250 or 160 - 32.5 or 62

I thought I would post my experiences from today. I have been trying to work out which amps will stay in my main system, for now anyway. I am lucky and have the attic to myself, which means I can always run a second system up there.

As my wife and youngest sons were going to be out for most of the day I decided to run a little test swapping a variety of boxes around.

Components to stay in the system:

Uniti
Staigeline
Sondek
SBLs

Components to experiment with:

BD 250 serviced
BD 250 unserviced
BD 160 unserviced
32.5 unserviced
62 unserviced (CB)
HiCap unserviced
Nait 1
Nait 2 (CB)

This was my experience:

Music - Lambchop, Vampire Weekend, Massive Attack, Flaming Lips, Laura Marling (A bit random I know)

32.5/HC/250 unserviced- Music sounded a little far away, a little harsh with some tracks. Not bad but not great.

62/HC/250 unserviced. - much the same as above, maybe a little closer to the music.

32.5/HC/160 - wow, what a difference, the music is smooth and relaxing, tighter bass, maybe a little less in the mids but the highs were better.

62/HC/160 - maybe not quite as detailed but I was really hard pushed to hear the difference to the above.

62/HC/250 serviced - much like the 160 but with more detail in the midrange, slightly brighter but not enough to be wearing, it just felt like a good balance.

32.5/HC/250 serviced - not unlike the above but possibly tighter bass.

Just for fun I brought in the:

Nait 1 - lovely, smooth, relaxing, tight bass and very musical. Detail is lost a little but still, for 1 box, amazing. Lost control and got muddled with higher volume.

Nait 2 (CB) - as above, I could not hear any real difference, I swapped back to check. Maybe the Nait 2 was a little more controlled at higher volume but I could be wrong. I wouldn’t put any money on a blind test between the 1 and 2.

Conclusion.

I have kept the 32.5/HC/250 serviced as my main system. I think it just, and I mean just, edges the 160 in this combination. On a different day, I may have gone for the 160 over the 250. The fact that I can run the 62/160 in my attic without the investment of another HC helped too.

But what also struck me was that the Nait 1 could easily replace the 32.5/HC/250 without me feeling like I was missing a lot. Also, an unserviced BD250 can definitely sound worse than an unserviced Nait 1.

Sorry about the waffle but lockdown has allowed a little more time than I would normally have.

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Good write up, thanks.

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I have such fond memories of my first naim amp
An original red led Nait 1
Just sounded so much better than anything I had used before
Your lucky to have such nice kit to choose from

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Interesting read - thanks for sharing.

So now the serviced 250 edges it, you have nothing to lose by servicing that 160 :slight_smile:

I reckon a serviced 12/BD160 without HC would spank all the pre power options you tried today and even give the Nait a run for its money in terms of musical understanding. But I’m not one to be overly swayed by the 250s improved control and refinement which I’m sure is important to many.

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Thanks for the informative write up.

I do feel lucky, Due to COVID our family plans changed and we sold a property in West Wales that we had renovated to live in. This was a long term project that meant a lot of sacrifices over the past 6 years or so. But it did mean that my system from that property (62/HC) wasn’t needed any more. The Nait 1 and 2 I have had for years.

I was surprised how close the 160 and 250 were. On the 62, the 160 may have been better, but that is how close they were. My assumption, at this age, there are too many variants to really make a judgement. It was fun trying them and I’d be happy with any of them.

Yes, maybe a service for the 160 next.

The 160BD is a lovely amp. I owned one for a while and my friend still has it running with a 62, sounds great.

He used to use a 12 S but that’s mothballed as it has a dodgy selector switch and the 62 was aquired to replace it.

I changed to CB 250 but was never convinced it was a massive improvement.

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I’m not 100% either, luckily, I can swap them around as I please.

I am glad to report that they all sounded good, just different (disproportionately price wise though - diminishing returns…)

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Both the 160 and 250 are great amps but speakers will be important. Move to a 250 was very worthwhile into Linn Sara’s but this might not always be the case.

As always it’s also a personal choice.

Agreed, my SBLs aren’t very demanding, which can make the 250 a little overkill.

Perhaps the 32.5 and the hicap also need a service?
The service made a substantial difference to our 32.5 when we had it done at the factory. It was good value too.

Best regards, BF

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I took a picture of the serviced 250 and 160 whilst the other 250 was in the rack.
I never much liked the BD versions before but after noticing that the edging is the same size/profile as the 1/2 size boxes I haven’t looked back…

IMG_0972 by Jon Moody, on Flickr

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