Ok so I tried a 252 and I'm not sure what to make of it.

NDS/555PS/252/300 + speakers and cables and rack is a 40-50K system and wonderful. To me it's worth every penny I've spent assembling it. 552 was too big a step but maybe one day...

If that's your dream system and you can afford it go for it, I'm sure you won't regret it. Naim is very good at causing you to itch, the forum perpetuates that. Unless you reach the dizzy heights of the Statement there IS always something better than you've currently got.

No one is saying don't go for that system but take your time to audition the different combinations to find what you like best. You might even be pleasantly surprised and spend less than you intended.

Hungryhalibut posted:

While things do improve and settle down, it should be possible to tell the difference straight away. It took literally ten seconds to hear how much of a world away the 552 is to the 252. If after a few days you are not entirely convinced it's unlikely you ever will be. It's easier to believe that something is better just because everyone tells you it is. I'm increasingly  convinced that upgrading without going anywhere near the Forum, and making your own uninfluenced decisions, is the best way to get the right decision. Those who love the 252 tell you it's the best, those who think the 282 is better tell you that there is no point getting the the 252, and then there are those who love the 552 saying that you should go for it whether you can afford it or not. I've owned two 252s and didn't really like it either time. The 552 is wonderful, but it costs TWENTY THOUSAND POUNDS! Is it worth it? Will it make your life that much better? Does this make sense? Probably not. 

The problem I had with the 252 is I plugged it in and literally ten seconds later I said to myself "is that it?" It really was nothing special and that thought kind of stuck with me as it slowly warmed up and improved over the week. Obviously I was aware it improved but until I put the old system back together today and tried it out tonight I didn't realise the improvement it made. Even my 300dr sounds pretty good from cold.   

Im not saying I will go 552 as even though I can afford it I don't really "want" to give Naim that much for a preamp. I just need to decide if the 252's neutralness is something I will love and adore enough to never want to sell. If that's not the case then I will happily try the 552 and if that's the way it has to be then so be it. 

You never know I might try a 552 and decide I don't want it (would be a world first I know).

As an off topic comment I came off my bike on ice this morning. Hip's up like a balloon and I have a 5" circle of nice wet road rash. Luckily nothing's broken but it's stiffening up nicely. I don't think I hit my head......

IanG posted:

NDS/555PS/252/300 + speakers and cables and rack is a 40-50K system and wonderful. To me it's worth every penny I've spent assembling it. 552 was too big a step but maybe one day...

If that's your dream system and you can afford it go for it, I'm sure you won't regret it. Naim is very good at causing you to itch, the forum perpetuates that. Unless you reach the dizzy heights of the Statement there IS always something better than you've currently got.

No one is saying don't go for that system but take your time to audition the different combinations to find what you like best. You might even be pleasantly surprised and spend less than you intended.

Thanks Ian 

It seems the 'diminishing returns' are being discussed again. Some are trying to persuade Drewy that a 552 would not be worth the expense. But everybody know that in the Naim hierarchy each step onward costs about twice as much as the preceding one: it is no great news. And we all know that what you get is not proportionally equal to what you spent, also because quantifications of sound quality are, sincerely, impossible, useless and absurd. One hears a 552, decides if he likes it, chooses to buy it or not. It's his own money and decision.

The 252 is also under the microscope; I've read a lot of critics about it, it's not an assertive preamp I admit; but I have a 282 with a SC, and to my ears the 252 is a little mannered but much more musical. It's probably self delusion, but each time I have carefully heard an 'upper' piece of equipment by Naim, the 'lower' one on the Upgrade Path has started to sound less satisfying.

I have also owned a SuperUniti, and sold it scarcely a week later. It's the single, only piece of Naim gear I really regret having bought. That is pipe and slippers to my ears, not a 252. But I suppose it's just opinions.

Drewy posted:
The Strat (Fender) posted:

Are we suggesting that the 252 is in some way more temperamental than either the 282 or 552?

I wouldn't be in a position to comment on the others but I think I've found out that the 252 at least needs a lot of warming up and settling down to sound it's best. 

Oh no doubt they all take time to warm up and run in but some of the discussion seemed to be suggesting that the 252 was particularly suspectible to setting up.  In any event it sounds like you are getting the opportunity to get familiar with its sound signature. I predict you'll stick with it

a couple things: the contention that Drewy's loaner 252 will only give its best when placed on two £4000 stacks of Fraim, as opposed to one, is... possibly true, but definitely why normal people don't understand us HiFi nuts. Shirley, Drewy can get the cut of the 252's jib on merely one lump of Fraim?

also, try a 282! you got nothing to lose. have your dealer pop over while the road rash heals. (sorry about that.)

