Naim 52/135x6 vs 552/500

Thoughts on this, have heard contrasting views from both sides. I am asking because this seems to be the absolute ‘end game’ for most with active 500s/S1 not possible for 99% of people. I am thinking of naim speakers in particular eg NBL/DBL/S800 but also Isobarik PMS/Kudos 808 etc.

Bump. Come on :blush: Must be tons of opinions here including mixning Olive/Classic (such as 552/135 and 52/500) :blush:

Never had the 135’s bit have run active with 2 x 250 olive amps into sbl’s and then 3 x 250 olive amps into ovator s600, then also tried 2 x 300dr amps into them, this with both a 52 and 552, sold the amps, speakers, snaxo, supercap and just went 500dr and fact 12 speakers.
Far simpler, much less boxes and cables and for me a much better outcome in sound.
Active is for me these days a bit of a waste of time, limited speakers, far more expensive to do right and much more expensive to keep and service going forward.
Speaker crossovers have come a long way and yes i am sure with certain speakers then the difference is far greater, but a modern speaker, not so?
But it all depends on what you want i guess, 8 boxs just for 3 amps, or 2, 20 cables or 7, 8 shelves or 2, the choice is yours

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Go back 20 years. biwire or biamp was all the rage. I know that naim promote a more active approach. But, most speakers now are a single pair of terminals so don’t even tempt you down this road. Was it another fad?

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Cor don’t we face some dilemmas!


I went the active route mainly because that’s what I had many years ago and it blew passive into the weeds. But that was in the 80’s. With a mix of new and old I now have a sound that probably is far superior to the one I had back then but I can’t really say from absolute recall.

What I can say is that when I hear passive speakers fronted by a 500 I don’t feel my system is massively inferior despite having only 250DR power amps. No doubt the comparison isn’t fair down to room differences, different speakers etc. But I like the active presentation and I don’t agree with the assertion that active setups are massively fussy or sensitive either, at least that’s not my experience. Or maybe I’m just not that discerning :worried:

Those are good points. I ‘went active’ back in the day with 135’s/Briks and all the rest of it. I don’t miss it!

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Fussy ? Simpler for sure, if you are into cable management then, best of luck with that, 13 extra cables over the 500, if i have calculated it right. if you are into better cables, once again best of luck as you are going to need a big wallet to cover it, super lumina cable ?, well thats a mortgage just for the 6 pairs of speaker cable you need, let alone if you want to upgrade the 6 xlr’s, fraim shelves, once again a big expense.
Service cost, 6 amps, snaxo and supercap, plus i was always thinking, does it sound ok, as it sounds a bit off, compared to the other day, i guess so much kit and so more worrying thoughts if you are that way in kind?
I think the days of people liking loads of black boxes, has died off, 8 boxes just in the amplifier section is not what most want these days, add to that the 2 for a 552, maybe 3 for the nd555, thats 13 boxes just to stream, ridiculously these days, plus the hum from that lot, you probability need to have it on all day to drone it out lol.
But seriously these days, i think the difference is so close that its not worth it, unless you have certain speakers, take the titan range, some like them active, some passive, its that close, you certainly wouldn’t say the same if using the old naim range of speakers.

I guess also a system like this hankers back to the late 80’s, when in the big hifi rooms, down Tottenham court road, you could find such systems, and this is a nice memory in our brains, well its nice to look back, but i think you could do better these days, without all that gear.
500dr and 552dr takes some beating really, just add some speakers that work in your room and sit back and enjoy, thats exactly what i am doing.
Cheers dunc
But its your call really


I do agree Dunc. I was thinking about what it would take to run my SL2s active - adding another 300DRas that has always interested me. £20k to do it “properly” and that’s buying mostly used kit. Just ridiculous. I can’t justify it.

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300DR to a recent S/H or ex dem 500DR would be doable for a 3rd of that kind of outlay and your SL2s would really thank you for it.

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Spot on again.

