ND5XS2 vs ND5XS + nDAC

I currently have a ND5XS but looking into stepping up a notch and cannot afford NDX2. What would be your choice between ND5XS2 vs ND5XS + nDAC if sound quality is the main focus and why? I can get an nDAC for another 750 EUR (2010 model) or a used ND5XS2 selling my ND5XS for another 1300 EUR.

My personal taste is a lean clear and balanced sound. I’m not one of those that want 5 minute success with an explosion in detail and in your face sound to 1 week later find out it’s just too much of everything. I do not want listening fatigue, harsh, extended highs in terms of cold in your face. I do want details and clarity but I also listen working from home say 6-8h per day meaning my system need to be gentle and balanced. I currently use a SN2 due to my SN3 on service but will move back to SN3 once back. Speakers are Harbeth SHL5 Plus. I do from time to time feel my current system get some fatigue and sounds a bit thin in the mids but it might be my daily shape when listening to much on the system for to long :slight_smile:

I’d add the nDAC, loads more detail and scale.
I added an Olive XPS which lifted the SQ further.

NB you can’t use an Olive XPS on the streamers but they work great on the DAC at a lower cost.

It’s a difficult question that can only be answered by careful comparisons, I think.

I am very happy with an Allo DigiOne Signature (powered with UpTone Audio JS-2 [RPi side] and LPS-1.2 [clear side]) feeding a Naim DAC via DC1. The amplifier is a SN2 and the speakers are Ovator S-400.

I understand that the ND5 XS, both as a transport into the Naim DAC and as a DAC, was found to be nothing special but I have not tried it myself.

It is also possible that the ND5 XS 2 is a better transport than the ND5 XS but, again, I cannot offer any first hand experience.

The only line of resoning that I can offer is that, especially if you are on a budget, it seems to make little sense feeding a DAC with another DAC.

If I had a limited amont of funds available for a device that is supposed to feed a DAC, I would put that money on a transport, not on a transport that also has an integrated DAC.

Tell that to those running an NDX2 as a transport only :sweat_smile: I fully agree with you however. What would be used as a streamer would be next stage if going with the nDAC. I’m initially interested in which DAC people think is the best between the one inside ND5XS2 and the nDAC.

For me it’s always a matter of purchasing equipment based on reviews and peoples feedback since i don’t live nearby a store for trials. That means mostly buying second handed and understand that sometimes you win, sometimes you lose :slight_smile:

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I am running a ND5XS into a nDac - sounds great to my ears. Hoping to add an external PS on the nDac soon. The nDac also serves the CD player. Have never heard the new streamers, so am curious as to where this thread goes…

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How would you describe the differences between the ND5XS DAC and the nDAC?

I have never tried the ND5XS bare, the nDac brought such an improvement to the CD5XS at the time I first installed it, it didn’t occur to me to try the streamer direct, which I purchased most recently

I had an ND5XS to start with and then added a TP Dac which was a massive improvement IMO.

Sold them both for a used NDS and 555PS. Completely different league. But a much bigger outlay.

An improved DAC with have a significant improvement on the ND5XS, more so than an XPS IMO.

I would consider the following options:
buying an NDX with an nDAC or alternative DAC
ND5XS with an nDAC or alternative DAC
NDS with XPS or 555PS

If you want the modern Naim streamer then go for
ND5XS2 as it benefits from more up to date streaming capabilities with Tidal and other services.

I got a good price selling my ND5XS on favourite auction site so upgrading wasn’t that painful!

Selling the ND5XS might provide the funds for a Naim DAC plus Allo Digione Signature and Shanti Power supply. The Pi-based Allo provides access to a number of good user interfaces and certainly more flexibility than the Naim app for legacy streamers, if that is also important to you. It was to me, and that is why I had to sell my ND5XS.

My choice is Naim DAC with Allo DigiOne running Shairport Sync and Roon Bridge, plus a iFi ZEN Blue.

I will pass this generation of ND streamer, and hope Naim will bring something new on next generation DAC or Streamer.

The allo is just ok but not as good as a dedicated naim streamer like ND5 xs2

But that’s reflected in the price


I had my ND5XS and nDAC in seperate systems intially. The nDAC + 555PS was fed by my HDX in my main system. Wonderful sound.Very organic beautifully natural to my ears. Only slightly eclipsed by the introduction of the NDS. I quite liked my bare ND5XS in my second system which doesnt get a lot of use but when the nDAC became surplus to requirements in the main system it seemed to make for more sense to keep this fantastic DAC rather than sell it on. The uplift in SQ to the second system was not small. Even without a 555 attached the refinement in sound was obvious and it will stay in the second system ND5XS/nDAC/112/150/FC2 lovely slim box set up. Unless you really want the front end enhancement of the modern streamers you could be well satisfied with this though i must admit i have not heard the ND5XS2. I did, however, replace the NDS with the ND555 for better Roon integration and Airplay etc the bells and whistles of the latest generation were important to me.Demo as always if poss :wink: i suspect the nDAC outshines in SQ terms but i could be wrong.


Have you actually tried, or just a bold statement without any empirical foundation?

Own the digione Signature with the dedicated allo PSU so well aware of how it performs

As I said it just ok given how much it costs but not as good as a dedicated naim streamer

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For limited budget I will get best DAC I can afford first. If I can buy a ND5 XS 2 as a streamer transport, I will go for Lumin U1 MINI or same price range’s pure transport.

Well, owning an Allo is only one half of the experiment. What’s your direct experience of an ND5XS2 into a Naim DAC as compared to your Allo?

well I got to compare the allo against ND5XS1 - and against other streamers like Auralic Aries and Naim HDX and also Linn DS into a Chord Dave.

In each case the allo Digi signature just wasn’t upto the level of a dedicated streamer.

to my ears the Naim and Linn streamers are more musical and transparent than the allo or auralic machines

My findings, others may hear it differently.

I don’t really expect a rasberry pi device to be able to compete against products from Naim and Linn.

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If you fancy giving it a try, please let us know the result.

You can’t beat the Naim app!

(Otherwise you’ll have to change your name to ‘ThirdParty-the-Dragon’.)

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Lots of gear you mention, so what do you actually use?