Do I have cloth ears, and other q's?

New on here so apologies if this has been covered elsewhere. Mods feel free to move it if neccessary.

Age 65 and I guess hearing is declining with age, particularly high frequencies if the internet is to be believed.
I’ve been around long enought to gather a few Naim bits and bobs together, running in various rooms a Nait cb 1980’s with an RP3 and Kans(My first). A Nait 5i with rega el8’s. A flatcap2/202/200 and a flatcap2/112/150. Speakers are ls3a and Spendor A5’s.

The 202/200 was the most recent around 7 years ago and I set up the Spendors. After a while I thought the 202/200 combo sounded a bit too toppy and preferred the old ls3a’s even thought the bass was less defined. I’ve been running the Spendors on the 112/150 happily since.

I decided during lockdown that I really , really needed an upgrade
So a Nap 250-2 arrived in the past couple of days starting an upgrade to supercap/252/250-2, to replace the 112/150.
I’ve been listening to the 250 with the 112/150 for a couple of days now and wow. Massive improvement particularly at low volume levels ( to be expected) but also a more open placement of individual sounds and frequencies at higher levels, plus that beautiful full and warm bass.
I tried the 202 and it doesn’t sound SO much better, which leads me to the question.
The upgrade I thought I wanted, 252/sc. Do I need it, or would a 282/sc sound just as good, at a much lower cost.

Or as I said, do I have cloth ears?


No you don’t have Cloth Ears. The 282 vs 252 debate has gone on for years. A search of this and the old forum will reveal much debate but little conclusion. As a 282/SC/250 user I’m very content and not going to upgrade but I would say the 252 is a more mature, warmer and analytical sound whereas the 282 is more dynamic/boisterous. Does this make the 252 “better”? In reality I believe it is but It’s all down to priorities and as I say not a change I’m choosing to make.




Good and fair summary Lindsay, to me i liked the 252 for its analytical edge, but could see why a 282 is liked by very many. Back to its your own ears rule.

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You certainly seem to have a lot of stuff. If I read it right you are using the 250.2 with the 112/Flatcap and the Spendors. Is that correct? What source are you using? If you are going to improve the preamp (the 112/250 is a poor match but as you say it’s an interim step) you really need a very good source. I’d also suggest you look at changing the A5s, which are truly dire with as much life as a soggy dishcloth - I made the mistake of buying some once!

Presumably this 250 system will be the main one. Do you use the 202/200 much? I wonder if a bit of consolidation would enable you to set up a really good main system without breaking the bank.

HH is quite correct in pointing out that the 252/250 is a very revealing and capable amp that requires an impeccable source. We are talking LP12, CDS or similar level of streamer. Speakers are so personal so I will not offer my usual advice of finding some SBLs :roll_eyes:

Thanks, I think.

@halibut, I think I may have those cloth ears as I love the A5’s and am thinking of replacing them as part pf this upgrade with D7’s. Just listening to Joni Mitchell , Ladies ot Canyon,For Free and Willy have never sounded better. Sos.

Source is pretty average by hi fi standards.
This set up is flac mostly or cd rips via sqbox, RP3/ Denon Dl110, nad into the 112. I’ve even been known to play radio Scala from the mobile via a2dp bt adaptor. I do run the digital through a CA Dac though.
Much the same on the 202 but no vinyl in that room.

Interesting that the 252 is thought to be warmer, may suit my cloth ears. Lol.
I think this may be my last buy of Naim, apart from a return to base refresh, so I want to get it right, and the extra cost of a 252 isn’t going to be a problem. I just don’t want to be dissapointed.

Keep any comments coming, even the preferences against what ever I have or suggest. It will save me making time consuming mistakes, its taken me 7 years to get over buying the 202/200. :slight_smile: (Its not that bad, just wasn’t the improvement I was expecting).

Re selling stuff, I may let the 112/150/fc go, but then again I have a couple of sons who need educating in the way of Naim.

I think you need to keep this rational and simple. If you have got to an age ( or whatever) where you can ( within reason) afford what you want, then go listen at a dealer or even better at home, and buy what you want.
The other way is to buy what you can afford/justify to yourself. This requires honesty, time and logic. And knowing where to stop( because you can’t hear an improvement or can’t afford it)
But you know all that.
Naim want you to want the next " improvement". That’s their business. Temptation. It’s your money, so play along. That next power supply will make all the difference ( no, not really but…)
Me, I’ve got a right Mish mash of bits. Two Naim sources ( cd and streamer), Michell turntable, MF pre and power amps feeding PMC speakers. All linked with Chord interconnects. Am I happy, yes. Was I happy for 20 years before I bought my two Naim sources earlier this year, yes. Is it better now, yes.
Point I’m making badly is there are always improvements to be had. At a cost. In many ways this hobby is suited to obsessives. It’s a drug. The key is knowing when to stop!
Enjoy, but when the fun stops, stop


Yep, completely get that.

