ND555/NDX2

so, maybe a daft q, but here goes.....

The ND555 has a variable volume out, so, I assume, will the NDX2.  Does this mean that, if I have no other sources and don't want any switching between them, I could potentially lose the pre-amp and take the output straight into my 250DR?

If so, what would I loose?

If not, is there a simple preamp that will give me great sound without all the complex gubbins of a 282 or 252?

thanks.....

Original Post

I wondered that as it's a strange departure for Naim and a feature like this would have been mentioned at the factory visit.

They have got their online guides wrong before and those descriptions look more like they are for the Uniti range, especially the mention of using the ND555 with an external amplifier...

You might ask your dealer to demonstrate what difference a pre amp makes. I’ve not seen how the volume control is implemented, whether Naim designed it as a high quality option that will make a 552 redundant or to ameliorate over hot streaming services that aren’t that high in quality themselves.

I think you can be 100% certain that it won’t be the case. When I was at Naim I was talking to Trevor, with a 555 in front of us with the top off, and I said ‘look at all that space, you could put a volume control in it’ then I could use it instead of my 272. If it were possible to control its volume, he would have said so. 

Gazza posted:

This unfortunately brings us back to ......there is no manual, and the online support is inadequate......it’s a great shame. 

Can anyone name another £20k electronic product that does not have a detailed user manual? Come on Naim, we love your products and want to get the best out of them.

Crispy posted:
Gazza posted:

This unfortunately brings us back to ......there is no manual, and the online support is inadequate......it’s a great shame. 

Can anyone name another £20k electronic product that does not have a detailed user manual? Come on Naim, we love your products and want to get the best out of them.

13K electronic product - the 7K PSU does have an instruction manual (though that probably 'adds insult to injury' ).

Alba1320 posted:
Crispy posted:
Gazza posted:

This unfortunately brings us back to ......there is no manual, and the online support is inadequate......it’s a great shame. 

Can anyone name another £20k electronic product that does not have a detailed user manual? Come on Naim, we love your products and want to get the best out of them.

13K electronic product - the 7K PSU does have an instruction manual (though that probably 'adds insult to injury' ).

Agreed, and line 1 of the ND555 manual will be connect to 7k PSU.....

I've heard back from Jason.  The variable output feature is there to comply with Apple Airplay 2 requirements. It is not a substitute for a good pre-amp.  For best performance you should use the streamer in fixed output mode.  Naim do not recommend using the streamer directly into a power amplifier.

ok thanks, and thanks to Naim.  But I would quite like to know what the effect of using it straight into a power amp would be.  I may be cynical, but Naim will clearly want to sell me one or two more boxes.  If it's a clean volume adjustment, then that's all I need.....

The preamp is more than just a volume control, it also acts a a buffer to match the input and output impedances. Having just checked, the input impedance on a 552 pre is 47K whereas the 300 power amp is 18K. Without the pre in place, the source component is driving a lower impedance input than it is designed to. This will have a negative impact on sound quality imo.

xcentric posted:

ok thanks, and thanks to Naim.  But I would quite like to know what the effect of using it straight into a power amp would be.  I may be cynical, but Naim will clearly want to sell me one or two more boxes.  If it's a clean volume adjustment, then that's all I need.....

Well, I think any cynicism here is totally misplaced.  Jason tells me the effect is much poorer performance if you try to feed straight into a Naim power amplifier.  It makes sense, the power amplifier is only one half of the  pairing that make up the amplifier "whole" and Naim power amps are definitely designed to be used with a Naim pre-amp.

And if you still don't believe Jason, it's a free world, so even though it's not designed to be used this way, nobody will stop you trying it for yourself. Good luck, please don't break anything..

I didn't mean to cause offence - but it's not an unreasonable question.  In today's world where many people like me have only one source (digital, whether NAS or streaming), and brought up in an era when a pre-amp did just minor amplification, volume control and switching, and in a time when fewer components in the line was viewed as a good thing, if a just-released streamer has a variable volume control, it's a possibility that Naim have come up with an approach that would work well and remove a box or two.  But then when they it's just to meet Airplay requirements, and is not a substitute, I'd quite like to understand why.  DaveBK's answer makes some sense as reflections may occur.....

I'd really like Naim to bring out a pre-amp for the modern era - single digital source, volume control and impedance matching - and with some much less circuitry, it could be a lot cheaper too.....  It was too much to hope that they had done and built it into the new streamers then.....

xcentric posted:

I didn't mean to cause offence - but it's not an unreasonable question.  In today's world where many people like me have only one source (digital, whether NAS or streaming), and brought up in an era when a pre-amp did just minor amplification, volume control and switching, and in a time when fewer components in the line was viewed as a good thing, if a just-released streamer has a variable volume control, it's a possibility that Naim have come up with an approach that would work well and remove a box or two.  But then when they it's just to meet Airplay requirements, and is not a substitute, I'd quite like to understand why.  DaveBK's answer makes some sense as reflections may occur.....

