ND555 - What else do I need?! Help appreciated

Ok so I am possibly going to buy an ND555 but would like to do it right from the start. I am not interested in doing demos of untold amounts of extra stuff as my life is way to busy right now so I want to get a good setup from the off. Value for money is not a concern right now, audio quality is. I understand that my ears hear differently to everyone else’s however I am happy to acknowledge that in life compromises have to be made. My lack of interest in doing demos of switches/cables etc maybe a downside here however I am pretty damn sure that an ND555 set up with the collective wisdom here will still be great! I enjoy listening to music vs upgrading/demoing/trying new things etc.

So with that in mind…

I have a 300mbps fibre to the premises broadband connection provided by BT with the basic BT broadband router they provide.

1.) Do I need a better router?

The router is situated under the stairs in a newly built house. The house has 4 rooms that are networked (from new) 1 of which is the lounge where my system is. I would need to run a patch cable from the router to the socket on the wall that then leads to the lounge.

2.) What quality of cable would I use in this link? Audioquest Vodka seems highly recommended but maybe more than is needed in this application. Would a Switch be best placed at this part of the chain? I have no idea on the internal cable quality btw or where/how its been routed. It may run with power cables etc. This was done from when the house was built (2018) and was not an option but a fixed feature.

In the lounge the socket on the wall will be about 4 meters away from the ND555.

3.) Would I be best running a long cable from the wall socket to a dedicated Switch before using a shorter much higher quality cable (Such as an Audioquest Diamond) from the switch to the ND555?

4.) I have read and digested as much as any human could try to from the various switch related posts and have come to the conclusion that the switch to look at is the EtherRegen with a dedicated Power Supply such as the Uptone JS-2 or the MCRU Pinnacle that @frenchrooster has just installed to good effect. Would be best to situate the switch and router on the Fraim in the same fashion as I have everything else or could these be placed on another surface? Maybe a wall mounted shelf? Or small table?

5.) If the suggestion is to use 2 switches what would be recommended as the second switch another EtherRegen or the famous (around here) Cisco? I am only interested in audio quality at this stage.

6.) The next big question is… How close does streaming HiRes files via Ethernet from the likes of Qobuz come to playing CD quality rips from a NAS or music server? Is WiFi a viable option or is the quality lacking due to the lack of switches and cables etc?

7.) For storing my music I am considering using a NAS but with the above in mind would there really be an audible uplift by using a server such as Melco? I wonder now with the advances people have made by using switches if the server still creates the uplift it once did? If I use a NAS would I run that directly into the router or via a switch into the router? I assume that this could be kept in the same place as the router or is it best further up the chain in the music room similar to where a server would be placed?

@Darkebear you were incredibly helpful in guiding me to where I am today with my system, and for highlighting things such as plug order for the 2x555DR PS’s which without I would have ended up with a lesser experience. I follow your thoughts through various threads and really would along with others value your input here if you have time to provide your personal experience based thoughts. To me an individuals actual experience from this forum is worth more to me in this foray than anything else. At the end of the day I want to give the ND555 the best chance of success and if time allows in the future I will fettle away but right now I have 2 very young kids, have a busy job and my down time is music. If I can set up a system that sings from the outset I will be happy, even if it ends up being 90% of what I could achieve through my own fettling.

Thanks to all who have read this far! I am sure you are one of the few! It is appreciated.

If you don’t currently have the time or inclination to experiment, peronally I would just but a cheap certified Cat5e cable and enjoy the ND555 for what it is. With networking equipment, I would never assume that more expensive = better, as it seems to me to be dependent on the rest of your system and network, and without taking the time to assess these expensive audiophile cables and switches, it could all just be money down the drain.

7 Likes

Try to keep simple and easy to use, good advice from Chris SU.

I listen to Qobuz a lot and it is excellent source I also listen to ripped CDs via my Core and it always surprises me how good a standard ripped CD can sound.

Regarding ripping CDs I would investigate the route that suits you I used a NAS to start with (Stored in a cupboard and no longer used) much preferring the ease of ripping with the Core. If possible I would spend some time with a dealer who can show you the various options they can also advise on network solutions if required.

Good luck.

2 Likes

Your Naim dealer should be helping you with this, surely?

@BruceW of course and they have. Their recommendation is use a Core and connect via WiFi. This is fine of course BUT they are an audio dealer and now audio is in the realms of IT. The collective wisdom on this forum in my mind supersedes that of what a dealer may recommend. Some dealers are better than others in terms of IT but I have no interest in moving dealers. The information gleaned through real world experience is what I will balance with the Core/WiFi suggestion.

1 Like

I am sure you will get a number of opinions, so here are mine:

1.) Do I need a better router?
No.
I can’t help but onsider security …so, I would connect a firewall, such as a pfsense box, to the router and have your main switch off this - Gigabit.
Run cables from this switch to your patch panel.

2.) I would need to run a patch cable from the router to the socket on the wall that then leads to the lounge. What quality of cable would I use in this link?
I would use a standard CAT5e. Save the fancy cables for the last hop. you can play with this later if you feel the urge.

