Naim Streamers. Educate me!

So, today I use a Chromecast Audio using the optical output to my Supernait 1 DAC controlling it from my iPhone or Macbook. Works pretty flawless. The Chromecast Audio DAC measures extremely well etc and it streams in maximum quality from Spotify servers into the SN1 DAC.

What will I get that this setup is not giving me today in terms of audio quality and why? Say I move to an Naim NDX or ND5XS. I don’t need anything else than these boxes if so, right? The Naim universe is painfully hard to understand :grimacing: Maybe I would benefit most in just a better DAC than my SN1 DAC if the UI of my current setup is OK and I get the same source information into the DAC as with a Naim Streamer?

Can I control the NDX or ND5XS with Spotify only (search songs, volume, tracks, play pause) or is it required to use Naim app?

In effect the ND5XS or NDX would replace both your Chromecast Audio ‘streamer’ and the DAC component of your Supernait 1. I would assume that the DAC in the NDX will be superior to the one in the Supernait 1, but I don’t know for sure. No doubt Naim owners who have listened to both can tell you.

However, if your source is Spotify (which does not stream CD quality), then the addition of the NDZ or ND5XS may not give a significant improvement. I too use a Chromecast device for a bedroom system (feeding a Marantz 'streamer) and it works very well.

What UI are you using with your current setup? One advantage of the ND5XS or NDX may be that you will then have access to the Naim App which might very well be significantly better than what you currently use. I get round this issue in my bedroom system by using Roon.

First thing in my mind is the Supernait (1) DAC is the (very) weak link. I used it to feed my optical TV sound & it was not good, hissy when good but it dropped out every 10 to 30 minutes. I also experimented with some PC feeds & an old Marantz CD player, it was OK with some PC stuff, the Marantz was OK
I then moved from my (much loved) CDX2 to NDX & hooked the TV sound into the NDX, what a revelation, no hiss & considering its TV sound, it was as good as it gets.

No you don’t ‘need’ extra boxes. With just my NDX as the source for the Supernait (1) I listen to web-radio (Naims own iRadio with thousands of radio stations from all over the world, plus Naim has its own choice of high def streams) I can also stream from internet, but in my case I choose not to have a streaming service. I prefer to ‘own’ my music & have my old CD collection ripped to a Synology NAS (yes that is an extra box) but thats what the NDX is designed for, the CD rips & high def (24-bit & DSD) is better SQ than web streaming & its all I need.
The Naim app(s) for Apple (iOS) tablets & iPhones or Android for those tablets & phones controls everything, browsing streaming, Supernait volume & mute, all makes for very lazy & relaxed listening.
If you do go that way, try to have all wired ethernet, wireless is OK but not as robust as ethernet. Avoid powerline ethernet adaptors if at all possible.

So I get that NDX and ND5XS etc ads quality improvements in terms of DAC compared to what I have. But if we separate the NDX and ND5XS and look on them as streamers, getting a signal from the cloud and move that to the DAC. What will the streamer (not DAC) on them add to the sound quality which my Chromecast Audio is not doing? Or is it mainly a DAC I purchase with a different UI? What will they add to the sound quality if anything compared to getting the optical signal from Chromecast audio and into say a Naim DAC-V1 that cost 1/3 of the streamer? The CA cost like 30USD.

I’ve not tried Chromecast, I know people who have, so all I know is hearsay, but a guy I know with a Linn streamer uses both & only uses Chromecast for his casual background office listening.
From what I know, reading & people I talk to, a Naim (any made for the purpose) streamer gives better SQ than other non-specialist front end.

I suggest you try it yourself, home or dealer demo will go some way to do this before you are tempted to buy something.
I’m not convinced about any aspects of optical with domestic products for best SQ, not least the Toslink system holds it back.
Streamers get their feed from the internet, not ‘the cloud’

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Spotify Connect means gettings the audio directly from Spotify servers (which is the cloud) so my Chromecast Audio gets the same source as the Naim streamers as I understand it. I don’t have a Naim dealer anywhere close to me so I would need to purchase to evalute. That’s why I try to get a better picture of what they do to sound quality compared to my current setup :slight_smile:

Hi, I have used the CCA into the SN1 into B&W CM1 loudspeakers for quite a while. It is a very entertaining and good combination. Power and Dynamics is what it is very good at - it will play anything with bravoure. As you probably know, the CCA will never let you down.

3 alternative suggestions:

  1. Add a Hicap DR to the SN1. This does wonders to the SN1. Also the digital inputs did strongly improve.
  2. You can get a network adaptor for the CCA. This allows you to hardwire it to the network which makes it more snappy. Clicking a song in spotify results immediately in the music being played when the CCA is hardwired.
  3. The simple Chord Mojo works wonderful with the SN1. I assume that a Chord Hugo works good too. I have not tried the old Naim Dac, but this is still on my personal list to try.

When you move to the Naim streamers, there is a fair chance that you run into issues. These can be solved by a lot of fiddling but if you come from these rock solid CCA’s it might be a disappointment.

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I said streamers get there feed from the internet, which is not ‘the cloud’

Not sure if there is a difference really? How do you define the difference between internet and the cloud? All servers are in the cloud. Spotify is in the cloud. It’s not like Spotify have 3000 servers running on Stockholm office :slight_smile:

The term ‘cloud’ is not commonly used in audio & on this forum.
Internet is a network of networks to establish connectivity between computers around the world. Cloud computing is a technology that delivers many types of resources but all over the Internet.
So streamers & the streaming services that they connect to is over the internet

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A few months back I bought a chromecast audio, not that I really needed it, but since Google stopped selling it you never know when it would be a good idea to have one. Connecting it to my Ndac results have been poor in terms of SQ. Very strange with all the talk about a good cheap streaming solution. It turnt out that Google at some firmware update has introduced tone controls, that has made the sq much worse than before.

rock solid no way. When the CCA acts up you need a router reset not often the case with most other network issues! This may never happen for you but the same can be said with Naim streamers no matter what you read on the forum.

Spotify, YouTube and many others that serve from the cloud are mostly low bit rate, with ok sound.
Naim streamers support these, but additionally let you build up your own cloud as such with a much more higher specification of your own library of music to stream with.


I tried a Chromecast once to stream Qobuz and it sounded dreadful. In fact Spotify sounds pretty dreadful on a proper Naim system anyway. If going for an NDX you’d be far better with Tidal if you want to use a steaming service. At least it’s (usually) CD quality rather than MP3.

I’ve tried Tidal 2-3 times but I find their UI to be horrible. And I always miss Spotify connect which allows my iPhone to control my system like a remote. Most of the music I listen to is HIFI status on Tidal. I assume that is not CD qualtiy? I have a CD player on the way to solve the Spotify quality when needed which I will hook up to the internal DAC of my SN1.

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I fully agree. I only had it to fill out any gaps in Tidal’s catalogue but In the end I gave the subscription away.

Tidal is integrated into the Naim app and works really well. SQ is CD quality other than a few albums that are not available in that quality. It seems odd to be buying a CD player and thinking of a streamer. If you get a Nas you can rip CDs to that and stream locally over your network. You can also download in CD and high res. Have a think about it.


How’s the DAC in Naim DAC-V1 compared to the one in NDX, or ND5XS? Rank them please if you’ve tried them all :slight_smile:

I bought a used ND5XS for ~1000£. Wish me luck :sunglasses:


I’m about to update my ND5XS which currently run 4.4 to 4.7. I’m using a Macbook laptop. However this laptop lacks Ethernet so I wonder if the update process really require ethernet to my laptop or if it’s enough with the ND5XS to use ethernet?