ND5XS - ND5XS2 sound difference

Hi everyone.

I am new old member. Been here from 1999., but was away last few years and just found that my account has been deactivated so I registered again.

Anyway, I am about to buy Naim streamer. I have good offers for ND5XS and ND5XS2, but cannot dem ND5XS2 at the moment.

I know the sound of ND5X and that is kind of darker sounded with typical or so XS sound which I like.

I cannot dem ND5XS2 at the moment and I don’t know does it have the same sound signature like previous model or is it more closer to the CDX2 and NDX sound signature. I owned CDX2 and NDX in the past and I cannot stand that edgy character. I appreciate how CDX2 and NDX fill the gas that XS couldn’t, but that edge to the sound is not for my ears.

So I would like to ask someone who heard ND5XS and ND5XS2, did ND5XS2 keep XS character or is it slightly aligned to the CDX/NDX overtight edgy (just my findings according to my ears) character?

Many thanks

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Please anyone :slight_smile:

Sorry lightkeeper, I have not heard the ND5 XS 2, but I am sure someone who has will chip in shortly. As someone who enjoys the ND5 XS, it would be interesting to get views on this.

Good shout.

Thanks a lot Jof.

I have never owned the 5XS, but instead the NDX (with XPS PSU). If it’s any indication or help, I have the ND5 XS2 and regard it higher in both reliability and sound over the legacy streamer. I use it as transport, though, so many say it is closer to the NDX2 using Qobuz and Tidal streaming.
In all honesty, I wouldn’t bother with the 5XS; I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase the XS2. One: reliability with the new streaming technology/buffering; two: no screen—simple as it gets. I found with the older screens they were more or less unnecessary. The new ones? That would be up to you. Those owning the NDX2 find them invaluable in all likelihood. I would be in the minority in that I don’t need the metadata/album cover onscreen. The Naim app covers that on my iPhone.
Anyway, I’m drifting a bit. I’ve owned the same players you’ve mentioned and I don’t think the ND5 XS2 has that edginess as you say. In fact, quite the opposite. I ran it ‘naked’ for a while before using the DAC in my Saturn-R. I could shape the sound with the different filters, but the off-board DAC made the bare streamer more ‘natural’ or refined without a doubt. Alone, though, I could’ve lived with, too. I think it is Naim’s sweet spot streamer and entry-level it is not. I think it is one of the best purchases I’ve made in quite some time. Between the two you’re milling over, go newer. You will not regret it. Well, you might, but I didn’t.


Thanks Jsawyer. I appreciate that.
You explained me a lot. I see you have significant background with Naim sources and comparing that to the new streamer is very useful info for me. I will look forward for ND5XS2
Will get back with my impressions.

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Please do let us know how you get on with it should you decide to give it a go. It is a truly great streamer, even without the possibility of PSU upgrade. I upgraded via the DAC route, which can be just as rewarding if not in many instances an even greater improvement.

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I had a chance to dem ND5XS2 earlier than expected. I listened to it yesterday and today mixing between XS3 Supernait 3, Bryston B100 and Rega Aethos through Harbeth 5XD, 7XD and Focal Aria bookshelfs. I also tried headphones into XS3 and SN3.

Well, I really like ND5XS2 features. It is wonderfully complete modern digital hub with everything you need today in order to enjoy digital, but I didn’t like the sound at the end.

We listen to ND5XS2 with XS3 first. I had XS1 in the past, but find it dull and sold it. It is nice how XS3 plays with music and handle it with ease into any speaker we tried, but I immediately noticed some thinnes in the midrange. Bass and heights are fine, altough bass could have more clarity for the total price of the gear. It is acceptable and I enjoyed Naim known pace. I expected more of everything, but veil is pretty much still there. I would more appreciate masking of the lesser gear sound in a different less agressive way. Through all demo I always felt something was missing or better say separates me from the music.

