What makes the 552 better than the others

I’ve had a 552 DR since Wednesday. It was made available on loan to me through my dealer by Naim. A big thank you.

I feel very happy with my 252 + SuperCap DR (2 and 3 years old respectively). I’ve spent a lot of time getting the system setup. It sounds really good on lots of music.

I’ve gradually got to hear more and more of what is on each album with the 252. However, I happened to be listening to Queen - Greatest Hits Vol 1 when the call came out of the blue (I’ve been waiting two months). It exhibited a phenomenon of the vocals going a bit quiet at times on some tracks.

I continued playing this after swapping the preamps (new Burndy, Snaic and Powerline) - in fact looking like new despite its serial number. Much more umph and excitement, and the vocals didn’t go quiet anywhere. In fact one could tell that other members were singing as well. Guitars sound much better.

So my conclusion is that the 552 is much faster than the 252 - another way of saying it reveals more detail because it can follow the source signal better. The notes are fuller and the decays more complex. With other music that sounded as good as I could hope for the difference was smaller, but more detail, female voices hitting the pitch more quickly, and therefore sounding louder…

So I would be interested in hearing from those who have made a similar journey as to the changes you noticed. @Simon-in-Suffolk described his experience as a more refined sound.

I’d also be interested in knowing whether quietness in some vocals with the 252 can be fixed - is it a timing problem (phase of left and right not quite right)?

How can I expect the 552 sound to develop as it warms up/burns in (will the new Burndy and SNAIC take a long time)? Can I use my 252 Burndy and SNAIC? I haven’t had a bad day yet.

Oh, and the power supply hums quite loudly which the SC didn’t.

Listening to Dvorak 8, one we never get tired of, the various sections of the orchestra sound so clear and well balanced with each other. The drums sound so natural and vibrant without being loud.

Phil

That is about it - you are doomed - never listen to something higher-up the Naim hierarchy unless you can afford to buy it!

I compared 252 against 552 prior to my purchase of the latter and it was not a subtle difference. The 552 did transients properly - decay after transients especially - and the bass was far more powerful and darker-cleaner.

DB.

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Owning a 552 from new or even from a service can be a long and bumpy ride I’m afraid. The longer I’ve owned one the more I’ve come to appreciate just how transparent it is. Not only with what it reveals about music but what it reveals about your system set-up. It is, I think, the most sensitive component in the Naim range, with maybe the possible exception of the ND555 - something new seems to be discovered about this daily.

When a 552, good source, amp and speakers are working well it will create a musical experience that is very very close to the real thing. People say it a lot but you truly forget about the ‘hifi’ and become totally immersed in a musical event with all the ‘theatre’ and ‘drama’ of the real thing.

However, be sloppy with the set-up or source and it will be good but not magical. This rule still applies to lower level Naim stuff but you just don’t seem to notice it so much.

Sit back and enjoy the ride. It’ll be hard to let it go.

Hi Geko, I found my 252 very fussy!

I agree with you about just listening to the music. It’s so nice that the music sinks in effortlessly and draws the mind in. I am perhaps lucky that this demo one quickly came on song.

My RP10 with a mere Aria received a noticeable uplift as well.

Phil

Hi DB, Thanks. It may be difficult to get off the hook this time!

I didn’t lack power in the bass before, but I’d say the bass is more refined now and more enjoyable.

Phil

Strange that, I’ve never found my 252 at all fussy. No doubt I’d love a 552 but simply can’t justify the outlay so won’t even listen in case that new car purchase is put off!

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Hi Ravenswood, we have very similar kit (252, 300, Sopra 2). I can’t remember what racks you use. Maybe Fraim would have saved me some headaches?

Phil

Quadraspire SVT bamboo. I need three racks so the Fraim was out of the question as the racks needed to sit in a gap beside an Inglenook fireplace and I didn’t want a staggered or back to front arrangement. The Sopras fire lengthways in a room 36 by 24 feet. I’ve also not encountered the harsh treble some that associate Focals with. Perhaps it’s my age and the natural roll off in HF!
I also use a full SL loom.

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Hi Ravenswood, mine are HiFi Racks with Naim glass, cups and balls. I now have 3 racks with lots of air between boxes.

My Sopra 2s fire across the lounge 6m wide. I’ve never felt them too bright.

Playing Mary Black Shine. The bass guitar is sounding good on ‘What does it matter’ - it’s well defined and clear without being heavy. The others guitars also.

Now playing Natalie Merchant ‘Ophelia’. There are very low drums beats on ‘Frozen Charlotte’ that now sound really good. The album thus far is sounding really sweet.

Phil

Imagine the difference upgrading the source is then. 552 pales into insignificance to that.

