552 preamp

Let’s cut to the chase.

Despite what I said a couple of days ago, it’s not right at low volume. Mrs H is currently asleep at the opposite end of the house; son #1 has to be up 3 am for an early shoot. It’s now about 12:20 and I’ve got it on low enough not disturb him and everything is off left. Gah, as we say.

Here’s the issue. Naim engineer stuff to a degree of perfection. Yet my investment in £21k of preamp means that if I need the volume to be low the options are either listen in left mono only, or wake up the house. That bugs me. Why? Because We have two options when winding the balance from left to right. It’s always that way btw.

  1. More signal is sent to the left channel. That’s not good. If it’s optimised out of the box the left ch. is now getting what it should but the right is getting less to make them equal. So we improve the left at the expense of the right, which receives a lower signal so is therefore getting a less than optimal signal level.


  1. Less signal is delivered to the right channel. As above the level going into the right channel is reduced to below optimum to allow the left to increase to a point where both are the same.

In both cases one channel is no longer getting the optimal signal level, and if there are two things that Naim obsess about it’s power supplies, and signal level. And in the same breath we’re fed excuses about pots being not right, or off centre.

If I’ve coughed up £53k for a stereo I expect it to work across the board, not just if it happens that I bought one of the boxes that works.

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I rung our friends in Bath at 17.45 on the Thursday when the 552 lost a channel at 14.30 on the Friday Iain turned up with quite a few Naim boxes and traced the fault to the 552 he left a 282 for me to use.

Both the 552 and PS were taken to Naim the following Tuesday and turned around and back at the dealer 11 working days later.

Excellent service from both parties.


That’s what marks them apart!

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Naim seem to have a problem getting the balance knob on centrally. Both my pre amps had off centre balance knobs. Easy to fix on a 282, not so easy on the 552 as it needs opening up and a large spanner. My dealer came out and did it but not all of them will be able too I suspect.

They have a Snaic Shaker looks as if they could do with a Knob Centraliser ?


Your dealer comes out and centralises your knob😳

As with sorting cables, this is simply another kind of dressing.


When my 552 was at Naim they fitted two new knobs evidently mine weren’t up to spec?

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Luckily Naim could sort that problem out remotely!

This is beginning to sound like a Carry On script.


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Well certainly a male centric environment :grinning:

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Not quite. If the volume pot is unbalanced at low level then adjusting the balance pot to compensate does exactly that - it evens up the signal going to the output stage of the preamp. Optimal signal level is maintained by your manual intervention. The only ‘problem’ here is that if the volume pot is balanced at normal listening level then you of course need to centre the balance pot again - but something you’d soon probably do almost automatically. Hardly acceptable for for such an expensive piece of kit though. My ancient 102 has an Alps blue volume pot and it’s almost perfect down to zero!

Footnote; Naim could probably fix this issue for everyone by creating some simple software that automatically adjusts the balance pot to compensate for any imbalance in the volume pot (anywhere in its range). It would be factory set when new, then checked and adjusted if necessary at service intervals :blush:

I didn’t know whether to update here or start a new thread, but as its my interim thoughts it probably should stay here for a while. Do I really want this level of detail?

The 552 is on all levels giving a better sound than the 252 , all other components being the same. However it is different and I’m trying to work out whether I like it. Obviously early days yet so I will remain undecided until after Christmas by which time either the 552 or my ears will have bedded in. The potential dislike? The 552 is too good. I think I have identified the difference in that the various frequencies are now layered in a way that they weren’t before. From memory and by comparison with the 252 running in another room, the 552 is letting me hear more in a more obvious manner. For example I am hearing bass lines which I haven’t noticed before, but when I go to the 252 room I can still hear those same bass lines but I had never obviously noticed them before- they were always there. Similarly with the mid range, the bass sounds as though it is missing in the mix, but it is quite obviously there. The highs sound a tad brighter but when I go back to the 252 they are just as bright, but not so obvious. I am hearing more from the 552 but do I like it? I am not sure.
Its an early stage of running in but I thought I’d post as these thoughts occur to me.


