Hi folks again,
after reading through certain threads about digital audio, I must admit i'm starting to get quite confused indeed and may opt looking for a vinyl solution instead...
Stephen, the issue you face is a bewildering range of options, some very simple, others requiring more computer/tech knowledge, and as others have said do not confine yourself to considering Naim.
Perhaps a different slant on things, but you could probably treat certain aspects separately to make life simpler.
Firstly, consider your main music sources before jumping to vinyl unless you have plenty of LPs already - you presumably have many CDs and also I believe a Qobuz subscription (Tidal too?).
Even if you don't get a streamer straight away, ripping CDs is time consuming as is getting the metadata/organisation satisfactory for your needs so you can spend plenty of time ripping CDs in readiness for your final decision - these files will also allow you flexibility for music playback on the computer and any tablets/smartphones you might acquire. While the computer to DAC to Nait is an option it ties up the computer close to the Nait and unless you use some kind of screen sharing app on a phone/tablet you'd struggle to control music playback easily without going to the computer.
dBpoweramp is ideal for the rips, the key is to ensure you have lossless rips (even if they are compressed lossless) which I believe you have done - don't worry too much about different formats as you can always convert quickly between formats later without touching the CDs (or produce lossy derivatives to save space for mobile phones/players) - personally though I think I'd go for FLAC if I were you.
You do not necessarily need a NAS if money is tight right now - rip the CDs to your internal PC drive or an external and ensure you keep a backup. When/if you get a NAS you'll be able to transfer albums to that far quicker than you'll be able to play them, you'll have done a lot of the hard work ripping the CDs and sorting out the metadata.
I'll throw a couple of curved balls into the equation:
1 - Consider an all-in-one e.g. Uniti Atom
If you can stretch to 2k this might be worth auditioning though I can't say how it would compare to your Nait 5si overall (others please comment if this would be a retrograde step). The Nait 5si might be something you could trdae in just check the Atom has appropriate inputs for you.
It's a recent well rated Naim streamer with a decent sound for the price, internet radio and in-built Tidal support (though no MQA).
Music playback is controlled via the Naim app primarily not the physical remote.
It also has Chromecast built-in which would allow you to for example run the Qobuz mobile app and play directly to it over wi-fi. (Gapless playback does not currently work but this is likely to be the Qobuz app).
You'd need an iOS or Android tablet/phone to control it - I think iOS devices are simpler to use but this may well be my ignorance of Android devices which are certainly better value.
The Atom has USB ports to hook up a hard drive or flash memory and you could just access rips directly from this via the Naim app which removes network issues from the equation - no need for a NAS for a single machine. The downside would be you'd have to hook the drive up to the computer from time to time to transfer new music.
You could still potentially play to the Atom from a remote computer on the LAN using Airplay (you my need to install iTunes) or UPNP software. Minim server or similar could work instead of a NAS for audio ripped to the PC and shared over the LAN.
2 - Chromecast Audio device - <£30
Cheap as chips temporary solution just to dabble with rather than using the USB DAC tying up the computer.
You mention you'd like to be able to control things wirelessley - hook it up to your Nait via analogue and you can use a Qobuz mobile app for Chromecasting - might not be best sound quality as cheap but I had one and it wasn't bad, gives you a simple way of using Qobuz direct to the Nait without a computer. The 3.5mm out socket can also send optical digital via a miniToslink connection if needed.
Could go on with numerous other options/permutations, but I think you should:
- sort out your CD rips
- decide on a phone/tablet for 'remote duties'
- then look at devices to accomplish the streaming controlled by the phone/tablet with your remaining budget
You want simplicity, NAS would be nice, but is not essential. You may even decide you're not that keen on streaming and would prefer to stick with CDs.