How good is the ND555?

Hi,

I wanted to get an idea of the ND555. Just how good is it with one PS compared to say the CD555 and the competition, if there is any. LOL

Any listener comparisons are welcome even with lesser components such as the ubiquitous chord source components.

I hope to get a demo in the coming months.

How do you measure “good”?

Up until last year, I owned an ND555/555PSDR as part of an all NAIM system. I always thought it was quite good, until I benchmarked it against the competition.

It came a distant third compared to a Linn Klimax DSM and a dCS Rossini Apex (which I now own). NAIM has some serious catching up to do in its streaming range…

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I’ve heard all the “usual suspects” and the ND555 remains the best digital streamer I’ve listened to. I run mine with 2 power supplies and that helps the Naim streamer break out from the competition.

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I tried to get a demo of the Linn KDS (Organik) against the set up I have at home, but the dealer only had one CD555PSDR to power the ND555. In that comparison I’d say the Linn sounded more refined on every music type I threw at it. However, it is refinement that the second PS brings to the ND555, so I didn’t bother asking for a home demo. However, it’s also worth bearing in mind that the Linn can be used as a preamp too, so it could be one box in and five boxes out, which would help dramatically on box count reduction (and Fraim shelf reduction too, of course).

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How would you describe the differences please?

Personally I find what Naim excels at in amplification is far more important to me than what the competition excels at. For example valve based amplifiers have a very open and smooth sound but it absolutely bores me to death. I know many people prefer that sound but I would take Naims PRAT over that every time.

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Hi

Could you elaborate on which ‘usual suspects’ please and what you preferred about the Naim?:pray:

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At this price point you should also demo the updated dCS Rossini. Last week my Rossini came back with the APEX upgrade. I also have a Linn Klimax DS Katalyst in house and have owned the CD555. The APEX upgrade was the biggest I have experienced in my 25 yr Naim ownership. You would be remiss not to demo it.

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If I had to use one word to describe the difference between the dCS and the NAIM, it would be “detail”. It is just far more analytical, smoother and far less fatiguing over longer listening sessions.

I also preferred the Linn (£30k), but it was at the other end of the scale - very smooth, warm and engaging; very different to the NAIM.

I should also say that the streamer I have ended up with (including the clock) cost £15k more than the NAIM combination, so maybe not a fair comparison? I just knew very quickly that I much preferred the sound to both the Linn and the NAIM. Maybe NAIM need to work on a ‘Statement Streamer/DAC’?

Thank you, that helps. If I may just ask, out of the three you’ve listed which one had the best timing of the sound. What I could otherwise describe as leading edge attack or the pace and rhythm of the sound seeming more prominent.

dCS of recent is not the same dCS of old. Timing, leading edge attack, PRAT or what ever you wish to call it is there in spades. After 25 years of Naim ownership and the CD5, CDX2, CDS3, and CD555 I am very sensitive to PRAT (unfortunately). I could tell this when I moved from a SuperLine to Urika on the LP12, and when I moved from a CD555 to KDS/1 back in 2011 (subsequent updates to my Linn brought back some PRAT). My dCS Bartok, Rossini, and Rossini APEX actually major on PRAT in a big way - in addition to bringing many additional things other boxes do not.

As always, while difficult, the best is to try and have a listen.

PS - whichever box you end up with I have found that the 552/500 goes a long way to bringing the Naim sound to non Naim sources.

Best
Gregg

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It’s difficult to define this. The NAIM was very quick and agile, but sounded harsh at times. There was far more detail with the Rossini/Vivaldi combination. All reviewers mention how ‘analytical’ dCS products are. This is true, but they are also extremely musical. Good luck in your journey, and try and listen to as many options as you can - a good retailer is key.

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How optimised was positioning of the head unit and PSU and also how well dressed was the Burndy? With any of the S or 555 digital sources, this is really critical to performance. Harshness is certainly not a characteristic of the sound of an ND555 that I’ve experienced, although one could probably make it so if the head unit and PSU were say, placed on top of one another and the Burndy was twisted or the connectors too taut.

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The Burndy was fine and the ND555 was on a separate shelf, alongside a NAIM pre-amp.

However, the power supply was stacked with another NAIM unit, so probably sub-obtimal, according to the “NAIM rules”. I resisted arrest though, and have absolutely no regrets. :smiley:

Its been said many times before, you just need to go and try, rather than be guided by others.

If you want the very best then for certain dCS are right on it and so they should be as its all they do really, but i could also tell you how much more i liked this over that, but as someone already said, go find a good dealer and try, the differences are easily heard really on a good system and will soon know which you like best

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Well there is a lot of very good stuff around, but it’s really about which presentation you prefer.

I recently heard a high end Linn Kilmak DSM streamer, it sounded lovely. But when I came home to my own system (NDX2, 555PS, 252, 250) it was immediately obvious that what Naim brings is weight and scale, making the sound more live and organic in a way that I prefer.

If I was starting again, a single box in place of 4 might have its attractions, but I’ve grown to very much like the Naim presentation.

Ideally, you need to compare a few options and get a feel for the type of presentation and style that you prefer.

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Yes a demo is vital. I wouldn’t buy new gear without a proper demonstration and preferably a home demo now. This year I have had a clear disliking for some very highly regarded components. It has been a real eye opener. Another thing I’ve learned is not all expensive gear sounds better (to me). This hasn’t usually been the case in the Naim hierarchy but in other brands absolutely.

I actually found a post from 2019 where users stated they preferred ND555 to CD555 so that’s encouraging as the CD555 is still regarded as a top source.

I’ve been into R2R tube based DACs for many years now so it will be interesting to hear the differences.

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If you can you should really hear the Meitner MA3.

Agree but it is not the same PRaT as the old CB and Olive.

Naim has been behind and has so much to do now to catch up with other competitors, especially at such a high price range like ND555. Hope they will bring something fantastic in the future.