ND555 - have pulled the trigger

Harry posted:
analogmusic posted:

It’s nothing personal Harry

but having lived a 800 series speaker with and auctioned All the latest B&w D3 range I think they’re overpriced and underperforming. Not really a good match with Naim

 

Yeah. I know. I get the distinction. No worries.

Your follow on views could have been written by me on numerous occasions, up until they introduced two models which actually worked in our room.  The latest 800 series might sound even better in our room, or sound awful. That's rooms for you. It's no coincidence that in 40 years I haven't been through many speaker changes and have rejected upgrade candidates at a ratio of about 20:1, sometimes giving up and continuing unchanged. Funny things, rooms.

 

Yes that I can agree with which explains why so many different experiences happen with the same product. 

Nice post, thank you 

I’d also add that Naim represents substantial financial outlay, as a hi end product so it does feel a bit upsetting to some to be told that the 250 dr isn’t quite as good as we think.

Not for me particularly at all as I’ve done the tests and personally love my 250 but some context is necessary. The 250 does indeed work very well with a matching speaker.  Of course it won’t sound as god as a 500 but I always have so much fun and enjoyment with it that it simply doesn’t matter. 

Would I pair a 250 with a hard to drive speaker ? No because they’re many speakers designed with Naim like philosophy in mind like Neat Kudos and maybe Dynaudio. 

These include being voiced with Naim amplifiers for Neat and Kudos and presenting a stable load to the amp (Dynaudio always designs their speakers with this in mind)

Hold on! I am not rubbishing the 250 it is a great amp!  In-fact when I had a 250dr - as I stated before I wondered how it could get any better....... you are right matching it with appropriate harmonising speakers is essential. However, it does get better as you go up the Naim chain ......... but hey thats the same as anything ........ cars,watches,cameras etc etc. Rest assured your Nap250 is a great amp ... 

analogmusic posted:

300 dr and 500 dr are better amps but I’m not willing to pay for it. 

Im more interested in spending my limited cash now in source improvements or better speakers

 

You have an excellent system ......... possibly look at the speakers - my 250dr worked really well with pmc speakers ...... however, it is very personal choice..... I love small speakers .....the 250dr works well Proac tablets..... I am sure if you start a new thread - you will get some very good feedback regarding speaker choice.

analogmusic posted:

I’d also add that Naim represents substantial financial outlay, as a hi end product so it does feel a bit upsetting to some to be told that the 250 dr isn’t quite as good as we think.In response to your point in general, as opposed to a 

 

It's as good or as bad as you think it is. Who cares what anybody else thinks? 

By way of a general response as opposed as straight back at you in particular:

Why would somebody else's personal opinion matter? If they call you a fool in public for buying a 250 then you have a legitimate beef. If they simply state that they personally don't like it and wouldn't have one, how is that harmful or insulting? The forum seems to be filling with people who want make everything other people post all about them.

This forum isn't Facebook.

 

Hungryhalibut posted:

That’s very true. It will be interesting to read what people make of the new streamers at Munich. As suggested above it seems highly likely that Naim will be using Focal speakers for the demonstration. I’ve heard some Utopia something or other with Naim and thought they were bloody awful - aggressive and unbearably bright, and they didn’t sound like real music at all. Quite how people can assess the Naim streamers with speakers like that I don’t know. Yet others love them, so it’s probably just me. At the end of the day there is no right and wrong, it’s all part of life’s rich pageant. 

I’ve been to the factory and been very disappointed by the demo up to the top end. What I put it down to is that the setup is never allowed to settle as we would our own and it is not used to play music enough. 

What surprises me is that Naim don’t seem to put this right. Their logic seems to be to let people hear the difference. They probably also realise that there is trust that ‘the more you pay the more you get’. The only downside for the customer is that one has no sense of an absolute standard one can expect. This leads to some customers getting far more out of their kit than others.

Almost bought a 552, but yesterday settled to the nearly new 252 I’ve been able to demo since January while waiting for a 552 demo. It was more than the equal of the 552, but then I have since the 552 demo sorted out my racks, cable dressing. The most significant change was to buy Naim glass, cups and balls for isolation shelves and longer legs. You then need patience waiting for the setup to come on tune, but you know what each change has done. Worth the wait.

