Another 552 owner

Back in the day when I had a CDI and a 82, I went to the shop to demo the CDS but also listened to the 52 with the CDI. I was surprised how good the 52 was and I’ve always gone for the best preamp I could afford, for the last few years this has been a 552 (hopefully will get it DRed in 2018.

However, just for fun please try a supercap on any lesser preamp: 72, 102, 32.5 and you may be surprised.

good listening 

Using the signal output nearest the Burndy socket (or the two nearest) is very noticably superior at this level. It’s in the manual but easily overlooked or forgotten (by me at any rate). Likewise for the supercap, if using a Burndy, or If using Snaic(s) or for hi and flatcap, use the output nearest to the Snaic, though the difference gets less marked with the lighter ps.

Well I am delighted to say the 552DR has taken quite a step forward in the enjoyment stakes over the last few weeks as it has settled in/burnt in. it really is a cracking piece of kit... it’s bizarre what it does to your recordings.. how can a preamp do this? I clearly am fortunate to now own one of Hi-Fi’s genuine icons....

Simon-in-Suffolk posted:

... it’s bizarre what it does to your recordings.. how can a preamp do this? ....

This was what took me years to finally accept before I got my 552 and later S1 Pre.

I went along the seemingly logical path of thinking I could by-pass the need for a Pre or at any rate a good Pre and it took eventual capitulation to repeated unsuccessful results and hearing friends that had a good Pre always get great musical results to make me try the 552 - and it was a no-brainer - made my system come to life and 'work'.

Since then I've got a lot of my own theories of what is going on - but the Pre seems to set the reference point for detail, bass extension and quality, together with providing a coherence to the performance that is obvious once you hear it.

Enjoy - you made the right decision.

DB.

My 552 was installed today. I was motivated to make the purchase not based on what was demonstrated at my dealer, it was ok, not great, nor friend, frankly I know no Naimites, but the repeated insistence from some Forum stalwarts and my own frustrations with my setup. Nothing sounded beautiful, special, or distinctive, just good hifi, but not great nor the captivating sound that would anchor You home listening rather than doing other things. As suggested I was repeatedly and perhaps naively convinced that some on Forum like Dark Bear & Simon of Suffolk and others meant what they were saying. Today it arrived and though skeptic I can say after 2-hours that I’m stunned by difference from 252. Yes it took 30-40 minutes for roughness to subside, but already I’m startled that highly familiar and favorite Beethoven Piano Concertos sounds like someone’s switched the recording like perhaps I’ve never heard it before. 

My question for Dark Bear, was S1 as definingly different? Did it replatform the performance allowing you to see the music insights with new sense of boundaries and decision making.

my second question are there speakers that do not swallow your homes but supported or expanded the discoveries of the 552 or S1?

Charles

CXF04 posted:

My question for Dark Bear, was S1 as definingly different? Did it replatform the performance allowing you to see the music insights with new sense of boundaries and decision making.

My story with the S1 is that I did not want to think about possible upgrades, but was eventually induced to audition it against my 552 DR. My Dealer agreed I could have a home-demo for several days and I really needed that assurance as I'd not intended to ever upgrade from my 552 and the S1 had to be a lot better for the upgrade price.

All this took place and it was immediately obvious that the S1 was in a different league as may be expected and in the context of my Active system with three 500 amps made a lot more sense of everything on terms of weight, authority, loads more detail, more perspectives into music I knew well...I could use lots of words that all apply to any significant upgrade that re-balances a system's performance envelope in a very positive way. These were in many ways those same things I'd experienced with my 552 purchase and now done over again onto the 552 by the S1.

There was a sense of ease and confidence and a seamless effortless quality that was very welcome - the system just sounded more happy and you were more drawn to the musical performances than the HiFi.

I'd seriously considered other paths at the juncture of when I committed my limited funds to the S1 Pre, as I wanted to ensure I was not making a big mistake, but every other option I heard did not appeal in the terms I enjoy and experience music. It did not matter how much extra room-correction or digital filtering was done in alternative paths, they sounded wrong, cut-off and rather sterile to me; when I listened to Naim's offering there was a wealth of beauty and insight and I did not feel the music was mounting an inquisition against me.

