REVIEW: Naim ND555DAC and PS555 Power Supply

If you are considering adding Naim’s top digital streaming DAC to your system, and if by some chance you are not fully integrated into the Naim way of doing things, please read the instructions first. This is not a plug-and-play device.

Our reviews don’t usually start with such a stern note (we’re the fun hifi people, after all), but it’s really critical to get this player installed in a specific way to get it to work correctly. As with so many of us, there are two ways to do things, ours and some other way. Serious Naim enthusiasts stay within the Naim ecosystem of SNAICs, Burndys, and such. If you are so equipped, you’ll be able to use the supplied premium Naim interconnects and plug them right into your system.

Unpack and setup

Here’s some setup advice for the rest of you that won’t read the damn manual. Download and follow the quick start guide from the Naim website to the letter. This means unscrewing the four transit screws that keep the DAC board floating. Do NOT tip the ND555 up vertical to do this – hold it over a counter or shelf top and quickly unscrew all four of these, then very gently move the ND555 into place. Take the 4 transit screws, put them in a Ziplock bag, and toss them back into the ND555 box, in case you move or need service. You’ll thank me for this in about 8 years.

Next, remove the two Burndy cables from the accessory box and take careful note that one of them has a single red stripe, and the other has two green stripes underneath the black sheath covering the cables. These correspond to output 1 and output 2 on the PS555 that connect to the same inputs on the ND555. Another tip from a long-term Naim owner – these cables have a plastic index pin in the pin matrix that is easily broken (ask me how I know this), so very carefully align this pin and gently insert the power supply connector into its socket. The outer, locking collar will then twist into place solidly. Again, gentle is the word. Now you’re ready to power it up, power supply first, and then the ND555. Follow the prompts on the crisp LED screen, and you’re almost there.

The one thing not in the quick start guide

Integrating the ND555 into your non-Naim system requires a pair of RCA interconnects. If your ND555 makes no sound, even though it appears to be playing, you need to go back to the app to make this change. There is no way to access this via the front panel and remote. Go to “Settings,” then “Output Settings,” then choose RCA.

While in here, you can also fine-tune the appearance of the app, and whether you’d like fixed or variable output levels. This is incredibly handy because if you are a digital-only person with no intention of spinning records, while the ND555 offers a variable output, Naim suggests that this is a digital volume control to be used with some streaming services like AirPlay. Naim’s Steve Sells says, “we strongly recommend a true analog preamplifier for best sound quality.”

A plethora of inputs at your disposal

The ND555 works with a vast range of digital sources. It’s a Chromecast device, it works with Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, internet radio, and of course, our favorite – it’s a Roon endpoint too. Integrating the ND555 into our Roon network took less than a minute, but if you are not a Roon user, the Naim music app is very good. If you only have a few thousand selections in your music library and don’t want another subscription, the Naim app is convenient to use.

You will need a single PS555 power supply to operate the ND555, but like the CD555, you can use a pair of them to get even more sonic excellence. Where dCS and Esoteric give you the option to add an external master clock (and in the case of dCS, an additional outboard upsampler), Naim offers increased performance by providing additional power supply capacity. This is a known upgrade path with their gear that works incredibly well.

We did not ask Naim for a second PS555, but having used one with the CD555 when it was a reference component, the improvement was dramatic enough that the genuinely obsessed will want to budget for one at some point. Perusing the Naim forum, the owners who have taken the plunge all seem happy with the choice and indicate a similar resolution and dynamic improvement as we noticed with the CD555. Rest assured that if your check writing fingers are tired after writing the big check, you’ll still have a ton of fun with the single power supply version.

It’s also worth mentioning here, that like the CD555/PS555, the ND555/PS555 is the only digital player along with our reference dCS Vivaldi One that does not benefit from additional power conditioning. You can plug this baby into the wall with the supplied premium Naim mains cord (which looks and feels like a mains cord you’d probably spend about 2 or 3 grand with somewhere else – nice touch) and forget about it. That’s impressive.

Finally, pair the remote, download the Naim app to your mobile device of choice, and make the necessary connections. Gone is the posh billet remote from the CD555, but this is still a friendly remote control that gives you access to most ND555 functions. The ultra-crisp front panel display is not a touch screen, and honestly, in a premium player like this, display quality outweighs a little bit of functionality. Plus, it would look oh so unsightly to have your 32 thousand dollar Naim streamer full of fingerprints.