Drewy posted:

Is this preamp the weak link in the Naim line up?

 

To my ears it's the best VFM pre in the Naim line up. A beauty. But if a 552 is in the offing,, proceed directly to your magical end point. Even if it means waiting a bit longer. They are in different universes, as should be expected for the price difference. I love the 152 for it's Joie de vivre. I think the 202 and 282 can both be bettered for less if you are not a Naim junkie with a really bad habit. The 252, to my ears gets the music back on track but it will not sound as impressive and bombastic as a 282, particularly with a 250, because it is too good at sounding natural and unforced.

Insert subjectivity disclaimer here.

Drewy posted:

I installed it myself. I did have a play around with it on the single Fraim stack. Power supplies were lowest, from the bottom 300ps, Supercap and then 555ps. The others were in the same order as their power supplies above. As I said I did play around with things to make sure it was good as it could be and there was a nice improvement particularly in the bass resulting in the soundstage opening up but it just didn't do enough for me. 

Maybe im expecting too much and only by trying other preamps will I really be able to put in into perspective.

 Much had been said here. It may be a case of setup, or it may not be the case. However, I do echo the sentiments of those who brought up the case of point of diminishing returns. Sometimes the differences between components can be quite marginal and are not as significant as some might have portrayed them to be. I own the NAC 202 and NAC 282 and have frequently compared them time to time in the main system. No doubt there are differences and I don't disagree that the NAC 282 is the game changer. Nevertheless, in reality the differences are not really day and night. At this level it's the small differences that count, subtle differences that make all the (big) difference. This may partly explain your wife's experience when she commented on the next day that the Superuniti sounded like cotton wool when it was back in place, replacing the NAC 252. The quality of a particular gear may only be appreciated once it is gone.

Sloop John B made a good point on the comparison between the Superuniti and NAC 552 / NAP 300.

You may want to try the NAC 282. Who knows you might find it to be a better proposition than the NAC 252. And the good thing is it's cheaper.

The Strat (Fender) posted:

Are we suggesting that the 252 is in some way more temperamental than either the 282 or 552?

I found the my 252 more finicky to setup than my 282 so as to sound its best... more sensitive to support, SuperCapDR, warm up  and cable dressing, no doubt because of the extended performance envelope over the 282. Those with 552s that I know and have spoken to say their NACs take a little effort to sound optimal too... in fact it's probably fair to say I have heard more what I would call 'off' sounding 552 setups (erring on being overly bright and analytical) than what I would call optimised (balanced and flowing with natural detail)... and so I suspect the 552 is as temperamental if not more so than the 252 to setup so as to sound optimal.... 

Wow, it has pretty well all been said. As a 202, 282 and now a 252 owner I would however make a couple of observations.

It is a little concerning that there was no immediate recognition of the 252's capabilities when the OP first heard it. Having said that it does take time to settle in and it is very sensitive to set-up, although I acknowledge the OP has spent time on that. One thing I have noticed with the 252 is that it is very responsive to tweaks and upgrades in other parts of the system e.g. I have had significant uplifts in SQ from cable upgrading, particularly SuperLumina. This IMO is testament to the neutral, revealing and transparent nature of the 252.

As has been mentioned, there have been may comparisons between the 282 and 252, indeed I posted on the subject (at length!) sometime ago when I observed the 'grown up' nature of the 252 and likened the 282's exuberant character to an excited puppy, keen to make friends. Having owned both pre amps, I guess I 'grew out' of the 282 and 'grew in to' the 252. It was a process of gradually becoming a little less 'impressed' with the 282's…..err….impressiveness (although I do acknowledge this kind of necessary for rock) and becoming seduced by the musicality (sorry there's that meaningless adjective again but I can't think of any other one-word descriptor) of the 252. It is subtle, effortless, and yes, grown up.

But the OP may well prefer the 282. I loved it when I owned one, it is just that the puppy eventually had to go. It became too boisterous. One thing is for sure, the 282 (with a SuperCapDR in my case) is a perfectly fine partner for both the NDX and NDS. The 252 however seems to extract more from the NDS than the 282 did.

Anyway, I am not sure if any of this is at all helpful to the OP. All I would say is Drewy, I hope you recover from the accident quickly, enjoy your New Year's celebrations, take your time over the pre amp decision and enjoy the decision making process.

Nigel, I like your description about the puppy, I also find the 252 can be bad, mean and exuberant when you feed it the right material... punk, heavy blues, heavy metal sound superb .. that is the impressive bit. I found my 282 was tending to be exuberant even when the material wasn't which ultimately had me looking for a better preamp.. or at least a preamp that was more honest and transparent.

