How many inputs should a pre-amp have?

Isn’t that a universal truth!

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The number of inputs used seemed to increase as I went up the Naim range:

Preamp Available Used Devices
NAC 42 3 3 Phono, tuner, tape
NAC 72 5 3 Phono, tuner, tape
NAC 52 6 5 Phono (connected to the powered DIN socket), CD, tuner, AV front L/R, tape
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I like the sound of that and have often wondered if all those unused inputs would affect sound, but that bypass feature would only have market appeal to people like us with a single input (like a DAC in our case).
I wonder if it would have a negative marketing effect on people who want multiple inlets.

There is a simple solution to this problem. If you think the number of inputs affects sound quality to a degree that outweighs all other technical design decisions, then surely, stop buying Naim and the other 99% of multi input amp makers and focus on the true pure manufacturers with a single input that actually know what they are doing :wink:

You’ll need a whole second system though if you add just one additional source. But after all, a single input is by far the most important thing. Right?


On my 172 I have four - radio, music (NAS), Bluetooth and iradio.

No suggestion whatsoever that any such thinking should outweigh all other technical design decisions FZ. It’s just a theoretical summation and not brand specific. E.g. could Naim preamps sound fractionally better if they had such a bypass feature? I don’t claim to know the answer and doubt Naim would ever do it. It might upset too many customers who want the best sounding preamps, but also want more than one input.

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I use four on the 552. These are record player, streamer, tuner and cassette deck. I’ve never quite worked out how to assign inputs to the buttons on the front and I suppose that’s why inputs 5 and 6 both select record player.

I had no idea that input buttons could be assigned. Is that just on the 552?

On the NAC552 any source input socket can be assigned to and selected by any button.

On the other pre-amps (252, 282 etc…) assignment is limited to either the DIN or RCA input sockets.

I’ll probably never use that feature on NAC 552. At the moment the connections are to Supercap/Superline, CD and TV.

Is that a direct analogue connection from the TV? I ask because it’s usually worthwhile isolating items like TVs which can inject lots of noise into the system via an analogue interconnect. Try listening to a music source then disconnecting the TV and see whether it makes an appreciable difference.


Indeed, I’ve had pretty awful results when I tried an analogue connection from TV to 282. For anyone without a streamer a small DAC with an optical input from the TV might be a worthwhile improvement, and not just for the TV audio.


Ah , does this mean analogue inputs and digital inputs ?

I don’t know how some manufacturers stack digital and analogue plus phono into one shoebox

I always use optical to isolate cheap and nasty sources.


Yes it is - but I never have the TV powered up when the hifi is in use. Having said that, I’ll see if there is any difference with it disconnected.

Updated - Analogue video sound connection now impounded. Removing the connection with the CD555 playing seems to have tightened up the sound further, more sonic subtleties.

Brilliant, cheers - free Xmas upgrade ! :grinning:

I can only assume that even though the circuit was isolated, the effect of lengthy coax on that input was to apply some capacitive leakage.

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I think the issue is mostly that anything such as AV kit or TVs that float at half mains potential find a nice route to earth via analogue interconnects into the Naim kit. It’s best to isolate somehow - ideally with an optical digital connection.

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Do folks ‘mute’ the bottom row during normal playback? Which output do you select on the bottom row if using the CD input above?

(Clearly a slow day here at the homestead)


I usually mute the bottom row at the output just to the right of the one in use.

Seems to have a small but noticeable effect. As does switching the amp display off.


Perhaps an unwanted earth loop is set up by the connection?

Or maybe not - reading your explanation again Richard, that would make sense. Unwanted noise input path.

Have to say - great as it already was, CD555 into NAC 552 is sounding stellar !