Optimising Naim nDAC

The best I have heard the nDAC so far is with a Mac Mini into a Wavelength WaveLink Async USB to SPDIF converter to coax on the nDAC.

Unfortunately I have not compared a Naim streamer into the nDAC so far - only tried the WaveLink on my Naim Atom HE: Soon from MacMini USB to WaveLink was comparable if not better than the Roon direct stream to the Atom HE. So a good USB converter may make for an affordable streaming option for the nDAC.

Ok, my findings so far , piano doesn’t sound the way I crave for.
So, still looking for the right route to take since online streaming doesn’t appeal to me at all I found out I can save the content offline and that’s a good news to me.
No volumio and anyway no wifi nor ethernet streamer side involved at best etc.
I’ve been checking the usb/spdif offerings but a naim buddy warned me not to do since the m2techI’m interested in makes a mess at USB out due to clock issues so that I’d rather stay at what I’ve set so far i.e iPad straight into nDAC
What do you think?

Late to the party, not having picked up un this thread before.
I use a Mac Mini running Audirvana. Mac Mini is my music store (fitted with 2x 500GB SSDs). Audirvana software (which is inexpensive) is the library manager/ file server and renderer. It can also stream from online sources including Tidal and Qobuz, though I don’t use them. With my late 2012 MM, running headless (no screen or keyboard other than originally to set up), set up fully optimised following Audirvana’s guide, including running in “direct mode” to bypass the Mac’s own soundcard and drivers, and with a dedicated USB bus, the output goes direct to the USB input of my DAC. DAC is Chord Dave, which has excellent RF rejection*. When I first auditioned Dave I had the opportunity for a brief comparison of a Melco N1 against my MM running Audirvana, and there was no immediately obvious difference to the sound. Control of Audirvana is via an app on tablet or smartphone. I stuck with an earlier version of Audirvana (v 3.5x) and stopped updating the MM’s OS some years ago because I was happy with the sound and didn’t want to risk changing. I can’t answer for what the latest version is like.

*Many DACs are susceptible to RF superimposed on the digital signal, which causes modulation effects in the process of converting to analogue, degrading the output - and inevitable from any computer source, not prevented by tweaks such as linear power supplies. The DAC I used before, Chord Hugo, required a USB-SPDIF isolater/converter to block the RF. I have no idea how good the is the nDAC’s RF rejection, now how much it might be affected by RF.

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Sorry to ask what may seem a dumb question… :slightly_frowning_face:

Can the nDAC’s USB inputs just accept a USB drive (a Flash drive or a hard drive) with audio files on - in MP3 or Apple - or similar format…?

Yes, you can use the USB inputs with memory sticks, in much the same way as you can with the 1st gen streamers. Without a screen or app to browse them, you just play using the remote, a bit like controllling play on a CD player, so you can’t browse a large collection.


Thank you. That’s what I was wanting to confirm…!!

You can also connect up an iPhone/iPad via USB and play anything from it.

Tidal iPad through nDAC is surprisingly good. Probably good enough for a low budget streaming rig!

A useful feature lost on NDX2 and other gen 2 devices, where USB can only play from mass storage devices (taken away because AirPlay was added).

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That… is the answer I was hoping for.
An nDAC has been added to my Wish List… :slightly_smiling_face:

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We have fed our nDAC with:

  1. Raspberry Pi with digital hat via coax
  2. iPad via USB
  3. Sky Q via optical
  4. NDX2 via coax

All sounded great, but option 4 is obviously our long term choice! Options 1/2/3 were during delivery wait for rack.

NDX2 beats all the other sources for clarity, detail & timing. Interestingly Sky Q sounds better into NDX2 rather than direct to nDAC. Some have speculated this is either due to cleaning of signal or DSP.

If at any point we go ND555 the nDAC will move into office with SU. We did try that when we got nDAC (with RPI as source) and it was a significant improvement on SU streaming/DAC.


And then you will cough “need” cough an XPS for it, so you might just as well add it to your list while you are at it :laughing:


I already have an XPS… :astonished:

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I nicked the one from my CDX for my nDAC… the CDX doesnt get much use these days.


Mine currently powers my CDX2.

Options… :expressionless:

So we both need second XPSs

race you to the auction site! :rofl:


Leave it there and get a 555 for the nDAC. Awesome.

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Are you paying…? :thinking:

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Ha, no skint after finishing our green eyed monster :laughing:

Unfortunately NDX300 can’t do the nDAC so 555 it has to be….

Does anyone know what part of the DAC is powered by the external power supply and what part by the internal one?

When the PSU upgrade option is used with the Naim
DAC, power supply separation is further increased by the
use of a dedicated supply for the master clock circuits.
It also provides a bigger toroidal transformer and bigger
reservoir capacitors, and the DSP remains powered from
the Naim DAC transformer to give even more separation
from the analogue section.

From the Naim white paper


Great, thanks @gthack :+1:

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