NAC 332 vs. 252. Surprised…

After listening to a full fat 300 series system at my dealer’s, I decided to start the (expensive) process of “upgrading” to New Classics. I currently own an OC system with a 252/SCDR and NDX2/XPSDR as my source. I also have a non-Naim source with XLR outs only, which was one more reason for the upgrade. I decided to stick with my sources for now and ordered a 332, a 300 and a pair of 350s. The 332 arrived first and has been with me for 5 days now. I also got the Naim cable that allows connecting the 332 to the 300DR while I wait for the 350s to arrive.

I have been running the 332 for the full 5 days, now at about 120 hours and counting. During this time I have been experimenting with swapping the preamps back and forth, keeping all other components the same. The differences have so far surprised me, and I am posting this to get other peoples’ experiences, and hopefully, reassurance.

Based on what I have been reading here, I expected the 332 better the 252 in most if not all areas. So far it has not lived up to these (unreasonable?) expectations. Everything sounds right, there is a lot of detail retrieval, there is good timing, transients are good. However, vocals are recessed and less detailed compared to the 252, and soundstage is not on par, with noticeably less width. The 332 was bass light at first, this has now improved since day 3. Most importantly though, I feel the 332 is very far from where I hoped it would be, the 252/SCDR is currently a much more engaging listen, with an enveloping, 3d soundstage. No foot tapping with the 332 just yet.

I do realize it may still be early, I remember a month-long journey of running in my 252, but I have been reading that NC sounds good out of the box and comes on song quicker. I suppose my question is, should I expect the 332 to change significantly in the next few weeks, or could it be that I am just not in love with the NC presentation?


I will assume the NPX300 is needed for a 332 to beat a 252+Supercap DR? And even though there will never be that new is better for everyone. Follow your ears :slight_smile:


The OP ordered the NPX300, but it’s not clear whether it’s being used? I think moving from a 252 to a 332 is “risky”. Then again, the 332 might take a month or so to come fully on song.


I’m assuming that your demo of a full 300 system at your dealer’s impressed you enough to embark upon this change, so perhaps it’s a matter of synergy? Maybe, once you have the NPX 300 and the NAP 350s at home, you will rediscover your original, favourable impression.

Did you have a home demo of a full 300 system before purchasing?

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I wonder why you felt the need to ditch the NAC252? It’s a superb amp.

Did you expect the new one to sound better?


I’m assuming that it’s a bare 322 ? If so, get a NPX 300 onto it.

All your shortfalls are not my experience with a 332/300 combo. As a matter of fact, I’ve the widest/deepest soundstage yet in my system/home.

Had about 2 weeks burn in though.

As the golden rule in Hi-Fi is careful system matching,
what are your speakers ?

Because my Chord DAVE and active ATC’s required a detailed yet forgiving preamp as to not tip them into an in your face presentation.


You have only provided some of your system details.
It would be appropriate before commenting too far, to know speakers, mains leads, what support or if fraim, you are using.

As @graham55 has well commented, 252 + 300 is a fine system, in the right setup. I believe @MrFixit has already asked a question about what and where you demoed the changes described.

Run-in judgements after 5 days is imho, wide of the mark. I am not alone since several others on different threads, with experience of NC, have suggested full use (or power up) for a minimum of three months before making any real judgements. I consider my NC2* system took longer to be fully settled!

I recently did a comparison with NSC222 + NPX300 comparing a new250DR, NC250 and 300DR on Fraim, using PLs, standard i/cs, NACA5 and two different sets of speakers (new thread sometime in the next few days).
Each step up brings something more, but the differences are subtle, not game changing. The NC kit (I wrote a thread on a Naim NC3* demo), is another Naim evolution.
Against a system like 252/300, that OC system is not by any means broken, providing service ie intervals have been adhered to.

Over time much will likely change, but if you feel the need to post here, I would encourage a very early discussion with your dealer.
If you have a good dealer, they will fully engage with you, to achieve the best for you.


Hi @gk_audio

The 252 / Supercap is a fine combination, and I am sure works very well with your 300DR power amp. Using the 332 on it’s own you will find a difference in presentation, I know I did - although in my case it replaced a Supernait2 + HiCapDR used with a 250DR.

