Chord DAC as preamp?

Hi everyone,

Chord’s TT2 appears to be a preamp as well as a high-class DAC. Has anyone used one in that way, connected directly to the power section of a Supernait or straight into something like a 250 DR?

It sounds like a cost effective solution and the DAC part has a sterling reputation. But since that use isn’t widely discussed, there must be a catch I’m missing :upside_down_face: Has anyone experimented with that?


Pascal, there has been quite a bit written about this on this forum and on the old one over the years. Possibly worth doing a search on some old threads.

Unfortunately, while it will work, there’s no “free lunch” here. The Naim power amps are designed as one half of the overall “amp”, with the Naim pre-amp being the essential other half (and arguably the more important half).

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Thanks Richard,

sorry about not finding the previous threads.

So I won’t sell my SN3 to get a 250DR and feed it straight off the TT2, then :wink:


Am I not supposed to place links into posts ? (still very new here, sorry. I did read the guidelines, but thought it was only bad to post links to gear). And since I can’t edit my own post, can you delete the sentence as well as the link. As is, it makes no sense.


Pascal…have a look at the Quest, Hugo TT2, MScaler thread. Lots of discussions about various combinations of Chord DACs

Thanks Jack. I’ve read a few already and most appear to be matches made in heaven with Naim electronics :slight_smile:

My slighlty naive hope was to use the TT2’s preamp section in place of a Naim preamp, at least for a while. Apparently, that’s too optimistic :wink:


If I recall correctly I believe there are a small number on the forum who do use either TT or Dave quite happily into Naim power amps, so it may be a matter of your taste in sound. Maybe some will see thus tgread and respond.

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Apparently you can also use the TT2 without a Naim power amp, so no pre and no power. There are quite a few options available, whether they will be to your preference is another matter :grinning:

TT2 straight into speakers does work very well indeed, it’s what I do… but, it will depend on speaker sensitivity, size of room and how loud you like music. My system is a near field setup in a smaller room. More than enough power. There are others who have done the same but not as a NFL setup.

Edit. Some who have tried the TT2 preamp into a Naim amp have felt it wasn’t as good as using the TT2 as a DAC into a Naim Pre/Power amp setup. It’s a case of trying it to see what you like best. Adapter cables etc aren’t expensive.

There’s always options

Look for NAC 82 or 72 with a Hicap that will sound great with a nap 250dr

Or even a self powered preamp like 272 which is available at a great price now

A 172 also sounds great. I’ve tested it with a chord Dave.

Thank you. I have been giving the 272 a lot of thought as the more modern streaming options don’t really matter to me. I don’t know the 172 at all but will look it up. Cheers

I’m currently using a 35W amp so it’s only 3dB less and I never have to use full power. It could work standalone. It would sure be interesting to try. Thanks for the input!

We should all chip in for a gear library. We’d all be able to rent this and that to try at home for a couple of weeks, pre-purchase :wink:

If you can get a hold of a TT2 for a demo, the cables cost £35 (XLR - Speaker cable pins 2&3). If ou check out the thread mentioned above, there is a link to the cables… also details of the cable needed to use the TT2 as a pre into a Naim NAP.

It’s not for everyone but if you have a Naim Pre/Power now it will be easy to try it out.

Thanks! I don’t but the SN3 has a power section that can be attacked with an external DAC, I believe. It might not be easy to find a TT2 here (South of France) but if I can, I will certainly try both approaches and report here. Cheers

The TT2 can drive speakers directly, certainly high efficiency designs including horns according to its designer. However you might loose something in the ultimate transparency and performance, depending on how the speaker behaves, and you should be mindful with power dissipation heat. I am not sure I would really recommend this mode of working for many circumstances.
The TT2 as with most Chord DACs works wonderfully with Naim NACs in my experience the 552 does it justice, just knock the gain back for max performance.
The TT2 is possibly at its best as a headphone amplifier where it’s performance for an unbalanced amp is possibly second to none, especially with planar type headphones.
The TT2 is also great using its balanced outputs to drive active speakers.

I have used all these options, apart from driving passive loudspeakers directly.

You do need to be very careful with this. The volume in amp mode can go over +20db but the designer did not recommend going over +9db for very long and ideally, should be less than this.

With my PMC Twenty5 22 I’m rarely over -12db… for a few quiet tracks the highest I’ve been is -5db. Tonight, I was listening to various electronic, dance and was no more than -20db and that was loud enough to garner a complaint about the noise.

At -20db the TT2 is barely warm and at -12db (after 6hrs) was 29c. Again, this is NFL in a smaller room.

I was using a SN2 before going direct to the speakers and it sounded very good like that… no bypassing the pre amp of the SN2. If you need to turn the volume up quite high, stick to running it with the SN3.

Thank you Simon. I wouldn’t run it as an amp and was only childishly wondering whether my (yet unarrived) SN3 could be exchange for a 250DR by using the TT2 as preamp. It appears that only works out better in a dreamer’s mind :wink:


Isn’t it maddening when the more sensible solution is also the one that sounds best :wink: ?
I’ll stick to the SN3 as is. Thank you.

Well as said elsewhere by many, but certainly not all, if you want the best from a NAP you need a NAC.