Optimising Naim nDAC

Hello Forum. ,

Haven’t been hanging around for quite a time.
Anyway sold my nd5xs and keeping the plain jewel at its best (usb Flash drive) , no separate PSU at the moment, sorry.
No more interested in fluffing around with nas, ethernet and all.
Jut curious whether my iPad mini would do the trick and if so a new streaming service subscription would be advisable sound wise
thanks a lot

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You can’t stream direct to an nDAC. You would need something to bridge the USB flash drive and any other streaming services. That would be a streaming transport. You could control that from your iPad but the iPad itself couldn’t be used as the transport.

Something like an Ifi Zen Stream costs peanuts and could connect direct to the nDAC and you would control the Zen Stream from the iPad. Other products also exist.


An iPad should work if you connect it to the USB input. This was originally intended for use with iTunes, but can usually be coaxed into working with other streaming apps. All web streaming services offer free trials, give then a go and you may find that this meets your needs. If not, there are many streaming transports available which would work well with an SPDIF connector at any price you can think of, from under £100 up to tens of thousands.


Thanks Chris
using iPad for web streaming connected to USB input.
As you and Feeling Zen have pointed out , would a. transport still be adviceable to one who has recently ditched a naim streamer so as to get sound wise the same or better sound quality than through USB using flesh drive ?

The NDAC certainly benefits from a quality SPDIF transport, and many used it as an upgrade to the DAC in their Naim streamer.
There’s no harm in starting with your iPad. If you then decide to try a streamer you can easily transfer any streaming subscription to it and see if it brings an improvement. Sound quality with a USB memory stick is good, so if you are happy with that for locally stored music a streamer may not be an improvement.

got it.
no improvement
gotta use subscription to discover new mucic.and USB for ultimate quality.
A new psu and a new day is done!
No more naim other ancillaries here

Yep, it does, and also iPhone & iPod will work into the USB port. However USB from a PC will not.

And another little trick is that you can check on the firmware version in the nDAC from your iThing. Go to Settings/General/About and scroll down……you’ll know it when you see it :grinning:v

For a streamer, you can use anything from a Raspberry Pi with an SPDI/F daughter board to something esoteric (with SPDI/F output) from the usual manufacturers. I went the RPi route, and noticed the DAC does seem to benefit from being fed from a “better” source.

And finally, add one of the usual Naim PSUs (XPS, for example) for even more sonic goodness.


I realize the OP doesn’t want to add another Naim box but the ND5XS2 fed into the nDAC is downright an amazing combo. Add a PSU and you have a very very nice digital front-end.


We used an iPad into nDAC for a very short spell with Tidal over USB.

nDAC fed by an NDX2 via DC1 betters it. Value for money upgrade? Well, perhaps :smiley:

As for ND5XS2, great suggestion. Probably SQ uplift to NDX2 is a minute difference when used as transport, but the link to pre is very handy with system automation and SWMBO loves the remote.

Get saving for a PSU it transforms the nDAC.


that way the onboard iPad dac is bypassed ,right?

Yes, it’s a digital connection from iOS device to DAC, which works with any of the 1st gen Naim streamers, the NDAC and the V1.

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It’s an upgrade to the dac in theirs streamer ,right, but that’s all.

[quote=“ChrisSU, post:5, topic:27845”]
There’s no harm in starting with your iPad. If you then decide to try a streamer you can easily transfer any streaming subscription to it and see if it brings an improvement.

it brings or not?

Yes I would imagine definitely.
Using my iPad connected as such mentioned. It’s not a patch compared to my unitiserve via BNC connected to my Ndac.
Like for like is very similar to swapping in and out a - budget - and a high end phono stage - for the same turntable.

that’s not a a fair comparison ,.talking about streaming services here.
Or you just saying your US/bnc is better than stored files in an usb flash drive?

I have never tried usb stick so, sorry I can’t comment here.
Only usb from iPad to Ndac. Vs unitiserve BNC.

thank you for your contribution.
A pity you didn’t try a flesh drive

Yes nDAC just gets the input stream. Quick way to use an iOS device as a source.

Easily beaten by a good SPDIF source into nDAC.


iPad plugged into nDac is quite a nice set up with Roon (expect also same with Tidal, Qobuz etc) as it’s a nice interface. You will want one of those apple dongles that basically makes the single iPad connector into two so one can attach to nDac and other can receive power to keep it charged. Alternatively just charge iPad when not using to on nDac.

Also with Roon at least I have been able to plug an old iPhone into the nDac and control what is played from an iPad wirelessly which was a good user experience.

I now use an iFi Stream with the nDac ($399 here in USA) and find the ease of use with Roon well worth it. Early on the iFi stream was plaques with issues but it appears to work just fine now (only issue now being if there is a power outage it needs to be turned back on again).

I have a Bluesound node into a second nDac but it does not provide as good a sound quality as the iFi Stream as well as costing more. I still am very happy to have it as the Bluesound has a good operating system as a falllback for Roon if we have internet outages.

You know what VTA? I think it’s not slouch too and better than say at least cd5/5i.
Maybe, well most probably, not at cdx2 level I remember.
But neither nd5xs , nDac ,chord streaming cablesdc1 , ifi power on router / nas was.
And I wish I would not go that route again now as network is a very polluted environment.

That’s why I 'm pretty happy with what I get for almost free

Agree the bare nDac is super and just fine with an iPhone plugged into USB. As title of thread was ‘Optimising Naim nDac’ you are welcome to receive input on this from others who have such experience :slight_smile: