Slightly harsh/bright - Nova + 250DR

Hello I added a NAP 250DR to my Nova as an upgrade. On the whole, I love the uplift in sound quality as follows:

  • wider soundstage, and feels more 3D than before
  • bass is more controlled
  • instrument separation has improved
  • vocals sound more pure somehow and a bit less recessed
  • increased PRAT

BUT (shame there has to be one!), some recordings sound a bit brighter/harsher than before. I only notice it when listening to trumpet and saxophone on Jazz recordings. Before the addition of the 250DR, the sound was just a bit smoother and the higher frequencies were never uncomfortable to listen to.

I’d be interested in suggestions that will just take the edge off and smooth out the top end.

My speakers are Neat Elite Classics and my speaker cable is Chord Epic Twin. There is a Power line on the Nova and I’ll be getting another for the NAP at some point.

Before anyone says I should trade the Nova for a NSC222, yes that would probably be amazing but I just can’t afford it. I love the current system and want to stick with it for now. I love a 2 box system. Just that one little nagging issue…

Thanks in advance.

The Elite ribbon tweeter may be to blame? I have heard their tweeters in other Neats and found it a bit ‘much’. Maybe it is getting fed a bit more from the 250?

The least expensive tweak I would suggest would be to see if you can borrow some different speaker cables that might smooth things out. NACA5 the obvious suggestion, but your dealer might have other options.



What is your room like? (Dimensions? Speaker and listening positions relative to walls - front, rear and sides? Windows? Curtains? What sort of floor covering? Generally soft or hard furnishings? What is wall like at first reflection points? )


I think you should do a little research to determine the real cause of the problem you have before you throw money at expensive tweaks like cable upgrades which probably won’t solve it. Save the money, and perhaps it will bring forward the time when you can afford that 222.
It’s common for an amp upgrade to upset the balance like this as it tends to increase frequency extension, and a more revealing amp can expose the relative weakness of a lesser preamp and source. Improving these may be a solution, or it may increase the levels of high frequencies that are causing your problem and make it worse. So that 222 will no doubt bring improvements, but like the 250, it may also bring some disadvantages too. I would try to get a home demo of one so that you know what it will do. If it doesn’t work out, consider treating your room acoustics or changing speakers instead.


With Naim, apart maybe for the new NC range, it’s generally advised to have better preamp vs the amp , not the contrary.
Not sure the issue resides here on that, but maybe.

Some use that combo with satisfaction here. But maybe different speakers, softer on highs, counter balance the brightness that would appear with different speakers.
But it’s just speculation from me.

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Nova is a great ‘one box’ system. Opinion is divided as to the benefits of adding a NAP, which was not iirc, ever promoted by Naim as an upgrade path. Frenchroooster has mentioned only some are satisfied.

I tried a NAP250DR on my Nova and did not consider the addition beneficial. Substituting a better power amp, against the one in the box, while by necessity leaving the streamer/preamp unchanged, leaves the resulting combination open to displaying any weakness, present as unfortunately you have discovered.

No right or wrong, since we all enjoy in different ways. However it is not a universal upgrade.
There may be options to improve the sound to your liking. Spending anything on cables, speaker cables or anything, unless you can audition first, should be avoided.

The NSC222 + NC250, is in a different leagueto the Nova + NAP and is therefore not directly comparable. I recognise cost may be considerably more or not, if all purchased new at current prices, against units already owned.

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Hey all, really appreciate your responses.

I think I’ve actually solved the issue.

The Nova was sat on a toughened glass panel which was sat on naim balls and cups (the ones used in Fraim). I removed the ball and cups, and replaced them with pieces of medium density foam/rubber (the little blue rectangular sticky pads you get attached to glass when new to protect the glass when placed against other glass).

I’m pretty gobsmacked to say that the slight harshness (and it was slight - I tried to stress that in my original post) has gone. It sounds prefect to my ears. Just listened to come Coltrane and Rollins to be sure and it sounds so enjoyable.

I need to listen for a day or two to double check, but I honestly believe that I’ve cracked it. Very very pleased with myself right now.

Funnily enough, when I originally put the Nova on the glass (on the balls and cups) before I acquired a 250DR, I remember being pretty taken aback by how much impact it had on the sound quality. The Nova (with my speakers, my room, my ears), needed a little something to make it sound a little less warm and cuddly, and the balls and cups did an amazing job - an undeniable improvement.

After introducing the 250DR, the opposite course of action was needed - hence why I thought of trying it.

So, if anyone is experiencing a bit of harshness in their system (in the HF’s) and their source or amp is sat on glass, cups and balls, try replacing the cups and balls with something not so rock solid. The difference it can make is surprising.

Very happy :+1::blush:


How long has the system been powered on? Is this a new 250DR or used? Give everything some time to settle in.

Please don’t under estimate the importance of cable dressing and allowing time for components to burn in and/or warm up.

Believe me you’ll save yourself a lot of stress and maybe even money.

Far too often in the past I’ve judged components ignoring these principles.

Like you’ve mentioned materials effect the sound of gear. Glass sounds very different to wood. I know it’s surprising but it’s a fact.

I’ll bow out now before somebody tells me that it’s all nonsense and I’m hearing things.

Good luck.


Hi Khan, totally with you. I’ve learned over time not to make snap judgements and I’m also a believer in the little things (like cable dressing) making a difference. The amp is used so fully run in - and what a great amp it is. Thanks.

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:ok_hand::+1: I have good memories of the 250DR. I loved the tone especially. I had it partnered with the 252DR

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A two-headed Hydra mains cable (from Grahams HiFi in Canonbury Yard, London N1) may make a worthwhile improvement to the sound of your system for not a large outlay.

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Hi Graham.

Thanks for the suggestion. What is the thinking behind it?

It was the power cable advised by Naim, but 30 years ago. lol.

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