Phil

This puts you in a fortunate place. If you are satisfied that you've got the best you'll ever hear or want, and it works beautifully in your room, you've hit a spot that some people never get to. You can do an awful lot of things with the money saved.

Filipe posted:

Almost bought a 552, but yesterday settled to the nearly new 252 I’ve been able to demo since January while waiting for a 552 demo. It was more than the equal of the 552, but then I have since the 552 demo sorted out my racks, cable dressing. The most significant change was to buy Naim glass, cups and balls for isolation shelves and longer legs. You then need patience waiting for the setup to come on tune, but you know what each change has done. Worth the wait.

‘Burn in’ of glass, cups, balls and redressed cables? Or were you referring to the 252?

Innocent Bystander posted:
Filipe posted:

Almost bought a 552, but yesterday settled to the nearly new 252 I’ve been able to demo since January while waiting for a 552 demo. It was more than the equal of the 552, but then I have since the 552 demo sorted out my racks, cable dressing. The most significant change was to buy Naim glass, cups and balls for isolation shelves and longer legs. You then need patience waiting for the setup to come on tune, but you know what each change has done. Worth the wait.

‘Burn in’ of glass, cups, balls and redressed cables? Or were you referring to the 252?

IB, Mostly the 252. The improvement from the isolation shelves and reorganised shelves (longer legs and putting my 300 head above the LP storage rack to get the interconnects inc DIN to XLR off the ground and hanging more naturally) allowed me to put a Powerline on the SuperCap DR. Previously the PL made the system sound hard.

I interpret this change as suggesting that without the isolation shelves the PL improvement drives the electronics harder in a way that demands good isolation shelves. So now I can agree with others who thinks good powercords are worth having.

Harry, it’s good to feel that one can get the most out of ones kit. I have always taken the view that most albums will sound good and if they don’t it’s to do with ones setup. The reports of the 282 being exciting while the 252 is more musical with the 552 being the best of both worlds is not my take. The 252 is more exciting and musical. I’m sure the 552 can be more of both than the 252. It would not make sense to design your boxes to be anything other than the progressively better. The catch is that more attention to setup is required to fully realise the gains.

I find that Naim’s streamers have been problematic compared with CDPs. Hopefully the new range will sort this out. The most bizarre thing has been the 4.6 firmware upgrade. Weird to think that most people are now getting good improvements. No sign of the nDAC firmware being upgraded because it has equally good components to the NDS. Perhaps the last nDAC firmware which was reported to improve SQ is now what the NDS and other streamers are now benefiting from! ND555 seems to be a better design so could now be better than nDAC.

I’d want to be sure that I got the most of what I had before moving on to better as there are no quick fixes in my experience.

Phil

Clive B posted:

I prefer to attribute the gains to the burn-in of glass shelves, cups and balls! 

Ho Ho Clive 👺Not sure what the smiley is supposed to convey. Looks a bit like the previous avatar of a well known member with .... Come over and listen to my burnt in glass, cups and balls! Glass has very different vibration properties to wood and metal structures.

Phil

Filipe posted:
Hungryhalibut posted:

That’s very true. It will be interesting to read what people make of the new streamers at Munich. As suggested above it seems highly likely that Naim will be using Focal speakers for the demonstration. I’ve heard some Utopia something or other with Naim and thought they were bloody awful - aggressive and unbearably bright, and they didn’t sound like real music at all. Quite how people can assess the Naim streamers with speakers like that I don’t know. Yet others love them, so it’s probably just me. At the end of the day there is no right and wrong, it’s all part of life’s rich pageant. 

I’ve been to the factory and been very disappointed by the demo up to the top end. What I put it down to is that the setup is never allowed to settle as we would our own and it is not used to play music enough. 

What surprises me is that Naim don’t seem to put this right. Their logic seems to be to let people hear the difference. They probably also realise that there is trust that ‘the more you pay the more you get’. The only downside for the customer is that one has no sense of an absolute standard one can expect. This leads to some customers getting far more out of their kit than others.

