NAC 272 vs ND5XS(1) and new electronics-speaker setup

Hello,

I would appreciate it a lot to hear your advice.

I currently own a NAC 152XS - NAP 255XS - ND5XS(1) - a pair of piano black Harbeths 30.1 and a subwoofer Quadral Qube 10.

I am feeling this combo is quite good but limited because of the 5x10 m room (listening in one half of it). Especially after somebody from the family got a Naim Unitistar and Sonus Faber Sonetto III which sounded superior to my setup (I guess the grass is always greener elsewhere).
I only listen to Tidal and internet radio like Radio Paradise and our TV is also optically hooked up to the ND5XS (with however some delay in the sound). Some 500+ tracks playlist the ND5XS won’t play and it also stalls from time to time with Tidal (sometimes quite often). Still overall, sound quality is not bad at all.

Furthermore the subwoofer is not exactly the most beautiful piece of design we have in our living room…

Currently I am considering following options:

For electronics:
Option 1: NAP 250DR + NAC 272 (currently I can get a second hand one thus comes in the same budget as options 2 and 3)
Option 2: XS2 (or 3) + ND5XS2
Option 3: SN2 (or 3) + ND5XS2
Option 4: Unitinova

For speakers offering more “body”:
Option 1: Harbeth 5HL5+ walnut , no subwoofer
Option 2: Harbeth 30.1 (I currently own) + build in the wall subwoofer
Option 3: Boenicke W5 but wonder if the amplifiers will provide enough current to drive them without subwoofer
Option 4: Boenicke W5 but wonder if the amplifiers will provide enough current to drive them with subwoofer
Option 5: Boenicke W8 without subwoofer (the best looking option)

The reason I post this in the streaming division is that I wonder how my Tidal streaming (only streaming platform I use - although I liked Qobuz) will change with the NAC 272 (older streaming technology, small buffer?) versus my current ND5XS1 and a ND5XS2.
I did went to former treads on the NAC 272 but did not find comparisons to ND5XS in the current time.

Thank you … a lot
Peter

Hi Peter,

I don’t think the the XS2 or XS3 will provide you with any significant gain.

For speakers offering more ‘body’ I think there is a better approach than changing them: the Harbeth 30 shouldn’t lack body especially paired with a sub. This indicates that the room configuration is the problem and this needs to be sorted out first as until that’s done no speaker will sound right in the bass frequencies.

I would make two suggestions:

First get an Antimode 8033S2 and put that in the low level leads between the NAC152 and the sub (I only suggest this first as it’s easier to do and it has an automatic setup).

Second get a copy of REW (Room Equalisation Wizard) and a miniDSP UMIK-1 then record the response of the room - this can then be used to work out why your current room layout isn’t working.

If you post the results here along with photographs of the room (or a layout diagram) I can help ypu with the room acoustics.

Hi Peter, some practical considerations that may influence your choice:
The 500 track issue is a limitation of the app, not the streamer. If you start play using the remote control, you can queue longer playlists, then return to the app. This works with the old streamers (ND5XS, 272) but not with the new ones (ND5XS2, Nova.)
For Tidal, the new streamers may work more reliably for you with their larger buffer. You also have the option if using Roon, which some people find improves the sound quality of Tidal and may also make it more stable.
The new streamers have a lip sync adjustment on their digital inputs. They also have an HDMI ARC input for TV audio. So you may find them better for TV use.

If your present system is well set up on a good rack etc. I would expect it to sound better than a Star. Perhaps you preferred the other speakers?

The 250 is a big step up from your 155. You may find that it improves your bass performance (with the right speakers) so that you no longer need to use the sub. However, you should make sure that your source and preamp are good enough to match it.

Thanks for your reply.

We are currently preparing everything for a major renovation, so testing with the REW is not really possible. Actually it is mainly because of the good second hand NAP 250DR + NAC 272 proposal that I am considering this already now. I read about this as well and I guess its the best way to do it. Thanks for the Antimode suggestion. I have stay with a sub, I’ll think it is indeed well worth the money.

Hi Chris,
Thanks on the 500 track issue. I guess I’ll better think about splitting those play lists.

So if I understand well, for streaming technology (buffer etc) I will not notice any upgrade by going from a ND5XS to a NAC 272? The NAC 272 is not Roon Ready. Are there workarounds that work well and have not SQ penalty (after all the reason to go for the NAC 272).

