Another 552 owner

Well I had my first wow moment this morning with the 552, I think I get it... absolutely phenomenal... the feel, detail and insight with no trebleness or etching... I had no idea the Hugo sounded this transparent and this is with 44.1/16/2 incredible, what a combo..... my Mandelbrot set analogy has developed several fold more iterations.. you hear so much more... including the defects like tape master flutter, bad notes,  clicks and ticks ... but it’s all about letting the recording sound so much more authentic.. coupled with an infectious feel of beat, pace and timing.

Simon-in-Suffolk posted:

Anyone still reading this and values my ramblings... if putting together a system, get the best preamp/NAC you can... it really is the heart of the system and as such probably the most important component quality wise....

It also goes to show what a phenomenal power amp the 250.2 is, let alone the 250DR, if it can up its game so much with the 552 in charge. And yes, it also implies, as I have always believed, it is the pre amp that is the heart and soul of any Naim system.

erm... as it's Christmas I don't wish to spoil the fun. So apologies for what I am about to post.

I remember when I had my DAC V1 and replaced my 202 with a 282, yes the soundstage expanded in all directions, the resolution increased, and so did frequency extremes, but it was still very much the DAC V1 I was listening to musically.

I guess maybe it depends what is being measured and what criteria is important ?

Our esteemed Moderator Richard Dane always, without any exception, no matter how many times I would ask him this question told me "source first"

 

 

Ali, happy Christmas, sources are important, but they give a view or colour of the recording by rendering the audio from whatever format it is, vinyl, tape, FM, PCM sample data etc .. which is why many of us have multiple sources, buecause each is a compromise not one size neccearrily fits all, or is optimum for all... which of course is why there are different format masterings.

 the NAC optimises what is there in the rendering from your varying and different sources to be poweramplified bu doing its best to retain as much as possible of the rendering, a really critical part of the replay chain process.

I disagree there, Analoguemusic! It’s the recording, because a well mastered 196kHz 24bit has many delicacies the 44.1kHz 16bit lacks - both top of their game.

Sometimes I wonder whether that bypasses the preamp contributions (word used figuratively), but my intuition tells me the bass depth comes through the preamp?  Does it? Or is that the power amp?

Simon-in-Suffolk posted:

Anyone still reading this and values my ramblings... if putting together a system, get the best preamp/NAC you can... it really is the heart of the system and as such probably the most important component quality wise....

This is very true - although overlooked by too literal 'source-first' approaches IMO. I've always noticed over many decades of this hobby-interest-passion that those that invested in the best Pre always had better-sounding musical performance that more money spent on source, power-amps or speakers. I think it has to be discovered personally in use and experience.

'Source-first' has an undeniable logic and a lot of truth to it, but the best approach is 'system balance' once you have a capable source. This does turn out to be a very good source IMO, but once you get any source that is very capable then you do not gain anything from continuing to improve the source if you don't re-balance the rest of the system to use its capabilities.

The Pre is very important. I've also tried to remove it, by-pass it's function but always to very poor results, even after a while deluding myself it was better or just as good - it wasn't and any mental-gymnastics could not resolve the fact that wherever a good Pre was in a system - with a good source - then music was there and better than with any other way of spending the same system money.

And now I find that the musical performance as mastered is my limiting factor. Note I did not say format or 'high-def', as I do not necessarily find these formats offer better rendering of the music that the same material mastered with some surviving integrity onto the CD format or even Vinyl. Later renderings onto high-bit-rate/bit-depth  formats have been surprisingly poor so far to my way of hearing the end-result - when I hear otherwise I will get the source to replay them, as it is the end-result I'm looking for, not the promise, unfulfilled do-date, that something is better.

But the Pre is a critical item in a good HiFi system. It seems getting a low-noise, linear amplification and volume control with good input and output line-buffers takes significant engineering to get right.

DB.

Simon-in-Suffolk posted:

Anyone still reading this and values my ramblings... if putting together a system, get the best preamp/NAC you can... it really is the heart of the system and as such probably the most important component quality wise....

Hi Simon.

I am glad you are having fun, and I appreciate you taking the time to share your impressions, as always.

Has your 552 given Spotify via the NDX any sort of lift?  In the past, you may recall, I have said it occasionally seems to beat a lossless rip of the same track, to my disbeliving ears.  I have wondered if the 552 was responsible for making the most of it, like MSG!  

Merry Christmas.

Nick

 

 

Firstly, well done to Simon in Suffolk (I see bitcoin has dropped dramatically since your purchase which must be a relief). Glad it is going well. I have always felt the 552 was my single biggest upgrade in sound quality and like Darke Bear, I think this is not in keeping with the original upgrade protocol, however with improvements in electrical components over the past 20 years, the source first strategy seems to be outdated (I remember in the 80s being told your vinyl collection should be worth more than you system, impossible now with a high end system).