Almost bought a 552, but yesterday settled to the nearly new 252 I’ve been able to demo since January while waiting for a 552 demo. It was more than the equal of the 552, but then I have since the 552 demo sorted out my racks, cable dressing. The most significant change was to buy Naim glass, cups and balls for isolation shelves and longer legs. You then need patience waiting for the setup to come on tune, but you know what each change has done. Worth the wait.

Phil

Filipe, with respect, what you experienced in the factory was that the 552 is unequivocally better than the 252, and that will remain true in your room, whether or not you are extracting the best from it. Whether the performance difference is worth the money is up to you, but nearly 40 years in the Naim experience tells me that climbing the ladder always improves the sound. It is a trustworthy institution dedicated to improving our musical enjoyment, and it succeeds.

David O'Higgins posted:
Filipe posted:
Hungryhalibut posted:

That’s very true. It will be interesting to read what people make of the new streamers at Munich. As suggested above it seems highly likely that Naim will be using Focal speakers for the demonstration. I’ve heard some Utopia something or other with Naim and thought they were bloody awful - aggressive and unbearably bright, and they didn’t sound like real music at all. Quite how people can assess the Naim streamers with speakers like that I don’t know. Yet others love them, so it’s probably just me. At the end of the day there is no right and wrong, it’s all part of life’s rich pageant. 

I’ve been to the factory and been very disappointed by the demo up to the top end. What I put it down to is that the setup is never allowed to settle as we would our own and it is not used to play music enough. 

What surprises me is that Naim don’t seem to put this right. Their logic seems to be to let people hear the difference. They probably also realise that there is trust that ‘the more you pay the more you get’. The only downside for the customer is that one has no sense of an absolute standard one can expect. This leads to some customers getting far more out of their kit than others.

Almost bought a 552, but yesterday settled to the nearly new 252 I’ve been able to demo since January while waiting for a 552 demo. It was more than the equal of the 552, but then I have since the 552 demo sorted out my racks, cable dressing. The most significant change was to buy Naim glass, cups and balls for isolation shelves and longer legs. You then need patience waiting for the setup to come on tune, but you know what each change has done. Worth the wait.

Phil

Filipe, with respect, what you experienced in the factory was that the 552 is unequivocally better than the 252, and that will remain true in your room, whether or not you are extracting the best from it. Whether the performance difference is worth the money is up to you, but nearly 40 years in the Naim experience tells me that climbing the ladder always improves the sound. It is a trustworthy institution dedicated to improving our musical enjoyment, and it succeeds.

David, I think you have not grasped what I was saying, which was that setup makes such a big difference that even a 552 can sound not as good as a 252 properly setup. I was let down with a second loan of the 552 last week, so I choose to opt for the 252 which for the foreseeable future gives me great enjoyment. I am very happy. Should I become tired of what I have which I doubt then there is another step. There are plenty of Naim owners who are also happy without 552s etc having spent time understanding how to setup their system. Money doesn’t always buy you .......

To be honest the factory demo may have left some thinking that the Nova was nearly as good as the Statement. They did not include 252/300. If you judge Naim by demos then you will not make good choices.

Phil

I've lost count of the number of Naim demos we've attended. There was one really stand out occasion that left us stunned in a good way. All the others have been informative, enjoyable but inconclusive. And most of them were too loud. But it's great to meet everybody and if nothing else is a good starting point for what to audition next. Or indeed, what not to.

Filipe posted:
David O'Higgins posted:
Filipe posted:
Hungryhalibut posted:

That’s very true. It will be interesting to read what people make of the new streamers at Munich. As suggested above it seems highly likely that Naim will be using Focal speakers for the demonstration. I’ve heard some Utopia something or other with Naim and thought they were bloody awful - aggressive and unbearably bright, and they didn’t sound like real music at all. Quite how people can assess the Naim streamers with speakers like that I don’t know. Yet others love them, so it’s probably just me. At the end of the day there is no right and wrong, it’s all part of life’s rich pageant. 

I’ve been to the factory and been very disappointed by the demo up to the top end. What I put it down to is that the setup is never allowed to settle as we would our own and it is not used to play music enough. 

