NDAC +Mac mini + Audirvana

I went to visit a dealer friend, just for a cup of coffee and some life updates. Right there, I stumbled upon a pre-loved NDAC that a customer had left with him just a few hours before my arrival. Despite being 13 years old, the box looked brand new, and the price was ridiculously good. Without much thought, I decided to take it, thinking I could ‘think out’ the details later.

My main source is Linn LP12. My ‘streaming system’ was:

Mac mini (old 2011 with upgraded 16G RAM and a new SSD drive) —> Audirvāna Studio —> Chord C-USB cable —> Naim DAC-V1 ——> Chord Crimson 4Din-RCA ——> SN2——> B&W804D2.

The Sound used to be so-so - I didn’t like it - and it didn’t cane close to CDX2+XPS2 I had, until I found out that upsampling from the software by x2 power made a huge difference - it was like new black box came in. The sound was nice, acceptable and I enjoyed it - but still not as good as the CDX2. My plans was to upgrade the USB cable and the ‘network’ and to o look for streamer head like Blusound or Primare to replace the Mac Mini as player.

Well, I couldn’t connect the NDAC as it doesn’t have USB input…so quick search on local forums and few days later I had a totally new streaming system:

Same old Mac mini —> Audirvāna Studio —> Chord C-USB cable —> SRC-DX USB to SPDIF converter by Audiowise—> TelluriumQ Black2 waveform BNC-BNC ——> NDAC —> TelluriumQ black 5Din-5Din ——> SN2——> B&W804D2.

The NDAC brought digital music to life in an unbelievable way. The Mac Mini, streaming Tidal or ripped CDs via Audirvana into the NDAC, sounded superior to my previous CDX2 setup with XPS2. I hadn’t kept the XPS2, assuming I’d never acquire an NDAC since Naim stopped selling it in 2018, and it’s rare to find pre-loved units in Israel.

The NDAC’s bare sound is impressive—open, clear, clean, detailed, with maximum PRAT and a vast, three-dimensional soundstage. It’s highly sensitive to good recordings. While I always liked the little vDAC, the NDAC is on a whole different level.

Regarding the streaming setup I adopted, it’s surprisingly inexpensive, without the complexities of a network setup—no Ethernet cables, switches, NAS, UPNP/DLNA, or third-party apps.
The Audiowise converter isolates USB digital noise, delivering Tidal hi-res content while the NDAC plays everything in 32/192 (the maximum limit via coax). Audirvana’s endpoint app works perfectly in this setup.
I’ve tried Roon as well, but Audirvana sounds superior to me, offering more details and a truer, more natural music flow, all at half the price.

Now, my only concern is the age of the NDAC. I wonder how much life it still has left in it because if this amazing box were to fail one day, I’d be devastated.
My recommendation to fellow Audirvana users: don’t hesitate with upsampling; it makes a huge difference. And for all of you, visiting dealers now and then might surprise you with what’s available.


When very old people generally use oxygen bottles designed for the Ndac. Then it’s advised to not fatigue too much him. 1 hour listening and 3 hours sleep.

The consensus on service or not the Ndac is not made. But it’s however advised to send for service after 15 years.
See if Daran class A does the Ndac service or not . If not, then your dealer has to send it to Salsburry hospital, for a brain and heart little chirurgy.

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Nice though the V1 is, you are right, the NDAC is a big step up. It does respond very well to power supply upgrades, so I would certainly suggest that you try it with your XPS.
Not sure if you have any local service facilities that could handle an NDAC. If you have to return it to the UK it would need to go to Naim themselves via the usual return channels.

I agree that taking network out of music replay removes everything negative that networks can bring - and no fretting about ethernet switches and their power supplies etc.

I use a “late 2012” Mac Mini, also with 16GB RAM and SSDs, with Audirvana, though I stuck with the non-subscription version. It is fully optimised and in Direct Mode, headless and dedicated of course. Originally I fed a Chord Hugo DAC, which I had to do via a USB converter (Gustard U12) because the Hugo was very susceptible to superimposed RF, adversely affecting sound quality.

I later changed DAC to Dave, without the Gustard.

However, I tried upsampling and if didn’t make any noticeable difference - though now I can’t remember if that was with Hugo or Dave. I

IIUC the idea of upsampling is to reduce the burden on the DAC which otherwise does upsampling itself, that reduced load improving sound quality. It therefore seems highly likely that any and how much audible benefit there may be will vary between different DAC designs, and vary from big difference to none.

Interestingly, reading different people’s experiences with Chord’s MScaler on Dave, it seems to vary, possibly depending on the pkaying/rendering device/software.

I have a power supply, one not to mention by forum rules. I sold the xps2 few month ago with the cdx2, I didn’t think I will own an NDAC…

I usually like to leave things in there natural way so didn’t even think to try sampling as it sounds like “cheating” if it make sense… but once I got into it and read more info i gave it a try. The effect on the vDAC is dramatic as I wrote. There is a noticeable good effect on the NDAC as well but not as dramatic as the vDAC.

My conclusion on upsampling is that it sounds unnatural to my ears. But maybe some products do it better.

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My first move in the direction of streaming was MacMini into nDAC. The nDAC was originally bought as an upgrade to my CD5XS which enabled me to compare playing a CD on the CD player with first ripping it to the Mac. Both were played through the nDAC and I consistently preferred the MacMini. Not a huge difference, but a bit more air and clarity which appealed to my musical taste.

I did use decent cables: Naim DC1 for the CD player and Wireworld SuperNova 7 optical for the Mac. Early MacMinis had a digital output and I was very surprised how good the often maligned Toslink connection sounded.

Later on I added an XPS to the nDAC and, as has been said, that raised the game significantly.