Naim ND 555 Network Player and 555PS Arrives at AudioStream

The cardboard boxes were piling up all over the house.

Everywhere you looked, they were stacked against walls, under the dining table, lined up in the hall and next to lounge chairs and beds.

They’re everywhere not because I’m an audiophile hoarder (debatable), but because we’re in the middle of moving this month.

Cardboard boxes filled with LPs, CDs, cables, shoes, paintings, lamps, sofa pillows, clothes, baby toys and small kitchen appliances. But there were two boxes in particular I was interested in unpacking – not packing up – before the movers came. Those ones had Naim gear stuffed into them.

Thing is, all the boxes had started to look alike and everything was blurring together as sleep was a bit scarce with a new baby in the house these past months.

It was laughable really because I’d just picked up the Naim boxes the other day from my local dealer – Hifi Centre in Vancouver – after I was given the go-ahead to take home a Naim ND 555 Reference Network Player ($19, 995 USD) and 555PS DR Reference Power Supply ($9,995 USD) for several days to write about (I'm now working with Naim directly to acquire long-term review units). Now with time running out I had to move aside a heavy stack of AudioQuest, McIntosh, Aurender and dCS boxes to reach the back room of the house where two large innocuous Naim boxes silently waited.

Come to papa.

As I wrote about previously HERE, the ND 555 and its accompanying 555PS DR hit North American shores in mid-2018 with a ‘launch demo’ and at the time I mentioned efforts to get the pair in-house. Fast-forward more than a year and sitting in front of the 555s in my living room I can say without hyperbole that the 12-year wait for new 500-series components from Naim was worth it.

The first thing that’s glaringly apparent once I had the 555x2 set-up is the rhythmic timing, and breathtaking resolution throughout the frequency range. Upper registers push spatial boundaries in their openness, a visceral midrange presence and bass depth with a detail to the lowest notes which is about as uncommon as it gets, jump out at you immediately after that.

Look for a long-form review coming in the future.

Key tech specs from Naim on the ND 555:

  • WAV - up to 32bits/384kHz
  • FLAC and AIFF - up to 24bit/384kHz
  • ALAC (Apple Lossless) - up to 24bit/384kHz
  • MP3 - up to 48kHz, 320kbit (16 bit)
  • AAC - up to 48kHz, 320kbit (16 bit)
  • OGG and WMA - up to 48kHz (16 bit)
  • DSD - 64 and 128Fs
  • M4A - up to 48kHz, 320kbit (16 bit) Note: Gapless playback supported on all formats
  • Chromecast, TIDAL, AirPlay - Apple Music, UPnP, Bluetooth, Internet Radio
  • Connections: Network (Ethernet) USB, TOSlink - Coax
  • Multi-room playback, Roon Ready, Control App, Wi-Fi support of 2.4 and 5GHz data speeds, Wireless updates, Full-colour display

As previously mentioned in my first piece, but reiterated here from Naim nomenclature:

Key Performance Enablers I2S over LVDS: Digital connectivity from the NP800 Streaming board to the DAC board is I2S over LVDS. I2S has the benefit of a separate clock signal, in contrast to S/PDIF which doesn’t. This results in significantly lower jitter. Low Voltage Differential Signalling allows digital communications with high accuracy but with a very low radiated field. Given the mixed analogue/digital nature of network players, keeping radiated fields as low as possible is an essential.

High-Frequency Efficient Faraday Cage: The NDS Network Player had a Faraday cage to help eliminate noise leakage from one part of the player to another but the ND 555 takes this to another level completely. The new Faraday cage system is now physically isolated from its environs and it is radio opaque to a much higher frequency, thus considerably reducing any possible noise.

Naim ClockMaster system: Naim’s new exclusive NP800 streaming board is unique. When used in UPnP or streaming mode the streaming clock is totally under the control of the ClockMaster situated near the PCM1704K DACS. This ClockMaster system when streaming is unique to Naim network players. The ND555 features a new 4th Generation 40-bit SHARC DSP processor, the ADSP 21489 capable of 2700 MFLOPS running at 450Mhz. The SHARC processor implements Naim’s RAM buffer (first used in the DAC and NDS and called zero S/PDIF). This reclocking RAM buffer is utilised to completely remove S/PDIF jitter on connected digital inputs.

The ND 555 uses two carefully selected PCM1704U-K DACs in their own Faraday Cages. The DACs are the finest sounding DACs Naim has found. They are Resistor Ladder DACS, sometimes just known as Ladder DACS. Far more difficult to manufacture than modern DACS, they require precision laser trimming.

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