What surprises me is that Naim don’t seem to put this right. Their logic seems to be to let people hear the difference. They probably also realise that there is trust that ‘the more you pay the more you get’. The only downside for the customer is that one has no sense of an absolute standard one can expect. This leads to some customers getting far more out of their kit than others.

Almost bought a 552, but yesterday settled to the nearly new 252 I’ve been able to demo since January while waiting for a 552 demo. It was more than the equal of the 552, but then I have since the 552 demo sorted out my racks, cable dressing. The most significant change was to buy Naim glass, cups and balls for isolation shelves and longer legs. You then need patience waiting for the setup to come on tune, but you know what each change has done. Worth the wait.

Phil

Filipe, with respect, what you experienced in the factory was that the 552 is unequivocally better than the 252, and that will remain true in your room, whether or not you are extracting the best from it. Whether the performance difference is worth the money is up to you, but nearly 40 years in the Naim experience tells me that climbing the ladder always improves the sound. It is a trustworthy institution dedicated to improving our musical enjoyment, and it succeeds.

David, I think you have not grasped what I was saying, which was that setup makes such a big difference that even a 552 can sound not as good as a 252 properly setup. I was let down with a second loan of the 552 last week, so I choose to opt for the 252 which for the foreseeable future gives me great enjoyment. I am very happy. Should I become tired of what I have which I doubt then there is another step. There are plenty of Naim owners who are also happy without 552s etc having spent time understanding how to setup their system. Money doesn’t always buy you .......

To be honest the factory demo may have left some thinking that the Nova was nearly as good as the Statement. They did not include 252/300. If you judge Naim by demos then you will not make good choices.

Phil

Filipe, the fact that a well set up 252 can sound as good as a poorly set up 552 is irrelevant. I grasped completely what you were saying. I just don’t agree. While money doesn’t always buy you what you want, the 552 is unequivocally better than the 252. Obviously it has to be properly set up. After that you have to judge whether the improved performance is worth the money. 

David

David O'Higgins posted:
Filipe posted:
David O'Higgins posted:
Filipe posted:
Hungryhalibut posted:

That’s very true. It will be interesting to read what people make of the new streamers at Munich. As suggested above it seems highly likely that Naim will be using Focal speakers for the demonstration. I’ve heard some Utopia something or other with Naim and thought they were bloody awful - aggressive and unbearably bright, and they didn’t sound like real music at all. Quite how people can assess the Naim streamers with speakers like that I don’t know. Yet others love them, so it’s probably just me. At the end of the day there is no right and wrong, it’s all part of life’s rich pageant. 

 

Filipe, the fact that a well set up 252 can sound as good as a poorly set up 552 is irrelevant. I grasped completely what you were saying. I just don’t agree. While money doesn’t always buy you what you want, the 552 is unequivocally better than the 252. Obviously it has to be properly set up. After that you have to judge whether the improved performance is worth the money. David

David, it was never really about questioning the hierarchy, but more about demo perceptions such as HH’s. I have heard one demo, but apart from the disappointment I didn’t conclude the Focals were the problem. If you looked behind the boxes some problems were evident at my demo. Just a shame, but as Harry says they did get it right on one occasion. 

I’ve made my choice for now. I thank heaven for getting my setup sorted and I’m sure I’m not alone. I hope everyone does. In the context of the ND555, I hope it delivers all it promises.

Phil

I have heard the 552 on several occasions, mostly at dealers and shows, so not in optimal conditions. I then listen to my 252 at home, which has been set up with care and attention and think to myself, 'that is not a bad comparison to a 552'. But I know deep down that this is not a fair comparison and if I were to set up a 552 carefully in my home I would be on the internet in an instant trying to find the best price for any organ I could live without. OK that is an exaggeration, but I am sure you get my point.

The Naim hierarchy in price is and its relative impact on SQ is both well recognised and generally accepted I would suggest, be it sources, pre amps to power amps. But there is nothing wrong in going a rung down and being happy with the result and saving yourself a wad of cash.

I do this all the time and have probably ended up with a system I would have never dreamt to I would own. I am sure the psychologists have a word for this affliction!

