I have a 272, so let’s suppose that the iRadio quality is about the same as your ND5XS2. The 272 has an FM module, and the sound of that is significantly better than iRadio, including the BBC HLS stream. We have a five element aerial on the roof and a clear line to the transmitter on the Isle of Wight. A little while ago I bought a NAT05, not expecting a huge uplift on the 272 FM module and was really surprised how much better it was. Not just a little bit better, but massively better. Everything is just so much more real.
I listen to about a 50/50 mix between FM & web-radio. I have a NAT-05 with an attic mounted R.Smith G14 & only 5km distance from the regional 46kW FM transmitter. Web-radio is from an NDX connected with ethernet to a 71mb/s broadband service.
Keep in mind the NAT-05 has a 19kHz pilot tone filter that limits the very top end of the audio spectrum & as a result I find web-radio to have a lighter more detailed presence, marginally better stereo & a hint more bass.
However my preference as to what I listen to depends on the music being played; on BBC R3, I prefer FM for live concerts, orchestral, vocal & acoustic instruments, but prefer web-radio for all other stuff & everything on R2 & R4. That said, if I/we have something playing for casual background stuff from BBC, I invariably use the NAT-05, or & especially so at weekends its R.Paradise, Linn Jazz or Naim Radio
I live in central London and have a proper five element FM aerial mounted on the roof.
I have used this with a NAT03 and NAT05XS and for internet-fed radio an HDX-SSD.
Unfortunately (here) we are now being hemmed in by skyscrapers and this has badly affected reception - some days OK, other days hiss. I mainly listen to R3 and R4.
Although the HDX-SSD cannot benefit from BBC HLS streams (like a ND5XS can) this is not a major biggie as it can still receive high quality R3 streams in 320kbps AAC.
Ultimately, as with so many things its about compromise: Both the NAT03 and NAT05XS sound glorious on a good day but the HDX-SSD sounds pretty good if not quite as good - and the spin off benefits of using it are access to other non-FM stations such as Radio 4 extra, FIP, Radio Swiss Jazz, Naim Radio etc. The relegation of the NAT05XS from the rack has also allowed me to power my SuperLine directly from a dedicated HiCap relieving the NAC282/Aux2/HiCap of this strain and bringing a noticeable and welcome improvement in quality when replaying all sources.
Maybe in the future in a different home with better reception and a couple of extra shelves of IsoBlue I will resurrect the NAT05XS and power it off a HiCap (as that really does bring benefits). Until then its staying in its box.
What I can’t understand is why FM sounds so good when it is so compromised: The BBC equipment at the studio (or venue) will likely be digital, the transmission (to the transmitter) is via NICAM (digital again but old school) with a limited frequency response (max 15kHz) and dynamic range. 320kbps AAC should beat the pants off it but it doesn’t.
Nobody has ever give a plausible explanation about that. Many theories but none convincing. Could it be that the signal goes through a enormous vacuum tube at the transmitter station? What a outrageous idea!
Thanks, I live on the Berkshire Downs, so no problems with skyscrapers . What I am trying to say/ask “Is it worth spending the extra” when I am getting a very good sound?
Problem is, I know it could be better, I used to have a Magnum Dynalab MD102 t in the rack
I heard a NDX2 and that was remarkable for just fitting seamlessly , but there is no way I could afford it and I am getting the opinion that there is little to be gained from replacing my elderly NAT 03 with a ND5 XS2
Oh well decisions, decisions - the bad thing is that I have oodles of time.
I don’t know about the FM/DAB cards in the current streamers but the FM/DAB card in my ND5XS outputs FM transmissions via the digital output. I suspect that FM tuning within the ND5XS is in some respect digital. Of course older tuners will be all analog.