252 Sound Signature

A week ago I changed from a 282 to 252.

When I slotted it in I chose to play some tracks that I know sound good and the pre-amp sounded great although I began to find things were very loud!

I soon identified that the volume knob wasn’t correctly set so 9 o’clock was more like a generous 10 o’clock. This was easily remediated.

I’ve now had it for a week and have settled in to normal listening and I’m having mixed feelings about the upgrade. I can clearly hear that the pre-amp is more resolving and some music is lovely. There is certainly more coming through. However I am finding that the tonal balance has shifted. I think I’m lacking some low end warmth which varies depending on what I listen to. It’s as if the system is a bit tight and can’t ‘breathe’ as well.

When I switched from a 250DR to a 300DR last year I immediately noticed that low level listening was much better, some deep bass would appear even when the music was quiet.
Now It feels like the 250 is back.

If I play some well recorded music with deep bass then the system sounds spectacular, but this feels like I’m listening to the Hifi rather than the music. It seems a bit hit and miss.

The pre-amp is an older unit which is fresh back from a service from Naim and hasn’t been used since. I’ve spoken to the dealer who believes what I’m experiencing is a result of the service and I need to run in for a few weeks.

I’d be interested in the thoughts of people who have had a 252 serviced and experienced this upon return and also if anyone has found the 252 a little thin sounding in comparison to the 282.

The rest of the system was undisturbed. My speakers are already close to the back wall. I’ve tried to get the SNAIC and Burndy cables running the same path, they are around 1 inch apart.

Interesting, my experience was the other way moving from the 282 to 252.
However on a more transparent system, including speakers, you will notice that some tracks/albums are mastered in a particular way to sound good on less good or transparent systems… this has been common practice from since the 1950s with commercial music, where Country music was eq’d with stronger treble to sound more lively on AM car radios… and it massively improved record sales!

So some tracks can sound a little ‘U’ curved in the eq which some refer to sounding ‘Hi-Fi’ , especially if you have been enjoying a more neutral recording master just prior… so often the answer is to walk away, let your brain reset before listening to different master styles.

On lesser systems this is less of an issue of course…and often neutral recordings can sound rather ‘dead’.

Typically the master is far from neutral by design … unless for some rather specialised audiophile type recordings… a good system will allow you to hear these mastering techniques. Voices are a common area which are often relatively mangled in modern productions, through processing, compression and eq… not helped with the fashion for closely mic’d and treble boosted vocals so as to sound more intense…

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Thanks Simon, it’s interesting that your experience was the opposite.

The U curve you describe is interesting, for low level listening for some tracks I would quite like a loudness control at the moment, which of course crudely compensates for the scenario you say.

One thing to add, the Supercap was new at the end of last year and has only been used to power the 282 on 4 rails, which has effectively left the other 10 unused so this could be a factor with run in, although I haven’t noticed any ups and downs sine the Supercap went in.

Crikey Tricky, I’ve a used 252 on order to upgrade from a SN2…

Other 252 owners talk of having the SNAIC and Burndy physically touch at some point in their run.
Reported as quite a benefit in SQ to do so.

In light of these comments, I had them touching from the get-go, and have not bothered trying them apart due to serial laziness!

Thus far, I’ve found the 252 is lovely - took about 3 days to a week to gel, but since then, it’s just captivating.

Hi… I suspect with SuperCap being powered up it would have been stabilising (‘burning in’). It’s still regulating, even if there is no load…

I suspect you are going through the process of adapting to a more neutral system. A tighter bass and faster sound will often sound leaner…

I can’t offer advice on your problem but I have looked at your profile. All I can say is what do you think you are playing at? Please get your Roksan down from the loft immediately!

The dealer did said that I may need to wean myself off the 282.

Unfortunately the 282 has gone, I sold it quickly as initial impressions were good, maybe I was a bit hasty as I was still in ‘demo’ mode at that point!

