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NAD Wireless USB DAC 2 Review

Rate this DAC:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 3 1.6%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 3 1.6%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 56 29.0%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 131 67.9%

  • Total voters
    193

Chuckv

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No standard USB Type B input connector found on most DACs and RF range will likely be inferior to wifi. Can't imagine why someone would want this? Most streaming is coming from internet anyway so it's not like wifi is uncommon? Raspberry Pi offers more ports, streaming protocols and options for the same or less money.
I can buy a raspberry Pi to do this off the shelf? Where?
 

PeteL

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I can buy a raspberry Pi to do this off the shelf? Where?
People keeps comparing this to a Pi, one is a computer that you need software for, you need a DAC for, you need a power source for and you need configuration. People buy this NAD because it's plug and play. That's an old debate, you have to wonder how come a audio device manufacturer has yet to release a complete finished product that looks half decent, has an actual good pêrforming audio and spdif output with a PI in it already configured for cheaper, then we will be able to make this comparison, until then it's apples and oranges. yes a computer can do more things than a dedicated consumer audio electronic product, that's just stating the obvious. Like saying why buy a watch when my phone gives time, sure, but the customers needs a watch, why are you trying to sell him a phone, he came to your store to buy a watch.
 

Marc v E

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From what I've seen the last decade, it rather looks like a decline in cheap streaming/wireless devices than that its ready to take of.

My best guess is it's actually quite expensive and difficult for a traditional hifi manufacturer to make a reliable and up to date wireless streaming device. They're just not software developers.
And there isn't much money to be made. Otherwise we would still have the chromecast audio and squeezeboxes readily available. It's turned into:
- a diy,
- a complete software solution
- or an expensive hifi all in one.

So this Nad is rather an exception to the rule (or a dying breed?). I gave it an excellent rating.
 
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amper42

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I can buy a raspberry Pi to do this off the shelf? Where?
Here is the RPi4 for $99.95 with power adapter, case and card.
Moode is available here:
Flash Moode to the card, insert into Rasperry Pi, attach an ethernet cable and setup the unit for wifi with your login data. With a few clicks setup UPnP, Airplay, or Spotify. Start streaming with Audirvana or your favorite player. It's that easy. I can typically setup and configure a new RPI-4 in 10 minutes.

Wifi signal is available throughout most locations while RF signal typically is line of sight only and can easily fail in a short distance. RasperryPi offers much more flexibility, range and function. RF extender TV boxes were all the rage 20 years ago. Now they are considered mostly junk. There's a reason for that. :facepalm:

If you have a mental barrier that setting up a RPi web based configuration is too hard get a Wiim Streamer for $99.99
Both of these options are better than any RF device. :D
 
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Steve Rogers

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Here is the RPi4 for $99.95 with power adapter, case and card.
Moode is available here:
Flash Moode to the card, insert into Rasperry Pi, attach an ethernet cable and setup the unit for wifi with your login data. With a few clicks setup UPnP, Airplay, or Spotify. Start streaming with Audirvana or your favorite player. It's that easy. I can typically setup and configure a new RPI-4 in 10 minutes.

Wifi signal is available throughout most locations while RF signal typically is line of sight only and can easily fail in a short distance. RasperryPi offers much more flexibility, range and function. RF extender TV boxes were all the rage 20 years ago. Now they are considered mostly junk. There's a reason for that. :facepalm:

If you have a mental barrier that setting up a RPi web based configuration is too hard get a Wiim Streamer for $99.99
Both of these options are better than any RF device. :D
Calling this an "off the shelf" solution is a bit like saying buying flour sugar and cream cheese at the super is a quick and cheap way to buy a cheese cake.
 

PeteL

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Here is the RPi4 for $99.95 with power adapter, case and card.
Moode is available here:
Flash Moode to the card, insert into Rasperry Pi, attach an ethernet cable and setup the unit for wifi with your login data. With a few clicks setup UPnP, Airplay, or Spotify. Start streaming with Audirvana or your favorite player. It's that easy. I can typically setup and configure a new RPI-4 in 10 minutes.

Wifi signal is available throughout most locations while RF signal typically is line of sight only and can easily fail in a short distance. RasperryPi offers much more flexibility, range and function. RF extender TV boxes were all the rage 20 years ago. Now they are considered mostly junk. There's a reason for that. :facepalm:

If you have a mental barrier that setting up a RPi web based configuration is too hard get a Wiim Streamer for $99.99
Both of these options are better than any RF device. :D
Has the audio output been measured somewhere?
WIFI is a "RF signal"...
 

sarumbear

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Sure, but then again, microsoft only support UAC2 natively since windows 10, MACOS from the start, IOS not sure. But yes let us know if it works.
You are correct. The SB Audio 2.0 was introduced in 2009. MS started to ship USB Audio 2.0 drivers in April 5, 2017, eight years later. Both OSX and Linux had started shipping drivers within a year. However, it has been five years since Windows has support USB Audio 2.0. Windows does not have issues with high quality audio playback. Some configurations have issues.

