ND5SX2 + nDAC + PSU vs NSC333

Having just replaced my 25 year old NAP 180 with a (used) NC250, I’m now looking to improve the front end. I currently have a ND5XS feeding an nDAC which has a non-Naim PSU attached. I could buy a used ND5XS2 for about £1750 and sell the ND5XS for £500 - total outlay £1250. Alternatively, I could sell all my current streaming kit for about £2000 and buy a used NSC333 for around £6000 - total outlay £4000.

What are members’ views on the merits of the two setups (apart from the obvious large difference in cost). They have similar streaming implementations so I’m wondering how the DAC in the NSC333 measures up to the nDAC (plus XPS-alike). The NSC333 gets me onto the latest platform, has remote control, a screen and reduces the box count from 3 to 1. In his review of the NSC333, JonathanG rated it very highly - above an NDX2. But then some people “upgrade” their NDX2 by attaching an nDAC.

Since I’d be buying used - and used NSC333s are not exactly thick on the ground at the moment, the chances of comparing the two setups at home - or even at a dealers - is remote. Suggestions?

Or consider a used NDX2. To be had for ~£3.5k less any trade-in / sale.


Streamer/nDAC/555PSDR and 333/300 just sound different.

The NDX2/555 vs nDAC/555 comes down to personal preference. We prefer the tonality and extra detail retrieval of the nDAC.

The 333/300 combo is very capable and is voiced differently. Again whether you prefer it comes down to personal preference.

At the 332/300 price (£14k+) we would be also be demoing other streamer/DAC pairings. There are some very good single purpose boxes out there.

You can also get a used ND555 for the price of a bare 333.

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If you go the 333 route it may, or may not, play nicely with your NAC82. If the the 333/82 doesn’t work, then you are looking at the new 332 pre designed to go with the 333, so a far greater outlay.

Another option to think about is to sell your preamp and streaming gear and replace them with the new 222 streamer/preamp, which does work well with the NC250. I should know, I have this combo with the optional 300 power supply, which you could add at a later date.


Thanks for your comments. I think I’ve allowed myself to become a bit fixated on the performance of the nDAC. The fact that’s it’s often used to improve the performance of the 2nd-gen Old Classic streamers has put me off considering the NDX2 properly. I think MrFixit’s suggestion is a good one - and I already have an XPS-style PSU which may improve things further.

I have been sorely tempted by the 222/300 combination but the lure of the lowered costs of OC boxes is difficult to resist. My 82/Hicap could be swapped for a 252/Supercap later on. How does a NDX2/XPS - 252/Supercap - NC250 sound?

Expect it would sound pretty good, but for the same money and two less boxes you could have an ex dem 222/300/250. Personally think it sounds better than the NDX2 - 252, but people differ and you should listen to both set ups if you can.


Your streamer is the weak link for internet based services.

When we first got our nDAC we tried iPad Tidal into nDAC into 272 pre. That sounded much better than the streaming board/DAC in the 272 (with an XPSDR on the 272, bare nDAC). The gen1 devices excel on local playback but are easy to improve on with internet based streaming. We experimented with various digital sources into 272 - a RPI with a good digital hat improved on the 272 streaming board for internet radio for example (using 272 DAC). The ultimate impression of the gen1 streaming board with internet based services was that it just sounded a bit “shut in”. Changing the transport really opened up the sound.

You’ve already got the nDAC and PSU so you might find the ND5XS2 gets you to where you want to be. ND5XS2/nDAC/PSU is a very good digital front end. Others are using even cheaper streaming transports like the WiiM to great effect.

If you’re ultimately not satisfied the ND5XS2 would be easy to move on, and then you could try some of the other options such as an ex demo or used 222 which would play well with your NC amp. But coming from nDAC/PSU you would need to demo, when we demoed the NC stack the 222 demo didn’t last long for us.

There is no correct answer to this is there? MrFixit suggests ditching the current streaming setup for a NDX2. IanO suggests keeping the nDAC and swapping the streamer for a ND5XS2. And NigelB and BrendanD suggest swapping streamer and preamp for a NSC222. Which leaves me pretty much where I started - considering a range of perfectly reasonable alternatives. And if I make a slight improvement now, will I later regret not jumping further up the chain with the new platform. I don’t know.

It all depends on how much you want to spend and where you want to end up.

If I could invest in 333 that would be a choice vs many older boxes with additional cables

Yes, with the Naim’s wide product range, and both OC and NC to consider, there are a number of options, which can serve to confuse.

At this juncture I strongly recommend you find a Naim dealer (preferably one who has both OC kit to move on and NC) and listen to a limited number of options the dealer suggests, together with your own ideas. Once you have settled on an option from a listening session at the dealer, have a home demo to be sure things work in your home.

Actually listening to a few alternatives can clarify things for you.