NDX2 Upgrade

I have a combined AV/music system, the main music element comprising an Arcam AVR 850 AV receiver and an NDX2, driving Spendor A6R speakers. I’m looking to upgrade the source/amplification (retaining the Arcam for AV use) with a budget of £10k and the sole aim to improve sound quality. My initial thoughts are threefold:-

  1. Buy a power supply, either XPSDR or even 555PS for the NDX2.
  2. Buy a SN3 or 250DR to attach to the pre-outs on the Arcam.
  3. Buy an external DAC (nDAC or Chord).

My thoughts are to probably buy an XPSDR PS and a Supernait 3.

It would be great to get any views on this. I have other considerations eg. Would a 555PS be “too good” for a SN3/NDX2 combination? Would the addition of a Chord Qutest be an improvement over the DAC in the NDX2.

Any opinions would be greatly appreciated folks!

I was in a similar position but using an AVR600 rather than an 850. I added an SN3 for front L/R and use AV bypass for movies etc. Source is ND5XS, NDAC, XP5XS. Very happy with result.

£10k (if you insist on buying brand new) would buy you a SN3, Hicap and XPSDR. A nice balanced system. Add a Hiline interconnect too. Maybe a Powerline with any spare change.

Of course you can buy used, ex demo and refurbished gear if that doesn’t bother you and pick up some good buys.

You definitely need a proper 2 channel dedicated music amp to do the Ndx2 justice.

If you ever wish to upgrade from there, a Ndx2, Xpsdr (or even 555ps), 282/hicap dr/250 dr takes you to the next significant level.

Some here use Ndx2/555ps with a SN3, but i would prefer a more balanced approach. You would hear what the 555ps is doing but you wont extracting all of the performance of it with a SN3, good as it is. I have one myself.

Some here also prefer a Chord dac to the dac built into the Ndx2. This is a personal choice depending on if you like the Chord sound/detail retrieval, but i would say the majority use the Ndx2 without an extra dac.

Wish i had £10 k to spend, enjoy!

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Many thanks for that advice. Very much in line with my thoughts.

I have a NDX2/555DR with a Supernait 3 and some little ProAc speakers and it is very good, very engaging and natural. The SN3 is more than capable of showing the benefits of the 555PS. The NDX2 and SN3 are joined by a Tellurium Q Black interconnect, as well as a wire for system automation. Don’t forget the latter as it means you can control volume and sources from the app.


Thanks for the advice - what do you mean by “wire for system automation”? Is this something separate I need to purchase/what exactly does it do?

Agree with all the comments above. The SN3 is easily good enough to show the benefits of the power supply upgrades on your streamer, but it’s also true that the SN3 won’t get the best out of that combination. However you’d need more than £10k to do so. I think the NDX2/PS555/SN3/HiCapDR is great with the budget you have.
The system automation cable is a mono 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable that goes from streamer to SN3 and allows you to control volume via the app. Not expensive and a nice feature.

In my opinion, good though the Supernait is, the 282/250 walks all over it, and with your budget that is what I would be looking at. Use your AV amp via AV bypass just for TV use.
The only problem with this is that the NDX2 really then needs a PSU upgrade in a system at that level. My preference, though, would be to upgrade the NDX2 DAC rather than its PSU. A used NDAC, Chord Hugo or Qutest is a lot cheaper than an XPSDR, but then preferences here are very subjective.


I agree with what Chris suggested, 282/250 is significantly better than a SN3, and for a 100k budget, that would be my starting point as well.

On the source front - id really demo adding a 555PS (7k) vs say a Chord Dac (1k for a Chord Qutest). On the occasions that I have tried the NDX2, I always felt its DAC was the weakest link. Many on this forum use NDX2 purely as a streamer by adding an external DAC.

I currently have NDX2, 282 with HCdr and a 250dr and considering my next upgrade path.
Source first advocates would add a power source to the NDX2; but I read on this forum a lot of favour for putting a SC on the 282.
Having been unsure which to go for first, this thread throws having a separate DAC into the mix.
Even more confused now!

Get the XPS DR.


I have had the same thoughts for a while now.
I am using a NDX2,282/250DR and a HicapDR. I listened to an XPSDR and really couldn’t hear enough of a benefit for the cost. Certainly nothing like the step up in performance I have heard with every other upgrade.

My thoughts now are to maybe look at a Chord DAC that has a headphone amp built in also as this sound a nice touch.
Either TT2 or Dave.


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Based on my experience with adding an XPS DR to the original NDX I would say that this upgrade may be a ‘slow burner’. It’s not a wow moment but reveals its significant qualities over time.

With a bare NDX2 and 282/HiCapDR/250DR I would try to borrow an XPS DR and a Supercap and determine which one gives the best improvement. Put each one into the system and live with it for a few days and unless your wallet is in good shape don’t try both together!

Speculating the Supercap will have the initial biggest difference in but the XPS DR may make the system the nicer listen and be preferred if you give the changes time.


I’m assuming that in that situation the power supply upgrades to the NDX2 are still a benefit?

I’ve just replaced an XPS DR with a 555PS DR and the uplift was considerable. IMO well worth the increase cost on my NDX2.

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Undoubtedly - but given limited resources, the question is which option provides an incrementally larger upgrade to sound quality - a 7k PSU or a 1k DAC?

I’m considering whether a Qutest with my ND5 XS 2 would bring me close to a bare NDX 2 at significantly less cost, and give the option of multiple filters to choose from.

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To my ears the Qutest is much better than the DAC in the NDX2, in fact many NDX2 owners on this forum made this exact upgrade. The streaming section of the ND5XS2 and NDX2 should be very similar. I haven’t compared directly, but that’s what I read from people who have on this forum.

So overall, adding a Qutest to your ND5XS should make it better than a bare NDX2 (and cheaper) - but to be safe better to demo and compare

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Many thanks for all of your helpful comments gents. I am not really considering the 282/250 approach for two reasons; budget and box count. My rack (which my wife won’t change), is a limiting factor here.

I think my choice (prior to listening) is down to:-

SN3 - 555PS


I would then demo a qutest and add that if it gives the desirable improvements.

Obviously, option 1 omits the HICAP. I’m a bit perturbed by the comments on the XPSDR, as everything I’ve read suggests a significant uplift. As always, I will need to listen and take a view.

Thanks once again.

It looks like it’s getting unnecessarily complicated. The SN3 - XPS DR - HICAP is the natural pairing for a balanced system. The 555PS is really over-specified for the NDX2 and I’d question the value for money for that option.