282/SC/250DR question

It’s been a while since I last posted.

Due to the widely discussed supply issues my dealer has been unable to provide 252/300DR units for demo and so I’ve had the joy of various McIntosh pre/power units over the past couple of months. This topped out with the C2700(tube) and C53(ss) paired with the MC462 which is a total beast. I have no idea why McIntosh gets such a bad rep in this country, the C2700 in particular is stunning, anyway that’s for another thread…

I still can’t get my hands on the 252/300DR units, but I have been provided the 282/250DR which I’ve paired with my SC. Immediate impression is mixed so I’m going to a) give it a week or so to settle in (the 250DR is brand new) b) try to avoid comparisons to the McIntosh gear which is in the budget level above.

My question is really how does this combination sound compared to the 252/300DR? Would I be correct in assuming that the pre-amp is going to have the majority of impact on sound signature and there will only be a small difference in the power amps?

I note that a few people have chosen to pair the 252 with the 250DR and are having good results, but is anyone running a 552 with a 250DR? I certainly don’t need any additional power, but accept this breaks the norm.

Many thanks

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IIRC @Richard.Dane and @NigelB (amongst others !) run the 552/250 combo

I ran a 552/250.2 for a number of years with great result. 552/250DR will be great-I would skip the 252…
ATB,
Mark

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Thoughts about 282 vs 252 seem polarised, some prefer 282 as more exciting, others prefer 282 presentation.

What was your Supercap on before?

I have a 282 and have tried with 1 or 2 HICAPs, there is a difference but to me not enormous - I have a Supercap DR itch to scratch with the 282, but sense it’d be a sideways step comared rto a 252 as only two of the dedicated power outputs would be used from a Supercap DR.

As you mentioned demoing is becoming harder and harder as UK hi-fi retailers keep less and less stock across all brands, and I suspect they have to do so to remain commercially viable.

The 282 vs 252 is an eternal topic and each has its fans. There is a current thread:

I have a 252 but didn’t bother with trying the 282. Didn’t want the covid hassle and by all accounts on the forum, my dealer, and other owners I talked to, the 252 is what I prefer - for at home, I don’t need it to jump in my face. And I am loving it.

I did audition 250 vs 300, but with a different pre that I had at the time when my plans were still different. To me, the difference was very big. So convincing in fact, that I decided for the 300 although at first found the 250 too expensive (before trying the 300), and the 300 changed my plans to jumping to the top of Classic.

Indeed I do and a wonderful combo it is too. In fact I went through the 282, 252 and now 552 all paired with my trusty 250DR. This great little power amp is more than capable of showing the uplift in SQ when moving up the Naim pre amp hierarchy. The 250DR is also capable of showing clearly the difference between Naim streamers and I have used mine with NDX, NDS and now ND555.

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I’ve had a CB250 since 1990, which I switched out for a 250DR a few years ago. During this time, my pre has been a 32.5, a 72, a 102, a 282 and, most recently, a 552DR. The 250 is entirely satisfactory, and is in no way a bottleneck.

As long as your pre is either the standard partner for your power amp (282 with 250, 252 with 300, etc.), or of a higher level, and your power amp is well matched to your speakers, room, and listening habits, I wouldn’t sweat this too much.

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Spot on Corry too much sweating going on

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I’ve upgraded in the past three years going from Nova to my current system via SN3.
I intended going for a 250DR but wasn’t overly impressed by its performance over the SN3.
The 300DR provided the upgrade I was looking for. I’ve since replaced a 282 with a 252 and am very happy with the improvement in SQ.
I’ve also added a 555PS to my NDX2 which brought about a significant improvement in SQ.
I’d wait for a 252/300DR combination.

Yup, I do indeed currently run a NAC552 with a NAP250DR, and very good it is too. The pre-amp is much the most important part of the partnership, and also the most critical one and most difficult to do well. I used to demonstrate this very simply by comparing a NAC122x/Flatcap2x fronting a NAP500, versus a NAC522/552PS fronting a NAP150x, both driving either SL2s or Allaes and fronted by a CDS3 or CD555. Extreme examples for sure, but they illustrate the point perfectly. The latter system was always so far ahead of the former in just every way. In fact, the NAC552 with NAP150x I could easily live with, and indeed, have done so at one point, along with 552/110, 552/140, and a 552/160.

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I was using a 282/HiCapDR/250DR until recently.

