Best preamp/streamer/dac for a nap300?

So now we know we are not getting a ‘372’ any time soon, I need to go find a new streamer. I like the NDX2 but the cost of that component with its obligatory 282 or 252 preamp makes it uncompetitive. Does anyone have experience with the moon 390 and a naim amp?

I am even thinking of trading in the 300DR and starting over. All random helpful suggestions gratefully received

What do you have currently, and why do you ‘need’ a replacement?

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Assuming you have a 272, are you powering it with a 555PSDR?

If not, try that, it makes an amazing difference.

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If you have a 272, try adding a 555PS as Xanthe suggests - and/or also try adding (a Cisco 2960 and) a dCS Network Bridge on the front end.
That, too, is amazing.

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A Naim dealer I visited recently said he was getting a lot of interest for the Aurilac Vega G2 streamer pre-amp. Another alternative if you like the sound of them is Linn DSMs although I still prefer Naim but would like to see a re-vamped 272 with the new streaming platform

Hi all, thanks for taking the trouble to reply…
@hungryhalibut - short story: a raspberry pi and a chord hugo2…
long story: I started a project last year to replace from the ground up a system that included a slim devices (now logitech) transporter - one of the first high quality streamer/dac combinations. I wandered into this forum…and some dealers… and got a bit hooked on the naim sound and ecosystem. I was offered a great deal on a demo 300DR unit, and planned to pair it with a 272…but then after more research realised it was the old streaming platform, so what I should get is an NDX2 … then realised I would need a 252 or 282 preamp…which just seemed wrong when I only have one source. So I bought a chord Hugo2 as a modern DAC, and used RoPiee on a Pi to stream (both as a temporary solution) and figured I would wait for naim to release the successor to the 272. I got excited with the recent announcement. Now I am not excited anymore.

@Xanthe so no not a 272, although I have to say that I like the fact you can keep improving naim systems with the external PSUs.

@JimDog - yes heard a lot of good things about dCS. The dCS Bartok looks to be pretty good

@Secrethills - Can’t bring myself to look at a rack with Naim and Linn (unless the Linn is an LP12), I would always feel like I should have committed to one or the other.

What I really want is the ‘new 272’. And everyone else …Linn, dCS, Moon…has one except the brand I settled on for my rebuild…Naim. Hence my quandry.

The replacement for the 272 almost certainly will happen, I think it’s much more of a ‘when’ than an ‘if’!

What is it about the new streaming platform that you need?

Incidentally a preamp does a lot more than switch between input sources and control the volume, particularly in the case of Naim equipment. The preamp and poweramp are designed to work together as a team, the preamp is designed to match the characteristics of the Naim poweramps. Electrically they ensure compatibility by having the right drive impedance for the poweramp’s input and filtering out interference signals from source components that could interfere with the poweramp’s operation. Acoustically they match the dynamic characteristics of the poweramp so assuring that the dynamics and timing of the incoming music signal isn’t lost in the amplification.

Not sure why you feel you have to replace the streamer yet when you would get a huge improvement by adding a pre-loved 282 or preferably a 252. Why exactly do you think this would be wrong? To me, the pre-amp is where you should be investing. You can tweak the pi with a linear PS or try the DigiOne if you haven’t already done so. And you can still swap out the 252/282 for a new 272 if one comes along later.

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I don’t subscribe to the need to have the latest and newest; if something is good then it’s good. Do you particularly need the features of the new streaming platform? What must the box do that a 272 cannot? I’ve had my manky old passé 272 for four years and it’s just as good as the day I bought it, in fact it’s better as I now have a 555PS to keep it company.

Naim pre and power amps are an integrated whole, and if sticking with the 300 you really want a Naim preamp. Of course other things will ‘work’ but results will be unpredictable. It seems you have two options: get a 272 now and maybe change it later, or sell the 300 and start again. If you replace the 300 whatever system you get won’t sound the same, but it might do more. Which do you want to sacrifice - functionality or musical enjoyment?

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I think you have 3 viable choices.

  1. Go for a new or used (plenty around) 272 as HH and others have suggested
  2. Add a 282 and Hicap DR to your 300 and use the Hugo2 as your source. You could go the whole hog and get a Naim streamer as well (NDX2) but that may be a step too far.
  3. Wait for a replacement to the 272, but it may be a while.

It really depends on how you like the Hugo. Some people love the Chord DACs and find that they do things nothing Naim can offer do.

