Is the pre-amp a thing of the past?

Will we ever see a new range of pure pre-amplifiers from Naim? Has integrative technology made the pre-amp increasingly redundant?


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The Pre is the core of a Naim system so I don’t think so.

Only if they make a 572 for me

There is certainly a new customer who may or may not want phono boards and with streamers perhaps just one input. Integration of crossover firmware like linn and Devialet for active operation?

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Naim still, as far as I’m aware, assert that a preamp is an essential part of a Naim amp, and I can’t see them budging from that stance easily. Having said that, they are a business, and if enough people stop buying multi-box preamps, they will have to adapt.
I for one would welcome a more minimalist pre with just one input, one output and a volume control, perhaps in 2 shoeboxes. Of course this wouldn’t suit everyone, but for those of us who like to keep our systems simple it would be all that’s required.


From what I understand, yes and no.

In general, I see property prices forcing all younger people into smaller homes, so fewer people have room for huge multi-box systems. A top end pre-amp and phono stage for a vinyl system now needs 4 boxes. Fewer and fewer people will be able to accommodate such an indulgence.

For people with all digital sources, the volume control is increasingly integrated with the dac. Chord, Totaldac, Devialet, Linn and even Naim (the 272 and DAC-V1) are already doing this with some success. So for all digital systems, the days of the stand-alone pre-amp are numbered.

For those with both analogue & digital sources, I suspect that the pre-amp still has lots of life in it.

So in summary, yes & no.

Hope this helps, BF


If sources are only digital,the function of a preamp changes significantly, only needing to be a buffering device, with selectable inputs, volume control as many digital sources don’t have any means of controlling, and possibly filtering to remove unwanted ultrasonics. Without low level signals to worry about many of the design challenges of conventional premps is removed, with associated reduction in production cost. So I believe there is a market for a preamp of the highest quality aimed at those with no interest in conventional analog sources.

The logical next step from that is a two-box preamp (power supplies aside), one a high level unit primarily for digital sources, and the other an add-on amplification stage, a bit like a stageline but raising the signal to the same level as digital sources.


Would that then suggest that in a purely digital system with an ND555 there would be no SQ difference with a 282 versus a 552?

No, unless the circuitry and layout etc for the signal path for the digital sourced signal is identical.

You could have a power amp with a volume control and one input. What about my TT, CD player, 01 Tuner, TV and anything else? Reel to reel? Forgot ND555!

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Yes for me

If you want one input and output, plus headphone amp this is a good proposition.

I use mine as a headphone amp, but recently my pre-amp failed so I used it as a one input pre-amp into a power amp. It sounded very nice.


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Hear hear! I would buy one tomorrow. I’ve been grinding my teeth about the prospect of buying a NAC to fit between my NDX2 and NAP 300DR, when I know most of the circuitry will never be used.

I’d love:

  • one input
  • one output
  • Naim system integration
  • no need for a knob, volume control can be internal. I haven’t gotten up to manually change the volume since the advent of the remote. The level can display on the app, or streamer screen, or remote.

I agree a top idea. A Naim buffer + optional volume control for sources which do not include built in volume control.

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I have heard Naim’s stance on the preamp, but there are also Naim customers who are streaming only, with no vinyl and may not be able to use a Naim amp. I see many speakers being used by members of the forum, and Naim has no issue with that. If Naim are going to convince a streaming customer to buy a $10-20K volume control, I think they have to make a better case of it. I understand the 18K input impedance spec of their amps may be a problem for some DAC’s as some members have reported. There are a lot of amps with 47K ohm input impedances, same as the Naim preamps, so that should not be an issue, or Naim has to make a better case. I will buy their logic, but I cannot just accept their story without some backup. I expect more and more folks to go without a preamp, or the preamp has to morph into something with more function that I the buyer understand.


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Hi Chris,
A Naim DAC-V1 perhaps? I adore the sheer musicality of ours.


As a preamp does far more than volume control and the cost to manufacture 2 inputs or 6 does not vary significantly (most of the cost going into the R&D and the design of the relay - scaling out doesn’t add a huge chunk of cost), I think the argument for a dedicated analogue only preamp has been made. Not to mention the belief that delicate analogue circuits should be isolated from digital circuits and power supplies. You either believe that can be cost effectively achieved in one box or you don’t.

The question is, will Naim follow through on this? They try and stick with what they believe up to a point but are also subject to market forces and as some have correctly said, the need to stay in business.

On the other hand, if you really just supply what most people are after, then followed to it’s logical conclusion, they should get out of hifi and just build iPod docking stations. And I don’t think we see Naim going there, thank goodness.

But they have in fact relinquished some of their hard core principles to market forces so we really just need to see how far they take it. The Uniti range has replaced nearly all entry level pre and power amp combos. In fact, the last 5 years have seen the Naim range shrink drastically. Losing all but one CD player; all tuners; all full width entry level pre/power combos; the XP5xs; speakers and so on.

In fact Naim have by stealth repositioned themselves away from a system builder brand towards separates. With only type of source on offer now (streamers), and no speakers or non legacy active offering, Naim cannot claim to build whole systems anymore. So although I use one source only (streaming) and see the value in a dedicate preamp, I do not think it is a forgone conclusion that Naim stick to their guns.

Personally, I think that making shoe box separates is preferable to single box Uniti items at the Nova and Star price point if one is to make a space saving real hifi solution for the modern, home renting, space challenged customer. I will always prefer the flexibility and upgradeability of separates. And an analogue preamp plays a very big role in that.


Not for me.

So many options! I already have a Hugo off the NDX, which I quite like. When I’ve finished playing with setup and cabling options on the Allegri, I’ll consider other possibilities, passive or otherwise.
My objective is to find something that sounds better than the 282, or at least as good from a single small box. If I can’t achieve that, I’ll happily stick with the 282.

I suspect that eventually there’ll be an N-DAC replacement with the option of a volume control, resulting in a device like a V1 but at (updated) N-DAC/282 level. Basically a digital preamp, but conceived as a DAC rather than a preamp.

The V1 has always struck me (fairly or unfairly) as not quite ‘proper’; a headphone amp/niche-filler intended as a stop en route to ‘proper’ systems with full-size classic analogue preamps. But those analogue preamps are just ridiculously expensive volume knobs to an increasing number of people. Yes, perhaps they work some magic which produces the Naim sound. But keeping whatever it is that does that bit and adding it to an otherwise dedicated DAC whilst leaving out all the redundant (to digital-only users) analogue inputs etc would surely be more efficient in engineering and cost terms than standalone DACs feeding standalone preamps.

No animosity intended to anyone’s analogue gear - I’m sure it’s wonderful. It’s just the way things are going IMO.

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