Our first introduction to the 252 and 552 was in the same dealer demonstration room, so not ideal although at least there was a bit of consistency. We loved the 252. It was the first Naim pre we heard that sounded natural to us. Effortless, poised, subtle, yet fast and incisive when required. It had a beautiful “reach out and touch” presentation.  Having auditioned and rejected 202 some years before, and the 282 more recently, this was an amp that made us want to save up and buy it.

It took some more years before we got our 252/300. In the intervening period we heard (in the same room) 552/500/SL2/nSub. This was the end point which we had been looking for, but it was something we didn’t think we could ever justify or afford.  It was real music, nothing more or less, played by real people on real instruments in the room. It was as if you could walk into the sound stage and look around. The tonality, voicing, whatever-you-want-to-call-it seemed so realistic that it was a kind of time travel back to the stuido. And SL2s can image just fine, if given the appropriate information.

All well and good. But our lounge is the only room that counts. When the magic day finally arrived, the 252/300 did not disappoint. They seemed to fit in perfectly. A 552 came to live with the 300 a few years later. We weren’t looking for something better, we just had the time, resources and curiosity to have a sniff. It wasn’t the night and day transformation that we membered. How could it be? Different room, speakers and power anp.  But it was still a transformation which justified the cost. Still the cross over point from really good HiFi to just plain music, that we remembered.

We could have stayed with the 252. It turned out that, in our room, the 252 had somehow found its optimal surroundings. The 552 was better to our ears, and not by a small margin. But that didn’t mean the 252 had instantly turned to crap. We think it’s Naim’s best VFM pre and consistently underrated/overlooked.  I don't get upset when other people don't like it as much as I do. Or if they think a 552 is marketing over engineering. Each to our own. 

analogmusic posted:

Harry nice write up and post, would it be possible to add which sources you used and which speaker so that the while picture is in context.

 

I did um and aah about that, deciding that it was far too long winded a post already.

We heard the 252/300 with a CDS3/XPS2 with a variety of speakers (it was a speaker audition). It was a wonderful afternoon which went on beyond closing time. We were both moved to tears at times, such was the (good) way that it portrayed some of our favourite tunes. It didn't get tried out at home for a few years after that. It took care of a variety of fiddled about with sources, settling finally and for a long time on HDX/DAC/555PS. I thought that on some material, the DAC/555PS could be a bit spitty. Nothing distracting. We thought the 252 subtly controlled this without squashing the presentation. Probably a lively room too. By the time we had this dream system, we had already heard the 552/500/SL2 at the dealer.

The first listen to 552/500 is still etched in the memory. Musical memory is unreliable, but the impact it made, the way our jaws dropped in unison, the way we pointed at the speakers, looked at each other and said something like "oh, so that's how it's supposed to sound" , won't be forgotten. We were using a non Naim integrated, having tried out a 282/250 and decided to keep our amp and money. Our 252/300 purchase was still some years away.  The event was the HDX pre launch roadshow. We heard a CD555, HDX/55PS and also had a go on a CDS3. I liked the CDS3 the best. Helen just wanted it all!

I agree the 252 with the SuperCapDR is a cracking preamp, I really really enjoyed mine... I could have stayed with it, however good fortune allowed me to get a 552 ... and yes that builds on the 252 in a truly worthwhile way, but doesn’t detract from the beauty and enjoyment of a 252.

Getting back to the ND555. I currently have a 272/PS555DR/300DR/ Sopra-3 system and like many, awaiting the 272 successor. However, would it be possible to use the pre-amp in the 272 with the ND555 and my PS555 or will that bare 272 pre-amp section defeat the benefit of the new streamer.

analogmusic posted:

Not to my ears. 272 preamp will show improvements in sources

I think it would be a bit of a disbalance. Yes the 272 would show the improvement, but you would also miss something as the pre-amp could then become the limiting factor in the setup... I would argue that a 252 is needed as minimal to let it shine.

When I heard a chord Dave vs Hugo TY the preamp of a 172 was good enough to let me hear how much better the Dave was.

and I starting to believe in source first philosophy. There’s no preamp that can turn a Hugo into a chord Dave 

the key though was hearing this through dynaudio confidence c2.

