OK, so I’m about 3 days in with the NDX5, coming from an ND5XS2, probably 12-15 hours of listening. I know it will run in further, hopefully improve more, etc. But I think I’ve got a handle on about 90% of what it does better/differently than the ND5XS2, Caveats: in my system, in my room, in my opinion. First, to get this out of the way: It’s not twice as good as an ND5XS2. I think we all know that as you move up the audio performance ladder you pay dearly for smaller and smaller incremental improvements. I didn’t expect it to be an order of magnitude better, and it isn’t. But, “Hi everybody, my name is Joe and I’m an audiophile…” My bottom line: Differences and improvements are small, but significant, and I’m glad I made the leap. Note: I’m running bare with a Supernait3.
These are the fractional but clearly audible improvements I consistently hear across a wide variety music:
-Resolution: it’s more detailed, more musical information is getting presented. Small, subtle details in the mix are more easily discerned; this is presented in a smooth and musical way, not the dreaded “etch.” This (higher and better resolution) is the biggest change I hear compared to the ND5XS2.
-Noise: It seems quieter, noise floor lowered . Blacks are blacker.
-Dynamics: Transients are quicker and cleaner. Peaks in the music kick a little harder and faster, more jump factor. This could be related to the noise floor being perceptibly lower.
What sounds the same:
-Sound stage and imaging: This was excellent with the ND5XS2 and remains the same.
-PRAT: Same, and good.
That’s it. But one pet peeve: The display. I think Naim really dropped the ball on this. For me, it’s useless. It bugs me because it has to be a significant contributor to the overall cost and it could be so much better. I’ve had streamers that allowed options to scroll artist and track info continuously (very useful) , show file resolution and IP info, different meters, colors, time/date. etc. This display does nothing that is not easily repeatable on the app. Looking at a dinky album art display from across the the room is worthless to me. Rant over.
So, my take: It’s a winner and seems the optimal mate for a SN3, which is what is was designed to be.