Naim Convert to dCS

So I may be taking the plunge into a Bartok or Rossini. I currently have a Naim system (552/recent DR upgrade on the PS), 300 DR. I got into streaming this summer with an ND5XS2 with an ndac fed by a 555PS. I thought I’d eventually get to an ND555 which was perhaps my move now but have been reading a lot about dCS. I’ll do more reading but given the trades I have, perhaps the Rossini could be the better fit. I don’t have the extra funds for the clock at the moment but like the idea of a future upgrade.

Happy to hear any advice. Also, my current cable from the ndac to the 552 is a Chord Music 5 pin. What do most people use for their connections to preamps?

Thanks!

Welcome to the community, Matt @katmaimatt.

After leaving my speaker based Naim system and analog front end behind, I listened with an ND 555 with two 555 PS DR feeding a Woo Audio WA33 headphone amp. After a while it became clear that my listening habits had reached the limits of Naim’s approach to music reproduction. At that point I remembered a stellar system I got to hear in Luxembourg. It consisted of a dCS Paganini stack with Spectral amps and Avalon speakers in a purpose built listening room. Truly delightful. Because of that fond memory I ordered a Bartók with headphone amp plus a Vivaldi clock. The switch was rewarding. Bartók and clock are different from what Naim delivers. In some areas like realism or inner musical structure the new setup was ahead, in others not (e.g. foot tapping quality). Both firms place different emphasis. I didn’t make an interim stop with Rossini and upgraded to Vivaldi after reading enough of the very positive posts here. Now the overall result is superior in almost all regards. Maybe not when it comes to punch or drive. But that might be a pleasing Naim artifact too… Long story short, I encourage you to test listen to the Rossini. The step up from the ND5XS2 should be very obvious. And then you can see whether what you are leaving behind in Naim sound qualities is fine for you.

I use ChordMusic XLR cables to connect Vivaldi DAC and the headphone amp. A reminiscence to the Naim days… Will be looking at alternatives. Probably will procure test cables from Argento and Esprit. Here’s one of the threads on cables:

I’m coming from HDX-NDX-NDX2-ND555, running now a Rossini + Clock (and love it!)
If you connect a dCS to a Naim amp you’ll notice more air, more 3D and the PRaT is there as well.
Even a Bartok sings like hell - you’ll be suprised!
Over the years, I switched the amps from Naim to Nagra. This is “my” final destination now.

1 Like

Hi, I had a Naim ndac a long time ago, connected to a modest Moon 180 streamer…So, far from what you have in your system.
My advice…skip Bartok or Rossini and buy directly a Vivaldi (DAC+Upsampler) otherwise you might be disappointed given the current source you have…the ndac is so good, but I understand you would like a more up to date streamer…
I switched to dCS Vivaldi myself, pure joy :wink:

Hello @katmaimatt
Welcome to the forum. There are many current and ex Naim users actively participating on this forum. I am a 20 year Naim owner who runs a 552DR/500DR/LP12/Rossini+Clock. Both the Rossini and LP12 (Urika) are connected to my 552DR with Chord Music cables. I am one of the original USA “guinea” pigs who started with the original Chord Sarum project 10 years ago. Each time an upgrade was developed (Sarum>Super Sarum> Music) I sent my cable back and it was replaced/upgraded with the new model. There were many growing pains way back then.

My digital front end was always Naim culminating with the CD555 player. When Naim started with digital and the HDX I was not convinced and I demoed the Linn Klimax DS when it was introduced in 2007. In 2011 when the KDS was upgraded to the KDS/1 I decided to go all in and sold off my CD555 and went full digital with Linn. The Klimax DS has served me well for a decade and has been updated each time Linn came up with something new. In 2020 I treated myself to a Bartok HA for use in my headphone only systems. I was so impressed with its performance (90% of the Linn at significantly less cost) that it inspired me to purchase a Rossini+Clock to replace my Linn in the big Naim 500 system.

