Third party DAC for a nd5xs2

rather than upgrade to NDX2 has anyone added a third party DAC to an nd5xs2 and auditioned the combination against the NDX2?
How did the third party DAC/ND5XS2 combo stack up against the NDX2?

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Hi, have you done a search of the forum for this topic?
There are numerous past threads offering many opinions of external DACs on the 5xs2 and comparisons with other Naim streamers.


I’ll have a rummage now, thank you

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I found tgat a Chord Hugo DAC made a vast improvement to an ND5XS(1)- to my ears more natural sounding - some others said more analogue-like. Tar was the predecessor to ND5XS2 - and I didn’t compare with NDX(1).


I recently upgraded from a Qutest to a Hugo TT2 on my SuperNait3 and Nsat secondary system. Very nice upgrade streaming Roon off my laptop. I could downgrade to this rig permanently and be very happy. I feel certain that it would dance with the NDX2 very well.


I use original Chord Hugo … excellent :grinning: :grinning:

As Neil said, there are really plenty threads on it. But will it help you ?
Chord Hugo, Chord tt, Naim Ndac, Denafrips, Topping, Mytech, ……all sound very different. In any case you will have to listen by yourself.
Personally I recommend the Ndac, because I like the Naim source sound. And today you can find them at less than 1k, so a real bargain. Nd5xs2 / Ndac is at the level of the Ndx2.


Chord Dave / Wave Storm / HMS on the end of my ND5XS2

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I am having wonderful success with a holo audio spring 3 dac.

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Qutest added to an NDX. Not night and day but definitely brought more clarity and separation to music. I did a lot of a/b-ing between them over a few weeks and each time I switched back to the NDX’s internal DAC, it felt like some subtle level of detail had disappeared. Am toying with a Hugo TT2 now, though not sure how much of a step up it represents. But def like the Chord sound.

Hi Skip,

out of interest, can you connect your phone directly to the TT2, as I thought about setting one up as a headphone bedside system.


Are you sure, FR?

One advantage ND5XS2/nDAC has over NDX2 is that it’s separates.

Another is that the nDAC has a better DAC chip than the NDX2.

The perfect 3rd party DAC to go with the ND5XS2 is the nDAC.


The 3rd party is Naim. :slightly_smiling_face:


Yes, by cable or via Bluetooth

I have had both and I stream way more now with the NDX2. Quick a/b comparisons may favor the ND5XS2/ndac but long term the NDX2 just makes better music imo.


Yes per two reviews, APTx Bluetooth is onboard.

This is from the headfonics review. I use the TT2 via USB. I have not tried, looked for, nor found this wireless feature yet. This is not a bedside system for me.

Chord Electronics Hugo TT2 review

Marcus March 28, 2021

"Wireless Performance

The Hugo TT2’s Bluetooth receiver implementation is probably the only passe element in its sonic makeup. With a lot of DAPs offering BT5.0 and up to LDAC compression levels in terms of receiving or transmitting the aptX BT4.2 capability of the TT2 seems a bit dated.

Compared to its wired connection, the dynamic range takes an obvious hit with that impressively holographic staging quality sounding comparatively two-dimensional and shrunken in overall size. If you have a revealing set of headphones you are going to pick up that ‘shrinkage very easily in BT mode.

In terms of timbre, the tone is slightly softer sounding also though by no means muddy. The low-end does lose a little definition and sounds slower-paced compared to the tight and articulate wired version.

Channel separation is not as convincing either so vocals compete a little more with instruments in that tighter soundstage and lack that comparative vividness. The top-end also sounds noticeably rolled-off in comparison to the wired version.

I would love to have seen LDAC implemented on the TT2. More times than most aptX delivers what I have described above on other DAC/Amp’s whereas LDAC does a much better job with high-frequency reproduction and generally introducing a better dynamic range performance. "

Per The Absolute Sound * by Chris Martens

  • Aug 13th, 2019:

"The Hugo TT 2 sports a host of useful digital inputs: two optical, two coaxial BNC, one driverless USB (for use with tablets and smartphones), one USB Type-B, and an aptX Bluetooth interface. Analog outputs include: stereo XLR, stereo RCA, two 6.35mm headphone jacks, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. One set of dual DX BNC digital (expansion) outputs is also provided. By design, the Hugo TT offers three distinct operating modes: “DAC mode” with fixed line-level outputs, “Amp mode” with variable-level rear-panel outputs, and “Headphone mode” with variable-level outputs from front-panel-mounted headphone jacks. "


Just add a good condition nDAC for under £1K for a good SQ uplift.

You can then add a power supply to the nDAC as funds allow to improve things even further.

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Not sure……but some have compared on other threads and I think to remember that the differences were not big.

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