USB stick into Naim streamer VS uPnp streamer

Has anyone tried playing music from a USB stick into a Naim streamer? I am currently looking at uPnp servers like the Uniti Core. I realised my music collection can fit completely onto a 512gb USB stick.
I was wondering if forgetting about the uPnp server and playing directly from the USB stick would be a better solution. It certainly is simpler and much less expensive; but I was wondering if the sound quality would be as good. I am using an NDX 2.

Certainly a lot easier to implement. Sound wise will likely be the same. The only difference might be navigation through the albums and songs. Try with a smaller one you have already to get a flavour of it.

I’ve ordered a 512GB USB stick and will try it in the next few days.

I use a Memory stick in my ND5 XS2, and its just brilliant. Just take it out to resync with my computer when I buy new stuff, which is rare now. The best thing is that it eliminates all the networking faff. Album art, Metadata all work out perfectly in my opinion


never used my UQ2 other way: SanDisk USB3 pen stick into Naim.
everythings fine (5 years and counting)


As an experiment I ripped some CDs to FLAC, copied them to a pen drive and they sound really good through my NDX. Only problem is tracks playing in alphabetical order rather than original sequence. I never investigated the cause but it was doubtless something I did wrong.

normally tracks play in order you define, upon copy into.

@ChrisSU taught me this, in the naim APP:

See if it helps…

I tried music on a USB stick. It is not presented the same way in the Naim app as with a uPnp server. There is no album art and I don’t like the presentation.
It is not the solution I was hoping for.

If you look in the Server input under Local Music you should see the music browsable my metadata in much the same way as if you were running a remote server.


Thanks. I’ll try it out later today.

Server option work well and displays album art nicely, mostly. You may have to spend a bit of time ensuring your rips have album art embedded by using software like Perfect Tunes and you’ll sometimes get the odd folder without art, but on the whole, it works well. I’ve got a 500gB usb stick which seems to do the trick nicely. Be aware that when you first plug it in it takes a while to populate the files for access, especially if there are a quite a few. The only downside is that you have to keep unplugging it when you want to update with any new purchased music, but you can’t expect everything from a simple system.

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It works exactly as you say Mike through the server input. So, that’s solved. Now come the sound quality tests! I want to see if the sound quality is the same through the USB stick as my Mac Mini Used as a NAS.

Sounds fine to me via USB. In theory there could be a small gain by removing the Mac Mini as they can be electrially noisy.
If you make regular additions or edits to your library you may find the USB option a bit less convenient.

The USB stick doesn’t have a spinning disk, a noisy power supply and doesn’t go through the network. In theory, it should sound better, or at least not worse.

I don’t add music very often since having a Tidal subscription, so I won’t have much inconvenience using the USB stick.

I am transferring my music collection, 600 albums in CD and Hi Res quality, 380 gb worth to the new 512gb stick. It is taking hours to do!

I wonder what other Naim users have as a music library? The biggest library I ever heard of was 11000 CDs and 7000 vinyls!

Jeez, does a USB stick sound just as good as a Nas? Did I just waste my time and money setting up the nas and server?
Hey! … I’ve got a NAS for sale. I’ll think about it for a week first. I guess I should have tried the USB first like Daniel did.

On the 1st gen. Naim streamers some people considered the USB input as a reference against which to judge the performance of UPnP streams. It’s certainly not a bad option, although functionality is limited on 1st gen. streamers compared to the current models.

Okay, thanks Chris. That makes sense. I have a stick in the NDS with mostly MP3s on it, and I must admit it sounds quite good, but the NAS sounds better of course. It plays at 1411 most of the time.
I’d just never tried higher res files on the stick. Maybe I should, but the NAS is useful for a lot of reasons.

I have been running an NDS for years, mostly cat 6 directly from my router and then via a Cisco, using a variety of nas drives, then asset on RPi, now Roon on a fanless NUC. During this time I always used a local usb stick as a reference, unplugging the ethernet for listening. It was easy to hear that all implementations were just about equal in sq terms, so network noise was never really an issue.

That changed when I first tried a shunyata ethernet cable on home demo, just to hear what the fuss was all about. I am now playing with the ether regen with a cheap external clock and have tried a couple of decent linear supplies on the er and other elements of the network. It is working wonders for me, raising the NDS to a level I didn’t think it was capable of and easily surpassing the usb interface.

This is all a lot of complication and expense to wring out the best performance I can get without jumping to an ND555 at much higher cost, but shows what is possible and I think at least for the 1st gen streamers is an indication that the usb interface might not be the reference I thought it was.

Only my personal experience and I am sure others will not agree, ymmv as usual!


Sound quality wise, I feel there is little or no difference between the usb and the same quality musical file via Qobuz. There are some advantages in that you can get album details and additional photos via the booklet link, which is nice and no possible via the Naim app and streaming albums directly. You have to have the Qobuz app open (or Roon) if you want the equivalent info.