What I didn’t like are vocals and guitar plucks. Vocals are somehow overtight, dry, empty and shouty. Guitar plucks are too prominent and edgy. No body to the string. I can hear that this is pretty common also with many other gear in current production. I tried Grado headphones into XS3 and it sounded three classes below my ex CD5 original/Headline/Napsc with thin and flat sound.

I prayed that it wasn’t the streamer. In order to find out we connect SN3. Immediate reaction is that this does not justify the price difference. Now there is more accent to the bass, but I still always felt something more is going on there, but never really opened up and show me what it is. This was the most dull sounded setup of the dem and I can still grasp vocals and edgy flat guitar plucks. Also tried Grado headphones into SN3 and that sounded pretty different than into XS3, but still lacks the midrange bloom.

Then we tried Bryston B100 int. amp. This was clearly better in simply everything and flat mids are now little less prominent. More transparent, more bass definition, more believable less processed sounded vocals, but the thing was still audible.

In this moment I realised that I don’t like the sound of new XS series and SN3 sound.

Just out of curiosity and without prior intention we connect Rega Aethos. This amp transformed a lot. I like it and a lot and it changed my view of the potential gear I might buy. It is really that good. With Aethos I can still hear ND5XS edge, but the amp slightly transformed it in a little bit civilised way.

I spent two very interesting evenings and gathered a lot of answers. I realised that lesser Naim is not anymore for me. I used Naim gear for 25 years and I owned around 30 Naim boxes through the past, but now I cannot say that things soundwise, or better say musical wise are going forward.

I spent many years enjoying my Naim gear which helped to put me closer to the music I like and enjoy it like I couldn’t with other gear.
The thing is I don’t want to look at the past and I insist on the positive and better future. I decided to buy completely new system and enjoy all new features what today technology can offer, but also it should be musical.

It looks like Aethos is the first candidate and for source I need also to look elsewhere.

This is not easy for me as I always liked Naim and I was always have special connection for what they do, but that’s life.

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Fair enough Lightkeeper.

With regards to the speakers, are you going to purchase the Harbeths? What’s the plan with speakers?

I like in general pretty radical step with XD series. I see in your profile that you are using 7 Anniv., but not sure did you listen to XD series.

Anyway, there is more bite, life, speed and openess now, but with kept Harbeth signature qualities. Maybe little bit too forward, so plan to listen to Anniv. models so I can compare.

Not sure if Harbeth would be at the end as I highly rate Kudos, but I wont hurry so who knows what would suit best to the electronics I get at the end.

May I ask how do you compare Anniversary model to the ‘original’ if you listened to the original before? I always missed life and speed in the originals.

Rega Aethos is good for the money. If you like the Rega you may well like a Cyrus preamp with a power amp or two monoblocks. Pre loved examples are good value and Cyrus servicing is good, should it ever be needed. Certainly an alternative if looking for one. I use Cyrus amplification with an ND5xs2 and find them a great combination.

Good summary. Just goes to show how different each of our preferences is in audio gear. It also illustrates, perhaps even more so, how important it is to demo if at all possible. You did your due diligence and avoided any unnecessary regrets, also finding out in the process what ultimately you wish to accomplish. Commendable.
I, personally, do not hear (or better said, not hear) what you have described with my SN2/ND5 XS2 combo. Then again if I owned or demoed higher-end Naim it would lead me to conclude what you have. Maybe someday…if/when I have more funds to dedicate to the potential upgrade. In some ways I’m an ‘ignorance is bliss’ kinda guy for the moment, as hearing closer to factually better sound would be a detriment to my enjoyment, not a benefit.
Good for you, regardless. I hope you find your preferable combo. Cheers!


Thanks. Had a listen to Cyrus, but it sound to forced to me, but thanks a lot anyway. As for Rega, I don’t like Elex-r and Elicit-r as they are way too bright to me. Aethos is not bright and it’s balance is just right.

No, I came straight in on the Anniversary 7’s purchased second hand from the owner here in Norway.

But again, I would be very intrigued to hear the XD version and compare.

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