NAIM NDX2 STREAMER - NEED FOR PRE-AMPLIFIER

I am looking to replace my current TAG McLaren audio set for a complete new NAIM system. The set-up I have configured is: Naim NDX2 Streamer + Naim NAP 300 DR amplifier.

The streamer has essentially the DAC on board, so is there any need to add a pre-amplifier such as the NAC 252 pre for better sonic performance?

The new set will be connected to a set of B&W 802 D3 or 803 D3 loudspeakers.

I welcome any suggestions here.

Yes, there is. The NDX2 does not include a proper preamp, merely a digital volume control as required to achieve Apple certification. If you want to keep the box count down the 272 will do it, but you’d really want a 555PS if using a 300 in order to achieve balance.

The traditional view is that the preamp forms the heart of a Naim system, and you should build your system around the best one you can afford. With a 300DR, that would mean at least a 252. I’m sure you will see plenty of posts here from people telling you that is what you should buy.
Personally, I’m all in favour of keeping an open mind on this. A 252 with PSU costs £11,000, and needs two more shelves on your rack (which adds another £1100 if you use Naim’s Fraim.) So it would be interesting to compare a 252 with a system in which you spend similar money on a better source, power amp or speakers. For example, if you choose not to use a preamp, the saving goes a long way towards the cost of an ND555 instead of an NDX2. Or you could buy a 500 instead of a 300 for about the same. I can’t tell you which of these options would work best for you, although I can say that a Naim power amp without a Naim preamp still works pretty well in my experience. Remember that you would need to have a DIN (or RCA) to XLR cable made for this, and if you ask a dealer for a demo, they may not have one, as it’s a non-standard item.

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If the OP chooses the Ndx2 option, a preamp, Naim or non Naim, is necessary. Some have tried without and all reported better musicality with a pre.
The Chord dac option is different. A preamp is not necessary apparently…

It seems that there is a consensus here about the fact that the NDX2 requires a pre. The question is if the ND555 also required a pre? or that with the PS and the NAP300DR the set is well balanced.

It will be-the same digital volume control in the nd555 as the ndx-2, so i think a preamp is pretty much a prerequisite. But if you can find a dealer willing to try, no harm done. I did try a Chord Dave direct into a NAP 300…it did not work for me.

I would bet that this ‘consensus’ is based on something other than listening to an NDX2/300 for yourself, with and without a 252, in order to make an informed decision. I’m not saying that getting a Naim preamp is a bad idea, but rather than making assumptions, I would suggest that you try and set up a demo to confirm it with your own ears.

Fully agree with your comments, however it helps to narrow down a configuration that I would like to listen to…and fine tune from there…

Naim do not recommend using the Streamers straight into a power amp - i.e. without a pre-amp. They were not designed for this. Otherwise they would have been designed to incorporate a proper high quality pre-amp, like the NAC-N272.

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Your recent results in not adding finally a pre are down to the fact that you use a chord streamer. It’s different. I have never heard someone preferring the ndx2 directly into a power amp. There were a lot of topics on it already.

The point I am making is that I think it can be worth questioning ‘traditional wisdom’ sometimes, especially on a forum like this, where ideas are sometimes repeated like a mantra, I suspect often by people who have limited experience of what they are recommending. The NDX2 hasn’t been around for that long, and I very much doubt that many people have gone to the effort of testing it into a power amp, especially given that you need to have a non-standard cable made up in order to try this. It could well be that the best option for the OP is to buy a 252, but in that position, I think I would want to know that the £11,000 cost was going to be worthwhile.
Prompted by this discussion, I have just spent the evening listening to my NDX2 connected directly to my 250DR, and I can tell you that it sounds pretty bloody good to my ears.

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Cue quarterly request for a sign regarding the unicorn “372” 272 replacement @Richard.Dane

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