552 preamp question

Ok, here is my set up…digital Linn Ikemi, Mcintosh cd550, LP Rega rp6.exact2 cart
Akai and Revox reel to reels into a Naim 282,hicap dr supernait (using the amp section) into B&W CM2

I have other systems too, both tube and SS

I have found preamps can make a big difference, many times more than amps
There is a 552 preamp for sale, fully recapped and upgraded to DR level.

Does this make sense ? any one use this or similar combo like a 552/200 etc.
Appreciate any thoughts.

If the price is right and you have your eye on possible upgrades elsewhere further on in due course then it may well make sense. The NAC552 is certainly a revealing pre-amp and can open the window on your sources far wider than the NAC282. While that can be a double edged sword - it can expose shortcomings in source - the NAC552 can also be quite forgiving here too, so long as the shortcomings are relatively benign. As you can probably gather, I’m a fan of the NAC552 and a definite fan of the pre-amp taking precedent over the power amp. To the point where a few months back, while my 250DR was in for repair, I was having great fun with my NAP110 in its place fronted by the NAC552. No, it didn’t have the bandwidth or tonal and spacial realism of the 250DR, but boy was it still a Naim amp through and through, agile as ever and making every LP I played a riveting experience. It made the time when my 250DR was away (a few months, due to Covid) no hardship at all.


Richard is spot on here…I note you have a 282…the presentation is quite similar so you should be fine…it will just be allot more revealing and open…you won’t have any regrets…

1 Like

Thanks for the replies and thanks Richard for your experiences, especially with the 552 with the older naim amp. Yes I do believe in the hifi hierarchy, but have had a lot of gear in my home including the Linn cd 20k player, and have owned lp12s. I would probably use mostly cds in this set up but that may change.

I would probably go with a 200 as I have heard that before, and my speakers are easy to drive BUT I will always keep my Supernait,even as a back up, I think that is one cracking piece of kit, and one of the all time great products in audio, for performance/value.


In the Naim world I also subscribe to the NAC being dominant in the amp chain, and bringing the NAP along with it… albeit there are also SQ performance increases in NAPs as you go up the portfolio, but less marked than the NACs in my opinion.

I have a personal perspective from my experience over last couple of decades with Naim: Get the best NAC you can afford, then get the optimum NAP for your speakers and room. A 200 can be quite limiting, not from SQ, but from power, speaker/room coupling.

Note other manufacturers do things differently, but in the world of Naim that works for me.

1 Like

In my view there is no such thing as an easy to drive a speaker… the whole thing about a coil waving around in a magnetic field is not good…you get back emf’s …etc So my view is the more grip and control you have with the amp the better…chance you have of following the signal…

1 Like

Indeed there is back emf interacting with the amplifier source impedance, and there is the impedance curve across the audio band.
More grip on the whole comes from lower amplifier source impedance (higher damping factor), but clearly speaker cable starts to come into play and raise the source impedance.
I am always impressed passive speakers sound as good as they do, especially multi driver speakers with a passive crossover. I think our ears and brains must be quite accommodating.
Certainly realism can take a big step forward with higher performance headphones.


Yeah totally agree … there is a part of me that is incredibly interested in the Mark Audio single drivers with no x over… for lowish volumes this has got to be an attractive option… then you have the opposite the Kii3 … all active with all singing control over dispersion…

Not really agree here. Some speakers work best with low powered tube amps , better than with high powered solid state.

Well thats mainly down to efficiency … 90dB …I have found tube amps quite tollerant but ultimately they lack the grip of transistors…I found with tubes it was the seductive midband that really won me over…

I was more thinking of speakers like Audionote , Klipsh , some horns…with efficiency around 104 dB.
If you put them a 500dr, they will sound agressive, not musical at all.

I had a NAC252 into a NAP200 and it sounded good. I upgraded to the 552 DR and it turned the 200 into a much better sounding amplifier. I lived with this setup for quite a while before upgrading the 200 to a 300 DR. This took the system to a whole new level. Go with the 552, you will enjoy the difference it makes.


I am not sure it works like that, especially with a quality class AB design.
Aggressive is often equated to a forward hard sound.
Efficiency is about SPL per watt… very different attributes.

A speaker being driven by an underpowered amp, or an amp with a low damping factor (relatively high source impedance) will sound a little slow and filtered transients. It takes more time for the speaker to respond to a change in the signal.

But sure, a speaker can be tuned to some extent to be driven by an amp with a low damping factor, which can be associated with some valve designs, or even an unusual SS design.

I agree with this, I have 5 systems including Khorns. Khorns seem to like certain SS designs and love a
good tube El34 amp, such as dynaco or VTL or a Marantz8b. I have tried many combos with them.

Appreciate the responses, seems the get the best NAC that you can is a common theme and great
praises for the 552.

1 Like

The Audionotes at least would be preferable on the end of a 500 to some of the Focals I’ve heard. A local 282/250 user has retired his NBLs in favour of a pair of Es. There is also a chap using Volti Rivals at 100dB/W on the end of a Nova and preferring it to all sorts of valve kit, check out the tweaking a nova thread. His posts had me wondering how they’d sound on a 500 series system but Volti is a small company selling direct in the US with a no returns policy so I’ll probably never know.

1 Like

So , without being technical, Audionote speakers, for instance, will sound hard, forward and agressive with a 500 dr.

Ok, I haven’t personally, but I aware of a user driving a pair of AN-Ks (I believe) with 250DR, and being pleased with it… so there might be a matching problem thing specifically with the 500?

My goal was only to say that bigger amps , more muscular, are not necessary better , because the most Important is a perfect match between a speaker and an amp, in a specific room.
Most here use power hungry speakers which will shine with bigger in the Naim range amp.
But there is also another reality outside Naim.
Some tube amps with 18 W will drive more easily and nicely some speakers than 80 W Naim amps.
I heard some years ago some Focal with Lamm Ml2 tube amps, it was a marvel. Fast, detailed, open, airy, with wonderful prat.
Some months after I heard the same speakers with a Nap 300, in another place. It was very average, a bit bright and fatiguing.
Another time I heard Audionote speakers with exposure monos. It was a disaster. Hard and agressive.
Same speakers with 8 W Audionote monos: Wonderful!


The effect you describe only applies if a power amp is harsher, more “forward” or “aggressive” with low level signals, and with a class A/B amp that seems counter-intuitive because they would be operating in class A, which generally is held to be better sound quality than class B, however I suppose some amps might sound worse at low levels. It seems it is not uncommon for speakers to sound worse at low levels, but that is different.

A real potential issue with highly efficient speakers, e.g. 100dB/W or more, like horns, would be that any hum or hiss from the power amp would be that much louder, so a low noise power amp is desirable, at least in a domestic hifi context.

Another issue would be a high gain power amp (which is not itself directly related to max power capability) showing up certain limitations of the preamp, such as poor channel balance at low volume control settings. A low gain power amp is therefore likely to be beneficial with highly efficient speakers, and maybe that is where some amps may score over others like Naim.

1 Like

@drawtheline55 I guess there is a misunderstanding regarding what a power amp actually is and how it works.

@Simon-in-Suffolk and @Innocent_Bystander provided the needed info, but I’ll try to put it differently.

As long as we talking about well build amps (the 500 DR is a good amp) using a powerful amp with high efficiency speakers isn’t a problem.

Well, I’d avoid using the 500DR with Voxativ speakers :sweat_smile:

Of course, the good thing about highly efficient speakers is that they can also be driven buy less powerful amps (cheaper).

Power amps are not only about power… :wink:

1 Like