ND5 XS 2 or DAC v1 + Bluesound?

Hello!

I’m hoping to build a better digital front end (using Qobuz + USB hard drive), with either Naim DAC v1 in combination with my Bluesound Node, or ND5 XS2 streamer. Either will be connected to NAC152/NAP155 combo + Focal Aria 906s. I found a few of good deals on used gear but wasn’t sure if paying $1000 extra for the streamer will get me a better sounding system (also the DAC has a headphone amp). Any advice?

Separately, I was also considering Chord Qutest instead of Naim DAC. I heard great things about it but had some reservations about how it would sound with Focals (which are on the polite side). Perhaps a more forward sound from Naim DAC could be a better match here (plus staying within Naim gear is a bonus)?

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Waited for others to chime in but it’s a bit quiet, so will try an answer. You can’t be really sure without a demo I’m afraid.

I know for example @badlyread is very happy with his Qutest/Node and prefers it over a ND5 XS2, which on the other hand is a device that many others are happy with. There are likely preferences in both the sound presentations and in the Bluesound vs. the Naim app as a user interface (UI).

As to the DAC-V1 I can only tell you about my experience in the context of a Macbook via USB system, which is also its best input. As a source into my Nait 2 I very much liked the synergy, with a typical Naim sound being lively, full of PRAT, yet refined. It’s also a nice combination with a NAP100 and NAP200 in a digital-only system.

As written elsewhere in the recent “recapped nDAC” thread that machine gets lots of love here to improve upon the ND5 XS2. Note that the latest Bluesound Node now has a USB output. According to the Bluesound support forum it will be turned on via a new firmware update shortly. Possibly also the DAC-V1 might get a renewed interest then to pair up with the Node and other USB-out streamers.

Do report back where this quest has led you, good luck!

ps: @Richard.Dane perhaps move this thread from Hi-Fi Corner to Streaming Audio where it might get more answers?

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The problem you have here is that V1 is a dac and preamp. The analogue out is post volume control, so when plugged in to your 152 you’d be using two preamps. The analogue output is designed for a power amp, as the V1 was matched with the NAP100. You can’t lose the 152 because you need the analogue input for the TT. If it was me, I’d get the ND5XS2. It’s a single box, sounds good and matches you pre and power amp. Keep things simple.

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If you do choose the dac v1, you can set the output to fixed.

Initially I thought the pot was only controlling the headphone volume but yeah, after more reading over the weekend I realized V1 was designed mainly as a digital only preamp into NAP100 and decided on moving forward with the ND5XS2. Then again, V1 has a software setting controlling the fixed output, as @robert_h had mentioned, but ND5XS2 looks the likelier of the two for me at this point also due to its native Qobuz support, which many streamers don’t offer.

Good that you were able to make up your mind. Looking forward to seeing your chosen setup in the System Pics 2022 thread in due course.

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Thanks! Done and dusted. I ordered a lightly used ND5XS2 today. Looking forward to start using it along with the Naim app - heard great things about it.

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enjoy - it’s a great music machine

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The ND5XS2 is a fantastic streamer I hope you enjoy it.

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Yep, I got it a couple of weeks ago with a brand new gray SNAIC, so I refrained from making any conclusions until the cable got burned in sufficiently.

Overall, I’m very happy. Great streamer with a few advantages over the Node: better sound (not by much but noticeable… still, Node is no slouch), DSD support, better native app, and of course it’s another box perfectly integrated into my existing Naim setup. Compared to Node, it’s expensive no doubt, but also one of those “buy once, cry once” purchases - I don’t see wanting to upgrade it for years to come. With the Node, the thought was always hunting me.

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I like this expression!

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