly didn’t make the music on the Sonos less enjoyable - the recent switch on speakers was a huge difference but I am happy to accept its my ears on these subtle increments.

Saying that, it is nice to have high rez Qobuz, that sounds nice - Sonos just doesn’t do this currently even under S2, even with Roon. Also made it very easy to swap between Naim and Sonos.

I may reach out to my dealer, to see if he has any suggestions. I may also consider an NDX2 which I can get at ex-demo. But not sure a have a hole that big burning in my pocket.

This was also a mini test of Roon, which is very nice - especially at combining my NAS albums with Tidal/Qobuz. My benchmark is the Tidal iPad app.

What I like:

  • The easy ‘zones’ for Airplay devices, Sonos and ND5XS2
  • Geeky audio setup options

What I didn’t like

  • Crashes a lot
  • Hardware iPad buttons don’t work
  • Need to run on a core server, more kit
  • No apple music
  • Cost

It did make me realise when I am not listening to Vinyl, I predominately listen to streaming services (Tidal & Apple Music). NAS/FLAC collection is essentially redundant.

Next steps for potential upgrades: look at options that are inhibiting sound - if any, such as mains, my rack is fine, consider upgrading my Hicap to DR. Buy 100 records instead or look at my turntable…

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Are you using DIN out from the ND5XS2 or using it simply as a transport? Maybe try that instead and see how you get on.
Speaking as someone who upgraded to the ND5XS2 from a Sonos Connect it is a massive step up though I was using the line out from the Sonos as I didn’t have any other DAC I could plug it in to.

You don’t need a Core. For Apple Music you can cast from your phone. The dac in the ND is very likely better than that in the SN1, so using the ND’s analogue output should improve things. If you are getting dropouts you very likely have issues with your network - it should be rock solid.

I think Roon core needed if you want to use this service

You can use Apple Music on your ND5XS2 from your iPhone or iTunes using Airplay. No need for anything else.

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Using the DIN out on the NDS, coax to SN dac on Sonos. If I use the analogue out in the Sonos, a very different question, but the DAC in the SN1 is decent esp with Hicap.

I realise I can airplay with Apple Music, my comment was that Roon didn’t, ie not a one stop shop.

Sonos is the only Hardware licensed to have Apple Music inbuilt so it’s airplay only as no software is licensed by Apple other than their own.

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Just realised the ND5X2 doesn’t support Tidal MQA and Roon Is doing the unpacking.

My dealer also just confirmed I shouldn’t be expecting a day & night difference with the ND5XS2

That’s a good point. Maybe, if you can, do a trial of Qobuz. I’ve used Tidal in the past and now use Qobuz and prefer them for sound quality. They have a very large range of Hi Def files. If nothing else, you’ll see what the player is like with Hi Def content and you can cancel at the end of the month free trial.

Yes, don’t worry I have done this! Its very nice sounding though you really need Roon to ‘browse and discover’ which is my main purpose of digital audio - then buy on vinyl if really like it and will form part of my core spinning library.

Yeah, Roon makes it a breeze to search through new material, similar artists etc on Qobuz (and Tidal). May end up paying lifetime for it as I took the 12 month as a trial.

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