NDX2 questions

Thinking of pulling the trigger on the ndx2 to feed my SN2 (will be replacing my Cambridge Audio 851N streamer)

Couple of questions though: can the ndx2 perform the first unfold of MQA?

And if so, can I do this straight from streaming from my iPhone (now that the iPhone supports MQA) or do I have to plug my laptop into the USB port.

Also I subscribe to Neil Young’s archives and it streams high res albums… can’t tell if it uses mqa or something else but from I understand Airplay will just knock it down to cd quality… so can I use the ndx2’s USB port to connect my (oldish) Mac book pro?

Lastly I’m not wedded to the idea that I need a screen (but nice to have) so naturally I’m wondering if the nd5 xs2 could get me where I want to be with SQ… would be curious to know opinions of folks that have compared both.


The NDX2 like all Naim streamers cannot unfold MQA. The three new streamers are all excellent having listened to all three. But you get what you pay for. The NDX2 can be upgraded in the future with a power supply, and does add depth and scale. In short best to listen yourself, and value the increased SQ versus price increase.

I thought I saw that with Roon it was possible to get a first unfold of mqa with the latest naim streamers.

I’m borrowing a naim Star right now and when I play a tidal masters album from my iPhone and streaming through airplay… the tidal app indicates “master”. When I stream to my Sonos speakers it says “Hi-Fi”.

Would like to compare the different naim streamers but alas in Minneapolis that is not an option.

That maybe the case if you have a Roon subscription, but not without. Perhaps @Simon-in-Suffolk can confirm who uses Roon and the NDX2. I think with Roon it can do the whole unfold.

If your MacBook Pro has the combined 3.5mm headphone/optical output, you can run an optical cable to the NDX2 and then run the Tidal App on the Mac and that will do the first MQA unfold to the NDX2. I’ve do this in my office to a Nova and it sounds as good as the same CD ripped to my Core.

I just got a SN2 and NDX2 and are totally stoked with it, a wonderful combination.

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Gaza, Roon Core does the first layer MQA unfold.

Thx Simon

Cheers Simon.

Curious about the hi res streaming directly from Mac book… would the ndx2 usb work for that?

In line with other comments, MQA is not natively supported on any of the new Naim streamers. There are, naturally, products available elsewhere that do support it fully in hardware/software.

I’ve owned both the ND5 XS and ND5 XS 2, which latterly I’ve had a few months now. This is acting as the main source on a SN2 + HiCap DR.

Like many others I had a decent opportunity to try all of them and in various systems. I think the best listening test I had was the ND5 XS 2 sitting between a Melco source and a 500 Series Pre/Power system driving Focal Utopias. This was a dealer reference demo system and had been setup to drive a ND555 with 2x PS555 for a demo evening, we tried it partly put of curiosity as it wasn’t an obvious pairing and to get a measure of how the entry level streamer lined up against it’s top end brother in a system matched more closely to the ND555. We both agreed that the differences were apparent and noticable however the ND5 XS 2 actually didna very good and performed well even in a system well above it’s assumed ability.
I liked the NDX2 a lot and knew it would sit well in my system however in my case it was basic economic factors and a need to distribute funds beyond just a new streamer.

If you want to use your Mac as a source you might want to consider a USB to Coaxial S/PDIF bridge or if your Mac supports it you could go optical S/PDIF from the 3.5mm headphone socket. I’d certainly experiment with the interface part as those devices aren’t usually that expensive and you may find in your system an improvement when comparing coaxial to plastic optics for example.

Regards your question on connecting the Mac directly to the streamer that won’t work as the Mac USB ports are Host ports as they are on the streamer. Simpler still would be to just connect a USB hard drive directly to the streamer. I do this and have a 256GB Sandisk stick on the rear USB port of the streamer and I can access and play its contents from the Naim app on iOS devices. Someone may chirp in and point out lack of metadata, cover art and whatever else tinsel on the tree you might need but it costs very little to setup and importantly gets you to the point of listening to music quickly and with hardly any cost. It’s not a comparison to a Roon or Core type setup but then it doesn’t cost as much as a streamer either and as long as the source files are decent sounds great on my system.

I don’t think so. The USB inputs on the streamers are for USB file storage devices, not for USB digital sample streaming inputs.

Just to pick up on a couple of points, it’s correct that USB drives on Naim streamers (in fact, on all Naim devices except the V1) can only be used with USB drives, and iPhones. On the new streamers, though, this does very much bear comparison with the Naim Core (but not Roon) in that they run the same Naim server as the Core, and so make the contents of the USB drive available on your network via UPnP - so metadata and artwork are there.

