Which valve DAC to go with Naim amplification?

I’ve recently been experimenting with my old CB Nait 2, using it with my Innuos Statement into a Mutec MC3+ USB (USB-SPDIF) converter then into my Abbas Dac into my CB Nait 2 using a Sean Jacobs silver RCA-5 pin din then using either my Living Voice OBX RW, Neat Ekstra’s or my Cube Audio Nenuphar speakers.


In saying all of that I have realised I’ve failed to address the OPs primary concern. How does a valve DAC partner with Naim?

Well I’ll begin by saying I’ve never heard the Naim flagship streamer.

Having said that I’ve never heard any other digital source that is as emotively involving or as clean sounding as valve DACs. My prior experience with DACs I’ve owned was the the more affordable end of Audio Note with the DAC 2 and Signature 2.1X. However I have heard a few more valve DACs including the Audio Note DAC 5 I think it was circa 2013 if memory serves me right.

What I found from my initial impression with a valve DAC was how it took away all of the digital haze. I believe the Non Oversampling chips play a key role here as they excel in the ‘timing’ aspect of audio reproduction.

From the more lower spec models you may find the bass a little soft compared to the budget solid state alternatives like Naim DAC or Rega. But when you go higher up in the levels you get a much fuller sound with body that I haven’t heard from any other digital source.

I recently compared my well regarded XI AUDIO SAGRA DAC to my SW1X DAC 3 balanced on my Naim system and the XI AUDIO DAC sounded hollow and far less engaging in comparison. Now considering the 5/6k price difference this is hardly surprising but the delta of the emotional involvement in the music was noteworthy. After the valve DAC the solid state alternative just didn’t engage me.

I try not to use hyperbole so these are my honest impressions. And one has to seriously consider how much you’re willing to spend before any purchase descison makes any sense. This is also why I don’t own the NAP 500 DR as good as I imagine it will be. I simply cannot afford it.

Just to add I do like the aesthetic of the large case valve DACs. They do need some room above them for heat dissipation and they weigh about 17kg.


I have an Allnic D5000 DHT valve Dac, an old Abbas valve Dac and the Naim Dac with 555PS power supply and I demoed the Swix Dac 3 SPX.

All of them sounded good with Naim in my 4x 135 active system and also on my Audionote P3 Silver integrated valve amplifier.

The Swix is made really well and the Dac 3 SPX I had probably edged it in SQ compared to the others, but to get the good mid priced models, they are really expensive.

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I also have an old Swix phono stage which is pretty much on par with my Allnic H7000 Phono which has slightly more detail in the mids but the swix has slightly more bass weight.

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There’s a good forum thread about Abbas Dacs on the whatsbestforum.

Snap! I also have a tube phono pre SW1X LPU 2 Special.

Looks like we are the only advocates of tube based source components. :grin:

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Your Dac 3 and LPU2 are lovely and I’m sure sound outstanding, you were really lucky to get them before the imho (ridiculous) October price increase.

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And 135’s :grin:

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Swix Dac 3 SPX internals.

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I was thinking much the same.

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Check out the new dacs by Gilbert Yeung (formerly blue circle audio). Incredible and works well I’m my Naim system.

135’s are great but skip the valves - you need a DAC with more life, the 135s can handle it with ease. Try a Rockna. Or Yggdrasil+ OG (poor mans Rockna :-))

on the other hand I’ve only heard the Aqua Scala DAC (valve output stage) and the BorderPatrol (doubt it counts, but it does have a valve rectifier).

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Currently trying my old Dac V1 into CB Nait 2 with rest of system as above/before.

Dac V1 certainly doesn’t embarrass itself, very nice combination.

I only ever used the Dac V1 before as a bridge between digital and analogue using it before my Nac 72 and Nac 52, so not really the best combination or strictly the correct way to use it as the Dac V1 has a pre amp and then it went into to my Nac 72 or 52 before I got the Mutec MC3+USB (USB-SPDIF converter.

So other than a short stint using the Dac V1 with my imac (which kept buffering) this is really the first time I’ve used the Dac V1 as intended.

I was told by some Naim staff that you could bypass the pre amp in the Dac V1 by using fixed line out, but was also told by other Naim staff that you couldn’t so I never got to the bottom of that.

Anyway, sounding very good, maybe a little tighter and punchier than the valve dac which is slightly more laid back and analogue.


Why not. Are we allowed to have some fun every now and then outside marriage (with Naim)? As long as it doesn’t break the marriage or the bank.

As I have been having dreams about valves since Year 8, I think the easiest way to realise this dream is to get a valve DAC, as long as this valve DAC is comparable and in similar calibre to the nDAC.

So far, I think I will go for Abbas or Aqua La Scala Optologic mkII. SW1X is too expensive for a ‘mistress’. :rofl:


Abbas also do a Valve USB to SDIF converter with clock, it’s supposed to be very good and not too expensive.

PS: Not sure why no body mention the Musical Fidelity kW DAC and E.A.R. DAC 4. I remember they have good reviews.

The Metronome and Jadis may be too calm/too slow for Naim users’ taste. Cheers.

Do you have an external power supply on your Naim Dac?

Yes. with a XPS2 non-DR. Thanks. Naim put a lot of R&D and resources with power supplies, not having it is like having a great car with cheap tyres.


Swix and Abbas used to work together, there are a few stories in online forums about it if you search for them.

Maybe no one in the Naim forum has tried them.