I own a NAC 72 pre amp & NAP160 CB power amplifier
I have been given the opportunity to buy 32.5 pre amp are there any massive differences in sound quality between these pre amps if both are serviced ?
I would prefer the 32.5 as it looks a good visual match for my 160
I understand some may even prefer the 32.5 over a 72 ?
Back in the day I swapped from a 32.5 to a 72 and there seemed to be little difference. The 32.5 is lovely, especially the little toggle switches, including the one for mute, which are so much nicer than the tiny twisty things on the 72.
You can also drop the 72 2xNA729 time aligned input buffer boards into the 32 for a nice upgrade.
As Hifiman posts above, if your NAC32.5 has the upgrade time aligned boards fitted (NA329 or NA729) then performance should be very similar indeed. Of course, age and sample variance will have had a much greater effect by now, so no guarantees. However, the NAC32.5 does have one big advantage over the NAC72, and that’s a mono switch, which is essential for vinyl replay of older mono LPs and is also useful for helping to set up recorders and the like.
I own both a 32 (serviced 10 years ago) and a 72 (unserviced). They do not sound the same, and have very different personalities. The 32 is much airier, sweeter, and times better. The 72 is more forward, dynamic and detailed. I like both, but as i said, they sure don’t sound the same.
I’d agree here. the NAC32, particularly with the old “artwork” boards is a bit sweeter, if a little fuzzier and more laid back. Adding the NA329 or 729 boards though changes the character of the NAC32.5 considerably. But of course, a degree of sample variation is rife; I have three NAC32.5s. One of them just sounds too laid back by far, no matter what, despite being serviced. Overall my favourite is the one fitted with NA729s - much more interesting.
Yes my 32 has the older hand drawn boards, and deinately is sweeter, but as you say fuzzier, or less detailed. Strangely, it times better than my 72. I may try the 729 boards in my 32 to see if it’s the best combo… assuming that is they can go in the 32?
The only reason to move to a 32.5 is cosmetic matching, which I acknowledge is not a trivial consideration.
I recently did a lot of A/B listening of a fully restored 72 vs fully restored 32.5, with Rega Apollo, Chord Qutest, restored hicap/250 and ATC HTS 7.
The 72 was better, i.e. more mature sounding, more “together”, better control over deep bass…but let’s be clear - the 32.5 delivered >90% of what the 72 delivered. If you had a 32.5 and didn’t know about the 72 you wouldn’t feel like you were missing anything in terms of sound quality. A serviced 32.5 is awesome.
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