552 a bit underwhelming? No! It's magnificent!

Hi all
I have been thinking about changing my 52 for a 552 and had one lined up once i had sold my 52.
Now i was buying blind, but this afternoon i had the chance to listen to one and as it was easy to take my 52 along i decided it would be good to listen to the big difference.
Now dont get me wrong the 552 and its DR power supply did sound very nice and it was a more detailed, clearer sound over the 52, but it wasn’t really the big difference i was expecting. Maybe i was expecting to much, i dont know, but i came away underwhelmed by it all and i know if i had just spent all that money on it i would be a bit un happy.
Now my question is has anyone else done the same, or is it just me? As i did do my home work on this and didnt read anyone complaining or was i just expecting too much in the ever decreasing improvement/ money.


May I ask what the partnering equipment was when you did the 52 vs 552 comparison?

The Nac52 is fantastic value for money. I have one and I need look no further.

He has a lovely system and one i could only dream off owning.
Top flight LP12
552/ 552dr
500 dr
Kudos 808 i think

Plus he is getting 2 other 500’s and the snaxo very soon.

Like i said it was better than my own 52 and its power supply (non naim) just not as much as i was expecting for the massive difference in price, i would still have it over mine as it was better and would like to try a 552 in my system, but i know he wont do that as he doesn’t like to touch it all, as i asked.

Didn’t you recently replace SBLs by Ovators, Dunc?

Yes, it’s all to do with expectations and reading this forum gives one unbelievably high expectations. I like the use of the word ‘herd’ above, as that’s what the 552 tends to have instead of followers. The 552 is of course great, but not to the extent people make one believe here. I’ve heard many demos of the 552 as part of listening to LP12 (incl power supplies) and source upgrades give far more differences.

If/when a 652 comes along, you’ll see, the amazing 552 won’t really be raved about to the same extent. It’ll all be about the new superstar from Naim. I always have a chuckle at when someone buys a 552, announces it like a new baby, and then receives post after post of congratulations! You got be bloody kidding.


Yes i have ovator speakers now, active S600 now running 3 amps

I have called the Ovators my best source upgrade ever (I have active Ovators albeit driven by 2xNap200 and passive SBL’s). These BMR’s make music so fluid, without loosing detail. The bass control of the Ovators is fantastic.

It would be good to listen to the 552 into active loudspeakers.

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Yes i would love to try a 552 in my system just to see if i still feel the same.
As you run 2 amps of the small range, try adding a 3rd as i found it made a big difference to the mid range and the upgrade is felt more so with less powerful amps.
It looks like if you run say 2 x 300 amps then adding a 3rd is not that much different and i wasn’t expecting much adding a 3rd 250, but instead it was a big surprise and the total opposite to what the 552 did for me today
Just goes to show once again, you need to try for yourself and not go with the flow

I still find it a magical component and found the upgrade from the 252 massive. It brings the emotions of the music so much closer. So I respect any other opinion, but I will still love it…


The 552 is very good, but there is a lot hyperbolic mumbo jumbo spoken about it on this forum. It’s not magical, it doesn’t create music, it can’t transform bad recordings into something they are not, it doesn’t bring musicians into your room… Yada Yada Yada … but it does form the heart of a wonderfully enjoyable system… it does allow you to connect with your recordings satisfyingly well… and yes ultimately for many it brings a wonderful sense of satisfaction and insight when listening to your recordings.
I love my 552.


I too found the step up from 252 to 552 significant. No herd mentality, but fairly high expectations. I only really appreciated what the 552 could do when comparing it to the 252 in my system, in my room, listening to my music. Just my humble opinion of course.

Maybe the OP lives where he might find a pre loved or demonstrator unit with a dealer he might try at home. Failing this, if I were the OP, I would save the cash and continue enjoying my 52.


I changed my 52 for a 552 in, I think, 2001. The difference was enormous. I therefore wonder whether the 552 which you have just auditioned was functioning correctly.