3.) Would I be best running a long cable from the wall socket to a dedicated Switch before using a shorter much higher quality cable (Such as an Audioquest Diamond) from the switch to the ND555?
That is what I would do.

4.)Would be best to situate the switch and router on the Fraim in the same fashion as I have everything else or could these be placed on another surface? Maybe a wall mounted shelf? Or small table?
Suck it and see.

5.) If the suggestion is to use 2 switches what would be recommended as the second switch another EtherRegen or the famous (around here) Cisco? I am only interested in audio quality at this stage.
Many opinions. I hve a switch with my HiFi, Cisco 2960. Personally i would buy one of these off ebay and then come back to a HiFi sitch at a later time when you haveacclimatised to the new system.
One question, how many device will you network on your rack? This might lead you to reconsider the EtherRegen.

6.) The next big question is… How close does streaming HiRes files via Ethernet from the likes of Qobuz come to playing CD quality rips from a NAS or music server?
When comparing like for like (although that is difficult to know) then I would say that my locally streamed files are a tad better. BUT, I am VERY happy with Qobuz. I stream HiRes from Q and I find it does make a difference.

6a) Is WiFi a viable option or is the quality lacking due to the lack of switches and cables etc?
I wouldn’t, some people claim it is better. Heuristics again.

7.) For storing my music I am considering using a NAS but with the above in mind would there really be an audible uplift by using a server such as Melco?
A Friend of mine is currently reviewing one of the Melcos with his dCS Network Bridge / Audio Note 4.1 Balanced …and other combinations. He hasn’t formed any definite views BUT I can tell he is fighting off enthusiasm ;-).

I find that my Prestige II is better than my Synology. But with the Linn Klimax I couldn’t hear a difference. In your case, as you are cash rich and time poor, I would follow the path of those who have been advising you.

All pretty subjective and lots of room for twisting and turning!

M

1 Like

Your BT router is fine.
Cat snake or Mericord CAT 6a is plenty good enough cable wise as a start.
I would use a standard or Cisco switch followed by an EtherRegen. To provide maximum flexibility and peace of mind

1 Like

As some already said, you can easily enjoy your system as it is now.
Ethernet cables are difficult to advise, because they interact differently with each system. So you have no other possibility than a test at home.
A Melco would uplift the sound for sure, but you need at minimum the 5k one, the N1z2 model. However, if you prefer streaming from Qobuz, for convenience, for already a very good sound, no worth buying the Melco in that case. Only if you prefer optimal sound and streaming locally.
As for switches, you can easily order the Etheregen, test it, and return it after 14 days if not satisfied. As Michael, DB, Midnightrambler and me, we found it gives a wonderful uplift.
Same for the MCRU linear ps for Etheregen, there are 3 options now, and you can also return if not satisfied.
For me the linear ps uplift was considerable.

2 Likes

Hi,
I would say that Melco with Naim streamers , with the direct Ethernet connecting, is a real upgrade.
But with other streamers, like Linn, or different transport / dac combos, the results may be not so great.
As the OP has the Nd555, if streaming locally is a priority, I doubt he would not find any worthwhile upgrade.

2 Likes

So my music collection consists of specific masterings which I find preferable, B-Sides and Rarities from my favourite bands, live recordings of varying qualities up to excellent and normal CDs. For normal CD’s if I can get the same quality via streaming HiRes vs a rip then thats fine and I can part with a chunk of the CD’s I currently own and listen to rarely but the other stuff most likely will not be available so I will definitely need some level of local playback. I have dabbled with digital before and found that a lot of the versions served by the likes of Qobuz were the newest remastered releases which I don’t always prefer. For background listening no problems of course.

I would definitely need some sort of NAS or Server for all of that material.

@frenchrooster you mention the Melco as being specifically suited to Naim, can you tell me why that is? The Melco would do the same job as the ND555 unless I am mistaken and most of it would be redundant if I used it as a server. This is no problem as I guess that the Naim sound we all love will be where the ND555 comes into its own. It would be just good to understand this part a bit more. Does a Melco really do more in terms of improving the sound than say a Naim Core? It seems weird that Naim have such a high end streamer but a sub par server (if that is the case) when the ND555/Core would be their recommendation for a Statement system!

If your time is limited, then despite what I said earlier about not throwing money at posh audiophile networking kit, you might find a CD ripper to be a worthwhile purchase. Lots of people will say no, just get a NAS and run DBpoweramp on your computer, and yes, that’s a great way of doing it, but it becomes really easy if you have a dedicated ripper/store/server. Just stick in a CD, and 5 minutes later, your streamer will be able to play it. I still use a Unitiserve for this, or there’s the Core, which I wouldn’t buy myself, but works for some. Innuos would be a strong contender here in my books, if you just want to chew your way through the ripping process as painlessly as possible.
I would also suggest that you look at Roon. Deciding whether or not you like it now, rather than later, may save you making some purchases that you later find are not ideal with Roon in your system.

