Naim don’t recommend to use any of their streamers direct in to a power amp but use one their pre amps as the volume control does not give the best SQ and its not exposed to RAAT by Design from Naim, the digital volume is purely so they can get Airplay certification and why it works for Airplay.
Volume control using the ND5 XS2 does work. You need to select the option using the Naim app, but you must then reboot the streamer (put it into standby then cycle the power) before Roon will recognise it. It’s a known quirk.
(I’ve confirmed it works using my own ND5 XS2; I’ll link to the original post when I get home)
If you are using a Naim preamp with System Automation, Roon cannot access it. So you either need to use the ND5XS2 variable volume control which Roon should be able to see, but potentially with a loss of sound quality, or stick with the Naim volume control via SA or remote control.
I’d be really interested to know if there is a technical reason why Naim’s system automation cannot be made to work with Roon. I see other manufacturers managing to integrate their system control schemes with Roon, but not Naim.
When you say “other manufacturers managing to integrate their system control schemes” do you mean other manufacturers who choose to use analogue volume pots in their amps? For Naim, that’s a design choice for their preamps and nearly all integrateds. It means you cannot have a numerical volume level controlled by a slider, as is the norm these days. Their all-in-one streamer/amps on the other hand use a variety of digitally controlled volume controls, and these are controllable within Roon. The more basic +/- buttons Naim use in their own control app are as near as you can get with an analogue volume pot. Whether or not this could be implemented in Roon, I have no idea.
I was assuming that the analog volume pot is driven by a stepper motor and so has a fair degree of precision. Even if that’s not the case and the control is imprecise, I think that the ability to control the volume from Roon outweighs the lack of control precision. It may be that “20” on the scale in Roon isn’t always the same absolute gain, but that would seem like an acceptable compromise.
I agree that it would be a bonus for Naim separates owners to be able to control volume from within Roon when using System Automation. I would be surprised if it was technically impossibe, but I guess it’s just a case of presuading Naim and/or Roon that it’s worth their while implementing it.
Andy’s suggestion worked for me. One clarifying comment would be “In the Naim app under Settings, System Automation, make sure System automation is not selected”. I was initially using System Automation to control my Naim Supernait 3 volume so there was no “Volume mode” selection available. Once you uncheck System Automation, Volume mode becomes available and you can follow Andy’s instructions.
That’s correct, the app doesn’t show the variable volume option if system automation is on, as you can only use one or the other. Variable volume is a digital control in the streamer, whereas SA controls the analogue volume pot on the preamp in a separate box.