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Chris, did you encounter the new Naim DAC at CES? It looks pretty interesting: Plays up to 768 KHz files through USB; greatly enhanced S/PDIF; internal WAV file player through USB connection (768 KHz/32 bit WAV files at that); plus several other innovative-sounding design features I haven't seen anywhere else. I'm going to have a chance to sample one briefly, but wondered if you'd heard it.

 

Vade Forrester

 

_________________[br]Vade Forrester

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I haven't been able to hear it in an environment that would enable me to render an opinion. Some rooms at CES and RMAF are really loud because of crowd noise in the hall. Naim's room was one of those.

 

I am really interested in your opinion if you have a chance to listen to the DAC.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Hi from France. My first post here, guys. ;-)

 

I had the chance to get a loan (for 6 days) from mylocal NAIM dealer during Xmas time.

 

This DAC alone is already stunning. Smooth but ultra detailled mids and highs. Very lively and foot tapping. Never aggressive nor tiring even on Wilson Audio speakers. Just a joy to listen to on the long run. Clearly another league than my Lavry DA10. My own reference DAC so far is the LAVRY DA2002 that I also auditionned in my system for several days more than a year ago.

When you partner this NAIM DAC with its dedicated external supply (NAIM XPS2), then it becomes rather close to a DA2002 and also very similar to my usual CD player (also a NAIM CDS3 + XPS2).

Despite its sophisticated anti-jitter scheme, I still feel the SQ was better with my FireWire interface (ECHO AudioFire 2) to S/PDIF than using a direct optical Toslink connection from the MacBook as recommended by Naim Audio's user manual.

 

ps: I also much prefer Wave Editor sound rendition compared to iTunes (a bit 'hollow' and soft). But this is not DAC related (same behavior on the Lavry DA10).

 

Cheers.

 

 

 

Daphile or VortexBox based audio player with ASUS MB and fanless Streacom case. Paul Hynes and Teddy Pardo linear supplies. SSD drive. Paul Pang SATA cable on its way...

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I laid eyes and ears on the Naim DAC today. In a design decision that totally mystifies me, Naim includes only Type A USB connections, which pretty well precludes using the DAC with external computers via the USB connection. As an upstream device, it needs a Type B connector. It may be possible to hack the connection, but I'm not smart enough. If it's easy, please let me know. The distributor says it can't be done, from what my dealer tells me.

 

Their Type A USB connections are designed for two types of playback:

 

1. Playing WAV files from a USB Flash drive. The WAV player is built-in, and plays high-rez files up to 768 KHz. I copied the CA sample HRx files onto a flash drive, plugged the drive into the front USB port, and the files played like champs. Sounded spectacular, but who wants to go to the trouble of copying files to a flash drive to play on the DAC?

 

2. Playing files from an iPod/iPhone. Connecting the iPod via its USB cable lets the DAC play music recorded on the iPod. The limit here is 48 KHz, unsurprisingly.

 

There are 4 coaxial S/PDIF connectors and 4 optical S/PDIF connectors.

 

Although the DAC was not broken in, it sounded smooth, detailed, and energetic, with tons of PRaT (hey, it's a Naim). I think it has lots of promise. It's sad that an inexplicable design decision apparently makes it unsuitable for use with computers. That should eliminate most of their possible sales.

 

 

_________________[br]Vade Forrester

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In order to drive the iPod or USB memory key, the NAIM DAC / USB interface needs to be the 'Master'. While, if the DAC is attached to and receiving data from the PC/Mac, then its USB interface needs to behave like a 'Host'.

That's probably the reason why it can't be directly connected to a computer.

It's also possible that NAIM recognize they can't (yet?) achieve the best possible Sound Quality on the USB interface so they prefer to hold off until they master the asynchronous transaction with a computer. (who knows if an upgrade would come later...?)

 

That's a limitation for sure! But everyone here is happy with a Berkeley Alpha DAC also not proposing any USB interface. This NAIM DAC can be connected via Toslink or S/PDIF or playing the file directly from the USB stick and/or iPod. It's already a lot of options ;-) I would have appreciated to see AES/EBU, though.

 

Finally, only the SQ matters and on that regards the NAIM DAC is not lacking anything to my opinion.

 

 

 

 

Daphile or VortexBox based audio player with ASUS MB and fanless Streacom case. Paul Hynes and Teddy Pardo linear supplies. SSD drive. Paul Pang SATA cable on its way...

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If you want to use the Naim DAC with a computer just ask your dealer to give you a HiFace free of charge, as a kind of extra discount :-). Should be very good combination.

 

I understand Naim's decision do not include direct computer connection, there are so many possibilities now, they let the customer make a decision. For 2-300 Euro you have lots of possibilities with Toslink, USB, USB2, Firewire and PCIe to connect the computer to the Naim DAC.

 

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I am not at all happy with a Berkeley Alpha DAC. I don't doubt it sounds great, but it costs too much (for me), and doesn't provide the interface I need to connect my computer to it. At $3500 USD, the Naim had a chance of meeting my requirements, but for reasons I don't understand, went a different direction. I know I could use a USB-to-S/PDIF adaptor, but if Naim has the technology to support a 768 KHz USB connection, why should I have to fool with a 96 KHz adaptor? I think Naim made a huge marketing blunder by not enabling computer streaming.

 

Vade Forrester

 

 

_________________[br]Vade Forrester

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If you want to know Naims reasons for NOT including a direct computer connection via USB (or FireWire) they have a comprehensive White Paper explaining much of the technology in and thinking behind the DAC.

