Passive preamp with Naim

Anyone have experiences or heard passive preamp with Naim amp? Just curious.

I’m using 252/SCDR with 250DR. Im happy with the amp so no plans of upgrading at the moment.


Would a passive preamp be an ‘upgrade’ over an NAC252? (I rather doubt it!)

I doubt that too. It’s the curiosity that’s getting the better of me :grimacing:. It won’t be an “upgrade” but rather an “addition”.

It’s well worth doing a search on the many threads there have been on hereon this subject.

My own take on this is that Naim power amps have been designed to work with a (Naim) pre-amp and it’s not really worthwhile except perhaps as an intermediate step towards a proper Naim pre-amp.

1 Like

One of the most surprising experiences in audio I ever had, was when I compared a Creek OBH-22 passive pre VS a NAC252, between a CD5XS and a NAP200.

In a quick comparison, I preferred the passive. But it was not an entirely fair fight, as I had an 2RCA-DIN4 Hi-line between the OBH-22 and the NAP200, and just a regular SNAIC between the 252 and 200. And the NAC252 was powering a Superline as well (single ground via CD5XS).

The key strength of passives is that they are super clean - no distortion. The drawback is that passive sound quality is really, really context dependent! For example, in some setups, dynamics can sound lame.

I still have the OBH-22, but it is lying unused in the closet. Why? Because my DAC-V1 sounds good just straight into the NAP200, with no preamp. And my NAC252 and NAP300 have just amazing synergy - no need for a passive pre!

I used a Townshend Allegri for a while, having read some vague comments about it working well in a Naim system. It really didn’t work in my system, and I soon gave up on the idea.
(That was replacing my 282, partnered with 250DR.)

Thanks, Felix for sharing your valuable experiences. Some of the passive preamps have come quite a way from yesteryears. I love my existing setup and will not be replacing the 252 or 250DR. It’s just the itch of not “knowing” or having any experiences with passive preamps.

Lovely setup you have there.

Chris, thanks for sharing.

I tried the Townshend Allegri with my 500. It does have a “sound” but I greatly preferred the 552. Far more dynamic and musical. If you think about it a Naim preamp is just a micro Naim amp. It’s key to the signature sound. It was a good education on the importance of a good preamp and what it does.


I think it’s particularly true of Naim amps that the preamp and power amp work as a pair. After my unsuccessful Allegri experiment I tried using the digital preamp in my Chord DAC directly into the 250DR without the 282. That was certainly better than the Allegri, but it ultimately led me to move to a Chord power amp that seemed to match it better than the 250.

1 Like

I heard a cord dave directly into Nap300 with Q acoustics Concept 500’s…not good it seemed flat and lifeless…I am convicinced it was the lack of preamp causing this…

1 Like

@glevethan very recently posted that he runs his Vivaldi digital front end directly into his NAP 500.

I’m not sure if he’s tried a passive preamp in between but I think I recall him saying he did.

Interesting results from @ChrisBell who vastly prefers the 552 over the well-reviewed passive preamp from Townshend.

1 Like

I have some experience of 252/SC/300. To my ears the 252 is exceptionally refined, musical, mannered and communicating. If I had one, I would never swap it for another preamp.


I often try the “must have” or “game changer” HiFi product only to come back to my trusty Naim electronics. I won’t name any products here, but I do try the “flavors of the month” and except for Chord Music cables, all have failed to live up to the hype.


Don’t be rail-roaded into thinking that only only a Naim preamp works with Naim power amps. I run a valve pre (Manley Neo-Classic 300B w/upgraded vales) into a NAP300DR and the combo is utterly sublime. Just a fantastic combo overall.

Would a Naim pre sound better for the same money? Not sure as I don’t have one to compare but when I swapped out my old amp for the Naim I heard a dramatic upgrade to the sound, not just in its ability to drive the speakers better. This to me demonstrates that my non-Naim pre offers enough resolution and delicacy to highlight changes elsewhere in the system.

So yeah, don’t be afraid to be a heretic and mix ‘n’ match.


I won’t either although I’m tempted to. But I tried 8/9 different amps in the last few years and I’m back to a SuperNait…


With all due respect, a car radio would sound great into a NAP300… :sunglasses:

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.