I listened to SNC 222 + NAP 250 NC and then NDX2 with a class A valve integrated amplifier. The comparison should have been in favor of the SNC 222 + NAP 250 NC, as the NC was the winner in the final result. However, if the ear focused on the streamer department, I would say that the detail achieved by the NDX2 was superior. For example, the NDX2 shone much more than the 222 in the reproduction of the song “The River” present in Angie Mcmahon’s album with only piano and voice. This is my personal opinion.
I just tried out to ‚upgrade‘ the NDX2 with an external DAC and purchased a SMSL SU 9. Honestly, I can‘t distinguish the slightest difference compared to the ‚without external DAC’ version. Absolutely the same sound. Maybe too much fuzz about DACs in general. Happy to return the SMSL on Monday. It‘s a Chinese product anyway and for other than musical reasons I am reluctant to buy Chinese stuff these days.
I would not expect a £350 Dac to better the Dac in an ndx. People who report an improvement are spending at least £1k new
You might be right. I am aware of this flaw. But some people claim that there is not much difference anyway between a 400 Euro DAC and an expensive high end DAC, if compared in a blind test. So I thought for testing reasons just give it a try. And I did some research in advance. The SMSL SU 9 got excellent reviews.
Chord DAC’s are very well respected for good reason. I’d hazard a guess a lot of forum members have or have had one. I don’t think trying a cheap DAC and deciding that you can’t improve a NDX2 is correct. Many NDX2 users also have good results with Naim’s own Ndac.
I use an Innuos pulse (now pulsar) not an ndx2 but can clearly tell the difference between the Brinkmann nyquist, Hugo tt2 and ndac. All in a different price bracket of course
Guys, thanks for your input. Thought about a Chord DAC too. But honestly, spending huge amounts of money for an external DAC with probably marginal impact anyway doesn‘t make much sense to me. So instead of keeping the NDX 2 and trying to upgrade it, I might in the end opt for another solution: sell the NDX 2 and buy another DAC/streamer on the market, a Mola Mola Tambaqui for example. But that‘s a decision, I have not made yet. In principle I am quite happy with the NDX 2 and the sound it delivers, even more so as I run it with an XPS. Just lacking the last bit of transparency and airy soundstage with this combo to my ears.
The right external DAC will definitely provide an uplift for your NDX2 + XPS.
This is a topic that is much discussed and documented. Just use the forum search function and do some reading.
One obvious option is the well regarded Naim DAC, ( nDAC ).
Also look to the various excellent Chord DAC’s
My vote would be to buy an ndac and stick the XPs on it🙂
If it was the case, those having a Chord Dave on Ndx2 here would not have said how important the upgrade is. However it’s not forcefully for all tastes.
An XPS dr will give a great uplift too.
‘got excellent reviews’ AT that price point.
Yes, a great choice indeed. I run an XPS DR already with my NDX 2.
You have almost doubled the price of your NDX2 by adding an XPS, yet you expect a DAC upgrade to deliver better performance for a small fraction of that cost. That makes no sense to me.
Sell both the NDX2 and the XPS, buy an ND5XS2 which will work just as well as a digital transport, and you have freed up around £7k of cash at full retail price to spend on the DAC of your choice, potentially with enough left over for a nice holiday.
NDX2 soundwise is a superior streamer over previous generation ones.
Because I heard and liked it and all the claims newer ones give a definite improvement with streaming services now I believe to be true.
I used in the past an nd5xs and was never convinced tidal to perform as good as music in my NAS.
I then bought an ndac and not long after sold the streamer, as using an usb drive made the pairing redundant, mind you I could even just use my iPad into the rear usb port as a stop-gap and it worked rather good.
Xps was again a massive improvement.
Some say dac quality is a lot more rewarding than diminishing returns a good quality streamer gives, though consistent, and anyway less so than investing in other parts of the chain, and I believe to think they’re right.
In fact I made some tweaks to an apple matchbook air i.e: AudioQuest cable, jitterbug and smsl s/pdif ,converter,dc1 and again , got some improvements, until I can afford an nd5xs2 with the new platform, better wifi, the best s/pdif output to have a sound improvement ,but towards the end of the journey.
In my opinion, the NDX2 can offer you a more airy soundstage if you listen to it paired with a Melco server, instead of adding other DAC boxes.
My Dutch dealer does that differently. He pays very friendly for used gear to trade in. I never ask what his stock costs without a trade and I would never be able to meet his offers on the online 2nd hand market.
@Mike_S - having had your ND555 for a few months now, what are your impressions of it compared to your NDX2? It looks like I might be in a position to do the upgrade if I wanted to. Do you think that it was worthwhile (in the various measures of the phrase)?
Gosh, I was litterally reading this thread right now
Well, the short answer is yes very much so, if you are happy with the price. The ND555 is an outstanding streamer in every regard. It takes everything the NDX2 does up by a significant margin and some, particularly in the overall cohesion and flow of the music and the dynamic range and extremes. Overall, a very natural and organic presentation with the ability to follow every musical thread in complex music. A perfect match with the 552.
One note though, is that it takes a long time to burn in, I had it playing radio 24/7 for 2 months with the amp muted when not listening to music, and the improvement in that time was significant.
Off course, cost is a consideration. Personally, at full retail I think the price is too high - but I guess you know about the ATA fire-sale . The sale has also impacted on used prices for the NDX2, so you should factor that in if moving it on.
Good luck with your decision, let me know if you any questions. Lots of threads on here to with other thoughts.
And to add, it’s very much end game for me in terms of streaming, so the investment was made in that context.
FWIW, the ND555 will provide a significant performance upgrade over the NDX2… it really will. A subtle one on the digital signal, and a significant one on the accuracy of the analogue signal.
DACs are one of the few components, possibly like turntables, arms, and cartridges where you pay for what you get in terms of performance.
There is no one way of building a DAC, it’s ultimately a compromised process, and it’s a case of a balance of minimising different compromises and making choices within design.
A good DAC will make a good digital signal come alive and provide a degree of insight into the reconstructed audio that can be amazing, but it has to be done carefully.
Sure if the rest of the system can’t match up to rendering this information, you probably would not notice it … if in doubt borrow a quality headphone amp and higher end headphones and it will become very apparent.
But this is one reason why I don’t agree with the source first argument… it can be a waste of effort and funds… I say focus on speakers and room, then amplifier, then source… that way you really appreciate a quality source.
Don’t get me wrong, cheap or middle ground DACs can sound nice and enjoyable with contemporary music and rock, but rarely if at all will they convey that hair tingling augmented reality experience on less produced recordings…
For transparency I use an NDX2 as a digital streamer into a Chord Electronics DAVE as the DAC.