Off you go

At this point, you are ready to start listening to music, but there’s still a bit of a delay to get the 555 combo’s full dose of excellence. Those big power supply capacitors take a little while to get their groove on. The first hour or two of the 555s listening, you might be shaking your head and in a David Byrne kind of way think, “my God, what have I done?” These two boxes sound harsh and flat at initial power-up. But don’t panic – the good stuff is on the way.

If we weren’t still living in a travel-restricted, COVID unfriendly world, I’d tell you to put the 555s on repeat and take a couple of day holiday. So, if you can ignore the sound coming out of these Naim boxes for about a week of play, it will improve tremendously. For those skeptical of the burn-in process, listening to the same two or three tracks every day at the beginning of your listening session will convince you. Even solid-state components need a certain amount of time to fully stabilize thermally, so if you can leave your 555s on all the time, they will stay right at the optimum point.

Serious listening

With that out of the way, the ND555 is truly brilliant. A digital front end at this level should have no shortcomings in playback or operation, and the ND555/PS555 does not. Nothing. I’ve been fortunate enough to live with this player for the better part of a year, and once you wiggle through the setup maze, sitting back and listening is terrific.

While we’re ticking boxes, this is the point in the review, where the product in for review is compared to the long-term reference and is found to come up slightly short. Regular readers might be thinking, “how does it compare to the dCS?” Fantastic, but different. Here are a few comparisons, which will hopefully resonate on one level for you.

Comparing these two players is like choosing between a Porsche 911 Turbo S and the 911 GT3. Both are stunning performers, but the way they present the experience is entirely different. The Turbo S has more power, features all-wheel drive, and uses Porsche’s PDK, dual-clutch automatic transmission. The GT3 offers a normally aspirated motor with a 9,000 rpm redline, rear-wheel drive, and 6-speed manual gearbox. Which would you choose? Do you want to feel everything when going fast, or would you rather have a bit bigger, broader, weightier experience? This is the difference between the Naim and the dCS.

The Vivaldi has slightly more weight and dynamic heft, with a slightly smoother top end, where the Naim offers a bit more inner detail and offers the slightest touch of extra dynamic contrast that the dCS does not. If you have the roads and the access to track time, nothing but the GT3 will squeeze your adrenaline gland that hard. However, if you’re driving your 911 everywhere, you’ll appreciate the extra comfort the Turbo S brings. What is the best? Only what suits your needs the best.

Those of you that are at the pinnacle of analog might relate to this comparison more… The dCS feels more like a Clearaudio Goldfinger, and the Naim reminds me a lot more of a Lyra Etna. Or, if you remember film photography, the dCS is Kodachrome, and the Naim is Fujichrome. What does all this mumbo jumbo mean? Glad you asked.

Where the dCS sounds fantastic with everything played (In all fairness, the Vivaldi One is an SACD player, so consider the comparison to the Vivaldi DAC, which is similarly priced to the ND555/PS555.) when switching back and forth between it and the Naim, the Naim gets the edge pulling the most detail out of perfect recordings. However, when the road gets a little bumpier, the dCS is a comfier ride. This is a fine distinction, and depending on the overall tonal balance of your system might not even matter.

For example, when listening to a handful of Monkees’ tracks, or to be more current, nearly anything from Jack White is a bit grating through the Naim. Not unlistenable, but grating. These are dreadful recordings, to be sure, and in the end, reminiscent of early digital players. Switch up the playlist to some exceptional recordings, and the Naim never disappoints. And, the Naim’s awesomeness is not limited to high-res recordings. Just like the CD555, the ND555 proves that there is a lot of music happening in well-recorded 16/44 tracks.

It would be easy to wax poetic about how great Patricia Barber or Louis and Ella sound through this player… that’s just low hanging fruit. Those feeling a little more adventuresome or avant-garde may even enjoy the latest, Frank Zappa, high res releases on Qobuz. “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow” has been a favorite since college days, yet playing Apostrophe through the Naim player is a revelation. Frank Zappa built a reputation for complex, densely packed music, full of the tiniest musical nuggets that often require headphones and trendy chemical amusement aids to uncover. The ND555 goes deeper into this mine than ever, and it’s an incredible, engaging experience. This is what you write the big check for.

