Pairing Naim pre-amps with muscle amps

Hi. Has anyone able to match Naim pre-amps and other muscle amps with good results (without paying mega money)? Able to work with Naim’s tonal characteristics and not against it? After the Naim sound and I am not willing to give it up, if I need a muscle power-amp for whatever purpose, I will hold on to a Naim pre-amp.

I really want to get a pair of Martin Logan CSL IIz, but it will go down to 1.4 Ohm. I live in Australia, our summer could go up to 45*C or above, so I will stay clear of hot-running Krell and the like.

Has anyone try to match NAC82 or NAC52 with the following? Thank you.

Meridian 559
Boulder 500/500AE
Classé 1000
Bryston 7B-ST
Bryston 14B-ST
Jeff Rowland Model 8T/8Ti
Mark Levinson No.23.5

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Naim design their pre and power amps to work together, including cables etc. I am sure you could go down this route but you are throwing away their natural synergy. Why not get a dem with your chosen speakers going up from a 250 through 300 to 500 and see how they do?

Have heard of folks using Bryston amps, Steve from HiFiFoFum would have information on how successful the pairing was.

As above Bryston amps yes, and that’s the only one on your list I can comment on

Musical fidelity were good at big amps for reasonable money? No idea what they’d sound like being fed by Naim though.

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Out of your list, I’ve heard Boulder and Levinson work well. Note that the 23.5 will get hot. As beautiful as Rowlands can sound, you’d lose the magic of the 52.

There are things about a good big amp that the 500 doesn’t do - though, in fairness, the 500 wasn’t designed to do them.

Statement most likely does, but at $180k USD for a stereo pair they are reserved, shall we say, for the very well heeled.

Using Exposure 5010 monos right now being fed by 252 / Super cap dr, cables are True Signal Audio Din to RCA.
Very happy with the results I’m getting, been A/B / C with the 5010’s vs Nap 300 just recapped and a 300 Dr
Driving a variety of speakers from Neat and Kudos at home.
Never got on with the Bryston amps with Naim pre’s but others might like what they do.


Those are the good ones, and would be on my mind, they are second on my short list after the Naim ones.

Try them out and do a head to head you might be very surprised… I was !
I’ve never been a big fan of mixing and matching,
One of the attractions ( other then the sound ) with Naim was all the boxes match but since all my gear is a floor below now and I don’t see it I don’t mind mixing things up now

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Exposure are one of the few audio manufacturers with a similar philosophical approach to Naim.


I have successfully linked up Naim front-end to Bryston (in my case a 4BSST2 - the more powerful amps will require no more effort to connect). the advantage of Bryston power amps, apart from their capability to drive low impedance loads (even down to 1 OHM with the necessay amount of current needed) - is that they are very netural in their sound.

In my case - I tried a NAP 250DR - which overheated and shut down, and NAP 300 which was better, but didnt really deliver the sound that a powerful amp can easly deliver in scale/slam. I am sure that a NAP500 will be better, but the costs go up again and as in the case of the NAP 300 - both are two box solution and in the case of the NAP 500 one of the units is as big as a Bryston 4BSST…

The only bit of work you will have to do is to get the necesary cables made up to link which ever Naim preamp you are using to the more standard phono inputs on Bryston. (By the way you will not be able to use the balanced input on the Bryston amps).

I know people talk about the synergy of having an all-NAIM solution, but to my ears was a small gain and that this loss of synergy was more than made up with the extra dynamic range ad grunt offered by a muscle amp.

For speaker like the Martin Logan CSL IIz’s you really need an amp capable of delivering the amps on a long term basis.

From your list I would say other than the Brystons, the Boulder and Mark Levinson would be on my shortlist

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Thanks everyone for your contributions. I know it would be ideal to have the synergy of Naim amplifier set, just that the 180 and 250 are not designed to drive Martin Logan type of 1.4 Ohm capacitive loads. 200 and 500 are way too expensive used. However, not using a Naim pre-amp will be unacceptable, I spent all these years trying to find the engaging sound that I was looking for, and that is it.

This is a feasible study to find out from experience users whether Naim pre-amps can go well with certain muscle amps before I go to get a pair of Martin Logan CLS IIz to set up a second system, the CLS IIz just looks so good. I can not go to buy a pair and get it serviced then find out the plan is unworkable. All these are used and quite old, used hi-fi shops are unlikely to have them at the same time for demo.

I know Gryphon and Krell goes well with Martin Logan, but they are running hot. A friend of mine used to have Cello and Accuphase pre-amps driving Bryston power-amps, Bryston was sounding very natural. Not surprising when they are the default setting for driving active PMC.

Now I know I can try Boulder, Bryston, Mark Levinson, and will have a look at Exposure 5010 mono. Love you all. :heart:

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I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Naim and Exposure amps are of similar design. I was talking to one of the denizens of the British HiFi industry last year, who proffered that John Farlowe taught Julian Vereker everything he knew about amplifier design, but JV was just much better at marketing it.


I was thinking of getting a Perrault 350 power amp from New Zealand to connect to my 272 , but it has balanced xlr inputs which presumably render it unusable with a 272 which requires ? unbalanced inputs. Is this why other brands power amps are a bad idea with naim pre-amps?

FYI the perreaux 350 has single ended inputs as well as balanced so that should not be an issue.

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You can short out one side of the balance input just have to do that with how you configure the XLR end
Shouldn’t be a problem to do that and run that amp off your 272.

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Hi Hugh. I think I can explain this in a new to Naim perspective. I have been listening to music through a lot of hi-fi equipment since school years, but I couldn’t find anything that able to portrait the flow or emotional side of music to the standard I want.

Until I found Naim a few years ago, and I drag along a friend who spend mega money on hi-fi to see how he thinks about Naim. He said “You like fast sound!”, I didn’t know what he meant because the demo was on slow music and I listen to slow music.

Then fast forward two years, because of me, one of my uncle has switched to Naim, when we connected Naim to partnering equipment which is inadequate in following the speed and timing, such as Magico, the Naim magic completely disappeared. The sound doesn’t flow with the emotion of the music, very obvious even with slow music.

At that point I realised I need to be very careful not wasting a MX-5 on traffic jams. Hope this help.

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Thanks for your thoughtful reply Savin. What got me thinking about muscle amps and naim was recently listening to a friends system. He had Martin Logan ESLs being driven by a Perreaux 350 power amp with a non naim preamp. It sounded great.
My system is naim from the server to the 272/555/250 to the ovator 400s. It sounded a bit lean in comparison. To beef up the sound a larger amp may help. The naim 300 costs $20000 and a second hand perreaux 350(class AB 350wpc) costs $3750. Hence the question about whether it could be hooked up to a naim.
As it stands I think I’ll wait for a second hand 300 as I went with naim for a reason, like you, for musical involvement and give the 350 a pass.
Best of luck in your quest. The speakers you are looking at seem to be current hungry beasts.

Perhaps the answer is to forget the Martin Logan speakers and get some that work with Naim power amps. Naim pre and power amps are designed as two halves of a whole and as you obviously appreciate what your preamp brings it seems a shame to mix and match and perhaps lose the magic. So many people design a system around a speaker and so often it doesn’t work out. The whole concept of designing speakers that are really really hard to drive properly is something I’ve never understood.


Hi Huge, since you know someone who has a Perreaux 350, if I were you, I would being some of my Naim gears to his place to see how they go together.

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