Unity Star vs ND5 XS2 worthwhile streaming upgrade?

Hi, After reading such positive reports I ordered a ND5 XS2 about 6 months ago. So I want to get people’s opinion on whether the wait is worth it. I currently use a Star as a source to play CD’s, FM and DAB radio, and stream (via Qbuzz) into my main system - 282/SCDR/250DR, older Dynaudio Audience floor standing speakers.

Hi Res streaming sounds really good via the Star, but CD is still a bit better. FM and DAB can be better depending on the programme playing. LP’s sound the best (Linn Sondek) as they always have!

So just checking, have people compared the streaming via ND5 XS2 to the Star and is the improvement really significant? I can’t help feeling I’m not enjoying streamed music as much as I could because I’m looking for faults that I assume will be sorted by the ND5 XS2. Should I just relax, enjoy and not fret about the non-delivery of the NS5, by cancelling it? As a senior (68), I know my hearing is not getting any better.
Best wishes Amer

Based on my recent upgrade plans, I would cancel and wait until you can demo one first.

I am using my Nova as a source into a Supernait 3.
I was going to upgrade it for an NDX2 but when I borrowed one and compared it directly I could not personally hear much of a difference.
Not sure if the streaming side of the Star is the same of the Nova though ?

That’s an XS level streamer, designed to match an XS level amp such as a NaitXS3. A balanced system with a 282/250 would be NDX2/XPSDR.

Thanks Toller67, my understanding is that the Nova is a step up from the Star mainly because it doesn’t include a CD player, so more space for remaining electronics, has a better amp and costs more! So would expect it to be better than the Star on the streaming front - if only because those boards have a better power supply. Just out of interest does the Supernait 3 sound better to you than using the inbuilt amps on the Nova as on paper they seem about the same?

Yes, you’re right ChrisSU, the ND5 XS2 is part of the XS series, but apart from cost, the main reason I thought it would be a good match was because all the reviews I read said it sounded almost the same as a NDX2. The ND5 appears to one of the gems of the range. In the reviews, the main advantages of the NDX2 were the built in screen and being able to improve the sound further through an external power supply.

So could I ask the question again please - has anyone had the chance of comparing streamed music through the ND5 XS2 with the Star? Thanks.
Best wishes Amer

I do think the ND5XS2 is a good performer for the money, and yes, I believe it’s intended to max out on sound quality by excluding features such as a screen (although the real reason for omitting that is obvious - the box is too small for it!!), remote and PSU upgrade connection. Even so I think that Supernait 3 is probably about as far up the amp range as I’d want to go before moving up to an NDX2, which to my ears is still a significant improvement even without an XPS.
Sorry I can’t answer your question about how it compares to the Star.

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I can compare a nova with the Nd5xs2 and supernait 3 I currently run… the seperates are a step up in clarity and drive but not massively, they are a different presentation I’d say with the nait sounding more muscular than the nova.

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When I was getting a new streamer in late 2020 I was trying to decide between the ND5XS2 and the NDX2. I didn’t listen to the two against each other but chose the NDX2 on operational grounds. The key thing for us is the remote. We use the ND as a dac for the TV and it’s easy to change inputs with the remote. With an ND5 the only option is the phone or iPad. If the phone is flat you are stuck. The NDX2 has a input button and a stop button on the front, whereas the ND5 doesn’t. You can’t stop the music without picking up the phone, which would be a pain for us.

The second thing is system automation - you can link the streamer with the amplifier and control volume and mute with the streamer remote, and change analogue as well as digital inputs. Again, with the ND5 it’s a case of using the phone. The final thing is that the screen lets you see what’s going on with firmware updates, though it’s not a biggie.

With a 282, it’s really the NDX2 that’s the natural match.

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I can’t help with the Star comparison - sorry. I did try the ND5 XS2 against the NDX2 - both into a 282 and bought the XS2. I felt the gains were small without going to a power supply and I didn’t want to spend the extra involved in either purchase at that stage. I also had half an eye on future DAC developments - either from Naim, Chord or others and so preserved this route with the XS2.
I’ve been more than happy with this streamer and would be surprised if the Star, with the associated other circuitry, was very close.

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Thanks for the responses - much appreciated. Space is a factor for me as well - in my set up the only way of accommodating the NDX would be to replace the Star and right now I still listen to CDs a lot, and as By-Tor and the reviews I have read say, the SQ gains in getting a NDX are small.

Let me see how things develop with my listening and future developments in hardware. Even now I’m finding I listen to more and more Hi-Res music via Qubuz, but CD still sounds better using a Star - that might well change with a better streamer. My system is not as integrated as yours HH, I hardly watch TV. Watching the odd Netflix programme on my iMac with decent headphones is good enough for me. I also have a couple of iPads and use one of those to use the Naim app to operate the Star and choose music via Qubuz.
Thanks again for all your responses.
Best wishes Amer

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