Second hand NDX or new ND5XS2

Ok only one day to make up my mind
Which way do I go …
Running on Supernait 2

Never heard an ndx, but nd5xs2 works rather well with a supernait 2. You would not be disappointed.

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Your preferred upgrade method also comes into play. The NDX can be upgraded by an external PSU or a DAC. The ND5xs2 only by external DAC.

I doubt you’d be disappointed in either. If you can’t listen before buying it will be tough. If you do lots of internet streaming, the ND5xs2 with the newer streaming tech would be a no brainer. But if it is all domestic UPnP then the decision might be harder. If anything like the NDX2/NDS comparisons, then the NDX would be slightly better but that might be true at all.

My NDX is 5 years old and has never let me down feature-wise.

For what it’s worth I thought the ND5XS2 sounded more convincing than my NDX… and there is simply no comparison in streaming performance and capability with the new gen streamers over the old… a definite case of genuine product evolution.
I have not looked back (apart from one little niggle) since I upgraded to the new architecture.


I had a demo of the old NDX and the new ND5XS2 yesterday with a friend at a local hifi dealers, and for £2000 I can have the ND5 or £2700 the NDX. Upon listening to both over the period of 2hrs using a Supernait 2 and a pair of £10,000 Focal Sopra’s, listening to loads of music from TIDAL, I have to say that the ND5 won hands down. We both felt that the soundstage opened up with the ND5 and the mid more defined. I know everyone prefers different sounds, but I felt that the ND5 was the better option, even thought its a entry level unit. So its done, and paid for …Maybe I can get a NDX2 or 555 later on in the future. Who knows !!


All I do now is basically stream music (90/10) now. Curious about @Simon-in-Suffolk experience with the new streamers and a 3rd party DAC. Anyone try the ND5XS2 with a 3rd party DAC(Qutest) vs NDX?

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Haven’t tried Qutest… but in presentation into a 552, I prefer NDX2 into Hugo mk1 (using SPDIF and level appropriately set) over a PCM1704K based DAC such as the ND555, but this is down to preference… and how I listen to music. The method of audio reconstruction is quite different between PCM1704K compared to the Hugo custom DAC… both are compromises and you choose what works best for you…

Listen to a DSD recording and the benefit to me becomes clear… listen to a well recorded PCM track the differences are often less marked. We are however talking nuance, subtleties, insight, intonation, ebb and flow … effectively I think what some call ‘musicality’… as opposed to crude subjective measures like imaging, tonal balance, brightness, PRaT etc. So it’s about appreciating how a drum set is played or recorded, the bite of a cello bow, the acoustic reverb from a Cathedral choir, the feel from a well mixed vocal, or vocal duet… the energy and pace and rawness of a grunge or punk track leaving you breathless, the exposing and appreciation of deliberate clipping and distortion in a master, the interplay in an orchestra led by the conductor… etc etc… in other words it’s about the audio sounding more natural and less artificial so our brains subconsciously work less hard to listen and decode it…so it sounds more real in terms of the cues we get from the music… we can listen into the audio as opposed to simply letting it wash over you… what I call the Mandelbrot effect… to me this is what appreciating recordings is all about… it’s like reading a book.

But in answer to your point, the NDX2 gives you the same transport, streaming and presentation capabilities as the ND555.
Having said that I have found the ND555 a worthwhile uplift over the NDS… and I suspect is getting as close as one is going to get with PCM1704K perfection and optimisation…and I think Naim really squeeze every drop of goodness they can get out of that converter.


Thanks Simon I appreciate your response, and for articulating my feelings which I struggle to put into words.

There is a link either from the Naim home page or from their Facebook page to a review of the ND5XS2 in Gramophone magazine. They like it…punches above its weight.

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Thanks for that…looks good.

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Congratulations on the purchase!

Let us know down the road how it is fitting in with the SN2 and the rest of your system.

I have a ND5 XS2 feeding into a Chord HUGO2. I am very pleased with the outcome.

The rest of my system is non-Naim.

When I connect the HUGO2 directly into my mononbloc power amps using Chord Shawline interconnects the resultant dynamism and quality is stunning, to me at least. Each to their own in terms of system and listening preferences though - I am not suggesting this beats a high end all- Naim system, but it is just a different approach that is more cost effective for me.

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with Tidal only…it can explain. Locally streamed files should perhaps give different results.

I was chatting to my dealer today, and he was adamant that the old NDX sounds better than the ND5XS2. Not that you have to agree with that, but it shows the importance of listening for yourself.
By the way, the price of a used, or even ex-demo NDX these days has dropped dramatically, and I’d say that £2700 is way overpriced.

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I appreciate that in their ‘bare form’, both NDX2 and ND555 will sound better than the ‘entry level’ ND5XS2, but if you are only going to use these units as a ‘transport’ (with external DAC) … is there really that much of a sound difference?

Presumably Naim go to great lengths to ‘tweak’ the internal DAC circuitry and to isolate and shield it etc; in the more expensive streamers … but none of this is of any benefit and all these efforts are effectively ‘wasted’, if you are going to use it purely as a streaming unit and feed the digital output into a Chord DAC (for example).

As such, will they sound pretty much alike, unless really listening very hard to detect slight (albeit very expensive) improvements … ‘law of diminishing returns’

I was seriously considering upgrading to NDX2 (from my original ND5XS) … but now wonder if the ND5XS2 may make more sense, since I will be using my existing Hugo DAC - which makes a massive improvement on my ‘bare’ ND5XS (since it is clearly a better DAC).

If the improved DAC in the NDX2 is better than the Chord Hugo, then the decision would be much simpler :grinning:

They are light years apart… for me at least, and to my ears and so I understand a few others, the Hugo betters the ND555 DAC as well. Not to say the NDX2 DAC, and certainly the ND555 DAC implementation is weak, from far it, however if you are used to the Hugo presentation and it’s musical insight, you may find the TI based DACs hard to return to.

BTW there is no or little waste as far as the isolation and decoupling with the new Streamers when in transport mode. The devices are configurable to work as either digital (transport) out or analogue out. When digital out, the careful decoupling and low noise electronics ensures the noise on the physical transport clock is at a minimum, so any coupled intermodulation to a connected DAC is at a minimum. The advancement of NDX2 as a transport over my previous NDX is quite marked.

I find the my NDX2 transport working with my Hugo a wonderful combination.

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Thank you Simon, that confirms my thoughts really - even after several years, the original Hugo is still a fantastic piece of kit :grinning:

I suppose it’s just a case of deciding whether the NDX2 (as a transport only), will be a substantial improvement over my current ND5XS (transport) with Hugo … or indeed, whether something like the replacement ND5XS2, will give enough of an improvement (to justify the additional outlay) over what I already have.

I’m aware of the ‘diminishing returns’ at this level and would be looking for something substantial … akin to what I experienced by adding my Hugo to my streamer (ND5XS) in 2014 :grinning::grinning::grinning:

Ultimately, I guess it must, since you were delighted after replacing your NDX

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From a SQ point of view as transport the difference between ND5XS2 and NDX2 is going to be minimal… effectively with the latter you have a slightly lower impedance powersupply, I don’t believe there are any other differences.
However as a transport usability is key for me, and the controls as well as the colour meta data / album art display is worth its weight in gold… its sublime… and with the Zigbee controller allows effective use without being shackled to your iPad… even more so if you are a heavy Roon user.

That’s really helpful - thanks again for all your informative guidance, which is very much appreciated:smiley: