The only obvious changes between the NAC552 and a 282, a 252 or even a Supernait are that (a) the knobs are different, (be) the case is in anodized brushed aluminium and (c) you get the funky R-Com handset bundled in. The matching 552PS power supply only works with the 552 pre, so there has not even been the normal ‘soft’ upgrade path to get here.
Thankfully, the 552 reveals itself to be a LOT more accomplished than its lesser brethren. After all, the sophistication of the 552 lies inside the boxes. For a start it has suspension. This pre-amp comes with transit screws.
Far from being a difficult analytical listen, the 552 is, prior to the arrival of S1 Statement, the most benign preamplifier that Naim make. It resolves detail, dynamics, space and intonation (in spades) but it does not make a fuss over a duff recording or even a less than perfect source or power amp. I guess that you could say it has a “nice tone”. Or more accurately can let you hear the vibrancy and richness of instruments and voices. A single note on, say, a saxophone can sound so utterly goose-bumpingly glorious that the tune is an added bonus.
Yes we like it – and if the choice of upgrade is this or a better source component, the 552 could well be the better place to start.