Meanwhile, here is what Apple says on their support for USB Audio 2.0. I am not expecting a problem with an iPad as long as the NAD device is USB Audio 2.0 compliant.
 

Raindog123

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For those interested… This NAD DAC 2 was my first streaming solution — from a computer with music files to an amp — over five (seven?) years ago. And while I was rather pleased with the sound quality (when worked), it did not provide the advertised range. Not even close! And with the NAD proprietary wireless communication protocol with a rather poor data error detection/recovery, it was unlistenable for any distances beyond about 10’ line-of-sight (and even that estimate is generous).

In practice, the only configuration that worked was to sit with a laptop (with the transmitter plugged in) across the room from an amplifier (with the NAD receiver attached). A dream of connecting a music file server “from another room” with this NAD DAC2 definitely did not materialize… There is a small chance they’ve improved it since with some FW upgrades, but I would be skeptical… Consider yourself warned. :)
 
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PeteL

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For those interested… This NAD DAC 2 was my first streaming solution — from a computer with music files to an amp — over five (seven?) years ago. And while I was rather pleased with the sound quality (when worked), it did not provide the advertised range. Not even close! And with the NAD proprietary wireless communication protocol with a rather poor data error detection/recovery, it was unlistenable for any distances beyond about 10’ line-of-sight (and even that estimate is generous).

In practice, the only configuration that worked was to sit next to an amplifier (with the NAD receiver plugged in) with a laptop (with the transmitter attached). A dream of connecting a music file server “from another room” with this NAD DAC2 definitely did not materialize… Consider yourself warned. :)
Hey just out of curiosity, I don't doubt your experience with this, but I do know this product have been in the catalog for a while, but just wondering. This says "DAC2". Would you know if as the name suggest it would mean "version 2"? Are you also positive that if it's up to seven years ago, your unit was also "DAC 2" Just wondering if with all these problems it could maybe have had an update.
 

Ismapics

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I can see one next to a Mac/PC with all the media and remote app (Apple Remote for Macs included in iOS) on a tablet, the station next to the amp. Its best feature is its simplicity.
 

amm

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To me it seems that the terminology "line of sight" is used very causally. Line of sight does not mean that the signal can not propagate through the walls or obstacles. Wifi frequencies are line of sight, they do go through multiple walls, of course they experience attenuation. I was curious about the operating frequencies of this device. The link to the NAD DAC2 FCC test report is given below. Internal (low resolution) photos of receiver/transmitter are also provided, if you are curious.

1654007200017.jpeg


NAD DAC2 uses the same frequencies as WiFi, so its propagation characteristics are the same as Wifi. However NAD DAC2 transmit power is way lower than Wifi, of course then its range is more limited. Note that besides the transmit power level, the propagation range is a function of receiver sensitivity, antenna gains, etc. It seems that the transmit power for NAD DAC2 is around 8-9 dBm, whereas WiFI transmit power can be as high as 30 dBm (not considering the antenna gain which enhances EIRP), so its range can't compete with Wifi.
 
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Raindog123

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Hey just out of curiosity, I don't doubt your experience with this, but I do know this product have been in the catalog for a while, but just wondering. This says "DAC2". Would you know if as the name suggest it would mean "version 2"? Are you also positive that if it's up to seven years ago, your unit was also "DAC 2" Just wondering if with all these problems it could maybe have had an update.

NAD had the "DAC 1" product released in 2011 (with the transmitter being just a small dongle) and this "DAC 2" released in 2013 (with the transmitter still being small but with a small stand/feet).

Both were offered for a while, if I recall correctly, with ~$100 price difference. I bought both and played with them quite extensively: DAC 2 link was more reliable but not by much. Again, I am not sure if there were substantial revisions within the DAC 2 model line, as I have not seen any such announcements I do not think so.
 
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DWI

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A discontinued 10 year old product now redundant as anyone playing high res files is most likely streaming online or from a server. I was using high res files in those days, using a network capable hard drive. Seems like a lifetime ago.
 

sarumbear

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A discontinued 10 year old product now redundant as anyone playing high res files is most likely streaming online or from a server. I was using high res files in those days, using a network capable hard drive. Seems like a lifetime ago.
I think you missed the importance of the wireless part.
 

