NaimNet Cheap option

Posted by: Niklas on 07 March 2007

I'm a new member, coming from the world of high bitrate MP3s and active monitors. Listening to my friend's 282/200 & Allae has changed my feeling on how to listen. My system is exact, his has LIFE.

On to the theory. It seems that the new NaimNet amp NNP2 will be around £1000. It has a digital in, so I assume that the DAC resides in the amp as opposed to the Naim Music Server. The fact that the information is supposed to travel digitally from the NaimNet Music Server to the NaimNet amp also supports this.

Now, if I rip my collection into lossless FLAC or similar (on my computer), with EAC for error correction, the information will be complete. The computer then converts FLAC to PCM which goes via LAN to a nifty device called the Squeezebox, which sends it on to the NaimNet amp via optical. In theory, there should be no loss of information, except for possible jitter in the last optical stage.

The Squeezebox is £200, upgrading your computer with an extra 200GB harddrive is £100. I wonder if there is any difference in audio to the NaimNet music servers at ten times that price?

The crucial questions are: do the amps have a DAC, and is it possible to run (and control) the NaimNet amp without a connected Music Server?

Much appreciating your advice and thoughts on this, I'm aching to get my hands on an NNP 2 and a pair of Allaes in order to enjoy the same level of music as my friend, at a third of the price...
Posted on: 07 March 2007 by Macker
If only it were that simple...sigh.

If you want the same level of repoduction that your friend has then I suggest you duplicate his system...

I mean no disrespect and I am a fan of hard disk based systems but to be honest there is a lot more to audio repoduction than can be explained by physics (well physics that mere mortals like me understand).

I do not doubt that good results can be had from what you discribe and personally I find the ease of music retreval reminds me of the introduction of CD's when tape and vinyl ruled - imagine being able to skip instantly to any part of the album you we can do the same but within our entire music collection.

It is undoubtably the future but there will be levels of excellence within that technology and that is where companies like Naim will provide the highest levels of performance and products like squeezbox will provide a level of performance to a lower price/performance point.
Posted on: 07 March 2007 by David Dever
The SUPERNAIT might be a very viable option for you....
Posted on: 07 March 2007 by yeti.fro
Only a demo will tell... I had the opportunity recently to do an extensive comparison between a Squeezebox and a Transporter. Said briefly both are in different worlds. The Transporter is IMHO the first networkplayer which can be used for more than background music in the bathroom. I hope this is just the beginning and more devices designed to sound good will follow soon.

From my experience a really good sound via optical TOSLink is simply impossible. The short piece of plastice totally kills every music.

Posted on: 07 March 2007 by sonofcolin

If you have active monitors try the following:
DAC/pre --> active monitors.

Squeezebox is good, but the digital out isn't that great (but it can be improved). Transporter may also be an option, then you don't need a separate DAC/pre. Just connect it straight to the active monitors.

With the NAIM Net boxes, you will get more than you actually need IMHO.

My setup consists of OS X server with itunes. Laptop with itunes connected to shared server library (wifi) --> ALAC --> USB --> DAC/pre --> amps --> speakers.
Posted on: 07 March 2007 by dan scott
I can't see the DAC's being in the poweramps of the Naimnet products, surely they'll be in the NS series products that then output via SNAIC to the power amps or to a pre-amp via a lavender/hiline. At least I hope this is the case then I could use my existing pre power setup if I went for a Naimnet front end, an idea I've been considering recently as I'm looking to upgrade my CD5.
Posted on: 07 March 2007 by dan scott
Also at the moment I also have an OS X server sharing up a centralised itunes library to my Macbook and also to an Airport Express which outputs digitallty into my AV2 as a DAC which is very good quality considering the price of the APX, not a million miles of my CD5 actually (Although the AV2's DAC's are more to thank their I feel!)
Posted on: 07 March 2007 by Thomas Breding

I was just thinking the same when I read this thread. (I am btw "the friend with the 282/200). I know that the Supernait will crack Niklas budget and for me the most interesting question still is:

Where is the sound quality "lost" in Niklas proposed setup? If he is sending high quality digital sound bit by bit into the DAC of a NNP2 it should be "lossless" all the way into the DAC.

Is the process where you transfer your cd´s into the hard drive the critical point?

Would be great to have a s i m p l e explanation of how this works.

I have kept my great sounding CD5 instead of upgrading to a CDX2. Main reason was to wait and see what would happen on the hard drive music player side.

Now I´m really looking forward to the NAIM products, it might be exactly what I want (=same sound quality as a CDX2 but with all my music organized and easy to access).


