Transcoding Qobuz FLAC streaming to WAV

I may have missed something but is there a way of transcoding the QOBUZ hi-res FLAC stream to WAV on a ND5 XS 2?

No there isn’t. Also there is absolutely no need to because the new platform streamers like the ND5 XS2 have enough processing power to handle flacs without any loss of sound quality compared to WAVs.

Thanks, interesting, but there’s always been a consensus here that Naim equipment works better with WAV files. My Synology server, using Minimserver, transcodes stored music from FLAC to WAV for that reason and I used to transcode Qobuz via Bubbleupnp on the server, when I had a NAC-N172XS. Instinctively it feels like a slightly backward step streaming Qobuz in FLAC now. For clarity I’m using the Naim app.

With the legacy streamers like the long gone 172XS and old Unitis, some people preferred the sound of WAV to FLAC and the processors in those units did have to work hard. Not everyone preferred WAV by the way. There might be a consensus but I don’t think it was 100%.

But with the new platform it’s much less clear that there is any consensus. You might prefer WAV of course, which is fair enough. But anyway there is no transcoding capability and it’s not asked for often (compared, say, with people wanting transcoding on Core served streams).

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That was in connection with earlier generation equipment! Which some from a technical evaluation deemed to have ‘marginal’ processing power such that it might be stressed doing the transcode.

Thanks @Bart so would the consensus now be that there’s no point in transcoding from FLAC to WAV for music stored on a HD from CD quality upwards, if its being played on second generation Naim streamers?

To my ears there was a very small difference between WAV and FLAC using a Unitiserve and NDX, so I set it to transcode to WAV on the fly. With my NDX2 I don’t hear that difference.

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When I had a NDS I transcoded Flac to WAV from my UnitiServe. I was pretty sure WAV sounded better.

I still transcode to WAV using a ND555 but I have not done an assessment to see if WAV still sounds better. My running theory is that WAV will never sound worse than Flac, and it still might sound a tad better.

Would be interested to hear from anyone who has compared Flac to WAV on second generation Naim streamers.


I’ve just compared Neil Young Heart of Gold both at 192/24 one from my Synology NAS/Minimserver/transcoded from FLAC to WAV, with the Qobuz version. My internet is FFTP and then CAT7 cabled to the ND5 XS 2.

Difficult to choose between them.

So the question changes a bit - should I turn off the transcoding from my NAS and stream in FLAC now.

A response from somebody at Naim would be welcome as this topic doesn’t seem to have been aired before.

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This is a subject that was discussed extensively when the 1st gen streamers were current. Naim’s recommendation was that WAV was subjectively likely to sound best, but that you should listen and decide for yourself.
The consensus here seemed to be that WAV did sound a bit better, although the difference wasn’t great to my ears. Of course you have to be careful to compare the same version. Comparing a CD rip, download, or Tidal stream could easily come from different masters.

Transcoding to WAV is noticeably better with my 272/QNAP, local files and Qobuz. As it was with my SU before it. And plenty of folks here on the newer streaming platform still prefer transcoding to WAV but they may be in the minority. Not sure.

Having had a first generation streamer - 172XS - I was up to speed on those discussions. What’s interesting is that the discussions have not continued with the second generation streamers. If FLAC 192/24 streams from Qobuz are considered not to be inferior to WAV, does the same apply to music stored on a local network server, in which case I may as well stop transcoding that.

I spent some time comparing Qobuz to Tidal before committing to Qobuz and have been very happy except, especially with the amount of hi-res. I couldn’t see any advantage to me in Tidal.

The same versions is a point well made.

Thanks - that’s why I started the thread with the question of how can you transcode a Qobuz FLAC stream to WAV in 2nd generation streamers.

You could do it the same way gen 1 streamer owners do it if you’re just wanting to confirm for yourself. I don’t have a gen2 streamer so not sure how you would do it otherwise.

Nobody can give you a definitive answer, but as you have local rips and know how it works with UPnP, just compare and decide for yourself. If you can’t hear a difference, you wouldn’t hear one with Qobuz either.

If you do think that WAV is better than FLAC when streaming from UPnP, you can get kind-of-the-same by using Roon. Then the Roon Core will decompress the FLAC from Qobuz and feed pure PCM to the streamer.

Of course, then you are using the Roon stack in the streamer, and although Naim implemented it first-class this provides ample opportunity for disagreement about whether Roon sounds better, Qobuz via the Naim app sounds better, or no difference. Each position has forum members that are convinced that they hear something (or not), the problem is just that those who think that either Roon or Naim app is better are equally convinced that their respective ears are objective.

It has been discussed a lot off and on for a couple of years now, but it’s old news, so you won’t find much interest now. Try it each way and see what you think. It really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Nor should you care what anyone else thinks either.


Thanks - but the point I was raising is that it is almost always discussed in the context of first generation streamers, rather than second. I can find very little discussion about 2nd generation streamers and, in particular, streaming from Qobuz in Flac. And if that is processed efficiently by the streamer why continue to transcode Flac from a NAS.

It would be really helpful to hear an authoritative comment from Naim on this.

I would try it and see. However, you could always email Naim support and ask them their opinion if that’s important for you.

Thanks, I understand that. One of the numerous reasons why I moved to a 2nd generation streamer was to cut out the involvement of too many other apps and pieces of software.

Sorry for repeating what’s said above but for locally stored music the consensus is that for legacy streamers (272 in my case) there was a SQ advantage to transcoding FLAC to WAV but for the second generation boxes this was not the case. That was certainly my experience but why not try it for yourself – you might have golden ears and hear a difference?

Comparing locally stored material with Qobuz is a different matter. My experience is a preference for the sound of local CD rips compared to streaming the same tracks from Qobuz in CD quality . However, I think others have come to the opposite conclusion and because the masters may not be the same, it’s hard to reach any definitive conclusion.