Just by way of background, I had thought I’d replace my 272 with its successor, but that time has now passed, and I think I’m going to gift my 272 to my daughter when she moves out soon. My 555 PS will be sold and the pair replaced with something occupying less real estate, that costs less than the 272 successor will no doubt command, and is more aesthetically pleasing (to me at least).
So, my question is whether anyone has compared the 272 (with or without PS) and the RME ADI-2 and what was the outcome? I’ve not completely ruled out the Atom HE, but it is not my preferred option, and as a leftfield choice there is some of the Topping stuff so if anyone has experience of these compared with the 272 that would be useful too. I’ve searched the site, but not found a direct comparison and of course I know listening is the way to go, but finding stockists is not that easy and will likely involve considerable travel, so trying to narrow things down a little.
Finally, I know the RME is a DAC with volume control so different to the 272, but I have a Audiostore server that can provide the DAC with a USB source (or maybe via one of the Sonore Rendu devices or similar) so that is not a problem.
I may go all out and replace my NAP 250, but I am reassured that some people on here use some of my shortlisted kit with their NAPs, so that can wait.
I’ve never heard an RME DAC, but some of the Chord DACs can be a good option if you want a compact system, notably the TT2 and Dave. They both have well implemented digital volume controls, and work directly into a power amp. Whether a 250 is the best choice in such a system is another matter. Possibly better to try one of the Chord amps which were designed to partner their DACs.
The quirky looks are not to everyone’s taste of course, although they are quite small and easily hidden. Works for me.
If you prefer the way Naim-equipment prioritize the audio then the RME might not be a good match - although it is a very good dac on its own (I had one in the studio until recently). I would also doubt using it as a preamp to a 250.
I have the RME, used mainly as a headphone amp or driving active speakers, but also done some playing around into Nova to see how Apple Music from an iPad or iPhone source might work. ( some discussion here: Apple Music HiFi Tier incoming? - #1221 by alan33) As @jan says, it’s a very nice DAC; certainly much better than a cheap Topping D30 (I don’t have a more expensive/recent Topping model to compare).
I am writing mainly to point out that Amazon carry these (including in the UK, where I think you are located?)… so getting one for a week of compatibility testing - particularly as an analog input to your existing 270 as a pre as well as going direct to your 250 - is likely much less hassle than you fear.
Would be interested to hear how you get on with your trial, including the useability and family-friendliness aspects as well as the overall sound and footprint experience.
I replaced my SuperUniti feeding my Nap300 DR with an RME ADI-2 DAC fed by a Bluesound node 2i operating as a BluOS streamer only.
The RME plus Nap provides a very adaptable solution, I make good use of the DSP to notch filter a bass peak which my room exhibits and the scalable volume control allows me to set 0dB for my max listening level. All very clever.
I have tried a 272 with my Nap, but it didn’t do much for me.
@ChrisSU I have thought of Chord, but it would have to be the TT2 as I need volume control. It’s possible, but the next question would be is it better (to my failing ears ) than the RME and is it worth the significant difference in price? TT2 v RME would be an interesting comparison so I am motivated to try and find a dealer who stocks both.
@Roog it sounds like you are saying that you preferred the RME to the 272, even into a Naim power amp. Do you have a music server and did you try the RME direct from that rather than via your Bluesound?
I must admit to being intrigued by the subjective vs objective view of the merits of music reproduction, especially when some of the good measuring kit can be bought relatively cheaply, and that is part of the question I am trying to answer with my selection of candidates.
I wasn’t able to detect any meaningful SQ difference between the SU, Node 2i+RME and the 272 as sources in to my NAP300DR.
I did use the SU as a streamer only feeding SPDIF digital signal into the RME and into the NAP for a while, and it sounded absolutely fine, but the lack of a built in interface to Qobuz and Tidal Connect led me to buy the Node 2i.
I have also tried the Node 2i using its internal DAC and Volume control to drive the NAP directly, I found this to lack the SQ of the other combinations I have tried above.
I like the Node 2i + RME because of the user interface and better connectivity of the Node 2i and the flexibility of the RME because I can alter the sound from the RME using its onboard DSP parametric EQ to reduce my rooms’ inherent acoustics bass peak.
Whilst I do have music stored as WAV files on NAS drives, I rarely use it, owing to the convenience and quality of streaming via Qobuz or Tidal.
