202+200+hicap or 252+300+supercap for Harbeth SHL5

I have a Harbeth SHL5 35 anniversary. And I will only play human sound and violin and piano, no symphony requirement.
I had planed to use 202+200+hicap, but some people suggest me to use 252+300+supercap because they said SHL5 is hard to drive. Now I don’t know which combination should I choose.
Of course 252+300+supercap is better. But the cost is also “better”. I don’t know how big the improvement will be with the second one.
Welcome for any suggestion. 282+250 can also be a selection.

Why not Musical Fidelity integrated, or Ear V12? Specially if you don’t bother with Prat, these integrated have more power and a nicer tone too.

Thanks for the suggestion. I heard that Naim is a good integration with Harbeth.

I have the 202+202+hicap combination driving my Harbeth SHL5. I very much enjoy this set up and have not found any issues with that combo driving those speakers. I listen to a wide variety of music and find myself enjoying the music immensely so for me that’s a sign that the combination works. I’m sure moving up the Naim chain would improve things as they have done for me in the past but you have to decide if the cost brings the additional benefits and unfortunately the only way to do that is to listen to both system with your own ears and make your own judgement. My experience with my set up may not match your personal expectations.

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@MichaelLike Welcome

Naim having gone through the Naim range over the years my experience and advice is to match from source to speakers not the other way around - could you give information on your source

to be fair the 202/HCDR/200 will be outclassed by 252/300 as you would expect it to be, I can tell you the 252/300 is 4 boxes of black musical magic

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Hi and welcome @MichaelLikeNaim

I don’t know your speakers but what I’d say is this. The 202/200 is a great sounding pairing if a little limited in soundstage. The 282 really is a paradigm shift over the 202, someone described it as opening the door on the music. The 282/200 is a great pairing. The 250 will add more umph, control, bass and resolution. The 252 will add more detail and maturity to the music, as will the 300.

Good luck.




Sorry, I didn’t paid enough attention to your avatar :laughing:
Someone here has Harbeth with Musical Fidelity, so not only match with Naim.

Thanks a lot Antz. I will use NDX2+XPS2 as the source

Thanks a lot for the experience shared to me. It is hard to hear 202+200+Harbeth or 252+300+Harbeth, so I have to ask some local Naim users. They suggest to use 252+300.

so my thoughts ( depending on your budget) this Is what I would go for

  • sell XPS and go for 555 for NDX2
  • sell 202 for 282 to use with the HCDR
  • sell 200 and get 250DR
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I agree with this. The 282/250 combination is excellent value for the sound quality. With one hicap it is exceedingly good, with an additional hicap it is outstanding.

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I’d be inclined to get a 555PSDR for the NDX2, and take a middle line on the amplification: 282, Hicap DR and 250DR. The 300DR would also go very nicely with the 282/HC and would be appreciated by the speakers.


As you have not stated your budget it is difficult to make a recommendation. Only you can decide if going from 202/200 to 282/250 or to 252/300 is worth it. Therefore i do not understand some of the recommendations around here.

Also, i find it quite baffling that people think Harbeth speakers are hard to drive. Any of the above stated amplifiers will have more than enough juice to drive them properly. Now you said that your music choice is acoustic, small ensemble music. Especially vocals are usually played at a pretty low volume (compared to other “synthetic” music) that should mimic a real singer performing in your room.

Overall, your choice of music is rarely played at high levels. Also it usually does not feature very low frequencies, typically where the speaker impedance may go down abruptly. So from an amplification point of view you will probably use an average of 2 watts if listening from 2m at 86dB. For the sake of the argument let s say that we double that for impedance dips and double it again for headroom for dynamic music, the requirement would be of max. 8W.

Now of course that does not mean that spending more money on the more expensive amp/preamp combinations is not worth it. You will get a certain benefit from a better preamp, better power supply and so on. But this is not due to the fact that Harbeths are hard to drive.

My advice is to spend as much as you are willing to. Your best bet is to compare all these combinations at a dealer, but i understand that this is not always possible.

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That is good recommendation (as always from HH), assuming the OP was ready to spend the amount of money on the 252/300DR.

@conlegno thanks a lot.
Now I only have 2 speakers. No amp/preamp. Just don’t know whether it is worth to use 252/300.

I presume your main diet are vocals and instrumental piano and violin. These music are not demanding of current or power from the big amps. 202/200 will do fine.

I had Harbeth SHL5 and 202/200 for 7 years, great sound. I tried not less than 7 amp combinations with the SHL5 in less than a year before I settled with Naim, specifically 202/200. The most important criteria, for me, is the ability of the speakers to play rock. All other amps failed quite miserably whilst the 202/200 prevailed. The Harbeth / Naim match is a good all rounder to me. Rock music won’t sound good with Harbeth if driven by most amps although they can do the refined and delicate stuff better than the Naim.

As others have mentioned, going up the ladder to 282/250DR or 252/300 will mainly give you more dynamics and refinement as music sounds more real. But there is a price to pay, 2X or 3X more than the 202/200.


@ryder, could you recommend some “rock” tracks you found do improve with the 202/200. I am still unsure if my Harbeth do rock well, although it depends on the recording.

I usually use my favourite music to evaluate the amps which are used to drive the SHL5. They are from U2, favourite track is Ultraviolet, followed by The Fly and Magnificent.

Other amps which failed in playing rock with Harbeth in my system as follows;
Rega Elicit mk2
Nait XS (too soft)
Plinius SA100 mk3 / Audio Research LS16
LFD Zero mk3(this is very good but still lost to Naim)

Forgotten the rest

Most recently I acquired the Luxman L-590AXII for another speaker but it still sounds inferior to the 282/250DR in driving Harbeth SHL5+ in my system.

@ryder Thanks a lot for your reply.
I will chose from new 202+200, nearly new 282+250DR(second-hand) and second-hand 252+300. the second-hand 252+300(not DR) is twice as the new 202+200, produced in 2003