"I cannot afford a NDX2, so now what?"

There have been lots of threads recently about streaming solutions at the “less than NDX2” price point. That’s definitely the market I’m in, and have had many many dark thoughts about solutions that cost less than a NDX2

I shall list my dark thoughts in ascending price order!

  • ND5 XS good integrated streamer, old streaming platform, would likely lend itself to external DAC assistance, 800-1000 GBP second hand depending on service history. PSU upgradeable. Requires software on something else to integrate with many streaming services. One box!
  • NDX - good integrated streamer, old streaming platform, c. GBP 1k to GBP 1.5k second hand, depending on service history. DAC upgradeable, but more flexible transports are available if you want to go that path (unless you already own the NDX!), PSU upgradeable, possible stepping stone to PSU upgraded NDX2 if that’s where you’re going eventually. Requires software on something else to integrate with many streaming services. One box.
  • Separate streamer transport and DAC - the Bluesound node and NDAC (DAC V1 another good Naim option) or Chord DACs are popular. I run a Primare NP5 transport and Chord Hugo DAC for a less than GBP1k outlay and really good SQ, awkward to use, 2 boxes. GBP 1K to GBP 1.5k depending on sensible DAC and transport choices
  • ND5 XS2 - great integrated streamer, well reviewed, GBP 1.6k - GBP 2.4k. PSU not upgradeable.
  • NDX plus XP5 XS or non DR XPS, GBP 2 - GBP 2.5k depending on PSU choice and service history, old streaming platform
  • ND5 XS2 plus external DAC, Chord Qutest popular. New streaming platform plus the (insert external DAC of choice) sonic character you like, GBP 3k
  • Separate streaming transport, NDAC plus XP5 XS or non DR XPS, or DR XPS PSU, non Naim streaming platform, potentially reference standard SQ, GBP 2.5k - GBP 5k depending on PSU choice
  • NDS plus original XP5 XS PSU or non DR XPS, reference old streaming platform, GBP 4k to GBP 4.5k depending on service history and PSU choice. Equal in price to a second hand NDX2. Requires software on something else to integrate with many streaming services. Likely better SQ than a bare NDX2…

Any thoughts on the order, or glaringly obvious options I missed? I tried to be consistent with the points about each one, but failed X)

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Atom or Atom HE, I knew I’d miss some X) And the Uniti range. I think I’m a separates person, to explain the omission

On point 4, if you have access to a good second hand market, the ND5XS2 + nDAC gives you the option to add power supplies in the future on the nDAC. IME these can be major upgrades, though the bare nDAC is no slouch.

Roger

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I still use and very happily still use my NDX in my system - it’s a 2014 model

only play FLAC files through NDX - it’s not my main source, in saying that I see SH on the market around the 1,500 mark which to me for the music the NDX offers is good value

I am in no hurry to move to NDX2

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Same as @Antz, I have NDX from new 2012. I stream TIDAL and UPnP (Flac) and continue to be happy with the results. Yes the newer platform would be a bonus, but no intention to change at present. If I did I’d probably go for the ND5 XS2, having heard one at dealer I’d be quite happy.

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Very comprehensive list of options.

I see you have all the obvious bases covered. That’s a great resource for others here too.

Why not pick a budget and investigate those options, with demo’s if you can?

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Just a suggestion- with a streamer you really don’t need a CD player at all.

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Inspired at least in part by your contributions on one of the recent threads on this!

I’m hoping to get some demos done soon. Or I was, til sometime got me thinking about a Vertere DG-1 yesterday X) I think a weekend listening to some music is in order to calm me down :slight_smile:

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Some of us love our CD’s
Just saying…

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I think you’ve written off the original NDX too fast. It is superb and comfortably outperforms the original ND5XS.

Now, if you are looking for more modern bells and whistles and were after something like a Naim streamer on a budget, I would get a Ifi Zen Stream transport (new) and a Naim nDAC (second hand). I dare say at less than GBP 1.5K it might outperform a NDX2.

I have a number of Naim streamers so I am used to the Naim app, and while it is visually slicker, the Ifi app is fast responsive and rock solid and (importantly) identical on all platforms because it isn’t really an app, it’s a web URL hosted by the transport.

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Wait, I haven’t written off anything, sorry if it looks that way! I will edit the entry if you suggest different language. I just don’t think it’s worth adding an external DAC to one

I just wrote up the list in cost order. Last time I was at my dealer there was a NDX playing through 202/200, it sounded great and is in my short list to audition.

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I really think the perfect choice here is the ND5XS2. If the NDX2 is out of reach due to budget, then I assume you would also like to maximise lifespan and also the potential for resale if need be. It’s also the perfect partner to your Nait XS3.

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Agree that the DAC plus transport is a great option. That’s what I run now, just using a Chord Hugo, not a NDAC. Listening to the much applauded NDAC is also something I’d like to do

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It really is. The build quality and likelihood it will run for years are big factors!

I wrote the list up as a bit of a reference, wasn’t intending it to be a thread to help my own decision making necessarily. I’m still off setting this cost with an Ellam Flex build, not sure I can do both!

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Excellent summary. I am in a similar situation and for the time being have settled for a Naim DAC, an external transport (Waversa WStreamer) and Roon. Within Roon, there is an extension that allows me to use my Harmony remote for basic transport controls (play, pause and skip). I really don’t want to pick up my phone or tablet, every time I change volume or skip a song. This is one of the main reasons not to buy a ND5XS2 and I am also not sure it is worth another 2000 EUR as a Roon transport.
I believe the Primare NP5 is a Roon Ready device and it might be worthwhile having a look at Roon to make using your system more straight forward.

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(perhaps I should have said, and thanks for the response @feeling_zen, I meant for this to mainly be a decent list of options. I’m still making my own mind up about where next, I’m personally working on a shorter list, of which the NDX is one. It was mainly to help pull together a bunch of options at price points below the NDX2. I edited the NDX entry and put the thread title into quotes, hopefully that fixes the theme of the thread :slight_smile: )

Just recently ordered an Innuos server.
(FWIW, the Innuos product is both a server and streamer, plus it’s Roon ready).

Anyway, during my own evaluation, I had the opportunity to try it with both a Chord Qutest external DAC as well as my own nDAC. (Add to this, I was also comparing these to the Innuos Zen Mini mk3 internal DAC).

Both the external DAC’s are good. I think they are on a parr. They do things slightly differently. I wouldn’t say one is necessarily better than the other. My own thoughts were they presented music in a different style. You are left thinking about which sound you prefer.

But try all this for yourself and arrive at your own conclusions.

If you’re interested in my journey with the Innuos Zen Mini, take a look in “Streaming”.

Hope this also adds something valuable for you.

[ Edit : p.s. I expect your Hugo would do a much better job than a Qutest. More resolving, maybe more detail. The nDAC goes a different way - has a more rounded and musical sound, in the Naim way ]

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I personally think DAC V1 deserves a place on that list, people sometimes forget about it, for whatever reason, but I have mine for probably 5 years now and have absolutely no intention for a change. Maybe as a preamp it is not all that, but as a DAC it may be all you have ever wanted.

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I just aquired a late 2017 NDX for $3300 AUD. Absolutely gobsmacked at how good it sounds. I am running it bare at the moment. It came with a cuddly power supply but I haven’t tried it with this yet. The joy of rediscovering my favourite albums is so addictive. The value for money is hard to beat.
I stream locally mainly. I also pumped for Tidal hi res, (take that Spotty), but local from the NAS wins hands down.

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Added to the top post, thank you for the reminder