Naim Audio has just announced their newest streaming network player, the NDS. Naim’s mission was to design a superior network player than their existing NDX with the ability to provide sonic performance from CD rips equivalent to that which most other players can only achieve with hi-res source files.
Just as with the NDX, ND5 XS, and Uniti products, the NDS features 24bit/192kHz streaming, Internet Radio, USB and digital iPod/iPhone/iPad playback, and control via either RF remote, front panel buttons, or Naim’s (free) n-Stream iOS control app.
Like all of Naim’s upper-level components such as the CD555 and CDS3, the NDS does not have an internal power supply – it must be used in conjunction with an external power supply. These include the XP5 XS, XPS, and 555PS. The NDS, like the CD555, includes not one but two sockets for connecting to the 555PS – this means that the user has even more options as they upgrade. They may start with one 555PS with one cable, then add a second cable to that, then for the ultimate performance they could add a second 555PS.
Inside the NDS are a host of improvements as well. The three PCBs (Digital, Analog, and DSP) are separated, and further mechanical isolation is achieved by independent compliant isolation of the Digital and Analog boards, similar to that used in the CD555. Each board is bolted to a large, heavy brass sub-chassis that is suspended above the case on steel springs, providing a mechanical resonance frequency below the audible range at 4Hz.
All data buffering is now done within the SHARC DSP chip itself rather than in the external RAM. This reduces RF interference and optimizes the SHARC’s power draw, improving sound quality. The NDS uses the same 16x oversampling filter as that in the Naim DAC. The chosen filter is a modified Butterworth filter to which additional poles are added to prevent too much phase shift occurring within the audio band. The filter runs as efficiently as possible, using only five lines of assembly code. This ensures both low arithmetic noise (fewer additions and multiplications that cause rounding) and low power supply noise (since the DSP draws less current when it is not calculating).
The NDS utilizes Burr-Brown PCM1704 precision laser-trimmed sign-magnitude ladder DACs (an older but highly coveted model), rather than the NDX’s PCM1791 delta-sigma chips. Shielding cans have been added to the streamer module, DSP power supply, and DAC chips, reducing RF noise. Rather than the high quality op-amp ICs as used in the NDX, the NDS’s current-to-voltage (I2V) and analog filter/output stages use through-hole discrete circuitry throughout. And finally, the NDS does not offer an optional DAB/FM module, in order to optimize layout.
• UPnP streaming up to 24bit/192kHz with gapless playback
• Internet Radio with vTuner 5* full service• Three S/PDIF 24bit/192kHz digital inputs
• Apple Authenticated for digital iPod/iPhone playback/control
• Formats supported: WAV, FLAC, AIFF, AAC, WMA, Ogg Vorbis, and MP3
• Front panel USB port for USB stick playback
• Ethernet and Wireless connectivity
• No internal power supply – several choices for an easy upgrade path
• SHARC 40-bit DSP for jitter removal and oversampling
• Naim proprietary 16x oversampling and digital filtering
• Optical/galvanic isolation of all key elements
• Buffered digital output on 75? BNC connector
• Ground selector switch
• Relays powered from constant current source
• DSP control lines optically isolated
• Suspension isolation system for analog dual layer and digital 6 layer boards
• Burr-Brown PCM1704 sign-magnitude ladder DACs
• Isolation cans on critical areas
• Through-hole analog output stage with quiet rooms and I2V stage similar to CD555
• Dimmable OLED display
• British design and hand-built in the UK
The new Naim Audio NDS network player is set to become available in May 2012 at an expected MSRP of $10,995 U.S. ($1,495 U.S. for optional Burndy kit for use with 555PS). Look for more details to come at: www.naimaudio.com.