ND5XS or Unitiqute + Chord 2Qute as a source

Hello to everybody.

I want to replace my source. I’ve been using Unitiqute to Nait XS as a power amp.
Whats the better option: buy sh ND5XS (neater solution) or Chord 2Qute for Unitiqute (more flexibility) ???
The same money for me to either get ND5XS and sell Unitiqute or get Chord Dac for Unitiqute. Which option will give me better sound ???
I would rather get 2Qute as I could connect my MacBook to it, have headphone out in Unitiqute plus spare amp section in case of emergency/service.

thank you

Any thoughts ?

I’d go with the ND5 as the natural match and you can use the headphone on that and connect a Mac to it.

Assuming you mean the original ND5XS, I was always a little underwhelmed by its performance whenever I heard it, so I would guess that the Chord DAC might sound better. (If headphone listening is a priority, you might consider a Hugo instead)
Having to keep the Unitiqute for headphone use seems a bit messy.

Thank you. I don’t need a headphone out so much, its just a nice bonus.
Only the sound matters for me.
( Unitiqute + Chord Dac would give me more flexibility in case of any changes in the future.)

I’ve had both UQ2 and ND5XS connected to 2Qute into several Naim amps and for the added flexibility of the UQ2 I would go with that.

Thank you. So then, Chord Dac shouldl be the best solution for me, judging on price/performance ratio. I was also considering Dac V-1 or Naim nDac.
But either Chord 2qute and Naim V-1 Dac might be all I need.
I could get rid of Unitiqute then and use Mac mini as a transport for Dac cause, as I read , there is no advantage in Unitiqute vs Mac as a streamer. Or - am I wrong?

I got Chord 2Qute yesterday. Connected with Uniiqute using cheap BNC cable and WOW!
What a difference. Very happy with it , its really worth the price. But…
When connected to MacBook Air with usb the sound is so much worse than with Unitiqute. Harsh , unpleasant and narrow. I guess a quality Transport is really important.
I have read here that a Mac should be all I need and no difference in sound when comparing to e.g. Unitiqute as a transport, but - no, no.
What is the secret?

Not all renderers (aka transport software - the software that converts the music file, flac or wav etc, into a digital music stream) are the same. What software are you using on the Mac to do that? Widely acknowledged as the best in terms of sound quality is Audirvana. It is available for free trial so no commitment to try, although the remote control app for use from an iPad or iPhone is not free (something like £12 IIRC). Audirvana can acess online streaming services from Tidal (including MQA first unfold if wanted), Qobuz and HiResAudio, while when streaming from the Mac’s internal drive it has tge singular advantage of not streaming across a network, so no possibility of network issues affecting it.

The computer itself can also affect the sound quality, and it is best to close down everything unnecessary, dedicating to music when you want to listen, ideally turning off bluetooth and the screen (if you don’t initially buy the remote app, you can control the software using a remote access app like VNC to control the computer from another device). The other issue with a general purpose computer compared to one optimised for audio (which is what the Unitiqute is) is radio frequency noise, which whilst generated in all computers, is far worse in a general purpose machine. There can also be problems with jitter.

I don’t know the 2Qute, but I used to use a Hugo. Hugo suffered very severely from the effect of RF noise - but a primary difference is that 2Qute has galvanic isolation built in, so in theory shouldn’t be affected. However not all isolation is perfect, so that does not mean isolation can’t be improved. I used a Gustard U12 isolator/converter between Mac and Hugo, a fairly inexpensive device (I think around £150 now), it worked wonders, making it sound better than the front end of an ND5XS as renderer into Hugo. (USB converted to optical or SPDIF.). I assume that 2Qute like Hugo reclocks the signal, so jitter shouldn’t be an issue (although it has been suggested that there can be a residual effect on aspects of timing that, though small, may be audible to the best ears in the best systems). The other difference is that my Mac is a Mac Mini, which is low power virtually silent (its low speed fan only audible up to about 2 feet away in a quiet room), and can run headless with no screen or keyboard attached. I still use it, though now with Dave DAC, and Gustard no longer necessary, USB direct. I compared once, albeit very briefly, with a Melco N1A, with no obvious difference in sound.

Thank you very much. I heard about Audirvana and will try it as I planned to use my Mac as a primal source. ( Will get MacMini if can get the Air to sound decent).
I also know Gustard but first want to try software solution before spending extra cash.

At the moment Unitiqute sounds great with 2qute. I want to achieve the same quality with a Mac.

(Can BNC cable affects the sound?. I am sensitive to speaker cables but not much to IC’s.)

Without going into detail of the potential effects with with cables, I think the key thing is a well-made cable with proper termination - with SPDIF (BNC) that means 75 ohm coax cable with good shielding, and true 75 ohm connectors, properly fitted. (The same requirements have been the norm the radio communication world for decades.) I don’t doubt that some people will say that cable X costing some big sum makes a difference to their ears. But I think there are plenty to chooses from around £50 (give or take £20).

I got all the software stuff sorted yesterday and I must say the “sound difference” between Unitiqute and MacBook as a transport has shrunk to minimal.
Also… as my Unitiqute can be used as a power amp ( unity gain mode via analogue in) I gave it a try in a bi-amp mode ( Unitiqute powering the tweeters connected via XS sub out )and I was blown away! Wasn’t expecting such a lift in performance.

So my next step should be Flatcap (which I owned but sold) or HiCap + Nap 155 or Nap 100.
I guess I will end up with 5 different size and shape units :slight_smile:

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