I am currently using Naim ND5 XS 2 as my digital source. Since it is connected to Naim DAC, I am not using its own dac or analog part at all. Recently I have came across a decent deal for a NDX 2. I believe NDX 2 is a cool source with a remote and a screen but I would also expect an improvement on sound quality side to replace my ND5 XS 2. My question is will there be a noticeable improvement on sound quality side if I use NDX 2 with my Naim DAC as well?
I would like to let you know more about the rest of the system. I am currently using my Naim ND5 XS 2 to stream music from TIDAL or Spotify, and my TV is also connected to ND5 XS 2 over toslink. ND5 XS 2 is connected to Naim DAC over BNC. Naim DAC is connected to Naim Supernait 2 over Naim Super Lumina DIN, Supernait 2 is supported with HiCap DR and they are connected over black Naim Snaic DIN cables. My speakers are Focal Aria 926s, I am also looking for an upgrade for them soon.
Thanks in advance for your opinions.
I am using my NDS with 555 PS as a DAC with ND5XS2 as streaming transport. This sounds better than NDX2 and NDX2 with 555 PS to my ears.
I believe that the ND5XS2 with Ndac won’t sound much better than an NDX2. However if you add a 555PS to Ndac it will sound better than an NDX2 with 555PS.
So upgrade to go for is 555PS. But that makes a 3 box streaming system. Others on here have the ND5XS2 with Ndac and 555PS and believe it is better than NDX2 with 555 PS.
I haven’t heard the Ndac with 555PS but believe the sound is comparable to NDS used as DAC with 555 PS. I have heard the NDX2 with 555PS.
The key to success is the 555PS which will also sound superb with just a NDX2.
If you can experiment by getting a 555PS on loan from a dealer would be good.
I changed out my Focal Aria 936s for Focal Sopra 2s and made a huge difference.
Of course an NDX2 would look different in a rack with the screen and all. You may find an NDX2 wiith 555PS is all the streamer you ever need.
So to be clear, if I had your system I would get a 555PS and leave the rest alone to start with.
Then look at amplification and then speakers. Are you happy with Supernait 2? A 282 HiCap DR 250DR would be better. What is your end game system? If you’re looking for more power then 2 300DR would be a better power amp.
The thing is if you change the speakers after source and then change amps, the new amps might not work as well with the speakers.
An NDX2 will not be a sound quality upgrade over your ND5XS2 used as a digital transport. Also the remote control is a horrible plastic brick that can’t even control the more used inputs, Tidal, Qobuz and Server.
A DAC upgrade would be better use of funds, either a power supply upgrade for your NDAC if you haven’t already got one, or you could try a different DAC altogether.
At this level your source really starts to outclass your amp, and if you want to stay with Naim, moving to a separate pre/power setup will bring big improvements.
As a digital streamer the network boards between the ND5 XS2, NDX2 and ND555 are the same, so the actual front end streaming performance will be the same across all three.
The digital signal outputs will/may be subtly different, as the streamer master clock, and Analog Devices SHARC processor are implemented all slightly differently across the three, and are susceptible to quality of ground plane and power supply lines.
Now whether you notice any real change using the digital signal out from your streamer into a DAC will totally depend on you, rest of system and the DAC and even possibly what streaming load you put the streamer through.
Some hear no difference, others hear subtle differences… I fall into the latter. I don’t think I’ve read anyone saying it’s a ‘night and day’ difference.
Now difference does not necessarily mean difference in SQ, it could be presentation or tonal balance leading to matching and synergy with the rest of your system.
My dealer says he hears an improvement using ND555 into Dave compared to NDX2, Of course he wasn’t expecting me to buy one, but as a dealer he has access to such things to experiment with, and his home system was Dave/552/500, so plenty good enough to reveal such differences.
When I compared ND5XS2 to NDX2 I was using Dave/282/250DR. Neither me nor my dealer could hear any difference. Perhaps I should have used headphones.
Actually I was not looking for an upgrade for my ND5 XS 2, but I have just came across the deal while hanging around. So as far as I have understand, even there will be any difference, it will be minimal if I replace my ND5 XS 2 with a NDX 2. If I change it, I will keep the DAC by the way. I was thinking of using NDX 2 with a Naim DAC as well.
I was thinking of starting with the speakers for my system’s upgrade path. These Focals sound a little bit bright so they don’t disappear when playing music. Especially if there are some bright sounds in the song, I can clearly hear the speakers standing there. It might be about positioning as well, I guess I should experiment. After changing the speakers I was thinking of purchasing a 250 DR first, then 282. Lastly I was thinking of adding a power supply to my DAC (XPS DR or 555PS DR not sure which one).
In my country it is not easy to find Naim products, even if I find them the price tag is much higher when compared with UK prices. So I try not to miss any decent deal when I come across one. That’s why I was wondering about the NDX 2 but it seems like I should ignore this one.
Yes, I think you should ignore the NDX2. Look out for a 555PS for your DAC. Some of us preferred the older non-DR version when used with the NDAC so that could be a cheaper option than the DR version which will be sought after by those looking to use it with newer devices.
Your ordering is not right in my opinion.
Source first, them amplification, then speakers. So I would go 555PS to start.
