NDS a bargain as DAC?

I got a Bluesound node 2i to get into streaming (just interested in Qobuz, nothing else) and I connected it to my reference series system. The result is very good but I am wondering about using it as a transport only, and add a dedicated DAC. And here I notice that the NDS (whose streaming section may be older) can be found at very good prices…so, in order to have the naim sound from a source…does it make sense to buy a second hand NDS to be used exclusively as DAC from digital input provided by the bluesound node 2i? Does it make sense or would I be better off spending my 3000 USD on a more current dac (mytek, Shiit or else) rather than the used NDS?

Many thanks from Nestor

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Hi Nestor,
First, do you have a power supply for the NDS? You need a Naim PSU to power it, which adds to the cost.
Another option to consider is a Naim NDAC, which can be used with its built in power supply, or with the same separate PSUs as the NDS as optional upgrades.
Obviously there are lots of other brands of DAC to choose from too. You really need to listen for yourself before deciding if you can.

Hi Chris,
Thanks. Yes I have 2 555PS DR power supplies connected to my CD555, so I would plan maybe to use one of those. I am assuming the NDS Dac would be better than the Naim standalone Dac?
What I am trying is to squeeze value for money, leveraging my current reference set up, also because the price of the ND555 is too high for me since it incorporates functionalities I do not need (…just qobuz!).
So how to get the highest SQ with a reasonable additional outlay of 3,000 USD for a DAC? I have an NDS in sight for that amount and I wonder if it makes sense or instead go for the newer (value) DACs (Mytek, Shiit and others). And …one day get the naim reference series DAC.

Sounds like a good plan.

Using an NDS primarily as a DAC as opposed to streamer does make sense… certainly if you can get for a good price… the NDS is a very good implementation of the Texas Instrument PCM1704K DAC chips with that converters characteristic feel to it… although long in the tooth now, Naim know how to squeeze just about everything out of them.

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Just a thought, If you bought one you could compare Qobuz from your Bluesound Node to the NDS streaming using BubbleUPNP as a reverse proxy.

Just speculating but the Bubble solution may sound better.

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Hi, yes I could (and would probably in the end) but as said my purpose is to keep it simple and if I can avoid proxies and bubble solutions I would be relieved. My CDS I play with the CD555, and all else I have on Qobuz through the simple Bluesound node 2i (with or without a dedicated DAC)
I wonder though as a simple DAC how does the NDS compare to the new breed of “value DACs” I was referring to (less than 3000$)…

I was looking at getting a better DAC for my system (my current one is Project Pre Box S2 Digital DAC) very good for the cost but always looking for something better,so seconded hand Naim NDAC or this RME ADI-2 DAC (must say from looking at info on line might be worth a look)
Do let us know what you go for and how it pans out.

Hi Simon,
Thanks. I wonder though as a simple DAC how does the NDS compare to the new breed of “value DACs” I was referring to (less than 3000$)…do you believe it to be competitive?

Did you recently have a good listen to your CD555 with only one power supply? In practice it might be more difficult than anticipated to move one 555 to an NDS…

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I agree! Actually I think for listening I would probably always go for 2 supplies with the source, and at the end of the listening session split the supplies to keep the 2 sources “warm” for standby. I would need to work on the positioning to make it possible…

In that case, there are a number of options you could look at. Your plan to use an NDS as a DAC would be one to consider, for sure. If you do this, I think the Bluesound has an electrical SPDIF too, and many say that this is the best option with most Naim digital sources, so try that, as well as optical. The same might apply to the NDAC, which has the same DAC chip as the NDS, albeit an older implementation, but they are cheap these days.
It’s rumoured that the new Naim streamers will support Qobuz natively at some stage, which would mean that you no longer needed the Bluesound. So a neater solution, but it’ cost you more.
With an NDS, consider using BubbleUPnP as a proxy server. This gives you Qobuz (and Tidal) on these older Naim streamers with good sound quality. Needs a bit of fiddling around to set it up, but as long as you have a computer or NAS to run it on, it’s free.
Also consider Roon, which costs, but can be made to run into an NDS.

you are in the area of subjectivity here… only you can decide which you prefer.

I preferred my NDAC/555PS over the NDS/555PS for most genres for example - despite the NDS being cleaner and more refined. I then preferred the Chord Hugo [original] over both by quite a margin overall (I wrote about this in some length on the old forum) - and to date have yet to hear any DAC that improves on that musically - from Naim, Chord, Linn or elsewhere - although there are devices out there that have more detail, greater dynamics, better transient response and look potentially better on paper and cost an awful lot more… To be fair my dealer thinks I might have a particularly fine specimen of Hugo and there are subtle performance differences between different devices… I like my DACs to be softer with expanding detail (Mandelbrot effect) - a bit like a well loved solid state 4 track at 3.75" per second - and the Hugo does that for me - its kind of like how i relate to sounds and music around me - but there are others who will itch for every last piece of information or handle the audio with razor sharp transients.

I use a new Naim streamer transport with my DAC

So all I can say is that in the areas of DACs - perhaps more than any other area- you can’t use price as a measure of likely appreciation and assured satisfaction.

well it would be one very good source for only 3000 USD.

I would get the NDS.

of course there are less expensive DACs out there from Chord…

Hi Nestor, I also own the Bluesound Node, how you valuate its sound quality with its internal DAC? I think it is a very excellent piece of Hifi equipment at very low price compared to what we are usually talk about.

Hi Damiano,
Honestly I’m very surprised by the quality of the sound I’m getting (just a few days). I have Crystal micro diamond cables into the Nac552. Of course it benefits from the naim reference set up which helps. But it is amazing to hear such a nice sound! I still need to better characterize and also compare with CD555 but the pleasure is there, I couldn’t stop listening with the infinite choice of Qobuz.


Yes that is what I’m not sure, now that the transport/streamer part is taken care by the Bluesound node 2i, is whether the nds dac (only) “still” holds his own vs a Chord Hugo for instance or a Mytek Brooklyn…Of course the construction part is outstanding but the dac itself is from another generation…hence my interrogation.


Interesting I had not considered this. Now I also hope that Naim would upgrade his DAC or issue a reference level dac which then would match my needs. I brought this topic up because of the opportunity oof buying an nds at a deep discount.

Also I replaced the power cable with an audioquest power cable and believe I got a nice, noticeable improvement in sound quality! Please try if you have a spare shielded cable and let me know if you have the same result?

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It isn’t just the Dac that gives the final sound

It’s the power supply, analogue output stage, circuitry, digital filter and many other parts

The Hugo is a different sounding product. Many do like it including myself, but yet some still prefers naim source.