Naim: A legendary brand in high-end Hi-Fi and something of an institution (some may say cult) amongst audiophiles. We felt it was time we presented a review on one of our most popular pre/power combinations, the NAP 250DR and NAC-N 272. Our most popular power amplifier, coupled with a complimentary high-performance streaming preamp.
Settling in, once again, to Audio Affair’s listening lounge, it was time to see what was what in the world of Naim…
A Classic Pairing
The Naim NAP 250DR is one of Naim’s truly classic offerings; it’s our most popular power amplifier, here at Audio Affair, and for good reason. Originally launched back in 1975, the original design was so good that it’s lived on to the present day effectively unchanged, barring some cosmetic and production changes.
In contrast, the NAC-N 272 is one of Naim’s more recent offerings; combining straightforward, hassle-free, yet high-performance streaming functionality with a high-quality, traditional analogue preamplifier. It’s typically minimal and purist in the Naim style and all the better for it.
The day’s listening tests were conducted via Tidal (natively supported via the NAC-N 272) with the NAP 250DR driving a pair of ProAc DT8 loudspeakers. Perfectly in keeping with the “no-nonsense audio” approach of the Naim gear, the ProAc DT8’s eschew exotic veneers and fancy finishes for outright engineering and value.
Running a pair of 8ohm woofers, configured to present a 4ohm load to the Naim NAP 250DR power amplifier, they proved an excellent match to this classic power amplifier. Other options include the NAP 200DR (itself originally launched in 1971) and the superb NAP 300DR which offers flagship performance for a more attainable price.
The Naim Magic
From the start, the Naim experience is clean, hassle-free and straightforward. Your author has experienced a great many proprietary streaming apps, from a great many companies; some of them were awkward to the point of frustration. The Naim App is truly superb though, offering effortless control of the NAC N-272 and Tidal.
Cuing up Miles Davis’ classic jazz track, Freddie Freeloader the whole system exudes a sense of refined control. The performance is detailed, clean, precise and neutral, yet never feels sterile or detached; this is immediately, and inescapably, the sound of modern Hi-Fi. It’s an effortless performance which is hugely impressive and leaves one eager to explore other sonic delights…
Daft Punk’s huge opening track Give Life Back to Music demonstrates the wide effortless bandwidth this system delivers. Stereo imaging is wide and exciting with hard panned elements of the mix as equally defined as those panned centrally. There’s a wonderfully airy sense to the performance, which is again clean and precise.
Feeling very much in the party mood, Disco pioneer Giorgio Morodor graces the system with his electro masterpiece 74 Is the New 24. The effortless power and control of the system is displayed in abundance. Undoubtedly, the Naim NAP 250DR power amplifier is showing it’s true colours here, contributing to the immensely fast and rhythmic performance.
The NAC N-272 feeds a superbly clean and clear signal to that legendary power amplifier, which never once gives any impression of being strained or pressured. The bass sweeps of the track go low and deep, yet never interfere with the incredible detail of the arpeggiated synthesisers; there’s some deeply impressive circuitry behind those minimalist, black faceplates, of that you can be certain!
Finishing off the listening tests, Led Zeppelin’s epic Kashmir, highlights how open, uncoloured and clean the Naim setup is. Your reviewer must have heard Kashmir hundreds of times over the years, but never as clean, open or clear as this. Indeed, the Naim NAP/NAC duo frame the original recording wonderfully, highlighting the quality and scale of the original recording.
Power, Control, Precision, Transparency
As is by now clear, there was an overwhelming impression left by the Naim NAC N-272 and NAP 250DR combination; power, control, precision and transparency. Where the Naim system really impressed, however, was that it never felt clinical or sterile; the music was only ever represented in a truly faithful and uncoloured way.
If you find yourself in the market for a simple, high-performance Hi-Fi system, which just works (and that can’t be overstated enough), then the combination of the Naim NAC N-272, Naim NAP 250DR and ProAc DT8 loudspeakers comes very highly recommended indeed!