It is fun, though never justifiable. The law of diminshing returns and all that.

Livng in the middle of the French countryside makes it a tad more difficult to get a demo, especially at the mo. I can’t see me taking my ageing A5’s back to the UK for a dealer to set up a demo even in the good times. I’m willing to take the chance with a previously used example. If it doesn’t work out there is good sh market thankfully. I think replacing the 112 with either the 282 or 252 will satisfy me.

Its a pity you can’t hear the 252 and 282 first. I preferred the extra detail and “refinement” of the 252 but many find it too laid back to be a definite choice.

If your suggesting taking a gamble think about what’s wrong with the 202 and what you are looking for. But both 252 and 282 are a good step forward with a Supecap so I think you would be happy with either, and try never to hear the alternative of course.

If you get a 282/Hicap DR, which is probably all you need, you really, really should get your sources sorted out. Running your current sources into a 282/250 of better will not be a sensible balanced system. If your flac files aren’t your main source then an NDX2 would be appropriate. For the turntable, a Rega Planar 6 or better.

I have to agree with HH on two counts here. First, I too tried a pair of A5s and they made the most dismal sound I have ever heard. I even took them to my dealer where we compared them to his demo pair, only to find that they were the same. If they work for you, fine. Perhaps there was a bad batch of them.
Secondly, a 252, or even a 282, really deserves a better source than you are proposing to use, and I would strongly suggest that you allocate some of your budget to improving it.

Thanks and duly noted.

Don’t forget cloth ears have a grading system.
A. top most frequencies
B. Mid range
C. Bass range

Then the grading from clear to cloth. 1 to 5.

So if your new bit of gear has the recommendation for C5 nomenclature you can guarantee that it will sound woolly in the bass.

OK more later but,
I have plugged in a fine example of the 252/Supercap to go with the recently acquired 250-2.
I have to report WOW. You got me. “I think it’s gonna be a good year” It certainly is!

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Lots of content so apologies


First thing to say is I’ve never been a hi fi hobbyist, nor have I wanted a separate listening room. My aim has always been to have music in the main living areas, but the best sound I could afford. I’m also a bot of a hoarder ( I still have my original Pioneer sx450 along with around 4 or 5 yamaha and Denon av receivers stored in the barn along with various ‘cheap’ av speakers). Record playing path was Murphy valve amp radiogram (Mono), Bush music centre, Pioneerpl12d/Sansui AU 101/Whardfedale Linton, later Technics and Denon took over but PL12D stayed until -

Started the Naim journey in the 80’s with a Nait2, RP3/nagoaka boron(after a shure 95and ortofon vms20E) and a set of Kans. Also attached a Nakamichi oms 1e and a cd1, tuner was Technics then Denon. All new at time of purchase.

I then came across a nait5i somewhere along the way which went into the bedroom with a tuner.

Moving on, in 2008 I picked up a previously owned nap150/Nac 112 with a set of Rogers ls3.5a’s for a separate room. I put a sqbox duet and a denon tuner with this. It didn’t sound that much better than the Nait and Kan’s so I found a flatcap2 up for sale locally. That was the first big difference I noted with an upgrade. The 112/150 was ordinary without it, with the fc2 it came alive. Impressed I decided that the 112/150 might benefit from a service. Both went back to Naim in 2009 and had complete cap replacements. Doubly impressed when they came back I started looking for a speaker with more depth in the bass. I demoed various and was impressed with the Spendor A5 bass, both its ‘throw’ and tightness. You could feel the vibration in your chest, not through the floor continuing to vibrate long after the music had moved on. Happy with this set up the Nait and the 112 combo moved around with me in various homes.

2013 I moved out to France where I now live. More rooms to fill with music and one room being a reasonable volume, I decided to get a 202/200 combo and an fc2, to drive the Spendors in the larger room and move the 112 combo to a smaller TV room with the unused for a while ls3/5a’s. It didn’t give me the improvement I had expected, no WOW, just a small improvement across everywhere which added up, but --, so the 202/200 went in to the TV room where they worked well with the ls3/5a’s, and the 112 combo stayed with the Spendors in the larger room. The Nait2 and the Kans went back to base for service and rebuild. Three years ago I bought a new RP3/Denton DL110 for the main room, and refurbed the original RP3 with new caps and new motor for the Nait in the study.

So a couple of weeks ago when I came on here asking about upgrades I had:-

All rooms sqbox feed through CA Azure DAC.

Main room: 10.8m x 2.9m x 2.8m tall with with hard tiled floors and a full width rear glass window, plus the usual furnishings:-

112/15/fc2, spendorA5, Rp3/DL110/Nad PP3

TV room: 2.8 X 3.1 X 2.8m tall:- hard tiled cramped with av and stereo

202/200/FC2, ls3/5a

Study: size as TV:- Hard tiled, desk bookcase etc.