 I also agree and totally feel hi-res playback etc has not bettered cd sound quality. I think there is a clever marketing ploy going on of rehashing excellent existing recordings. Most of my best sounding playback comes from the cd part of an sacd hybrid. Iam glad someone has said it. It is like the emperors new clothes.

Well Analog, it’s best for a separate thread, but just one example of great speakers starts for a tenner with something like a secondhand pair of Maxim 2s - however, the best stands might cost you much more!  They are hugely musically entertaining and any sins are purely of omission. Anyway, apologies to Simon and congrats on the new 552.

Dunno whether he was first but Peter Walker of The Acoustical Manufacturing Company (Quad) is attributed with describing the perfect amplifier as a piece of straight wire with gain.

Seen the inside of a 552 folks?

'Go figure', as our American friends say.

John.

analogmusic posted:

oh yes congrats to Simon

I was just thinking if I came into some unexpected money I would too, buy a 552 right away

The floating suspension boards and the split rail power supply is something no other preamp has other than Statement !

 

Sitting on the side line soaking this up!

Wow floating suspension boards, electrical isolation at its best!

Perhaps this accounts for the musical gap between the sister pre-amps:

282/252

Allante93!

J.N. posted:

Seen the inside of a 552 folks?

 

That's one thing that always impresses me when i see a picture of the internals of a Naim product is the neatness and thought that goes into the internal wiring. You look at the inside shots of some 'hi-end' (bloody expensive) kit and it looks like a real dogs dinner with internal wiring all over the place - it does make me wonder about the consistency of performance and what you are actually paying for. 

I'd never argue that the NAC 552 seen above doesn't possess a tidy internal visual outlay and it only ever sounded impressive on the rare occasions I've head it. OTOH - when I'm demoing gear at my own lesser level the thought of removing the case, or for that matter even googling pics of the inside has never occurred to me.  My system boxes could well have a relative bird's nest of internals under the hood, but that doesn't enter my evaluation process. SQ output in my room the ultimate currency.

james n posted:
 
 

That's one thing that always impresses me when i see a picture of the internals of a Naim product is the neatness and thought that goes into the internal wiring. You look at the inside shots of some 'hi-end' (bloody expensive) kit and it looks like a real dogs dinner with internal wiring all over the place - it does make me wonder about the consistency of performance and what you are actually paying for. 

I wouldn't call these (randomly  chosen among Soulution, Dan D'Agostino, Audia Flight, Mark Levinson) 'dogs' dinner'. As far as internal wiring is concerned, looks to me like Naim still looks like the most 'garage built' one... But it is not meant as belittling it of course. It's just 90° cornered wiring, reasonable order and the sound one'd expect for around £20,000.

 

 

Simon-in-Suffolk posted:

Well I had my first wow moment this morning with the 552, I think I get it... absolutely phenomenal... the feel, detail and insight with no trebleness or etching... I had no idea the Hugo sounded this transparent and this is with 44.1/16/2 incredible, what a combo..... my Mandelbrot set analogy has developed several fold more iterations.. you hear so much more... including the defects like tape master flutter, bad notes,  clicks and ticks ... but it’s all about letting the recording sound so much more authentic.. coupled with an infectious feel of beat, pace and timing.

Simon,

I think no-one here would have suspected that a NAC 552 sounded like a 1962 table radio... We're happy yours works properly for its cost.

Is the 552 the new 272?

Good 2018 to all.

M

joerand posted:

I'd never argue that the NAC 552 seen above doesn't possess a tidy internal visual outlay and it only ever sounded impressive on the rare occasions I've head it. OTOH - when I'm demoing gear at my own lesser level the thought of removing the case, or for that matter even googling pics of the inside has never occurred to me.  My system boxes could well have a relative bird's nest of internals under the hood, but that doesn't enter my evaluation process. SQ output in my room the ultimate currency.

That's true, Joe, and makes sense. But I'd argue that it's nice to see the engineering which gives some reassurance as to where the cost, in addition to R&D, has gone. 

Guys, just catching up... Nick to your comment, Spotify still sounds like Spotify... but give a descent signal it’s amazing what info is there... and to the comment on Bitcoin value.. yes I was fortunate to get it almost spot on... I have bought some more... let’s see what it is in a year... if it grows the same rate as in 2018 as it did in 2017.. I might be able to get a flash Naim system for my then future Bentley..... 

Simon, I have often toyed with the idea of the ultimate monkfish, i.e. NDS/555DR/552DR/250DR and my 'crappy' Monitor Audio GX300s. To achieve this I 'just' need to swap my existing 252DR for a pre-loved 552DR, which is pretty much what you have done (although you went with a new 552) with one or two differences at the front and back ends.

I have however never quite accepted that the 250DR (250.2 in your case) was capable of handling the extra resolution the 552 would throw at it although I have always invested in the source and pre amp as a priority. But could the ultimate monkfish be a step too far? Your experience seems to show that the 250 is more than up to the task and I believe Richard used to run a 552 with a 250 if I am not mistaken.

