NAC 72 vs NAC 282

A lot of my chrome bumper/olive classic kit was in storage for various reasons.

A Nova (replacing an Atom with a display fault) was purchased as a temporary measure with the likely intent of keeping this for more general use in another room.

Added an old NAP 250 to the Atom/Nova to great effect.

Tried setting up the Nova as source to NAC 72/HICAP/NAP 250 but there was hissing on one of the channels/other oddities.

I got a NAC 282, had the older kit bar the NAC 72 and chrome bumper NAXO serviced, and now have SBLs running active with 2 x NAP 250s.

I’ve felt the sound since reverting to active has been rather thin and not as involving as expected - perhaps the NAXO needing a service (very occasional static like pops come from the speakers) or the sound of the other components having radically changed after servicing several months ago?

For whatever reason it dawned on me a few days ago I’d not tried the NAC 72 in the active setup and quickly swapped it for the NAC 282 yesterday.

Now I’ve not listened in depth, but immediately music seemed to have more weight, drive and authority.

I had Roon playing and it entered the mode where it plays random tracks it thinks you’ll like.

A Red Hot Chilli Peppers song started up and I sat up due to the clarity of guitars and drums at the start.

Next, listening to Tori Amos’ Unrepentant Geraldines which I’ve played a lot in recent years, the piano accompaniment, especially lower frequency chords seemed far more involving and detailed, and I’m literally hearing the music differently again, it’s more involving (repeating myself I know). The title track was one which showed me the big difference between Atom and Nova sorting out the complexity of the music when I listened to the latter newly arrived at the dealership (did an A/B).

So, is this sudden excitment due to a more ‘ballsy’ involving presentation from the NAC 72 which will seem overblown with extended listening, or perhaps simply the amazing synergy this had with the olive NAP 250 when I originally got them?

The NAXO and NAC 72 are definitely in need of servicing ‘on paper’ too.

This has thrown up some awkward questions - am I simply more attuned to the older olive component presentation of music? Is this temporary, will I find it fatiguing in the long run?

The NAC 282 is powered from a single recently serviced olive HI-CAP (the other is now powering the NAXO but 2 HI-CAPs on the NAC 282 wasn’t conclusive one way or the other).

Is the NAC 282 simply not that good with a single olive HI-CAP I have to ask myself? I
was considering an older recently serviced Supercap a few weeks ago but could not get a demo, and earlier this week was wondering about a SupercapDR.

Just put some older Kate Bush on and my foot is tapping immediately, whereas with the NAC 282 I was listening instead.

The 72 is an intriguing proposition for a high end pre amp as it’s the last of the line without remote control and the extra circuitry and current draw that entails. A 72 equipped with a Burndy socket to take advantage of more rails from a Supercap could have been quite a beast, would have walloped the 82 and given the 52 a very good run for its money.

Isn’t that essentially what became the NAC52?

The big pre-amps present a much wider window on the source compared to the NAC72. That asks a lot more of the source, for one thing.

However, maybe you just prefer the NAC72. And in the right system, it probably does seem to perform better. It has an easier time sounding good because it doesn’t bother too much with the frequency extremes, top or bottom. That’s the secret of the earlier pre-amps.

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I’m struggling to listen today due to a noisy household.

Swapping to the NAC 282, the sound is considerably more forward/in your face, perhaps bigger and bolder (this somewhat contradicts the weight/drive/authority comment above) but with less subtlety. In a way it’s precisely why I like the older Nova firmware sonically compared to the last few versions (I keep reverting to 2.3.8574).

The NAC 72 isn’t sounding quite right I suspect - a tad sibilant/grainy, but it seems far more laid back with a true sense of depth - it’s far easier to follow instruments as they seem set back further in the soundstage whereas the NAC 282 has a planar wall like soundstage several feet closer to me.

In addition bass notes/lines in particular seem to lack the timbre I get with the NAC 72.

I’m finding it rather perplexing in all honesty.

I suppose it did - albeit with the extra complexity required around the remote control etc. I’d like to have been a fly on the wall for the 52 engineering prototyping…


Well after some further listening it’s clear the NAC 72 is in need of a service - it just started producing a tearing/ripping static noise which disappears on switching back to the NAC 282, despite this it was still sounding sweet.

There are times you feel you want to start again with everything from scratch!

Designing good pre-amps is hard!

