Upgrade path for nDAC/HicapDR/SN2 system

As I have mentioned in other topics I have the following system : Innuos Zen Mini Mk3 - > Naim nDAC - > hicap Dr - > SN2 and MA Gold 5G speakers. Recently I have added the Hicap Dr to my system and I was very pleased with the upgrade. It showed how important is the preamp section of one system.

What in your opinion is the weakest link in my system? I think it is the source and the preamp of the SN2. What I am thinking as future upgrades is to get CD555PS for the nDAC, Nd5xs2 or Ndx2 for a digital transport and NAC 282 for the SN2. And probably as a last move I would get NAP 250DR. Do you think in such a system the Ndx2 would justify double the cost to be a digital transport? I have read that it is the better device but I am wondering whether it would require NAC 252 or 552 so that the changes are noticeable. Both of these preamps however are out of my budget. What source would be good enough for the nDAC and 282? Which upgrade would be the best as a first move - better source, 555ps for the ndac or the 282?

I’d say at the 252 or 552 level either of these preamps would likely sounds better with the XPSDR or 555PS attached to the NDX2 if that’s where you plan on landing in the future.

To answer your upgrade path question from what I can tell the Innous, is likely your weakest link however I have no experience with this product. Which way to go next is tough as you’re close. I’d likely say (depending on budget) to sell the nDAC and Innuos and go for the Ndx2. To keep the box count the same, go for a ND5xs2 into the nDAC as it would be fantastic as well. One thing I think is clear is to wait on the NAP250 DR for now.

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Thank you for your reply! I have read that another user in this forum has found ndx2 better with ndac since the ndac adds to the bass representation. My main concern is whether the nd5xs2 will serve similar job as the ndx2 when using nDAC and Nac 282.

Hi, @corsuse. Speaking as a happy owner of the NDX-FM, into Naim DAC/555, I suggest you consider the cost/space savings re the third Fraim level if you jump straight to the ND555 from the nDAC.

Reducing the number of jump-transactions will save you money and fiddling in the long run.

At this level, your personality has as much to do with the choices you make as anything. In my case, I have decided the Naim ecosystem works/sounds/is good enough for me; and I like the usability benefits they thoughtfully design in, and the flexibility the options provide — if I ever downsize, a Supernait of some description may well replace four 500-level boxes, for my purposes.

Good luck. It is all fun.



I’d do a power supply on the nDAC before anything else. With a PS, the nDAC shows a clean pair of heels to the NDX2 DAC. Without a PS I still prefer the nDAC sound-wise, but it’s closer and I recognize the (significant) added functionality the NDX2 brings.


@Zenarcade: Agreed. The 555PS has many possible uses, unless you go with non-Naim alternatives. Again, nothing wrong with the alternatives; but if @corsuse has decided on staying with Naim for the foreseeable future, the 555PS is a good choice — I made the same.



Allo Digione Signature with Allo Shanti PS as source for nDAC with xps


NDX2/XPSDR is a very nice upgrade over the ndac. It’s a warmer more satisfying sound - but just better, it’s different too.


@MMky Isn’t the nDAC better than the analog section inside Ndx2? The performance of the ndac would be highly dependent on the digital source. If you have compared ndx2 + ndac versus ndx2 alone then it is a fair comparison. But then it depends where you put the XPS Dr power supply. NDX2 + XPS DR might be better than nDAC alone but what about NDX2 vs nDAC + XPS DR with NDX2 as digital source?

Let me just say I don’t miss the ndac anymore. It’s not just about pure performance - it’s also a different dac chip - and it just has a different warmer sound to it.
I also like the fact that it’s two boxes instead of three and that it’s just one power cord not three.
I also prefer the ndx2 with a XPSDR over a 555.


@MMKy, you’re right having only one power cord and two boxes has a lot better convenience. What about soundstage and details - was there difference in this deparment? It’s also interesting that you preferred the XPS DR. What did you find lacking in the 555? Was it 555DR or the old 555? You made me think in a whole new direction which will save me space and leave me empty room for other upgrades and better separation between all of the Naim boxes. For what I’ve read NDX2 with XPSDR can surprass even NDS which has older streaming technology.

I’m not the right person to answer ‘audiophile’ questions. :slight_smile:
I’ve also got a ND555 with two 555DRs, 552/500, which gets less use at the moment than the NDX2/282/HicapDR/250DR system…
So - I did try a 555DR on the NDAC and on the NDX2, but within a day or so moved back to the XPSDR. Just felt more balanced and ‘right’…

That’s probably just me though - most people talk of a big lift when going from XPS-DR to 555DR. It’s probably also got to do with what you’re used to.

The biggest changes to my system came when I went from having Netgear switches to installing UbiQuiti DreamMachine router and unifi UbiQuiti swirches through out the home.


For some context about my journey in second system:
Went from
0) Ndx/SN2/HicapDR - had and sold the xpsDR
A) 272/250DR
B) added xps Dr
C) sold xps Dr
D) sold 272 in lieu of UQ2/naim dac/Nac72/Hicap dr - I already had the UQ2 and the HicapDR - so selling the 272 provided enough funds for naim dac and Nac72
E) bought xps Dr
F) sold off naim dac. Now running NDX2/XPSDR/SN3/HiCapDR
G) had trouble selling the nap250DR - and got an offer on the 282 I couldn’t refuse…

So… In short not a good person to listen to for advice.

For me it’s mostly what the music feels Iike - not what it sounds like.
To be clear - the ndac was awesome too. And going to the ndx2 is not a big ‘upgrade’ per se - but I prefer it.

If you’re happy with the naim dac, getting a UQ2 might be a good first step. I feel the price is more in line with the cost of a transport than getting a ndx2 as a transport - sprcially in the context of the rest of the system.


@MMky That is a big journey indeed. I agree that the most important part is how the music makes you feel. I also want to end up with 282/250 and my biggest hesitations are regarding the front end. You mentioned that NDX2 has warmer signature than nDAC but I really like the balance in the nDAC and don’t want anything warmer. Won’t be the ND5XS2 a better alternative to UQ2 since it has newer design and in the case of UQ2 I would use something like 1/5 of its potential?

The UQ2 can be had for US $1100 or so s/h… And it’s great that you’re just using the streamer section from a transformer robust enough to power a 30W amp.

Really depends on whether you want to use Roon.

What a journey! Gotta admit F) sounds like a great place to be.

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