12yr old NAP500 back to the Mothership for service and DR upgrade. Hello 300s. Hellllooo 500DR!

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?

 

 

Original Post

Hi Richard, you will be astonished by the transformation from the DR+service.  The head unit will see many of the parts/PCB replaced to the extent that I've noticed the back facia now sports the "DR" logo (not a sticker) and the burndy, XLR, and speaker terminals are also replaced (or by visual inspection, cleaned).  If you have had your original 500 from new or for a lengthy period you would probably not notice the gradual degradation on the sound quality (aka components) over time as your brain would be so used to the presentation the 500 produces.  However, when the 500 (and in our case both units) are serviced the difference is quite outstanding.  I hope the wait and anticipation is bearable for you but enjoy when it comes back from Salisbury!

  

"A question to 500DR owners - how long does the improvement continue for before the improvements level off into the future?"

I'd say the best part of six months for mine - with normal 'as and when' usage. But ............. I enjoyed the new sound straight away; the inevitable performance bumps in the road becoming less and less severe as time passed.

DR'ing the 500 really does turn it into something extra-special and quite different to its original less sophisticated self. Arguably it becomes a NAP750 at a relatively reasonable price.

Easily a more substantial upgrade than DR'ing a 552 to these ears.

Enjoy.

John.

Thank you everyone and Happy New year greetings.  The 500 and 500 DR+service were both significant steps up from my 135s (which were serviced).  Great though the latter are, the grunt and confidence of the 500 really makes a big impact even at low listening levels.

Hi your findings are similar to mine .... I have had mine playing for a month now ..... and there has been a huge improvement .... the amp sounds pacier faster with more kick and detail ...... the sound has opened up nicely. I found a track which really - tests and shows off this amp.... try Vangelis  Pulsar ..... at a reasonably loud level set at the intro..... wow.

DR'ing the 500 is interesting. Richie talks of stronger bass. I got leaner, cleaner bass from my Titans and a local friend with NBL's got a fuller, warmer sound (in a good way) from his DR'd 500. 

So the upgraded amp seems to respond differently with different loudspeakers. Myself and the said local friend both experienced a 24 hour 'thin and screechy' (bordering on the unlistenable) episode, a couple of weeks into run-in. It soon passed and the SQ was swiftly back on an uphill trajectory.

One soon accustoms to the new sound - having had my DR'd 500 for nearly one year. I heard a standard 500 on known speakers recently and the sound was generally (comparatively) a bit foggy.

John.

 

My set of 500DR are entering their six month point and still improving, to my pleasure!

As has been said, there is a rough 3-4 week run-in up and down period and then after week 4 you think you have arrived - but you are far from there.

More refinement and better rendition of detail is what I notice improving with time, as well as subtle changes to the presentation - after the very big change to the presentation of the DR 500 at one month run-in.

It is more revealing and you will be rewarded more by paying attention to all the little set-up things and cable-freedom of the Burndies...etc...

I know I am very far from hearing all these can do in my own system, but just enjoying the richer-textures and fuller presentation of the music right now is more than enough.

I feel that a system rebuild in Feb may happen to improve my layout, but it is not essential right now.

Enjoy.

DB.

Gary's post above has made me realise that I should have stated 'mostly uphill trajectory' after the first few weeks. 

I found that the severity of the bumps in the road gradually lessened as time passed, and it makes a lot of sense to me that in Gary's more revealing 'set', with three DR'd amps, that he is continuing to hear changes beyond the six month point. 

As ever - don't tell your normal friends!

Good listening y'all. 

John. 

J.N. posted:

Gary's post above has made me realise that I should have stated 'mostly uphill trajectory' after the first few weeks. 

I found that the severity of the bumps in the road gradually lessened as time passed, and it makes a lot of sense to me that in Gary's more revealing 'set', with three DR'd amps, that he is continuing to hear changes beyond the six month point. 

As ever - don't tell your normal friends!

Good listening y'all. 

John. 

 Holy words 

J.N. posted:

DR'ing the 500 is interesting. Richie talks of stronger bass. I got leaner, cleaner bass from my Titans and a local friend with NBL's got a fuller, warmer sound (in a good way) from his DR'd 500. 

So the upgraded amp seems to respond differently with different loudspeakers. Myself and the said local friend both experienced a 24 hour 'thin and screechy' (bordering on the unlistenable) episode, a couple of weeks into run-in. It soon passed and the SQ was swiftly back on an uphill trajectory.

One soon accustoms to the new sound - having had my DR'd 500 for nearly one year. I heard a standard 500 on known speakers recently and the sound was generally (comparatively) a bit foggy.

John.

 

Hi John,

Fingers in ears...la la la not listening! Just waiting on "the Calling"! Great to read these threads and the enjoyment had by all on DR upgrade which does seem to be  a bigger step than the 552 DR upgrade. 

I see DB has woken briefly form hibernating. Be careful guys..bare with a sore head...not good!!!!

