NAC-N 272

Hasselblad100 posted:

Hi Chris,

thats interesting and summarises my findings too. I have bought a few 24/96 albums and attached them to the streamer via a usb stick and I find it hard to tell any difference. 

What streamer do you have? It seems that many people agree that streaming scores well on the sq/convenience factor but struggle to hear a big difference in pure SQ.


This is with an NDX, streaming UPnP from a Unitiserve. To be fair, I’ve found that some hi-res material does aound very good, just that there is no guarantee that it will sound better than a CD rip or 16/44 download. Certainly not worth the extra price in my view, just on the off chance that it might sound better. 

Hungryhalibut posted:

 To me, and many others, ripped CDs played from a Nas or Core sound better than a Tidal stream. This is an opinion that Naim also subscribe to. If people find Tidal good enough then that’s fine; it just seems a shame that they are not hearing what their system is capable of.

Nigel, it might be interesting to hear if you still find Tidal to be inferior with the current firmware? I haven’t done any direct comparisons of the same album against a CD rip, but over the last few weeks, I just found Tidal music to be more enjoyable than it used to be. Maybe you should do another free trial to satisfy my curiosity?!

S3 posted:
ChrisSU posted:
Hasselblad100 posted:

Can anyone answer my Audivarna/Tidal question above? 

If the only way to get a streamer to deliver a  good (better than CD) result is to buy a load of hi-res music and put it on a USB or NAS then that’s very expensive and totally negates the convenience of being able to browse the online catalogue of tidal/qobuz etc


In reality, I haven’t found that hi-res music is necessarily better sounding than CD. I prefer to use a NAS/streamer rather than a CD player, but the majority of my collection is from ripped CDs. I find this generally sounds a little better than a CD quality stream from Tidal, but an expensive hi-res download does not necessarily sound better still. 

That has been my general experience as well. The 24 bit downloads I have don’t really sound any different on my 272 based system to their CD 16bit equivalents. 

I use Spotify and Bandcamp (Ogg Vorbis and MP3 respectively) across the internet to find new music.  I then download what I want to buy as lossless (FLAC or WAVE) and write this to my NAS as WAVE.

I have taken some good, well mastered 24/192 recordings and reduced them to 16/48 (or 16/44.1) and in these cases I could hear the difference through the ND5 XS I had previously (and the 272 is a lot better player than the ND5).

What is also clear is that the biggest technical difference is not the encoding but the quality of the mastering: a recording with poor quality mastering won't be saved by being encoded at 24/192.  Conversely  a recording with excellent mastering can sound sublime when encoded at 24/192, and can sound appreciably better than the same recording encoded at 16/44.1.

(And this doesn't even include the cases where the record companies have cheated by taking a CD and up-scaling the 16/44.1 data to write 24/192 files that they could then sell at a higher price.  As this has come from 16/44.1 data there can't be any more information in the HiRes file - in fact it'll actually by slightly degraded by the up-scaling process.)

I agree it mostly comes down to the mastering of the album...if this is done well,it will sound great in 16/44,and high res is not going to improve on that.I personally listen to a lot of internet radio throughout the day,which I think sounds very good,especially since the 4.6 update.Try Linn Jazz,or one of Naim’s choice of recommended stations,really excellent sound.Sure CD rips or downloads might be a little better,but I grew up listening to the radio,and it’s convenience and price(free) is hard to beat IMO.


I disagree about the difference between 16/44.1 and HiRes.

Yes, well mastered albums sound very good played through a 272 at 16/44.1.
However, I find they sound even better when played back at their native resolution (and many recent recordings have been recorded at 24/192).

On the other hand, I find that HiRes makes little or no difference with poorly recorded material.

Huge posted:


I disagree about the difference between 16/44.1 and HiRes.

Yes, well mastered albums sound very good played through a 272 at 16/44.1.
However, I find they sound even better when played back at their native resolution (and many recent recordings have been recorded at 24/192).

On the other hand, I find that HiRes makes little or no difference with poorly recorded material.

Huge has this exactly right in my opinion.

A further complication is that when old material is rereleased as high res, it is often, but not always, remastered. This can be highly successful or a disaster depending how well it's done and whether the sound engineer is sympatico with the original producer/recording engineer's intentions.

It's worth looking at the high res recording reviews in HiFi News. Each month they look at half a dozen new high res downloads in detail and it's surprising how few of them have used the scope of a high res recording as a force for good. But some do get it right and you can see from the published graphs why some sound right and some don't.



I have around 1000 hi res albums out of a music collection of 4000 or so albums. I have done the comparisons quite a few times, as I am constantly on the lookout for hi res replacement versions of my existing 16/44 cd rips.

Most times it seems to be an improvement when I get a hi res. It is true that many hi res releases are remastered so you're not exactly comparing the same thing. The 2014/2015 re master of the Led Zeppelin albums have been great. But yeah my cd rips are from 15 year old cd's.

The recent Sgt Peppers hi res is great. I have an original cd, the 2009 remaster on cd, the 2009 remaster on 24/44 USB and now the 2017 24/96 re-remaster. Each time theres a lift IMHO. Guests at my place generally concur.

I have some modern albums by local bands that I know. I am lucky enough that the guys have given me their studio 24/44 or 24/96 master files which they have mastered the album ready for the 16/44 cd release.  And you definitely hear whats lost as the music is down sampled to cd quality. The bass on 24 bit files is so much more tangible as just one aspect that shines.

Also there have been some hi res duds as I have replaced the cd rips.  But on the whole the feeling is that there are many more hits than misses. I  think good hi res offers great sound. And it's pretty easy to tell on my 172.

I hope to audition the 272 when the NDX2 arrives. My thinking is 272/XPS555 versus 282/HiCap/NDX2 are not that far away in dollars so which way to jump? My suspicion is the NDX2 option will win out so I will have to be careful to avoid confirmational bias. I foresee some robust discussion on the forum.

When it comes to modern recordings there is no comparison.  The albums have been recorded, mixed and mastered in 24/44, 24/96 or 24/192 for download. The cd release has to be a downsampled version of the same thing, possibly with some tweeking to compensate for the 16/44 bit rate. So listen to "Meet Me In London" from Naim on 24/192 download and compare with a rip of the cd. Or the excellent 24/96 Jonathon Butt "Messiah" from Linn. Or the debut 24/44 London Grammar download. I've even done it with Janelle Monae's latest album. In each case you have a beautifully done recording from people who know their stuff and it's dead easy to compare the cd 16/44 against a hi res which you know is the same mix.

Richard Dane posted:

Steve, be careful with Meet me in London comparisons.  The 24/192 version was completely remixed from the multi-track masters, so not a like for like comparison.

See here: Meet Me In London 24/192 Remix

Thanks for that. The YouTube doco was very interesting. So we're faced with a beautiful analogue 24 track recording, which is 15 years old. They muck around in the studio in the digital domain, remaster the album, and release a 24/192 download. Which sounds superb!

I have an old cd of this, I just assumed that they took the old stereo master tape and did a analogue to digital 25/192 transcription with maybe a bit of "massaging".

Regardless the 24/192 is heaps better than my older cd rip. 15 years of tape degradation versus a modern, much more nuanced transfer to digital.

I have quite a few 24/192 files of classic 60's & 70's albums. Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, The Beach Boys, James Taylor, Carole King blah blah. Hard to know what they did in the studio when they transferred to 24/192, but all showing nuances that I never have picked up before. Some sound a little soft. But the insights I have had into these treasured old friends have been wonderful.


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