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then the topic of Nap300 vs Nap500… it never ends :slight_smile:

enjoy it…

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I went from 252 to 552 around four years ago. They both sound superb but to my ears they don’t sound remotely similar. It’s difficult for me to put into words. Realism versus top quality HiFi?

When something sounds so transparent and realistic, it is difficult to analyse the performance, because the only thing you can hear is the music. It’s more about how a vocalist shapes their notes, where they sing from, how musicians use their instruments and rigs to get a certain signature, who is leading, who is following, and the points at which they cross over. And the timing. All Naim things do superb timing. It’s just that some are more superb than others. Difficult to describe. easier to hear and appreciate.

Frequency range, depth of imaging, bass extension, and things like that were forgotten long before my 552 had fully run in. These things are what they are, because if the system, and particularly the speakers are well matched to the room, the 552 (especially with a 500) will portray as much bass extension, imaging, detail, information, etc. as was in the mastering. The S1 must be utterly fascinating. I think that on balance, I’m glad I haven’t heard one.

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Hi Harry, I like that reply a lot. My journey has moved to Stephen Bishop Kovacevich playing Beethoven Piano Concerto No 5 (Emperor) - Colin Davis and LSO. The piano and other instruments are just so convincing now. This is a big jump from my 252, but play other albums and it’s really quite small.

One doesn’t need to find the words to describe what was missing on the Emperor before, but the delicacy of the pianist can be appreciated, the dynamics of the instrument, the music has depth, all the instruments are connecting to deliver the composition.

Phil

Phil, is this a recent demo 552 from your dealer or an older one?

Dave, arrived on Wednesday. Tried a year ago but my setup wasn’t up to it. Come and listen.

Phil

Going from a 252 to a 552 just before Christmas was a real eye (ear?) opener.

Just more real, more visceral, but you do get warts ‘n’ all. The recording, the rest of your kit and set up need to be spot on to get the very best form the 552. But when everything is right, the 552 just sings. Just sit back, relax and enjoy.

I am sure the brain is having to work less hard with the 552 in control as it doesn’t have to fill in, correct or interpret the missing bits or the bits that aren’t portrayed quite right with lesser pre amps. Which allows the listener to relax. Just a theory.

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I found going from the 252 to 552 not as big a jump as going from the 282 to 252. The 552 is fantastic and it gets you closer… it certainly is faster and sharper than the 252… and the frequency extremes are more defined, especially low end… so much so I did have to move my speakers around with the 552.
However both NACs with right source provide incredible insight and allow you to listen into the music and feel the flow and vibe … the key thing with the 552 is you get more of the atmosphere, feel and stereo imaging of the audio… if there in the recording…

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I moved from 282/SCDR to 552DR, having twice tried the 252 and been underwhelmed. For me the 552 brought all the refinement, subtlety of the 252, doubled it, and then added the boogie and exuberance of the 282, which made music so involving.

The first time I heard a 552 wasn’t a jaw-dropping moment that I know some on here have described. It was obviously better, more detailed etc etc but not a ‘wow’ moment. However, unlike some other kit that was initially very impressive and then, over time, became ‘normal’, I’ve found with the 552 that it still regularly surprises me at the new insights it gives me on albums that I thought I knew inside out. It’s still doing that after almost 3 years of ownership which I guess is quite a testament to its abilities.

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Hi Nigel, I read and enjoyed your thread on the old forum. It probably encouraged me to try again last November, but I had to wait rather a long time. I like you theory as I am enjoying the music.

So far it delivers, but I hope this pair of boxes just gets better and better. Visceral is not a word I’d use - musical yes. I’m trying to describe the musical journey in my posts. It would help if others had had the same experience (ahaha…) with a piece of music or knew a fix for a bad experience. This hobby is just so complex though.

Getting the most out of classical music means a lot to me. I thought the 252 would do that, but the 552 beats it hands down on piano. It would be good to get early Genesis right also. With the 252 I find some of their’s overpowering. There were brief times when it was right.

I don’t want to have figure out what’s wrong - I just want to know it right.

Phil

I have to agree with you about the 552. Something inside of me wishes I could get all those good things about the 552 with the 252 but just slightly less. But it doesn’t seem to work like that.

Maybe my speaker placement was right for the 552 but not the 252. Some music was perfect with the 252 but never the piano (some works enjoyable if not sparkling, others just dull and I could take it in). TV was always good before. Getting much more atmosphere for everything when it’s there. Heard a xylophone in a Natalie Merchant album. It grabbed me because it sounded so real. I think when instruments don’t sound right the brain thinks about what’s wrong, but when it’s right it thinks about the music.Cognitive dissonance?

Phil