• Naim NAC-N 172 XS
Our Verdict 
Best streamer £1000-£2000, Awards 2013. An engaging and high-res-happy performer – and a real star turn at this price level
For 
Rich and energetic sound
fluid and engaging dynamics
detailed
good control app
Against 
No Android version of control app
Reviewed on

Here’s an unusual one: a conventional preamplifier whose primary function is music streaming.

That makes the Naim NAC-N 172 XS a great starting point for building a new system, or adding to your existing set-up and partnering it with a decent power amp, such as Naim’s own NAP-155 XS (which was how our review unit was supplied).

MORE: Awards 2013

Specifications

Like the excellent Naim NDX, the NAC-N 172 XS can stream high-resolution audio files up to 24bit/192kHz for FLAC. Most other popular formats are supported too, with uncompressed Apple Lossless (ALAC) files now joining the list of MP3, WMA and WAV, to name a few.

Naim NAC-N 172 XS rear

There are plenty of connection options – round the back are analogue and digital connections, for this box also includes a high-quality DAC, and you can use ethernet or wi-fi (we’d stick with the former) to stream music from computers, NAS devices, and internet radio stations. There’s also a USB port in the front panel for portable players.

More after the break

Performance

The NAC-N 172 XS has a nice smoothness about its presentation that does wonders with high-res and compressed files. But let’s not shoot from the hip here: ‘smooth’, in this case, doesn’t mean ‘uniform and dull’ – in fact it’s quite the opposite.

Songs are delivered with heaps of rhythm and a robust demeanor, as well as plenty of detail and depth all the way up the frequency range. Streaming a FLAC of Time from Hans Zimmer’s barnstorming Inception soundtrack via our Musicm8 NAS drive, we were engulfed in the soaring dynamics and well-marshalled stereo field.

Naim NAC-N 172 XS

You’ll have to go up a price point or two to the Cyrus Stream XP2-QX for a more transparent performance, but the Naim is a wonderfully engaging player.

Verdict

In fact, at this price, we can’t think of anything else that can match the versatility and the sonic performance of the NAC-N 172 XS – it’s a great streamer.

See all our media streamer Best Buys

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