I thought that I would do a follow-up on this subject.
My local Naim dealer, provided me with a NAP200DR (demo) and a NAC-N 272 (demo), which I tested at my own speakers. My wife did the test together with me (“blind” since I did the switching) and I asked her to comment first so my knowledge of the setup had as little influence as possible. In spite of this, we always agreed on the conclusions of the tests.
The tested setups were:
A1) UnitiQute2 + NAP100
A2) UnitiQute2 + NAP200DR
B1) NAC-N 272 + NAP100
B2) NAC-N 272 + NAP200DR
“A1” vs “A2”: This was my initial test and at first I could not hear any improvement by exchanging the NAP100 with a NAP200DR – maybe even a slight lack of enjoyment in the music of “A2” compared to “A1”. Leaving the NAP200 in the system over night (plugged in) did seem to improve the sound of “A2” ever so slightly over “A1” in some regards (the bass seemed a bit better in “A2”). So maybe the NAP200 takes a bit more time to heat up?? However, I’m still not sure if I slightly preferred the sound of combination “A1”, but the systems performed so equal, that both the “better bass” of NAP200 and the “more enjoyment” of NAP100 could be placebo or simply a matter of which of the power amps that had been plugged-in/powered for longest time.
Anyway, the conclusion was quite clear: in my system, the NAP200DR simply could not be regarded as an upgrade over the NAP100 (especially when considering the price of the two power amplifiers!!!).
Then something “magical” happened when testing “A” (either of them) vs “B1”; without any preheating of the NAC-N 272 (simply plugged it into the system, powered it up and started the music), it was like a blanket was removed from my speakers and the sound filled the room - and this happened as soon as I started the music even though the volume was way below my usual listening level!!! The difference between “B1” and any of “A” was so stunning, and although “A2” had been plugged in all night; it simply was no match for “B1”.
And no surprise; the sound of “B1” improved even further as the NAC-N 272 heated up. Switched back and forth between the Qute2 and NAC-N 272, but the result remained the same.
The sound of my system with a NAC-N 272 (“B1”) is hard to describe but compared to “A”; it filled the room with music so enjoyable, that I’m now a proud owner of a NAC-N 272!
What about “B1” vs “B2” you might ask? Well I/we did that comparison and actually both my wife and I found “B1” as the best combination; 2 out of 2 times my wife picked “B1” as the best, as did I (we were both surprised). However, it should be noted that the difference was very minor.
Please note that I´m not saying that the NAP100 is a better amp than the NAP200DR! But in my system (in my room) the difference was, at best, insignificant (or slightly in favor of the NAP100).
The addition of a NAC-N 272 really gave the NAP100 a new life; I would not have thought that this little power amp could drive my speakers (86dB/4Ohm) so well – even at higher volumes.
And the NAC-N 272 really provided my speakers with the quality I think they deserve.