Tube pre to Naim power

Hi guys, I was wondering if it’s possible to connect a tube preamp to Naim nap 135s?

I would imagine a custom cable would need to be made but I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t pose a problem.

If your pre has regular unbalanced RCA out it should work fine if you get the 135 cables reterminated at the amp end, or have some made up with XLRs with the pin layout done to suit.
Whether it’ll sound any good is another matter. Only one way to find out.

@frenchrooster will no doubt have an opinion to offer.

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Obviously a non Naim pre of any type carries some inherent (but very low) risk. Naim power amps being reliant on a bandwidth limited signal from a Naim pre.

But many have found compatible combinations. I doub’t it being a tube pre has and special bearing here.

Conversely, Naim preamps with non Naim power amps are known to work rather well. Certainly Naim pre into tube power amps has been noted before as working rather well.

You can certainly try a valve preamp / controller connecting to a Naim power amp.
One of the primary jobs of a preamp and controller is to provide a matched impedance per frequency response for its connected power amp irrespective of volume or source type… thereby allowing the power amp to function optimally… as the valve preamp won’t have been specifically matched to the Naim NAP there will be a degree of trial and error in terms of performance, but you are unlikely to hurt anything as long as baseline levels match.

I believe @frenchrooster is one member who uses a valve pre into a Naim power amp.

Thanks guys. I will have a word with the manufacturer about impedance matching and compatibility.

Although tbh I’m already a little discouraged.

Your 52 and 135s are an absolute classic combination and are literally designed to work together. If you have hankerings for a different sound it may be worth investigating a whole new amplifier, valve or otherwise. As Simon notes above, Naim preamps define the operating conditions of the power amps. Mix and match systems may work well or they may not; it’s really a case of trial and error.

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I run the reverse (sort of) with a naim nac282 (and 2 HCDRs) into a Musical Fidelity Nu Vista 300 power amp. Now, it’s not a valve power amp, even though it has 4 nu vistas inside.
Does it work, yes of course it does. Does it sound better than a nap250 or 300, I don’t know, because I’ve never tried.
I bought it when I was nearly all MF gear, so it made sense. And having had it serviced and upgraded atbsugnificant cost, I expect to keep it for ever!

As Chrissu said, it’s very possible. I had a Nap 300 dr then a 250 dr connected to a tube pre, an Ear 912.
You have to connect indeed from unbalanced RCA from the pre.
Chord made me custom cables.
But not all tubes pre will work, due to electrical matching. Ear, Prima Luna, Macintosh will work very well.

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A friend of mine used to use a NAP180 with, if I remember correctly, a Conrad-Jonhson valve preamp. It surely didn’t have anything wrong and, to my recall, didn’t sound much different or worse than with a SS preamp.
HH’s remarks are sensible though. But as long as nothing hazardous to the electronics is done, trial and error is still one of the best ways to learn about what we truly like or not.
My opinion only.

I hear you.

Just to give some context, I do really enjoy the sound from my setup and I’m not convinced I want to make a change. So why am I enquiring? Audiophiles curse I guess.

I read a post recently comparing the NAC 552 to the S1 pre and the user stated that the 552 sounded closed compared to the s1 pre. Completely understandable considering the huge price difference. Although I do wonder, can this openness and resolution be achieved at a significantly lower cost whilst maintaining what’s great about Naim. I also read another post saying as good as the 552 is, it’s almost a 20 year old design which has been revisited recently (DR tech)

Now my thoughts are, regardless of the age of the 552, having owned it and understanding Naim’s unique approach, I’m still very confident a 552 (and my 52) will stand head to head with the very best preamps available today.

Having said that, curiosity has me thinking that perhaps a modern amp from a very good manufacturer that designs exceptional gear could offer something better (maybe). I have a particular one in mind.

Now my concern is, although I may gain texture, soundstage, luscious midrange and smoothness in the treble, I’ll lose that lightning quick attack, slam erm basically the PRAT that I get from the 52 or did from the 552. This is of paramount importance to me as it engages me in hifi like nothing else. This is also why I have been clinging on to my 52 despite very reasonable offers of late.

Another reason I’m not totally convinced is I absolutely love the vintage aesthetic of the NAC52…even more so than the sleek look of the 552. I know this doesn’t bother many people but I definitely buy gear with my eyes as well as my ears.

What’s your current setup then if you don’t mind me asking?

It’s absolutely the reason for me to have added a tube pre, to add textures, luscious midrange and some refinement in the timbers that, for me, Naim lack a bit. But I couldn’t sacrifice prat and urgency in the music, so it was a long search. The Ear 912 could offer me all that, and a wonderful phono inside too.
A majority of tubes, not all, will sacrifice some dynamics and bass. But not all. Like the Ear 912. Conrad Johnson for instance is marvellous in the midrange, but lacks urgency and dynamics.
I went from NAC 252/ Nap 250 to Ear 912/ 250 at that time.

Today I have Nds/ 555dr/ Rega P10/ Lyra Kleos into Ear 912/ 250 dr.
I preferred the Ear 912 vs the 252, on all aspects. But the 552 is on another league vs the 252. So can’t comment on how it can compare vs the Ear.


Was it the 252 or 252DR that you owned?

252 non dr

Historically I have used an EAR864 & EAR868 with Naim power amps to great effect. As you say you need to get the right cables made up.

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