Absolutely Rack but I think the point Dunc makes (not unreasonably) is that it is still running through what is a 20 year old passive crossover.

But so long as it’s still running in spec does it matter what age the crossover is? I read someone on here had their SL2 tweeters replaced because the foam surrounds were perished but I’ve not seen that on mine and they sound just fine.

I guess you could always get your crossovers serviced if you feel they’re underperforming or do you just mean in the age of the design?

All I’m saying is that for way less than £20k a 500DR would be a great upgrade with the level of kit you have. I went from a 252/Supercap2/300 to 252/300DR, 552/300DR and finally 552/500DR in a pretty short space of time (18 months) and I’d say the 500DR had the biggest impact and I don’t even have a large room. I’ve not long added Superlumina XLR/DINs on the 500 (already had SL speaker cables and IC on the CD555) and that’s revealed even more of what the system can do.

I’ve run my Isobariks in both passive and active form from the early 90’s through to around 2013. I was then lucky enough to find a pair of mint DBL’s, which were from the last batch ever made.

These I initially ran passive with 135’s but I had been listening to my dealers 500 system and knew that the only way to get them to really work properly was to either go active with a 52/135’s or get a 552/500.

I have a pretty good recollection of what my Isobarik loaded system sounded like, and have a friend who still has a full active 135/DBL system, so I felt very comfortable making the decision to go with a 552/500 front end. I personally felt that this has much greater resolution qualities than the active 52/135 system and I think this gap gets even wider with the introduction of the DR technology.

For me the 552/500 system was the way forward.

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Hi Rack - I was the one who replaced the tweeters with new matched Naim ones. Jason thought the cross overs were in decent shape when he looked the SL2s over so it’s not something I’m particularly concerned about and the system sounds great. Going to a 500DR is the next natural step but having been scammed out of several grand about a year ago trying to purchase one I’m reluctant to do it!

Ah, remember that scam now Dave. That’s a terrible thing to go through and would put me off for good. Obviously going ex dem would be the best route if you ever do decide to go for a 500 at some point unless you know a used seller well enough to be able to trust them.

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I have been down the active path for many years now. SBL’s with 140’s then 180’s, and currently SL2’s with a rather large box count and a pair of 250DR’s. (Olive 82/2xHi-cap pre) and I would love to reduce the box count and simplify the set-up. I first made a comparison was with the SL2’s passive and a 300DR (loss of SNAXO and Hi-Cap boxes only) The SL2 crossovers were run in the DR300 also, sources were a heavily configured LP12 and NDX2/XPSDR. The SL2’s thrive on being active, they are faster, deeper more engaging and the dual 250DR were for me far better. Then we tried a 500DR. Hm, very nice but quite some outlay. For balance I tried alternative speakers passive (Sonus Faber Olympica and B&W, with 300DR) and I still like the now rather old SL2’s more! They are pigs to set up though! So I am trapped with lot’s of boxes. I have ordered a 252/Supercap combo to replace the rather venerable 82 (tried the 82 with a Supercap DR, quite impressive for a 17 year old, but the 252 is lovely). The truth is at this level perception is everything. All of these components from Naim have been fantastic over the years and I am tuned into the SL2’s, there are gains of course and in an ideal world I would go 552/SC/DR500 and passive but £40,000 to start…


Hi Fm, you may well find that sticking the 252 in there could prove to be your end game. The SL2s are a better driven active than passive even with a 500 passive. If your SL2s are your end game speakers, I’d put a Supercap on your Snaxo, get the 252 and be happy ever after :hugs:.
It would also play on my mind using 20 year old passive Xovers with all due respect to JasonG. Enjoy Peter
PS. As for the 552, indeed a Preamp can never be too good in my experience :+1:t3:

And that’s the thing. Common consensus is the SL2s are very good passive but great active. Has anyone tried them with a 250DR on bass and 300DR on tweeter - so called “wonky” active?

‘Wonky active’ oh yes, I remember that thread, where that description crept in and a jolly one it was too! :grimacing: ATB Peter