Also no lip sync adjustment options on the NAC 272?

Not getting a NAC 272 means likely that at one point I’ll get the ND5XS2. I did not find lip sync capability or HDMI options in that streamer. I think this is limited to the Uniti line?

The 272 / 250DR combo is a big step up from the 152/155 (and a much better match for the capabilities of the Harbeth 30.1); you then have the possibility of further future upgrades using an external PSU (XPSDR or 555DR) for the 272.

I also use the optical in for TV and Blue Ray sound (with a 272, but before than with an ND5XS), but I haven’t noticed a significant delay; is it possible that the delay you are experiencing is actually set in the TV’s audio setup (and not in the ND5)?

It may well be a good idea to test with REW both before and after the renovation and it may show things you’re planning in the renovation that will adversely affect the sound!

Lipsync options via S/Pdif optical (or coax) are limited to delaying the audio as against the picture.
To shift the audio forward you need to use the controls in the video device (i.e. reduce its inbuilt audio delay).

Hi, the buffer on the 272 is the same small one as on your ND5XS, only the new versions have the increased buffer.
If you want to try Roon, there are devices such as the Sonore UPnP Bridge that can do this.
For HDMI, correct, the new Unitis have them, but not, I think, the separate streamers. Your TV may have a lip sync adjustment that could help, but different models will vary, and for me, I could only adjust it effectively using my Naim lip sync adjustment.

I too use an optical link from the Panasonic telly to the 272 and the lip sync is absolutely fine.

My advice to the OP would be to go for the 272/250. It’s miles better than the current setup and will drive the speakers much better, and will give much more controlled bass. It’s possible in these situations to over-think and get tied up in knots, once everyone starts throwing in ideas.

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Did you have to add additional delay via the Naim’s lip sync and what Naim device were you using?

I have an Atom linked to my TV via HDMI ARC. Initially the lip sync was way out, and the adjustment range gave only a very slight improvement when setting the delay to max. I discussed this with Naim, and various beta firmware updates followed, and after several unsuccessful updates, I now get perfect lip sync with no adjustment needed.
(I haven’t tried this with my NDX, as it’s not near the TV, but I assume it works in the same way as the 272 in this respect.)

The dedicated audio streamers have very low latency from the S/Pdif inputs (a couple of milliseconds or so at most).

The problem that the OP has is that the audio from his video source already lags behind the video; so in his case, setting a lip sync delay via a Uniti would actually just make that worse not better.

Hi

As I mainly listen to Tidal and internetradio (no RIPs, no audio files elsewhere, nearly al my former CDs are on Tidal), will this Sonore device be the only thing I need? Do I need any hardware to have Roon working? Does this setup make the bufferissue disappear (maybe stupid question of mine, but I do not completely understand how Roon works yet based on the things I read on their site).

I do like the idea to have ‘much’ better sound quality with a 272/250DR and maybe other speakers, but top sell this to my wife, I should be able to convince her that I’ll be happy for at least several years to come … therefore the streaming should be working smoothly enough…

Yes, the adjustment can only increase the delay. All I can say is that with my Atom, and my TV, the sound plays in sync with no delay applied, so it seems that Naim have successfully addressed this in a firmware update. Perhaps other TVs will vary.

To run Roon, you need to purchase a subscription, and instal the Roon Core on a computer running on your network. This can be any moderately powerful computer or NAS that you already own. I use a Mac because I already owned it, and it runs fine on that.
Then you need the Sonore UPnP Bridge or similar.
A low cost alternative if you just want to try Roon would be either an Apple AirPort Express or Chromecast Audio, both widely available on the used market for about £20. These might not sound quite as good as the Sonore solution, but they would allow you to use a month free trial of Roon to see if you want to keep it. You could do this with your current ND5XS to see if it improves Tidal reliability.
Another option with Roon is to try Qobuz instead of Tidal. It’s possible (but not guaranteed) that it will be more stable. Again, there will be a free trial if you’re interested.

I have a Mac in the network. Should it be powered on to use it or can it be in standbye modus. If yes, will Roon wake it up?

I believe you can leave a desktop Mac on standby, and Roon will wake it, although I haven’t tried this myself as I run it on a MacBook laptop.

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