I have heard the Qutest with a 282/Supercap/300 system and directly compared it to an NDX powered by a 555. the NDX was the source for both. To me the Chord DAC shows what the NDX is doing wrong. There is a removal of mush and everything is crystal clear and very detailed. It’s quite shocking really but for me the NDX wins on engagement, despite the very obvious shortcomings you can hear compared to the Chord DAC. To address the shortcomings is simple but expensive, my NDS does that nicely!

Personally I would go 272 but buy used. The depreciation even when replaced won’t be that large and you may find that money is better spent on retaining the 272 and upgrading with a power supply instead. I made a similar decision whan I had an NDX and decided to stay with the older platform and go for an NDS. It’s worked out very well for me.

I think you need to hear a 272 and compare to a 282/HicapDR with the Hugo as your source for the latter. When you do so try to relax and listen to the music rather than the sound.

Whatever you do, you need to have a Naim pre-amp as the amplifier works bet as a single unit as others have said.

Given that you bought this from a Naim dealer, I would suggest you go back to that dealer and ask him if you can start again from scratch and choose a system that is right for you, and well balanced. If it turns out that the 300 doesn’t fit into that plan, he will probably take it back as part of the deal.
As it happens, you are not the first person to come to this forum with a 300 having realised that a matching Naim separates system with preamp, streaming source, PSUs, supports, etc. is an expensive proposition, requiring more boxes and/or money than you bargained for. So my advice is to go back to your dealer with an open mind, and an approximate budget.

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That is very sound advice. Asking on the Forum will only generate all sorts of contradictory options. It’s your ears and your wallet.

Thanks good forum people. Some good suggestions here. Yes, its risky asking for opinions on a forum,. but you do get many opinions from people who share your interest, who aren’t motivated by making a sale, and who have often wrestled with the same dilemmas you are…

The 300DR is a fabulous amp and if you like the Naim sound it’s easily the last power amp you’ll ever buy. And really, whatever ‘front end’ you settle on you’ll need a power amp unless you buy an integrated amp. So if you got a nice deal on the 300, turning it back for “less” might not be all that satisfying unless it’s a budget issue.

I concur with “you need a pre-amp.” And I understand the emotional unsatisfaction (perhaps) of buying a used N272 in May 2019. BUT…if you have a good relationship with a Naim dealer – see if they have one AND will promise you a fixed return price towards an upgrade within the next 12 months. That way, if the “372” is released within 12 months, you’ll know the deal. And if it’s not, you’ll have what you really want. The total cost of ownership of that N272 could be quite reasonable.

A good dealer will appreciate your dilemma and will forego profit on the used N272 (he surely profited the first time he sold it AND when he took it back in trade) for the chance to get you into an upgrade.

I agree with @ChrisSU your dealer should be able to help and it’s important to keep an open mind. I was “addicted” to the Naim ecosystem and sound, but I had really never considered other manufacturers. Now, due to different space requirements, I have a streamer/active speaker solution from a Scottish company and it’s the best system I ever had. The funny thing is I don’t miss the Naim “sound”, in fact initially I didn’t see a huge difference. And I had a 252/300DR so it was fairly far up the food chain. So you might want to demo different brands at your dealer’s while checking out the various options from Naim. Most importantly you should ask yourself where you want to be at the end of the journey and how long (and how much) you want to spend getting there.

P.S. I do still have a Mu-so MK1, which will be vintage gear shortly :grin:

That was and probably is still the plan. I think I am in for the full journey…I think it is the preamp that is the issue (not the streamer as I first thought). I have read so much about the partnership between Naim preamps and amps. Maybe I will just have to get over my phobia about buying a piec of equipment with “tape” “CD” and “tuner” on it in 2019.

ps. I omitted a piece of information from the long story in my original post…it was the Mu So that got me started. I traded the MuSo in on the 300DR…

A wild card – try a Townshend Allegri, and compare it to the more expensive Naim offerings. And in fact compare it to your Hugo doing pre-amp duties… I have never heard a Townshend, but it has been mentioned very favourably a few times in this place.

Alternatively, have you considered a Hugo TT2 into your 300DR? A prominent Naim dealer, who is held in very high regard by many members of this forum, believes the TT2 drives Naim power-amps rather well – against conventional wisdom of this forum…

I know! I have a 252, and the 2 inputs are a streamer/player (ND555), and a turntable. At least I use the input-switching capability somewhat. But really it doesn’t matter; input switching is but a small part of what it does in the system.

Then you are not going to have piece of mind until there’s a 552 on the shelf.