A week or so ago i did the above demo at Signals. We started out with my current nd555…one ps, 252/SC dr/ 300 dr with PMC 25.26 and standard interconnects. The music was usb or Naim Core via Melco and AQ Vodka. I spent a good 30 minutes listening to various music i am currently playing at home.
We then switched the 300 dr for a 500 dr, it was a noticeable improvement. It brought a sense of composure to the music, seemingly effortless driving these speakers…the 300 seemed by comparison to eager to please. The 500 made complex passages easier to follow, more dynamic, forceful, but also able to be very delicate when needed. I liked this amp👍
We then put the 300 dr back in the system, but now used a 552 instead of the 252 dr. I was surprised to be honest the 552 did not have as much impact to my ears as the 500 had made. But after a lot of interesting music under the bridge i started to come under its spell. Their was a greater transparency, the soundstage had more depth and it was easier to look into the music hearing new nuances that were always there. At this point it was a toss of the coin between them, my heart saying 500, the brain saying front end first.
We finished off with a 552/500 dr…bit of a mistake. I was not expecting the sum of the two parts to be greater, and certainly did not expect them to be capable of really losing me in the music.
Where i was thinking the 552 was OK but expensive, it really comes into its own with the 500 dr. The speakers just disappeared, the music just flows and draws you in…oops😬
So having come with the anticipation of buying one or the other, this was a bit of a dilemma…which one. And of course that bad man Alistair as ever enjoying my predicament, came up with a solution…a deal on both. During a recent Naim demo, the Naim guys offered to have the 552 looked at, due to the burndy being a very tight fit. A short wait while the 552 had an unscheduled visit to HQ, i am the happy owner of a 552/500.
Nice write up Gazza, and your observation I have quoted above is exactly what I am missing. Which leads me to believe a 500 will remove the congestion during complex passages I am hearing with my trusty, but ‘exhausted’ 250DR.
Gazza, you have a truly fabulous system. Could I now politely suggest you enjoy the music and refrain from posting about the beasts on here, as it causes extreme temptation for the likes of me, and could be considered as mental cruelty!
One other thing. I assume you are using the supplied HiLine between ND555 and 552. If so, I truly believe this pairing deserves (and will respond to) a better interconnect. I know I keep banging on about SuperLumina but I would strongly suggest, funds permitting, that you ask Alistair to lend you a fully run in SL interconnect (or posh True Signals equivalent of Chord T interconnect, if he has one).
I also suspect you are using all ‘stock’ cables in your system from previous discussions on here. Should you find a posh interconnect that improves things then I would look at upgrading speaker cables next and then DIN/XLR cables.
You have such a transparent and dynamic system now, it would be a shame to hold it back with stock cables. Just a thought, and I realise I am rather good at spending others’ money.
I have new powerlines and new burndies all running in. So i have put a pin in on the previous cable demo stuff, until i got to this point. Next year its a cable upgrade tbd👍 Oh and yes i am still hiline and std interconnects
Great system Gazza. Many years ago I went from a 282 to a 552 whilst using a NAP200 power amp and to this day I still think it’s the biggest and best improvement I’ve made to the system. This week I changed out my 300 for a well run in used 500 and it to is fantastic. First thing I noticed was the bass which is now more tuneful, has added punch and is easier to follow.
Nice review. And pretty much how I remember my journey. The 500 is a gentle giant. A mixture of subtlety and measured might. It’s a fascinating power amp and when you put a 552 on it you’ve got what is essentially a world class four box integrated. They work so well together. As, in my view do the 252/300 at their respective price point.
It takes a 500 to fully exploit what a 552 can do. We used a 552 with our 300 at first and we through the upgrade was justified. But it wasn’t until we installed the 500 that it all made complete sense. For us, the 500 wasn’t so much the finishing touch as the magic ingredient.
I think the 252 is the best VFM pre in the Naim range. If I can have a 552 I’ll take it in an instant. But I wouldn’t feel hard done by if I wanted or needed to cruise one level down.
I think that at their respective price points the 552/500 and 252/300 are peerless. We thought we might stop at 552/300.
Over time, the extra information and emotion that a 552 will subtly suffuses your room with is more noticeable than in a one session shoot out… Run a 552/300 for three months and I wouldn’t be surprised if, should you replace it with a 252, the loss is immediately noticeable and hard to live with.
We weren’t expecting so much from the 500. But as your ears now also attest, it should not be underestimated.
Once it has all settled down as you suggest next year introduce your system to a full loom Super Lumina and see what you think. It is an expensive move but well worth it in the context of the system you now have. It certainly works for me and others I know in their systems.
I haven’t been to any hifi environment, dealer or show, for nearly 18 months. Fortunately none of my friends or family have any higher spec. equipment. If there are any bits of music or nuances hiding in my recordings that I’m failing to pick up, I think I can live with it!
Happiness can be reaching a destination without worrying about what might be further along the line. It’s lovely to read about others’ experiences, but I do worry when I see some equipment that already costs more than mine (and many other members) being described as almost not worth having (252, SC and 300DR in particular) - crazy!