300 series vs 500 OC , listening and drifting

We are a lot interested here how the 300 series compare to 552/500 . 333/300 vs Nds/555 dr for local streaming should be interesting too.
Listening experiences with some moderate amount of drifting posts are welcome.

5 Likes

What I remember from the closed recent thread:

  • 332 , even alone, seems to be better vs 252/Supercap.
  • 1 or 2 members compared 350 vs 500 dr and found the last has still the edge.
  • nobody compared, from what I remember, 332/300 vs 552.
  • some found that 333/300 is better vs Ndx2/ 555 dr.
  • no one compared 333/300 vs Nds/ 555 dr for local streaming.
1 Like

@frenchrooster Good Morning French, I am not sure anyone has done 252/SCDR comparison directly yet. The results I read were all from memory. I think its likely close but no side by side demos from what I remember in the thread. My memory is not always the best with audio. I can listen to something new, think its great BUT I must always go back to the original to be sure. Many times I have concluded original is best but only after time with new product and then reverting to old. There will always be a bias towards new products as our hardwired expectation is that new is always better. For HiFi… when there is no new technology, and the product is essentially quite simple the changes are often aesthetic to keep up with modern trends and a change in the sound signature to again keep up with modern recording tastes. I have no doubt that feeding the new products with modern recordings will yield better results, and of course it should, but over time which is ‘better’ will likely be determined by ones taste in music more than anything else. This is why its hard to take other peoples experience seriously unless you know you have similar music and presentation tastes. This is one of the great parts of this forum as lots of us have been around for a long time, you start to understand who’s ears are a good match for yours.

Maybe that was a bit drifty for a first post! I am interested to hear experiences of people who have tested 500 series vs 300 series back to back. Dealers must have done it. The fact there is no noise surrounding 500 being superseded by 300 is probably an indication that its not in the same league BUT again it likely depends on how you like your music presented.

5 Likes

There isn’t really any question in my mind that the 500 series will sound better than NC 300, otherwise I feel sure Naim would have pulled the 500 series by now.

The question for me is how close is the gap now? IME whilst the OC 300 is excellent in its own right, it’s quite a jump to the 500. As it should be at the price!

1 Like

Honestly aren’t there just so many variables in this, most with which speakers in what room with what source components - to make any conclusion impossible. Oh and then there are those things on the sides of our heads connected to the bit in the middle which will hear things differently to the next person.

2 Likes

OR, dealers are a little concerned that NC300 is close enough to OC500 at less than half the price new (i.e. different rather than inferior) as to make OC500 a far tougher sell. (Dives for cover to avoid incoming from 500 owners).

This is merely an alternative (and slightly provocative) speculative suggestion on my part, and therefore a bit drifty - apologies.

Although I have done no direct comparisons, I am delighted with my NC222/300/250 and do not miss my 500 system at all. Three boxes rather than six is liberating.

FR, as there is very limited experience of direct comparisons between 300 and 500 series (and dealers may be reluctant to share their experiences), you are likely to experience drift and speculation on this thread. But I expect this is OK with you.

4 Likes

I know what you mean, I used my Nova for a while when I was waiting on a replacement cable and loved it. Did not miss the 500 system and thought maybe I could live with the Nova or SN3/NDX2 and bank some money. When I put the 500 system back on, stone cold I was floored. My memory of what it was after a week with the Nova was quite different to reality BUT I could have lived with the Nova or a less system and been VERY happy.

4 Likes

We are as humans awesome on getting used to different situations. Our senses and brain rapidly adjust to the new data it gets. I have a new electric car that is super great. Did I have an issue with my first car a Volvo 240 made 1981? Not so much. It took me from A to B. It’s when you start to compare head to head you realise what you have and whatnot. And some need to drive the capitalism forward I guess :smile:

But I have never from any setup I’ve owned had continues wow moments as with my 500 boxes. That’s for sure.

5 Likes

Alternate take…

If 300 was better or even close enough, at a far cheaper price point would they not attract a bigger audience as more people could afford 300 vs 500 AND that would wet the appetite of existing 500 owners for the next gen of 500 in a few years.

:grin::grin::grin:

Let the speculation rip….

