Streamer upgrade, does it really make a big difference?

Interesting question… I don’t know… the NDX2 is capable of rendering DSD128… in theory I believe SPDIF can support a max of DSD128 using DoP, but I have only ever tried DSD64.

I agree with this sentiment. I’ve never heard any real improvement in my system over and above the Bluesound node 2i. The built in DAC is pretty average but as. A transport it’s fantastic, especially given how good the app is…

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I think it depends on your DAC, amplification and overall system. I have several transports and to my ears the difference between the basic, mid level and top level transports is apparent… and ultimately that is key for max immersive enjoyment for me.
It would be fantastic if that wasn’t the case… I kind of was hoping I wouldn’t notice the difference, despite the engineering considerations, but alas it was not the case.
To me the transport is as important as the DAC … either one can’t reach its potential without the other matching it in performance.

Don’t get me wrong I use more basic transports in my office, and elsewhere and they can sound very good with the right DAC and system… but I leave the premiership performance for my music room and system where I really appreciate that extra performance… to the point it gives you that funny feeling in your stomach.

Technically this of course is to be expected through System and Control Theory.

However despite all this, remember, one needs to use the system one is happiest with, not what somebody says on a web forum… so use and listen what is best for you. All we can do is share our own personal experiences, and almost as certain as night follows day, these will vary considerably.

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Some where trying to convince me to go the ND555 route, but that would mean ditching my Chord Dave and that is something I would not do… I know some are using both the ND555 and the Chord Dave, a huge waste in my humble view, I can’t imaging buying an ND555 only for its streaming prowess…

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Hi, who uses a ND555 as a transport for DAVE?
I agree with your observation that sounds possibly not a great utilisation of a ND555. The streaming transport , DSP and control aspects are the same or pretty much the same as the NDX2 (in fact the streaming interface board is the same for all three streamers)… and that is why I have an NDX2 as a streaming transport… but fair do’s if one hears a commensurate benefit with the nd555 SPDIF output compared to the NDX2 SPDIF out… can’t say I have tried that.

Yes I also feel much if what makes the nd555 the streamer that it is is its EM and mechanical decoupling of its DAC and analogue stages, as well as its refinement and optimisation of the Texas Instruments PCM1704K DACs and current to voltage conversion linearity and analogue output filter stage.

@Simon-in-Suffolk As a matter of curiosity, have you ever compared an ND555 with 2xPSU with a NDX2 into Dave? If so what were your observations?

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Hi, no I have not…

I did once listen to a NDX/555PS feeding a NaimDAC/555PS and that was very enjoyable… I hadn’t heard the NDAC sound better… but that was a while ago and older technology.

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What a great summary Simon.
Your summary is consistent with our experience of a range of streamer & dac combinations.

Best regards, BF

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Very good advice here. Innuos Statement, NDX2 and/or M-Scaler are contenders for an uplift in SQ.
In my previous system with NDX plus DAC into Naim amplification, I was able to match the SQ by removing the NDX and using just a Raspberry 3 transport with iFi PS (details are in my profile). However from there I was able to improve SQ by upgrading just the streamer/transport.
And recently, in my current system, I got a massive uplift by upgrading just the streamer/transport component of my Linn system.
The newest models like the NDX2 have set the bar a lot higher and are sure to improve the streaming SQ. You write that demos are hard to come by for some of the solutions suggested here, but if you have access to a Naim dealer I would definitely try the NDX2 into Dave. If you can get an M-Scaler demo you would be able to compare these two alternatives. Looking forward to hearing how you get on…

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Clearly this is a controversial topic.

Those in the “makes no difference camp” (myself included), aren’t able to noticed significant sound quality differences, and our views are largely supported by measurements comparing output sections of different steamers.

But clearly, there are many here who can tell a difference.

Ultimately its our subjective experience that matters. And also true that science (measurements etc) isn’t able to explain all the subjective experiences we have.

@William - RP3 is known for having USB issues, which could be the reason for it to sound inferior. These problems are largely fixed in RP4.

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I see you have you have also a very modest dac, at around 400 euros.
I guess it’s one of the reason you can’t hear differences within the transports.
I know, price is not all, but however your dac is very probably not enough resolving. But may sound very enjoyable.

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I tried the M-Scaler, had it on demo twice, and tested it for a pretty long time, I could never spot anything different in SQ and ended up returning it. Anyway, it isn’t really a streamer, it will still require a streamer to feed it.

That’s a great way of putting it.

My system isn’t in such esteemed company as NDX2/DAVE but relatively speaking that’s what I feel when going from my lesser system to my better main one.

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I used the RPi with a Hifi Digiberry via coax. After that an Allo DigiOne (better) then an Allo USBridge via USB (similar) and finally a Metrum Ambre via i2S (best of these).
Later I had a Linn Klimax Exakt DSM feeding its digital signal via Roon RAAT into active Akubariks with Katalyst DAC.
So I absolutely did not expect any change when I demoed the 2021 Klimax Exakt DSM. After all, it’s “just” another streamer/transport box (no DAC), “just” a new clock and PS inside a redesigned aluminium box.
You wouldn’t believe the difference.

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Knowing how different an OpticalRendu sounds going from the basic switching power block, mid range LPS and then a higher spec LPS I’d imagine most transports would have to sound different just purely down the power supplies they use. Then of course theres all the different components used for the digital outputs and how they are implemented.

Sure, but I have yet to come across something relevant that can’t be measured. Being an engineer I know the secret or challenge is to know what to measure… and that often is far easier said than done……

I have the NDX2 with DAVE. For the first couple of months I also had the PS555 hooked to NDX2. When I removed the PS555, I couldn’t hear any deterioration or any difference on the sound, so I sold it. As far as I know, the PS555 improves mainly the analogue section of NDX2, and this is the reason why when connected (digital out) to DAVE, the main benefit of PS555 is lost.

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Thanks - this is what I expected. Guess I’ll have to demo the Dave vs an ND555. Won’t be much difference in price if trading in the NDX2 for the ND555

I’d be very interested to hear your impressions :wink:
Have fun :grin:

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Yes, demo would be the best way to a decision. I’d be interested in your findings, do let us know. Thanks