ND5XS or ND5XS2

Hi there!

Currently I run a ND5XS digitally into my NAIM DAC.

Will the ND5XS2 be an upgrade sonically if I use it as a transport into the NAIM DAC?

Thank you.

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I am also interested in this comparison.
I would add Naim Unitiqute to it.
Will it perform on ND5XS level as a transport?

This is a very interesting question that you are in the best position to answer by demoing the ND5XS2 against the ND5XS in your system!

For what I have read, the ND5XS does not have a very good reputation as a transport. Thus, it is possible that the ND5XS2 has improved on that.

Where did you read that?

Here in the forums (possibly in the old ones) I have come across a few reports from users who were not particularly impressed by the ND5XS as a transport.

Some eventually moved to other solutions like mac minis, NUCs, Rendus, etc., then into USB DACs or into SPDIF DACs via convertors.

I am not aware of reviews in which the ND5XS as a transport has been carefully compared to other transports. Thus, please take my comment with a grain of salt.

The new ND5XS2 used the same NP800 streaming card of the NDX2 and ND555. From the point of view of flexibility and functionalities, it is certainly a better transport than the ND5XS. From the point of view of sound quality (as a transport), I would expect it to be at least as good as the ND5XS.

Another difference to highlight between the two versions of the ND5 is that the original one has the option to add an external PSU, namely an XPS or if you felt adventurous a 555 PS, whilst the streaming subsystems differ significantly between the different versions it may be worth exploring what adding a PSU to the ND5 XS offers as opposed to replacing it. The same applies to the Naim DAC which has the option to connect to an external PSU. You can also make changes to the digital and analogue IC’s to alther the end results!
Could get complicated and expensive quickly…

FWIW - I ran a ND5 XS with a NAIT XS 2 and it was a fine combination and loved the music streaming from the NAS, TIDAL, and Internet Radio. I did not compare as others to a number of other devices. I appreciate that some folks continually explore options to improve. My approach is when I buy an item and decided to keep it I just enjoy it for a period of time. I usually believe there is always something better but time and relaxation competes with the perfect sound.

When I did upgrade to a SN 2 and NDX their was an improvement, then to the NDX 2 there was another improvement, then added the XPS DR to the NDX 2 and there was another improvement. If I ever win the lottery then maybe a ND555 with 555 PS DR! …although I would have to buy a ticket for that to happen.

There were a lot of folks who were and still are quite happy with the ND5 XS.

…the journey does continue.

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I’ve actually been using my ND5xs with Chord Hugo (original version) since 2011, through my active ATC system (SCA2 Preamp and SCM40A loudspeakers).

Whilst my streamer may be considered a little ‘old’, it still seems to produce a great sound! Which is why I wondered why the ND5xs was considered to not have a “good reputation” as a transport.

In its day, reviewers tended to suggest that it was close to the bare NDX (allegedly, even beating it when used with its dedicated PSU)

I never bothered with the dedicated PSU and went straight to Hugo, which was a clear improvement. I am confident that this was a far better ‘upgrade’, rather than just using another PSU.

At the time, it seemed more logical to invest in the ‘lesser’ device (ND5xs) and take a hit with its redundancy (internal PSU and DAC), in the knowledge that an external DAC would transform it.

Similarly, the NDX seemed a little ‘wasteful’ (more expensive redundancy) in this area when compared, since I was only going to use the transport section. I spoke to the former Naim customer services representative and he explained the slight differences in the use of only a few components in both units. When asked, he couldn’t say that the NDX would be a huge step forward, hence the reason I went for the ND5xs … and to quote one reviewer at the time; “the difference isn’t night and day”.

Perhaps it’s the Law of Diminishing Returns …

Times and technology have definitely moved on and perhaps with the new streaming platform, the NDX2 would be an obvious ‘upgrade’ to my ND5xs.

However, when using an external DAC (Hugo) it seems a huge ‘waste’ by making the internal DAC section of the NDX2 redundant.

I’ve heard the rationale for this, but it still begs the question as to whether there are more cost effective transports out there, to use with an external DAC … as apposed to investing in a product and not using all its ‘parts’

Seems a bit like buying a Fraim and changing all the shelves to a 3rd party offering which has a better type of glass, but still using the Fraim legs and spikes etc!!!

You’ve paid for all that Naim glass, so why would you!!!

Seems a shame, but just my opinion though.

They probably won’t but if Naim could release a transport without an internal DAC and PSU — you could select from a a variety of Naim PSU’s and DACs, without ever creating redundancy. :smiley:

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Some interesting questions and points being made here. Notably, there will always be “better” out there, whether it be Naim or otherwise. The main thing is to enjoy the music during the journey, or even if you have finished the journey and just relaxing.