I could do stonking power amps, but I could never get the hang of designing good pre-amps!

I understand you Alley Cat, I like to change for pleasure.
I am an admirer of the 72 and active 4x135’s, but for some time I’m looking for something else even if I know it will not be above, but different …

Today, I’m going to get my first love, a Supernait 1 :blush:

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I understand that both 282 and 72 are used with an olive Hicap. Also, I assume the 250 is not the latest DR version. Although the outcome can be dependent on personal preference, perhaps an optimised (serviced) 72 will sound better than the 282 when matched with the olive Hicap and 250 from the earlier black or olive era. I believe the 282 is only optimised ie. sounds best when matched with the Hicap DR and 250 DR.

Perhaps sort out your priorities whether you want to end up with an optimised 72 or 282? I know it would be difficult at this point because you wouldn’t know which setup will sound better since both isn’t optimised to their full potential and you would have to rely on experiences from others which may or may not work out for you.

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Thanks ryder - while on the one hand we are very grateful that our Naim kit has longevity and can usually be serviced it also highlights to me that there are inevitable compromises when trying to match old and new products, as I think the Naim sound has probably evolved over the years and products of the same timeline may well have a bit more synergy by design.

As noted above sometimes it would probably be simpler to start again from scratch but I’m always reluctant to give up older expensive kit which can still perform well.

I had an active system: SBLs, NAP200s, SNAXO242, Supercap, HiCapDRx2, NAC282. (nDAC and Gyrodec sources).

I bought a bolt down 250 which I substituted for the NAXO/NAP200s. It sounded better. I then sourced a pair of CB NAP250s which sounded better when coupled with the SNAXO.

I continued to search for CB equipment and found a NAXO2 and a 62 plus a pair of HiCaps, had everything serviced and then substituted for the 282/SNAXO242/Supercap/HiCap DRs.

The CB kit (62/NAXO2/HiCaps) was different, hard to say it was better or worse really since I changed so much in a short space of time. I certainly didn’t miss the 282 over the coming months and sold it (and the SNAXO/Supercap/HiCAP DRs) after a few months.

Adding a 72 in place of the 62 made a difference. Quite a significant one. I would say that in my CB based system the 72 probably had more synergy with the rest of it than the 282.


Thanks Stephen, that’s very interesting.

Changing several things in a short space of time can certainly lead to confusion and I wish I hadn’t serviced so many old Naim/non-Naim items around the same time as it made it difficult to pin down what caused the sound to change in several ways.

My passive 72/HiCAP/NAP 250 combo in the early 90’s really impressed at the time, and perhaps I have rose-tinted memories of how it sounded compared to cheaper Arcam and Linn integrated amps I had prior to this.

The change to active SBLs with chrome bumper NAXO and olive NAP 250s was a very big change a few years later - these are currently in a different room with a more awkward shape, so I hope to regain something when I eventually clear (a skip might be a good upgrade for assorted clutter!) the original larger listening room.

I have a chrome bumper HiCAP somewhere if I can find it, it would be nice to add it to the NAC 282 to see if it gets a boost which I may have lost using the olive HiCAP for the NAXO.

I’m itching to try a Supercap DR with the NAC 282, but may be wise to get the NAC 72 serviced first. I should service the NAXO, but have wondered about a pre-loved SNAXO or new SNAXO 242 too - from the sound of it you preferred the NAXO over the SNAXO 242.

Hard to tell really, I swapped the 282+2 HiCap DR+SNAXO242+Supercap for a 62+Naxo2+2HiCaps.

I never tested the 282 into the Naxo2 or the 62/72 into the Snaxo242.

I would imagine the Snaxo242+Supercap should be significantly superior to the Naxo2+HiCap.

But maybe it’s something about the overall synergy because with the overall swap of preamp plus crossover plus power supplies I felt the Chrome Bumper stuff was different, not really better or worse, I felt it suited the power amps better. But there is a fair chance that getting a system I’d have killed for 20-30years ago and that looked so nice influenced my judgement?

The only thing that was really clear was the 250s were far better than the 200s and that the 72 was a lot better than the 62.

Not sure if this helps re 72 vs 282, but in my system I’d think they would probably be close. Probably.

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CDSII/72/HC/250 is still one of my favorite sounding systems. Then I went to a SN1 and was miserable.


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