If you get 282 and HiCap DR first then use Supernait as power amp. Then 250DR. You will get more benefit from 282 to start with.
Your speakers will then sound much better. Then look at speakers.
It’s up to you but that’s how I would do it.
Hi, seems like you are unhappy with some brightness and overall with your speakers, I would start there, and it’s inherent to your speakers, it won’t just go away with changes in the source, DAC and amps, it may in fact get worse in some respects. In addition, the SL DIN you are using is great but it’s also leaning towards the bright side, in my view at least, and you may want to reconsider it for a “calmer” one. But at the same time, if you change to other speakers, the SL may just fit in well. So I would make sure I have the right speakers first now rather than making full circle with other things before changing them and having to adjust electronics and cables all over again if not right.
Btw, not for sound quality, if funds no issue, I would just go for the NDX2 if at a good price and move on the the ND5XS2 and NDAC - less cables (sometimes all one needs for better SQ), less boxes, better interface … looks better too!
Very good question B
In a roundabout way I might be able to give you my view on nDAC vs NDX2 DAC
I use to have the CD5XS as a transport into the nDAC
I then purchased the NDX2 and still wanted to use the CD5XS as a transport
My long suffering Naim Dealer of 35+ years and myself did the following 2 comparisons:
CD5XS as transport into nDAC - very good and could happily live with that
CD5XS as transport into NDX2 DAC - better than the above by a reasonable margin
We were somewhat surprised but I now use option 2 and nDAC is now used with Naim Core in another location
I’m a big fan of the NDX2 and hopefully continues to be manufactured for a while yet into the future
When my NDS was away for repairs recently I was using the ND5XS2 bare and it sounded very very good. A touch bright though. When NDS was added back in it sounded silky smooth.
What speakers are you thinking of going with?
You seem to have been given almost every option, by different people…!
Here is my view… Which is not the same…
You have a lot of Naim boxes already - and you say you wonder about your speakers. People will say Source First, but in this case I will suggest you swap out your Focal 926 speakers first - before anything else.
You are also already Source Heavy. I would then look at replacing your Supernait, with something better.
Only then would I look at your sources.
YMMV, as always…
What I should have said in more simple terms B
In my view go with the NDX2 rather than ND5XS2/nDAC combo
Trade the 2 box in or sell them if nDAC not required down the line
Wow, lots of opinions here… I was thinking like source first too, especially after my system started with a very poor source and heard the difference after purchasing ND5 XS 2. But now I believe my system is more powerful on the source end. My speakers are the weakest part of the chain I believe. So if I start my upgrades from the source, I am not sure if I will be aware of the gain with these speakers.
On the other hand, if I use this deal and start my upgrades with a NDX2, I was thinking of keeping the DAC and use it with NDX2 unless NDX2 is better alone (but I don’t think so). A 555PS DR would be very nice for the DAC I think, but it is not easily found in my country. I may look for one maybe in my next visit to the UK.
My options on the speaker end were:
- Focal Sopra 2
- Dynaudio Contour 60i
- Vienna Acoustics Beethoven Grand Symphony Edition
- Monitor Audio Platinum 200 or 300
But I have not started experimenting these ones. Up to now I have only listened to Focal and Vienna Acoustics ones.
Speakers are very personal choice. I bought the Sopra 2s. One of main reasons was less than half price 6 months old mint. But they weigh 55 kg each and are large. They also need bringing out into the room a fair bit. And ideally they need a 300DR to drive them. A 250DR will be fine though.
I have 135s and they sound very good. They are very well built with beautiful finish and high quality.
I would really expect a marginal, if any, difference between ND5XS2 and NDX2 when used as transports to nDAC. The streaming part (top right red zone in the photos below) is identical and I would say that the intergrated power supplies are also identical (bottom right yellow regions) as far as I can tell from the PCBs. The main differences are in the analogue section (left blue side), plus the screen, the different case, and the cabling to allow a power supply upgrade.
My system is identical to yours in terms of black boxes, and the only change I would ever consider is a future 555PS for the nDAC. I would like to upgrade in the long term from my SN2 to a 252-250DR, but that brings its own issues with burndy cables etc, so I am staying put.
My vote would also go to trying out different speakers. I would suggest you to give a try to the PMC twenty5 series, as well as the Audiovector R3. They are both excellent in their own ways and can be driven by SN2 without an issue.
PS: I connect my TV directly to the nDAC as it’s much easier for everyone to change source by pressing a button rather than going through the app.
Interesting result and finding with the CD5 XS
Thanks for sharing that nugget.
So you now have a range of recommendations to change source, amp or speakers. Who should you believe? I would say probably nobody!
What you really need is a proper dealer who can guide you through the upgrade process. Maybe work out a complete endgame system which you can then work towards, one step at a time, knowing that you’ll end up in a good place. Isolated upgrades that don’t take system synergy and personal preferences into account often lead to disappointment and more costly upgrades down the line.
People often post here because they want to seek out used bargains, and therefore don’t use a dealer. In many cases I would suggest that this can be a false economy.
I did say many, not all! By all means use the forum to guide your purchases if you want, but personally I don’t find a sea of ownership bias that useful, and the range of different suggestions in this thread is a good example of how it can lead nowhere.