Posted on: 07 March 2007 by dan scott
anywhere jitter is produced quality is not so much lost, but timing is all screwed up so the toslink/coax output of the squeezebox to the DAC will create jitter.

Also I belive the transport used to rip the CD's and the encoding methods can introduce jitter into the rip.

I do stress i'm no expert, that's just what I've learned from what i've read.

Posted on: 07 March 2007 by Thomas Breding
I guess that the only way to find out is to do a demo once they arrive...

Roll Eyes Thomas
Posted on: 07 March 2007 by TDI
Originally posted by dan scott:
anywhere jitter is produced quality is not so much lost, but timing is all screwed up so the toslink/coax output of the squeezebox to the DAC will create jitter.

Also I belive the transport used to rip the CD's and the encoding methods can introduce jitter into the rip.

I do stress i'm no expert, that's just what I've learned from what i've read.


Although, wouldn't the DACs in the SuperNait (or Naimnet kit) re-time the digital input, thus removing the jitter ?
Posted on: 07 March 2007 by dan scott
not completely, re-clocking will go a great way towards restoring the original signal but never completely restore it. A 100% restoration would only be possible if the DAC knew exactly what timing distortions had occurred previously.
Posted on: 07 March 2007 by nap-ster
You could always Trichord Clock the Naimnet

Big Grin
Posted on: 07 March 2007 by Thomas Breding
Just had to test this, eventhough it doesn´t help us in this discussion as I am converting everything already in the SqueezeBox with it´s more simple DAC:

Did an A/B test with my CD5/HC2 vs. SqueezeBox (file format: AAC 192kb.) into my 282/200. Same song played at the same time, just switching on the pre.

SqueezeBox goes into the AUX2 socket via phono cables (v.d.Hul 102).

The result: A bit more sharpness (typical for compressed music if you ask me) on the SqueezeBox as well as something I would describe as a lack of "feeling". This might be the timing element, I don´t know. Less 3D, less of the "Wow, he´s playing in my room" thing. Uncomfortable to listen to at higher volume. CD5/HC2 wins a easy victory. (Thank God, would be hard to justify my CD5 otherwise!)

One must remember that CD5/HC2 is app. 3.000€ and SqueezeBox is 300€ AND my files on the computer are compressed. I have to do this test again with less compressed files. Niklas, are you up for a test next time you´re back in Stockholm?

What I still haven´t figured out is if the DAC is in the Music Server or in the amp... But I guess it MUST in the amp as you place one amp and a set of speakers in each room and send the music digital from the music server to all rooms via your LAN. Right?

Posted on: 07 March 2007 by Niklas
Excellent thoughts all, many thanks!

First, let's lose the Squeezebox and Toslink, since you say it kills music. No problem. The NNP2 has a LAN input which would come from a hub connected to the PC that has the music files. We will have to control the PC from a tablet PC, Windows CE device or something else that runs the Netstream software (it is Flash based).

Again, this assumes that the DAC is in the amp. Thomas has a good argument for this.

Sonofcolin: I do agree, however my actives (Genelec) were designed to kill music, to dissect it in order to ensure it is perfect in every detail of the recording. What I'm looking for is bit-for-bit perfect ones and zeroes (as they were on the CD), delivered into Naim (DAC and amp and speakers) in order to breathe life into them. I believe that EAC, harddrive storage and the controlled lossless protocol of Ethernet will deliver that into the NNP2. Actually, that seems to be exactly what Nait believe in creating NaimNet. My proposition here is whether one needs the NaimNet server or whether one can connect straight to the PC.

Thomas: Listening test booked!

Again, many thanks!
Posted on: 07 March 2007 by David Dever
You'd have to get the streams onto the network somehow–the Naim NS-series servers would be the best-sounding option, though not the least expensive (NetStreams' MLA101 MediaLinx interface box, using the low-grade audio outputs from your PC as the source), nor the most functional (no control over track selection).

The DAC and volume control is contained within the room amp, although there are local outputs on the server as well.

The other advantage of the Naim server lies in its ability to utilize existing WAV and MP3 files stored on your PC, or on a local network storage device, via Samba/CIFS protocols.

If you only need a maximum flexibility of two streams, the NS01 headless server would be the least-expensive way.
Posted on: 07 March 2007 by Thomas Breding
Here´s some more info if you have the time...:
Posted on: 07 March 2007 by bec143
I have spent quite a bit of time on this, and after much tweaking with linear power supplies, NOS-DACs, etc., ai can still say that my CD5/Hicap sounds better than my Squeezebox 2, even when using completely lossless formats. I just can't agree with any of the early reports of unmodded Squeezeboxes being in CDS2 territory.