So yes - the S1 worked and I'm very happy with it in the context of my system.

DB.

CXF04 posted:

My 552 was installed today. I was motivated to make the purchase not based on what was demonstrated at my dealer, it was ok, not great, nor friend, frankly I know no Naimites, but the repeated insistence from some Forum stalwarts and my own frustrations with my setup. Nothing sounded beautiful, special, or distinctive, just good hifi, but not great nor the captivating sound that would anchor You home listening rather than doing other things. As suggested I was repeatedly and perhaps naively convinced that some on Forum like Dark Bear & Simon of Suffolk and others meant what they were saying. Today it arrived and though skeptic I can say after 2-hours that I’m stunned by difference from 252. Yes it took 30-40 minutes for roughness to subside, but already I’m startled that highly familiar and favorite Beethoven Piano Concertos sounds like someone’s switched the recording like perhaps I’ve never heard it before.

Your experience with your hi-fi is very similar to mine. I’ve built my system up over a 30 year period, and it’s at a point where it’s certainly very good, and does fair justice to a wide range of music. I’ve no doubt that it’s helped me “get” all kinds of music that I might otherwise have remained indifferent to. Nonetheless, I have that nagging feeling that it should be better: like you, sitting down to listen is something I choose to do rather than feel compelled to do.

I’m also intrigued by the 552, particularly by the many reviews by Forum members whose opinions and expertise I respect that suggest that it’s not only a lot better than the preamps further down the range (which you’d expect for the price difference), but that it’s somehow qualititatively different as well. Many have spoken about how their music enjoyment turned a corner after installing a 552. With that in mind, I’ve asked my dealer to look out for a pre-loved 552; of course, I’ve no idea how long that will take.

Like you, I’m not going to use a dealer demo as part of the decision process. Clearly, the 552 takes a long time to settle, and I greatly doubt that any typical demo will give me a true sense of its capabilities. Instead, I’ll bite the bullet (when the right one shows up) and give it at least a few months in my system before drawing any conclusions. If I’m underwhelmed at that point, it’ll be time to make some major decisions, possibly in the direction of downsizing / simplifying (OK, I doubt that will happen, but at this stage I’ve become conditioned to take all rave reviews with a big grain of salt).

Anyway, thanks for posting, and do keep us updated as the 552 breaks in.

Corry posted:
I’m also intrigued by the 552, particularly by the many reviews by Forum members whose opinions and expertise I respect that suggest that it’s not only a lot better than the preamps further down the range (which you’d expect for the price difference), but that it’s somehow qualititatively different as well. Many have spoken about how their music enjoyment turned a corner after installing a 552. ..

This is the key - the 552 even non-DR was different to those in the hierarchy below when I home-auditioned mine many years back. I'd borrowed a 252 and that was a good Pre that did all the right musical things and was worth the outlay, but in my then Active system it did not 'wow' me.

When I borrowed the 552 it was so obviously better that it was not just a linear increment in detail and presentation, but did some things the other Amp just didn't.

I'll have to use my words on how I heard it, but it was fast and it resolved the 'gaps' between notes fundamentally better. All notes have a start - sustain - stop part and the 552 was a bit better at the start, far better at sustain and fundamentally better at the stop parts of notes. Now weave all that into the mesh of flowing music with its individual strands and the 552 made far better sense of everything. Each instrument and even part of an instrument had its contribution and then it changes or stops and the 552 just allowed this in a way that was beautiful - on things like piano it is very obvious.

Also the bass presented darker and cleaner with good weight and definition, which I liked - and the top-end HF had a clarity that allowed the separation of notes that gave each their own power - no smearing together.

The 552 is the turning-point in the range and the S1 just takes that even further, but at a lot more outlay.

DB.

 

Darke Bear posted:
Corry posted:
I’m also intrigued by the 552, particularly by the many reviews by Forum members whose opinions and expertise I respect that suggest that it’s not only a lot better than the preamps further down the range (which you’d expect for the price difference), but that it’s somehow qualitatively different as well. Many have spoken about how their music enjoyment turned a corner after installing a 552. ..