I felt my CDX2 and 282 were never a great match.. somehow the 282 drew attention to the shortcomings in the CDX2, the 252 somehow lets the musical enjoyment trump those shortcomings, and makes them less noticeable...I fell in love again with my CDX2 when I upgraded from my 282 to 252.

But if your speakers or sources are slightly on the 'flat' side of neutral then the 282 can be great to spice them up and in that way the 282 is very good indeed.

Simon

DrMark posted:

'I have also owned a SuperUniti, and sold it scarcely a week later. It's the single, only piece of Naim gear I really regret having bought. "

Ahem...DVD5?

Ciao Mark,

the DVD5 gave me some trouble, but it was a great DVD player and I loved the idea of it. I don't regret having bought it, only it couldn't last. But the SU was the least Naim sounding machine I've had. To me, it's the exact opposite of the UnitiLite, a little, energetic, cheeky, cheerful thing I like a lot.

Mornings guys. 

Thanks for all the great replies. Sat here on a train to London I can't believe my 'old' system sounded so dead last night. I'm even wondering if I've got it set up badly. All this considering the confused thoughts on the 252.  A few days away might be what I need. There's no rush to do anything, it's only a hifi system after all. 

I think I will re visit the 252 maybe at my dealer's with the 552 also. It's the 252 I really wanted to have so I'm not giving up on it yet. I try and ignore forum comments on various products and make my own judgements on things which is why I only started this thread after trying the 252 out and kind of experiencing for myself its possibly misleading characteristics    

I will keep you all informed on what happens. 

Massimo Bertola posted:
DrMark posted:

'I have also owned a SuperUniti, and sold it scarcely a week later. It's the single, only piece of Naim gear I really regret having bought. "

Ahem...DVD5?

Ciao Mark,

the DVD5 gave me some trouble, but it was a great DVD player and I loved the idea of it. I don't regret having bought it, only it couldn't last. But the SU was the least Naim sounding machine I've had. To me, it's the exact opposite of the UnitiLite, a little, energetic, cheeky, cheerful thing I like a lot.

Va bene - adesso capisco.

Hungryhalibut posted:

While things do improve and settle down, it should be possible to tell the difference straight away. It took literally ten seconds to hear how much of a world away the 552 is to the 252. If after a few days you are not entirely convinced it's unlikely you ever will be. It's easier to believe that something is better just because everyone tells you it is. I'm increasingly  convinced that upgrading without going anywhere near the Forum, and making your own uninfluenced decisions, is the best way to get the right decision. Those who love the 252 tell you it's the best, those who think the 282 is better tell you that there is no point getting the the 252, and then there are those who love the 552 saying that you should go for it whether you can afford it or not. I've owned two 252s and didn't really like it either time. The 552 is wonderful, but it costs TWENTY THOUSAND POUNDS! Is it worth it? Will it make your life that much better? Does this make sense? Probably not. 

Just Beautiful HH, Happy New Year!

Agreed 100%

 

Sorry guys, no further news as yet.

I'll probably have a call of my dealer soon. We agreed we'd be in touch in the new year. I think the idea is to get hold of a 552 off Naim to demo in in my dealer's demo room back to back with a 252 (both nicely warmed up of course) and then maybe letting me take the 552 for home demo. My dealer does not have a 552 as the're isn't a lot of people in south Devon crazy enough to buy one.

In the meantime I haven't had had time yet to re-dress the cabling on my current NDS, 555PS, 300DR, SU system to finally convince myself the reason my system doesn't sound so good now is simply because the 252 was a big improvement. 

 

Well ive hobbled around London all weekend which made my left hip ache and given me a bad back. Now I'm back to work doing easy stuff but the road rash is a nightmare to heal. It either sticks to the dressing (or my pants if I brave it with no dressing). I'm going to have a really gentle pedal on the turbo trainer in a bit to get some movement going on. 

I will be sure to keep you all informed on any developments.

Zipperheadbanjo posted:

If you can get an SU sounding as good as your 252 with cable dressing alone, you will have a long line of people wanting to know your cable dressing secrets!

You honestly think I reckon my SU will rival the 252 as a preamp? Give us a bit of credit mate

Drewy posted:
Hungryhalibut posted:

I once had an 82 and Supercap, with a CDS3. I swapped to a 252 but didn't really get along with it. It was very nice, but seemed somehow restrained. I quickly sold it and got a 552, which was wonderful. Others love the 252 though. These are all expensive purchases and it's important to get it right. 

