Naim CD hierarchy

I am looking to add a CD player to my system but it will only be used on very rare occasions. So, I’m thinking about a used one. Could anyone list Naim’s CD players in order of sound quality?

Current system N272, NAP 250 DR, XPS, Focal Diablo’s

Starting with best quality:

The following need power supplies:
CD555 with 2x 555 PS (DR)
CD555 with 555 PS (DR)
CDS3 with 555 PS (DR)
CDS3 with XPS2 or XPS DR
CDS2 with XPS
CDS with CDSPS

No power supplies. Some will say the CDX range are better:

CDI
CD2

The following option power supplies: Note the CDX2.2 and CD5X can be used as CD transports only through a DAC.

CDX2.2
CDX2
CDX
CD5X

CD5Si (no power supply)
CD5i
CD3.5
CD3

The only separates CD player you can now buy new is the CD5Si, which cannot be upgraded with a power supply.

I may have missed one or two and no doubt some will question the hierarchy. This should give you an idea. I’ve had the CD5Si and the CDS2 with XPS and the CDS3 with XPS2. My favourite was the CDS2 with XPS. You’re looking at £2000 plus for the CDS2 or 3 with an XPS.

The CD555 is the ultimate and looking at £7000 plus including one 555PS.

The CDX2.2 is very popular and versatile and a modern player. They are around £2000 without power supply.

Hope this helps.

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It’s a tough one as different generations might be preferred one way or another.

However, in general, the hierarchy is 5i series, 5x series, CDX, CDS, 555.

CD5i, CD5i, CD5Si
CD5, CD5x, CD5xs
CDX, CDX2, CDX2 (revised sometimes referred to as CDX2.2)
CDS, CDS2, CDS3
CD555

You also have earlier players such as the CD3, and CD3.5 which were forerunners of the CD5 etc… I’m a big fan of these but they’re getting on in years and replacement mechs are long gone. You also have the CDI and the CD2, which were forerunners of the CDX.

In the context of your system, I assume would you be looking to run the CD player alongside your NAC272? In which case an older player may make some sense, especially as they are a bit different with their “characterful” sound thanks to the Philips 16 and 18bit chips they used. I have an old CD3 that I really enjoy every now and then. Just be clear that most of the mechs are either long gone, or in short supply these days. Even with later machines using the VAM1202 it’s a bad situation these days due to Covid supply issues.

An alternative is to use a transport into the DAC of your NAC272. Plenty of non-Naim options here, both new and secondhand. I use an old Meridian for this into my Naim DAC and it performs well.

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To utilise the DAC in the 272 it’s the CDX2.2 or the CD5X only , if it’s occasional use (or indeed prolonged regular use) if you want a new player I would suggest the Audiolab 6000 CDT (It’s very good for the money) or maybe audition the new Roksan Artessa

On of my pet suggestions to Naim is they put a digital output on their current CD player

CD5XS.

IIRC Naim offered a non-reversible conversion of CDX2 and CD5x to make them transports only. Thus they would require an external dac. Perhaps Naim still offer this.

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They still do, I had my CDX2 serviced and converted to a CDX 2.2 a couple of months ago.

It sounds really good

I stand corrected on the CD5XS

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The joker in the pack is the CDX2/555PS. Right up there in my view!

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That’s a pretty large amount of money to spend on a player for use “… on very rare occasions.”

Roger

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Not sure you’d get a CD555 and 555PS for £7000 - certainly not with DR? It’d likely be a considerable plus unless old and unserviced, no?

Hi @Stevegtx , when I had more or less the same setup as you I also had a CD5XS. (Still got It, in fact.) It was a hangover from my previous system, and I generally used it as a transport into the 272. To my ears streaming a ripped CD was preferable to playing it on the CD5, but not by a great margin. It was convenient if someone brought along a CD since otherwise I’d have had to go off to my computer to rip it to the NAS. At current second hand prices, I would think this ought to fit the bill. And you can have a bit of fun comparing it as transport and using analogue out into the 272 preamp.