I’ve had a somewhat similar experience to you, although I’m still in the early stages of an extended ownership/audition.

After all I’d read about it down the years, I decided long ago that the 552 was going to be my end-game preamp and (probably) my last major upgrade. My source (LP12) is almost maxed out, and my speaker ambitions are modest (I like over-achieving small standmounters), so all that was left was the pre (formerly a 282/SuperCap, fed by a SuperLine/SuperCap).

There was never a chance I could justify or even afford a new one, so I spent a year searching for the right pre-loved unit i.e. old and unserviced, but of known provenance. I finally got a 2003 unit via my dealer last autumn. My plan was to send it off immediately for a full service and DR upgrade, but the lead time was long, my dealer assured me that it didn’t sound noticeably degraded, so I decided to defer that part of the plan until the spring.

I had never heard a 552 before, and I’ve always found preamps tricky to audition. With the exception of the 72, I don’t recall ever being initially wowed by a pre, yet I get that their contribution is fundamental. So I decided that I’d buy a 552 and give it at least six months to year. If it wasn’t earning its keep by that time, I figured I could move it on with minimal loss.

I’m at the point where the 552 is off being serviced (by AV Options in Chicago) and I’m finding that I don’t especially miss it. My recollection is that, while it’s head and shoulders above the 282 in terms of all the usual hi-fi attributes – resolution, dynamics, soundstaging, and so on – and manages the feat of being lively without being fatiguing, I’m not yet convinced that it’s a whole lot more engaging. In my experience, a crucial test of a hi-fi upgrade is that it makes it hard for you stop listening after just one side, and it makes you constantly think of music you want to listen to when you really should be doing something else.

There could be a few things going on here. My 552 may indeed be “tired,” and is past the point where it starts to lose its edge; it may be that I got a slightly sub-standard unit (I’m told sample variation is a thing, even with the 552); it may be that my installation needs some fine tuning; or maybe my expectations were just too high. I’m as prone as the next person on this forum to getting excited by flowery descriptions of upgrades, even though most upgrades I’ve made have been initially underwhelming.

All that aside, I’m not stressing about it. I’m less than halfway through my self-imposed evaluation period and, if I end up deciding that the 552 is not sufficiently compelling to keep, so be it. My dealer lent me a 72 to tide me over, and it’s sobering just how good this elderly pre still is.

The 552 is unusual in that it gets near universal praise on the forum. I can only recall maybe a couple of people describing it as overrated. I’d be curious to know if there are others out there who feel the same way, especially after extended audition.


I traded a 112 (not “x”) for the 552, based on accolades and the fact that it has features not available on any other NAC, including assignable inputs, and two available AV bypass circuits. It sounds great, too.

Remote control via Naim App, and coordination with NDX-FM and Naim DAC make the 552 the ultimate pre, for me.


One mans massive improvement is another mans marginal gain. Given how good your 52 is I think it’s only natural that the improvement given by a 552 is in reality quite small. Those that hear the improvement just need to evaluate if it’s worth the cost. Personally I love my 252 and have no desire to audition the 552…



we are not comparing fairly here !

you are auditioning a 52 with a non naim PSU, against a 552?

you should really compare a 52 with a Supercap (DR or not) against a 552.

Well thats a difficult question to answer, but he had a non dr before it and traded that in when the dr first came out, so i guess he knows his stuff, plus his dealer was at his about 3 months ago installing his speakers

I too would expect to be blown away by the 552 considering the huge price difference between it and the 52 but I for one am not surprised. After owning a 282 for 18 months or so and being slightly underwhelmed I ended up with an 82 and much preferred it.

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Why should that matter as its not compulsory and if thats the reason why it sounds better than it should then i feel sorry for all you guys that have spent 1000’s

But seriously i just think i was expecting to much and love doing side by side comparison as its the only way to really see the difference.
As its easy to trick yourself into believing as the mind is a funny thing

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