No bullshit upgrade?

Hi there,

Where is the best point do do a big step up in my quite nicely sounding setup - looking on the second hand market and not spending insanely amounts of money?

Considering supernait 1 or 2, rega planar 3 upwards, naim nd5 xs or naim dac, flatcap or hicap, naim cd 5 x or xs.

Any ideas based on experience are welcome. Vinyl is sounding best at the moment. Reading many different opinions about flatcap. Not sure if CD has a future and is still worth considering.

At the moment:

Naim xs2
Ecosse reference cable
Harbeth P3esr xd
Tontraeger audio stands
Creek mk43 cd
Thorens td 160 with ortofon bronze
Musical fidelity v90 lps (tested against naim stageline n)
Bluesound node
Chord clearway rca


I’d listen to a few DACs.

From a quick look your CD player has a coax out, so both it, and your Node could run through it.

From what I read the CD43 is a good player, but I think adding a DAC is worth considering. Would potentially improve two of your sources.

…just to add a bit of rationale, I run a NAIT XS too and have had a lot of fun upgrading sources recently. My amp runs my speakers just fine, and has been pretty good when auditioning source improvements. I’m not saying an amplifier upgrade wouldn’t be worth it, but in my opinion the XS can justify better sources, I’m not sure the digital side of your current system would justify better amplification.

Hope you have fun listening to whatever you decide :slight_smile:


Great viewpoint and advice.

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Thanks, I should quit today whilst I’m ahead, can only go down hill from here and I start work in a few minutes :wink:

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You should be a little cautious when buying older Naim equipment. Check the service history, or be prepared to have equipment serviced when it is over 10 years old. Naim are currently very good at servicing old equipment but there is a significant cost.

I would also be careful when buying an older Naim streamer such as the ND5XS. It has quite limited support for interner sources compared to other streamers, and often requires a wired connection as WiFi performance is not great. The Naim DAC is a much better performer, maybe keep your Node and use it with the DAC.

Personally I would not bother with CD when you have a streamer. Rip them or just use a streaming subscription would be my advice. Fewer boxes, and more money to put into a better streamer/DAC or turntable.

Good luck!

…although Naim has suggested new software/updates for Gen 1 streamers this year…

They will not have new streaming services support added. Naim have always tried to keep older servers and streamers working as intended by releasing updates, but if you want support for other services you’ll need to use a proxy server or other workarounds.

Did they? Can you share?

Reply on the Naim New Classic thread

Just what I wondered about when my CD player was dying about 9 years ago. I’d heard of this new thing called streaming, looked into it, and decided it is the future (and potential for better sound quality than CD). So that is what I did. To save repeating it, here’s a link to my description:

Things have of course moved on, and Naim has more recent (improved) streamers, while I moved on from my ND5XS to better sound quality from Hugo DACs (first Hugo now Dave), fed by a Mac Mini running software called Audirvana operating as music store and renderer (aka transport) - latter low cost and surprisingly good, though a bit “hands on” to set up and there are easier to set up and use alternatives out there.

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Hi all,

Thanks for all the informative feedback! So you all seem to consider a good dac as an upgrade in this setup.

I did already try the rme adi 2, with the bluesound pretty much better than the actual nd 5 xs 2 to my ears, but all the configuring options were leading to endless tweaking which made me send it back.

The „old“ naim dac or which of the (used?) chord dacs should i consider when i dont want to spend much more than 1000 bucks?

The common choice for a DAC to go with the Node is either the Chord Qutest or the Naim Ndac.
Both are great units but do provide a different sound. I believe the Naim has the well known Naim signature and the Chord is a little more clinical.
Both are pretty much plug and play, the Qutest having a couple of filters to tailor the sound.
The RME unit is primarily a studio DAC, hence all the filters and other options.
There are countless other options at your price bracket but just be careful, you will get to a point price wise where you may be better considering a better streamer altogether.
I think the Node is a very capable streamer and one of the best at its price. I used one for several years before I bought @Toon s ND5XS2.


I have a Hugo TT2 which developed a fault that was fixed under warranty and whilst it was in the UK getting repaired I reinstated my original Hugo TT. I have a m-scaler but couldn’t use double BNC connection with the original Hugo TT so just ran it direct. I was quite surprised how well it held up (this was the DAC that caused me to sell my Naim CD555 CD player as it was getting no use with the TT on streaming duties).

I was surprised at the relatively cheap cost of them s/h currently. The only issue might be the battery which is replaceable - mine was still working after 5 years and 2 years powered off.

Using a good optical cable out of the node will give you an an exceptional digital source that you’d spend a small fortune to better. (The Hugo TT replaced a Naim n-DAC in my system)


I think the nd5xs2 is good, but i definitely liked the sound, resolution and stage of the rme adi 2 with the bluesound as transport much more. As far as i can see from all the ideas around, there might be no better solution around 1000€ (hugo 2 is over 2k, hugo tt even over 4k!)

Maybe just use the rme default settings and forget about all the features.

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Mk1 Hugos (the non TT version) go for about £4-500. And as @Neilb1906 points out, the Chord Qutest is easily under £1000 used. Chord Hugo TT mk1 about £1500 used, I think. Couldn’t quite work out from your post if you’d discounted Chord options as too expensive or not?

+1 for this approach. The RME is a very fine piece of gear. Put it in DAC mode, set the output level to match the sensitivity you need for your pre-input, turn off all the front panel lights, and connect your digital streamer however you like. The advantage of the pro studio heritage is not so much (not only) all the configuration parameters, but the painstaking detail to input noise rejection. Their stated philosophy is that if you can hear a difference in, say, USB cables or a Pi vs a Mac or optical vs coax SPDIF, then the DAC engineers failed at their job. That ethos rings true in my ears. Enjoy the RME, it’s a good one.

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A good Dac ( my favourite is the Qutest), and a hicap on the xs2 would be my first stage upgrade. After that then if vinyl is your thing look at the turntable upgrade options. Keep the cd as long as it is working fine.
Then the future upgrades would be much bigger steps ( and costly) for me. Nac 82 and nap 250, then upgrade streamer.

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Yeah true when considering used stuff as i said. There are folks who prefer the rme a lot over the chord dacs though. Would be really interesting to directly compare @ home

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Hicap is on my list, too.

For the most impactful SQ upgrade I would replace the Bluesound node, even a humble iFi Zen Stream will be a significant improvement.

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