Naim ND 555 Network Player has North American debut at invite-only event

Remember the Naim CD 555?

It is still considered by many to be one of the finest sounding CD players ever built.

It’s a massive and squat CD playback beast with crease-sharp lines which – especially when paired with its dedicated power-supply unit – reminded me of the Brutalist architecture that once sprang up in cities like Winnipeg, Manitoba from the fifties to the mid-seventies during a civic-building construction boom.

Winnipeg Art Gallery (still standing, image courtesy WAG).

Many of those iconic Brutalist buildings, like the CD 555, were discontinued (bulldozed) to make way for “new” styles of design, much to the dismay of many architectural patrons who continue to lobby City Halls across the globe to have the style preserved.

While I’m unsure how many CD enthusiasts have lobbied Naim for the return of the CD 555, the company knows a great-looking design when they make one and even though demand for dedicated 16/44 playback of the shiny discs has plummeted, they have kept those iconic CD 555 lines for their latest 500-series product: the ND 555 Network Player, which was previewed overseas back in April along with the NDX 2 and ND5 XS 2 players and piqued my interest, as I've been a longtime fan of the punchy, dynamic Naim house sound.

The reason I’m bringing all this up now is because the ND 555 saw its “first in North America” demo session in early July at an invite-only event in Scottsdale, Arizona at LMC Home Entertainment LTD. where LMC President Mike Ware, and Dr Trevor Wilson, Managing Director of Naim Audio, oversaw the gig for “a select group of clients” according to the company (Unfortunately, I wasn't one of them).

The company said “… until now Naim hasn’t considered the performance of its Network Players to reach that of the CD 555 CD Player. The ND 555 is Naim’s finest sounding source component yet.”


“The ND 555 is a spectacular piece of holistic, evolutionary Naim engineering: it builds on past developments, it pays as much attention to mechanical design as electrical design and it takes trouble over important minutiae that others routinely ignore.”

So, what’s putting the ND 555 so far ahead of its own network brethren? According to Naim it’s their “New Platform” circuit board and software that has been in development for more than four years and first saw incremental insertion into the Uniti line last year.

But it’s been 12 years since there’s been a 500-series component. Why so long a wait for the ND 555? A few reasons it seems. One was the R&D into the tech itself, two was the success of the Uniti line, and the third was a worldwide parts shortage on some key components. Despite these setbacks, Naim claims that the ND 555 will be available this summer for those audiophiles hungry to hear the 500-series difference.

I hope to be able to secure an ND555 or an NDX 2/ ND5 XS 2 from Naim for review. Stay tuned, as I'd love to put the ND 555 up against some competition that just arrived here in the bungalow... but more on what's here in the coming days.

Here are some 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

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.

DSP and DAC

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.

User features:

  • Chromecast
  • TIDAL
  • AirPlay - Apple Music
  • UPnP
  • Bluetooth
  • Internet Radio
  • 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
  • For more details - Naim ND 555

    COMPANY INFO
    Naim Audio Ltd
    Southampton Road, Salisbury, SP1 2LN England
    info@naimaudio.com
    +44 (0) 1722 426 600

    COMMENTS
    Kal Rubinson's picture

    If NAIM is using I2S between boards inside a device as they say:
    "Digital connectivity from the NP800 Streaming board to the DAC board is I2S over LVDS." that is nothing unusual since that is what I2S was designed for. It has been used that way (between decoder and DAC) inside CD players since the dawn of the format.

    However, to say that "I2S has the benefit of a separate clock signal, in contrast to S/PDIF which doesn’t." is not a fair statement. There is no reason to use S/PDIF internally and, afaik, no one does.

    nuz1's picture

    I’m sure ND555 is great but too much for my budget. But I’m very interested in a review of the NDX2. So selfishly, I hope you get that one in for review!

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