Nait2, Kans, RP3/ Nagoaka

Bedroom: Nait5i/Rega Ls8.

The Review

All kit previously enjoyed except Nait2 era.

First I picked up a 250-2, no service record so presumed original.

I didn’t know if the 112/fc2 would even work with this but I thought it was worth a listen so connected it up in place of the 150.

It was an immediate improvement at all listening levels. The only thing that concerned me a little was that for any given volume level was that I had to turn the 112 up a small amount by comparison to the 150. I guess there is a mismatch somewhere in the design that says the 112 sensitivity is set for use with a lesser amplifier power?

In terms of listening to the music I’d say the improvement was more than or at least equal to that given by substituting the 202/200 into the same set up. That was the first surprise, no preamp upgrade required. The next was the improvement at low listening levels. The opening up of the sound stage and the clarity of the bass was noticeable. It was like adding a loudness switch to a normal make of amp, but clearer.

A couple of days of enjoying the ‘new’ sound and listening to a lot of stuff to bed my ear in, and the 252/SC arrived. I wondered how much if any improvement would now be noticed, the 250 presumably having done all the main improvement work. I couldn’t’ have been more wrong! The uplift was a real WOW moment. Everything from EVERY source has been like hearing it all anew. I’m like a kid with a new toy, no better than that. At the age of 65 I’m excited to get out of bed in the morning and hear what else I can discover- more like the expectation of Christmas as a kid. lol.

Source’s tried have been the PC nas streaming via SqB, Radio via SqB, RP3, and Scala and The Wave (West Coast USA) via mobile phone BT/ APTX, all through CA Azur.

Since Friday 3 pm to now Mon3 pm ish I have been just listening again to so much I’d forgotten. 72 hours interrupted only by a few hours sleep, walking the dogs and Sunday’s F1 race.

Streamed music listened to on set up was

Tommy, The Who and Maria Callas, Tosca ( mono recording) as a test of the kit first.

Tommy first. The opening bars of ‘Overture1 and immediately I knew this was different. The drive from the bass guitar, on to ‘1921’, ‘Go to the mirror’, ‘Tommy can you hear me’ ‘I’m Free’ and finally We’re not gonna take it’ It was simply outstanding. The width and depth where the placing of individual sounds were coming from. The throw of the bass, the tightness of the thud and STOP, and thud again. I now understand what the journo’s mean by the sound stage opening up. On to Callas. A mono recording remastered for the digital age. I’m not a fan of listening to Opera, much preferring to attend. It is a theatrical experience that needs the atmosphere of an audience imo. However, as a fan of Opera you have to remind yourself of that experience now and again, as well as listening to just how great the past ‘greats’ really were. Callas was and will remain one such great. Unfortunately many opera high notes can sound a bit toppy to the point of screeching, especially on older recordings. The 252 handled the toppiest of Calls with ease. Not a hint of a screech even at high volumes. Impressed, I am.

So good was this first test that I have spent all weekend listening, first to a back to back of some LP’s I have against their digital versions. I have a confession. I prefer the digital age, even many of the remastered offerings are technically and for me, therefore musically, better (re)produced. There are exceptions and some of my old LP stuff sounds better to me than the digital copies, but they are the exception. I an also buying new LP’s but more for the sense of occasion and nostalgia than the musical quality but having said that I think the modern recordings are again technically better than they have ever been. Laura Marling being particularly good.

So the back to back test were

Tommy – one of those originals I prefer to the digital.

Amazing! Both good but as said previously the driving rhythm and then the counterpoint of Daltreys voice.

Bob Seeger- the other one as above. This has a scratch on it that I know is coming up, I wait for and then it’s gone. It was till there BUT, I never heard it until it came and went. No waiting for it, no noticing it, just totally hidden by the music shining above it. A triumph of musicality from the 252 combo.

Goats Head Soup- for the amazing side 2. Not a bad track on it.

Here the change from Jagger’s HeartBraker and its driving rhythm , straight into the delicate Angie was outstanding. I know how good it is, I know it is there, but this was on another level. I listened to both tracks twice just to enjoy it.

Little Feat, Time Loves a Hero- New Delhi Freight Train Again it was just so complete at spacing the sounds. A wider soundstage indeed.

Ozarks- It’ll shine —

This is one of my favourites from way back when. I don’t know why I’s just something that I go to to relax and listen. The sound of cicadas in the background and that easy country folk feel. Here I thought the Cicadas were in the room behind the furniture, all the while still listening to those sweet musical sounds coming out from the stage in front of me.