We often talk about mullet on this forum but the speakers must also be  good enough for the electronics

Harry posted:

Our first introduction to the 252 and 552 was in the same dealer demonstration room, so not ideal although at least there was a bit of consistency. We loved the 252. It was the first Naim pre we heard that sounded natural to us. Effortless, poised, subtle, yet fast and incisive when required. It had a beautiful “reach out and touch” presentation.  Having auditioned and rejected 202 some years before, and the 282 more recently, this was an amp that made us want to save up and buy it.

It took some more years before we got our 252/300. In the intervening period we heard (in the same room) 552/500/SL2/nSub. This was the end point which we had been looking for, but it was something we didn’t think we could ever justify or afford.  It was real music, nothing more or less, played by real people on real instruments in the room. It was as if you could walk into the sound stage and look around. The tonality, voicing, whatever-you-want-to-call-it seemed so realistic that it was a kind of time travel back to the stuido. And SL2s can image just fine, if given the appropriate information.

All well and good. But our lounge is the only room that counts. When the magic day finally arrived, the 252/300 did not disappoint. They seemed to fit in perfectly. A 552 came to live with the 300 a few years later. We weren’t looking for something better, we just had the time, resources and curiosity to have a sniff. It wasn’t the night and day transformation that we membered. How could it be? Different room, speakers and power anp.  But it was still a transformation which justified the cost. Still the cross over point from really good HiFi to just plain music, that we remembered.

We could have stayed with the 252. It turned out that, in our room, the 252 had somehow found its optimal surroundings. The 552 was better to our ears, and not by a small margin. But that didn’t mean the 252 had instantly turned to crap. We think it’s Naim’s best VFM pre and consistently underrated/overlooked.  I don't get upset when other people don't like it as much as I do. Or if they think a 552 is marketing over engineering. Each to our own. 

Harry, informative post. Such posts make more sense when one has had some of the same experiences. I quite agree the 252 is cracking vfm. I thought the 282 was, but the 252 brings out the power and intensity of classical music in a way that grabs and holds your intention. I been going through my Stephen Bishop Kovacevick Beethoven Piano Concertos and Piano has so much more energy. 

Phil

Filipe posted:
Harry posted:

Our first introduction to the 252 and 552 was in the same dealer demonstration room, so not ideal although at least there was a bit of consistency. We loved the 252. It was the first Naim pre we heard that sounded natural to us. Effortless, poised, subtle, yet fast and incisive when required. It had a beautiful “reach out and touch” presentation.  Having auditioned and rejected 202 some years before, and the 282 more recently, this was an amp that made us want to save up and buy it.

It took some more years before we got our 252/300. In the intervening period we heard (in the same room) 552/500/SL2/nSub. This was the end point which we had been looking for, but it was something we didn’t think we could ever justify or afford.  It was real music, nothing more or less, played by real people on real instruments in the room. It was as if you could walk into the sound stage and look around. The tonality, voicing, whatever-you-want-to-call-it seemed so realistic that it was a kind of time travel back to the stuido. And SL2s can image just fine, if given the appropriate information.

All well and good. But our lounge is the only room that counts. When the magic day finally arrived, the 252/300 did not disappoint. They seemed to fit in perfectly. A 552 came to live with the 300 a few years later. We weren’t looking for something better, we just had the time, resources and curiosity to have a sniff. It wasn’t the night and day transformation that we membered. How could it be? Different room, speakers and power anp.  But it was still a transformation which justified the cost. Still the cross over point from really good HiFi to just plain music, that we remembered.

We could have stayed with the 252. It turned out that, in our room, the 252 had somehow found its optimal surroundings. The 552 was better to our ears, and not by a small margin. But that didn’t mean the 252 had instantly turned to crap. We think it’s Naim’s best VFM pre and consistently underrated/overlooked.  I don't get upset when other people don't like it as much as I do. Or if they think a 552 is marketing over engineering. Each to our own. 

