Upgrade ND5 XS with NDAC?

Hi all

My record player is the primary source but I use a 2016 ish ND5 XS too (originally with tidal but more recently Spotify, plus occasional upnp to ripped CDs), connected via Ethernet. It’s a rock solid connection; I’ve had no problems.

A used NDAC has come up for sale. I gather it’s an excellent upgrade. I’ve been trawling through the forum and found lots of comments that the ND5 XS2 for example is a superior streamer. This I understand.

In my case though, as a transport for streaming as I do (not Roon nor qobuz, not via WiFi), is an older ND5 XS as good as a newer ND5 XS2? Much cheaper to buy the NDAC than have to upgrade to a brand new streamer.

Also, did the NDAC come with a spdif cable?

(I’m aware of the screen issues btw. I don’t use the screen and have it on the shortest display timeframe.)

Thanks in advance, Ian

Short answer - yes, get it.

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Always best to listen and decide for yourself of course, but I think you’ll find that adding an NDAC will be a much better sound quality upgrade that changing the ND5XS for a Mk2 version. It does sound better that the old one, and it gives you access to some better sounding services like Qobuz 24 bit and lossless iRadio, but if you don’t mind an extra box, get the NDAC.
You will need to buy an SPDIF cable. No need to spend too much in my opinion, Naim’s DC1 is good, but for me it’s way too long, too stiff to dress properly, and I’ve got a couple of far cheaper cables that work as well in my system.

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I would say go for it as well. I’ve owned an NDAC for about 5 years now, first with my HDX and now with the ND5XS2. I have it powered by a 555PS (non Dr) which is amazing too. I didn’t at first though and still loved what it did with my HDX. I never listened to the the ND5xs2 into the ndac without the 555PS so can’t speak to that but I’m sure the rather small (these days anyway) investment you make into the ndac will pay a big dividend in your sysytem!

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I’ve had the ND5XS and it is great entry Naim streamer and was made alot better when I paired it with a high quality external DAC. I sold them both on and got the NDS with a 555PS.

I really enjoyed the ND5XS and with an nDAC it will sound fantastic. If you add a 555PS to the nDAC then you will be at NDS level.

I would get the nDAC. Consider a power supply for it also as a future upgrade.

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I also really liked the nDAC without external PSU.

So ND5XS2 into nDAC - excellent upgrade because it decouples the streamer from the DAC, i.e. a separates effect.

Addition of 555DR - the same sonic signature, but loads more of everything good.

But even if you never get an external psu, it’s worth doing.

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Mmm thank you all… Time to check the wallet…

If it helps you any, adding a XPS-DR to the nDAC doesn’t sound too shabby IMHO :smile:
but yes upgrading to a nDAC is a great option if you can find one. Biased opinion here of course.

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The nDAC, on it’s own, is a wondrous beast………and then if you give it an XPS…it just gets better :grin:

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If on a budget the XPS2 is worth considering. I have one on my CDS3 and it’s no slouch.

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@ znai
I was going to post a separate topic on this subject but then I saw your question.
I would offer a counter view.
Having been a Naim owner for excess 25 years, I bought a (used) ND5 XS maybe 6 months ago and have been enjoying it mainly using Tidal, ripped cds from my Unitiserve (both via Wi fi and also direct digital connection) and also some cds (connected digitally and fed from my Naim DVD5.
Before buying the streamer, I already used a nDAC this was also powered (on an off) with an XP5 XS power supply (source was the Unitiserve and DVD5).
I have in the last few weeks conducted some A/B listening with various combinations of the above.
I feed one channel on my Supernait 2 (wilt Hi Cap DR) with the analog din output from the streamer.
Another Supernait 2 channel is fed with the analog din output from the nDAC. This nDac is fed digitally from the streamer. Sometimes I add the XP5 XS power supply to the nDAC. Sometimes I disconnect it.
The streamer is fed with either Unitiserve digital or Tidal (native to the streamer). Hence I can listen to the same music from the same source and do an immediate A/B listening test to compare the units.
For the life of me, I can perceive zero difference in switching between the Supernait 2 channels when testing a wide variety of music well known to me. If asked to differentiate between them, I think I would struggle. There might be a very slight bit more vocal focus on the nDAC channel but this is absolutely minimal and marginal. “Night and Day” or even a clear improvement, it certainly is not.
I have largely decided to sell the nDac and possibly the XP5 XS and simply retain the ND5 XS since these two items would likely fetch close to €2k.
I am completely surprised at how competent the ND5 XS streamer is. I have yet to try the streamer with the power supply added (which is an option and I’ll spend more time checking this out) but so far, my conclusion is that the nDAC will be sold.
Very much welcome others views on this.

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What do you have the signal ground switch set to on both the ND5XS and the nDAC?

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I’m a little surprised at your findings here, as the NDAC is a very capable DAC which I find very enjoyable even without a PSU upgrade, and certainly an improvement on the built in DAC in the NDX. My first thought is that perhaps your setup was compromised by the simultaneous connection of two sources. As ajm says, the ground switch should be set to chassis on only one of the two sources. Whether the fact that the two sources were also connected to each other causes further grounding issues I couldn’t say.
Either way, I would want to set up each system and try it at length before changing over.
For me the convenience of being able to flick between the two systems doesn’t help to assess the things that really matter in terms of musical enjoyment.

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Am away from base at the moment but have scheduled a major listening session at the weekend.

Which spdif cables are you using and recommend trying over the DC1?

I’m currently using a Mark Grant HDX1. In the past I’ve had good results with a Gotham cable too. Both around 10% of the price of a DC1.

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Thanks Chris, I’ll look them up

I look forward to reading your impressions of the ND5 + XP5. I use this as my source with a 152/155 amp.

The ND5XS is good but the nDAC should walk all over it, especially with a PSU.
I disable the analogue output with mine.

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Yes, from the dozens of reports I’ve read on here, the nDAC almost always improves on most internal streamer DACs, in part because it’s in a separate box, and also because it’s just…better.

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