Specs, tech, and functionality

Even after a lengthy review like this, there is still more we haven’t unearthed. We suggest revisiting the Naim website and even the Naim forum, where you can get a healthy dose of unfiltered comments from ND555 owners. I’ve always enjoyed the Naim forum and have found excellent tech advice there over the years.

The final argument that can be had about the Naim and its Burr-Brown based chipset vs. the shortlist of DACs that do it all in software is the question of earlier obsolescence because a chipset-based digital decoder will obviously become obsolete faster than one that can merely have new software and firmware uploaded.

In an ultimate sense, this is true; however, the ND555/PS555 (especially if you go for broke and add a second PS555) is so good, I can’t imagine digital playback getting all that much better. At least not to the point that you’d want to scrap the ND555. Had computer audio and streaming not hit the scene, the CD555/PS555 would still be my digital reference. For all but the most ADD, this one should last you a lifetime.

If you tick the yes box

If you like what we’ve had to say so far, and you are looking for a destination digital front end, the next step is to make an appointment with your Naim specialist so you can see for yourself (and hear, of course) how lovely the ND555/PS555 is.

The biggest question of all is: is the ND555 “worth the money?” While that is always a relative question, and there are thousands of people on the internet that will tell you spending this much money on a DAC is insanity.

However, if you’ve got $40k in available funds, you A: aren’t sweating how to pay this month’s mortgage payment, and B: you’ve probably worked your way up the audiophile ladder a bit, and my hope is that you’ve heard many of the other offerings. There are a lot of great DACs in the $9,000 – $15,000 arena (even from Naim and dCS). After auditioning and living with a number of those, if you can make the jump, the level of musicality and ease that the ND555 creates is worth every penny. And as I like to say, if you can take the big leap now, you won’t lose $2k-$5k each time you trade up from a lesser DAC. It adds up in a hurry.

Yes, build quality at this level is superb, and of course, thousands of hours of research, testing, and prototyping went in the front door. But in the end, when you compare the finest DACs at this price point as a whole, they still outperform the DACs a click or two down. Finally, when you graduate to a player at this level, there is no more regret. You won’t find yourself sitting in the listening chair pondering, “if it only did a little more of this, or a little less of that.” Build quality, execution, ergonomics, and most of all, sound quality are all top. Another thought to ponder:  because Naim can build a product at this level makes their entry-level digital products equally compelling. There’s a deep pool of knowledge to swim in, so even if you can’t play at the top of the mountain, it’s still a good day wherever you can be. Naim makes a fantastic $3k player because they have the engineering chops to make a $40k player.

Naim digital players are at the top of the mountain when capturing music’s pace and timing. There is a correctness here that is achieved by precious few digital players, and when listening to acoustic instruments, everything in the mix feels as if it’s the proper size and has correct spatial relationships. Some players can feel overblown, yet with the ND555, you can hear the difference between an upright Steinway and a Grand. This level of musicality will have you looking at your turntable, wondering if you really need to fuss with vinyl anymore. It’s that good.


Preamplifier Pass Labs XS Pre

Analog Pass Labs XS Phono, Grand Prix Parabolica, Lyra Atlas

Power Amplifier Pass Labs XA200.8

Speakers Sonus faber Stradivari, six-pack of REL no.25 subwoofers

Cable Cardas Clear, Tellurium Q, and Red Miracle interconnect

(Naim to preamplifier)

The Technics OTTAVA-SC-C70MK2

Pushing the play button on the new Technics OTTAVA SC-C70MK2, with a MoFi copy of the Superfly soundtrack fills the room with a big, broad soundfield and a solid bass line. Technics has hit nothing but home runs since they re-entered the high-end audio world with a passion about five or six years ago. Their depth of manufacturing and engineering expertise is without peer, and the products they’ve built have heavily leveraged their heritage, while being fashion forward at the same time. It’s a great combination.

As desktop/tabletop music systems continue to evolve in functionality and performance, the OTTAVA certainly qualifies as a music player that even the most fanatical audiophile will engage. Regardless of how you consume your music, this player can accommodate your needs, whether you strictly want to have an all-in-one component, stream your favorite music, or connect a turntable via the analog input. (or dare we say, a cassette deck!)

