Is the nac 52 still a good pre amp today?

Is anyone still using the 52 pre amp ? And how does it compare to modern amps.

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Your name suggests that you have a 52.

If so, how do you think it compares to modern amps?

It’s widely considered equivalent to the 252 with a few even preferring it. Frankly it’s one of Naim’s most iconic products which is why they still command solid prices even 30 years down the line.

I have heard some say that an early 52 is not quite as good as a late 82 or 282

Both 52 and 252 considered a long way short of the 552. In my experience the 552 has a lot lower noise floor and is significantly more transparent/detailed.

That seems to be the concensus, I haven’t actually compared any of these combos back to back. In short it’s a damned fine pre-amp!



I have a friend who prefers the 52/PS (pre supercap) to all other Naim Preamps. He’s an exceptional listener and feels the 52 got it right. I’ve heard his system and I can’t disagree.

I’d say if you have a 52 and it’s been serviced then you have an exceptional preamp from another era. Is the 252,552,S1 better… Only you can decide.


I like this description. He must be good.

I have a vague memory that the reason why the NAC52 was discontinued and replaced was because it was so time-consuming - hence expensive - to be built ‘by hand’, and that the NAC252 (which replaced it) could be built largely by robots.

This may, or may not, be true, bur I would never change my NAC52, which I’ve had from new since 1990. (Although it’s well overdue a return to Naim for a service and recap.)


I think that’s right Graham. The 252 was easier to build with the advantage that they are more consistent than the 52. I remember JV talking about how difficult getting amps to be consistent was as demand for them increased. Still hand made to a large extent though with impeccable internal wiring. I will never change my NAC252 :innocent:

Mine still sounds great to me :slightly_smiling_face:. I don’t think comparing to newer amps generally is very useful as I own mine purely for bang for buck reasons which may not be the same for every owner.

That made me laugh Graham - Robots indeed! I’m sure those at Naim who spent hours meticulously wiring and assembling both the NAC52 and its successor the NAC252, would have something to say about that. The only thing vaguely robotic in assembly were the ROBIN auto-insertion machines introduced in the late '80s and used to insert the small through-hole componentry such as tiny resistors into the PCBs (incidentally used for both the NAC52 and the NAC252) before larger componentry was inserted by hand.


Thanks for setting me straight there, Richard, and my apologies to the fine ladies and gents who built the NAC252 - not automatons at all, no doubt.


I had a 282 in the past, and now have a 52, and think it was a pretty big upgrade.

The best thing I can say about the 52 is that I no longer think about upgrading amps, even after hearing much more expensive preamps. It’s good enough.

Sounds like faint praise, but look at how much box swapping can go on in this hobby and you’ll see it’s a truly remarkable thing.


I think he means Roberts but could be wrong of course


I suspect that it would be difficult to find lots of people called Robert to work in the factory. It would be very confusing too: just imagine trying to attract someone’s attention by calling ‘Robert’ - either they’d all answer, or none would!


Are you remembering the sketch on Not The Nine O’clock News from about 1980?


I thought that they’d bought a Flow Soldering machine back in the late 80’s?

Yes, Bob.

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Built by Roberts

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Genuinely special in my view. Along with the CDS3 one of the products that defined the high-end Naim sound of its time, at least in my system. It had a ‘grace’ and magical character that I don’t think even my 252 etc replicates. That has different qualities but if I had ‘stopped’ at the 52 I would be very happy.


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It’s good enough for me.

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NAC72 is also considered a good preamp today. And 52 is much better.

A product don’t decrease in quality just because Naim or any other producer launch new and more modern product into the market.