Power Amp Showdown

Hi everyone,

I am thinking about future upgrade paths, and was wondering about how some of the classic power amps compare to one another, especially a lower level DR model to higher level non-DR model.

I know there will be endless variables around rest of the system, room setup and positioning, musical tastes, sounds preferences etc etc, so I am not going to start listing my current or planned future system. I just want to see what peoples opinions generally are on -

NAP 200 DR vs NAP 250
NAP 250 DR vs NAP 300
NAP 300 DR vs NAP 500

Search is your friend and a ton of information can be found regarding one model vs another…

2 Likes

Hi, to some extent the answers to such questions are system dependent, and if you don’t list the system you intend to use it for you won’t get the best answer.
For one thing it’s generally best to go for a higher Naim pre, and if, for example, you have a 202 you almost certainly don’t want to pair it with a 300.
If you get a 200 the only DR regulation is in its preamp power supply, so its usefulness will depend on whether or not you use a separate PSU.
Speaker matching is also key. Some people happily use a 250.2 or 250DR with higher end preamps such as the 552. More demanding speakers will shine far more with a 300, but even that is dependent on your room acoustics and preferred volume level.
Context is everything.

3 Likes

I would stretch to the 300DR. It is still upgrade-able. Unless you need more power, you may never move past it. I loved my 300 and could be perfectly happy with it today. But without the DR option nowadays, it may be harder to sell.

2 Likes

This all depends on what you want to achieve. The traditional thinking was to upgrade the pre amp ahead of the power amp.

However, the much loved 272 at least somewhat blew that theory out of the water by folks successfully pairing it with a NAP 300. Further, some have chosen to pair a 282 with a 300 and it does work well.

All said as a (very) general rule you can assume that a non DR300 will do more than a 250DR etc but as ever you have to listen for yourself. And as already said loads of stuff already on the Forum, happy searching!

3 Likes

Thank you, some interesting points.

I did want to stay away from system specifics and instead get general feedback and thoughts from peoples experiences with them.

But to add context probably a 272 will be my endpoint pre with XPS DR and longer term 555

Rest of the system is less set but sources right now are LP12, CD5 (planning to add Flatcap 2) and of course the stream section of 272. I have Ovator S400 right now but may long term look to Kudos 606

Thanks, but on your last point that was really the crux of my question.

250DR to 300DR should be a slam dunk win for the 300DR. But what about a 250DR to a non-DR 300, because the prices for the DR versions are significantly above the non-DR, so a non-DR 300 can be had for not much more than a 250DR.

Remember that a non-DR power amp will be a good few years old now, so you should check its service history. If it needs a recap and service it might end up costing you more than the DR equivalent.

1 Like

I’ve never tried it but I suspect the extra grip, power and finesse of the 300 would win through. However, at least for now remember that you can’t have the 300 upgraded to a 300DR.

Incidentally, I’m not going for a 300 of either form because as with the 252/522 debate deep down I would always hanker after a 500. So I’m sticking where I am!

1 Like

Good point, I better find out what 250 non DR service costs are!

Another vote here for getting the pre-amp before or at the same time as the power amp.

Having said that, my tuppence on power amps is: -

The 250 was and is a classic and well above a 200. Olive-era 250s were massively enjoyable, but not ultra-tight on bass or ultra-quiet in background.

The modern-look non-DR 250s (250.2) seemed to many of us less enjoyable, though just about everyone thinks they give more detail. The DR added a bit more vigour and gives more of all the pluses from the 250.2, and many prefer it by a large margin - to me, it still just lost out to my olive 250 for foot-tapping boogie with my 52 preamp, so I never got one.

I also found the non-DR 300 a bit sterile. However, I have just swapped to a 300DR, which is a great improvement in dynamics IMHO and does not lose out to my old 250 in any way - it’s all pluses.

With a 52, 252 or 552 level pre-amp, the 300DR is a fantastic power amp. With any lesser preamp, I’d argue that a 250 of some sort would be just as good and much better value.

The 272 is held by many owners here to be a great preamp and probably good enough to show a 300DR’s benefits, but as a streaming source it can be bettered.

Some 300s will have been serviced and given the DR treatment by Naim, which makes them as good as current DR. Non-DR kit can no longer be upgraded that way, hence the widening price gap on eBay I’d imagine.

2 Likes

About £300 in the UK, at Class A.

1 Like

Perfect, thank you

Thank you, really interesting around the different flavours of 250

My dealer has suggested to me that today’s DR model beats the non DR model one step above. I have no way of verifying if this is the case but am very happy with my NAP200DR.

I agree with others on here that say the streaming/DAC part of the 272 can be bettered. The 272’s preamp however is easily capable of showing the benefits of a better front end. IMO the advice to add a 555 to the 272 is now past its sell by date. If you do want a 272 I’d think about spending the money you would have spent on a PS to add a better streamer/ DAC. Then you would hear the benefits of a better power amp too.

1 Like