Thanks @Richieroo, @DB, @J.N., @Dustysox, @Harry. I am now at the end of week8 and can safely say that I've not had any "off" days since week5 or so.  I can honestly say that the fabric of the music has morphed into a tighter weave since my non-DR guise and has gradually improved since the DR upgrade was done. I feel that now with most of the music I play, be it NDS sourced, LP12, 320k iRadio, or even 64k radio, the music has more gusto and meaningfulness (?) to it.  I find myself appreciating the instruments more (because they are more evident with easier to hear timbre) and the overall track/song and find myself less of a need to think about tweaking things or fiddling around the back of the system to check things. I simply put some tunes on and enjoy!  Again as I had mentioned earlier in the thread, if the improvement plateau only comes approx 6m down the line then I still have a lot more positive surprises to enjoy!  I can only imagine that the fellow Naimees here with active 500DR systems must be beaming from ear to ear  Happy Friday everyone and have a great tuneful weekend!

Richieroo posted:

Approaching 2.5 months now ........ base seems to be getting more and more drive ........ I will be forced to move my speakers further away from the rear wall ..... as base is now effecting mid range.

Ooo, now that is interesting!

Have booked mine in.My 500 takes a little "holiday" for service and DR upgrade at the end of Feb.

I think what has happend is the amp has so much more kick ...... that my small speakers are delivering more base (more quantity and better extension)......... this amp has got my little speakers by the preverbials!!! .... it's not a problem .. I just need to pull them away from the wall by a further 4 to 6 inches.... I will feed back.

I'm approaching 2m/9wks with my 500DR. I concur with Richieroo's description - My analogy is the sound has a tighter weave (as in fabric) than before and therefore more robust, more confident sounding. The bass "attack" is more prevalent on the leading edges and therefore present as more dynamic. This is all relative to prior to service and DR upgrade but even at the pre metamorphosis stage it still blows away all of my previous power amps (250, 135s, and 300). Listening at low volume levels late at night now has an added dynamic and detail to it. 

{NDS, 552DRx2, 552DR, 500DR, all Powerline, Superlumina except Tellurium Ultra Black speaker cable, B&W 802N. }

Yes I agree .... Ayis .......... interestingly my little PMC's roll off at about 60hz and I use them with a powerful velodyne DD+ sub which is frequency swept and equalised to speakers - giving a flatish response down to 25hz. The 500dr seems to have pushed these speakers - to a roll off of around 55hz ... which does not sound much - but belive me it is.....I will now have to move speakers a bit and re sweep and equalise...amazing what an amp can do during the run in period!!!

 

 

@ Bilotta & Richieroo

Before I sold my LP 12, I had, Maybe, 300 LPs, but only about 40, that were kick but. Well, I have, I still got them, just in case I decide to go back! 

Now CD,s, same game maybe 2-3 hundred, but only 30, that are kick but

This particular tune is great for speed, stop and go, symbols, kick drums, bass , etc... I love it! 

especially the way it ends, symbols, and complete silence. wow!!!!!!

Mind you, I'm don't do streaming, I guess

MM>Airport Extreme> Airport Express> to the following systems.

1.  282>3 x 250.2>Briks

2. Emotiva dac 1> Primare Pre 30> Arcam Mono Block> Vienna Acoustics Baby Grands 

3. Emotiva UMC 1 > Arcam P35>Klipsh  I think! 

All I know how to do is borrow CD's from my friends, rip them to my computer, buy them from iTunes, for a buck, and download them to my computer!  Endless Playlist, about 2000 tunes, all controlled from my Android Cell Phone with Remote 2 app, whilst lying in Bed!

Don't sound bad at all, but when I get ready for some Serious listening, Cdx2> 282> HCDR> 250.2s > Briks! 

So to answer your question, CD only for me, otherwise I'm afraid I don't know how to get a quality down load for streaming! 

But this gentleman is well know, he's the real Deal:

YOU CAN FIND HIM! 

SORRY I COULDN'T BE MORE HELPFUL!

ALLANTE93! 

Tsbilotta posted:

Hey Allante93, that's a pretty cool beat (Track 11).

Do you know where you can download or buy that cd ? I find it only on iTunes France, and I can't buy from that iTunes store...

Background information
OriginSaint-CloudHauts-de-Seine
France
GenresJazzbluesAfro-popjazz fusionrock and roll
Occupation(s)Musician
Composer
Producer
InstrumentsDrumspercussionflute
LabelsBlue Thumb
Associated actsMiles DavisWeather ReportJaco Pastorius
Website

Yeah, I hear iTunes isn't a high quality download.

 But one thing I do know, the SQ of the CD is Kick A**as.

Mind you, I only like at most 4 cuts on this particular CD.

But that's on the Archaic mechanical Digital CD!

Just replaced my VAM 1202/Cdx2!

She's really purring this morning!

Allante93!

Richard Sellicks posted:

Collecting my NAP500 from my dealers tomorrow after service and DR upgrade �� now the fun begins

So so soo lucky Richard! Congratulations!

Mine doesn't leave until the end of February. Can't wait to read your  thoughts.

Lock all the doors, phone off..stock with food and a nice single Malt! From what I read you my friend are in for a real treat!

Now off you go, up the wooden hill...you have a long weekend in front of you and get all the rest you can now!!!!!

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Richard SellicksrschMoussa
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