Since then I have not looked back. I personally know many Naim users who have moved on from their Naim streamers, including ND555 owners, and have gone on to embrace the Rossini.

Jump in…the water is fine.

Best
Gregg

1 Like

You won’t regret it…. For pretty much the past 7/8 years I’ve been on dCS as digital source with Naim Amps. They work very well together.

I started from Puccini + clock as naim never venture into SACD, and who’s doing DSD audio best? Since got the hang of ripping SACD into DSD files, I have moved into Roon then replaced the Puccini with Bartok/Rossini Clock.

For interconnect, I’m using Witchhat Morgana from bartok into my 252, and pretty much the rest on my rig including the burndies are Morgana

Hi Matt

Like yourself I was also just going to go ND555, as like you I have a 552dr and at the time a naim NDS, running 2 power supplies. After picking up a nd555 and swapping it over with the nds, I couldn’t tell a difference at all, nor could my daughter or anyone, so I took it and my nds to the dealer as I thought it could just be my system. Well at the dealer and on a full naim 500 system the same, I couldn’t tell any difference, the dealers helper said the same, the dealer tried to say it had better bass, more air, etc, etc, but no it didn’t.
So that was for me the nd555 out and so went looking for something else, at this point I had never heard of dCS and the Bartok was my introduction and very nice it was too, different sound to the nds, I would say the nds was more like an analog sound and the Bartok certainly sounded more alive and full of detail, without being cold, but certainly not warm, if you get what I am trying to say.
All was fine and I could have certainly gone with the Bartok over my nds, plus the extra benefits the dCS has over it was very appealing, especially going forward and the upgrades that dCS tend to offer free.
But me having mentioned my thoughts on the Bartok, said dealer said, let me go get the rossini and clock, well this was just something else, it made the hairs stand up on my arms, I was simply blown away with how good it was going through the naim 500 system, only problem was price, but I knew this was what I wanted.
It has everything the naim had, but on top of that just more lovely details, it just made you want to play more and more and had you on the edge of your seat waiting to hear things that you had never heard before on your favourite tracks, I could have sat in that chair all day and that has only ever happened to me twice, this time and many years ago when I was in a London hifi shop down Tottenham Court Road and I first heard the top naim system, 52, active 135s etc into dbls I think, anyway I couldn’t stop thinking about the rossini.
Obviously I ended up with one and the clock, the clock does make a nice difference, not one you hear straight away, but after a few days or a week, forget to switch it on like I have twice and you will probably find yourself sitting there thinking, this doesn’t sound right.

So my advice is get a rossini and clock if you can, secondhand like mine is a great way and right now a pair is for sale at £15k, still a lot but not much more than a new Bartok.
Also I found the jump in performance from the Bartok to rossini to be a much better step up than the rossini to vivaldi was, yes the vivaldi is better but for the added outlay I am not so sure, but then only you can decide that.
Finally I now run my dCS into my 552dr and 500dr then to pmc fact 12 speaker’s and I also use witchhat morgana cables everywhere I can, even the 552 burndy and they suit it all lovely

Hopefully this has helped
Cheers dunc

3 Likes

Hi

I have a full Naim system too but I wonder if, for other Naim users, once they prefer the dCS products whether that has made them realise that they need to move away from Naim amplification too because to me I think the dCS components highlight dryness/lack of warmth in the Naim amplification.

I am not wedded to any manufacturer. Maybe Naim is living on past glory. Certainly it’s ND555 is nowhere near as good as even Bartok - in my view. I think when Naim developed the ND555 most of the time seems to have been spent on developing the server side and user interface. They continue to be stuck with the Burr Brown 1704 DAC that was not recommended for use in development from 2004 by Texas Instruments.

Hi
As I said above, I love the dCS into my naim 552dr and 500dr, I find this combo works well, better than others I have hear, but we all like different things and speaker’s plus room plays a massive amount to the final result