I am going through the same acquaintance process with my 552 as you are and I fully appreciate and agree with your observations. I feel more relaxed maybe though, as the overall command and ‘pull-in’ to the music has me won over, despite the other added elements of the presentation that I have yet to adjust to. Take the latest live recording by The The recorded at the Royal Albert Hall; this simply sounds staggering at high volume and exceeds any prior HiFi experience I have had before.

I am going to fix a dedicated radial and also have Morgana DIN XLR’s on order and look forward to that impact on the sound (already have Signature TA on the DIN XLR’s).

Hopefully further listening will have you won over as I have been :+1:

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Very interesting observations, but also very thorough description-wise. It’s good to read.

I’ve been reading up on many of these 500-series threads lately, more out of curiosity than anything because there’s just no way I’ll ever be able to afford a 500 system, so I live vicariously through hard-working forum members to get an idea of what real, true hi-fidelity sounds like. That said, what’s been really somewhat consistent in owners’ views is mirrored by your description. They all are quite enamored with the performance and seem quite happy with the final sound destination, but…

This is what surprises me—really surprises me: there are an awful lot of buts. I honestly never could’ve fathomed that given the price for such a system that there’d be so much uncertainty. Sometimes I wonder that there’s some remorse involved here; not in the expenditure, but for having finally reached a destination or goal, then coming to the conclusion, right or wrong, that it’s just not as it was ‘imagined’ to be and there’s a bit of a let-down. Maybe it’s simply human nature—to reach that impossible goal, only to be unsatisfied in the end? It’s perhaps a bit embellished, but within it possibly a grain of possibility contributing within. I mean, I understand the upgrade-itis within the Naim ecosystem and culture, as we’re always trying to get to that next level of performance. What happens when we’ve reached the final upgrade with nowhere left to go (I’m purposely omitting the Statement line)?


I also fully appreciate this viewpoint; for me, a 282 SuperCap 300DR was spectacular across the board with no what if’s and no But’s at all.

Yes the 552 has raised the bar, but anyone with the combination above (that I moved on from) was a slam dunk, all round killer combination for me (CDX2 old 555 and AVID vinyl replay). Do I regret altering it?…

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Hi bruss!
Yes, best idea just to listen…and decide in a few weeks.
Make sure the source is up to it though! The source will be ruthlessly exposed with your 552.

Regarding comparing 552 and 252: If you heard an instrument with the 552, you will hear it with the 252 afterwards. Your brain will do that trick…the brain will ad this even if it’s not fully there with the 252. The question is the other way round: Do you hear nuances, layers, texture, ambience with the 552 you haven’t heard with the 252?

I cannot imagine to prefer a 252 to a 552 in a system with reasanoble system synergy, but in the end you will decide what’s suiting you best.


I think the answer may lie in the synergy. I just need a 500 and nd555. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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Some interesting comments…after some years I arrived at 252/300DR, it was very good (IMHO) !
I had to take the next step of the journey, and due to some ‘downsizing’ was able to get a 552DR for virtually ‘cost neutral’ …was it ‘better’, more detail however didn’t bowl me over…
After some months got a 500DR to replace the 300DR…then I understood better what the 552DR could do…just needed a 500DR.


I wonder how my Dave/MScaler/252DR would compare to your Qutest/552DR ??

Hi bruss, I can’t help wondering if the increased ‘opening of the window’ accomplished by the 552, is allowing some muck coming through said window in terms of set up attention possibly but even more so from the room response?
Not everyone can accommodate what should seem a no brainer upgrade. A good friend of mine had an S1 on trial for nearly 2 months and had to give up in the end, due to his room simply not coping with S1’s increased resolution. On a positive you’ll be saving yourself some money :+1:t3: Best Peter

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