ND555/252 vs NDS/552, Which Is Best? Only One Way To Find Out - Fight!
Posted by: nigelb on 21 November 2018
I was pretty sure I knew the answer to this one, given all the praise the ND555 has been rightly receiving, and, after all, I have always been a source first bloke. Well it turns out I know nothing!
Thinking it was time to move to the new streaming platform and take advantage of possibly one of the best streamers ever made, I was keen to hear the ND555 at home but, due to the steep incline in costs for future upgrades, any upgrading now will need to be done in stages. That means the ND555 will need to be able to show its capabilities with my current 252DR/250DR and MA GX300 speakers until such time I can pay attention these other components.
There is a problem though. In the back of my mind I remember the praise the 'classic' component in the Naim range, the 552, has received on a continuous basis over the last two decades. But that would need to work with my current NDS/555DR/250DR/MA GX300s. As luck would have it, my dealer happens to have both a mint pre-loved 552 and one of the first ND555s (so well run in). A plan was forming.
To solve this puzzle my trusty dealer set up two systems for me to listen to. The first - ND555/PS555DR/252/SuperCapDR and the second - NDS/PS555DR/552(non DR), both systems used with a 300DR and Kudos Titan 707s. I would listen to both and decide which I would take home for extended dem, the ND555 or the 552. A forgone conclusion, I thought.
I brought 4 favourite CDs which the dealer ripped and I listened to the system fronted by the ND555 first and waited with bated breath for the fireworks. But there were none. The initial problem I had was that the dealer's listening room was over double the size of mine and was less damped. I was also used to listening 'near field' but was further away from the speakers at the dealers. It took me a while to acclimatise and the system was, I believe, improving over that first hour of listening. No denying the detail and coherence on offer but I felt the whole presentation was a bit on the clinical side. I was a tad dissappointed and checked with the dealer that the ND555 was fully run in, and it was. Might it have been the 252 struggling a bit with the detail it was being asked to process, or was it the unfamiliar listening environment. Not sure, but something wasn't quite right.
So onto the NDS/552 based system. From the first track I could tell this was rather special, although I was still struggling with the brighter, slightly echoey listening room. Again, as this session went on things started to improve, either the equipment settling in or me becoming more in tune with the listening room, or both.
After a further hour of listening, I had decided it was the 552 I wanted to take home for an extended listen. But before it was packed up, the very accommodating dealer married up the ND555 with the 552 and this was when things really took off, even in those unfamiliar acoustic surroundings. It seemed to me that the NDS/552 was less of a compromise than the ND555/252, so off I went with the 552 for home demo.
I have been listening to the 552 in my system for much of today and have been pretty much blown away. I will save all the detailed descriptions for a couple of days when I have had a chance to listen more. But this 552 ain't going nowhere!