Roger

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CD5XS is a great CD player and can still be found around, at reasonable prices
Even better used as a transport.

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Great players, I’ve had most apart from 555 based.

My favorite among CDS/PSU range were difficult to decide.

CDX based, headunit not as good obviously, separate PSU helps.

CD5XS/FCIIXS my favorite in this range, a lovely combination.

Never cared for the 5i entry levels, in this price region I choose a Rega Apollo.

I never liked separate CD transports into DAC.s, something is lost there IME.

I think your setup need at least the CD5XS/PSU level, the higher the better obviously.

Make sure your purchase is future supported, many original spares are no longer made, and the player you choose could be old by now.

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Hi @Stevegtx, I went through this dilemma last year! I just want to concur with @Richard.Dane with regard to mechanisms and share what I ended up with.

Eventually I decided to go used and within my budget I bought a really smart CDX & XPS. I had a choice of the CDX or CDX2 but I was told by the dealer that Naim only had mechanisms left for the CDX, which he confirmed with Naim before we progressed any further.

Also I would recommend buying from a reputable dealer (Naim specialist if possible) or from someone you know and that it has been well cared for. I bought mine from a Naim specialist (I’m not sure if I can mention their name, can you advise me Richard), who tested both units and confirmed they were working perfectly with no faults showing. OK so you may spend a little more for such service but to me it was well worth it and it just gave me such peace of mind and would certainly buy that way again.

I know I haven’t provided you with a list that you are looking for, but i feel it is important to be aware of the scarcity of spare parts for used players and to share my experience with you.

Good luck on your quest!

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You already have a DAC in the 272 which presumably you’re enjoying - and powered by XPS - so although I have no direct experience of 272 I’m guessing it’s doing a good job already. So in light of future Naim transport mech uncertainties - and the fact that this is occasional use - I’d say get a transport such as those recommended above. TBH in my 2nd system I get great results from the dig out of a cheap Sony BluRay into NDAC. Perfect aesthetic match for Naim, like a slightly wider NAPSC, black with no display, but a small green LED :slight_smile: … Best of all, when it goes I’ll be able to replace it for peanuts.

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Any of the CD5 range of models will sound good especially for occasional use.

One tip from personal experience and if you buy 2nd hand is that if you find the CD startup and occasional skip issues happen it may well be easy to fix. The little puck that goes on top of the CD can be at fault with the little rubber bits squashed over time. One can revitalise an old puck by gently plumping up the rubber pieces or buying a new one, off eBay or probably better Naim or Class A in Sheffield.

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+1 for buying a secondhand high-end Naim player. I’ve had my 2002 CDX2 since 2016 and it still sounds mind-blowingly awesome without any servicing or PSU or DAC upgrades.

There has been some griping on the forum about the fact that Naim are increasingly unable to source mechanisms for older players, but my experience suggests you should give this a stiff ignoring. The stats suggest that any transport that’s survived more than a decade without problems so far is likely to keep going for a while yet.

Mark

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I paid less than £7k from a dealer for a CD555/555PS a couple of years ago. A great player especially at a 3rd of the price they were new. I sunk a bit more into it though with a 555DR replacing the 555PSU, SL DIN/DIN IC and a new mech so hopefully it’ll be good for few years use now.

That lot took it from great to bloody awesome! :sunglasses::smiley:

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You’re suggesting he spends about the same as his current source and amp combined are worth … on a CD player which he’ll use only occasionally. And he already has a decent DAC with outboard PSU … That’s the forum for you! :slight_smile:

Thank you :pray:

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Thank you to everyone who has contributed. I think that I have more research to do.

I reiterate, this is for occasional use and I can’t justify the cost of a CD player that costs more than my whole system. I also want a single box solution.

I do have one question, in layman’s terms…what is a transport?

Thanks

Steve

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