I don’t have much experience with streaming but I have been told at
previous RMAF (Rocky Mountain Audio Fest) that streaming Redbook
WAV files cannot match the audio presentation of dedicated highend
RedBook CD playback. (Redbook only not HighRes format)
I have witnessed in the past where streaming to a (non-Naim) DAC did not
sound as good as direct input from a transport into the same DAC.
Has anyone tested RedBook streaming with Naim-only kit against RedBook CD
playback with Naim-only kit? What are the differences in audio presentation?
Hoping to get replies back from folks who understand how music can sound
organic (Linn or Naim) vs mechanical (most US gear).
I sort of guessed that was the question, I’ll let the CD555 owners with ND555’s answer that one.
It begs another question - define better.
When I changed from CDX2 to NDX, most CD’s (now ripped) sounded different & to my ears (subjectively) better/improved, but the change with some rips did loose some element e.g. further back in the sound stage. For sure everything was smoother & sounded more refined, but did that suit hard rock ? not really.
I would also add the replay equipment adds a variable so there can never be a level playing field, a Linn sounds different to a Naim, Naim unit’s sound different from one another. And what software & on what device was the CD ripped? Its impossible to have a definitive answer
I mentioned Linn/Naim only in the context that these 2 manufactures concentrate on a more
Organic sound whereas US gear tends to be analytical and mechanical sounding.
When I heard streaming of ripped Rebook CD Files (WAVs) vs dedicated Redbook CD playbook,
the streamed files sounded more mechanical to me and the Redbook CD playbook sounded
more Organic. But this was 6 years ago and it wasn’t with Naim Gear.
I am using a Naim XS integrated with Flatcap 2X and I am considering the CD-5SI vs the
ripped Rebook CD Files direction which would use a Naim NDS or Naim DAC. I still
consider these to be in the high end world considering what most people use. And I
can’t afford the CD555 so I think the CD-5SI, NDS, and DAC are my choices.
A lot of people use Exact Audio Copy to rip WAV files from CDs. This free program uses an online database of checksums for almost every audio track in existence so its very safe that that WAV file is a 100% match to the CD. The difference comes with things like Jitter and other timing related errors that can happen when you stream bits over WiFi.
I believe what Mike-B said he noticed is similar in some ways to what I hear. Streamed music to my ears can seem more detailed and “clearer” at the expense of maybe sounding more analytical and less Organic. This comes back to that Organic quality I hear in Naim gear as a whole vs US gear. Streaming seems to lose some of this organic quality to my ears when I have heard A/B demos of a DAC receiving a WiFi streamed WAV file vs the same song from a CD transport.
I can see how a CD player, being mechanical, could be worse. It could add motor noise to the mains. It could introduce bit errors. It most certainly, and measurably, could have worse jitter than a proper streaming transport.
I really don’t know the price points of Naim Gear because there are no dealers near me.
The closest dealer is 6 hours away by car. So I bought my Naim XS from audiogon used.
I see the ND5, NDS, CDX2, and CD5X all the time used for prices I can afford.
I just can’t afford the 555 class.
I’m getting way ahead of myself here. I need to concentrate on gathering people’s experience
of how Naim CD Playback sounds different then the same track played as a streamed WAV file.
Mike-B had some good feedback from personal experience and I kind of see a lose correlation
with maybe what I perceive. Thanks to everyone for sharing their ideas.
No offence but with audio it isn’t about what you can measure.
Many engineers claim that it is impossible for expensive power cords to make
an amplifier sound better but they do. I hear it easily. Many engineers also claim
that CDs sound better than LPs because they measure better. Also not true.
Many things related to audio cannot be measured.
There are many ideas out there about why streamed music sounds different than
transport delivered music. For me, it’s like power cords. I just accept that they
somehow sound different and I don’t try to look for why. The more important
question to my thinking is to ask what it sounds like from CD vs WiFi streamed
vs from USB Stick.
Someone with a CD5X who tried the ND5 XS could really shed light on this.
How does the CD5X sound different from a WiFi streamed WAV file to the ND5 XS?
Does the WiFi streamed WAV sound different on the ND5 XS than the same WAV on USB stick?
That’s something we spent a lot of time & forum posts with on the old forum a few years ago.
Yes, in theory: a USB stick should give the better SQ, it doesn’t have any ethernet, router (switch) NAS noise, UPnP software & the SMPS’s. I used one to compare with my streaming network in the early days to check & to change & (successfully) optimise. I also use one as a reference when comparing cables.
So are you saying the WAV file delivered by USB always sounded better than by WiFi?
In general terms, what aspects were better?
Most importantly, which method sounded more Natural/Organic and less mechanical?
To me, analytical sounding gear does show more detail and sounds clearer but at the
expense of not sounding natural anymore. The sound becomes sterile and artificial sounding.
Almost like when you max out the sharpness setting on your TV. The picture will show more
detail but it loses the “depth aspect” which makes the picture look 3 dimensional. You are
left with a video picture that looks artificial and 2 dimensional. Many analytically sounding
CD players end up putting the music further back and to my ears that sounds steril and less
natural. And less involving (fun).
No I’m not saying ‘always’. First lets get into which method sounded more Natural/Organic and less mechanical. TBH, I did not detect any such differences; during the time when I was experimenting I found sound stage & imagery was the most obvious changes. Flat & indistinct when bad, 3D & precise when good. Perfecting the wired network fixed most of that.
Lets get the wifi thing out of the way, I don’t normally use wifi, I’ve had issues with it streaming 192/24 files, plus it was not great with the router I had at the time with anything; it was not the sound quality as such when playing, that was pretty good, it was the odd drop outs & a few moments of silence that spoiled it & I quickly realised the problem & quickly went to ethernet & I do not intend to change that anytime soon.
My post was really comparing USB vs NAS over a wire streaming. In theory the USB should start as favourite because it has no network & all its noisy bits to spoil the sound. But with my system as I have it now I can’t detect any sound differences between them. That said the user experience streaming a wired UPnP NAS -vs- the clunky limited USB is poles apart, & even if the USB SQ was marginally better (which it isn’t) it would not be worth it.
I saw one used on audiogon for $4999 but the picture
does not show a power supply and I didn’t open the
listing until you mentioned it needs one. I assume my
Flatcap 2X is too old/small to power one.
Looks like the NDS would be out for me. $5,000 seemed
reasonable but $10,000 for the NDS and power supply used
is getting a little crazy. Your “Click” link does not work for
me and I have no idea how UK prices convert to US anyhow
since there are US import fees factored into US pricing I think.
True, I remember the finnish professor (Matti Otala) who started measuring transient intermodulation distortion in the 70’s. He used to say there were about 140 different static measurements possible on a simple straight class AB amp. The trouble came in interpreting the results. Sometimes using our ears is more simple.