NSS 333 review

I hope this isn’t against the rules here but there was some discussion a couple of months ago about my impending review of the 300 series. Those who are curious will find the NSS 333 review is now available on Soundstage Ultra. I won’t post a direct link but it should be easy enough to find!

A bit of Naim history in there too for those who like that kind of thing! I hope some of you at least find it of interest…



Thank you for an interesting and well written review. I didn’t quite catch if you liked it though😅

Are you saying it sounds better than an NDS with a 555 PS DR? You write it is better than every digital source Naim has ever made bar the ND555 (presumably with 555 PS DR)


Awaiting your separate review on NAC 332 (My next upgrade hopefully)

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That’s what Naim said at the Dublin hi-fi show.

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While it is great to have my own findings confirmed by a professional reviewer, I think the review is too gushing. Why not comment on any failings? As a long time Naim fan, why not hint at the question many are asking - ‘how does the 300 series compare to the 500?’. ‘Could the 333 hold its own with the 500 series amps?’.

I long for an in depth review that doesn’t sound like it was written by Naim.


@JonathanG - a great read thank you and I can only say that your review is spot on.

I’ve had my 333 for a few weeks and it’s still running in but the change and uplift from my old 2011 NDX is startling.

…and it plays music that tugs at the emotional heartstrings.


As a 300 Series owner I’m intrigued by “The full rated power can only be delivered after a specific button sequence is entered on the NAC332.” Can you share what this button sequence is?

A nice review, though a comparison against the NDX2 would be helpful, as that is well ahead of your NDX and has the same streaming board. Ditto the ND555.

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Is there a speed limit button on it? :smile:

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Sounds like it’s the 332 volume limit - see here from @GeoffC

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Good to have your feedback and yes I was extremely impressed with the 333. However I think the accusation that you “long for an in depth review that doesn’t sound like it was written by Naim” is a little unfair on me and other reviewers too. I did criticise Naim quite emphatically for the manuals, the twin remote policy, the fact that the NAC332 out of the box comes de-rated (a crucial fact which no other review seems to have mentioned) and also pointed out there seem to be some issues reading legacy playlists running on NAS storage. I think that’s probably a more comprehensive list of criticisms than any other 333 review I have read, so I do try to keep it balanced. Of course if all the published reviews are very positive then it could just be that we are all honest and it’s a brilliant product! It might interest you to know that I nominated it for a Reviewer’s Choice award and I do that extremely rarely, and only for products that are superlative. So far that includes the SME Model 60, the ATC SCM50 and the Leema Tucana AE.

Sonically, I can’t fault it though at all. I haven’t heard NDS/555PS outside brief encounters at shows but my feeling after owning an NDX and recently acquiring an NDX2 is that the new streaming architecture is a large part of the improvement in sound. If you own an NDS/555 combo though you shouldn’t take my or any other’s reviewer’s verdict as gospel and should audition (ideally in your own room/system) before upgrading from the NDS. At best a reviewer can hope to give an impression of the sound and to describe what it’s like to live with for an extended trial and I hope I did that.

At the end of the review period I was so impressed by the 333 I ended up purchasing an NDX2 to get on to the latest platform. That is a large upgrade on the NDX. My experience of all three is that the jump from NDX to NDX2 is bigger than the jump from NDX2 to NSS333, but all are significant. In answer to whether the NSS 333 is a suitable partner for a 500 based system, my judgement is that it most assuredly is.

As for the sequence of button presses required to unleash full power from the NAC332 I’m afraid I do not know them as the change was done by a member of Naim personnel who came to my house. My feeling is that this information really should be in the manuals, but I would imagine local dealers have been given the combination. What worried me (and it’s a point I made in the review) is that people are paying for performance they aren’t getting out of the box and that to me is a concern. I might see if Naim will let me have the button entry sequence so I can publish it in the forthcoming NAC332 review for everyone’s benefit.

I hope that clarifies. The NSS333 though is a superb streaming DAC, simply one of the very best I have ever heard. In terms of build, architecture, design, performance and pricing I think it’s now the sweet spot in the Naim streaming range and if I had the cash it is what I would purchase.

During over twenty years of on and off reviewing for various publications I’m happy to report that I’ve never had a manufacturer lean on me to influence my findings and Naim are totally honourable like that. I suspect all other reviewers would say the same. One of the reasons I love writing for Soundstage is that they give me total creative freedom to write what I want, hence my lengthy historical context in this review which many editors might not have permitted. What you’re reading is what I truly think without any manufacturer or editor meddling with it. Truth is I would buy a 333 without hesitation, funds permitting.