My options going forward are:

a) a monkfish with knobs on i.e. swap the 252DR for a 552DR

b) swap out my trusty GX300s for something 'better'

c) swap my 250DR for a 300DR

My heart says a) and I suspect your experience will support this. But I hear so many good things about the 300DR and I know my speakers are becoming a weak link but they have responded so well to all my upgrades, especially the most recent addition of the 555DR on my NDS.

Now I would certainly do a home demo before committing, but I am interested in your experience and the experience of others contemplating these sort of changes. I hope this does not divert your thread too much and if it does I will open a new thread.

nigelb posted:

Thought you might say that. I believe you can live quite happily with one kidney these days as it seems I have have missed the boat on bitcoins!

The boat is always sailing with cryptos... it has always been highly speculative... and nearly always grown over the longer term of months, though more main stream now so the major cryptos  are reduced risk... so why not give it a go.. but just as with all highly speculative investments be prepared to loose it...

Richard Dane posted:

True, but luckily there are great sounding speakers that cost very little. 

I partly agree Richard as I have a set of Royd Eden at home that cost a bit over £100 used and they sound fantastic with plenty of power very fast and energetic. I've also owned Q Acoustic Concept 20's and Epos 14's in the past couple of years both sound great and both cost less than £250 used but neither those or the Royds had any bass to speak of and for me personally and IME that only really comes with bigger and ultimately more expensive speakers.

nigelb posted:

Simon, I have often toyed with the idea of the ultimate monkfish, i.e. NDS/555DR/552DR/250DR and my 'crappy' Monitor Audio GX300s. To achieve this I 'just' need to swap my existing 252DR for a pre-loved 552DR, which is pretty much what you have done (although you went with a new 552) with one or two differences at the front and back ends.

I have however never quite accepted that the 250DR (250.2 in your case) was capable of handling the extra resolution the 552 would throw at it although I have always invested in the source and pre amp as a priority. But could the ultimate monkfish be a step too far? Your experience seems to show that the 250 is more than up to the task and I believe Richard used to run a 552 with a 250 if I am not mistaken.

My options going forward are:

a) a monkfish with knobs on i.e. swap the 252DR for a 552DR

b) swap out my trusty GX300s for something 'better'

c) swap my 250DR for a 300DR

My heart says a) and I suspect your experience will support this. But I hear so many good things about the 300DR and I know my speakers are becoming a weak link but they have responded so well to all my upgrades, especially the most recent addition of the 555DR on my NDS.

Now I would certainly do a home demo before committing, but I am interested in your experience and the experience of others contemplating these sort of changes. I hope this does not divert your thread too much and if it does I will open a new thread.

In my experience a).

Monkfish is a bit harsh. You’ll see what i mean when you demo

Max_B posted:
 

Good 2018 to all

Max, and a happy 2018 to you. I didn’t follow your comment about the 552 being the new 272... please clarify... the 552 is a very much older design... and quite different architecturally, functionally and performance wise... my point was referring to the change in 552 performance through run in... which was more than I had expected.

nigelb posted:

Simon, I have often toyed with the idea of the ultimate monkfish, i.e. NDS/555DR/552DR/250DR and my 'crappy' Monitor Audio GX300s. To achieve this I 'just' need to swap my existing 252DR for a pre-loved 552DR, which is pretty much what you have done (although you went with a new 552) with one or two differences at the front and back ends.

I have however never quite accepted that the 250DR (250.2 in your case) was capable of handling the extra resolution the 552 would throw at it although I have always invested in the source and pre amp as a priority. But could the ultimate monkfish be a step too far? Your experience seems to show that the 250 is more than up to the task and I believe Richard used to run a 552 with a 250 if I am not mistaken.

My options going forward are:

a) a monkfish with knobs on i.e. swap the 252DR for a 552DR

b) swap out my trusty GX300s for something 'better'

c) swap my 250DR for a 300DR

My heart says a) and I suspect your experience will support this. But I hear so many good things about the 300DR and I know my speakers are becoming a weak link but they have responded so well to all my upgrades, especially the most recent addition of the 555DR on my NDS.

Now I would certainly do a home demo before committing, but I am interested in your experience and the experience of others contemplating these sort of changes. I hope this does not divert your thread too much and if it does I will open a new thread.

Nigel - a couple of points:

When I was  dimming speakers at one demo we had an NDS/555/552/250 with both Focal and Kudos.  It was superb.  The 300 would of course have done more but it was excellent.   

With regard to speakers as you know I follow the line that synergy is everything and that source first as a religion is not necessarily the right way to go.   In that respect I can only say changing from the Dyn.Contour 1:8s to the Kudos S20 truly was a paradigm shift.    Of course I’m not familiar with your MAs but I suspect a speaker change will have a greater impact and give you more for the £s than a 552 - at this stage.  

Regards,

Lindsay

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