What the 500 reveals the 300 doesn’t

Hi all,

People often ask what they’d notice as per the next upgrade, and answers are always subjective - sometimes differing. Well I’ve just established a clear metric one can use which avoids subjective proclivities, time of day, alcohol doses…

Aventinre - Agnes Obel

With the 300 there was a piano in a fixed place. With the 500, you can hear where each key is with respect to each other.

Now, here’s a follow up. If anyone can hear where each key is with respect to each other and they have a 300, then I know my speakers need upgrading! (Monitor Audio PL200.)



I’ll be back……

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I assume you have compared the 300 and 500 on your current system, in the same room? If so, try some other speakers.

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Hi Mike, yes I have - exactly the same - and I’ve just (yesterday) received the 500 back from servicing so I’m warming up. Had the 300 from new 2016 so that wasn’t in need of a service, was well warmed up.

And this track I know very well.

That’s why I’d post this thread as I often read this forum, but don’t comment. I think it’s a worthwhile theme I’d contribute to as the above post is what struck me and it can approximate objectivity if one regards all my little controls as being sufficient- and it doesn’t refer to specifications just sound.

(Plus I have a separate circuit connected to the white box outside my house - I.e. no influence from any other electrical component in my house.)



It depends on the mastering and mixing, but yes, I get excellent soundstage response like that with my 300DR. For me the main thing is how well I can pick out the position and depth of instruments listening to large scale orchestral works. That’s the most amazing thing to me. It’s not so much the amp and speakers that made the difference, as much as a pair of well tuned REL subs, a better turntable, and the proper isolation base for the turntable.


For me the 300DR over the 250DR gave a more enriched musical experience across the piece, but 2 things mostly, as the @JonP has said of the 500DR more accurate instrument placement but also far greater insight at lower volumes. The 500DR would offer more of the former but lower volume?



as you can see, this album has a rather poor dynamic…maybe not the best choice to asses the quality of your system


one with a greater dynamic range…to see if you find a difference

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I can’t hear where each key is with a live piano - unless my head is in it! Must be very close miked?


Brilliant- thankyou, great post/thread.

My test track equivalent is listening to Florence and the Machine and the ‘inching’ along of hands on the harp strings.
Great top tier’ headphones render this with depth (front end kit being up to the challenge), and don’t just give left to right positioning.

I use “Straight Ol Line” EnzSO (track 4) and listen to the spoons walk the ailes of the orchestra.
On some Focal Clears the exagerated movement is fatiguing to listen to, but with some Ultrasone Edition 5; equal to the rendition through the den hifi setup.

Little nuances like the perceivable ‘inching’ movement on some instruments as the musician plays can be the night’day difference in perception that ‘grades kit’ for me, too.

Its like saying all DACs sound the same because the rest of the rig doesn’t show up audible differences, and then hearing a nice R2R on a capable front end and just realising ‘journey done’.

Clearly hearing movments of an inch rendered on a recreated stage simulated many many metres in front of me can be exhilerating… (so long as not overexagerated or unfocused like the Clear’ headphones seem to render… the spacial characteristic improvements that can be found ‘above’ the Clears (better headwear) certainly justfies upgrading…

That being said… took the Focal Clears 1000 hours breakin to be even able to render the mishmash they presently do… (perhaps more time will make them image like an HD800?)

I’m not a fan of clinical accuracy over timbe/tonal accuracy… and I am scared that uneducated consumers/‘white belt consumers’ chasing spec sheet targetting products is the ‘death of musicality’… whilst we buy stuff that is less musical but ‘measures well’.
When top tier stuff gives detail in a controlled way (ie still focusing on musicality)- that is a win for consumers (who need be educated about ‘consumer-fi’)…

I trust Naim house sound and tuning and direction…

… any other tracks and specific cues to identify?
(great thread, love ‘test tracks’)


I use a 300DR and although I don’t hear the location of piano keys, I certainly do hear the layout of the strings of the piano.


Steely Dan “Negative girl “. So many layers ,always new things to discover…

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Another great one I’ve just picked up which the NAP 500 reveals which the NAP 300 doesn’t:

Matchstalk Cats and Dogs

You can hear him sing ‘matchSTALK’ with the 500, not the 300 - the prior sound was ambiguous ‘stick or stalk’.

Give that a go. Quite a fun song - one hit wonder I believe!


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his aerosol went ‘bang’
and all that’s left was his black flat cap and his clogs!

Obviously had a Naim system.

Another one:

Telegraph Road - Dire Straits

NAP300 = flame
NAP500 = flames


Another one:

John Hopkins - Singularity (album)

500 trounces the 300!

Ain’t science fun?

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Trounces: ‘love it’!

of course many observations by audiofools like myself are high on hyperbole and make mich ‘mountain out of mole hills’…

for those who know- the descriptions are apt; but for those on the outside of this occult (hidden knowledge) science it must all seem like crazy talk.

(you can tell I believe in R2R DACs and ‘valve like’ sound qualities as boons/benefits)

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NAP 500 does plurals that NAP 300 singularly ignores.

Good to know when I feel I can listen to Stairways to Heaven again.



Look this must stop, Mark will sound brilliant on a Dansette, nothing else is required…


The 500 was the hifi gear that had the shortest life in my place, it didn’t make a month. Indeed it had more refined highs, more controlled bass, but overall musical satisfaction from my previous 250 and later 300 is something I couldn’t ignore.

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