ND5 XS2 or older NDX+XPS?

Hello all, my first post but i’ve owned my Naim set-up for over twenty years now !

My current system is the olive series CDX into a psc and Hi-Capped NAC 102 into a a NAP180 driving Shahinian speakers - how very late 90s! I’m very happy with that set-up , but there’s always a longing to move up a notch or two !

I auditioned a Uniti Atom at the weekend, primarily as a network streamer into the 102/180 set up. The interest in the Uniti Atom was that if, in say 5 years time, i wanted to down size the audio set up I could just retain the Atom and add some small speakers.

I demo’d the Atom via its pre-amp output and it was an impressive unit, albeit the sound seemed a little more mainstream than classic Naim. Thats probably a reflection of the customer base its trying to attract I guess ?

The retailer I visited suggested I’d be better with a ND5XS, and I listened to that too; the sound was a bit more classic Naim (the Atom felt akin to turning up the saturation on TV/monitor in comparison). Whilst I’d lose the compact/downsizeable nature of the Atom i’m swayed towards the ND5XS - it has to be a better unit internally with no fancy screen or integrated amp for the same retail price.

Now the real question, is it worth considering a used NDX with XPS over a new ND5XS2 ?

Whilst I have hundreds of CDs, the majority of my music purchases over the last 10 years have been through itunes, so not the highest quality. I do intend spending more time with Spotify and TIDAL though with this new purchase, so i want to get my streamer choice correct

Appreciate any thoughts

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You could always start small; eg nad cs1. That will give you streaming with Spotify tidal qobuz etc. if you love it, great, look for the ndx*** whichever model fits best your budget. If not, it’s £299 well spent.

Thanks for the suggestion - certainly a cheap option, and would be ideal for something like my study/home office. I have considered the Bluesound Node options but steered away from those due to unknown future support in case of faults/service. At least with Naim i’m hoping there is service support long into the future

For sound quality the NDX/XPS will be a big leap up from the ND5XS2, but do you mean NDX or NDX2? The former is old tech now so you need to be aware of it’s limitations.

As for ND5XS2 vs Atom, I would just get the ND5XS2. Trade it in for an Atom later if you want to downsize, that would be more or less cost neutral.

The CDX has the older streaming platform and isn’t compatible with Qobuz - although there are workarounds if you’re prepared to mess about a bit:

Thanks for the replies

I was looking at the earlier NDX with XPS. Yes it’s older tech and can’t handle every streaming service easily. I was just interested whether the NDX with XPS sound wise would be better than the newer electronics of the ND5XS2, and whether that was enough to compensate for the stream limitations

A bit of dilemma. Nd5xs2 or Ndx/xps ?
For stored music, the Ndx/xps will be ahead. But for online, like Tidal, the new streaming platform will be more stable and probably better. And you can have Qobuz too.
So I would say all depends on what kind of music, local or online, you listen the most.

From my experience the old NDX still competes well with the newer kit purely in sonic terms; even without an XPS.

An NPX300 is an upgrade path for the NDX also FWIW.


thanks for your thoughts; adding a NPX300 would almost double the market value of my system lol! I think i’m quite a few pay cheque away from that upgrade


That’s an interesting insight. My CDs are still CDs , nothing ripped to hard drive etc and i’ve no intention of letting my CDX go as i still enjoy using it.

My only ‘stored’ music is on apple music on either iphone or ipad. I appreciate airplay2 is a compromised connection , but that’s where i have a lot of music i listen to daily, mostly during my drive into the office.

Despite some very tempting prices on NDX units, I’m swaying to the newer tech of the ND5XS2


In your case it’s certainly a better option then. I didn’t knew before that your stored albums are to listen in a car.
If one day you want to improve, you have the Ndac option ( a great uplift for 1k).

Music stored on the iphone/ipad is just how i’ve purchased music over the last 5+ years. Yes i listen to it in the car via apple carplay or bluetooth, and i listen over wireless B&W earphones and B&W headphones when travelling on holiday etc. For home use its the current lack of integration to the Naim system that prevents me listening to more of my music. Getting that connectivity to the Naim, and the addition of streaming, would open up many options for appreciating music again.


If you go with the NDX, you can plug your iPhone into the front usb port using a lighting - usb cable and play direct from the phone or using the NDX control buttons or remote. You don’t get this functionality with the new streamers.

Thats interesting Mike - do you happen to know how that wired connection compares sonically to Airplay2.

Is your music in cd format or mp3?
If it’s in cd format, it exists on ITunes I presume. You can maybe transfer all these albums on a usb stick then plug the usb stick in the front panel of the Ndx.
As for connecting your IPhone to the Ndx, with a cable, I don’t know. Maybe @ChrisSU can confirm.

Yes, you can use USB on 1st gen streamers to connect Apple devices. It’s Apple certified and works well.
On 2nd gen streamers you can’t, but you can use AirPlay instead.

USB sticks also work, but on 1st gen streamers you only get a basic folder view so no good for browsing.

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The OP asked also which one would sound best, hard wired IPhone to Ndx or Airplay with Nd5xs2 ? I would say the first….but only a feeling.

The iTunes stuff is downloaded so i guess it is as CD quality, but no idea to be honest - i probably need to get into itunes on a laptop to check


Both the NDX and the ND5XS2 have the front USB port which Naim states works for a ‘mp3 player or other device’ and also provides 1.6A charging. It would seem ChrisSU has set us both straight in his post though.

And i agree that a wired connection to a NDX is probably better sound wise than the ND5XS2

I’ll be ripping some of my older, less used CDs to a USB stick/USB hard drive as i’ve plenty of albums where i only really want to listen to a few tracks rather than the whole album. FLAC files are a little smaller than WAV , so will probably select the former. Thankfully i have an old laptop with a CD drive !

When I demo’d the ND5XS2 i used the Airplay connection to test the app/files from my iphone - they sounded fine to my ageing ears. Some streamed TIDAL master files sounded incredible though.

All told I’m heading ND5XS2, I’m in talks over a demo/display model at the moment. Only downside i can see with the ND5XS2 is the inability to add a PSU at a later date - i guess you can’t have everything.

Job done - have purchased an ex demo ND5XS2 - 2 years old and 30% saving over a new one. Arrives Friday. Can’t wait

Even if I do change tack months down the line I wont have lost too much money


Yes, you can’t add a psu, but you can add an Ndac ( Naim dac , discontinued) and also an XPS to the Ndac. A lot here have Nd5xs2 / Ndac/ XPS or 555 dr ps.