In terms of budget, the ‘natural partners” make sense, i.e. 202/200, 282/250, 252/300 and 552/500, but to my ears it’s more than that. I think those combinations compliment each other to produce a balanced sound, albeit that they each have different characters.
The 252 seems to have quite a few critics, for example (although I do wonder if a lot of these judgements are made in haste, based on first impressions). If you don’t like what a 252 is doing with a 250, there’s a very good chance that you would change your mind if you heard it with a 300.
I own 252/250DR and I was thinking to move to 300DR but your comments let me think to replace source first, my CDX2 (+XPSDR) should be replaced by NDX2 first and then just in case move to 300DR or stay with my 250DR. Speakers are Kudos 606.
When considering whether a smaller or larger amp is optimal for a given preamp, I think one also needs to factor in what speakers you are trying to drive.
I have Dynaudio Confidence C2 Platinum and they really like massive amounts of current to shine. I have a 252/300, but I could certainly see using a 252/500 with it instead of a 552/300. I previously had a 282/250 and had planned to upgrade to the 300 first, due to the speakers. It just so happened that I came across a good deal on a 252 first (and I already had the SC) so I did that, but I was quite willing to go with a 282/300.
Taking that to further extreme. I once had a UnitiQute that I used with a pair of Dynaudio Contour S1.4. At the time I liked the UQ well enough but was not satisfied with performance when playing classical music. I bought a secondhand 250-2 for it and it was a massive improvement. Maybe not an optimal pairing, but it was what the speakers really needed to have when trying to play orchestral music.
Thanks for all the replies!
Let me say I’m not unhappy at all with 252/250; my question was really me trying to understand why a particular NAP is considered the natural partner.
And yep, the pre is prime!
I completely get the budgetary symmetry of the ranges, but I’m not sure I understand well the differences other than this; granted each NAP sounds different and offers more as one goes up the trail, as the NACs do.
But is the natural partnership of, say, 282 with 250 ‘just’ one of symmetry as above? Same with 252/300. Apart from the £££ factor, does the ‘mullet’ 252/500 expose, for example, some ‘weakness’ or facet of the pre that the 300 doesn’t?
This could pertain to all the combinations.
As I said, I’m just idly curious/wondering…I thought a 500 would do nothing but show a ‘lower’ NAC to the latter’s advantage
(I’ve never heard a mullet amp arrangement, or a 500, so I’m asking out of pure ignorance!)
I have always adhered to the ‘get the best Naim pre amp you can afford and then upgrade your Naim power amp to match with your speaker upgrades’ philosophy.
I started with 202/200, moved to 282/250.2, then 282/250DR. I then kept that 250DR and moved to a 252, and now enjoy a 552 with my 250DR, with a ND555 source.
I am constantly amazed at how capable the modest 250DR is when fed from the top 500 series pre amp and source, and how my speakers have clearly shown the SQ progression when upgrading my pre amp and streaming source.
I have never listened to so called ‘pre/power mismatches’ (say 200/250 or 252/500) but have read several tales of woe on here from such, let’s say, sub-optimal marriages.
I guess the only way you can decide if, say, a 252/500 offers value for money is to try to listen to them with your source and speakers. I remain sceptical that this is the best way to spend this level of funds on Naim amplification.
Neither Naim, nor their dealers, would recommend a 252/500 combination, so why choose to go down that route, as opposed to more balanced options? Some would say a 552/250 combo is equally unbalanced, but, in general, the better pre amps and ‘lesser’ power amps do work, and there are a few examples on here of 552/250 giving great results. I do of course expect a huge uplift if I am ever lucky enough to swap my 250 for a 500!
It is fairly well accepted that a 552/250 (or 552/300) combination will sound better than a 282/500 (or 252/500) combination. It is just the way it is.
Imagine putting a Ferrari engine in a Mini. Power is nothing without control…
Like NigelB (his words are wise!), I too have focused on getting the best pre-amp I can, and my upgrade path reflects that. I started with a 202/200 combination, moved to the 252/200, then the 552DR/200 - you would not believe how good the 200 amp can be! - and now my current pairing is a 552DR/300DR.
I hope to upgrade to a 500DR later as funds allow.
There have not been any ‘mismatches’, as each step improved the sound another level - or more in the case of the 552. Speakers and source components also changed along the way.
Your system has to provide value, both in terms of sound quality (enjoyment) and cost. It’s subjective, so only you can answer if the value is appropriate.
A 500 may make sense if there’s a bargain to be had now and a 552 upgrade is not far away.
My advice, like NigelB, is to save for a 552DR, you will be surprised how good your 250DR can be. The 552DR provides the most improvement for your money as it also upgrades each source.
The regular forum advice applies - get a home demo or two - your ears and wallet will confirm if the value equation holds or not. Enjoy your system.
do not bother , power amp speaker/interaction matters more.
And 252/250 is a great pairing,
If you think of improving ,frankly speaking, look elsewhere.
And especially, listen more (once the pandemic is over and it’s safer outside)
and read less.
It is difficult to decide when pairing up all of Naim’s options.
I auditioned a 282 with the 250, everything else was as my set up at the time.
I was underwhelmed with this combination to the extent that I wouldn’t have purchased had I not tried a 300 which brought about a big improvement to my ears.
I would, however, say source first because the biggest single improvement to my system has been replacing the XPS DR with a 555PS DR on my NDX2 shortly after purchasing the 282/300.
I think @NigelB’s point power without control is the nub of it. Cheers!
My set up sounds great to me. While not the purpose of my question, the only path I may follow is the almost-inevitable 300, but I could happily stay with the 250, until of course a dem looms up out of sheer curiousity. As it will, I know.
In audio there is no concept of a “natural partner” … The best and most loyal partner, is your ears.
A “natural partner” is term of your manufacturer and your wallet…
If you are happy with the current result, then why look for another amplification ?!
Always strive for the best source and pre and given an extra budget, to amplification.
What is your source?
I take your point but it doesn’t make sense in terms of Naim’s range or marketing. Naim do not suggest that the 552 is the natural partner of a 200 and I guess they base this on some knowledge?
There is an area where products can work effectively with each other ‘out of range’ but that isn’t the same as having the optimal match. The 552 will be woefully underused in the above example and the opposite, a 202 with a 500 would expose the ‘weaknesses’ of the 202 in such a system. This despite your ears being apparently happy.
What if the speakers need more watts than the naim amp you have, but you can’t afford a better preamp?
For example if I have 202-200dr but I need more power, more watts, what should I do?
Should I look for other brands of amplifiers?
When the 500 came out, Naim’s top preamp at the time was the 52. I remember quite a few forum members and reviewers stating at the time that a single 500, passive, simply “blew away” a 6 pack of active 135’s (on Isobariks, NBL’s, DBL’s)
There’s no doubt that a 52 based active 135 system could make fantastic music (heard personally many times), and by all accounts a single 500 was even better. So, no, a 52 (or 252) fronting a 500 is not going to sound “unbalanced” or sound bad in any way. What might be different these days is that with a given amount of money to spend there might be better sounding combinations to spend it on.
It was two years after the 500 was released before we saw the 552.