The NAC-N 272 is not the first streaming preamplifier from Naim, but it is the most ambitious. It joins the NAC-N 172 and ups the ante in all key respects, representing a step up from Uniti level single box solutions and a first step for existing Naim system users who have yet to join the streaming revolution. Designed by John Green and Steve Sells the NAC-N 272 is an analogue and digital preamplifier with full wired/wireless streaming capabilities for all manner of sources, including Bluetooth aptX and for the first time in a Naim product, DSD. The list of compatible formats is the longest yet seen but it’s DSD64 that works with DSF and DFF file formats that’s most controversial.
The processing engine is based on that found in the NDX/S streamers and the analogue electronics are “shrunk from the NAC 552”, Naim’s top preamp prior to Statement. For maximum sound quality with analogue sources the DSP and all digital elements are turned off when they are not required, and even when they’re in use optical isolation minimises noise. The NAC-N 272 has a resistor ladder volume control, shoulder bolts (bottom) that ‘float’ the PCB to minimise vibration and the option to add a DAB+/FM tuner module.
The digital side is run by a SHARC chip that does all the housekeeping including jitter removal and incorporates the DSD engine, it can also be updated across the web so there’s no need to return it to the dealer. Unusually this preamplifier accepts DSD signals via SPDIF and UPnP alongside USB, the traditional route. At present the Naim Unitiserve server is not able to send DSD via UPnP but this looks likely to change in future. At present Naim is recommending the Minim server for this purpose.
Those looking to upgrade the NAC-N 272 have the option of using one of Naim’s latest generation of external power supplies, the XP5 XS, XPS and 555 PS. A demonstration of the benefits accrued by adding the middle option proved that in a revealing system it’s more than worth its salt. The NACN-272 retails for £3,300 or £3,595 including the tuner module. www.naimaudio.com