Personally, I don’t think that even occasionally swapping back to the older set up is a good idea, certainly not in the first few weeks as the new preamplifier needs to fully settle in - 5 days is not enough.

What I did find is that my change to the 350s was a dramatic improvement to the presentation with everything falling into place. With the added NPX300 this should be even more clear cut for you to hear, and the system synergy will further improve.


When I demoed the 300 series prior to purchase (no NPX300s) I was very impressed but initially the NC 250 was used and the sound was lacking. Putting the 350s in place of the 250 really was the missing link and everything became snapped into focus and controlled. It really was a revelation!

After receiving the 333/332/350s at home it sounded even better than the dealer demo. I quickly bought an NPX300 and put it with the 332. This brought even more clarity and focus. The instruments sounded even more realistic. I am so glad that I went for the 4 box amps.

Since then I have also added an NPX300 to the 333. This had less of an improvement though the system sounded superb anyhow. The differences were subtle detail improvements where quieter details were discernible over louder parts. This could of course just be me noticing extra detail in my familiar recordings.

I have not heard a 300DR but would be surprised if the 350s did not improve the sound of your 332.

Do not expect the 332 to improve much. The sound you are getting now is about as good as it gets - it really is very good out of the box. Be patient, the arrival of the NPX300 and 350s will give you what you are seeking.


Going back to do A/B comparisons with your 252 is a path to madness. You’ve gotten used to the sound of the 252, so it’s like a comfort blanket. Leave it in for a week, then replace and keep the 252 in place for a couple of days before switching back again to the 332.

I’m currently comparing my CDS3 to an NDS, and I’ve confused myself in the process of going back and forth. Both are excellent products with their own subtle characteristics.


A 252/SCDR is an incredibly capable amp. I wouldn’t expect a huge different v 332/300.


Which system did you have prior to the new 332-system? Was it also the 252/supercap DR?

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At demo we found the 332/300 did provide some extra detail over 252/SCDR. But it needed the NPX to shine.

The sound profile is different, as many have commented.

For us the difference in SQ was not enough to justify a £14k investment. We might go there in time, but no rush.

Now the 350s are a different story. Way better than a 300DR, you’re in for a treat there.

I suspect once you have all 300 series boxes in place you’ll benefit from their synergy.

You already had a very capable system so improvement will be incremental.


I did have a 252/SC2DR for a while fronting my ATC SCM50A about 3 years ago. Then had a MSB Premier / Premier PSU going direct into the ATC’s for about 12m as well.

I had to sell that because of a Divorce.

I’ve only recently got the ATC SCM 100ASLT and DAVE/ 332/300 etc.

Memory and all that, but my room hasn’t changed.

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To my mind 120 hours, 5 days is still in the warm-up phase. It takes 3 months for an NC item to burn in fully and as others have said, you need the NPX300 to get the most out of the 332.

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Oh I agree to all the comments so far.

It’s a STUNNING preamp combo. the NAC 300/ NPX300.

I’m only at the 2 week mark, and I’m out of my mind excited about it.

Cannot wait until the 3m mark :scream:

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Thank you! So you didn’t hear the 252/sc dr fronting the ATC 100? Maybe that’s why your experiences differ? Should you have heard the 252/sc dr with the same speakers and same chord Dave perhaps the outcome would have been different?

Also the ops pre might not be burnt in yet as it seems. :blush:


I liked what I heard at the dealer. However I am not in the UK and home demos are not possible in my market. Different room and similar speakers was the best I could get at the dealer’s. There is a generous return policy.

Regarding the rest of my system, each box is on a separate shelf (non-Fraim), all power cables are PLs, interconnects and speaker cables are SL. My speakers are B&W diamonds 804D3. I felt the need to post here as dealers in my area are not super knowledgeable unfortunately.

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I’m going to be brutal. I haven’t heard any NC stuff for all I know it might be the greatest sound ever, but because it’s new doesn’t necessarily mean it will be an improvement. If the OP enjoys listening to his 252/300, and it’s a proven brilliant pairing, it is far from certain he’s going to prefer the 332.

And please save me from all the 3 month run-in rubbish.