Legacy Naim streamer vs Tibo Bond 3 + DAC

I am weighing up these two options. As a bit of background, I bought a newTibo Bond 3 (similar to the small Yamaha streamers) circa 4 months ago to dip my toe into streaming. When added to the main system and through the Tibo’s analogue output, I was was quite impressed, especially for the £40 (RRP circa £80) I paid. I am signed up to Spotify Premium Duo which works well.

The Tibo App works well and we have since bought the Bond Mini and the recently discontinued Vogue 3 portable speaker (really good for £45 end of line). My experiences have suggested that streaming would work for us, so I am wondering about getting a proper set up for the main system.

Unfortunately, I cannot currently justify an ND5 XS2 so a legacy streamer such as the ND5 XS, a UnitiQute or a 172 would be the only real options from Naim. They all seem to be priced from £500 to £1,000 depending on recent service/screen replacement/bravery of the seller. I don’t need the amplification of the Qute - I would just use the preamp out set as close as possible to line level as possible. The unit would only be used to stream from the web and probably, at least to start with, by WiFi only.

What I would like to know is how a legacy Naim streamer (presumably updated to be able to play Spotify premium) would compare with something like the Tibo (streamer) feeding a good DAC, such as a Chord Mojo/Rega DAC/Arcam D33 etc. The Tibo Bond 3 on its own sounds acceptable but not as good as my CDSI. However, I plugged it into my AVA Meastro 50 digital amp via Toslink in the office system and it really did improve it proving it has better streaming capability than its internal DAC can demonstrate. I could buy a new Tibo and Chord Mojo for less than £500 - would this be just as effective as something like the ND5 XS for what I plan to use it for?

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

I can’t answer the question, but am considering the same kind of set up just to try out hi res streaming. I have a Chord Qutest feeding a 252 at the mo, but the source is not capable of hi res ( a squeezebox duet). Before I buy a probably expensive hi fi streamer I was thinkng of getting a Tibo streamer, just to see what the hi res sounds like. I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work well. It just may not have the very best jitter correction or software packages for connecting to qobuz etc.

Thanks for the feedback so far.
Just to clarify - for me the streaming element is to discover new music or to listen to songs from different artists/albums without needing to change the CD! For ‘serious’ listening I will continue to use the CD5si (Lounge) or my Alpha 5 (Office) as a transport via coaxial into the Meastro 50. Having said that, sound quality is important. Streaming from local drives/networks is something I am not interested in.

As mentioned, the Tibo on its own was OK - probably akin to a ‘budget’ CD player with Spotify Premium. However, once connected to the digital input of the AVA amp, it really did improve significantly. It also has volume control for both its analogue output and the optical output - I have never come across this on a digital output before.

I suppose the question is, will a used Naim, with its relatively limited streaming support (though what I want at the moment) be a better option than something like the Tibo, which, when feeding an off board DAC, produces surprisingly good results, especially for the money?

I could go the Naim route and be ready to use it as a DAC for something else if required If it no longer did what I needed. As for the Mojo, I gave that as an example but something of similar price new (NJC audio) or used (Rega/Arcam D33) could be options. The other advantage of the Tibo would be that it can group with the other Tibo products we have in the house (Like party mode with Naim) and operate off the same App.

How much of the SQ of streamed music comes from the subscription service, the internet connection, the streamer hardware or the DAC? Is it best to keep the streamer separate from a good DAC to allow for upgrades of the streamer as technology/the market ‘matures’?

If Naim did an SI series streamer to match the CD5si then it would be a no brainier, but unfortunately they don’t and twice the cost for the XS streamer is too much for me I am afraid. An NDSI with modern services priced in the SI range would be great please!

I don’t know about Qobuz with the Tibo but I have been really impressed with it on Spotify Premium, especially when using its digital out. The only issue I sometimes have is the iPad playing though the Tibo when it has first been switched on, but after that, the connection has been faultless via WiFi. It’s certainly a ‘low risk’ way into streaming/hi res. It would be interesting to see how it worked with your Chord DAC if you did get one.

Thanks Alex. I have just ordered one so I’ll see or hear rather, what it sounds like through the qutest. Apart from jitter correction I can’t see what else there is in terms of the streaming part.

