As we don't have an easy way to multi-quote, permit me to do a manual version of it. I'm not v high up the Naim tree; Nait 5i amp, CD5si CD player and ND5XS streamer into PMC20.23 floor standers. When it's in the right place and no-one else is in it sounds fantastic. When things settle down a bit with a more secure longer term job situation I plan to move up the Naim tree a few notches, but for now this setup produces a very very good sound.
"Will a Naim ND XS 2 streaming unit make for good money well spent for a top quality sound in my system, just as a good CD player would?"
To my ears the ND5XS is better than my CD player, esp when fed with good quality streams. To that end I've recently re-ripped my entire CD collection as FLAC files, not MP3. Some claim ripping to WAV is better but the argument is a subjective one; there's no clear cut answer. I believe that you'd find the streamer easily as good as or more likely better than the CD, subject to the source files. In addition to having your CDs available as FLAC files you also get access to a myriad high quality radio streams through the streamer. Radios 2, 3, 4 & 6M sound fantastic, 5L is too but is in mono, if that matters. I don't often venture into the wider world of internet radio but along with Naim's own Radio Paradise that a lot on here seem to like (too dull & worthy for me personally) there are countless hq radio streams at the push of an ipad screen. Look for the high bit-rate streams, 320kps is the best you'll find although the bit rate on its own isn't the sole arbiter of quality. Internet stations also have a habit of coming and going.
"I keep reading that a low cost NAS is good enough and that this can just be operated by a laptop or an I pad, if so, why are Naim releasing these expensive units if it can be done at a much cheaper level?"
Why do Naim sell a premium product that generates a lot more profit to them instead of similar sales to Amazon, Currys, EBuyer etc? Hmmm.. Strokes chin.... A decent quality NAS is just somewhere to put the digital files; it's what happens in the networking and conversion process that matters.
"I am finding all this tech stuff rather contradictive if I must say so myself. I need answers. I am very soon about to have 2K burning a hole in my pocket and the thought of getting a Rega deck and phono stage is starting to make my senses tingle. Trouble is, I do want to move forward, become more modern and explore this 'so called' digital revolution at the same time. It just seems all a bit patchy? "
Streaming is very easy, it really is as simple as plugging the streamer into your router and prodding the buttons to access internet radio, be that BBC radio or any of the others. Beyond that you can add your NAS, and a streaming service like Tidal which just requires a one-off log-in (and the £19.99 monthly fee to get the hq service) to have access to untold riches via that service. See also Spotify etc.
The alternative is buying a TT then having to buy a whole lot of music again to make good use of it, and personally I have a bee in my bonnet about vinyl prices. The pressing plants have openly admitted that they push prices to find the breaking point for the consumer (Sunday Times a few weeks ago) and so far the consumer seems willing to soak up any increases. I genuinely begrudge being invited to buy Nirvana's Nervermind on vinyl for £23 in HMV when it's on the CD rack opposite at £5.99. I'd rather commit to a fixed 20 quid a month for the massive choice available through Tidal, esp when a browse of the What Are You Listening To thread on here coupled with Tidal's range of music allows instant access to some extraordinary music that I'd otherwise never have stumbled across.
"Will it be worth it in me investing in a NaimND5 XS 2?"
Probably, but the ND5XS is very good, and the old adage still holds true, that if you always wait for the next incarnation you'll always be missing out. The ND5XS is great; the next version will probably be a little bit better. It's your choice.
"Most of my music is on CD but I may be pushed into hunting vinyl all over again if I can't find a way through the confusion."
It's not that confusing. You need to see a system in action in the real world, ideally a home system not a dealer pushing the latest & greatest tech.
"Perhaps it is time that I now pay my dealer a visit."
Indeed. It may well be.
Like I said, you can over-complicate this stuff. I held back originally but it was clear that streaming was becoming as much a valid source as vinyl, cassettes, reel to reel, Elcassette, DAT, CD and SACD have all been at various times in the past. Streaming combines quality with convenience; why wouldn't you?