Now, that being said, the conveience and flexibility of the computer//Squeezebox make it evident that in the near future, this is what we will all use, most of the time. Also, the bonus of internet radio is huge.

There are options of modded Squeezeboxes (Red Wine, SB+) that are supposed to close most of the gap between these devices and good CDPs- I have not heard them. I have heard the Squeezbox "audiophile" transporter- it is better,but not good wnough yet. However, I won't be buying another CD player- these HD-based systems will be ready for prime-time shortly, IMHO.

Posted on: 07 March 2007 by Alco
However, I won't be buying another CD player- these HD-based systems will be ready for prime-time shortly, IMHO.

I'm afraid you're right, Bruce Frown

I never liked the idea of using a HD-drive as a music-source.
I much prefer building up a collection of individual albums, instead of data on a HD.

I like the idea of holding something physical, unique in my hand. That's the big bonus of vinyl imho.

Despite that, I'm quite confident HD-sources can sound decent to very good.
I don't see myself buying anothe CD-player either in the (near) future.
(unless perhaps a s/h CDX2 comes along) Winker

Hopefully 15 years from now we'll see a CD-revival Roll Eyes Cool
Posted on: 07 March 2007 by dan scott
Surely they won't put a DAC in a power-amp though? Otherwise you'll have long runs or optical cable everywhere which isn't right (Plus would cost a fortune and I'm not sure how long it'll even run..

Need to get more info on what a "basic" Naimnet system can comprise of.

I imagine I could get an NS-01 and run, feed it a CAT5 link to my server where all the audio lies (Install the Naim-Net software there to index all the tracks) and use the Naimnet as a DAC and naimnet box (You have to ahve at least 1 client) outpuitting analogue into my 202 basically like a Squeezebox would.

Any ideas anyone?
Posted on: 07 March 2007 by Thomas Breding
Bruce, then we are more or less on the same track.

It´s just so handy to have all your albums well organized on a HD. I love the way my Squeezebox works, except for the most import part: SOUND!

Once there is something HD based that performs above my CD5/HC2 I´ll probably go for it. Especially if it carries a Naim logo...

I´ll keep an eye on this thread, very interesting indeed.

Posted on: 07 March 2007 by Thomas Breding
The more I think about this, the more confused I get. Adam or someone from Naim, pleeeeeeease help us out here.

The amp MUST have a DAC, how could you otherwise send "music" to it through a CAT5?

On the other hand; So must the NS. If the NS doesn´t have a built in DAC, it will not work with existings pres/amps from Naim. It will then only work with the new SuperNait (that comes with a built in DAC I believe), and the n-Vi.

The NF REF comes with DIN and Phono Output so it must have a DAC, but what about the NS1-2-3?

Duuuuh? Confused
Posted on: 07 March 2007 by Keith L
Once there is something HD based that performs above my CD5/HC2 I´ll probably go for it.

Have you tried your sb3 with a Benchmark Dac1 streaming uncompressed aiff (wav)? It's very close to a cdx2/xps2/hiline, whereas the Transporter was noticeably inferior!
Posted on: 07 March 2007 by Guido Fawkes
I don't really understand NaimNet - I'm not particularly interested in the multi-room bit, but the idea of a Naim music server that has the same sound quality as a CDX2 and on which I could archive my vinyl is very appealing.

One concern I have about any fixed disc based system is capacity - assuming that I don't want to use any form of compression then won't I need a very big hard disk to hold a record collection. With CDs, it is easy to take one out and play the next one - so how much space would a 40 minute vinyl album take up if stored at the highest quality and how much space is there?
Posted on: 07 March 2007 by yeti.fro

your statement proves again, that everybody has to listen for himself. IMHO the Benchmark is one of the worst DACs available. Boring, unmusical, uninspired, simply unlistenable. IMHO the DAC in the Transporter beats the Benchmark in absolutely every aspect. I found it even slightly better than the Aqvox DAC.

Music is always subjective Cool

Posted on: 07 March 2007 by Thomas Breding
Never tried the SB in any other mode than with an analog cable (phono -> DIN) straight into 282 (home) and Nait2 (office). Mostly using it for internet radio and music that I don´t have available on CD.

Would be interesting to try the Benchmark, but at 1.275USD it seems like an expensive test if it doesn´t deliver... :-).