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I have a NDX2 demo on the way for me to audition while my ND5-XS (1st gen) is away for service. I am also curious if anyone had a chance to compare SQ between a NDX2 and a ND5-XS2 (2nd gen). I will be able to compare the NDX2 to my ND5-XS when it comes back, but I will not be able to audition a XS2 directly against a NDX2.

I tried both the ND5 XS 2 (also owned a Gen 1 previously) and the NDX2. Naturally the NDX2 is upgradable and has a more composed and spacious sound, however the digital circuit is common between all 3 products so the differences lie elsewhere in noise isolation and power separation.
I tried the ND5 XS 2 in a number of systems to see how it handled itself and across non Naim systems, XS level systems and 500 Pre/Power systems my conclusion was it was quite close to a bare NDX2 in many respects. They are all at their best when fed from a low noise source with well shielded cabling, the examples I listened to included a top spec Melco, Uniti Core and regular USB drive with my own material on.

Honest answer here in my case, if I’d had the extra funds I’d have bought the NDX2 knowing it has extra mileage and gives an itch to scratch with a PSU upgrade. However having lived with the ND5 XS 2 now for a couple of months I’ve found it exceeded my expectations and handles whatever is sent to it flawlessly.

Visitors not familiar with the kit or in most cases in to audio beyond a DAB radio or a Sonos in the kitchen, all commented on how natural, lifelike and musical it sounded. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with either of them, certainly between the original ND5 and the new one the difference is quite remarkable.


I appreciate your detailed assessment. It’s a tough call for me. There is a $4K US difference between the two. I’ll just have to see what my wife and I think when we get the NDX2 demo integrated into the system.

Appreciate all the thoughtful responses.

Simon… I think, like you, I end might end up putting Roon in an iMac… but struggling to understand how I might be able to stream from a websites that stream high res files into the naim (as I understand airplay limits up to cd quality). Curious if you might have any recommendations? Cheers

If you use Roon, you will not be using AirPlay, so you have nothing to worry about there.
Roon does allow you to use AirPlay or Chromecast if you have devices that support them, but if the device supports Roon, as the current Naim streamers do, there is no need.

Hi, as Chris says if using Naim products that support Roon, then the connectivity between the Roon server and the Naim product is via a proprietary audio transfer protocol called RAAT. This supports the transfer of media from your NAS as well external streaming services, currently Tidal and Qobuz via the Roon server (Core ) into your Naim streamer.

I use the Qobuz desktop app for Mac for browsing and controlling. This supports Chromecast and UPnP so you can use either and the streamer will play all resolutions of files depending on your subscription level and quality settings.
I also tried to use Audirvana as this also supports UPnP and integrates with Qobuz, Tidal and so forth. It also meant I could access the library on the internal drive of my Mac and stream using UPnP to the ND5. I did have it working for a time but now the Naim streamer doesn’t appear as an output, so you may get mixed results. I think others have experienced similar issues. It’s a shame as otherwise Audirvana works well and is a good player with decent features.
I haven’t done a detailed assessment of Roon so others are better placed to comment on its merits. It certainly seems to resolve a number of niggles experienced elsewhere albeit at a price premium.
I chose to allocate my budget on a Qobuz subscription that allowed for Hi Res streaming and offline playback and discounted purchases on their store. I’ve chosen to stick to PCM based content to avoid the MQA minefield and additional cost required to do all the unfolding parts. I’ve not done any side on side comparisons of quality. My main assessment being that Qobuz is better overall (including size of Hi Res library) for the things I use it for (including 16/44.1 playback in the car) and where I need to close gaps I default back to Spotify or Apple Music but find myself using them less often. I still use Soundcloud for mixes as well as radio streaming for live. The BBC player iOS app for example works with Chromecast.

I got my demo NDX2 today and have it connected with my 282/HCDR/250DR system I have two questions. I am using Roon, with the Core running on a Mac Mini in another room, connected via two Gigabit switches (one at the Mac, one at the hifi system) and Cat6 ethernet cable.

  1. I have a brains/brawn Frain setup. I’m not using an external PSU. Put the NDX2 on the brain or brawn side?
  2. For the Roon device setup, what’s good to use for the DSP settings in Roon Core? Right now I have Sample Rate Conversion to DSD128 and no other filters or Headroom Management. Good setting, or not, or is there something else recommended?

So far it sounds fantastic. Not as good as my analog kit, but impressive nevertheless.