NDX2 alternatives

I currently have a NDX2 and am potentially looking to add an XPS DR. I stream about 70% of what I listen to (the rest is vinyl) so digital source is very important. I have a Roon Nucleus attached and use this pretty much exclusively with Qobus/Tidal Hi-Res for all of my digital listening - I don’t really use the NDX2’s functionality for anything else.

I was chatting it through with my dealer and he suggested that before I bought the XPS I should potentially try out a DAC & transport combo instead of the NDX2 on the premise that a stand alone DAC with transport and Roon could do better job for the money than the NDX2 and XPS on the premise that the stand alone DAC would be better than the Burr Brown in the NDX2. He’s lending me a Chord TT2 this weekend to see what I think using the NDX2 as the transport (I think that’s right?)

Is anyone else doing something similar and, if so, with what results?

The rest of the system is exclusively Naim apart from PMC speakers

I’d imagine you’ll get a range of responses on a topic of this type. Better in the context of HiFi, certainly factoring for system synergy is difficult to quantify and usually a personal preference defining the end result.
I also own an NDX 2, used without an XPS DR, but having heard one with that PSU added know what it adds and the benefits it can bring.
I also own a few Chord DAC’s namely a Mojo and Hugo 2. When I had an ND5 XS2 I did use the digital out in to the Hugo 2 for a while. I do enjoy the Chord sound and some like it enough to make it the key component in their main system, I would say that I do also like going back to the NDX 2 as it has more punch and drive and from my experience the Chord DAC’s are more polite and more transparent.
I think you’re doing the right thing taking the offer of having the kit at home for a period of time and seeing what you prefer.
Using the NDX2 as just a transport and bypassing its internal DAC is perfectly acceptable and it’s designed to be used in that context but it becomes an expensive solution potentially and greater value may be found elsewhere, giving you a chance to spend more on the DAC or add a Chord MScaler to the TT, or consider a Dave perhaps.


@jsawyer09 had similar experience. He went from bare Ndx2 to Ndx2/ Chord and finally choosed the Ndx2/ XPS dr. But could have also stood with Ndx2/ Chord.
Also to point that there are other dacs than Chord on this venerable planet, like Mytech, Berkeley, Denafrips….

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Hear that - but a lend of a TT2 is as good a place to start as any!

Of course. But don’t forget to listen to Ndx2/xpsdr. It’s really a different streamer, on another league.

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If you have an external DAC, then would there really be any difference in SQ to an ND5 XS2 with the same external DAC. In which case, if you go down this route, you may as well downgrade the NDX2 and save yourself some money to put towards the DAC

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As @frenchrooster has pointed out, I went through this very recently and can confirm the addition of the XPS-DR was really a revelation to what the NDX2 is capable of. It’s a good streamer bare, but I found the ND5 XS2 and Chord Qutest was on-par, and in some ways I preferred that combo. Then I auditioned the NDX2/XPS-DR combo and it didn’t take long for me to sell off the former. If I could’ve afforded keeping the Qutest, it for certain would’ve remained, with the NDX2 as transport. Expensive? Yes. Endgame? Possibly.

With regard to your Chord option, I can see why you’re wanting to trial the Hugo TT2. At that point it’s going to be a preference kind of thing, as either scenario is going to be expensive, I suppose. XPS-DR…Hugo TT2…quite a good conundrum. Honestly, I can see myself someday going all Chord with a ‘saner-priced’ transport for my digital needs (e.g., TT2/Mscaler/DAVE), as if the Qutest is any indication of their upper range models, then it’s one of those rare brands that really seemed to impress me on almost every level of performance. But who knows? The combo I have right now is, IMO, among pretty elite company at the moment and performs like it.

Lots of great advice here so far, but within the context of the thread, I’d at least demo the TT2 and then the XPS-DR. It shouldn’t take you long to figure out which one you’ll prefer.


During my upgrades earlier this year i had a similar choice to make to either chop my ndac in for an ndx2 or keep the ndac and add a network bridge/transport. As a roon user i felt the streaming software side and costs on the ndx2 would be wasted since it would only be used as a roon endpoint. I also preferred the sound of the ndac when fed by the ndx2 than the ndx2 on its own. With this in mind, I opted for a bryston bdp3 to feed the ndac and am happy with the results.

I was hoping someone would say this - can you give some examples?

Well, I’ve tried a few. Currently I am using a Sonore ultraRendu → usb cable → dac. It’s Roon ready too, so would fit in for you, I don’t use Roon. Works and sounds fine to me.
There are many others, even the lower cost IFi Zen Stream is getting positive reviews. I’ve tried the Auralic Aries G1, it’s well made but over priced and not any better than the ultraRendu. Same story with the Aurender N100. These are my opinions only from my listening experience.
Your dealer is on the right track with his advice, ask him about options.

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If you like the Naim streamer UI you could free up a bit of cash by changing it for an ND5XS2 if you can manage without the screen and remote. For an alternative, maybe an Innuos server as this gives you Tidal, Qobuz, Roon Core etc.
I use my NDX2 as digital transport into Chord Dave, which I find excellent. As I only use digital sources this means I don’t need an analogue preamp (both Dave and TT2 can be used as preamps) but that’s not going to work for you with a vinyl source. What amp are you using?

Auditioned the NDX2 twice at length with and without XPS DR. Also heard it as part of a Naim evening in Manchester hosted by a Audio T. Whole family found it the least engaging Naim source we’d heard within our price range. Comes to life a little with the XPS DR but the fundamental signature remains the same. If you like your NDX2 it is likely you will like it more with the power supply. I wanted to love it but simply didn’t and the view of the family was also important.

I now have an Innuos Zenith 3 and the TT2. I have used 38% of the 2TB drive in the former but almost all of my new listening is via Qobuz. The TT2 is fugly and has a UI designed by someone with contempt for user friendliness and accessibility. The two combined are far better than my previous CDX2/XPS2. You could lose both the NDX2 and the Nucleus.

However, your ears. Look forward to hearing the report back.

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282/250DR and 2x HCDr (soon to be changing to a S/CapDR when I can find a decent priced 2nd hand one)

Will be moving to 252/300DR within next twelve months though

I would say that a 252/300, or even a 282/250, definitely deserves a better source than a bare NDX2. Whether you upgrade the DAC or the PSU is a choice you’ll have to make for yourself, both are valid paths. Good luck.

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Agreed, fully aware it’s the weak link in the chain!

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