I recently replaced the BlueSound Node (2021) in my system with a ND5 XS 2 and thought I would take a few minutes to share my experience in the event that anyone else is considering the move.
Up until recently, the digital side of my system consisted of a Node fed to a nDAC via a DC1 BNS/BNS (with RCA adapter at the Node). Although I was fairly happy with how it sounded, I never found it particularly engaging and spent 90% of my listening time on vinyl. Although it’s been recommended to me countless times, including on this forum, I was skeptical that a streamer upgrade would result in an appreciable difference. I assumed the heavy lift being done by the nDAC and that gains would be hard to come by in the transport. Regardless, I’ve been watching for a ND5 XS 2 on the used market for some time and was happy to find a reasonably priced one from a reputable retailer.
Out of the box I was very surprised by the weight of the ND5 XS 2 which is 6.6kg to the Node’s 1.09kg. Despite the inconspicuous aesthetics, it certainly felt like it was going to do something special. Setup was straight forward, the IOS app worked flawlessly and adding it Roon was straight forward.
As for my listening experience; I can say without hesitation, that all the hard work was not being done by the nDAC. The ND5 XS 2 brought more PRAT, more detail, more dynamics and a wider, more focused, soundstage. The overall impact was significant and the latter points on soundstage were remarkable. I tried it with and without the nDAC and and the nDAC configuration was a clear winner to my ears.
In all honesty, it’s quickly become the darling of my system. In fact, I’ve started plotting a TT upgrade in response. I guess this journey never ends, good fun with good tunes.
Previously I had a setup similar to the BlueSound Node. While my previous setup was pretty good, once I added a ND5xs2 for streaming duties I never looked back. Someone far wiser than me speculated the nDAC really needs a high quality streamer/transport to sound its best. I completely agree. You have a very very nice front end now. Of course you can go further by adding a PS but I’ll leave that up to you and your wallet.
Nice post! We can only confirm our love of the ND5XS2, its such a sweat spot product. It currently resides in our 82 SC 250 SBL setup, utterly sublime, so much so, couldn’t justify going further up the streaming hierarchy, yet! Will it stay in the lineup? Not sure / confirmed?
To me the bare Bluesound Node sounded very hifi ish compared to the more earthy/lively ND5xs. But the bluos app is more stable than the Naim app. One thing i found strange with bluos is with iRadio it doesn’t select the highest stream quality like the Naim app does, just as with the Heos app???
By that logic, no ‘upgrade’ should ever be compared to the product it is replacing. So we shouldn’t compare a 252 to a 282.
Of course you can compare a Node to ND5 XS2, people want to know how they compare for the ~£2k difference.
Price is, at best, a very loose indicator of sound quality, especially then comparing across different brands. To my mind you should never assume that a more expensive item is bound to be better, especially when it comes to digital equipment.
One of the reasons it’s easy to stick with an all-Naim system is that they generally price their products to reflect their sonic abilities quite accurately in my experience. So you can be pretty sure of what you are going to get for your money if you climb the ladder. Of course, they have never made a separate streamer below XS level, and presumably never will. I guess that should give you a reasonable indication of where you might get into mullet territory if you try to cut costs on sources.
That’s because the ND5x2 isn’t a streamer with a DAC, it’s a DAC with a streaming board. The streaming board stuff is only a small portion. Probably less than 20% is associated with streaming. So 80% is unused if used to stream to a Dac.
I’ve recently bought a Primare NP5 streamer (No Dac, No Onboard PSU) and an ifi ipowerx PSU, total cost under £600. It sounds very good, feed my NdaC. Probably not as good as ND5xs2, but in my low end system I doubt I would hear a large difference.
It weighs under 500g, so that’s about £1/g.
I can totally agree - it is a fine machine, the little naim streamer. I upgraded to nd555 in main system recently and had no thoughts of selling ND5xs2/ndac/XPS.
3 big boxes will be source for a little one soon (little with 50 in its naim)