NDX / XPSdr plus DAC?

Good morning

I’ve seen a few references to NDX being used with another DAC. I don’t fully understand why. Could someone be really kind and explain the advantage?

I can’t help sorry, it makes no sense to me.

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It’s just others wanting to use a standalone external DAC to what’s already in the NDX. I’d question the use of an XPS with the NDX in this case as you’re just using the digital output from the NDX.

Why do this ? It can produce better or just different results compared to using the analogue outputs from the NDX and some prefer this approach.

It’s potentially a far cheaper upgrade than a PSU on a Naim streamer, and in some cases with a conveniently small box. As far as I’m concerned it’s a perfectly good approach to use the NDX as it is, with an external DAC, or with an external power supply. Just let your ears and budget decide.

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As someone who has gone the route of NDX / N DAC / XPS-DR:

When I decided to buy the NDX in Jan 14 the Naim webpages had suggested upgrades and one such was to use its separate DAC and so I opted to buy both pieces of kit (my better half allows me such expenditure - occasionally :grinning:)

The NDX replaced a Squeezebox Touch and was a massive upgrade. After a week or two I added the DAC and found a marginal, subtle improvement but as I played more and more music (streamed FLAC~WAV and also TIDAL on the 3mth free subscription offer) I can’t honestly say whether the improvements were completely down to the NDX or a combination. But as the DAC was there, it was going to stay.

Approx. 30mths later I added the XPS-DR and initially used this to power the NDX. A definite improvement (clearer, more open sound, more detail, etc.) but following advice from other forum members I moved the XPS so as to power the DAC. I’ve left this set-up (subject to the 6mthly dismantle to clean) and am very happy with the sound, etc. But is powering the DAC better than powering the NDX? I would have to switch back and it’s not something you can do easily.

Similarly, if I took the DAC out of the set-up … would the difference be noticeable? I’d like to think so but it’s unlikely to be better, so why bother?

Of course, if I do decide to upgrade to NDX2 then I shall probably retire the DAC

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Thanks, really helpful

I followed exactly the same path as you, with similar findings. About a year ago I decided to trade in the NDX & DAC for an NDX2, whilst retaining the XPSDR to power it. I’m glad I did, it is a big upgrade over the previous set up, to my ears at least. Improved dynamics and small detail, plus wonderful imaging. One box less too.

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That’s wonderful to read, Paul. I’ve had no response to my query, posted a few days ago, as to whether NDX2 ~ XPS-DR would be an improvement over NDX / N DAC~XPS~DR …
(Albeit, I confused the issue by querying whether Chromecast is worth the upgrade)

So, a positive comment is most welcome!

For me, owning/trying the NDX with XPS and DAC altogether was a matter of attempting to compare the perceived relative sonic differences between the NDX’s onboard DAC (chipset) versus the one from, in my case, the Rega Saturn-R. Initially, I was contentedly listening with just the streamer and PSU; it wasn’t until I began reading more reviews and fora-wide opinions of the Saturn-R DAC that it got me wondering if a sonic benefit could be had over what I was already accustomed to. The CD player was already just sitting there, so…In my case, I never received an answer as to what would be hypothetically ‘better’ between the two to help nudge me to even bother with the comparison in the first place if the consensus steered more toward the NDX’s DAC, and finding white papers in this regard became fruitless, as was somewhat expected. So I gave it a whirl via the, ‘just try it out for yourself’ comments. I did. I don’t need to rehash it, since it is documented now, but suffice it to say I do really enjoy the external DAC’s presentation over the onboard DAC of the NDX. There’s really no ‘night and day’ difference; and better is subjective, of course. It’s just different—a different I happen to jive with.
I don’t know if this helps explain why to use all three or if it even makes sense. All I know is if you already have an external DAC of some sort lying around, might as well compare; if not, then I see why most might question the sanity of this approach. In addition, I really have no idea which is the, again, ‘better’/more beneficial course of action: XPS or DAC if one owns the NDX. I suspect one would acquire the larger benefit from the PSU and more subtle from a DAC, and even then that’s no guarantee.

@Simon-in-Suffolk uses his NDX2 with a Chord DAC

I do indeed

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