My recent NDX2 purchase has proved to be a gateway drug, so my next step is either to add a XPS or complement with a Chord TT2.
a)which option privides most improvement?
b)will the XPS DR only affect the analog output or will it be audible in the digital realm aswell?
Point being that if i decide to go with the XPS and then add a DAC later on would the investment in PSU be pointless, and vice versa.
Certainly adding the xpsdr is a very nice upgrade, i would imagine the improvement would be audible to both analogue and digital…but the latter i have not personally tried. The addition of a Chord dac takes you in a different direction in terms of sound and style of presentation which is a matter of personal taste. Quite a few on the forum have added a chord dac such as @Simon-in-Suffolk who may be able to give you a few pointers.
Welcome to the forum.
You can read the « Ndx2 upgrade « thread. But in any case I would say that listening first is mandatory. The presentations are different.
Welcome, although adding an XPS2 to the NDX2 for using it in digital signal mode may be audibly detectable, I suspect in terms of actual SQ change it will be neutral to minimal … so possibly not an optimum purchase.
Adding the PSU will benefit the analogue signal out rather more.
I am going through the same decision cycle as the OP, as I have an NDX2 here on an extended demo(without additional power supply). I already have a TT2, and I have a Qutest on loan too. Three-way comparisons are not easy.
My original idea was to consolidate into the NDX2 (as combined bridge/DAC, I.e. use it’s full capability) and sell off the TT2, but for my ears I prefer one of the Chord DACs in the chain.
It is likely that the NDX2 needs an external PSU to improve it’s analogue output to be comparable - and a lot of people on the forum are happy with the XPS-DR or CD555DR added to their NDX2. This takes the investment level up - without dealer demo during lockdown the evaluation becomes a logistical challenge, although my dealer has been very tolerant.
So the choice for me is now between the DACs to align with the NDX2, as I do like the combination of Chord and Naim in the digital domain for the current generation of devices.
As a current NDX2, Chord DACs and previous NDX, PS500/DR, and XPS2 owner as well as a user of an NDS over an extended period, I can say Naim approach of using OEM Texas Instruments DACs, Analog Devices DSP with regular established digital filtering techniques and Naim discrete analogue current to voltage and output filter stage, couldn’t be more different to the Chord Electronics WTA filter on Xilinx DSP, 20 element noise shaper Pulse Array Converter (on the Dave) and Chord current to voltage stages… and even clock locking, reconstruction filter method type and PSU and DR noise regulation methods are very different between the two manufacturers.
The results are very different converters with rather different presentations … so I think it’s hard to say that you get them to be comparable… yes they undertake analogue signal reconstruction, and on an ultimately compromised process have different views on where to focus… which is fairly consistent through the respective product hierarchies.
So in short you should choose the approach that gels most with you and your listening style and perhaps follow that path…
Thanks for all your suggestions, I will look into comparing XPS to an external DAC and going with what sounds closest to my preference.
Qutest chosen, although I may get a Hugo2, with the same DAC as the Qutest, for its remote and headphone amplifier
I will also try to get a home demo of an XPS-DR with the NDX2 at some point.
Do you hear an improvement over the analog out?, I tried the TT2 and found minimal improvement, actually I think the TT2 was not better but just a bit more analytical where the analog was warmer.
My experience is that the Chord Qutest provides a substantial improvement when partnered with the NDX2; better midrange clarity, a more tuneful faster and deeper bass and also a widened airier sound stage. I found that using a PowerLine on the NDX2 resulted in a noticeable improvement on the low end. A short demo of the XPS-DR at my dealer’s premises last year left me underwhelmed. In summary, the modest price of the Qutest represents a very substantial ‘sound per pound’ benefit and the XPS-DR did not impress me.
Given that the NDX2 has the same streaming board as the ND5XS2, I use the latter as a digital transport (into a Naim DAC/555DR).
I preferred the bare nDAC also to ND5XS2, Qutest in my home trial.
I’m interested to hear your results. Actually I wish I had your 555DR
I sort of agree with Simon @Simon-in-Suffolk .
I have a P S Audio Direct Stream Dac which is very versatile and capable in its own way.
I use the spdif output of NDX2 to that Dac. And the result is different presentation - little more relaxed, more emphasis on mid range detailing, less fatiguing. But I cannot say that it is essentily better than using the dac of NDX2.
So I enjoy either of these 2 based on my mood. More vocal oriented songs, jazz I prefer through NDX2 → P S Audio Dac path. PoP and Rock I mostly use NDX2.
I also have heard that XPS Dr does not add much value given its price point, but 555 PS does. But 555 PS is $12k. Spending another $3k or so I can get MSB dac with Power base which I can use with NDX2 as streame. So I do not find adding either of these 2 PSUs making any sense.
Any sense apart if you value and prefer the Naim presentation.
Which even with a third-party DAC is there, in part at least, if using Naim amplification e.g NDX2->Qutest/TT2/PSAudio->SN/XS/Classic->
As per @smazumder 's comment below I consider that my own preferences vary according to the type of music , the rest of the system, the listening environment and one’s ears / perception. All comments people have made before when matching system components and the listening environment.
A comparison review of TT2 to the PSAudio DAC I read recently said the PSAudio had a smoother, less analytical, sound than the TT2. I found the TT2, which I had for 18 months in another setup, where it added a lot to that system, with NDX2/282 very good with most music = lots of detail, not over-analytical, and excellent in headphone-only mode TT2 from the NDX2 - but with a couple of my ‘test’ albums was not a relaxed listen like with the Qutest - with the cost differential as well that made my hard decision easier - it was not clear cut, for sure.
I recall @Simon-in-Suffolk going through a decision cycle or two with Mscaler/TT2 into his then Naim amplification (252?/ 250.2) & with NDX2, but being most postive about the original Hugo -;).
Spending a bit more time with the NDX2 I am finding it’s own analogue out to be suitable for low-volume background listening into 282, more than the Qutest, but I prefer the Qutest in the chain for more serious listening.
I cannot comment regarding the XPS-DR which is recommended by many (including a well-respected dealer I spoke to yesterday) - but the cost of a Qutest vs. the XPS-DR (Which mainly improves the analogue stage, I read on here) is a simple cost/benefit equation for those of us with modest means…given with model life-cycles we can expect another 4 years-plus prior to any ‘NDX3’ that might bring an opportunity to consolidate boxes.
Sorry - don’t want to divert topic too much, but would putting a good DAC on a ND5XS2 have similar SQ to the same DAC on a NDX2?
Maybe not ,but why wasting such an expensive very good sounding design ?
Do you think you could do better than Naim who made it and decided for the PSU path upgrade?
Yes Jim, I don’t quite get the bit about adding an external DAC to an NDX2, when the ND5 XS2 is available with the same digital components. Unless of course there are other electronic improvements in the NDX2 that the ND5XS2 doesn’t have. That, I don’t know.
I personally though, would stick with Naim gear. One of the reasons being, ‘one point control’ of the system without having something like Roon.
Nd5xs2 vs Ndx2 inside view.
The left side of the Ndx2 seems much bigger. But I don’t know more, so quite nothing. Some may be able to explain.