Unless you are luck enough to own an S1 Naim’s 552 preamp is likely to be your endgame. I’ve had mine for around 4 years and with DR’ing installed it’s about as transparent and musical as you can get. Every CD, record or streamed piece of music becomes a bit of an adventure and before you know it several hours have passed.
When the system is given a really good source it will weave it’s magic and place you in the recording studio or the front row of a live venue. Feed it a less than perfect source and it will still sound good but that holographic image of real musicians in your front room will become a bit hazy and your concentration will start wander.
Many forum members on here will tell you that the 552 preamp is the best piece of equipment Naim makes.
The 552 is more upfront than 252 which is more laid back…you will find that initially it will appear brighter…but it is not as simple as that the 552 appears to let allot more information through…which initially (this is my experience) comes across as bright…the bass is very fast and agile…and the midband is quite explicit. The whole presentation gels to give you a very rhythmically charged result…if you like prat. I am sure you will enjoy it…it will expose your source relentlessly so that needs to be as good as you can get…
I went 282, 252 and, in the end, 552. I really liked the liveliness and attack of the 282. As noted above, the 552 is the end of the line unless you have vast resources. It’s my stopping point and I am happy to be there
If I am not mistaken, people who have tried all 282, 252 and 552 reported on the dynamic, liveliness and attack of the 282 and slightly laidback sound with reduced dynamics of the 252 in comparison to 282 and 552. Only those who tried the 282 and 252 (but not the 552) felt that the latter is not short of liveliness and dynamics.
Based on experiences on the forum, this is what I observe;
282 - dynamic, lively, attack
252 - slightly reduced aspects of the above with added clarity, detail and refinement
552 - combined strengths of 282 and 252
My (nearly) 20 year old 552, DR’d and recapped a few years ago, is the centerpiece of my system. The 552 makes the most of every source, good or bad. It demands you pay attention, it does not create background music. I go against Naim dogma and believe its more important than a source… I know Heresy! But once you own a 552 you understand there’s no longer a roadblock in your system… music just flows, all the details are there. It’s magic.
As everyone above says, we have all been on a journey through Naim’s very capable preamps from the 202 and ending up at the masterpiece 552. It’s as good as it gets unless you have buckets of spare cash for an S1.
It’s the centrepiece of a wonderful system that will let you hear your music on a whole new level. You should get one as soon as possible. Expect an uneven break-in period of a few weeks and then settle in to the task of re-listening to your music collection. Enjoy the task.
yes… the reason I added my post, was because my observations over the last 12 years listening to a lot of Naim systems, some set up properly, some not, some with rhythmic speakers, and some with speakers without an abundance of that ability.
simply put, I would rather much have a 282 with a speaker that has that ability than a 552 and a speaker without rhythm.
I could have bought a 552 as some great deals came along, but did not… as I am happy with the synergy of what my system does.
this is not going to be a popular view… but getting a system to work together is far more important (in my view) than going up the Naim ladder.
I think Naim understand this very well when they made/make everything from source, amplifiers to speakers - even the speaker cable and banana plugs.
If you buy new prepare yourself for a long burn in. I’m almost six weeks in and the first three or four weeks had several bad sound days but since then it’s just slowly improved day by day. It’s strength is the way it presents complex passages as a non compressed, integrated and rhythmic whole. My former valve system had a lovely full bodied midrange but fell apart on complex music with compression, slow and thick bass and recessed top end. Heart and head. Heart now happier. No regrets!
M40 is different from M40.1 with the latter more amp friendly. The M40 is rather inferior in comparison. The 40 series ideally require a 300DR and above to open up and sound decent. A friend uses NAP 135 monoblocks for his 40.1.
In my experience, the Harbeth sounds most dynamic driven by a Naim. It sounds more bland and laidback (although gaining on other aspects of sound reproduction such as nuance and refinement) if driven by a non - Naim amp. FWIW the SHL5 + and C7ES3 are my favourites / best sounding speakers that are capable of sounding more open and dynamic than the 40 series due to the smaller cabinet/ drivers and easier or less tricky placement in the room.
That makes sense to me, the Harbeth 40.X series appear to be power-hungry and needs more space around them. They will sound rich, organic, but punchy from top to bottom if properly driven by powerful amps in a spacious env, proper speaker stands such as the TonTrager will help boosting their performance even more.