MacBook Pro to nDac connectivity

Good Afternoon everyone

I have done a quick search on past posts, but I’m at a bit of a loss, so please direct me if there is information on this posted already.

As some of you are aware, I am a new Naim owner. I have been considering streaming options for the system I have bought and am trying to decide whether a quick and cheaper solution might not be to buy a Pre-Loved nDac and connect my MacBook Pro (2022 edition) to it.

Ultimately I will buy a Naim Streamer, but with potential new products coming next year, I’m wondering if this might be a good short term solution until funds allow for a more significant purchase.

The problem is, I can’t work out how I would connect one to the other with a sufficiently high enough quality cable to achieve a good SQ result.

Any suggestions?

You would need a USB to SPDIF converter for the NDAC. The V1 was designed for use with a computer so that would take a direct USB connection.

Thanks @ChrisSU. I have just done a “USB C to TosLink Adapter” search on Amazon and found such a device.

Presumably you then just connect the adapted to the nDac with a Optical cable and job done?

Is a 2011 nDac at £1100 a good temporary solution, or would I be just as well served buying another Audioquest Dragonfly for the short term at less than £250 :thinking:

Yes, that should work although the NDAC, like most Naim gear, is usually best used with electrical SPDIF rather than optical so you may want to investigate that option.

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Sorry, updated my post above as you were replying…

The Dragonfly DACs are great for what they are, but I think you’ll like an NDAC more! Either way I guess you’ll have something you can sell when you buy a streamer so it shouldn’t be a significant cost in the long run.

Having said that the NDAC (and many other DACs) are used by some as upgrades to streamers so you could consider keeping it as a longer term option.

Yes, I’ve read a few threads that suggest this with some of the lower level/earlier streamers such as the ND5 XS.
Would it still be a worthy go-between in the more up to date ND5 XS 2 or NDX2 though?
I must admit, as impressed as I am with the DragonFly Cobalt, running between my MacMini & Attessa in the media room system, I am keen to keep the Naim system Naim…

Personally I would regard the NDAC as an upgrade to the DAC in an NDX2, and certainly to an ND5XS2. Then there is the issue of power supply upgrades, to either the NDX2 or the NDAC. You really need to hear some of these options for yourself, as forum lore will probably just add confusion!
For me the sweet spot in terms of value would probably be ND5XS2 into NDAC.

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Up until recently, the ND5 XS 2 was my preferred choice for Digital Audio. However with all the speculation regarding the 50th Anniversary product launches for next year and the current availability issues of products, I thought I might wait.
I know that is not what Naim as a business want to hear, but these supply problems over the last few years haven’t done them any favours in the customers eyes. Even as a new customer, I have already experienced the “supply issues” excuse from dealers.

That might be the case with a £2000 streamer and £300 spdif cable. But I’d recommend using optical from what is basically a PC.
I use optical from PC to QB, and from Squeezebox Touch to Ndac.

Optical not sounding good with Naim is an urban myth. :blush:

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Some MacBooks and MacBook Pros have a headphone socket. If yours has this then it doubles as both a headphone socket and an optical digital output. You will need and suitable cable (Search for “optical mini jack to toslink”) and will need to configure the Mac’s audio output to use the digital output.

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Sadly Apple discontinued the dual interface of these sockets some years ago. My 2022 MacBook is 3.5mm headphone/audio out only :frowning_face:

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I disagree, optical certainly doesn’t sound bad to me, but electrical SPDIF has always sounded better whenever I’ve compared it. The NDAC would be an upgrade on a £2k Naim streamer so I don’t see that price is a factor here, although I would say that a £300 cable is entirely unnecessary in order to hear a benefit from this.

You really want a decent asynchronous USB to s/pdif adaptor. At least an M2Tech or Gustard U12, or Audiophilleo et al. These are so much better than any computer’s onboard s/pdif. Then go coaxial s/pdif (preferably BNC-BNC) with a decent digital i/c (Naim DC1, or if on a tight budget, a customer Canare or Belden 75ohm BNC i/c).

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These are great suggestions Richard, but by the time I’ve expended energy and funds tracking down one of these (the U12 is now the U18 & £500 approx), I may as well have just bought the ND5 XS 2 :man_shrugging:t4:

Sadly the march of progress has a few backward steps. My own MacBook Pro is much older and I occasionally use the dual interface. It works well but the faff of the changes to audio settings only makes it viable if the laptop is only used in this way (and hence cannot be used as a laptop).

I’m procrastinating!
I need to buy a streamer, I’m jut not ready to make the decision until early next year.

An early m2tech Hiface shouldn’t cost more than £40-50.

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I agree. I bought my nDAC as an upgrade to my CD5XS. A little later, as a halfway house into streaming, I ran a headless MacMini via the optical output and a quality optical cable into the DAC. I thought it sounded very good. I made several comparisons between playing a CD on the CD5XS into the DAC vs ripping it to the Mac and then playing the rip. The differences were not night and day, but in all cases I preferred the latter.

Roger

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Buy an nDac. You can pass it on to me when you upgrade to an ND555… :wink:

(This is the Naim forum… )

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