Naim NDX Streamer

Naim NDX Network Player

NAIM NDX NETWORK PLAYER

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NAIM NDX REVIEWS

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Every single recording I have played through this new Naim NDX has surprised me with just how much it has to offer, and I haven’t been disappointed once by the musical experience. The NDX is the most exciting thing I have encountered in audio for a very long time and – even if it were on those grounds alone – that ensures it is worthy of absolute, unqualified recommendation.

I slotted it into a system using Naim Supernait/HiCap amplification and my usual PMC OB1 speakers, and after only a short period of set-up, which involved configuring the analogue and digital output selections, selecting the automation for the Supernait – very simple, by the way – and connecting the Naim NDX to my home network, all was ready.

Looking back through my calendar, I note that the launch of the NDX was held on September 1 last year at Naim HQ in Salisbury, and the “within weeks” promise for samples gradually stretched into months – I finally got the review unit in March. Was the wait worthwhile? Absolutely: the Naim NDX sounds quite unlike any other streaming client I have yet heard.

In very simple terms, it doesn’t give away any clue that the music being played is delivered from a computer hard drive, over a network and out through the player: fed with files at CD quality, it is more than a match for almost any CD player on the market, while stepping up to high-resolution downloads such as those from Naim’s own label, Linn Records or the likes of 2L sees the NDX showing the best of CD a clean pair of heels.

There’s a magnificent sense of body, of three-dimensionality, to music played via the Naim NDX: orchestral percussion has both slam and weight; strings and woodwind are handled with the most delicious sense of the instruments’ character, and the rasp of a brass section is nothing short of gorgeous.

The ridiculous thing is, I found myself consistently listening at a higher volume than usual, drinking in the levels of detail available and enjoying the stress-free sound on offer. There are no crushed dynamics, no sense of character being imposed on the music, but rather just sheer enjoyment.

I’m going to stick my neck out here and say the Naim NDX is the best digital music player I’ve had through my system in my many years of reviewing – and just as I started typing this sentence the drums, brass and skittering strings of Elgar’s seventh Enigma Variation came pouring out of the speakers and raised it even further in my estimation.

Indeed, I can’t remember when I had quite so much fun reviewing an audio component, to the extent that I’ve been supplementing the classical diet with (whisper it) some high-resolution rock recordings and finding the NDX every bit as impressive.

Every single recording I have played through this new Naim NDX has surprised me with just how much it has to offer, and I haven’t been disappointed once by the musical experience. The NDX is the most exciting thing I have encountered in audio for a very long time and – even if it were on those grounds alone – that ensures it is worthy of absolute, unqualified recommendation.

GRAMOPHONE. ANDREW EVERARD.

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This truly versatile machine provides network music replay, internet radio, digital iPod/iPhone connectivity and USB playback straight out of the box. Its integral DAC is available to external sources – CD players, set-top boxes and the like – through three S/PDIF inputs. There is also an optional module for any buyer who wants to include FM/DAB radio.

An industry visitor sat and auditioned a few rips on the Naim NDX and admitted: that although he had “never understood all that pace, rhythm and timing stuff” it now made perfect sense. In essence, he walked into the room as a hard-core hi-fi nut, but left as a toe-tapping music lover, with a far more fulfilling appreciation of what makes music so captivating when it is sympathetically reproduced.

The NDX is certainly sympathetic and is so right across the board: it seems completely musically agnostic, even to the point of relishing high-quality examples of the country genre; the likes of Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris and Caitlin Rose.

A major appeal of the NDX is that it manages to combine the traditional Naim temporal fluency, with the cosmetic depth and richness that one normally associates with predominantly American high-end equipment. We were surprised to find ourselves concentrating on the timbral qualities of instruments and voices while listening. It effortlessly brings out the single-coil pick-up sting of a raw Telecaster guitar, while being equally effusive about the complex harmonic texture of rosin-coated bows on violins and cello in a string quartet and vividly contrasts the differing tonalities of modern and ancient horns in orchestral ensembles.

Despite the straightforwardness with which the Naim NDX reveals all these fine distinctions and nuances, there is never any impression of the sound being at all disjointed or chromium-plated, a problem that befalls much hi-fi equipment in its attempts to convey detail.

The NDX manages to sound natural and unforced at all times and this makes it easy to listen to music that could never be described as ‘easy listening’.