1 Like

I have an Nds, and for me Prat and involving sound is mandatory.
I had before the Unitserve, Unitserve with Uptone ps, and tried the Uniticore. The Unitserve with the big linear ps was a bit better than Uniticore.
Then a Melco n1h60/2, which was a little step still.
Today I use the Melco n1z2, which gave me a wonderful uplift. All Is sounding more effortless.
The Melco has 2 internal switches, with specific noise isolation and clock. You connect the Melco to the dedicated switch ( Etheregen for me) and the Nd555 to the Melco switch .
Meni, Darkbear, Bertbird …use the Melco with their Nd555, and prefer streaming locally vs Qobuz or Tidal.

1 Like

@frenchrooster this is exactly the sort of info I wanted. Thank you. I have somewhat followed your journey as is so I knew some of the equipment you had used. Your experience and the efforts you go to to express your findings is very valuable to someone like me who just wants a good starting point!

Is there any value in going for more expensive Melcos? There seems a lot in the range. Is there a sweet spot where the extra price becomes more functions than sound quality?

1 Like

Thanks @ChrisSU some useful info there. The one thing I will say is that when I do archive my entire collection I will want to do it in a meticulous manor. I had an iTunes library before and I had it perfect (for me!) Every genre was correct for the band I wanted in it, all the artwork, B-Sides grouped by show date for multipart singles, live shows with all the details I could find, artwork for everything, bonus tracks stripped from the original album and set aside as CD2 or dumped etc etc :grimacing: This part interests me mostly as I have a vast number of B-Sides that I am just not finding easily these days and I love that stuff!! The cataloguing will most likely be quite therapeutic if no time limits are set!

Frankly I would recommend taking your time to audition the stuff you are going to use. There really are no short cuts here.

Like everyone, I have got to “know” various people on the forum and gauge whose musical and audio preferences come close to my own, but there are always divergences. I agree with many of FR and DB’s findings for example, as well as HH and MR.

But I am not impressed with Melco’s products. The same goes for Audioquest or Chord Cable. And I am being polite in my choice of adjectives here.

I am not alone in this, but yet others have equally strong, different preferences. So, I wouldn’t put too much store in other people’s preferences and opinions, including mine. Any recommendation I make will simply tell you what I like, not how it will work in your system or whether you will like it.

And of course, if you don’t like the result you will end up auditioning alternatives anyway…

6 Likes

Thanks Steve.
I am like you, I value the most individual experiences in the forum, which helped me too.
The n1z2 is the middle one. It’s called differently ( N1zEX) since some months, with a metadata software upgrade. So it’s the 5k model.
There is only a better one, the N10. ( 9/10 k).
I am sure it’s still better, but how much, can’t say.
@Meni is the only one here to have one.

Some are also very satisfied with the Melco D100 ripper, founding the rips are the best vs all the other rippers they tried.
If you have a large collection of cds, perhaps you could think of it . ( 1k).
@Darkebear use one, and the Melco n1z too. He has the S1 statement in active 500 dr . He can help you on the Melco side, better than me with my french english :rofl:

1 Like

If you are completely unfamiliar with streaming I would also advise you to buy a well build ethernet cable like Blue Jeans or Belden - both at a very reasonable price and experiment later on.
The ND555 needs many weeks to settle in and I would start with experimenting after that period.
Qobuz is just great and easy to start with. No ripping, no meta data hassle etc.

Different systems and tastes - different recommendations: I would also recommend a Core for local streaming only over a Melco. I heard all Melcos in different systems up to the top one and found them boring/not much of an uplift.
To use switching power supplies at such a price level doesn’t make any sense to me.
The Innuos Zenith MK3 for example is an interesting product. Linear power supplies, network switch integrated, CD-ripper integrated(Melco needs one), Roon Core integrated (Core and Melco don’t offer this), SSD - therefore silent and super fast (only in the 10k Melco and for the Core you need to buy one) , Naim black box size with minimal design. Very easy to use and with roon integration just great.
If you have a very large CD collection you don’t even have to worry about meta data if you are using roon…
So with the Innuos you wouldn’t need an additional CD ripper, switch, Roon Core and therefore you also save three different power supply upgrades…
BTW I wouldn’t buy a new router but a linear power supply such as the S-Booster.

2 Likes

@Steve

As you value your free/personal time, and if your goal is listening to music without the hassle of tinkering, my advice would be:

  • Roon Nucleus Plus
  • A lifetime Roon license

–> https://roonlabs.com/nucleus

The thing just works marvellously out of the box.
Plug it to your home network and enjoy the music.

The ND555 is a great player and the Nucleus is its perfect companion.

It’ll leave plenty of free time to listen to music.

I spend my free time climbing or mountaineering. When I’m home I enjoy my system without thinking about cables, etc.

That’s the good thing about Naim gear : it just works flawlessly and sounds great!

6 Likes

french…not only me there is RipVanRadio he was the first here to have N10…

2 Likes

@Steve FWIW, that’s what I would recommend, too. With a good Samsung SDD inside it (like the EVO). DesignaCable Belden Cat6a cables if you’re in the UK. An Uptone EtherRegen and if you fancy going over the top a Sean Jacobs linear power supply for both the latter. And Qobuz. And a backup disc and maybe a subscription to a good value reliable cloud backup service like Backblaze.

Well, it’s what works for me! And that’s after trying more different solutions than I have brain cells to track…

1 Like