 

You might not agree with them, but Naim have good reasons for NOT including the direct computer connection - mainly to do with power isolation and grounding issues.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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"... if Naim has the technology to support a 768 KHz USB connection, why should I have to fool with a 96 KHz adaptor?"

 

I don't think this is true. Naim's DAC chip can support 768 kHz but Naim does not have a USB interface or the technology that can support 768 kHz. I believe most DAC chips in use today will go all the way to 768 kHz but that's pushing the chip to its max. Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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This is exactly what I thought. The USB interface is a standard data interface like plugging a hard drive into your computer. You're computer can handle any data no matter if it's 16/44.1 or DXD. The Naim DAC just plays the file like a custom Linux music server.

 

It would be a different story if one could connect a computer and use something like iTunes or J River to send audio to the USB interface.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Interesting thought. Have you tried the HiFace? It looks quite interesting.

 

I've read Naim's rationale for not including the computer connection, but as a computer audiophile, it irks me that they chose that route rather than deal with the problems they cite. After seeing the lengths they go to to make S/PDIF work, it's hard to believe they couldn't have achieved equally good results with USB.

 

But they didn't so it's on to the next DAC.

 

Vade Forrester

 

_________________[br]Vade Forrester

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Agree it would be nice if you could connect a computer. Naim's solution to computer connections is to use an external USB to S/PDIF converter like M-Audio's Transit. But that limits you to 96 KHz, just as many other converters do. Plus it has a Toslink output connection-not my preference.

 

Ferenc's suggestion to use a HiFace might be the only way to get past the 96 KHz USB barrier. Have you tried it?

 

Someday soon we'll look back on these issues and wonder what all the fuss was about.

 

Vade Forrester

 

_________________[br]Vade Forrester

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I tried HiFace with other DACs and a Naim Uniti too (not Naim DAC yet), worked well up to 192k and it works with the internal DAC of the Supernait too up to 192k. I did not tried other SPDIF converters but as I remember there other USB async converters as well, and probably several Firewire SPDIF converters too, like Weiss INT202. So you have a choice.

 

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I had the opportunity to hear the Naim DAC at some length at a dealer, using an all-Naim system. To my ears, with the XPS power supply (itself more than the DAC), it was clearly better than CDX2/XPS. It had the usual Naim organization of the music but it was just clearer and smoother and more resolved. Without the external power supply (which costs more than the DAC), it was excellent, if not as good as before. I didn't really have the ability to take the measure of it without the XPS, though I suspect some would still prefer it to the CD player (also more than the DAC)-even with the XPS. The dealer attempted to demonstrate the differences between serving via CDX2, HDX, and Macbook--but differences were not large, to my ear.

 

Lets apply all the usual caveats about subjective, sighted listening on an unfamiliar system in an unfamiliar room.

 

Nonetheless, given that for many, Naim CD players are the best around, this performance is quite heartening.

 

Also, rumor has it that Naim is working on a streamer, for those unwilling to use a hiface, TC Konnekt8, Weiss INT202, M-Audio Transit, HagUSB, or the iphone connection.

 

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Hello togethter,

 

fierst of all pleale let me introduce myself.

My name is Karsten and I´m a guy from Wolfsburg in Germany.

I strarted wiht computers in my system about 2 years ago.

 

Since december 2009 I´m a Naim Dac owner.

I have the same problems with connecting Mac Mini to the Naim DAC.

At the first 2 weeks I thougt about to give it back to the dealer...

But where is the alternativ?

Theese device sounds so great, there is no noise, it´s very "big" and open...The possibiltys to connect other devices ist nearly perfekt.

 

I will try the mface interface next month...perhabs the problem is solved.

 

Best regards

Karsten

 

ps. Sorry for my bad English

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Karsten

Does it mean you have manage to connect a Mac Mini to a Naim DAC? If so how did you do it? How was the sound?

 

Waiyee

 

Mac Mini (iTune) + ALAC on Synology 409 NAS > Transparent USB cable >Benchmark DAC1 >Neutrik XLR >Jeff Rowland Continuum Integrated Amp >B&W 802 speakers

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I tried connecting my Macbook Pro with an el cheapo TOSLINK cable from the Apple Store, and it sounded very good. My HiFace is on order eagerly being awaited.

 

Macbook Pro/MacMini/dCS Debussy/Cambridge 650BD[br]Vitus Audio SS-010/Living Voice OBX-R2 Speakers/Ultrasone Edition 8 phones[br]Airport Express/Meridian AD88[br]

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  • 2 months later...

The Naim in my opinion is clearly better than the Ayre,a wonderfully designed and realized usb dac, in my opinion. The fact is there is more than one way to get excellent sound. Naim has white paper explaining why they did not make it a usb dac. The sound is what counts not how you get it. This is not a cut at Gordon Ranking and his usb dacs that are wonderfully engineered just the fact that there are more than to get the results we all want. The Berkeley is not a usb based dac either. I would never make a decision on gear based on how it is engineered but how it sounds. I do not own the Naim as real life situation made me reduce my allotted budget but that withstanding for 3500 dollars it would be my choice in a heart beat. I would say above that there would be other candidates to listen to. This is not a cut against such worth dacs as the Weiss and all just a statement how much I love the Naim's sound.

 

Mac Book Pro, HiFace, Cary Exiter Dac, Focal speakers, JL Audio sub,plus cable and cords from Audio Art and Shunyata, Hydra powered by Cambridge Audio

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I do not consider HiFace as an adaptor to be honest. It is just another very clever way to connect a computer to a DAC because it works with the audio files much better than the operating system and the integrated hardware part of the computer.

 

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