Question about BurrBrown DACs used in NAIM Equipment

Hello, Dear Forum Members,

I am finding it very difficult with some Google searches trying to establish which BurrBrown DACs are used in different NAIM equipment. My interest lies in improving (just toying with the idea) the output of my CD5 XS.

From what I have found, and it could be quite incorrect that the CD5 XS uses the same DAC as used in the nDAC, the BB PCM 1704K. If this is the case, I cannot see any advantage to connecting a nDAc to a CD5 XS, as my dealer suggested when I purchased my CD5 XS a few or more years ago, and this has been a niggle in the back of my mind ever since.

For comparison, I have listed the following equipment that is out of interest.

The ND5XS2 uses a BB PCM 1791A

The NDX2 uses the BB PCM 1792A

The CD5Si use a BB PCM 1793.

I am making an assumption that a higher number is better than a lower number when it comes to DAC technology, and I am very careful with using the word assume. Hopefully, I am incorrect and can be led to enlightenment regarding DAC technology.

Warm regards,

Mitch in Oz.

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Hi Mitch

I don’t know which dac chip your CD player uses, but the dac chip is only a part (but an important one) of the sound quality that a Component produces.

The analogue output stage, and the design of the entire component, and the match of the component with the entire system work together to determine SQ as well as the particular DAC chip.

I would be surprised if connecting a Naim DAC to your CDP did not improve SQ, and then you might even add an external psu to the nDAC too. :grinning:



Hi, yes Burr-Brown is simply a marketing brand name now and has been since 2000 when Texas Instruments acquired Burr-Brown. Therefore Naim use DACs chips made and now developed by Texas Instruments.

A higher number just means usually a later developed chip… it has no bearing on its quality or technology.

The TI chip that Naim has used in its higher end products has been the TI PCM 1704K… it is has been discontinued for many years now but arguably was the pinnacle of TI’s ladder DAC technology… and I understand Naim bought remaining stock at the time. Because in part of the relatively legacy technology of the 1704 there was quite noticeable sample variation so Naim graded them. The better performing samples were used in the higher end Naim products. Products that I am aware of that used the TI PCM 1704K were
Naim DAC

The DSP chips are equally important, and the CD supporting HDCD used Pacific Microsonics, again these folded in 2000 and the IPR was acquired by Microsoft.
The DAC/Streamer products mostly use Analog Devices DSP chips.


As noted above, the DAC chip itself should never be considered in isolation and it’s unwise to make any choices solely on the chip used. The overall result is all to do with its integration; power supply, output stage, etc


Evening Mitch

I think DAC chip only part of the story , lots of bits come into play

I started off with the bare CD5XS - it’s a mighty little machine

I then used the CD5XS as transport into the nDAC and whoopee what a difference - spacious, tighter base etc etc

Then added the XPS2 and further substantial improvements

I now use the nDAC with the Core in another location that’s a great combo, love it

Now run the CD5XS as transport into the NDX2 DAC - a very good improvement over the bare CD5XS player

I can only advise my experience with the nDAC , if you can find one in good condition it’s a bargain but I believe in Aussie and NZ they are quite rare.



As others have mentioned here, the actual chip itself is but a small part of the overall DAC.

Regarding the difference between the CD5XS and the Naim DAC, while they both use the BB PCM1704K, all else beyond that is different. The DAC uses Naim’s own DSP and also a much more sophisticated discrete analogue output stage.

You can read more about the DAC here in the white paper;


On addition to the comments above, Naim disable or bypass some of the functions of the TI DAC chips they use, and implement their own configuration on the DSP board which precedes it in the signal chain. So comparing devices based solely on the model of DAC chip used doesn’t give a true comparison.


Yes, naim indicated they use the PCM1791A in the new NSS333, but use only a very small part of it.

Which is the same DAC chip used in the NSC 222, but they sound different as the overall implementation in the NSS 333 is better.

Which reinforces the point that the chip is largely irrelevant in naim land :smile:

It’s what they put around it which counts.


To an extent, I would agree with you. However from reading Steve’s posts in the NC threads, I think Naim would say that it is the choice of the chip that is key, but being the most modern is less important than choosing the DAC chip that gives the best SQ when combined with the rest of the digital-to-analogue circuitry Naim includes in streamers.

Having recently upgraded from a 222 to a 332/333 it is amazing the uplift in SQ that Naim can achieve with different products with the same key component, so that does support your view that the chip is largely irrelevant. It seems that to my simple mind, the chip choice is and isn’t relevant at the same time which confuses my non-technical mind.

Thank you to everyone’s enlightening reply. I have a couple more questions that have tweaked my interest.

  1. Is the Naim DAC identified on the rear as DAC or nDAC for my searches on eBay or possibly a local dealer?

  2. I am on a new buzz playing Dire Straits HDCD CDs since my discovery of these. This is a bit of a loaded question. Is HDCD better than a Naim DAC? The latter will affect all my CDs, or should I save my pennies and stay with HDCD encoding? Possibly a silly question now I think about it.

  3. Should I still save my pennies, and am I better off ignoring a Naim DAC and purchasing an ND5 XS2?

Warm regards,

Mitch in Oz.

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For question #1, mine just says DAC

If you need a photo let me know

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  1. No dac better

  2. Buy both :+1:

I might be wrong here but you can use the nDAC for both the CD5XS and the ND5XS2 as it has a number of inputs

@Richard.Dane will know the answer here


Mine says DAC.

Collecting HDCD CD:s seems like a fun way of finding music to listen to! Never thought of it in that way. They use the least significant bit to scale dynamic range rather than using it for low level resolution. I would say what possibly makes it sound better it is because the engineers using it where the ones that cared a bit extra and did a better work.

The 96dB you get from just basic 16-bit gives a larger dynamic range than you can use in a normal home unless you want the neighbors calling the police. A tube preamp gives you less, a vinyl record much less. If you mix to a very large dynamic range you risk the microdetails getting hidden below the background noise where you live and that just makes for a less engaging sound.

HDCD may be fun as a collector and there were other ideas floating around in the 90s like Sony Super Bit Mapping, SBM, and Apogee UV22/UV22HR which both were used on releases but do not require a decoder. And SACD (sorry :-)). There are some others in use on releases today.

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Officially it was always just called the DAC. In practice it is nearly always referred to as the NDAC, I guess to distinguish it from the huge number of other DACs on the market.

In performance terms it’s on a different level to the ND5XS2, although like other Naim streamers, that does make a very good transport using its digital output into a separate DAC if you don’t mind having a 2-box source.

Yup, plenty of inputs on the Naim DAC so running it with both the CD5xs and the ND5XS2 together is no problem.

Thanks Richard


Try and track down an nDAC Mitch

You won’t regret it imo

Can’t say I’ve seen one for sale here in Aus though

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There is a way you can play music straight off the DAC with no need for an additional transport, and that’s by using one of the USB inputs. You could even play an HDCD this way; rip it using DBpoweramp and the HDCD plug-in. This will create 24bit files to contain the “20bit” HDCD tracks. Put the racks on a little USB stick, plug into the front or rear USB socket (rear can sound slightly better, but try both anyway) and you can play them straight off the DAC.