I will test it against the cd quality Sqbx and with cd res files vs 24/192.

If I can hear a difference then I’ll look at going up a notch or two with the Aurulic.

No problems. I will be interested to hear how you get on with it and your thoughts when you have it setup and have used it for a bit.

Also interesting what you say about jitter - my amp in the office is a PWM digital amp to almost the speaker outputs and therefore, though digital input only, doesn’t have a DAC as such. In a review of the device I did read that jitter should therefore be pretty much non-existent - perhaps it is that, when combined with greater clarity, that makes both the Tibo and the Arcam CD player sound as good as do through the office setup?

Argggh. Qutest needs bnc or usb input for 24/192. Tibo bond 3 only has optical digital out.

Toslink has borderline ability to support anything over 24/96, so electrical SPDIF is a better option where available. Have you tried optical, though? On some devices it will play 24/192 files even when the official spec says no.

If I were in your shoes I would be looking at a used SuperUniti.

Whilst speculative I suspect that the amp in the SuperUniti will be better than your existing Arcam and the difference in price would be realised by selling the Arcam amp.

You then get an upgrade and streaming.

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I had considered that, but they seem to be circa £2k used, which is too much for me. It’s not that far off the ND5 XS2 new, which is the latest streaming platform. I also quite like the current combo sound wise, which this would change with the Superuniti: certainly different, possibly better, though I wouldn’t know until I had spent the money!

How does the DAC in an ND5 XS or the 172 compare with something like a Mojo? What I don’t want to do is spend the best part of £1k on a used piece of equipment, part of which may be semi-obsolete due to the new streaming platform and find I would have had better options elsewhere. Yes I will also get a good DAC (without that ability for future proofing I don’t think it would consider a ‘legacy’ streamer) but is the DAC part of the ND5 XS or the 172 comparable or better than something like Mojo or similar? If so, then a legacy streamer could be the way to go then - if it becomes obsolete for my streaming needs, either I would sell it or add an updated streamer and use the Naim as a DAC for it.

On that note, is the performance of the 172 roughly comparable to the ND5 XS? I understand it has both line level and preamp outputs so it can be used in different configurations.

Finally, I hear what is said about Spotify Premium and SQ, but it certainly sounds pretty good through the TIBO and AVA combo in the office - possibly slightly less clear (not much in it) but also a mite smoother than the same music played from the Arcam CD as transport through the AVA. It’s certainly not bad. I don’t want something that makes it sound awful - to me that is a pointless exercise.

It’s not so much an upgrade as much as buying something suitable for the main system - the Tibo on its own in the main system through its analogue out was OK but not up to a decent CDP - I have recently used the CD5Si, an Arcam DV135 ‘universal’ player and my dad’s Audio Analogue Crescendo (gen 2) in the same set up - they were all clearly better. However, in the office system and into the AVA amp through its digital output/amp’s toslink input , the Tibo was much improved and closer to CD quality, indicating its streamer section is better than its DAC/output stage - not surprising given the price and better than being the other way around! The trouble is the AVA is not suited to driving the Tannoys in our lounge and has no outputs other than speaker out and sub out so I cannot see how the ‘improved’ Tibo would perform in the main system. The only option here would be to buy a good quality DAC, at which point I have committed to that route. The price of another Tibo itself is so low that it’s irrelevant really.

I have two choices really - used Naim legacy streamer for up to £1k used.
Tibo with decent DAC (new or used) for about half the cost.

One thing to try, with low cost and low risk in the same spirit that you purchased the Tibo, would be to look at the expanding lineup of surprisingly good DACs in the $100 range: I have a Topping D30 that sounds good through an old system (fed by a Raspberry Pi streaming as a Roon endpoint) and it wasn’t totally embarrassed when I fed it into my Nova (although the Nova was clearly better).

Topping have several newer and better units now, for more or less the same cost. Other brands abound and are often surprisingly good value and quality - just as you’ve found with the streaming part of your Tibo (and others have found with the Chromecast Audio): Schiit, Pro-Ject, iFi, AudioEngine and SMSL show up in many “best cheap DAC” lists…

Reading through the responses you’ve had, I get the impression people don’t want to say that a cheap and cheerful streamer doesn’t really need to be serviced by a thousand dollar / pound DAC, and that if you really want to make such a large investment there are other ways to divide it up, or completely different solutions to try that would balance well and optimize your overall spend.

