ND5 XS can’t play large files

This may be an unusual end case, but in the absence of any guidance from Naim, I wonder if anyone else has had similar issues?

  • my 4-year-old ND5 XS refused to play a 2.3 GB AIFF file, displaying “Cant Play” in large letters on its green fluorescent screen.

  • The problem persisted when I switched from an external (UPnP) server to using a USB stick, plugged into the front of the device.

  • The AIFF played fine on my Mac.

  • Transcoding into FLAC “fixed” the problem - presumably the smaller file size is now acceptable.

So what’s the problem?

  1. I was told by experts at Naim to use uncompressed formats - WAFF or AIFF - in preference to FLAC, as they “sound better”. But clearly this doesn’t always work!

  2. This is supposed to be a “streamer”, so why can’t it stream large files?

  3. Nowhere can I find any documentation of a 2 GB file size limit.

Why such a large track ? It was a 24-bit 192 kHz recording of the first movement (all 33 minutes) of Mahler’s 3rd symphony - the sonically-astounding recording from Channel Classics. Yes, I could mess around splitting it up into shorter chunks, but that’s not really the point.

For the record, I’m using a Synology 212j NAS running MinimServer (or the default UPnP software - doesn’t make any difference) connected to the ND5XS via Ethernet (or directly, vis a 138 GB USB stick). I’ve long given up on Naim’s DACs and currently feed the digital output into a Chord Hugo 2, which also serves as my headphone amp.

In summary: has anyone else had problems with large files not playable on Naim streamers? Is this a RAM limit, or perhaps some hardwired software limit?

Thanks for any feedback!

I’ve seen a couple of threads in the past, people have reported large files not playing through first generation players, at the end of the threads there had been no replies from Naim that we were told about.

Thanks. I did email Naim last week and received an automatic acknowledgment - but no formal response.

What version of firmware are you on ? Is there a newer version that may fix this ?

This doesn’t make sense, the ND5 is fed a stream of data, it doesn’t load the whole file, it plays the stream one bit chunk at a time, so album size shouldn’t make any difference to the ND5.
I would keep persevering with Naim Support but suspect they will come to the same answer as me above.
I suspect this might be something related to AIFF, possibly metadata.
Do you have dBpoweramp ??? I would try using that to convert the AIFF file to something else, best would probably be FLAC. FLAC can be transcoded (if you want) to WAV on Minimserver.

And if you don’t have dbPoweramp and need a free format converter then Freac (free audio converter) is pretty good


I’ve just tried - there’s no comparison; the Hugo 2 is just richer, more detailed, more vivid, more three-dimensional…

When I first purchased the ND5 XS, I spent hours doing A-B comparisons with my CD5 XS - and to my amazement, the CD-player sounded better - not just to my ears, but also to my wife’s (who is far more musical than me). I’ve always found the ND5 XS a bit “flat” sounding. I think the CD player may be a bit more “forward” - as an Opera fan, this was what attracted me to the CD5 XS in the first place: it was more lifelike, more vivid, more real.

I did experiment with the XPS power supply - this certainly improved the rhythmic drive, but the Hugo 2 delivers so much more detail and a vivid, almost “holographic” sound stage :slight_smile:

This is helpful feedback, Mike-B. I’m curious though, has anyone very managed to feed a 2GB file (of whatever format) into the ND5 XS ?

I purchased the music in FLAC format, direct from Channel Classics, then used dBPowerAmp to convert to AIFF for storage on the Synology. I actually tried this several times, in case there was an issue - and got the same result each time.

I strongly suspect there may be a secret RAM limit - or perhaps some hardwired software limit, that restricts us to a maximum of 2GB per file - but Naim seems to be keeping quiet on this. I’ve read and re-read all of the brochures and the user’s guide, and they all claim the ability to read 24-bit 192 kHz AIFF files - nothing about any file limits - so who knows?

Regarding transcoding: this is certainly a workaround, as is using FLAC directly (indeed, the latter would make my life easier as all of my digital downloads are FLAC files - although I like to edit the metadata as titles tend to be very clunky for “classical” music). However, my major point is to try to identify WHY the ND5 XD appears to fail to behave as advertised…

Finally, my firmware is 4.6.0

It’s a spectacular recording, isn’t it? Interesting suggestion re. transcoding - I guess I could do this, although it seems purer to use AIFF.

Regarding sample rate: I can’t claim to have golden ears, but like to go for the best-available recording. My understanding is that, whilst our hearing isn’t great at the best of times - and of course deteriorates with age - it’s the ability to pick out subtle transients, timing differences, that is key. Musically, it helps define the start and end of notes and stereo imaging. This is something that Rob Watts (Chord Electronics) is always keen to emphasise - I guess I’m very much in the Chord Electronics camp these days, having heard the differences their DACs make…

I think best make it clear its one track of that size thats needed to verify this.
I have some very large albums in WAV - now converted to FLAC. But never failed to play (on NDX) but the problem is they consist of individual tracks that are not of the size in question.

Don’t be fooled by all this format/codec mythology
Whatever format you are using it gets played as raw PCM in the streamer
I’m mystified why you would want to buy in FLAC & then convert to AIFF, why not play FLAC transcoded to AIFF or better to WAV.
I’ve always found WAV sounds marginally better with the legacy streamers, probably because there is less process load on the streamer.
For what its worth the only problem I’ve ever had with an album format was an AIFF given to me by someone, so along with that & iTunes issues, I now avoid Apple products as much as possible on anything that is not Apple

WAF and AIFF are both uncompressed formats requiring very low overhead on the streamer - so thats what Naim recommended me to use at the time. Personally, I avoid Microsoft like the plague (and I believe WAFF had metadata issues at one point) , so AIFF was the sensible choice. It works well on all my other systems…

…I suppose, in the interests of science I should try a 2.3 GB WAF to see if this plays. We’d then be able to point the finger at file size, rather than format.

I should add that my Synology NAS drive doesn’t have a fast CPU so I wanted to minimize the workload at that end. I vaguely recall experimenting with transcoding at one stage and had some issues (gapless playback?) so decided to stick with AIFF.

If you want to test different formats, you can just set Minimserver to transcode to WAV on playback. The streamer has no way of knowing whether the transcoding was done on the fly a fraction of a second before, or ten years ago. It just gets WAV either way.
This is not a very heavy workload, your NAS should be fine.

Good suggestion, Chris! I’ll try this tomorrow night :slight_smile:

Naim streamers were designed and optimised to work with WAV, and some believe there is a small sound quality advantage in using it. The slightly reduced workload it will put on the streamer (getting the NAS to do it remotely) might possibly help with your particular issue - or not - but there’s nothing to lose by trying.

WAV does not have metadata issues other than in Naim’s case they choose to associate metadata differently than the globally accepted MS standard

That’s the Synology ‘Media Server’ UPnP, a very basic media server. It would not transcode properly in that it downsampled everything to 16 bit, plus during transcoding it could not play gapless. It played gapless OK with straight WAV or FLAC, not while transcoding.

The data is streamed so the file size is irrelevant. Just stick the FLAC (that you downloaded) on Asset and set to transcode FLAC to WAV.