This is the key - the 552 even non-DR was different to those in the hierarchy below when I home-auditioned mine many years back. I'd borrowed a 252 and that was a good Pre that did all the right musical things and was worth the outlay, but in my then Active system it did not 'wow' me.

When I borrowed the 552 it was so obviously better that it was not just a linear increment in detail and presentation, but did some things the other Amp just didn't.

I'll have to use my words on how I heard it, but it was fast and it resolved the 'gaps' between notes fundamentally better. All notes have a start - sustain - stop part and the 552 was a bit better at the start, far better at sustain and fundamentally better at the stop parts of notes. Now weave all that into the mesh of flowing music with its individual strands and the 552 made far better sense of everything. Each instrument and even part of an instrument had its contribution and then it changes or stops and the 552 just allowed this in a way that was beautiful - on things like piano it is very obvious.

Also the bass presented darker and cleaner with good weight and definition, which I liked - and the top-end HF had a clarity that allowed the separation of notes that gave each their own power - no smearing together.

The 552 is the turning-point in the range and the S1 just takes that even further, but at a lot more outlay.

DB.

 

 

Corry,

Though my 552 is still in earliest moments of breaking-in, its transformative nature tells me how much Naim's designers understand about music representation and how much of their sonic cards they’ve chosen not to show with lesser gear. As suggested by Dark Bear and others the 552 is not just enhanced 252, but qualitative dimensional change that affords the owner the chance to gaze beyond previously accepted musical horizons and into the unexpected insights accompanying live performance. While Forum followers wax on about 552, dealers and Naim publications are more restrained. Had I know what I would inherit with 552, I would have added it long ago. What Dark Bear offers is strongest representation of here the S1 may take us.  Now if Naim with Focal's resources would only visit the Naim sound and offer a speaker  we could partner. 

Charles          

 

 

I'm very, very happy with my 552DR, and thought long and hard before committing to it. I've no regrets,  and at nearly 2 years after I got one it still gives me regular pleasant surprises in what it is able to reveal from recordings that I thought I knew inside out.  However, I heard an S1 against a 552DR at my dealer's one day. Although the speakers used weren't to my taste the demo was enough for me to hear what the S1 can do over and above the 552DR. I was seriously impressed. It made me laugh at times at what it was revealing. It's easily the best pre-amp I've heard.  

Darke Bear posted:

I'll have to use my words on how I heard it, but it was fast and it resolved the 'gaps' between notes fundamentally better. All notes have a start - sustain - stop part and the 552 was a bit better at the start, far better at sustain and fundamentally better at the stop parts of notes. Now weave all that into the mesh of flowing music with its individual strands and the 552 made far better sense of everything. Each instrument and even part of an instrument had its contribution and then it changes or stops and the 552 just allowed this in a way that was beautiful - on things like piano it is very obvious.

Also the bass presented darker and cleaner with good weight and definition, which I liked - and the top-end HF had a clarity that allowed the separation of notes that gave each their own power - no smearing together.

Thanks so much for that detailed description – very helpful, much more so than the usual “better PRaT, more detail” etc.

CXF04 posted:

Though my 552 is still in earliest moments of breaking-in, its transformative nature tells me how much Naim's designers understand about music representation and how much of their sonic cards they’ve chosen not to show with lesser gear. As suggested by Dark Bear and others the 552 is not just enhanced 252, but qualitative dimensional change that affords the owner the chance to gaze beyond previously accepted musical horizons and into the unexpected insights accompanying live performance. While Forum followers wax on about 552, dealers and Naim publications are more restrained. Had I know what I would inherit with 552, I would have added it long ago. What Dark Bear offers is strongest representation of here the S1 may take us.  Now if Naim with Focal's resources would only visit the Naim sound and offer a speaker  we could partner.

Charles

That's encouraging to hear. If previous accounts of the 552 are anything to go by, you've got some good times ahead (albeit with the odd "blah" day as it settles in). Looking forward to hearing more about that!

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