Tube pre into naim power

Currently happily running my new NDX 2 directly into my NAP 300DR and from there to my Focal Sopra IIs. Sounds very very nice, but this niggling worry in the back of my mind keeps telling me I’m leaving something on the table. Particularly since the sound is much nicer with small ensembles and vocals, than with full orchestral works. Wondering if this is a limitation of the output stage on the NDX 2 (which in fairness, wasn’t meant to drive a power amp).

French rooster got me thinking about an EAR 912/868, and I was wondering if any others have tried a similar combination, or other tubed preamps into a Naim power amp. Would love opinions and advice from those with experience with these sorts of matchups.

Would also love comparisons with 202/282 (can’t afford 252) solid-state preamps that I might be able to afford second hand. Let’s say anything under £6k new (so ballpark 282+HCDR or EAR 868PL prices or less).

Please no advice to get 252/552/S1, I’m just not going there. Thanks in advance!

Mr Underhill, if he uses the same name on this new forum, can advise you also.
On the french forum, a member preferred the ear 864 in nap 250 , vs 282/hicap: same dynamics but nicer tones for the 864.

Good luck with your search. If you come someday in Paris, i can invite you for a listen.

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I was in Paris last June, wish I’d known!

Did you ever listen to an Aesthetix Calypso? That one also seems compelling, but I have no idea how it sounds into a Naim power amp.

i have listened to it but find it a bit dull. Nice sounding but a bit boring.
It’s not easy to find a tube pre which is dynamic, with tubes characteristics, with no noise ( some are a bit noisy), and with a good match with naim amp.
Mcintosh tube pre work well too, but the sound is not as visceral as with ear pre. However good match too.
Perhaps audio research could match, but i didn’t tried.

I choose the 912 also for its wonderful phono stage( and remote). The CAT sl1 renaissance had no remote, but was really very very good, with superb phono stage too.

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I am in a similar position and is actually looking at PrimaLuna DiaLogue pre-amp. Incoming system is NDX 2 + NAP 250 DR.

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you must absolutely try before, to be sure the primaluna and 250 will match. Let us know, i am curious.

I have never tried a tube pre into a Naim amplifier and i see no reason it wouldn’t work. However, many believe that a Naim preamplifier into a Naim amplifier makes ‘one’ and the preamp has more influence when it comes to that Naim sound.

If this is true ( which i think it is ), what is the use of using a Naim power amp to amplify the sound of another brand’s preamplifier?

I looked at the PrimaLuna as well… note that the prologue output impedance is too high, so it would have to be the dialogue. The made in china bit turned me off a little…

For cables, what did you use? I saw in another threat that you had them made, but did you use the XLR outputs on the 912 or the RCA?

What I have read regarding Naim’s approach to the power output transistors, not using parallelled devices to give the required capability, makes sense and may mean that the Naim power amps would sound better than other amps even if the remainder is identical. This is what makes me interested in hearing myself some time, which if it ever happens would be unlikely to be with a Naim preamp.

I think many who follow this line of thinking underrate the importance of the relationship between power amp and speakers. The NAP 300DR work particularly well with my Sopra IIs, so in my mind that part of the equation is fixed.

My thinking as well. Plus there’s the fun factor… If I bought the 202/HCDR/NASPC I’d always feel like I had a crappy placeholder for a 282, which was itself a poor cousin to the 252 I should have driving my 300. And a part of me would always wonder what Simon’s 552 would bring to the party… I don’t want to get on the upgrade wagon. Instead, doing the 868/912 or Calypso or PrimaLuna is a one-and-done with a new dimension (tube) to the party. And each is just one box, not three.

2 rca to din/xlr to the 250dr. Before i had the nap 300 dr, so i had two cables, din/xlr from one side of the 300 to rca and same for the other side.
Chord made me this cables, they know very well naim. You can choose the cable you want , i choosed chord signature tuned array.
Yes i had the 300dr before, but it’s another story Perizoqui…

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PS: the match was very good also with the 300dr. But a bit too much bass for my room , and i needed some cash too…

Noticed that Upscale audio has free shipping and 30 day no-questions return policy. Too hard to pass up a free in-home audition! Just ordered one. I’ll report back when it arrives. Wish other brands did this!

My concern as well. The prologue has an output impedance of 2.8kΩ so would be problematic. But the Dialogue at around 260Ω should be fine. We’ll see…

Reading the literature I found that while the PrimaLuna is made in China, the internal components are made all over the world (Germany, Japan, France) so the overall component count is probably no more Chinese than anything else. I know, rationalizing. Still, let’s see how it sounds.

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if you can return it back, no problem, it’s very worthwhile to try. Primaluna has good reputation also.
I will follow your feedback.

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What about from the NDS streamer into the 912? Did you do RCA to RCA, or DIN to RCA?

din to rca. When will you receive the pre? you know where to modify the cables ?

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Preamp should be here next week. I was going to order the cable from Flashback, would you recommend something else?

Thanks @frenchrooster for answering all these questions! I’m very grateful for your help as I try this experiment out!

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If it is not too much of a trouble. Do show us the cable as I may order also. I live in Singapore so can’t take advantage of the Upscale offer. Therefore relying on feedback from wonderful forum member like you :+1:

i ordered the cable by my naim dealer, who ordered it from chord. It must be din/xlr ( from nap 250) to 2 rca . Any chord range of cables you want, they will make the modifications.
Mine is signature tuned array interconnect.