Nac 552 or 252?

Hi guys,
I would like to finally add a naim pre-amplifier and power amp to my audio system to separate multi-channel listening from 2-channel listening
nDAC+XPSdr ND5-XS2 and unitedserves as transport
Ovator S600 and S400 loudspeakers
The amp will be a NAP 250dr or a nap 300dr depending on the budget remaining from the purchase of the NAC
I’ve never listened in a system where I know the 552 while I know the 252+SCdr quite well. The price difference, even in the used market, is considerable but not very high in an absolute sense. I would like to ask in which parameters the sound of the 552 can be defined as better and in what order of relevance.
Thanks in advance for the replies.

Had a 52 then a 552. 52 was great but 552: Completely different sound. Open, clear, defined,spatial,dynamic, lively, engaging. Fun.


Only you can decide whether the difference between the 252 and 552 ‘is not very high in an absolute sense’. There are plenty of happy 252 owners, but I would venture that most on here would put a 552 quite far ahead of a 252. I have never had a 252. I have had an 82, 282 and a 52 and for me the 552 was far enough ahead to justify the extra expense. Having said that, at this level you pay a lot of money for differences in quality that most people wouldn’t notice, so you pay your money and make your choice. I chose a 552, but I really loved my 52 too. In the end you can’t go too far wrong, if you buy what feels right for you.


I skipped the 252, going from 282/SC to 552 and then 552DR. While, therefore, I can’t comment on the 252 comparison, I can say that the introduction of the 552 in my system was the first upgrade I’d made where I was suddenly hearing unadulterated music rather than hifi. It really was a quantum leap for me and I very soon forgot the painful expense involved. The level of delicacy and detail is amazing and at today’s used prices, it can almost be considered a bargain (in relative terms).


Exactly my experience

Haven’t had 52 but adding 552 was transformational and I so wish I would have done this move many years back doing different priorities. It is what everyone says about it. Aim at 552 even if time and pockets stretch to get there if this is your main interest and hobby.

Some, if not most here will say 552. I have owned both… and if I am honest I found my the 252 the more enjoyable over all compared to the 552 (with a DR SuperCap … with the non DR version I found the 252 lost its magic).
I found the 552 was more resolving and had better imaging etc , but on my analytical system it didnt enable that musical flow and musical mouth watering feel the 252 was able to provide on many recordings. The 552 dare I say it veered into ‘Hi-Fi’ sound, where the 252 was natural flowing audio. With a very damped room and less high end resolving speakers the tables could be turned.

If I was doing Naim NACs again I defo would go for the 252 and pass on the 552. Just be wary of the 552 hyperbole you read here …. and don’t assume it’s automatically better, which was my mistake. Check with the rest of your system, speakers, and importantly, room.

This was with a 250 and ATC speakers with several sources.


252/300 is a highly enjoyable combo and the savings over a 552 are significant. Refined, bags of detail, musical. Just fab.

Step up from a 250 to 300 is well worth it. The 252 deserves it as the 300 lets far more detail through and has much better control over speakers.

Put a 555 on your nDAC too.


Yes in my experience it is the non DR 555PS (if you can find one) on the Naim DAC that beautifully gels. The DR 555 PS doesn’t enable that same gorgeous organic feel from the NDAC

DR or no DR on that 552? The no DR is less analytical it seems.

My 552 I bought was new (ex demo) , and was a DR version. Yes the non DR powersupplies rob a bit of high end detail perception due to their frequency noise profile.
However the best balance in my experience with the NACs was ultra clean power supply matched with a given NAC.
I came to find that on the high end, NAC matching for your room acoustics became suprisingly critical for real immersive enjoyable listening. The 552 is a more forward sound (like the 282) , the 252 is a more restrained… choose your poison. They are both mightily impressive NACs. I found for my room and eclectic musical tastes the 252 gave the more enjoyable performance overall.

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I think from the way you have phrased the question, you will not be content with a 252. Whatever anyone here says about the advantages of the 552 over the 252, you will need to hear it for yourself before you can decide whether the cost is worth it. So, until you have been able to assess directly the 552 you will never be satisfied with the 252. I have never heard a 552 but I think the 252/300DR sounds amazing and I couldn’t justify the cost of a 552.


I agree… you will need to listen and decide… and unfortunately at this level you can only truly asses in your home environment.
Otherwise it’s like buying a car without a test drive……

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I’ve had both the 252 DR (with a 250DR) and now a 552 DR (with a 300 DR) and I would say that the real magic starts with the 252 and just gets better with the 552. I think it’s more a question of affordability and willingness to pay at this level, but the real good stuff is there at the 252/250 level and you can just get better going further if you wish.


I couldn’t believe how coloured and un neutral the 552dr was, and how it effected the sound, still can’t really.

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Obviously hands down I would recommend the 552 as the significant better one. However I am also a believer of a certain balance in the setup. And I belief while talking about 252 or even 552 the source also needs to be up to it. Suggest you also consider a NDS and perhaps given the overall financial impact start with the NDS and the 252. Will form a nice combo when paired with the NAP 300



Source first still applies ime.



Thank you all for the very useful replies, in fact one of the options to improve SQ would be to improve the source, introducing a 555PS to the nDAC, but I prefer to free the system from the HT section and proceed with a naim preamplifier and power amp.
Probably the most logical choice would be 252-SCdr and 300dr even if the idea of ​​552 as definitive flatters me.

what do you mean by calling the 552 colored?

I went from 252 with non DR SC to 552 DR so not really a fair comparison. Ran both with 300 non DR.

The 552 DR is a more forward and engaging presentation that loses none of that lovely detail and refinement the 252 brings.

Both are fabulous and my advice is go with whichever is the most balanced option in terms of where you want to get to with your system as a whole.

The 252DR is a lovely pre far better than the none DR 252 with the right source one could easily stop there.

For me the 552DR really showed its worth when partnered with a 500 amp.