Did you mean HDX or NDX? Either way, you have the option of running it into an external DAC using SPDIF. This generally works very well, and a Naim NDAC or various Chord DACs have been popular upgrades over the internal DAC for many. You just need a decent 75Ohm BNC terminated coax cable.
I’m trying to understand if there will be a clocking issue with an external DAC. If the clocks don’t sync then there can be jitter issues. There might not be such issue with a Naim NDAC as they probably have been designed to work together.
Do you think NDX / 2 will add anything to the experience rather than going laptop into a DAC?
The NDX2 is certainly a rather expensive digital transport, and I think an ND5XS2 would do as good a job, at least to my ears. The Chord DACs certainly work well with Naim streamers, and I can’t see any reason why the Denafrips wouldn’t, but I’m not familiar with them.
I went down the DAC upgrade route rather than PSU. I don’t think it’s as simple as one option being better than the other, it’s largely down to personal preference and then there are a huge number of DACs to choose from. You really need to listen and decide what works for you.
That’s the problem not every dealer holds every DAC. For example the Denafrips Terminator, there are no UK dealers. You need to buy it from Singapore, if you don’t like it then no money back. It’s like playing Russian roulette!
Are you running a NDX or NDX2?
I’ve got a NDX, I was either considering a power supply or a DAC. Or a DAC then a power supply, then a NDX 2.
NDX2 here, previously NDX. I ran it with a 1st gen. Hugo for a while which was a nice improvement considering it was a used one for £600, although it didn’t blow me away, unlike some. Now running NDX2/Chord Dave.
I don’t know about Denafrips, but there are plenty of UK dealers who will allow you to demo gear. Buying blind on the basis of forum recommendations is a risky business unless you buy used and are prepared to sell if you don’t like it.
It seems quite a few Naim users are using Chord DACs.
My local dealers don’t have much of a selection, they only push what manufacturer they are tied into. If you ask to hear a few, they expect you to settle after a few listening sessions. I’m the one who always thinks I might be missing out on something.
Chord Dave was that a night and day difference? Do you have a power supply on the NDX2- the XPS DR? If so which one makes a bigger difference in sound quality- the DAC or power supply? Or do they bring different things to the table? If so what?
Yes, Dave was a huge leap forwards for me. I saw one advertised by a Chord dealer I hadn’t used before at a very good price and they let me have it for a 1 month home demo.
Some peoplewere similarly impressed with the Hugo, but for me it bought only modest improvements, and there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on this, which is why I think it’s really important to try for yourself.
The good thing about the Chord DACs is that there are loads of them out there, so it’s relatively easy to buy a used one, knowing that you can sell it on for little or no loss if it doesn’t work for you.
As for the XPS etc I haven’t tried one in my own system, although I’ve heard it sounding very good in other NDX based systems I’ve listened to. In the UK it shouldn’t be hard to find a Naim or Chord dealer who will let you demo this stuff.
No, I never really considered a NDX2 to be a option as a transport for an external DAC: if the external DAC is significantly better than the internal one of the NDX2, I would feed it with a pure transport. Otherwise, I would use the internal DAC of the NDX2. If I had to deploy a Naim streamer as a transport for an external DAC I would probably use an ND5XS2, as suggested by @ChrisSU. No matter what you’ll end up with, let us know your findings!
I ran a bare NDX and, compared to my then current source - a CD555, it was quite ordinary. On advice here I added a Chord Hugo, which elevated the sound to just below CD555 level. When I traded Hugo for DAVE I surpassed the CD555 such that it became a very heavy paperweight before being sold.
The addition of the Mscaler sent the sound well into the clouds.
If you plan to use the NDX as a (very good) transport then adding a power supply to it will do nothing material to the sound.
So if you’re going the external DAC route I’d try a CHord to see if they suit, then when you’re feeling minted add the Mscaler rather than a power supply.
Having this much resolution, clarity where layers are peeled away to reveal micro detail and micro dynamics of music. This can be a good and bad thing.
This is all good stuff with well recorded / engineered tracks, how does old / not so well mastered records sound? Are they still toe tapping good or have they been binned? Are you in constant pursuit to find those tracks that only work with your setup?
To my ears, the PRaT that Naim delivers is still there and the DAC, though opening up more detail, is supremely musical. The Mscaler adds to that and does an astounding job on 16/44.1 material (it’s all in the analogue wave reconstruction algorithms).
That said, no amount of gizmos will fix a bad recording.