NAIM ND5 XS- Worth It To Purchase Used?


Am new to this forum and appreciate your thoughts.

I am currently using my node2i (as streamer and dac) with an external power supply. It is connected to my Mcintosh C15 preamp. My preamp is connected to a Mcintosh 7150 power amp. My speakers are Living Voice Auditorium II. This current set up is quite decent. I use Tidal for my streaming and use ethernet connection.

I am looking to upgrade my streamer as I feel it may be the weakest link in the chain. There is a used Naim ND5XS available which is in good working condition and meets my budget.

Being new to Naim, I wonder whats the sound signature of the ND5XS like. I have read good reviews but owners perspectives will certainly be more accurate. I prefer neutral or neutral warm sound signature. I dont wish for too bright or forward sounding systems.

My questions are:

  1. Will the ND5XS be a signficant upgrade to my node 2i and if so may I know in what areas.
  2. I understand the ND5XS is not MQA compatible. As I use Tidal, would this be a deal breaker?
  3. Other alternatives are Lumin D2 or Cambridge CXV2. Would these be better options as opposed to ND5XS. Lumin D2 is MQA compatible.

Also, the ND5XS has been around for a number of years. Would this be an issue in terms of lasting ability.

Hope I can get impressions from experienced folks here. It will help with my decision to purchase.

Thank you.

If I was in your place, I would more go for a second hand Naim Ndac. Around 1k.
If you want to stream Tidal, going for the Nd5xs old platform is risky. Not sure you will have a stable streaming, without glitches.
The Ndac will improve very nicely upon bare Node 2i.
If you can change the Node 2i for a Linderman bridge or Primare transport, it will be still better.


Former ND5 XS owner…

The ND5 XS will outperform a Node 2i in many ways, the things you may well notice are…
The sound being quite a lot more involving ‘drawing you in’ to the music more.
There being more detail audible (however the ND5 XS is the best in this respect)
The timbre of individual instruments being cleaner and more clearly defined.
There being a better sense of rhythm and timing.

The sound of the ND5 XS is quite neutral.

In terms of reliability, the only component with any concerns is the screen fading; if it is set to auto turn off after a shorter time (i.e. < 1 minute) even this isn’t much of a problem; the audio side of the system has proven very reliable.

I’ve never heard the Lumin D2 or Cambridge CXV2 so can’t comment on a comparison to these.

MQA isn’t really a factor as it’s a dying format. HiRes FLAC is better (it’s lossless), and, as bandwidth is now so much less of a concern, using a lossy compression format is no longer justified.


However @frenchrooster 's suggestion of a used NDac is probably the best choice here, the Node 2i’s app and network implementation is good and the NDac’s analogue output is very good (much better than all the alternatives you have suggested). Their suggested upgrade paths are also very sensible.
If you prefer a highly detailed presentation over musical involvement and dynamics, used Chord DACs are worth considering.


Thanks for sharing. However an NDac is not available locally for me here.

Thanks for your vivid and detailed explanation of the sound signature. What you have expressed is indeed my exact preference. Though I like details, I prefer musicality and involving or engaging sound signature as opposed to highly resolving, very forward but less engaging ones. Hence Chord Qutest will be out for me.

NDac is not available for me here locally. Would using the ND5XS as a dac to my node 2i make a difference? And if I do use the ND5XS, what is the app I should use please?

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On EBay, as for most of us. Apart those lucky UK habitants.

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ND5 XS alone will outperform the Node 2i into the ND5 XS as a DAC.
The streamer section of the ND5 is the same as the 272 I use, and even the NDS! The difference is that the power supply is better in those streamers; however its digital output performance is still better than the streaming section of the Node 2i.

The NDac is no longer in production so is only available used anyway; it’s just a case of when / if one becomes available.

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If you are only comparing the Node and the ND5XS streamer capability I think you would find the ND5XS to be a downgrade. The Node is a perfectly capable streamer. The original Naim streamers were designed for local area network streaming rather than Internet streaming IIRC. Where the Node is not so good is its DAC. You can get very good DACs these days without spending lots of money – the electronics has been getting better and better while the cost goes down. There is a reason why Naim got out of the stand alone DAC business.

If you are not committed to the Naim world, much as we would be happy to have you, then you may want to consider the EverSolo A6 or A8. They are both state of the art in the DAC and streamer domains and are not overly expensive.

The Lumin D2 is an excellent device that I’ve enjoyed used as a transport and also as transport/DAC. Very neutral sounding with great software, build, support and updated firmware. Adding an external Sbooster power supply is an easy upgrade should the temptation strike.

Ah thanks. Noted on the Ndac sale on ebay

So I guess if I do get the ND5XS will use it as a streamer and dac rather than just as a dac to my node 2i.

Thanks for sharing. Some good options. I was looking at Eversolo but read reviews they were bright sounding. Also, felt that Naim may just have better sound quality and its more neutral based on what I have read.

Tks for sharing. The Lumin D2 is something I am considering as well. It seems to be well reviewed too. Just wondering which would be better in terms of sound quality. ND5XS while $600 cheaper compared to Lumin D2 (where I am at) , streaming functionality wise appears to be a concern. I do use Tidal and felt the ND5XS was sufficient.

I would advise you to keep the Node, at least for a while so that you have the option of using it via a digital input into the ND5.
If Tidal is the only streaming service you use, you may find that it works well enough with the ND5, but you are more likely to have problems with it than with other streamers that use a design intended for internet streaming services.
I do agree that a separate DAC connected to the Node could be a better option to consider.

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ND5XS was my introduction to streaming, and I was very happy with it. I only stream from my own storeof music files (ripped CD &LPs plus downloaded music including hi res). It was easy to set up and get going, the Naim app on a tablet worked well for me, and the sound was very good, remarkably similar to my outgoing Shearne Phase 7 CD player. It is a great streamer for the money (I bought ex-dem), and I would imagine excellent value for money secondhand. However if you stream online I understand there may be limitations in terms ofaccessible services, on which those experienced can advise.

Of course it can be bettered for sound quality, and I moved on first adding a Chord Hugo as an external DAC, which I found gave a more natural sound - not that there was anything that had struck me as unnatural with the ND5, just that Hugo was distinctly better. That move had been triggered by first being persuaded by the dealer from whom I bought the ND5 to add an XP5XS external power supply - also ex-dem, which I felt to be a waste of money as the improvement was very marginal. I then replaced both the ND5XS and my cheap (and acoustically noisy) NAS with a (silent) Mac Mini running Audirvana. That package, Mac Mini secondhand and Hugo new, cost about the same as my ex-dem ND5 would have with a new silent NAS, while a separate DAC made subsequent upgrading easier. But setting up Mac Mini +Audirvana was more hands-on than ND5XS.