NDX or Modern streamer

I’m looking at adding a streaming solution to a currently analog-only set up and just wonder how relevant the older-gen NAIM streamers are, specifically the NDX, versus a new streamer at the same money.

My only real experience with this stuff is with the Bluesound Node which I really rate functionally.

No local files so just streamed services, not really fussed about which - I currently use mostly apple music for convenience but have been a happy Tidal and Quobuz user in the past.

For context, the NDX’s used here are about the same money as a Bluesound Node or the newer Eversolo stuff etc.

I just wonder if the older streamer tech is a bit long in the tooth to be jumping into now and given how fast the tech moves are the DAC sections going to be really much or any better?

So older but proven quality versus the new kids on the block, whats your thoughts?

The NDX is atill a decent performer, especially at used prices which are now pretty low. However, if you want to use it with streaming services your options are limited to 16/44.1 Tidal or lossy Spotify unless you are prepared to use workarounds.

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If you are happy with Tidal and can get an Ethernet wired connection to it, it’s a pretty good low cost option. You can always add a newer transport to it later on, if you want more on-line streaming functionality. It would be a good match for the 82/250. I’d get it myself, but I have too much stuff already.

Thanks Mike, I can probably run a cable to it from my access point/extender so that might work… It’s mainly a second source for casual listening so don’t want to put too much money into it. The main concern is about longer-term support given the age…

I agree, but it’s reflected in the price. It has a new screen and remote receiver from what I’ve seen, so it’s as good as you are going to get if you want a Naim streamer, without spending a lot more on a new generation model. Even a used ND5 XS2 would be quite a bit more, and they rarely come up.

If you are worried about the longer term support though, there are some other good options around for non-Naim streamers.

Yeah, it’s not like this stuff is getting any cheaper down here! price is fair for what it is I think…

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People with Naim legacy streamers are buying relatively inexpensive streamers (ex dac) to improve functionality and finding they also get an improvement in sound quality.

You’re right the node has great functionality due to its very good software (Naim please take note :-)) but let down by its mediocre sound quality, especially the in the DAC department. But a lot of this actually comes from the Node internal power supply which can be upgraded if done so and provides a substantial lift in sound quality. A couple of options spring to mind Teddy Pardo (from Israel) and pd-cf (from Poland). Both make good power supply options which will significantly lift the sound quality from mediocre lack lustre to toe-tapping engaging.

Trust me here I have spend a lot of time with power supplies and digital audio and I can tell you clean power is the most important factor in getting a good sound. I have tried many, and built my own working with the likes the Allo DigiOne and iFi Zen Stream and DACs from Arcam and iFi and in all cases the better the power supply the better the sound. Use a cheap plug in switched supply and sound becomes muddy and gritty. Use a good quality linear supply preferably with some active noise cancellation at the end (my preferred home build solution) and the sound becomes sublime.

So a good cheap option for me would be a node with one of the upgraded power supplies mentioned earlier. That for me would give you a sound that won’t make you wince and go back to your vinyl :-). Plus later on you can add an external DAC to provide an upgrade in SQ at a later date keeping the Node as a front end with its excellent control software.

Note the upgrade is easy for anyone confident with a screwdriver and a pair of radio pliers. I think both sites give instructions on how to upgrade.

My system here is a mixture of Naim (Atom HE, Atom and an Original Uniti) plus Zen Stream, power amplification and Bucardt and Klipsch speakers. And on the subject of clean power Naim gear is extremely sensitive (unfortunately) to dirty power, the Atom especially. It really needs clean mains to shine!

The NDX sounds great. I used mine with an XPSDR and then with an nDAC. Eventually I replaced the NDX with an ND5XS2. This was for three reasons. Firstly, the screen. But that ended up not being a problem because Real Music were (as usual) super helpful and replaced it for me. Secondly, access to hi-res streaming. But it turns out my hearing (perhaps) can’t distinguish between hi-res and CD quality except for a couple of genres. So the only real reason for replacing the NDX that still holds is that with TIDAL the NDX would sometimes “hang” and need a hard reset. I didn’t mind this and it only did it once in a while but the problem was my son and partner couldn’t cope with it and this was lessening their use of the hi-fi. So this would be the only thing I would be wary of for the NDX and I’m not even sure it’s a wide spread problem.

A Philip K D*ck fan! One of his best books.

Isn’t he great? They don’t seem to have stopped mining his stories/novels for film and TV. They are very up and down quality wise. I tried the Man In the High Castle on Amazon but soon gave up. I tend to like the reality bending, paranoid stuff more though.

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TLDR; an NDX is excellent value if you’re happy w Tidal and the tech still works fine

I have an NDX in my system that I use to play 16.44 Tidal and stream my ripped CDs. I couldn’t be happier with it. Have also just purchased a second hand NAC-N 172 (same streaming functionality as the NDX.) So I’m actively accumulating previous-gen streamers.

The point for me is that they represent extreme VFM. I’m not chasing the latest and perfect 120 gazillion bitrates. I’ve come to my own conclusion that the original quality and mastering is the primary and most significant driver of SQ. So with that, my ears don’t need much more that Tidal or my CDs. And it’s totally flexible on upgrades (DAC, power, etc) If you want to go that route.

I also have a house full of Sonos - Play1s, 5s, soundbars up and down, and a Move in the garage / garden. The simplicity and ease of listening is fantastic - but head to head there’s no contest in SQ to a dedicated system, or any Bluesound product for that matter. I have A/B’d the Sonos Amp with the Poernode and Powernode Edge. No contest - the Bluesound blows Sonos away. So if you’re looking for the ease of streaming, a whole-house solution that you can build on, and newer tech, the BS is a good choice. If I were starting from scratch today, I’d go the BS route.

As for the tech on the NDX, i guess the DAC is what it is - it performs as it should for a top-end streamer. Naim app integration still works fine, and the factory will continue to service the basics. I guess the thing to really be on the lookout for (as in all these products) is the screen. I’ve done a preemptive replace of screens on my UQ1, NDX, and the 172. So I guess I’ve got a solid 5ish years left before having to do something else.

Good luck - it’s a fun journey!

What context was the Pd power supply used. Pd make a card which allows a 5V external supply to connected to the node. Do you know what powered it?

There are many users who’ve upgraded who would disagree with you. I’ve heard with the Shanti power supply and the differences were clearly audible (in a good way).

It’s always funny to see someone disagree with himself :grin:

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Which upgraded power supply do you use with the iFi Zen Stream?

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