That said, I get astonishing sound from the RME ADI DAC-2 FS (a technology winner just from the crazy name!) fed straight up with USB from an RPi4 Roon endpoint. This is about $1000USD and is very well engineered: from the school of folks who say if you can hear the deficiencies of the streamer, your DAC input is poorly designed. So, from the system balance perspective above, this is an imbalanced $100 source and $1000 DAC (and, in fairness, pre and headphone amp as well). It also sounds great feeding straight into powered monitors, btw… lots and lots of things to consider if wholesale revolution is on the table! But I digress…

Reading through your own comments, I have the sense that you’ve been quite impressed and happy with the quality and convenience you’ve had from a very inexpensive component - which is great! My suggestion is to look at equally cheap and cheerful DACs to go with it, and double your fun with only double (okay, triple) the investment instead of jumping all the way up to 200x higher price.

If you buy from a reasonable place, you risk little but return shipping if it isn’t for you…

Good luck with the search, you are on the threshold of a really cool addition to your listening experience.

Regards alan

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Thanks for the replies and thoughts - lots of ideas and perspectives. Trying a budget DAC (Schitt or similar) sounds like a great idea. I have just remembered that my Arcam Solo Movie has digital inputs so I could try the Tibo through that first and compare it with the unit’s ‘universal’ disc drive.

Yes I have been pleasantly surprised by the Tibo, especially considering it’s price. That it’s pretty stable performance wise and easy to use helps. I understand the thoughts about power supplies etc. and how they influence/improve performance of the component and the principle of ‘you get what you pay for’. As I mentioned above, how much of a streamer’s performance comes from its streaming section, it’s DAC/output stage or external influences? It probably depends on each application. I have never been interested in using a computer/laptop as a streaming source but I cannot see how the Tibo would be any worse than any of those and many people use computers plugged into high quality DACs and are seemingly happy with the results.

To me, streaming is still developing with new services coming to market, many of which cannot be added to existing products. That’s why I wonder if the ‘cheap’ streamer/good DAC combo is the best road for me in the short to medium term. Our main TV is a Loewe and it is very good, but we have added an Amazon Fire Stick HD to it so that we can get the full range of streaming services that we would like as we cannot add that to the TV’s own streaming facility. It only cost £35 and works just as well as the built in system on the Loewe.

I will see how the Tibo works with the Solo Movie and I am still interested to hear how Bruss gets on with the Tibo and the Chord DAC.


I have recieved the Tibo Bond 3.

It is absolute pants.

Clicks constantly on wifi or cat 5 connection. Tried a couple of usb power devices, all the same.

Other than that its fine :slight_smile:

I’ll stick with the sqbx for now.

Incidentally if anyone is running sqbx there is a beta 10 of sqbx server that supports qobuz. The server s/w will downsample to native output for Touch or Duet but at least it connects and handles the hi res stream.

Yes it is rubbish.

Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll give them a try.

Interesting - mine doesn’t do that (nor does the mini). I run mine off an Amazon Firestick power supply as they themselves run if the USBs on our TVs.

When you say click, do you mean the unit itself makes an actual clicking noise? Otherwise is it working as it should?

Ys it works pretty well. BT and wifi as well as lan connection.

Wherever I plug it in or whatever connection method there are just constant clicks as though something inside is switching on and off. I’m gonna bin it. 35 notes wasted really.

In the UK, pants are underwear not trousers!

That’s unfortunate - sorry about that. I have just got home and switched mine on - it is silent, even on start up when the red LED is flashing (searching for the network). Just one thing to check - is your power supply a 5volt type? That’s what they are supposed to run with. I have got to admit it is also ‘pants’ that they don’t supply the correct mains adaptor!

I sounds like your unit is faulty - whether it is worth the time/money/effort sending it back is a different matter. Chinese QC/cheap parts or dropped in transit?

Tibo via Amazon France. Tried it on two different power sources.
Could be faulty I guess. I’ve asked for return or replace via Amazon.