NDX2 vs ND5XS2 as a transport

I’m very interested in the opinions of people who have compared these 2 options, particularly into a Hugo DAC.

@Simon-in-Suffolk I know you have got a NDX2 just today and are no doubt enjoying it as I type. Did you demo the ND5XS2 and what differences in sound quality did you notice or was it merely functionality that you based your decision on?

.sjb

Hi… no I had listened to an ND5XS2 previously, good though it was to my ears it was not as performant as the NDX2, but way ahead of the ND5XS … but crucially for me it has no display which is important for automation feedback and useful for album art… in practice the display is turning out to be very useful and impressive.

I am also enjoying the NDX2 in built DSP and DAC, and to my ears that is quite a step ahead from the ND5XS2 significantly a major step up from the NDX and in my system a more attractive balance than the NDS … but then I am using a 552… perhaps on lesser preamps there is less of a difference.
I think I had not let my loan NDX2 warm up long enough before evaluating it’s DAC performance previously,

I am mostly feeding the streamer via Roon, which is transcoding local media, Tidal, and MQA … other than MQA which I am not entirely convinced about, the other media is sounding great, insightful and timing well (foot tapping)

So far very pleased… it’s a cracking streamer… and looks good too.

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When I went from ND555/252 to the NDX2/555psu and 552, the soundstage just collapsed. This was at our mutual dealer, even they were a bit taken aback, it was that dramatic. It would have been the first time they had tried that NDX2 combo. I wonder now if there was something wrong with that 552, as it was warmed up.

Gaza, or perhaps their NDX2?? or other variable… I feel my new NDX2 sounds different, tighter and perhaps cleaner than the loan one I had… now clearly mine is not run in… but I would expect things to improve yet further than deteriorate … I am also running from the native PSU and into my 552DR via Hiline… This has caused my to leave my Hugo out of the picture for the time being, I am enjoying rediscovering my recordings NDX2 style… yes I don’t get that ‘Mandelbrot effect’ that I do with the Hugo mk1, which I don’t with the ND555 either,I suspect because of a manifestation of the DAC technology, but I am at the moment very much enjoying what it brings as a source.
This is the great thing with the the NDX2 (and the other Naim streamers)… I have choices on how to use it to suit.

This comparison is on my radar, too. I’m not particularly bothered about the screen or remote, which I don’t bother with on my Atom, so an ND5XS2 at half the price is an attractive option. Careful audition required, I think.

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Never thought about that NDX2, but it sounded pretty good into the 252 at the time. Anyhow I am pleased with my purchase, and good to see its working out for you. It still surprises me how Naim have managed to pull this large improvement off with the new streamers.

Gaza, indeed… they are quite an advancement on the earlier models aren’t they…

John, are you intent on using the ND player solely as a transport into a Hugo?
My thoughts:
(1) Listen to the NDX2; it may induce you to shelve the Hugo. But at the expense of adding a power supply (which can be found gently used for good value).
(2) My guess is that, merely as a transport, the ND5XS2 should be a better value.

Chris, after more extended listening I am of the increasing opinion that the best SQ is without any Roon DSP applied, and am simply using the RAAT server to send through to the Naim. The sound has more immediacy and feels like a subtle veil lifted without the Core DSP.

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I’m just tyre kicking if I’m honest. I don’t really want to go down the power supply merry go round with my source again. I’m intrigued by what Simon refers to as the lengths that Naim have gone to in order to mitigate network interference.

.sjb

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That was my impression too, Simon, although with moderate DSP applied, it didn’t sound awful by any means. I didn’t want to make too many judgements just yet, as I have used Roon only natively with my Atom, or into NDX1 via AirPlay/Airport Express.
FWIW the general opinion on the Roon forum seems to agree that there is some degradation.

I wouldn’t necessarily agree with this assessment but the maybe I’m seeing for reinforcement of my opinion rather than an unbiased view.

.sjb

No doubt you are much more familiar with the Roon forum that I am! That was my impression when I looked a few months ago, but I didn’t do any statistical analysis.

Hi John, the advanced transport design has been achieved in part by using LVDS technology for digital connectivity thereby keeping noise and noise induced clock jitter down … the latter has the tendency of coupling to places you rather it didn’t… ie beneficial for transport as well as DAC duties.

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I really wish NDX2 had an FM / DAB tuner built in.
That’s probably the only reason stopping me from replacing my trusted NDX FM / DAB…

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Or maybe you had unwittingly been demonstrated the benefits of upgrading the source first.

I had a similar experience swapping out olive source components and preamps many years ago (CDX without XPS into NAC 52/Supercap vs CDX with XPS into NAC 102/Supercap).

I’ve been following this thread with interest. Hope I’m not butting in but I’m confused and would appreciate learning what you mean by Roon DSP vs RAAT. I am much interested in ways to get the best sound quality.

Hello, I will try and explain. Roon is a proprietry network audio distribution and media library/meta data product.

The network audio distribution is achieved by using their software called RAAT… this stands for Roon Advanced Audio Transport, and it drives the home network in a certain way to send audio to Roon end points such as the new Naim streamers.

Roon use a single point in your home network to control their capabilities of their product. They call this the ‘Core’ and typically runs on a small or home computer of some sort. It’s equivalent of a media server. This Core can optionally process the audio if required… it can control loudness, it can change EQ like a digital tone control, it can balance speakers, it can decode MQA etc… These functions are achieved my processing and modifying the sample audio. The general term used for processing and modifying digital signal data is Digital Signal Processing… or DSP. Therefore the Roon DSP refers to these audio processing and audio data modification functions that run in this Roon Core… or Roon media server.

The RAAT then controls the distribution of this digital audio from the Core media server to the Roon compatible end points such as a new series Naim streamer on your home network.

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The network card (top right) inside the NDX2 and ND5XS2 look pretty similar to me (pictures below) so I’d guess that they offer similar performance as a transport (although possibly improved power supplies to the card might help performance in the NDX2). I believe that the Audiobarn is demonstrating both side by side in Feb so someone may be attending and able to comment after that.

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Oops - looks more like bottom left in the picture orientation… in any case the network card is connected to the ethernet port!