I think there is a chance I’m over thinking it, but currently it’s not giving me the joy that other upgrades have.

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It’s a long time since is swapped from a Supercapped 82 to a 52. But I remember at the time the feeling of greater resolution and insight compared to the 82. Over time that feeling became one of slight boredom. Great detailed hifi but somewhat lacking on the enjoyment front. Initially I used it with a 250, which then became a 300, which improved matters a lot, but a feeling of nice but dull persisted. So the 252 went and the 552 came, and with the 300 was absolutely stunning. All the resolution you could with for, but with a verve and sheer life that the 252 cannot even start to portray. So I’d say, give it a few weeks. If you still don’t love it, either get another 282 or bite the bullet and get a 552. You know it makes sense.

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The Xerxes is indeed a great music making machine. It’s in lovely condition and had the bearing and platter upgrade.

It replaced an LP12 (Valhalla)/Ittock/Karma as I preffered how it made music.

There are issues in bring it out of retirement though.

Firstly is where do I put it, the Fraim has 6 levels, 7 is too many.

Secondly much of my vinyl is dross. I have some prog rock which I don’t especially care for nowadays plus some dreadful 80’s pop music which I’d be too embarrassed to mention! There is some good stuff in there too so it’s not all bad but given the quality of the NDS/555DR and the amount of music I have on that platform it currently doesn’t give me much motivation to get back into vinyl.

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Thanks Nigel, I did think of you when I posted!

It’s a bit inconsistent. I’m currently listening to Amparo from Dave Grusin and Lee Ritenour and it’s delightful and none of the observations above are apparent, certainly not dull and everything sounds very real and better than before but I can jump around my collection and other material slightly disappoints.

So many variables but the closest comparison I have is an unserviced olive 82 vs the unserviced 252 into a 250-2 and the D9.2’s.
The 82 on the 250 is outstanding, clear precise and musical. I feel that it works at its best in a mid volume range. The 252 on the 250 extends all of that in to the low or quiet evening volume range. It just handles everything better.
I wonder whether it is just a matter of waiting for the serviced kit to stabilise?

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I think when you get something new that you can listen too hard and try to detect what’s better. If you relax and just play music you’ll then find if it’s more engaging or not. Give it a couple of months and see how you feel then.

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All very understandable and thank you for being such a good sport!

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from my experience I went from 282/SC/300DR to 252 a couple of years ago, the slightly forward presentation of the 282 went when I moved from 282/HCDR to 282/SC - but agree to do need to tune ears into the more refined sound of the 252

with my two sources LP12/NDX - the Iradio is still the most forward musical presentation on NAIM Jazz, Classical Paradise

On the NDX this is when 252 comes into it’s own - I don’t stream play FLAC which the NDX plays as WAV superb musical presentation, detail and focus, what I adore the the music from the LP12 through 252/300DR this is a delight

I only moved my speakers when I had my 300DR a few years ago now

On dressing the SNAIC and Burndy run in a u from the top of the fraim touching or a close too

I would let the whole system settle, my 252 was new out of the box and took about a month to bed in

for me 252/300DR with either SC or SCDR are 4 boxes of black magic

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Have had similar experiences going from SN2 to SN3 and 250DR to 300DR and in both cases I had this “oh no what happened to the bass”. If you go from a warmer setup to a more neutral it takes time to adjust and some just don’t want it even after a while. We all have different preferences on what good sound is and that’s OK. Going the other way around from neutral to warm is normally more love at first sight. I would suggest you give your system some more time and try to focus on music and not sound. That’s when things often start to sound great. And a glass of red wine and your favorite album. Not kidding :sunglasses:

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Nigel… that is very good advice.

Yes… I found it useful to be able to swap back to the 282 after a week or two with the 252. In my case, once I did, the 252 was back in the system before the morning was out.

If you put the 282 back into you system after a month you will how controlled the 252 is.

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Took me about 2hrs.