Interestingly I have just been re-reading the NAC332 manual. It appears I was in fact incorrect in my assertion that the volume limiter function isn’t covered in the manuals - but it is buried a bit deep and it doesn’t explicitly state that volume is limited out of the box. Here’s the relevant bit:

4.5 Maximum volume function
*This mode allows the user to set the overall maximum volume level to prevent accidental *
selection of high-volume levels.
*This is adjusted while in maximum volume setup mode, so first press and hold the front *
*panel mute button. The mute button will flash and the volume dial LED will change when *
Then, turn the volume control dial either left or right to edit the Maximum Volume value.
*To set the maximum volume for headphones, insert the headphone jack, the volume *
*dial will change to show the headphone maximum allowed volume, then use the volume *
control to select the desired maximum volume.
*Removing the headphone jack will revert the volume dial to showing the main maximum *
*When satisfied with the setting, exit setup mode by pressing the mute button until it stops *

So it’s only fair for me to say that I missed the significance of this when I set the amps up and just intially blindly assumed that I was getting full rated power out of the box. It was when I complained of the surprisingly limited gain during the review period that the issue came to light. I’m driving 85dB speakers though which are inefficient by modern standards.

Subsequently Naim did confirm that volume is indeed limited out of the box even on retail units.

I hope this clarifies.



Thank you Jonathan. Just one small question, if I may. You mention you tried the NSS300 with and without an NPX300 but did you have a NPX300 on the NAC332?

Hi there, Yes I did, Naim supplied two NPX300 for use with the system so I was truly spoiled!

(The worst bit was handing it all back!)



@JonathanG Hi Johnathan, great review thank you, the history part set the stage nicely for this new evolution of the Naim product line, a very enjoyable read, made more so by listening along with the tracks you described (two new to me artists there that I’ll be listening to more!) … a shame that the Vivaldi recording doesn’t appear to be on Qobuz :confused:

The 350s tend to get a lot of the limelight so it was nice to read a review of another part of the exceptional 300 series boxes :slightly_smiling_face:


Hi Mark, glad you enjoyed it and nice to share some good music! For the Vivaldi see: chasingthedragon. I have the 24/192 and the vinyl and both are exceptional… (Vinyl just has the edge in my view provided you have a high end turntable).


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Ah thank you! Will do :slightly_smiling_face:

Interesting it’s a button sequence on the NAC 332 and not something that can be done from the remote. I guess as it’s a standalone preamp this also can’t be changed from the Naim app.

I note that my NSC 222 has a feature called ‘Maximum Preamp Volume’ which is accessible from the Naim app. I assume it is the same feature - it’s set to 85% on mine.

Given the reason Naim has set it to less than maximum (to prevent too high a volume and possible damage to speakers or ears) I wonder if changing it to 100% is advisable and whether it makes any sonic difference. It’s only a volume setting after all.


Being an adult for a very long time, I have never turned the volume up to full on any device, knowing what might happen. I expect that is the same for the majority of people.

If there is a chance a child may do this then there is requirement to put something in place to avoid this scenario, including education of course.


Hi @JonathanG , many thanks for taking the time to respond and for responding so comprehensively in this post and the one where you detail the volume situation in the manual.

It is obvious that you do indeed rate the 333 very highly. You also had the opportunity to test the full 6 box 300 series which is the system that I have. My speakers are similarly inefficient at 84dB IIRC.

I did note your criticisms of the manuals etc. but would perhaps have liked to read about how some other kit could do things better regardless of price point.

Don’t get me wrong, I share your glowing findings on the 333 (and whole system) - it is truly fantastic and I am over the moon with my system.

My previous system was NDX2/SN3 with my current Kudos Titan 606 speakers and while it was very good, the 300 improves in so many ways. Obviously just personal experience but I find the difference between NDX2 and NSS333 to be greater than you do, just for the record.

The remotes are actually very useful in my situation - to be precise, the NAC332 remote as I can control volume, input selection, skip track etc. An iPad running Roon covers all other functionality. The Naim app allows setup of max volume etc. However, considering how much the equipment costs, the remotes are shiny and cheap looking.

Naim manuals have improved but could be better in my opinion. As you point out, some key information appears to be buried a little deep. Perhaps that is just our opinion - others may find them perfectly adequate.

I bow to your greater experience of Naim products regarding the 333 being the sweet spot. While I assume it is the case simply because I would not want to experience the 500 series as it takes too much careful set up, handling and ancillary equipment. The price is also way above what I could afford.

The conclusion is that I accept that your review was written with total honesty and not biased in any way.

I apologise for suggesting that your review was in any way skewed just because you actually really do like the product.

Thanks again Jonathan and I look forward to your next reviews.