Last 2 are a test of old and new

EJ - Madman original pressing is absolute crud. It is by far the worse compression I have heard on an LP. The digital is just so much better, but it is an obvious choice to test the bass compression, or narrowing against old and new kit.

This was the downside of having a better system- the best seems to be made better. The worst seems to be made even poorer. The bass compression I’ve always noted vs the digital version here was just awful. I now have a muddy bass. No clarity , narrow, hidden . I just don’t know what adjectives to use, but it was blindingly obvious whereas it was merely noticeable before. Break out the Ortofon (probably the toppiest cart I have).

Laura Marling- Short Movie. At the opposite end of the LP production scale, this is probably the best I’ve heard. Absolutely the match or better than its digital equivalent.

It was here as well, throw away the Ortofon, you don’t need it.

So conclusion from the above is that every penny spent on the 352/SC/ 250-2 was worth it.

After this I just couldn’t stop listening- for the next 72 hours give or take and I haven’t stopped yet. I’m just listening to some covers from Dermott O Learys Saturday show while typing this.

Not exhaustive but over the weekend I have listened to


Craig Charles- Funky Friday

Dermott- Sat Am

Rylan and what I think the young folk call ‘banging toons’, or Ibiza dance music.

Johnnie Walker- seventies stuff.

The Wave West Coast 70’s stuff



Jazz - Beiderbecke, Brubeck, Forcione, Ellington, Heather Mase, Coltrane, Louis, Miles, Peterson, Grapelli, Jamie Cullum. Simone, Ella Fitzgerald.


Sarah Moule, Nora Jones, Melua,

Opera- Tosca, Callas. La Boheme.

Everything else

Adele to Whitney

Aaron Neville to Woody Guthrie

10,000 maniacs to the Who

Throw in a bit of Glen Miller and Bing as well as the King.

So pretty comprehensively tested.

Now to get used to it and relisten to everything I have Lol

On to the downsides.

First as I have mentioned it has exposed bad recordings to a greater extent than I really wanted to notice them. The second thing is that it has clearly showed me that my RP3/Denon/PP3 combo is a poor source. Not just Madman but everything sounds more compressed in comparison to the digital input, than it used to. This despite the overall sound actually being better than it used to be. Does that make sense? I’m now comparing RP3 against digital. I never used to so much.
BTW re another thread. The balance control is perfectly centred.

Next moves.

More upgrades, obviously :blush:

The RP3 needs a better phono stage- Stageline I think. The cart needs looking at once I get a stageline. I might even have to look at the RP3 itself!

The Azur Dac is then the next obvious item in the source path to consider. Would a Brooklyn or even a previously owned TT make that big a difference?

I also need to run my ears in for a couple of months and then think about having the new kit returned for servicing. Nothing is noted to have been done in the past.

That’s it for now. I have other musings on the upgrade path I have followed and why. I haven’t quiet marshalled my thoughts on that yet, but suffice to say that I may have wasted 7 years on a second rate system.

Overall conclusion.

SC/252/”50-2 rocks. Just do it.


I missed a couple of stand out moments while I was listening.

John Martyn - May You Never
Ella Fitzgerald-The Man I love
Annie Lennox - Primitive
All sent chills.


Nice write up @bruss. Thanks for taking the time. I completely agree with your last three tracks in chills department.

All I can say is that with the amps you now have there, adding a better turntable will give you even more of what you described. A good dedicated stand will also make a noticeable improvement and a 252 really needs one to be at it’s best. If you can’t do that then look into some isolation feet such as Stillpoints (other alternatives are available) for the amps and try to find a way to not stack them directly. Small things that can make an appreciable difference.


Thanks Mark, all good comments and advice.

I may have been a little harsh re the second rate system comment. Correct that to sub optimal, there is no Naim system that is second rate.

Re the isolation feet.

Kid from the cheap seats here.

I had already been looking at spike protectors (cup type) plus a ball bearing. I may also be able to fit an extra shelf in to that unit, just a bit worried about heat as it does currently have a back to it.

Just a quick update as I still have the new kid at Christmas feeling. Added a new Hana SL mc cart to the P3 today and lifted the source sound another notch. Played the original LP of Jeff Waynes War of the Worlds. David Essex has never sounded so good. His performance of Brave New World is so nuanced that I’d never noticed before. It really is a performance set to music. Emotion being expressed and now heard that the old set up just didn’t present. Blddy marvelous this Naim upgraditis.


How does the SBT sound without the DAC. Is there a huge improvement when the DAC is used?

I upgraded my amps at the start of the year and thought the SBT I’m using would probably sound awful. It has its limitations, not a lot of detail and not much of a soundstage, but overall it sounds very good.

I’ve previously tried a Chord Mojo, which obviously presents more detail, but at the expense of being a bit lightweight. I actually preferred the SBT analogue output.