I use ROON via the Sonore Bridge that is built into my server so have the UI covered, including Qobuz integration. A streamer/ transport is an option but a direct USB connection to my server is my starting point.
Will need to spend some time with Google looking for dealers that stock some of my options, or perhaps will take @alan33 advice about a short home trial.
So, I have found a supplier who will provide me with the top rated Topping DAC (D90LE), preamp (Pre90) and integrated/power amp (LA90) for home demo. I’m intrigued to find out how this relatively cheap but top measuring system compares with my own equipment.
I expect the DAC to be better than my 272. Not sure about the preamp, but I expect the power amp to be less good than my 250.
If I’m not taking liberties with the Naim forum or breaking any forum rules here then I’ll report back after I’ve made a comparison.
Sorry I won’t be much of help since the only Naim link in my system is Supernait 3 amp, however I use Topping D90SE DAC, streaming from MacBook using Audirvana to stream Qobuz. I must say now even with CD I listen with digital out from my Esoteric SA50 into Topping. It’s a good DAC and it’s got this forward presentation, it kind of brings a good balance to my laid back Spendor Classic SP2/3R. I did tried different DAC when I first started Hi-Fi hobby but that was many years ago, the DAC today are mostly quite decent, Topping seems to take time to break in as well, first impression was it does detail really well, and the forward presentation is felt with weightier sound, it just draws you in, after a couple of months it kind of grows on me, I’m a musician so I have a soft spot for lifelike texture but instead of moving on to a more dynamic speakers I went for other components to add more kick to the sound. I haven’t heard RME as I almost went for it over Topping hence trying to find as many reviews as possible, I guess Topping should sound similar in terms of clinical presentation. Do share your finding with Topping, I’m thinking of going with Bluesound Streamer as well so I can free my MacBook up for other task.
I think you might be pleasantly surprised with the Topping DAC. I have a D70S, which has a rather clever implementation of a pair of AKM AK4497EQ DAC chips. The construction is top notch and the components are some of the best that are currently available. I use it between an Auralic Aries 2.1 and a 52/300DR combination. The speakers are electrostatics by the German QUAD company. I have used it for six months, initially alongside a Naim DAC (the original one). It’s probably not going to be a very popular opinion on this forum but I found the Topping to be better than the Naim in pretty much all respects; the Naim is now disconnected and boxed up. The D70S is rapidly becoming unavailable following the AKM factory fire.
If you decide that you do like the Topping, it’s worth investigating using the I2S interface, which provides a useful gain in clarity and the general fullness of the sound. I’ve done this via a Gustard U18 DDC but there are others. Using I2S and the Gustard, the Topping benefits from AS338 Hi-End audio oscillators from Accusilicon clocking the input signal - these are about as good as you can get today.
I’ve had the Topping stuff I mentioned in my earlier post a couple of days now and I’m pretty impressed. In a direct Naim/ Topping comparison the 272/555/250.2 has a fuller presentation although in comparison with the Topping the bass sounds a little uncontrolled and overblown. I thought this may be due to the 250.2 which some people say is “flabby” or other similar things, but when I fed the 272’s analogue input with the Topping D90LE it remedied itself somewhat.
I listened to various things, and it’s not only the bass that is different. The growl in Lady Blackbird’s voice is much clearer via the Topping DAC, as are other small details when fed from the D90LE. On Dire Straits Fade to Black there was more depth to the music, and consequently it felt as if they were in the room with me. Paulo Nutini, Tash Sultana the same. A strange thing happened listening to Cristo Redentor by Canned Heat; at certain points during the solos the music stops and there is nothing going on for a split second – I’ve never noticed this “nothing” so clearly before and I thought the stream had stopped!
So, for me, and subject to all the usual caveats, the D90LE is a superior DAC to that in the 272 even with the 555 attached to it (perhaps my server feeding the DAC helps too so bypassing the 272’s transport).
I like the LA90 integrated amp too. It is similar in size to the Nait 1 and has a very simple layout. I’d say I wouldn’t miss the 272 preamp and 250.2 in comparison although the real difference is the DAC.
I also have the Topping Pre90. However, the preamp in the LA90 seems pretty good to me and I’m not sure the Pre90 adds that much, and as I don’t have any analogue inputs it’s probably not a must have. The cost of the LA90 and D90LE is about £1700, and it takes minimal shelf space.
Some more listening to do of course, and I do have a concern over the long-term reliability and the lack of repair options for Topping kit. But I am very tempted.