We are probably all wrong!

1 Like

Well my take on it is this.
The new pre amp with it’s power supply should really be better than the 552, because it has a much better volume control than the old pot design. Also a pre amp should be as natural as it can possibly be and the new design should certainly inpove on this.
As for the amp’s, well we already know the 350’s are quite the star, but then the 500dr is also the star off the 500 kit. So this could well be a very hard fight and i feel the only way to really see which is best is to feed it with a real good source and see which wins.
The streamer/dac, right now i feel the ND555 should still win this, because the new dac’s aren’t really anything new and naim has been trying to get new people in to help push them forward in this area. For too long they really relied on the burr brown chips and now have a bit off a way to catch up.
But it’s all moving in the right direction for me, it’s that really for me and quite a few others that have now moved on from the 500 gear, it’s all been too long in coming.

3 Likes

For me the 552 is the star, not even close. I have used 552/300 and 552/500 and the biggest change was the introduction of the 552.

The difference for me between CD555 and ND555 was also big, that being the second biggest change. The 500 upgrade from 300 was the smallest difference.

We are all looking for something different I guess.

1 Like

Volvo 240, well there’s an opportunity for a thread drift but I won’t take the bait…

3 Likes

Actually we are all correct, we just hear things differently.

1 Like

My sense is there are two yard sticks one could use to make a comparison in the abstract: technical specs and price points. However, I think those are quite distinct yard sticks and not necessarily fully aligned, as the realities of marketing, pricing and market demand for certain products at certain price points are of a different nature than the technical side. Just think of the prices some vintages cars are getting today: they may very well be higher than their present day descendant even though the modern variant is technically superior. So I think one should be careful not to conflate the two. Just my two cents.

1 Like

For me the opposite.
I found my 552 to be the week link in a big way.
The 500dr actually went up in quality once i removed the 552dr.
The 500dr and ND555 is held back by the 552dr, remove it and the quality will go up as many have found out.
That’s the reason so many find adding the S1 pre such a good upgrade and also why many use the 500dr rather than the statement amp’s.
The S1 is the star in that set up.
Like i said already its all about the volume control really and the relay type is much better than a pot. This is where the big difference in quality is coming from in the new range.

I would put money on the new 300 pre amp and power supply sounding much better in a 500 system than what the 552dr can do in the same system.

8 Likes

I imagine that the 300 series may be technically ahead of the 500 in some areas, perhaps lower noise/distortion, but I am only guessing. Whether this equates to better SQ is another question altogether.

I am enjoying my 5 box 300 series so much that I can appreciate why owners rave about their 500 series, assuming of course that the 500 series is deemed to have better SQ. If it is indeed better than the 300 then it must be really special. Those people fortunate enough to have Statements must be in a very special place indeed.

The 300 is as far as I personally can justify and I will be very happy with it.

The people best placed to answer 300 vs 500 are 500 owners. If they do the comparison and share their findings, it will be very interesting to see how many keep their 500 and how many actually change to 300 (if any).

Looking forward to some results on this thread although it is obviously academic as none of us will suddenly be disappointed!

Most importantly though are people’s personal listening condition i.e. speakers, room, musical taste and inbuilt bias (we all have some of this to one degree or another)!

1 Like

But it may be that few with a 500 will want to hear that a cheaper amp sounds better, or even just might doubt better, so I suspect few will compare, and even fewer with steps taken to eliminate their possible bias if they do compare.

I think you make an important point where you say “…is as far as I can personally justify”. I suppose that is yet another and highly personal yardstick. One way or the other this presumably applies to everyone, even those who could afford the more expensive options. After all, the optimum point for value for money is very personal, not only because the listening experience is subjective and informed by many other factors, but also because sometimes good is simply more than good enough and the funds one would spend on better, can be put to better use in other areas.

1 Like

Couldn’t agree with you more Dean. I’ve an active system with 2 x 300drs into Sl2s and it sounds very good indeed. I’ve been thinking about changing the 300s for the new 350s which would cost me around £15k but do I really need to ? I’m sure I could find better uses for that money and although I love upgrades it doesn’t take too long before the new improved sound just becomes the norm anyway !!

3 Likes