We know that for a lot less than £4500 you could quickly put together a computer-based solution able to do most of what this machine can manage. But that’s not the point.
The HDX music server puts together everything you need to store music at CD quality and beyond, and makes it elegant and great-sounding in the process.
It’s no harder to use than a CD player, makes perfect copies of discs onto its 400GB hard drive – which is backed up by another drive of the same size to keep your music sage – and provides a logical, clear and totally flexible interface to the user.
And, of course, it pays close attention to audio quality. That means separate power supply transformers for the audio section and all the storage and control gubbins, and a high-quality audio output section optically isolated from the digital electronics in the quest for quality.
Outputs are available on phono sockets, the usual Naim DINs and optical and electrical digital connects. It can also be upgraded with other Naim power supplies for even better sound quality, if you’re exceptionally keen (and wealthy).
Four USB sockets allow external drives or other control devices to be connected. The HDX can also be used as a stand-alone player with a conventional amplifier-and-stereo-speakers system.
Review continues after the break...
CDs sound even better
The big question of, course, is how the HDX sounds, and it’s here that this player really scores. Discs copied to it don’t just sound as good as the original: in some cases – well, in most cases, actually – they sound better.
The player takes longer than some to rip music, going until exactly the same data has been read from the disc at least twice to ensure that it’s making a perfect copy.
The fact that this gives the playback systems less work to do clearly plays a part in just how good this machine sounds, with a tight, clean and yet fully extended bass; a clear, beautifully detailed midband; and excellent air and sparkle in the treble.
Add the temptation of having all that music on tap, and the first encounter with the HDX is likely to have you interested, and then hooked. It’s revelatory.
Naim makes hard-disk music an audiophile reality, and in some style – this is an amazing product, and capable of serious performance