I'd really like Naim to bring out a pre-amp for the modern era - single digital source, volume control and impedance matching - and with some much less circuitry, it could be a lot cheaper too.....  It was too much to hope that they had done and built it into the new streamers then.....

No offence taken. Just telling it as it is.

What you're asking for here is a different product - a combined streamer and pre-amp - and one that we may well see in due course in the future if the previous NAC-N272 is any indication.

Gazza posted:

I tried a Chord Dave into NAP 300 hoping to obviate the cost of a 252/supercap. It sounded lifeless. Was worth a try, nothing broken, will not bother again with that idea myself.

It’s an intriguing idea to eliminate the preamp, freeing up funds that might improve the source and reduce boxes. The cost of an ND555 is the same as NDX/XPS/252/Supercap. Just how bad is that built in volume control?

xcentric posted:

ok thanks, and thanks to Naim.  But I would quite like to know what the effect of using it straight into a power amp would be.  I may be cynical, but Naim will clearly want to sell me one or two more boxes.  If it's a clean volume adjustment, then that's all I need.....

The answer to the question is ‘do the audition’. There is a big difference between a means to digitally control the volume and a proper analogue volume control. I’d love to see a better streaming preamp - a 372 or 572 - but neither the ND555 nor the NDX2 is that beast. If it were it would have a big round knob on the left hand section of the front panel. 

We've been here 101 times already on the forum. While many use a single source, you will never escape some inherent design compromises by having the more delicate preamp stages in the same box as the digital circuits. 

How high up in the classic range Naim want to go with compromise is an open question. The 272 was cleary a magic product at its price point but given the limitations of component merging, they may not feel a 372 is appropriate classic range quality. 

There is also the tendancy for single source users to look at their 282 or whatever and bemoan the wasted cost on the other 5 inputs. But the cost of the unit is not linear. Once the cost of R&D and the basic design and implementation of a single signal path is out of the way, adding additional inputs doesn't add significantly to the unit. They could probably trim a preamp down to 3 inputs but the cost to manufacture wouldn't change much. Yet 100% of customers would expect it to be cheaper and 20% of customers who use more inputs would be alienated. Very little benefit really for such a design change.

No idea, but the 552 input impedence is 47kΩ and it will be designed to feed into that. This happens to also be the input impedence of your Krell whereas that of a NAP500 is 15kΩ so you might be lucky and be able to feed it using the volume control on the 555. Try it at your dealer against the best Naim pre he can lay his hands on with the 555 output set to fixed if you wan’t a clue as to what you’ll be missing running it direct.

The one reason I'm not splitting my 272 into a 282 and a ND5XS2 is the ancient 282 look & feel. Not to mention the analogue volume knob, the useless (for me) double controls and myriad of inputs.

I would love a 372 with a 282-level-pre-section and the dac+streamer from ND5XS2. And only powered by an external XPS. They could ditch the volume pot as well and go UnitiLite style. 

Naim needs updated preamps. And a 372!

DaveBk posted:

The preamp is more than just a volume control, it also acts a a buffer to match the input and output impedances. Having just checked, the input impedance on a 552 pre is 47K whereas the 300 power amp is 18K. Without the pre in place, the source component is driving a lower impedance input than it is designed to. This will have a negative impact on sound quality imo.

indeed that is what I heard when I tested my Chord Dave into my NAP 250DR.

It only took a few seconds and I loved my 282 even more when I put it back.

Don't believe everything you read on the internet, Naim knows how their amps work, and to get the best performance, in my experience, I learnt to trust Naim.

This weekend we try a ndx2 directly to a Nap250. Whit special cable in the Netherlands by Lexicom Multimedia. Also a highly respected reviewer 'Rene van Es' will be present. Then we can say why every one should use a good pre amp. Allready tested the NDX2 on a Supernait 2. It is a spectecular streamer Whit a unbelieveble sound. Pardon my Englisch ;-)

I now have my NDX2 but cannot find the variable volume out . I am keen to try it as it would let the roon app control volume although if that is at the cost of SQ then I will cope without it . Can anyone help in terms of access to the options show above please

There’s a setting in the app called volume mode where you can select one of three modes. Hybrid is meant to apply variable to streaming services I think but not rips. I’ve not bothered to try it as nothing has been over hot so far, though, I haven’t dug very deep into streaming yet.

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Jonas Olofsson
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