Streaming or CD/DAC for best sound quality

Over the festive period I’ve found myself pondering whether streaming is for me and whether I would be happier with a CD based source

Currently I have an NDS (my second of these) waiting for a PS555DR which I have on order but I am not sure streaming is giving me the most enjoyment when I sit to listen plus, to enjoy the NDS I now need to buy another server to install my cd collection…

For about the same money that I have invested in the NDS/555 I am considering the move to a Chord Dave and a dedicated CD transport such as the Jays Audio or CEC TL5

I realise that the only way to be sure this is right for me is to listen to the combination but as this is challenging I’d be grateful for anyone’s thoughts or, better still, experience of a similar set up and in particular Dave and what he can bring to the party

Rest of my system is NAC52, NAP135 and SBLs, all on Fraim

Thanks, and all the best for a happy & prosperous new year

I’m sure others will disagree but the first generation of Naim streamers left me cold. I found them unmusical and lacking in almost everything I like about Naim. You had to pay for an NDS to get CDX2 or less equivalent sound. The second generation are clearly much better in many ways but again I found them unengaging until you hit the top end. I so wanted to love an NDX2 but the screen seemed pointless and the family found ourselves distracted and in conversations rather than listening to music every time we demoed one.

I spent years listening to people talking up streaming but every time I heard what they raved about I also heard something which didn’t do any of the good stuff my CDX2 did. That has only changed for me in the past 12 months and even then more by accident than design. Going to listen to one thing but liking another.

Your ears are the only judge here but I’d recommend trying Naim amplification with non Naim sources.

Chris, I had cds2 at the time with Olive 52/135s.
Sensing the eventual likelihood that my cds 2 would not be repairable when the laser mechanism would inevitably fail, I moved on to ndx2/xpsdr. This streaming source was at times better than the cds2 and at other times not as good depending on quality of the cd. Overall it was very close re sound quality.
I eventually replace xpsdr with 555drps. This overall is a better source than the cds2.
The additional benefit of Naim radio and unlimited musical choices makes it very worthwhile.
I have since upgraded to 552/500 and the ndx2/555 is a great match.
I use Qobuz for streaming. I do not own a server so my cd’s remain unused. 90% of what I have on my cd’s I can stream on Qobuz.


I did the same question to myself and, since I only listen to the music that I purchase in cd format and I don t listen to music from any web provider, I just bought a Chord Hugo TT2 dac and a nuprime cdt-10.

1 Like

Did you have difficulty adjusting from what you collected now redundant? I am currently looking for a new source but can’t get my head around that if I go down the streaming route, my collection is now redundant. I may prefer CD transport from a psychological point of view.

I have about 600 cd’s
They remain unused. Does that bother me? Not really.
Could I sell them? Probably not worth it.
I guess if I had 2000 cd’s I might feel differently.
I do not miss my cds2 one bit. I sold it and at least got some $ for it. If the laser failed then it’s worthless.

1 Like

In my view streaming from one’s own stored music (downloaded or even ripped from CD) offers at least teh potential for best sound quality (including absence of mis-reads, error correction, dropouts etc) - but sound quality is highly dependant upon the DAC, so if different DACs are involved in different scenarios the answer can’t be predicted.

1 Like

You have a great source , the second one after Nd555 , at least for local streaming.
When I bought mine, I was half enjoying it . At that time it was directly connected to my router, with cheap Ethernet cables. The CDX2/ XPS 2 it replaced had more immediacy and urgency in the music.
A dedicated switch, the Cisco 2960 at that time, and better quality ethernet cables ( Meicord) changed that impression. I don’t regret the CDX2 anymore.
But it’s me. My ears, my experience.

Maybe you will prefer Chord presentation. But before that, try to optimise first the Nds. It deserves it.

My guess is that with the continued tech advances, not only will CDs become relatively obsolete but so will local streaming of ripped and downloaded content.In addition to the tech advances in the DACs etc. there is the increasing availability of reliable broadband.
IMO of course.

I haven’t heard a ND555 but our CDS2/XPS is as good as our HDX, NDAC, 555PS. This is in front of our 552, Active SL2 system with NAT01 and Phonosophie in front.

CD is very very good. CD555 is unbelievable! CDS1 and 2 are excellent.

I would like to hear a ND555, when I last spoke to Roy George a few years ago he told me he loved his CD 555 and was looking forward to his RG555! He is a hifi god!

I’m in a similar position to @davidf was.

I’d got to CDS2/52/135

A few months ago I got a second hand NDX. Sound quality from the NDX is great. But the CDS2 is on another level.

But that’s to be expected given the external power supply etc.

Realistically CD is not the future. If I can get the NDX to CDS2 levels I’d be happy and then look at some way to rip the 1000+ CDs I have.

One point I’d make with the NDX is that I listen to lots more music. The sheer convenience means I’m often putting it on. Clearly I’m quite lazy.

1 Like

There’s a long thread of mine from 2 years ago that may be relevant for you.

Our start point was a CDS3/555PS-DR. We wanted to switch to streaming without sacrificing sound quality.

Here’s a link to the thread:
Lots of streamer auditions

Hope it helps, BF


I would give one of the Accuphase cd players a spin when you start demoing?

1 Like

To be honest when I took the plunge and moved to streaming I also invested in a NAS and ripped all of my CD,s, quite a task!

However a few years on and one BIG advantage of Qobuz is almost all of my cd’s are now available in 24bit high Res, they tend to sound so much better than the old CD’s so now I listen almost exclusively streaming from qobuz.

Add to that the convenience and access to new artists and t’s a no brainer for me.

Using an ND5XS2 BTW which also acts as a DAC for the TV via optical input and a DAC for my CD player which comes out at Christmas for the Christmas CDs, can’t get them on Qubuz​:wink::wink::grinning:

I think one of the problems for me is the sterile nature of the music playing experience when streaming and I miss the physical effort of picking out a cd and handling the media

I’m reasonably confident the sound quality will be comparable, if not better, via a decent transport and dac and the challenge with the newer streamer technology is the initial cost and pending redundancy down the line

1 Like

I did consider the loss of radio and hi resolution downloads but as I also have a MacBook I think it would be possible to use this to give me the extra functionality but with the addition of high quality cd playback for more focussed listening

It sounds like you’ve really made up your mind. So I’d say go for it. It would not be my choice; I much prefer streaming to hunting through many shelves of CDs. But we’re all different, so audition your proposed system and if you enjoy the sound, you know what to do! Better to spend time enjoying music than seeking approval for your choice IMO.


Hi Roger, to be fair I think I probably have made my mind up from a functionality perspective, I should have perhaps mentioned that I’ve already had problems with servers too and found the software/interfaces a bit of a pain

I think the tactile nature of the cd is something I miss in the same way I might have missed vinyl if I had ever got into turntables

I still need to answer the sq question and that was probably what I was hoping someone may have some experience they could share on here

Cheers, and all the best


1 Like

I have a Sony CD transport which is connected to my ND555 by optical cable. I still have my old CD’s but can’t remember the last time I played one.

SQ is significantly better when streaming (Qobuz), and the whole process is far more convenient.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.