This thread made me think a bit, as I had been kicking around moving past my almost ten year old Uniti1, still works and sounds really good, but I also know it is nearing probably its potential and useful life of sorts. Looking at where I may want to go, had me looking at a two box solution versus going the new Uniti.

I ended up ordering a Nait XS3 and the ND5XS2. It should be a little bit of lift in sonic quality, but one thing it does for me at this stage in my life, is keep me a bit grounded and off that upgrade path, as the streamer is what it is, no power supply upgrades etc. to bother with. It will just fit and hopefully take me another 8-10 years down the road-yet give me a bit of flexibility to just change out the streamer if required when it becomes long in the tooth like my Uniti. I like the thought of it! Some like the upgrade potential, years ago, I used to when I had an active Olive system, now, not so much. Done fussing, just want the music!

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@Mr.Frog: I understand that many users who moved away from the ND5XS as a transport, did so because they wanted support for Roon , Qobuz, Chromecast, Airplay, etc.

The new Naim streaming platform offers now this kind of interoperability but, as you point out, not in a pure transport: one has to buy a complete streamer even though one only intends to use its NP800 component.

There are alternatives however, ranging from the low cost Allo DigiOne and USBridge Signature, the Primare NP5, etc. up to dCS Network Bridge, among others.

I have started with a DigiOne feeding a Naim DAC, upgraded to the Signature in 2018, added Uptone Audio JS-2 and LPS-1.2 PSUs last year and never looked back.

With plug and play distributions like GenToo Player, a DigiOne Signature + nDAC offers all the functionalities of the new Naim streamers (and a significantly better and more reliable software infrastructure) for about the same price of the new ND5XS2.

The only drawback is that the DigiOne Signature needs two power supplies to shine and power supplies tend to be bulky and ugly. The JS-2 and the LPS-1.2 are bit expensive but very well built. To my eyes, the JS-2 looks very nice in a shelf just below the Oppo 203 and the Naim DAC. The DigiOne Signature is in a small cabinet that also hosts a distribution block and various cables.

I’ve had zero issues with ND5XS as a transports besides the normal not compatible with stuff as with 272 and all older platforms. To my ears ND5XS is a great performer. I use mainly tidal and Spotify and for that it works great.

One option to ponder could be a Chord Hugo 2 + Hugo 2go.
I’ve got a Chord Mojo + Poly and also a Chord Hugo 2 (but no 2go streaming module) but I use my Mojo + Poly as a Roon endpoint and stream directly to it using it with headphones like a walkman in essence. I mainly use the Hugo as a headphone amp/dac but adding a 2go means it could be a complete streamer/dac solution and it has RCA outputs and an RJ45 Ethernet jack as well.

Additionally, you can add a 2yu module to the 2go module and create a standalone streamer that you can connect to your Naim DAC as well.

Thank you all.

Just came back from my shop.
Gave the NAIM DAC and my ND5XS in payment and went home with a brand new ND5XS2.

Extremely happy with what I hear.

IMO I was never super happy with the DAC…too edgy…too “clinical”…
The sound of the bare ND5XS2 is much more to my liking…warmer and a fantastic soundstage right out of the box.
Excellent!

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A happy ending it would seem!
I’ve owned mine about a year and enjoyed it a lot. Easy to setup and supports a solid range of features and services.
Enjoy the next step on your musical journey!

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Are TIDAL Masters not supported by the ND5XS2?

The app says I have the latest firmware…

THANK YOU

Naim streamers do not support MQA. If you try to play one, you will automatically get a regular 16/44 version instead.

Thank you.

Canceled TIDAL…welcome Qobuz…

I hope Germany gets the reduced Studio Premier offer too (14,99€)…that would be awesome…

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If you use Roon (as I do) it will do the first unfold of MQA masters before it’s sent to the ND5. I use both Qobuz and Tidal and admit I tend to lean towards Qobuz in terms of encoding quality and ease of use as well as having a solid library that is FLAC based not MQA (for their MQA encoded Masters versions at least)
As already clarified, Naim DAC’s in their ND products do not support MQA, I doubt you’ll miss it tbh.
If I’m truly in need I have another DAC that supports MQA full unfold on another system but to my ears I’ve not found it preferable to the Qobuz encoding and equivalent higher resolution versions of the same recordings.
I’m sure you’ll enjoy the settling in period, I left mine streaming 24/7 when I had it new, assuming your Internet is unlimited just find a radio station and leave it outputting analogue to your amp to stress the DAC and run it in nicely.
It’ll probably sound a bit bright and lean at first but it does settle down after a few hundred hours of running, enjoy!

Well done, congratulations! Sometimes less is more. Enjoy the new ND5XS2, somebody will soon enjoy your ND5XS and nDAC, I guess!

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