DWI

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I think you missed the importance of the wireless part.
When this came out computers were limited to wireless 16/44 max, airplay or bluetooth really, this went to 24/96. I remember streaming HD in those days could be a problem, even some consumer switches weren't fast enough.
 

sarumbear

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People keeps comparing this to a Pi, one is a computer that you need software for, you need a DAC for, you need a power source for and you need configuration. People buy this NAD because it's plug and play. That's an old debate, you have to wonder how come a audio device manufacturer has yet to release a complete finished product that looks half decent, has an actual good pêrforming audio and spdif output with a PI in it already configured for cheaper, then we will be able to make this comparison, until then it's apples and oranges. yes a computer can do more things than a dedicated consumer audio electronic product, that's just stating the obvious. Like saying why buy a watch when my phone gives time, sure, but the customers needs a watch, why are you trying to sell him a phone, he came to your store to buy a watch.
Not to mention that no computer can emulate this device...
 

sarumbear

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When this came out computers were limited to wireless 16/44 max, airplay or bluetooth really, this went to 24/96. I remember streaming HD in those days could be a problem, even some consumer switches weren't fast enough.
CD data rate is less than 1.5Mbps, even the last century 10Mbps switches will handle hi-def audio stream without a problem, not to mention that 100Mbps is the standard for decades.
 

srkbear

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How can it be a comparable price when your player software alone is already 3 times the price of this, not counting the RPIs, and the DACS? You can have DSP with this too if Roon is your source? Which DAC did you hook up to your PIs to beat price and performance? just curious.
Roon is $9.99 per month. HifiBerrys cost anywhere from $109 to $200, including a DAC.

I use a $399 Zen Stream streamer and my Topping D90se as my DAC for my main system, and this is one of my Roon endpoints. But I have HifiBerrys in many other rooms of my house as other Roon endpoints, along with Sonos speakers everywhere that are Roon certified as well.

Either way, all of my endpoints have USB throughputs, with the Roon server handling all the DSPs and audio streams, and the quality alone buries what this NAD is capable of with it barely handling 192 kHz streams. One can debate the sound benefits of this, but I can play my SACDs or ripped DSF 64 tracks through my PC upsampled to DSD 512 all over my house on my wireless network, with any imaginable combination of DSP PEQs, convolution files, cross-feed, volume leveling etc for that $9.99 per month.

I think this NAD system is admirable for what purpose it served in a bygone era. Multiroom wireless streaming is available at extremely affordable prices nowadays without the need for a hardware solution such as this—it’s likely a fine solution for those who don’t mind its limitations or who just want something plug and play, especially since you can add multiple receivers for peanuts on eBay. But I have more exacting expectations, I guess!
 
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PeteL

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Roon is $9.99 per month. HifiBerrys cost anywhere from $109 to $200, including a DAC.

I use a $399 Zen Stream streamer and my Topping D90se as my DAC for my main system, and this is one of my Roon endpoints. But I have HifiBerrys in many other rooms of my house as other Roon endpoints, along with Sonos speakers everywhere that are Roon certified as well.

Either way, all of my endpoints have USB throughputs, with the Roon server handling all the DSPs and audio streams, and the quality alone buries what this NAS is capable of with it barely handling 192 kHz streams. One can debate the sound benefits of this, but I can play my SACDs or ripped DSF 64 tracks through my PC upsampled to DSD 512 all over my house on my wireless network, with any imaginable combination of DSP PEQs, convolution files, cross-feed, volume leveling etc for that $9.99 per month.

I think this NAD system is admirable for what purpose it served in a bygone era. Multiroom wireless streaming is available at extremely affordable prices nowadays without the need for a hardware solution such as this—it’s likely a fine solution for those who don’t mind its limitations or who just want something plug and play, especially since you can add multiple receivers for peanuts on eBay. But I have more exacting expectations, I guess!
My point was about questioning the value of such product, Based on the benefits you find in your use case of being a Roon Owner, I don't get that. Yes Room is 10$ a month, that's enormous for a software that don't give you any content with it, that have all the dev cost paid for years ago. That cost zip to deliver and to "make". That is in fact simply outrageous, no less. Anyway, my Bluesound Node covers all my need and yes this NAD has a quite limited use case, but you are comparing totally different uses, and to do what you want to be doing, which is valid don't get me wrong, but you still have to be spending many times more. This is simply not designed for the same purpose. In the end, this is the most hi fidelity wireless streaming device that has been measured, at a cheap price. You may be able to get a Hifi Berry with for less OK, it may perform well too It's already been established than a PI is the cheapest way to stream, PIs are the cheapest computer in the market, it does a lot of thing, they rule the world, they sell tens of millions of those, NAD sold tens of thousands of this, it may work well maybe not some say its got range problems that weren't assessed here. But in the end the point is, let's compare comparables. This product is just not what you are looking for and it's alright.
 
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mikemcsw

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I am curious...i was on this board perhaps 5 or 6 years ago and haven't really been active in the hobby in between. At the time, it was the concensus of these forums at the time that "all dacs sound the same", and that any differences we hear are just in our head. Is that "still" the concensus? I may be a minority, but it has always been my belief that different dacs sound different (provided all in "green sinad")? I figured if that was just the concensus, i was just going to sell all my dacs and just use the internal dac in my avr, since it got relatively good reviews. But for shitz and giggles i bought another D90 dac, because i remember when it came out (about when i took a break from the hobby), it was the latest and greatest and getting lots of rave reviews. Anyway, i hooked it up just to my PC and a cheap stereo setup and to my ears it sounds amazing...If i had to use a single word to describe i would say "dynamic".
Anyway, just curious as to any input regarding if all dacs sound the same.
 
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