Harry, informative post. Such posts make more sense when one has had some of the same experiences. I quite agree the 252 is cracking vfm. I thought the 282 was, but the 252 brings out the power and intensity of classical music in a way that grabs and holds your intention. I been going through my Stephen Bishop Kovacevick Beethoven Piano Concertos and Piano has so much more energy. 

Phil

I have to agree. As much as I have irritated people with my opinion that the 282 captures the string tones of the cello better than the 252, there is no doubt the 252 is far superior when it comes to the piano.

nigelb posted:

I have heard the 552 on several occasions, mostly at dealers and shows, so not in optimal conditions. I then listen to my 252 at home, which has been set up with care and attention and think to myself, 'that is not a bad comparison to a 552'. But I know deep down that this is not a fair comparison and if I were to set up a 552 carefully in my home I would be on the internet in an instant trying to find the best price for any organ I could live without. OK that is an exaggeration, but I am sure you get my point.

The Naim hierarchy in price is and its relative impact on SQ is both well recognised and generally accepted I would suggest, be it sources, pre amps to power amps. But there is nothing wrong in going a rung down and being happy with the result and saving yourself a wad of cash.

I do this all the time and have probably ended up with a system I would have never dreamt to I would own. I am sure the psychologists have a word for this affliction!

I agree wholeheartedly with you Nigel...  the Statement might be a whole lot better than my 552, but I don't care, I just close my eyes and...  think of the wad of cash I'm saving.

(seriously)

That's a good point which I'd forgotten because I'm spoilt and take it for granted! The 252 pulles clear of it's peers and lower level siblings because it excels at "simplifying" complex material in a way that preserves the energy but makes things easier to follow. Not unique, of course. And not something that other Naim amps don't do. It's effortlessly good at the sophisticated stuff without draining all the fun out of the music or drawing attention to what it is doing. Given that about 60% of my collection is occupied by classical and prog, I suppose it's a hurdle the aspiring 252 had to clear easily, perhaps without me even realising it.

I've always followed the source first model because experience has taught me to. I used to rate the amplification as the least important thing to address because only a really bad or damaged amp would be an issue in a room which had properly matched speakers installed. Source first is still the most logical and easily demonstrable model in my little universe, but the picture has got a little fuzzier for me over the past 10 years. I think the pre can be regarded as a kind of secondary source support thing. It can make a big difference to a source. Although as we know, nothing can put back what isn't there. Or polish a turd successfully. It never hurts to keep an open mind.

rjstaines posted:
  the Statement might be a whole lot better than my 552, but I don't care, I just close my eyes and...  think of the wad of cash I'm saving.

(seriously)

It's different for everyone. For me, the Statement asking price is investment level money.  Something costing that much couldn't be spent on something as frivolous as HiFi. For them as can afford it, good luck to you. Life is for living.

Michael_B. posted:
Filipe posted:
Harry posted:

Our first introduction to the 252 and 552 was in the same dealer demonstration room, so not ideal although at least there was a bit of consistency. We loved the 252. It was the first Naim pre we heard that sounded natural to us. Effortless, poised, subtle, yet fast and incisive when required. It had a beautiful “reach out and touch” presentation.  Having auditioned and rejected 202 some years before, and the 282 more recently, this was an amp that made us want to save up and buy it.

It took some more years before we got our 252/300. In the intervening period we heard (in the same room) 552/500/SL2/nSub. This was the end point which we had been looking for, but it was something we didn’t think we could ever justify or afford.  It was real music, nothing more or less, played by real people on real instruments in the room. It was as if you could walk into the sound stage and look around. The tonality, voicing, whatever-you-want-to-call-it seemed so realistic that it was a kind of time travel back to the stuido. And SL2s can image just fine, if given the appropriate information.

All well and good. But our lounge is the only room that counts. When the magic day finally arrived, the 252/300 did not disappoint. They seemed to fit in perfectly. A 552 came to live with the 300 a few years later. We weren’t looking for something better, we just had the time, resources and curiosity to have a sniff. It wasn’t the night and day transformation that we membered. How could it be? Different room, speakers and power anp.  But it was still a transformation which justified the cost. Still the cross over point from really good HiFi to just plain music, that we remembered.

