Investing in source

Hi, I’ve currently got an NDX, which has been a great source, however I am getting a bit fed up with the flakiness of the streaming platform, particularly Tidal occasionally locking up etc. I’m also not desperate to add more power sources etc. I’ve considered couple of options, would welcome others’ thoughts. I’ve got around £3k budget:

  1. ND5XS2 + ndac (both ex demo/pre-loved)

  2. ND5XS2 + Chord Hugo TT

  3. Lower cost transport (eg Sonore upnp bridge + Chord Hugo TT2

I’m mainly looking to stream Tidal (or Qobuz). Any thoughts (or alternatives)? Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

I used ND5XS (mk 1) with Chord Hugo Mk 1 (not TT), and it sounded good. I later compared TT Mk 1 to the Hugo, but different renderer, and it was better still, though not hugely so. I expect that with the Mk 2 versions of ND5XS & Hugo TT, sound quality would be even better, and of course the later ND5 platform should assist your online streaming woes.

I changed ND5XS for a different renderer, combined with store, with improved sound quality at lower cost, but more DIY set up than the ND5XS, and I wasn’t streaming online.

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It’s worth exploring what you mean by flakiness. The NDX should be rock solid on Tidal. Are you using it wireless? If so, cabling it should be more reliable. You say you don’t want to add a power supply, which would improve the sonics considerably, but then suggest two box alternatives, which doesn’t seem to entirely make sense.

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That’s a fair point re the box count. At the moment, I’d rather not over-commit to Naim as a streaming platform, hence why I was thinking of getting an improved external DAC. Hugos are also much smaller. An external power supply just further ties me into Naim. And no, connected via ethernet. Have had similar challenges to many others with Tidal and input reinitialising.

I think the ND5XS2 makes a great digital transport. An NDAC makes a neat visual match and would give you a great 2-box source. Whether you would prefer a Chord DAC, or something else, is something only you can decide.
While I certainly believe that a quality digital transport is important, you may still get very good results with cheaper options into the DAC of your choice. You might consider an Innuos Zen Mini which has local storage, downloading and ripping abilities as well as Tidal, Qobuz, Roon and iRadio support. It has SPDIF and USB outputs.


Wholeheartedly agree with @ChrisSU and would amplify to say that you may wish to look carefully at DAC input isolation as a purchasing feature that might influence your choice of streamer.

There’s a nice bit of info on engineering choices on the RME forum, for example: this is a company that comes straight out and says if you can hear a difference due to X (where X could be cable choice, USB vs SPDIF, or Optical vs Coax, etc.) then the engineering team did a bad job with their DAC…

On another thread, exploring Apple Music lossless or Roon/Tidal via iPad USB C or iPhone Lightning output into RME DAC FS, then onto Nova I was happy to hear no significant difference (apart from user interaction and convenience!) versus native Tidal or Roon on the Nova. Some will argue that this system isn’t up to par, and certainly not at the level of your 282, but it’s worth bearing in mind - and seeing if you can arrange listening tests - as you formulate your next move.

Good luck and have fun with your explorations!

Thanks all for the great input. I definitely don’t underestimate the technical challenges re streaming, but I’ve stuck with Naim for 15 years because of the longevity of the products. I think Naim’s challenge is sustaining that longevity in a rapidly developing streaming environment. One way of achieving that would be restarting a standalone high end DAC and a separate much cheaper streaming platform. Ironically given Naim’s fixation with separating out components in amplification into various separate boxes, it seems a strange decision to abandon a standalone DAC and go all in on integrated streamers. Having said that, my NDX is a brilliant piece of kit most of the time.

@30hertz why not consider an XPS2 or XPSDR? If you buy used then you will likely lose nothing if you resell it. I don’t understand the reluctance to ‘over commit’ to Naim as you have a total Naim system and Naim holds probably the highest resale values of any HiFi brand…

This would improve your sound quality and the drop outs could be due to Network setup. There are lots of parts that could be at fault here not just the NDX. It is an older platform though so if you want Qobuz then maybe the ND5XS2 would be better. Chord and Naim sound quite different so an extended home demo would be best. I for one did not like the Chord presentation when I heard but but totally get why some people do.