Totally agree. A few years ago I would have gone for the 252 straight away but I've grown up a lot since then. I promised myself a real Naim system since I was 17 years old and am determined not to let this final piece of the jigsaw lead to disappointment. 

My dealer has offered to get a 552 to demo in their room alongside the very same 252 to see the difference in real terms before letting me try the 552 at home if I then wish.

But you do have a "real Naim system".....Maybe the 252 doesn't suit your ears??!!

Maybe try different speakers, I've heard that Ovators can be "difficult"

Roadie Simon posted:
Drewy posted:
Hungryhalibut posted:

I once had an 82 and Supercap, with a CDS3. I swapped to a 252 but didn't really get along with it. It was very nice, but seemed somehow restrained. I quickly sold it and got a 552, which was wonderful. Others love the 252 though. These are all expensive purchases and it's important to get it right. 

Totally agree. A few years ago I would have gone for the 252 straight away but I've grown up a lot since then. I promised myself a real Naim system since I was 17 years old and am determined not to let this final piece of the jigsaw lead to disappointment. 

My dealer has offered to get a 552 to demo in their room alongside the very same 252 to see the difference in real terms before letting me try the 552 at home if I then wish.

But you do have a "real Naim system".....Maybe the 252 doesn't suit your ears??!!

Maybe try different speakers, I've heard that Ovators can be "difficult"

The 252 isn't the only preamp Naim make. As said already I will be auditioning others. I have also already said that after plugging my existing system back in the 252 is a lot better than I realised. My concern is that I didn't notice it as much when I was actually using it. I wish it had more of an impact on me from the word go for over 10k worth of gear.

You've "heard" Ovators can be difficult? Have you heard them yourself with decent amplification (nap250 upwards)? I don't agree they're difficult at all and they're my favourite Naim item followed by my 300dr. They're staying.

 

I mean 282 has been described as "exubertant" with CDX2, but 252 with this source is more neutral.

I wonder what would be the outcome with a more neutral source like a Chord Hugo TT with a 282 vs 252?

FWIW I have compared Hugo with 552 and 282, I don't find 282 to be exuberant, but I myself do find Naim source to be exubertant. Apologies to those who own Naim sources. 

I recently tried a coldplay song "a message". On Hugo the guitar sounds about right to my ears musically, but on UQ as a source into my 282, yes there was an energy in the guitar, which didn't really sound right to my ears.  

Hence my question. I did plan to get the Vinyl to understand what the song really sounds like, but then the phono stage may or may not have a "naim" voicing. 

I do find Hugo "version" of songs to more closely match Vinyl.

Also, what I did find is that 552 is able to extract a lot more finer detail compared to 282 due to lower noise floor.

Drewy posted:

You've "heard" Ovators can be difficult? Have you heard them yourself with decent amplification (nap250 upwards)? I don't agree they're difficult at all and they're my favourite Naim item followed by my 300dr. They're staying.

 

You've quite rightly committed a lot of time to a home demonstration of the 252 - if I were you in due course I would suggest (only suggest) you demonstrate some different speakers.

I couldn't agree more with Drewy. I use a 252/Supercap DR, NAP300DR to drive my passive 600s and couldn't be happier. I've lived with this combo for a while now and listen to music every day. I have no immediate plans to upgrade beyond my recent SL loom - certainly without paying silly money and going for a SH pair of 800s-  but then I'd probably be looking at a 552 and 500DR combo to do the speakers justice which will most probably result in divorce

Interesting Drewy.

Several components in your set have what I would describe as a 'safe' sonic signature. The 252 also falls into this category for me. Too much safety can make Jack a dull boy.

As ever; a good dealer should be able to let you try the options at home and steer you in the direction of musical nirvana. My simple advice? Don't buy anything unless it blows your skirt up.

Good luck.

John.

J.N. posted:

Interesting Drewy.

Several components in your set have what I would describe as a 'safe' sonic signature. The 252 also falls into this category for me. Too much safety can make Jack a dull boy.

As ever; a good dealer should be able to let you try the options at home and steer you in the direction of musical nirvana. My simple advice? Don't buy anything unless it blows your skirt up.

Good luck.

John.

Thanks John. Good advice.  

Drewy posted:
J.N. posted:

Interesting Drewy.

Several components in your set have what I would describe as a 'safe' sonic signature. The 252 also falls into this category for me. Too much safety can make Jack a dull boy.

As ever; a good dealer should be able to let you try the options at home and steer you in the direction of musical nirvana. My simple advice? Don't buy anything unless it blows your skirt up.

Good luck.

John.

Thanks John. Good advice.  

Well maybe.

