Being the first day into 2017, and currently enjoying the new tunes my updated power amp is making, I thought I'd share my recent experiences from my 500DR service and upgrade.
October 2016: After much deliberation over "if" and then "when" I should take my 12yr old baby for the service and DR upgrade, they were picked up by my north London dealer of many a year - Grahams. As a tie-me-over for the ensuing weeks, I was given a NAP300(non DR) on loan which was a wonderful gesture by my dealer - thank you guys for this and for getting me a time slot for the 500 within 2 weeks of calling. So, whilst listening to some tunes via the 300, I thought I'd share my journey with you from a relatively humble set up to what is near my end target
Now, I've come a long way from exactly two years ago: CDX2/82/Supercap(o)/250(o)/NACA5/B&W802N, via a 52/SC/135s, to now a rather gutsy setup involving an NDS/2x555PS(1 DR)/SL 5-5din/552DR/SL din-XLR/500/Ultra Black/B&W802N. Most notable was the introduction of the 552 and 500, which was not made at the same time for financial reasons! This all came about through an element of good fortune at work and a "you only live once" change of heart. I've always loved audio equipment from my teen years (LP12/Ittok/K18/Nait/Kans) and my view has always been it's an investment into something that is tangible and gives me joy on tap over years.
I have digressed. The point I think I'm trying to make is here is that once you have (temporarily) paused on the upgrading bug, you settle down and enjoy your system and the delivery of music. Over time, ceteris paribus, you don't really notice gradual degradation that may have taken place. I've been very happy with the 500 (of course!) and it is only until it was swapped out this weekend for its return to the mothership and loan-300 installed that the differences were quite noticeable.
26Nov2016. Fast forward. A wonderful day - my 500 is ready for pick up and comes back serviced, DR'd (yay!), and the 500 head unit casing polished/refurbished looking like new! Thank you Naim! Ok, you might say that 4.9k should buy you a lot and expect a lot but the DR upgrade was to be first and foremost priority via replacing internal components, but the bodywork refurb didn't have to be done but was a very nice gesture by Naim. So, initial impressions during first couple of hours of running? Wow wow wow! In a nutshell, the keywords I would use are: gusto, deeper blacks (intra periods of silence), confidence/control, increased 3D depth/airiness, amazing revelation of detail/nuances. To elaborate on the inky blackness, this allowed the start/stop of musical notes/chords to be heard clearly which helps "clarify" the tempo which drives any track and as a by-product accentuates the timing of the leading edge of notes. As with the overall presentation of music, the DR+service really puts the 500DR into a different league. The 300 I had on loan is no slouch either by spec or relative to 135s, but how I would encapsulate my comments on the good points of the 500DR is that it is a very very "confident" amp together with ample gusto on dynamic range. Alternatively, what I am trying to say is that the new born confidence presents the music as it was intended to be with drum "thwacks" sounding just that and previously fuzzy bass lines snapping into focus and much more easier to follow, are just examples. Further, detail enhancement is another wonderful strength and just makes it seem as if your music collection was New and you needed to play it all over again!
The rest of November merged into December and sad to say the abnormally busy work schedule offered few chances to sit down and spin a few FLACS though in certain ways this was no bad things as perhaps it could have made me oblivious to some of the running in woes over the first month post DR/service. Now that the Christmas break had come (and now sadly gone) I had a great chance to re-aquaint myself with my new amp, and further appreciate the subtle improvements since the early days since returning from the mothership. I'm adamant that bass notes have grown deeper and extended over the month, and so has a further opening up of spatial mapping as well as a modest sweetening of the very high frequencies. Consistent with earlier posts by fellow Naim 500 owners who have gone through the DR+service upgrade and subsequent burn in angst, I'm pretty sure that I have gone through the trough of the performance J-curve and now on the upside leg as every (ok, most) time I play music on the system is just so enjoyable - I don't need to look for the new positive traits of the 500DR, they come out and slap me around the face and say "hey look at what I can do now" notes.
So, to finish off this post thus far, I am sitting in my listening chair on New Years' Day, tunes on, with a smug and growing grin on my face and sets 2017 off with a good start! A question to 500DR owners - how long does the improvement continue for before the improvements level off into the future?