Selecting between a Streamer vs. DAC

I’m relatively new to Naim. I’m using a Nait XS2 integrated with a Naim CD player.

I’d like to stream through Spotify and Tidal. Should I be adding a Naim ND5 XS (or XS2) Streamer or a DAC-V1?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of both?
Thanks.

Go for nd5xs2

Up to date - will last you a very very long time

Forget DAC V1

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I think the DAC is fine if you have your own music source i.e. a local server but for streaming an internet service you would need a streamer which could have an inbuilt DAC or you could use an external one. The Naim streamer is a simple solution to your needs where as the DAC would still need some sort of streaming device attached.

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Thanks

Thanks.
The ND5XS or ND5XS2 streamers have a DAC built in, I’m assuming.

Yes they both do. I’d highly recommend a ND5XS2 over a ND5XS especially if you plan on streaming from Tidal/Qobuz etc. The newer version of the streamer is much more robust for these types of activities.

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Hi VNNaim, I have just been through the exact same process as you, trying to get my head around the most cost effective solution for streaming . I have an n-dac which is a great bit of kit and I had great results using my iPhone as transport streaming Spotify and tidal- many are snobbish about Spotify but I found it easy to use and my ndac had it sounding just lovely. Many naimies push to the ndx-2 or the lesser ND5 xs2- main benefit being the newer streamer transport side and I have heard hi end naim fiends swearing by the ndx2… because I am happy with the high res music from tidal, I don’t need qobuz, and loved my ndac I went after much research and deliberation for an NDS, I have it connected by Ethernet cable and I am blown away by it- connects easily, controlled easily by naim app, never drops out or buffer-skips and the sq is much better than my ndac. I already had an xps-dr power source that I used on my dac so the cost was £1900 for the nds. By the way the nds was a reference level product and was replaced by the £20-odd k nd555, it has brass suspended chassis’ and no on board power source- if it ever becomes obsolete as a streamer it will still serve as a top notch dac, and should I feel the need to go to qobuz for example I can bridge… folk hope to get £3k for them but you can get one for nearer £2,but don’t forget you need to factor in a power source, but they are like money in the bank and and can be used on other items, so in my mind you get statement level sound quality at less than nd5xs2 money… a no brainier?

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I have an NDS with 555PS excellent and a no brainer at a price. The OP has an XS2 so the NDS is going to be too good for the integrated amp. The ND5XS at a lower price is a great streamer which will match the XS2 well. The ND5XS2 is even better and has the latest streaming platform supporting all apps and future proofing as far as possible.

The DAC V1 will basically just be a DAC and you will need something to act as a streamer.

What is your budget? Many say a Bluesound Node is a good bet, supporting modern streaming apps on a budget with decent quality.

Lots of options. If you’re keeping the XS2 then an ND5XS2 or the slightly disadvantaged ND5XS will both be good options.

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Thanks Dan

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Thanks Jonny. Very helpful.

While I wait for the Naim DAC to turn up, I’m using a Rega DAC that gets optical feed from an Apple Airport Express.

It is fed Tidal from an iPad Pro… works like a charm.

Recommend.

(Added bonus is having 100GB of lossless CD-files ready to go… no need for a CD player :slight_smile:

If going for a streamer, I would steer clear of Naim’s first streamers such as the NDX or ND5XS, they had various streaming performance limitations which constrained their flexibility and SQ performance… the current streamers addressed many of those issues and provide more flexibility through using a more performant and capable internal design. The ND5XS2 is a fine current streamer, that focuses on performance over aesthetics/usability features… I understand a deliberate design choice. So for your money you are getting a higher ratio of audio performance compared to some other Naim products.

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How would the sound quality deficiencies of the early gen streamers present themselves? I understand that smaller buffer systems might cause drop outs as an example of performance deficiencies but am struggling to see how sq might be reduced once the streamed files are presented in a timely manner

I agree with Simon that the Mk2 streamers do, in practice, sound better than the old models they replaced. Having said that, they are a great deal cheaper at current used prices, so as long as you are aware of their limitations and prepared to work around them they can be a bargain for the sound quality they provide.

I found the NDS sounded better than the NDX2, both with 555PS. I’m not sure about SQ deficiency either!

Yes the NDX2 works with new apps.

Depends on your priorities.

I experienced a lot of this type of response when I was looking at streaming- most respondents told me that a later gen steamer will give better sq but not many could qualify their proclamation or explain the alleged difference in sq or why there would be a difference- I think, and am yet to be persuaded otherwise, that the dac end of the streamer dominates sq, not the transport side. The dac side of an nd5xs2 or even the haloed ndx2 I doubt betters the ancient ndac or nds yet most declare that the former give better sq seemingly on the grounds that they are newer… granted the newer streamer will communicate more easily with current streaming platforms but that situation will changes as yet unknown streaming formats evolve… the ndac and nds have more in common with nd555 than many realise. So… can anyone come up with anything more than anecdotally accepted lore? I’d like to bet in a blind test that an xps powered n-dac fed by a transport that offers whole files in a timely manner sounds at least as good as an ndx2

The SQ compromises with the first generation streamer were mostly caused by digital noise coupling from the network switching and TCP/IP processing elements within the streamer.
The new streamers developed a modularised approach for the streaming front end, better power / ground regulation and decoupling as well as introducing LVDS to significantly reduce coupled out of band noise in the internal connections.
There have been other optimisations in the clock, i2v and analogue filtering stages which all affect the performance of audio reconstruction.

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Ah- thank you SIS! Exactly what is needed to know!! So the poster can escape these issues utilising a dacv1 or ndac with a suitable transport- likely the most cost effective way of accessing streaming as his iPhone or similar could be used via usb lead to the dac.

Hi Vmnaim, someone has just listed a nd5xs2 brand new on eBay at offers or buy it now £1900- a steal at say £1750, they cost £1500 new, or if that is too much I may be selling my ndac as I now have an nds, would be looking for £1100 inc post to uk

From practical experience I would add that:
The NDX2 sounds better than the NDX,
The ND5XS2 sounds significantly better than the ND5XS,
The NDAC is a significant upgrade on the internal DAC in any of the above, and puts them on around the same performance level as the NDS.

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