ND5 XS2 Volume Control

Good evening, all. I’m here listening to the fantastic ND5 XS2 playing through my Supernait. One thought I’ve been having is whether it is possible to adjust the imbalance between the 2.1V output of the streamer and the 150mV input of the amp. I rarely, if ever, get above 8 o’clock on the volume dial; seems like a lot of wasted degrees of adjustment.

I’ve read about attenuators that can be placed between the components or built into a custom DIN cable. Depending on the strength they could take it down a solid 10db or more. Anyone try this? Does it impact sound quality?

As a more immediately available approach, the ND5 XS2 provides an internal volume control in two places - one to enable variable output, controlled by the app. Another further limits output by a configurable percentage, but only when using variable output. Any thoughts on these controls?

Not sure of any official word on how the settings affect sound quality. If this was all analog it would be safe to assume adding something in the path would alter the sound. Since it’s digital, does it become anything more than a multiplier? I don’t know if I am just imagining it, but to me it seems like the fixed output shines, while a similarly ‘loud’ listen using variable output and amp volume loses something of the clarity and drive.

I would take quality over finer adjustments in volume, of course, but would be great to hear of others experiences with attenuation, either physical or software-controlled.

Hi, the volume controls on Naim amps do have this problem. Using the streamers variable volume mode is likely to degrade sound quality, or at least that’s the official line from Naim, but there’s no harm in trying it.
I haven’t tried attenuated cables, but I suspect there would be some degradation of the sound with these too.
The best solution I found was running an external DAC from the streamer SPDIF out, which gave a nice sound quality uplift and allowed me to use its variable output to dial down the level, giving the Naim volume pot a much wider useable range. Obviously that means more expense, but for me, £600 for a used Chord Hugo was a good value upgrade.

Thanks very much for your thoughts. Part of my reasoning for buying the ND5 XS2 was to utilize the DAC, as an improvement to my existing setup. Wonder why a third-party/external DAC doing the same thing (volume control via software) would be better than what’s built into the Naim. When searching the forum prior to writing my post, I did see a few mentions of people using the Hugo outbound from the Naim, so you’re obviously not alone.

As you rightly say, it is a common issue in that everyone seems to live with the volume control around the 8-9 o’clock position. I use a chord DAC with my system, and did play around with its variable line out. My concern, much like yours, is that I wanted the amplifier to be operating in the ‘middle’ of its range thus avoiding any non linear response characteristics that could be there. I have read that Naim is not plagued by these, but my poor brain still thinks that there is too much risk of system induced noise competing with the signals at low volume. Anyway, I digress.
When I set the chord output low, I got more range to play with on the volume control and that brought in a curious perception. The volume not only got louder (you don’t say!) but the more noticeable response was that the bass came more into play. It was almost like the volume was acting like a tone control. People that are more clever than me will explain how more power is needed to energise bass woofers or cause the human ear to detect bass, but it is a most pleasing discovery.

What I am not clear on is why passing the signal through to a Chord DAC to do the same volume control as the Naim DAC would be ‘better’ unless it’s simply a matter of (a) the Chord DAC is higher quality than the Naim DAC, or (b) Chord’s software-based volume control is implemented better than Naim’s. Am I missing anything there?

By the way, still interested in any personal accounts of cable-based attenuation, like those you could get in a DIN from flashback or other makers.

I used Rothwell attenuators for a while and they certainly helped to bring down a rather high 3V line out. I had a less discriminating system at the time and can’t recall them having any negative effect

Quite apart from the volume control issue, the Chord DACs in question are seen by many as a subjectively better DAC than the ones included in Naim streamers. Some if them (Hugo, Dave) have variable volume. Others (Qutest) have fixed volume, but the output can be switched to 1, 2 or 3V. In this case, selecting the 1V output would have a similar effect.

Me too, I use Rothwell between my Oppo 205 and NAC 82/250 With an RCA phono/DIN cable, sounds great.

Good to hear. I am considering a FlashBack attenuated DIN cable… can choose from a variety of levels. Part of me says go for the minimum (6db) in case it impacts the sounds, but then they say (15db) is about right. Choices!

be interested in your findings…

I think my Rothwell attenuators are 11db. I also ran a Russ Andrews attenuated lead from my CDS2 and it was fine, 6db I would say is too low . RA suggest 15 now.

You’re probably right, though my goal is to move from a reasonable upper limit of 9 o’clock to an upper limit of 11 o’clock… just a little more room to adjust, rather than using the whole arc. Also limits the risk when switching to an un-attenuated input of similar voltage. If I do anything I’m considering -6db or maybe -10db.

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.