Gorgeous from the inside out

The mid-century modern aesthetic of the OTTAVA begs inspection and interaction. This approximately 18 x 9 x 4 -inch enclosure will be a smart addition to wherever you decide to place it in your home, office or other environment. Seriously, I’d pack it in bubble wrap and take it with me on a road trip! Nothing like having great music wherever you go. As the cliché goes, don’t let the good looks fool you, there’s a lot more that doesn’t immediately meet the eye here.

The 2.1 speaker system inside the C70MK2 utilizes a pair of 8cm(3.14 inch) woofers, 2cm (.78 inch) silk dome tweeters and a built-in 12cm(4.7 inch) subwoofer, driven by a 30-watt per channel amplifier on top, and a 40 watt dedicated amplifier for the subwoofer.

There is an analog 3.5mm (1/8th inch) stereo analog, line level input, an optical digital input and a USB-A connection around back, along with a standard ethernet socket, so you don’t have to rely on entirely what’s inside the box. (though you could and be completely happy)

If you take a detour to the Technics website, you can see the major tech that exists inside of the OTTAVA. ( This also lists all the different kinds of files and sources the C70MK2 will stream – which is basically everything. Tidal, Deezer, Spotify, and others are all accessible. The only thing it doesn’t do native, is function as a ROON endpoint, but because it can be setup as a Chromecast node, you can do that too. So, anyone can listen to whatever they’d like via the SC-C70MK2. And listen, we did.

The bad and the good

This is not a brainlessly plug and play device, as many powered speakers and desktop systems are, but if you are willing to be patient for about five minutes, the reward is well worth it. Of course, if you want to just play CD’s or listen to the radio, you can do that right away with the supplied (and very awesome) remote. To be more exact, to get the most the SC-C70MK2 has to offer, you will need to install a couple of apps, and spend a little time fine tuning setup.

If you’ve taken the time to install Google Home and the Technics Audio Center App (which we had to do for their integrated amp anyway), you are rewarded with incredible control flexibility, four levels of DSP adjustment (3 presets and one you measure yourself), and a wide variety of inputs and streaming options.
So, the good news is, this is by far the most capable tabletop/all in one music player we’ve used. With power comes responsibility. You can’t just jump in an airplane cockpit and access all the controls without a little time reading the manual and following the menu prompts. The SC-70MK2 is truly a high-performance machine, inside and out.

Beyond the top facing disc player, the OTTAVA is a high resolution player in every sense of the word, able to decode files from you NAS or USB device. The only thing off the menu is MQA. Like Technics larger SU-G700 amplifier, it also utilizes their LAPC functionality, which optimizes the amplifier circuit for the speakers.


While the OTTAVA comes with three standard DSP settings to optimize the sound for wherever you might place it (free, near the wall, and near the corner) again, you’ll be rewarded by taking a few minutes to run the Space Tune™ app. This works like a full-blown room optimization system, measuring your room and adjusting the output of the OTTAVA accordingly to deliver the best sound.

Experimenting in a few different room locations reveals Space Tune™ outperforming the preset functions every time. Most times, the difference was so dramatic, it felt like we had just moved up a couple of models to a bigger, more resolving player. Good as this is, the most dramatic test of Space Tune™ was our initial listening. Just pulling the OTTAVA out of the box, placing it in the middle of the messy studio tamed a bass heavy, and somewhat hollow sound once Space Tune™ was run. Fantastic. While the preset selections for room corner, tabletop, and open air were excellent, taking the time to take the measurement and apply it to the custom preset, made for a more spacious, more tonally correct top to bottom sound. It’s worth the couple of extra minutes. Hard-core audiophiles will love the ability to save their new measurements.

The SC-70MK2 does an excellent job with midrange clarity, creating a massive soundfield. The level of serious bass produced when playing bass heavy tracks is a testament to just how much air a pair of three-inch woofers and a 5-inch subwoofer can produce with great DSP. On most musical selections, the SC-70MK2 is able to play incredibly loud without distortion, however those that survive on a steady diet of hip hop and electronica will most likely find the limits of the device, when rocking the house.

Again, it’s worth mentioning that taking the time to run the measurements and save a custom DSP preset will be the difference of the SC-C70MK2 having more natural, linear bass and upper midrange response. The presets are fine, but you’ll notice some of the tubbiness from putting it on a countertop disappear with a custom setting – taking this box from good to great.