Due to circumstances I upgraded the wrong way round, adding a NAP300DR first, then Supercap DR and finally a 252.

What surprised me with this path was that the 300 was the largest upgrade of the 3 stages. It added so much more insight that the 250 must have been holding back and low level listening was improved significantly with a nice relaxing of the sound. This was using capable but easy to drive speakers, Kudos S20’s.

The Supercap DR built on this improvement but was nowhere near as dramatic. Finally the 252 after a considerable period of run-in from a service gave refinement and finesse with an added dollop of detail. Again I don’t feel that the improvement was a large as adding the 300.

This has got me confused as I would instinctively have thought the right order would have been Supercap > 252 > 300 but based on my experiences I’m having my doubts. The 282/HiCapDR/300 was so ridiculously good that I’m finding it hard to believe that if I’d just done the 252 and Supercap leaving the 250DR in place the system would have ended up as good.

My conclusion from this rambling is that if I were a 282/250 user considering an upgrade I would listen to both a 252 and a 300 and decide what works best for them.

This is from a source/pre first kind of person.

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Sometimes things can surprise. Long time ago I did try Flatcap 2 on Nait5 and CD5 in various. FC2 only on amplfier I liked the most, then on CD and last on both. Later I changed my speaker cables on bare amplifier/CD and new cables gave me more than FC2.

Which just goes to show that there are no universal truths with Naim amp upgrades.

However from my experience of owning 282, 252 (both with a SuperCapDR) and now a 552, all used with a 250DR, and each pre amp change giving so much more musicality, I am still convinced the pre amp is the more critical element in Naim pre/power amp combinations.

YMMV.

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Yes I know, I’d pretty much decided on a similar path to you and then a NAP300 fell into my lap which changed everything!

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I currently have a 252/SCDR/250DR - never felt even the slightest temptation to audition a 300 as the sound I get through my KEF Ref 1’s is just superb. Could it be bettered - of course. Would it make me more satisfied - I doubt it.

I did start with a 282 back in 2008 - powered initially by the 200 I purchased at the same time, then went to single HC, twin HC and finally SCDR. I only went to the SCDR as I was thinking about a used 252 if a nice one came up and I got a great deal on the SC trading in both HC’s. Each power supply upgrade was worthwhile - but when the 252 arrived it made a big difference. It actually exposed a fault in one of my PMC GB1i’s (my speakers at the time) bass units - so it was clearly doing something different to the 282 in the lower registers. The 252 did take time to settle down though - I’d say a good 3 months - so patience is demanded.

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Absolutely. I usually have some kind of plan/strategy for upgrading which has often been trumped by ‘pragmatic acquisition’, which is a posh phase for ‘a mint pre-loved unit appeared, so I went for it’.

As long as you don’t divert too far from your plan, the order of upgrades is often dictated by availability.

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I like the term ‘pragmatic acquisition’.

I tend to use the term ‘accidental purchase’.

As you say, as long as you don’t divert too far, I would have ended up here somewhen. It just happened a bit quicker than planned which is nice.

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Yes, the ‘accidental purchase’ is often followed by the explanatory phrase to my long-suffering wife - ‘but look how much I have saved over a new unit’.

Then I run and hide for a bit.

But she realises how important music is to me and I am always forgiven.

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I would suggest that once you have a 552, the 250 is indeed a bottleneck, and that with the right source, the 552 has more to give than you will get from a 250. Of course that doesn’t make it a bad amp, or even a bad choice for a 552 owner. Not everyone wants more boxes, shelves and cables, and yet another big hole in their bank account, so a 250 will be a sensible place to stop for many. But still….

Some great food for thought here. Looks like a 552 is on the way to try with the 250 so I’m expecting quite a change there and would certainly reflect that in my limited experience the pre has a much bigger impact on the sound signature than the power.

Having come from the tube pre-amp I’m certainly struggling to retune back to the more neutral and revealing solid state setup.

One thing I really appreciate about the McIntosh was the inclusion of a really really good phono stage and reasonable headphone stage in the pre-amps. Surprised Naim haven’t added this functionality to an updated 282 and 252 given the resurgence of vinyl. The thought of adding another couple of small black boxes doesn’t really appeal.

Final note is that I have a stageline to run with the 282 but to these ears the built in phono stage in the SN3 is preferable. Before the 282 is swapped out for the 552 I’m going to switch back to the SN3 and do a small head to head. Right now my gut says it might be pretty close. The SN3 is really an excellent unit!