nDAC not doing it for me

After listening for nDAC for a few months and going back and forth between bare NDX and NDX + nDAC in my case I think nDAC does not just enhance the sound in all directions but adds additional layer which adds too much bass and rolls of some of the highs. It can be described as a more analog representation, however my speaker have refined and mellow character and this analog effect comes too much. Also I find the sound more flat with it and more 3D with the NDX. NDX has more sparkle and better highs. I started wondering whether it is worth it keeping my nDAC. Has someone found similar observations in their system?

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Have you tried other BNC cables, not necessarily expensive ?
As a reader, it’s the first time I see someone not finding an improvement when adding an Ndac to an Ndx. But it’s possible that you can prefer bare Ndx in your system.

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It’s possible to have upgrades that give more bass so it may be worth moving your speakers a little bit.

I added a Supercap and had to do some speaker repositioning.

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That might be a good idea. To try different BNC. One option is that might cable might be bent or broken. It’s a high quality Chord Signature BNC but it is a bit twisted in my system and the cable is very stiff. It might have been damaged over time.

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Has your dac got the latest firmware?

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Yes, I have checked it.

I forgot to mention that once the electricity in my home has stopped for a few seconds and got back on with all my deviced being turned on. After that the system didn’t produce any sound and I started switching on and off different deviced and it was the nDAC that after I restarted it the sound got back on. Could it be my nDAC could have been damaged in some way or just an internal protection might have been activated? The nDAC is working and doesn’t sound strange, just the sound signature is not working for me. I don’t feel connected to the music with it.

If you prefer the sound without the nDac, get rid of it. You may like to try an XPSDR on the NDX, or swapping to an NDX2.

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I would try, as you said, another BNC cable. A cheap one , just to see if it’s still the same or not. Maybe the Chord cable is damaged.

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Have you considered a power supply upgrade for the NDX? XPS2 or 555?

I hope one day to get XPS or XPS DR but currently there are a lot less second hand options than before. 555 would be out of my budget, unfortunately unless a great deal shows up.

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Your ears might prefer a Chord Qutest, like a few members on here.

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I feel like my speakers need a bit more emphasis on the highs. It might be due to their design and crossover. I really like them but they should be carefully matched with the electronics. And the nDAC seems to rob from the highs. I will varify this by trying another BNC cable.

Good analysis. The nDac good bit of kit but it is not working for you. I tested it with an NDX1 and thought the it did add something but it was not night and day. I understand your analysis. Put your money elsewhere?

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That’s what I started to realize. If my nDAC doesn’t suit my speakers or taste I can sell it and get a XPS or 282 which should give a great deal of improvement.

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Copy a few tracks onto a USB stick and see how it sounds. This will take the streamer/cable out of the mix.

I actually prefer using an optical cable into the NDaC.

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That’s also a good idea. I will try it. If I don’t like the sound from the USB stick then no more tests are needed.

Agreed. I find USB stick into Naim DAC sets the highest reference mark. Same into the NDX to compare to streamed sources. If it is not a close call, the worse source could use some troubleshooting.

When optimized, other sources should about equal USB stick, in my experience.

Nick

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What cable are you using between dac and pre.

I use a home made mogami, this reduces the bass but opens up the mids and highs. If I also put a mogami between the pre and power, the mid detail level actually goes a bit too far.

I’m using Naim Hi-Line. Actually I think the Hi-Line tends to increase the bass and I had more air with Chord Signature RCA.

No offense whatever to those on here, but I just cannot imagine a cable would bring such dissatisfaction or elation with two perfectly fine pieces of audio equipment. It’s likely a component/speaker mismatch of sorts. If you like detail, another DAC might be in order, or as has been said, possibly a PSU addition. Just my observation/opinion.

When I owned the NDX I indeed liked it on its own. When I added an XPS-DR, it really turned it into a completely different beast, and for the better in almost every conceivable way. I’d love to try the nDAC someday, because it gets such mostly universal praise, but I’m not convinced I’d own one without powering it with an outboard supply. This is where it seems to really shine. However, by then you’re really investing quite a lot in a DAC when there are likely others out there for half the cost that might suit you better.

A few months back I was faced with somewhat the same conundrum. I really wanted to move on from the legacy streamer, so sold off the NDX and XPS-DR and purchased a new ND5 XS2 and Chord Qutest. The jump in satisfaction is beyond words for me. I, too, use a Hi-Line between the streamer and SN2. I’ve always liked them. They’re mixed with some Mogami star-quad cable and AQ SKY ICs where applicable in the chain, otherwise typical DIN cables from Flashback mostly.

Anyway, if you like your system’s sound sans nDAC better overall, that, in my mind, would be a plus. You could easily sell it off; they’re in demand enough. Take the funds and save-up for something that will ultimately bring you more joy.

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