ND5XS2 first feedbacks / wich coaxial to choose?

Hello to all.

I’m following up on a previous thread posted here about the replacement of my beloved streamer: the Bluesound Vault 2.

After some hesitations between replacing the nDac/xps by an NDS, or keeping it and adding a streamer like the NDX2 or an ND5XS2, I decided to do it.

After reading some threads and feedback from some people here, I noticed that there is very little, if any, difference between the ND5XS2 and NDX2 when used with the nDac (apart from the screen, the remote control).
And that this ND5XS2/nDac/XPS combo was on a par with the naked NDX2, not far from the ND555 but not far from the NDS either but differently.
I have indeed chosen to keep the nDac because I really like its very fluid and analog side, but also because it shares the same conversion chips as the NDS and ND555.
I wanted to keep this feature while changing streamer to go up a notch in quality and definition.

That’s why, a new ND5XS2 arrived at home since a week…

Happy ? Yes and no.

The first hours of operation were disastrous. The ND was really worse than the BS, and this with the same coaxial cable. I almost returned it after 3 days! After that, things got a bit better, everything got smoother. Nevertheless, the gap between the two streamers was still very small. Was the money spent worth it? Especially when I changed the coaxial (Vertère DFi) for the DC1, there the BS and the ND5XS2 were equal. Hard to admit. I gave myself a few days to think again…

The situation changed when (in my closet) I replaced the DC1 by another coaxial that I just put on sale: a black cat silverstar 75. Cable that never worked for me and for other people with a different demat system. It was just to see… Well, the ND5XS2 has taken over from the BS, and we enter another world ! More definition, more PRaT, more airiness, more fluidity, a veil is gone. Some tracks listened on Qobuz are almost “holographic”. And I weigh my words! We feel that this time, the ND5 has more amplitude, of aplomb, of body, of behaviour.

For the blow, I did well to keep this streamer! It brings a lot. It is not the day and the night either, but all is played on small details or nuances in more or less, which, once integrated in our listening make that we cannot return any more behind… (a bit like going from hicap to hicap DR if I can make a comparison).

Sorry for this long digression, but I give you my feelings about my first week with the ND5XS2.

Then comes the coaxial problem, and it is the crucial point I think that will allow me to live for a long time (for now) with the NDXS/nDac/XPS trio.

Which cable can you recommend for the streamer/Dac link ? I used the Vertere for a long time because with the BS it gave a lot of definition, refinement, aeration, but also PraT. The DC1 was more “brutal”, live, in your face, messy.
With the ND5XS2, the DC1 is better, but we still lose in refinement, aeration.
The blackcat is almost perfect for me, but it’s still a bit too dry (flesh on the bones).
I know that the nDac and the ND5 have very sensitive BNC outputs and that the use of RCA/BNC converters can degrade or strongly impact the rendering, because I want to use only this interface to exploit the nDac at best.

So which coaxial cable can you recommend according to your experiences?

I looked for a Nordost Silvershadow, but I can’t find it new or used. The belden seems to have good press as well as the Wireworld starlight, and Chord?

Your feedback will be useful for my choice.

Thank you for reading this to the end. And sorry for the possible translation mistakes, because considering the length of my post, it would have taken me a day to translate everything myself!

Greetings from France

Luc

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Thank you very much for this interesting thread. I was considering to change my bluesound node for an ND5XS2 (feeding into nDac). However, given that the difference you experience is not huge, even with an optimal cable, it probably makes more sense for me to channel the funds into a XPS power supply or a nac282. Happy to take advice on which of those shoud take priority.

How old is the streamer? It needs a fair bit of time to come on song, so if still early days (or weeks) don’t make any changes or adjust things, it’s possible it hasn’t settled yet.

The DC1 seems very highly regarded on these Forums and I have one between my ND5 XS2 and my MScaler and it seems fine. I have a Network Acoustics digital BNC pair between MScaler and Qutest and they sound excellent also, so a single one of those might be an option if the DC1 isn’t working for you - they’re a small and very friendly company and offer a 30-day trial. I’ve one of their Eno Streaming Systems feeding into the ND5 from my network switch and that’s a revelatory upgrade that I’d recommend anyone try in a streaming setup.

Sorry, I cannot help you with your cable choice as I did not move from BS to ND. However I agree with the previous reply that it makes sense to wait for the ND to settle in. For what it is worth I make use of a rca - bnc Gotham cable between BS and nDac which serves me well and doesn’t break the bank. Another thought would be to have a look at you ethernet cable (but only after having taken time to settle ND in) I make use of a Bluejeans cat 6a, with which I am quite happy as well.

If I had to give you one piece of advice, I would say put an XPS on the nDac. I lived 3 months with the BS and the nDac and I found it already very good. A friend of mine had the misfortune to lend me a power supply for some time. It propelled the DAC and the playback to a new level. It sublimated the nDac in a way… More hold, ventilation, fluidity, everything…

I could have stayed with this BS/nDac/XPS configuration for a long time. But the desire to know if I could go even further in the restitution with a more high-end streamer made me take the step to invest in an ND5XS2.
I don’t regret it. The BS remains for me an excellent streamer for those who want to start with demat. Its application is a model of ergonomics, the SQ is great for its price. But one thing is sure for me, we can go further in the restitution, but the sound gain obtained is not in connection with the money invested…

You can go for a power supply for not too much money. Indeed I put an XPS olive and not black on the nDac and it works very well, and this at a lower cost compared to a used XPS black. There are some very good deals to be had on the used market right now. By the way, this is the only olive power supply that can work with black hardware.

Finally, I would also say : source first !

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I used Wireworld Silver Starlight 8 between my Naim streamers and DAC’s.

Check your mains for DC, does your streamers transformer hum at all? when I cleaned up my mains power the Naim gear came alive!

To clarify things a bit, I bought this streamer second hand from a private individual who may have used it little. And so maybe not quite broken in yet. I still have one year of warranty before me. I made a good deal considering the asking price compared to the new price.

To get the most out of the BS, I optimized the network with a Catalyst 2960, then two. The SQ has improved. Some time ago I introduced an Uptone Etheregen + Paul Hynes DC + Afterdark external clock (cascaded with a Catalyst). The SQ has gone up a notch which is not negligible. Finally, I also replaced the power cable by a Nordost Purple Flare, but this is a minor improvement, compared to the audiophile switch and its optimization.
I didn’t think that the BS would be sensitive to these optimizations, but in fact it is! But all this implies an unreasonable cost compared to the price of the BS!

The best and cheapest optimization of the BS is in my opinion two cisco and the Nordost cable. The whole easily found in second hand and not expensive.

All my power supplies are silent (XPS, Supercap) as well as my 250. I’m touch wood and I’m lucky, because I live in the country and I’m at the end of the line. But I’m wired with fiber, and that’s really cool. :grinning:

I haven’t read through all the posts here but I sure hope someone has pointed out that you need to make sure the ND5XS2 and nDAC don’t have grounding issues. I have this combo with a XPSDR and it’s fantastic. (DC1 cable). Worth checking that the ND5XS2 is set to “floating” and the nDAC to chassis.

Thanks for sharing your experience. Although I read a lot on the forum about the benefits of changing a nac 202 by a nac 282, I also thought it would make sense to give priority to adding a power supply to the nDac, then look for a nac 282 and in third instance change the Node for an ND. Challenge will be however to find a pre-loved XPS in the Netherlands (let alone a 555ps) as power supplies seldom come to market here. Nonetheless I will be on the look out!