We could have stayed with the 252. It turned out that, in our room, the 252 had somehow found its optimal surroundings. The 552 was better to our ears, and not by a small margin. But that didn’t mean the 252 had instantly turned to crap. We think it’s Naim’s best VFM pre and consistently underrated/overlooked.  I don't get upset when other people don't like it as much as I do. Or if they think a 552 is marketing over engineering. Each to our own. 

Harry, informative post. Such posts make more sense when one has had some of the same experiences. I quite agree the 252 is cracking vfm. I thought the 282 was, but the 252 brings out the power and intensity of classical music in a way that grabs and holds your intention. I been going through my Stephen Bishop Kovacevick Beethoven Piano Concertos and Piano has so much more energy. 

Phil

I have to agree. As much as I have irritated people with my opinion that the 282 captures the string tones of the cello better than the 252, there is no doubt the 252 is far superior when it comes to the piano.

Michael, I would say that whilst I have enjoyed cello and violin on the 282, the 252 brings depth and power as well as subtle tones and timbre. There was even a drum in a Beethoven Piano piece that suddenly grabbed my attention for the first time. It sounded so natural and in balance with the rest of the orchestra.

We like Dvorak’s 8 symphony, my wife particularly because she played oboe in the Stonelea Youth Orchestra. It was always really good on the 282, but better still in terms of power and excitement.

I already had the SuperCap DR so the partex at £3k for 4 year old to nearly new was good. I had to buy Naim Glass, cups and balls at £90/shelf to get the setup right. It sounded awful until I did that.

Phil

Harry posted:

That's a good point which I'd forgotten because I'm spoilt and take it for granted! The 252 pulles clear of it's peers and lower level siblings because it excels at "simplifying" complex material in a way that preserves the energy but makes things easier to follow. Not unique, of course. And not something that other Naim amps don't do. It's effortlessly good at the sophisticated stuff without draining all the fun out of the music or drawing attention to what it is doing. Given that about 60% of my collection is occupied by classical and prog, I suppose it's a hurdle the aspiring 252 had to clear easily, perhaps without me even realising it.

I've always followed the source first model because experience has taught me to. I used to rate the amplification as the least important thing to address because only a really bad or damaged amp would be an issue in a room which had properly matched speakers installed. Source first is still the most logical and easily demonstrable model in my little universe, but the picture has got a little fuzzier for me over the past 10 years. I think the pre can be regarded as a kind of secondary source support thing. It can make a big difference to a source. Although as we know, nothing can put back what isn't there. Or polish a turd successfully. It never hurts to keep an open mind.

Hi Harry, 

 

Makes a lot of sense how you represent the 252. I started myself with the 282 and moved via the 252 to the 552. I would describe the as follows:

282 - huge musical enjoyment. Is already pretty grown up. But struggles with complex stuff - and gives quite a carachter to the sound - forward / aggressive nature.

252 - if you didn’t hear the 552 it could have stopped her. Seriously refined pre, can easily deal with complexity. Doesn’t impose a carachter - but tries to stay neutral. Some people cal it dull - however I would disagree with them as it’s very natural and it does also play very well hard rock if needed....

552 - the magic starts here. The approach of the music is emotional. It brings the music really in front of you in all it qualities. People who have found the 252 dull, will not be dissapointed. It’s that Naim created a statement, but without a statement it’s in a very exclusive league of it’s own. Most othervery good pre-amps make Perhaps point on typical show qualities airyness etc. But as hifi is not an art form and music is, the 552 concentrates on music and not on hifi.

 

All of the above of course very much depends also on source and power amp. My 282 worked very well with the CDX-2, XPS, NDAc combination. They where almost made for each other from style attack etc.

The 252 gave so much more detail and so much more positioning and tonality and kept on doing wonders, even while I had “only” had a 200 at the time.

The 552 gave the 200 even a level never expected. When the 300 came, the NDS started to really shine. With the 500 the emotional connection with the music became a big step forward.

 

Even when I think back a nice journey. I hope when my ND555 comes that I will still make a big step up, followed hopefully by the move from normal 500 to DR. Exciting journeys.

And i will still enjoy it for some years before my ears start to seriously degrade.....:-)

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