Everyone exposed to the little Technics player was consistently impressed at how big the sound was, and in a small-ish room, on a table, the ability to feel like an amplifiers and pair of speakers on stands it is.

Taking the party vibe a step further, we made use of the compact Pro-Ject Ultra 500 phono preamplifier here for a recent review to connect our vintage Technics SL-1200 mk.5 and spin some vinyl. This was almost too much fun, and again, the overall aesthetic of the SC-C70MK2 fits perfectly with a Technics turntable, new or old.

It’s all good

This truly is the audiophile’s desktop music player. For $999.99 it’s an excellent combination of sound, features, and versatility. The nearly $1,700 Naim Mu-So 2 we just recently reviewed will play a little louder and go a little deeper, but it costs almost twice as much and there’s no CD Player or the ability to custom tune the DSP. Not to mention positively stunning mechanical design – this one looks and feels like an object with a much higher price tag.

Overall, this one checks all the boxes, and some we didn’t even know needing checking. Audiophiles often talk about desert island records. I’d take a Roon subscription, some streaming music and maybe a pile of my all-time favorite CDs to the desert with me.

If that doesn’t make for an Exceptional Value Award, nothing does. Technics has created a product that appeals to everyone. Entrenched audiophiles will be happy with the sound (and functionality) and music lovers craving simplicity will be amazed at just how much sound $999.99 can buy. I know I want one for on top of my toolbox out in The Audiophile Garage…

Please click here to go to the Technics Website for more info:

REVIEW: Eggleston Nico EVO

Tracking through the Supreme Beings of Leisure’s 11i, it’s impressive at how much low bass these small monitors can muster. Often, when a small speaker is called upon to create low bass, it’s a trade-off between quality and quantity. Not here – the Nico Evolutions go down deep enough to make most of you happy, and thanks to the speed and resolution of the LF energy provided, you can pair these with a high-quality subwoofer later should you so desire.

Including the stands with the Nicos obviously increases their price (and Eggleston is kind enough to send them filled, so you don’t have to screw around with it later), but it assures setup success. One of the most significant issues with compact monitors is getting them on the right stand with an excellent stand to speaker interface. We’ve seen way too many speakers in this size range have their performance compromised by wimpy stands, or a stand not providing the right tweeter height. Considering a comparable pair of speaker stands would probably set you back at least $600 a pair, included stands make the Nicos an even better value.

Eggleston has enjoyed over 20 years of making high-quality speakers that have achieved accolades from reviewers, end-users, and recording engineers the world over. Their reputation is fully intact here, and much of the tech that goes into their flagship speakers is present here – at just under $5k a pair.

A great recipe

As someone who is always biased towards the coherence of ESLs, well-executed two-way speakers always capture my attention. With a 6-inch woofer and 1-inch soft-dome tweeter (both sourced from Morel) and an easy to drive 87db/1-watt sensitivity – these speakers work well with any amplification you’ve got at your disposal.

We tried them with a wide range of solid-state and tube amplifiers, from Pass, VAC, PrimaLuna, Nagra, and McIntosh – all with excellent results. The Nicos are very tube friendly and when paired with our McIntosh MC275 (recently equipped with a quad of EAT KT88 diamond tubes)

The Nicos are an interesting size, featuring a fairly narrow front aluminum baffle mounted to an exceptionally inert MDF cabinet, that is barely more than 8″ wide, about 19″ tall at its peak and about 16″ deep. Eggleston claims a weight of 28 pounds, but they feel stouter than this. The stands weigh slightly more. Spikes are supplied to fine-tune the rake angle to perfection.

The cabinets are available in a few standard colors – black, beige, and white, but as they are coated with automotive paint, they can be finished in a custom color for an additional $300. Knowing my love for BMW’s, the Eggleston staff painted my review pair in Golf Yellow, that tennis ball color from an early 70s 2002Tii. Some will see it as yellow and others a bright lime. We can all argue about that later. What’s not open for criticism is the level of finish applied to these speakers – when we reviewed the Emmas a few years ago, I was impressed with the finish, but these are a few clicks better. Obviously, the crew at Eggleston continues to refine their craft.

