Naim ND5xs or Chord Qutest or Azur 851N

100% it will work without Audirvana, I just happen to have been using it for sometime anyway and it now integrates Qobuz and Tidal natively, bit like Roon does.
You can try if for a month for free and bin it if you don’t like.
Both Qobuz and Tidal have their own apps. I use them in my car for example with downloaded Albums/Playlists and as my car head unit had Apple Carplay I can browse and control it from the screen on the dash, bingo bango.

If you take the USB output from your Mac into a DAC then I recommend a device / accessory to ‘clean’ up the USB feed before it enters the DAC (even for DACs that have that capability). These vary from £40 (Audioquest Jitterbug), through USB Regen, Matrix Audio, to Mutec3+reclocker-USB - there are others. Without this you will get a loss of clarity and even some of the softer notes in a music track will ‘recede’.

I am currently running a RasperryP4, with two Jitterbugs into a Mutec, then to a Chord DAC. I will probably try an Allo Digione (or USBridge) Signature before too long . I am using roon (which can run on a Mac). Not quite the same use-case as the OP.

I have owned a ND5XS2 for a while to which I added a Hugo2. I Bought and sold both of these secondhand for even money and I have now moved to separate components with a Melco music library.

In the OP’s case I would look at a secondhand Hugo 2 and plan to add the new 2go streamer - over budget but worth a listen. I listened to this combination at the Bristol Hi-fi show and it is impressive for the size. The alternative would be a Qutest but then both the 2go and 2yu would be needed, unless using the Mac as the source.

Alternatively for the streamer go for a Pro-ject Streambox S2 Ultra or the aforementioned Allo DigiOne Signature - then into the Qutest this could just squeeze into (over ?) the OP’s budget with judicious buying.

iFi iSilencer and iPurifier also worth a look. I use those on my Mac Mini Roon Server then onwards to a iFi iDSD Micro for occasional use.
USB ports on laptops do tend to be quite noisy, running the DAC off it’s battery as I do with my Mojo/Hugo2 helps but something to calm down the noise on the power output on the USB does help this is true unless you run both the laptop and the DAC off their internal batteries that is.

I wondered about this — is the Quetest’s galvanic isolation up for a direct feed from a laptop?

When using a Hugo (without galvanic isolation), @Innocent_Bystander used a Gustard U12 to his satisfaction, if my recollection is correct — a cheap fix from the Far East…

My Hugo 2 cohabitates happily with an Allo USBridge Sig — no need for a laptop I think. And not that expensive either… :slightly_smiling_face:

If you already have a mac then I’d get one of the chord dacs and run audirvana on your mac. The usual streamers are integrated, it sounds better than the mac direct and you can use the remote control on an iPad or android device. I have the same set up, with a USB regen, feeding my 282 and it sounds brilliant

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Having been ‘down this route’ - Nas, mac, Audirvana, dacV1 to 202/200 etc, ATC SCM11, I was lucky to be able to home dem a ‘preloved’ ND5xs & the ND gave a far better ‘sound’. My dealer then had a preloved NDX (even better) & I ended up with that & haven’t looked back since. Now got to save up for a power supply to make it even better.
So, to summarise: wish I’d have ‘started’ with an ND - I’d have more £ in my pocket towards an XPS :blush: - which ever route you take: HOME DEM for as long as possible & be certain of ‘where you want to end up’.


I have a Nait XS2, or should that be XS-2 [I bought it new in November 2013]. In December 2019 I bought a Chord Qutest. I had auditioned it at my dealers against an Auralic and some another kit and the Chord sounded about twenty times better than anything else. The Qutest has really brought my system to life. The sound of the Qutest is very detailed but very sweet sounding with absolutely no sonic nasty’s or even slight issues at all. Deep, detailed bass, clearly separated mids with no hardness and highs which are intricate and airy with no edginess or sibilance of any kind.
Only since having the Qutest have I heard the clearly seperated backing vocals on the chorus of ‘Cold Fire’ by Rush. I hadn’t previously been so aware that Geddy Lee had sung more than one layer of vocals.

And yet it still sounds very analogue.

I use a CD transport but mainly stream from my laptop. Download ‘Hysolid’ which is a free hi res player which does everything up to and including DSD. The software operates on the computer but is not ‘seen’ on the laptop but runs in the background. You don’t operate it from the PC. You download the smartphone app [both apple and android] and it works just like the Naim streamer app, in fact it looks almost the same.

I don’t stream from the internet but rather play my wave files and hi res files from the hard drive. Perhaps if you need to use Roon or Spotify then you may need a slightly different approach, but the Qutest is as good as they say and Hysolid is the best software I have seen and is free.


Thank you very much for sharing your experience. Thats really helpful.

Always has been a mystery to me how come the sound through galvanic isolated DACs is affected by the noise from lap top’s USB output and are those usb cables with separate cables for power and data really make a difference in those cases?

I actually went the opposite way from a Qutest & several different transports to the ND5 XS2 against my dealers advice & haven’t looked back.
For me personally less variables in the mix.:blush:


It is worth mentioning that Chord supply drivers for the PC/laptop which you install which make it asynchronous. So the DAC is in control of the ‘clock’, thus pulling the data from the laptop rather than the laptop pushing the data to the DAC. So the DAC is in control.

Have you found a solution?

Do you listen mainly to online services such as Spotify / Tidal etc or have a music library at home?

A used ND5XS is probably within your budget but the Qutest DAC alone is EUR 1,300 and you still need a source i.e. a streamer. If you believe that “digital is digital” then you don’t need to spend much on the streamer as Chord DACs reclock the incoming signal.

An option is Sonos and you can pick up a second hand Connect very cheaply although of course they are no longer supported. The new Port is EUR 450.

You could go down the Raspberry PI route but you won’t get the ‘user experience’ of the Sonos.

Chord Mojo DAC + Poly streamer = EUR 1,000 - not ideal as a desktop set up but you can use it portable and is below budget. I haven’t owned one but I believe they sound good, especially for the price.

Let us know what you decided!

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