Having your skirt constantly blown up can get tiresome. What I am trying to say is that an initially 'impressive' component can become overbearing. I found this to be the case to some extent with the 282 fed from a NDS, whereas the 252 fed from the same source is more mature, insightful and a more relaxing listen. And by that I don't mean boring. The 252 can kick a*s when the music requires it, but only when the music requires it. Long term listening satisfaction will always trump short term 'impressiveness' IMHO.

I do agree however there should be a degree of wow on the initial listening sessions. If not, then that system is not likely to impress long term. Note I refer to the entire system rather than point the finger at the component in question.

The OP does appear to be carrying out thourough listening tests so is likely to get to the bottom of the slight feeling of disappointment with the 252, or walk away if he doesn't. Either way, the time taken to listen at length in different environments will avoid a mistake.

Good luck and keep us informed.

Ok, so I've had too much red wine and I'm currently listening to Blue Nile at too high as volume for the time of day, but I have to say 72/hicap/140 has never disappointed!! Music that invades the soul! Why pay more?? And yes - this is in jest, but with my budget I simply don't want to hear anything else! I've found my ideal system, and I'm happy to live with this long term. I tinker with source upgrades when funds allow but it's the music that really matters. Enjoy your journey and audition as much as you can but don't stress about minor differences. Have fun!!!

282 has bass and treble emphasis and tends to over saturation. This might be exactly what is needed for some systems and rooms. The overall balance may be very good. And of course, none of us can listen through someone else's ears. If it works, great. If it doesn't there are good alternatives.

252 tends to neutral. It's going to suit some but not everyone. Way of the world. If you don't get its virtues for whatever reason, much money is saved. I don't think that the 252 has peers. But I'm biased. 

 

analogmusic posted:

I mean 282 has been described as "exubertant" with CDX2, but 252 with this source is more neutral.

I wonder what would be the outcome with a more neutral source like a Chord Hugo TT with a 282 vs 252?

FWIW I have compared Hugo with 552 and 282, I don't find 282 to be exuberant, but I myself do find Naim source to be exubertant. Apologies to those who own Naim sources. 

I recently tried a coldplay song "a message". On Hugo the guitar sounds about right to my ears musically, but on UQ as a source into my 282, yes there was an energy in the guitar, which didn't really sound right to my ears.  

Hence my question. I did plan to get the Vinyl to understand what the song really sounds like, but then the phono stage may or may not have a "naim" voicing. 

I do find Hugo "version" of songs to more closely match Vinyl.

Also, what I did find is that 552 is able to extract a lot more finer detail compared to 282 due to lower noise floor.

The interpretation of the term "exuberant" can be a good or bad one. Good if it's dynamic and lively, giving music a breath of fresh air. Bad if the presentation is too forceful and tiring as some have pointed out. It's all relative as the NAC 282 is more exuberant when compared to the flatter sounding (more neutral?) NAC 202, or perhaps the NAC 252. Neutrality can be also interpreted as good or bad. In the end it's all relative. A dynamic, exuberant, lively, tiring and forceful sound, or a neutral, detailed, flat and dull sound.

Or it can be case of listening preference / system matching. Some folks like the presentation of the NAC 282 / Supercap while some are more at home with the NAC 282 / Hicap, citing the former to sound more relentless or tiring.  (bearing in mind loudspeakers are not brought into the mix yet).

You brought up an interesting point on source matching. May I ask what Naim source is it that made the NAC 282 sound more exuberant than the Chord Hugo. My experience with the Chord QBD76 mirrors yours as well although you own the Hugo. I have said this before - the QBD76 DAC sounds like analog. Well, it may be an exaggeration but it does sound close to analog, It doesn't have the hardness that is often associated with most digital sources that possess razor-sharp detail.

I listen to a lot of acoustic music mainly acoustic guitars and pianos. All these instruments sound great on the NAC 282 (and Chord QBD76). At times I disconnected the QBD76 from the system to see how much I am missing without the Chord. Music lost the sophistication and refinement, sounding a little hard (digital) through my Krell CD player. The Chord DAC certainly plays music differently. The differences are mainly at the frequency extremes, the bass and treble. The sound of the percussion is different between the Chord and Krell. With the Chord it sounds more natural and the decay is also different. Percussion sounds a bit unrealistic with the Krell, sounding a bit hard or steely.

"Don't buy anything unless it blows your skirt up."

"Well maybe.

Having your skirt constantly blown up can get tiresome. What I am trying to say is that an initially 'impressive' component can become overbearing".

That's fair comment Nigel. What I was getting at is that the audition of a potential upgrade at a dealership or at home should have one thinking - "Wow!; yes I love it and want it" as opposed to "Well, it's a lot of money and I'm not sure".

 

John.

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