500DR or a good speaker for my upgrade

Hi guys,

Some years ago I ask forum for advice on which two 500-series to purchase and the majority mention to go for pre-amp + streamer first.

Now I am able to afford my final 500-series item. But I also can go for speaker upgrade first. So want to ask for advice again.

In terms of sound quality and bigger bang for the ear buck which one should I upgrade next?

  1. NAP 500DR (from 250DR) and stick with my Special 40 first
  2. Either Titan 808 or Focal Scala (stretching it) and use 250DR

Will I enjoy more musically speaking with an amp upgrade or should I change speaker first to see what 250DR can still offer.

Tks in advice :pray:

Go 500DR first. The 250DR is a great amp but not up to the 808 or Scalas.

You will be shocked how much more music you get out of the Dynas

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Some thoughts and questions:

1- I assume you are using the Dynaudio 40s (quite small but punchy and a good quality speaker) – what is it that’s promoting the idea to change these e.g. do you feel they are limiting in some way? Size of room, the sound level you like to play at?

2- Have you the space (and Fraim) to install a 500DR, given it’s 2 units and it’s vital not to have the 2 x burndy cables hanging down on to the floor and/or touching other cables, as this can generate sub-optimal bass – which could do your room no favours?

3- you say final 500-series item (and noting you are in Singapore?) and the use the term ‘upgrade next’, suggesting you may have more plans to upgrade down the line?

The reason this is important is:

a- You don’t want to be over-speakered (in hi-fi language) and running 808s/Scalas (assume the 3-ways) with a 250DR isn’t sensible. @nicnaim is spot on here. IMHO, a 250DR simply won’t do these speakers justice.

b- you could up-speaker now, but you will find using a much better amp should change things much for the better – and after this you can select a speaker which marries in your room to this (the room/amp/speaker trinity).

Sometimes less speaker is better for a room and for matching to an amp e.g. you could be better suited by the lesser Focals, another pair of better Dynaudios?

4- you don’t mention whether this would be new or pre-loved kit? Obviously, there is some debate about the qualities of the NC 350 amps against the existing, and far more expensive(!) 500DR.

Are you fixed on the 500DR, as the 350s could free some budget here?

Bottom line in all this, it’s generally the rule that a better amp in to modest speakers sounds far better than a modest amp in to better speakers, primarily as the latter will play only what they are fed and a modest amp will not control the speakers optimally.

Tks @nicnaim, I am surprised for the Dynaudio I can still squeeze out much. Was thinking that with a 250DR is pretty on the limit for Dynaudio. So what you mean is that Special 40 can give much more despite the 250DR?

Wow @HappyListener, tks for the well structured questions. Let me answer:

  1. The limiting factor is that at night listening is tough. Day-time listening I need to give it enough volume to be enjoyable.
  2. I have 6-level Fraim Lite currently. Want to upgrade to Fraim in time.
  3. There are definitely planned upgrades like Switch, some cables, etc. But only after the major items are done.
  4. Will be a clearance sales in new by dealer since they no longer is my country’s Naim dealer anymore (no idea why)

Because all my items are 500-series, it will appear weird to have NC350 in it + I think there is no much solid evidence 350 is a 500DR beater (at least from what I know so far)

OK – all noted, the one bit which confuses me is your comments on listening at night. Can you be more precise as to what the issue is? e.g. do you want to play at low volume and get a better replay, as a larger speaker will do the opposite of this usually, especially with a modest (in relative terms) amp feeding it.

Given your comments in general, IMHO the sensible route would be to get the 500DR (at a ‘nice price’ :grin: ) and then re-evaluate, this on the basis you can house it properly, either immediately or soon e.g. via full Fraim. Don’t forget, you are going to need a medium/high shelf for the 500DR head unit, unless you out it on top, which isn’t recommended if you have source kit which prefers this location.

You may be surprised how much better the Dyns will sound with a better amp (noting my comments above), as a 500DR is not just beefier, but also much better quality (as doubtless you’ve read). Plus, there are many more speaker options out there to consider when the time comes.

Put another way, the sensible evolution of a system is source/amps/speakers in that order. If you jump to speaker, issues can arise which may not be straightforward to address.

Lots of good advice above. Upping the amp should certainly improve low volume performance of your speakers, a 300 DR would also improve things greatly if that’s another option for you.

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I think Singapore is included in the Australia/NZ situation where the distributer has changed, and the outgoing one is clearing stock at 40% discount across the board. I recently grabbed a ND555 in the “fire sale”. Well, with the discounts, then more reason to go for the 500 DR (or 300DR) now.

I once heard others mention a floor-stander due to its wider frequency response can aid in low volume listening compared to bookshelves. Not sure if this is true as I do not have experience in floor-stander.

Someone also told me adding a sub-woofer aid in low volume listening.

I guess I am just as confused why giving it lower volume, the music just will not appear to flow out of the speaker (if you know what I mean). It is like it is not enveloping. Yes I know it is not supposed to be since it is low volume haha… contradicting maybe. Probably not achievable.

Yes it is quite a mess here :frowning:

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Bookshelf and speakers of a similar size can be less efficient (i.e. need more juice to power them) than larger speakers – it’s the inverse of what one would expect. One look at the quoted efficiency ratings informs on this.

But, larger speakers can introduce more bass, which a better amp has a much better ability to control. In my experience, no hi-fi system of quality really performs low down, unless you have bat-like hearing! This is because the bass comes in with volume, so you can reduce a high quality system, which is designed to deliver decent bass, in to something sounding like a small radio.

If playing at lower volumes with expectations of getting higher performance is the fundamental issue here, then a wider re-think may be required? In this context, other floorstanding Focals may be better, as they are very efficient (90db+) – but my comments about radio-type replay need thought?

The Special 40 are just not quite the right speakers for low volume listening. I have owned them and this was the reason I did not keep them long at all (although at the time I had relatively powerful monoblocks). I don’t think it’s about the size of speakers as much as the characteristics. My current speakers are standmounts and low volume listening is a delight.

So if you would like to be able to have good quality quiet sessions, then I would definitely look at other speakers. Although it would help a little, I don’t think a bigger amp will change that in any dramatic way. However, seems like you have a hot deal on the 500DR and if you are after completing your 500 setup you might not want to miss it.

Speakers are the most critical part to get right (preference, room etc) - even if they might come last in your case.: ) But with the 500 in place you can’t go too much wrong!:slight_smile:

How bout keep the 250, get some 808’s, and then go active with them when you can ?

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I think I get what you mean. It could be my expectation is set wrongly.

What is your current standmount @garcon?

@Dunc, do you find listening to low volume on your 808 enjoyable? Or you seldom listen too low.

Totally agree … 500 has far more control and finesse…it will transform your existing speakers. I used my 500dr with PMC20.21’s for a while and they sounded epic…the 500dr will give you more detail, clarity, separation, punch and the big thing that was amazing for me…as you turn the voulme up the sound does not collapse…it gets better and better - without feeling forced at all. So get the amp first then re evaluate your speaker choice…the Titan’s by all acounts should sound epic with the 500 when you are ready…

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Mine are Marten Oscar Duo

Have you tried this combination to say something like this for low volume listening?

Its fine with the amp i have, but it was also fine with the 500dr i had

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I went from a 250dr to a 500dr orginally with a 272/555ps as source… the 500 was a dramatic improvement…apprent as soon as the music started…one of the best purcheses for me. The only thing I don’t like is mine has quite a growly transformer…but thats the mains rather than the amp.

Yes, I think it would work better with your speakers