Helping it in this respect is a very well-balanced frequency response with an explicit, but controlled performance, particularly at the extremes of the spectrum. The Telecaster ‘sting’ is truly apparent, but never offensive or grating; it simply has the realistic incisive tone and resonance of a cranked Tele’ over-driving a small valve amplifier head. Meanwhile the bottom end displays quite awe-inspiring power through the Naim DAC, which is itself no shrinking violet in this respect. This pays dividends with bass lines like that on Money for all on the David Sylvian album Sleepwalkers and less overtly so on works such as José Carreras’Misa Criolla, where it creates a truly atmospheric and dramatic impression of the recording space.

Its portrayal of vocal harmonies is sublime. The voices of Caitlin Rose and backing singer, Rayland Baxter gel magically on Shanghai Cigarettes and add a genuine frisson to the song. And that, after all, is what great hi-fi is about: delivering emotional buzzes that make you feel rewarded. The NDX manages that none-too-easy task with alacrity. In truth, it is vividly revealing of the quality and character of voices, which readily enhances its portrayal of all vocal music. It is a genuinely expressive piece of machinery that not only articulates the words a singer uses, but also communicates the emotions behind them. It is an amazingly plausible and persuasive audio player with all manner of vocal music. It makes listening an experience filled with soul.

TECH RADAR. MALCOLM STEWART.

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NAIM NDX NETWORK PLAYER

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The Naim NDX is a network audio player with the potential to transform music in the home. It can play UPnP audio streams, internet radio, iPod or iPhone audio, and files stored on USB memory hardware. Three high resolution S/PDIF digital inputs complete its versatility.

NDX is however more than just a versatile network audio player. It embodies Naim’s unrivalled digital audio experience and knowhow to provide music reproduction quality equivalent to the best-in-class CDX2 CD player and HDX hard disk player . It makes music with vitality and clarity, rhythm and warmth. Naim NDX defines a new class of high-end audio source equipment and brings to it genuine audiophile performance.

Streaming Versatility

Connected to an analogue or digital preamplifier input, NDX unlocks the potential of network audio. Its network connection can be either wireless or wired, and NDX can stream audio files, including iTunes libraries, stored on a computer or on network storage, via UPnP. It can play all common, and some not so common, audio file and stream formats at up to 32bit/192kHz resolution: WMA, MP3, MMS, AAC, Apple Lossless, WAV, FLAC, AIFF and Ogg Vorbis. NDX also recognises M3U and PLS playlists formats and supports gap-less playback on all lossless formats.

NDX can play literally thousands of internet radio stations and an optional FM/DAB tuner module, that integrates seamlessly with the NDX control interface, is also available. NDX can play iPod or iPhone music via its front panel USB socket and, via the same socket, it can play audio files stored on USB memory sticks and drives. NDX is fully Apple Authenticated enabling playback of iPod/iPhone-stored digital media, bypassing the iPod/iPhone internal DAC for optimised performance.

Three independently selectable digital inputs enable S/PDIF audio signals from CD players, computers and other digital audio sources at up to 32bit/192kHz resolution to be handled by the NDX. Each digital input comprises a different connection socket option; optical TosLink, coaxial phono and coaxial BNC, to provide yet greater versatility and optimised sound quality.

 

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Choice of control

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Versatility and audio quality is worth nothing without an intuitive user interface and the NDX has three. It can be operated from its front panel buttons, from its remote control handset or using the Naim n-Stream app for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. The app also allows input and volume control of Naim preamplifiers and DAC.In each case, NDX control is simple, intuitive and satisfying.

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Connected to a world of music

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Connect an NDX to your existing audio system, and the world of network audio opens for discovery. It’s a world of high resolution audio downloads, UPnP streaming, and the vast resource of internet radio. But thanks to Naim technology, it’s a world of very high quality reproduction also, where music doesn’t simply play in the background but lives, breathes and communicates.

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NAIM NDX REVIEWS

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To read the full review of the Naim NDX in Gramophone by Andrew Everard click here

To read the full review of the Naim NDX in Tech Radar by Malcolm Stewart click here

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TO CONTACT AUDIO COUNSEL TO DISCUSS THE NAIM NDX OR TO BOOK A DEMONSTRATION CLICK HERE

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