Anyone else dispute pre over power?

Maybe it’s my ears but the two power amp upgrades I’ve done have outshone the pre upgrades in both cases. And I wouldn’t wish to diminish the magnitude of a pre upgrade, the 552 especially which is very special indeed. But to my ears a power amp upgrade offers something more.

First; 272/150x/Monitor Audio BR2 to 272/300/Monitor Audio BR2

Then; 272/300/ATC SCM11 to 272/252/300/ATC SCM11

Then; NDS/555DR/252/300/Titan 606 to NDS/555DR/552DR/300/Titan 606

Then; NDS/555DR/552DR/300/Titan 606 to NDS/555DR/552DR/500/Titan 606

I realise I’m swimming against the tide but am I alone?

Edit: source and speakers now added

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Horses and courses, I actually think biggest benefit CAN be from speakers :grinning:


Two of my biggest upgrades have been:

Sonus Faber Minima Amators to B&W805D3s
805D3s to Sonus Faber Olympica Nova 3s

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Your theory should play out nicely……get the S1 pre-amp, will sound much better. Give it a while then add the power amps…….fabulous. You are spot on…….saving a few pennies a day my end to get there😉


I suspect it depends very much on the speakers.


Power amp tends to be the last thing you change…. I think the power amp upgrade lets you hear what your source and pre can really do hence it sounds like the biggest upgrade but in reality your getting additional benefit of previous changes further up the chain as well.


As a problem description, vital information is missing. What were the speakers at each point in time you did each amp upgrade?


I guess the evolution of the 272 at least to some extent supported the OP’s theory.

Me too.

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No you’re not alone. See my post linked below.

I should add that the speakers were NBLs throughout.


Source and speakers now added.

Although according to one review they don’t go very low in impedance, suggesting they may not be difficult to drive, they are quite inefficient at only 82dB/W, and the review says they benefit from quality amplification. Maybe this is the reason for the observed sensitivity to amps?

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I’ve done the comparison

552 into nap 250

282 into nap 500

It’s as clear as day and night

Preamp comes first in the upgrade path

And the 552 is awesome :clap:

I would buy a 552 or a 252 before thinking of upgrading my nap 250 Dr


As a starting point we don’t have any frame a reference from a previous pre/source change. But yes, a 300 is significantly better than a 150 so I would expect a massive improvement. Though as mentioned compared to what?

The SCM11s were already in place when you had the 300 so impossible to say how different the change from 150 to 300 would have been. But for sure, in this step, a 252 is limited quite a bit by the 272 as a source.

This is probably the start of the first fair test in the chain. Same speakers and source and power amp with just the pre-amp change.

The 500 is a very different design of amplifier. I am sure it sounded rather different to a 300. Perhaps more compatible with the speakers?

There’s nothing wrong with your findings. People find different things have priority for them. No reason at all you should necessarily conform with the grain, so to speak. Am interested though, after putting in a new preamp, did you at any time, after a few weeks, slot the old one back in to see what you felt you missed? That’s often an ear opener for people; not the upgrade, but the post upgrade downgrade.


Okay but 282>300 is a proven successful pairing.

It is indeed.

I changed the 250DR in my 282/HiCap DR/250DR to a 300 DR and the difference was massive.

I found that the later changes to add a Supercap and then a 252 were no where near as pronounced as the 250DR to 300DR change.

This surprised me as I’ve always built systems from the source, and would still generally advocate that approach.

I have always gone source first, then pre amp second and power amp last, sticking with the same speakers all the way through.

Regarding amplifier upgrades, my 250DR stayed with me through all my steamer upgrades and 282, 252 and now 552 upgrades. I then went from the 250DR direct to the 500DR.

The 250DR proved what a superb power amp it is, clearly showing the benefits of all the streamer and pre amp upgrades. I am not saying I wouldn’t have heard the same degree of uplift were I to have upgraded my power amp earlier in the process. I will never know.

There is also more than one way to skin a cat.

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I am in total agreement, with the OPs findings. went from 52/250 into 2x250 active, a massive improvement, although have to agree it was more than likely down to the active element.

Following forum wisdom, my next upgrade was from 52 t0 552, and if i am honest there was a subtle improvement, but not the massive uplift i had been expecting.
Next upgrade was to ditch the 2x250 active, and replace with a 500. This was the truly jaw dropping upgrade i had been hankering for, finally i understood what all the fuss was about.

I do wish that i had slotted the 500 in first, with the 52. Presumably the 500 was developed using a 52 as preamp and i believe this would have answered for me the long held belief i have, that the 500 was a better upgrade than the 552.

I realise that this flies in the face of conventional opinion, and is the reason i have never posted these opinions in the past.I guess the overwhelming agreement would be along the lines of Buryfc’s post, that by upgrading preamp first allows the benefit of future changes to the rest of the chain.

So finally to answer Stu299’s question, no you’re not the only one.


Your MA GX300s? At least they’re not exactly the most basic of speakers, at about £4K equivalent in today’s money - so higher level than your source at first?

Maybe your next upgrade would benefit from being the speakers?

The answer depends where you are starting from. Is a Nap 500 better on a nac 92 than a Nap 90? I’d say not, but then I wouldn’t put a Nac 552 on a Nap 90. I think within one or two upgrade levels then the pre is the more important part of the equation, but that then depends on the power/speaker/room combination being matched.