Dear esteemed forum members, as in the title, I would be extremely grateful for your collective wisdom experience when taking the move from a NAP300 DR to its bigger brother. Like many here, I have upgraded fairly quickly since the pandemic, and now find myself contemplating this final step of moving from the 300 to the 500.
In context, I bought a dCS LINA 18 months ago which will see me out for streaming, and the existing 3 year old NAP300 DR was partnered with an ex display 552DR about 12 months later. The latest purchase was the YG Acoustics Ascent loudspeakers (the very ones from Munich show this year) from the wonderful team at Criterion Audio. They have gelled amazingly well with the Naim electronics, but with the new classics series coming out, I like many of us here, have watched with interest as the number of NAP500’s have entered the used marketplace. Talking with Mike at Criterion, he has loaned me their 500DR and I have now experienced the many superlatives of performance uplift, including the terrific slam and easy increase in overall scale. But too comes the slightly greater ‘challenge’ of acclimatising to the increased ‘edge resolution’ that the NAP300 might have delivered in a ?warmer manner? So, I would be very grateful indeed for peoples experience in making this move to the full-500 system, especially those who hit issues and regretted the move. I read with great interest your thread @NigelB regarding the evolution of your NAP500 DR experience and I understand you ultimately sold off and downsized when you moved house - was this change in part due to a shortcoming in your experience of the 500 level sound delivery? For my part, I have the head unit near the floor and the Burndy’s are fairly ‘scrunched’ at the back and I’ll have to clearly get the units up higher to allow them to hang free, and might have to sacrifice the ‘space’ under the 552 by having the 500 directly below it to achieve Burndy harmony, hopefully this is the better of the two evils?
I don’t regret the change but I would say the 300 is superb in its own right and upgrading is by no means a must. If you can comfortably afford it then consider it but If it’s a stretch then you are by no means coming up short by staying with the 300, especially if you enjoy the system synergy you have at the moment.
I have tried the 500 as you have it now (albeit on Fraim) and (currently) a level up so there is an empty shelf below and no gap from 500 to 552 (suggested by @Darkebear). Whether you will notice much difference depends on several factors so don’t assume (as I did ) that reducing the space between 500 and 552 is a necessarily detrimental. Some find getting the 500 up a level from the base to be beneficial.
Could it be that the 500 is opening the window wider and revealing limitations of the source? I’m not up on DCS but know that the Lina is a DAC, so what the DAC is being fed will make a difference. Maybe you could say how you are using the Lina so that more knowledgeable members can chip in.
Remember that the extra scale and drive of the 500 is all well and good, but not so good if it makes the music edgy and stops you relaxing. Did you try the ND555, which is the obvious partner for the 500 series amplifiers?
Many thanks indeed for your observations; the LINA is predominantly a DAC but does use the dCS proprietary Mosaic app interface as for all its products, and it has a steaming facility built-in which seems excellent. I did try the ND555 but never gave it too much consideration as it is more of a complete streaming solution rather than a pure, best possible quality DAC for the money. I like too that it doesn’t need extra power supplies either…
The vinyl system is probably much better in outright terms, and I’ll definitely take your thoughts on board and spend some more time putting the 500 through its paces with this source.
Hi Elfer, that’s very helpful indeed, and yes, the sound of the 300DR was/is excellent. One thing I found, is that it ‘hardened off’ at slightly more enthusiastic levels, and the 500 so far seems removed from this shortcoming, but naturally, the extra detail characteristic of the flagship also pushes more to the fore instead. Maybe this is what takes a little getting used to?
Great advice regarding the shelving levels, and I’ll rebuild with the head unit and PSU higher up and further from the wall behind to try to get the cabling as free as possible.
I hadn’t checked your profile, and clearly the Avid is a superb deck that should be perfect with your amps and new speakers. I’m just not convinced about using a £12,000 streaming source with a £50,000 amp, and suspect that this is where the edginess is coming from. One of the more upmarket DCS boxes may be what you really need.
As an aside, I’d consider a Fraim, Quadraspire SVT or Isoblue, as the current Quadraspire setup is a bit basic. You’ll get a good deal more from the Naim with better supports.
I enjoyed a 300DR for several years and it took me a while to pluck up the courage to have a home demo of a 500DR. I remember well the late afternoon when I gave it a serious listen. What it revealed on songs I thought I knew inside-out was such that I was so distracted I managed to burn my dinner! For me the jump in performance from 300DR to 500DR was a bigger and more impressive one than I experienced between 250.2 and 300DR. In short, if you can afford it, do it. The 500DR is amazingly good.
You could try swapping the positions of the power supplies, allowing the Burndies to cross. This might overcome the ‘scrunched’ issue. Some say you shouldn’t do this, but in the real world where compromises have to be made… and as Blackadder said, needs must when the devil vomits on your eiderdown.
Wow I love the look of those speakers. And this is from a guy that doesn’t like the look of floorstanders.
I’m in a similar situation to you. I’ve recently purchased the 500dr. Previously I used the 135s. Yes the 500dr has edge definition that even the 135s didn’t have. I’m on day 3 and with the Vertere it’s beginning to sing.
I also have the 500 PS next to the 552 and the 552 PS next to the 500. This was to ensure the burndy cables do not touch the floor as my rack isn’t built for a Naim system and is low to the ground. I’ve had to raise it using rosewood blocks.
I think like any new component it will take a few days or weeks to get things right. Cable dressing, positioning etc.
I’ll say one thing that I don’t think I’ve read on the forum. As of now I’m very glad that 500dr doesn’t thicken the sound. I had this impression from reading that the bass weight is more in the 500. I now understand what users meant by this. It’s like the very deepest notes come through without making the presentation any more warm or bloated. The amp itself is very neutral - in the best way possible.
Thank you Khan84, very useful insight and that we are heading on this new experience at the same time!
I’ll rebuild the racks with this order and just as you say, sit the 552 with the 500PSU adjacent, and the 500 head unit next to the 552PSU - hopefully this will fix the cable issues. Rack quality is doubtless important, but starting with a basic good installation with what I have got seems the best immediate way forward.
I certainly see your point about the bass response, and I too haven’t read of sound thickening, but the Ascent speakers are well capable of demonstrating the greater extension and reach of the low end very well indeed and it’s lovely…
The 500 is a fascinating amp. It’s difficult to come up with a catch all description. If I had to choose one word it would be grip. The 300 is highly capable and in truth more than I ever needed. The 500 adds realism, control and subtlety which transforms what you thought were recordings you already knew. The insight goes on and on as you move through your collection. The more I heard, the more I came to appreciate all the skill that went into producing what I was listening to - or in some cases the lack of it.
The 500DR has been described as more like a 750, which is inaccurate with respect to its output but accurately describes the magnitude of the upgrade over the non DR 500. A 552 with a 500, with or without DR are a superb pairing, the best four box integrated you can buy! The last step away from the HiFi and into the music. I shudder to think what a Statement is capable of. I’m glad I’ve never heard it, as is my bank balance.
As in all matters of this nature, your ears should be the final judge.