This is the level of finish you’d expect to find on a pair of Wilsons, Rockports, or REL subwoofers. I wish I could get these guys to paint the vintage 3-series I’m restoring! In addition to the finish quality, the cabinet joints exhibit a level of uniformity that also goes hand in hand with a much higher price tag.

It doesn’t end there, around back is a finely finished, slotted, rear-firing port for the woofer, and a single pair of Cardas binding posts. The paint on the port goes all the way in, unlike a lot of cabinets we’ve seen, where this detail is scrimped upon. This is a pair of loudspeakers that you will feel good about writing the check for. Finally, basic black, magnetic grills are supplied, but the Nicos look so much better without, you may never use them.

Run in/setup

The Nicos sound great out of the box, with a slight edge that goes away quickly. 50 -75 hours, and they go from great to fantastic. Again, using the factory stands eliminates any guesswork that you don’t have the tweeters at the right height. Initial break-in was in my 13 x 18 living room, powered by the Rivera AFM-25 Class-A monoblocks and APL-10 tube preamplifier, before moving into the larger 16 x 25 studio on the long wall, powered by several different tube and solid-state amplifiers. Though most listening was with the MC275 or PrimaLuna EVO400 with EL 34 tubes, these speakers offered great result with all the tube amplifiers at our disposal.

Like all the other Eggleston speakers I’ve heard, the Nicos have a slightly forward presentation, making for a lively, involving experience. This calls for almost no toe-in in my larger room – having them straight on axis proved too much of a good thing, but your room and taste will vary. The sweet spot ended up being about 8 feet apart and about 9 feet from the sidewalls, and the front baffle four feet from the wall. This makes for an expansive, three-dimensional result.

While the Nicos produce sufficient low-frequency information (with a claimed LF limit of 38hz) and perform admirably in a bigger room, they prove stunning in my 13 x 15 smaller room, pairing up with the Luxman L-550AXII, class-A solid-state amp. (25 watts per channel). Thanks again to the low-frequency articulation that the Nicos offer, and a little bit of room gain, these speakers provide a fulfilling small room experience like few other speakers. This is one of those few speakers that make such an excellent HiFi show presentation because they don’t overdrive the room.

Further listening

Running through a series of tracks favoring low-frequency information from Massive Attack, Aphex Twin, and Snoop Dogg, the Nicos never disappoint. Those living on a diet of bone-shattering bass aren’t going to buy a pair of 6-inch two-way monitors anyway. But, when your musical tastes turn to this flavor, you’ll still be happy.

Where this speaker excels is revealing a detailed and highly resolving musical picture of whatever recorded event you are listening to. At low to modest levels, they are very immersive, flattening out slightly when pushed to high levels. Again, to be expected with a monitor of this size. A 6-inch cone can only move so much air.

As mentioned earlier, the Nicos are slightly forward in their balance, but as someone who enjoys listening nearfield, this gives a big, almost planar headphone like experience. In comparison to something like a pair of comparably priced Harbeths, or even the less expensive Falcon LS3/5a. It all boils down to taste. If you’d like a pair of modestly sized monitors, with a broader frequency range and more sheer dynamic urge than the Brit-monitors, I would highly suggest the Nicos.

Keep in mind, these speakers are only slightly forward in their rendition, so you can achieve an overall tonal balance to taste (if necessary, of course) with some system fine-tuning and not leave the resolution that these lovely speakers offer on the table.

The resolving nature of these speakers is what makes them feel a lot more expensive than the price tag suggests. Whether tracking through heavily layered selections, either vocal or instrumental – they paint a big picture. Things don’t get lost in the mix, and it’s easy to see why recording engineers have such high praise for Eggleston.

Finally, these speakers offer a good deal of tonal correctness. It’s easy to discern the sound of stringed and horn instruments and pianos sound as they should. I always tell readers and friends to find a speaker they can fall in love with and build a system around them. The Eggleston Nicos are speakers that can give you that relationship for a reasonable price, and thanks to the high level of quality they offer, they will grow with you as you upgrade components. The final icing on the cake is that you can have them finished to suit your environment for a minimal additional charge – a major bonus.

That certainly ticks all the boxes for one of our Exceptional Value Awards. And, they are #TONEAUDIOAPPROVED.

Please click here for the full specifications…