We’re heading away from 272 to nDAC + streamer front end.

Not 100% decided to get an ND5XS2 yet, but we’re no longer tied to naim for a streaming transport if we decide to switch now or in 3 years. Theory is the naim character sound comes from DAC and preamp, not the bits n bytes.

nDAC will be staying, it’s a great DAC with a very fluent delivery. Ours is a 2011 model in mint condition and freshly serviced. Took a while to source one in excellent condition. DAC + ND5XS2 definitely achievable for under 3K although lightly used second hand streamers are harder to come by due to delivery lead times on new.

From all the advice received on this forum the ND5XS2 into nDAC would make a very competent digital source.

The rebooting problem was pretty well irradiated with a succession of firmware updates on the first gen Naim streamers, which I remember from my days with the NDX and later with the NDS. At that time I had a rock solid connection to Tidal.

Are you fully up to date with the latest firmware update for your NDX? I know updating firmware on the first gen Naim streamers is a bit of a faff, but it is well worth the effort.

Swapping one NAIM streaming source with another may not solve your “flakiness” issue.

That may be down to the NAIM app, your streaming service or your internet connection, rather that your actual hardware.

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I don’t have an NDX but if the ‘flakiness’ is caused by your local network/internet not being up to scratch for ANY reason then upgrading to a newer streaming platform may not imrpove things. Wired internet connections should be considerably more resilient than wi-fi even if technically at lower rates, but CD quality or hi-res audio is not that demanding compared to 1080p or ‘4k’ video streams with their accompanying audio streams.

As others have said, the local network may be an issue. But if I recall correctly, the older platform was less tolerant of network issues than the newer platform with it’s larger buffer size.

If you are happy with the performance, but not the functionality, a low cost option might be to add an outboard transport and use the NDX as a DAC. Something like an Ifi ZEN Stream can basically take the functional level of the NDX back up to current standards at very little cost.

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You could do worse than an iPad, Airport Express & optical output to a DAC. Rock-solid streaming Tidal in CD- quality, & you can stuff the iPad with a 100GB of lossless CD files.

Audirvana on a dedicated headless Mac Mini, fully optimised, playing from music store held within the Mac, provides a very stable source with good sound quality (I feed dedicated bus USB output direct to DAC). Whether that would be the same with Tidal I don’t know, but as @jmtennapal says you can trial Audirvana to assess for yourself.

It’s funny, I had a terrible time with Audirvana. Functionally I found it far more flakey than using the Naim app and a bare NDX. It was coming unglued every few days needing manual intervention to restart the app and when it scanned my library, it subtly modified all the ID3 tags in my collection in a way that broke compilations for Asset after I had carefully curated them. When it went subscription I binned it and went for the Zen Stream which so far has been working without needing a restart for 4 months now. The longest run of stable service I got from Audirvana was 8 days. And the app has a couple terrible bugs.

Sound quality-wise I didn’t really have an issue with it but on comparison, other transports into the same DAC were identically voiced (with varying degrees of clarity) but Audirvana stood out as having an actual “sound”. Not unpleasant by any means but it made me suspicious.

Odd as you say, that one setup can be flaky, and another not. I haven’t had a single crash/lockup in the 6 or 7 years I’ve been using! I haven’t gone the subscription route (anathema to me), sticking with v3.5. When using Hugo I compared sound with ND5XS as renderer, preferring Audirvana (through Gustard U12 isolator) though but by no means a ‘night and day’ difference, and with Dave I compared against Melco N1, which was indistinguishable, though only a brief trial. Audirvana’s library file handling isn’t ideal to me, having a lot of files with poor or missing metadata, but I stick with it because of its sound quality and value for money - I’ll change when Mac Mini reaches end of life.

Par for the course I think. Look at all the threads expressing frustration with connectivity of the older ND range and yet, I never had a single network dropout or connectivity failure on my NDX in 7 years. It would get into a tizzy once every 3 months and need a reboot but that wasn’t a connectivity related issue.

Horses for courses perhaps?

Define better.

There’s something to be said for jitter-free lossless CD quality…. All with the ease of using the iPad.

First option, without a doubt.
Then look for a second hand 555PS and you have come to an absolutely quality source.