Naim Audio NSC 222 streaming preamplifier with NPX 300

Naim Audio NSC 222 streaming preamplifier with NPX 300

Naim NSC 222 streaming preamplifier with NPX 300

Naim Audio NSC 222 streaming preamplifier

This is a HiFi Review of the Naim NSC 222 streaming preamplifier. With it, there is the matching external power supply, the Naim NPX 300. As an owner of the (old) Classic NAC-N 272 with the old XPS power supply (and an old NAP 250), I should be in a good place to comment on the New Classic NSC 222 performance. Interestingly, Naim has not sent me the new NAP 250 power amplifier. This means my choice of power amplification needs to be appropriate to these NSC 222 electronics.

Design Naim NSC 222

The Naim Stream Control (NSC) 222 is a streaming preamplifier, that supports most platforms including Spotify Connect, Apple Music, TIDAL, TIDAL Connect, and Qobuz. It is also compatible with every other input choice you could name; Bluetooth aptX, Airplay 2, Chromecast, UPnP servers, USB and it is Roon Ready. The 222 can handle bitrates of up to 32bit/284kHz and it supports DSD (64 and 128). From a streaming perspective, therefore, just about everything is covered.

Other Inputs

Naim NSC 222

Naim NSC 222 with Burndy cables from NPX 300 power supply

The Naim NSC 222 has a moving magnet (MM) input for a turntable. It also has a single RCA input and an 8-pin DIN input (the old Naim preferred connection).

Additionally, the rear of the 222 has two Burndy connectors for the external power supply, one analogue and the other digital power supply.

Naim NSC 222 Outputs

The 222 preamplifier has a single pair of standard XLR outputs (instead of the old Naim DIN output). This opens the preamplifier to power amplifiers other than the NAP 250 using the standard XLR connection, whereas in the past, you were looking for specialist cables for alternative power amplifiers. There is also an RCA output pair. By the way, unlike my 272, there is no fixed line out.

Other outputs include a 6.25mm headphone output inherited from the Uniti Atom Headphone Edition, Naim’s very special headphone amplifier/DAC.


There is an App to control everything. The new Naim Focal App is a huge improvement from the old one I have wrestled with over the years, and it is available on OS and Android. There is also a very nice remote control that fits the price tag.

Design NPX 300

Naim NPX 300

Naim NPX 300, understated power

The Naim NPX300 deactivates the internal power supply, reducing noise in the 222. It can, incidentally, be used on a Classic NAC N-272 or the NDX2 with the correct cables.

The NPX 300 features six power regulators inside it, using DR technology and learning from the flagship 555 DR power supply. The idea is to reduce noise and allow the 222 to concentrate on the signal path.


Naim NSC 222

The unboxing experience is a luxury experience

Both the 222 and NPX 300 are encased in a thick aluminium chassis with very square corners that are both lethal to the touch but satisfying. The casing is exquisite and is designed to offer both stable internal temperatures and reduced influences by magnetic fields. Luxurious build quality is what you feel from the unboxing process to setup. The experience is premium, which it should be at these prices (see below).

Sadly, the Classic Green Naim logo has been replaced with a new dimmable white illuminated logo.


Full details of the Naim NSC 222 streaming preamplifier are here.

The dimensions (HxWxD) are 9.15 x 43.2 x 31.75cm (35/8 x 17 x 121/2″). It weighs in at 11 kg (24.25 lbs).

Full details of the Naim NPX 300 power supply are here.

The dimensions (HxWxD) are 9.15 x 43.2 x 31.75cm (35/8 x 17 x 121/2″) and it weighs 14.4 kg (31.75 lbs).


This Naim NSC 222, the Naim NPX 300 power supply, and the new Naim NAP 250 power amplifier are £5,700 each (according to Oxford Audio Consultants, prices will increase by 10% in February 2024; I gather Naim Audio suggested these price rises).


Review Equipment

I have the Naim NSC 222 on a bench, on a granite block to help with isolation in the absence of a rack. The 300 is next to it. I use a Moor Amps Angel 6 power amplifier with Atlas Mavros Interconnects and Grun earthing cables from the Naim NSC 222. The Angel 6 drives Kudos Titan 505 loudspeakers with Atlas Mavros loudspeaker cable.

I’m using a Michell Gyro SE for the MM input because I have a Rega Exact cartridge on it, which is modest but effective.


Although the weights seem reasonable, these units do not feel 14.4 kg. Although they are significant and bulky, I guess it is not an issue once they’re in situ. The cooling fins are very sharp, and gloves are advised.

I did have the excellent Tellurium Q Ultra Black II XLR as output initially, however, the arrival of the Mavros interconnects, with their 3D printed connectors prompted a change of plan.  If I’m honest, after a bit of running in, there was no huge difference, but I prefer the Mavros with Grun at this time so there we are. Though the 222 XLR output is not truly balanced but pseudo-balanced, this releases the system from losing certain harmonic orders in the signal path. In the app, you need to change the output from XLR to RCA, and a tiny little click inside the 222 hints at a change in signal path.

The setup was as easy as it gets. The stiff Burndy cables are an absolute fitting pain, but when they’re in, you know it. Plug in the Ethernet cable, hit the Play and Home buttons on the remote, batteries included, and you’re off. I have the App anyway, but it took me 3 minutes.

For proper process and audiophile correctness, I gave the units a couple of days to settle in, extensively using Naim Radio and my own Naim UnitiServe.

I’ve noted that the unit powers off after 20 minutes of inactivity. This standby feature can be set in the App from never to a few hours.

Sound quality

This is an interesting review without the NAP 250; your preamplifier and power amplifier needs to be well-matched in performance terms. Fortunately, the Angel 6 power amplifier is exceptionally agile and has an effortless and uncoloured power delivery. However, I need to be clear: I’m listening to the streaming module and how it is freed up by the external power supply. Therefore, I’m focussing on the resolution, tone, and timing.

And for what it is worth, I feel as if I am hearing new stuff every day in my familiar review tracks, like Billie Eilish’s Lo Vas A Olividar (Qobuz FLAC, 24-bit, 96kHz), that reveals huge bass, ably delivered by the Angel 6 and Titan 505 combination, with the ever reliable Atlas cables.  I also have significant and noticeable details in the equally familiar Taylor Swift track Exile (Qobuz FLAC, 24-bit, 44.1kHz); the vocals are crisp and clear, and the birds in the background are tweeting in glorious ignorance of their stardom.

In more complex tracks, like the dreadful Burn it to the Ground by Nickleback (not my music, but it is a useful track to see if there’s separation and space in your system in the awful metal din!), there is space and room to find what you need from this track to the NSCs credit.  In an altogether more pleasant album like Max Richter’s Recomposed Four Seasons (Qobuz 24-bit, 44.1kHz) Summer 3 is the big one and the instrumentation is a delight to hear and the same depth and passion is in Autumn 1. Other tracks I’ve happily stumbled across include the exceptionally detailed acoustic guitar-led, Stick Season (Qobuz FLAC, 24-bit, 96kHz) by Noah Kahan, I have to say, I thought this was Passenger when I heard it. Overall, the 222 is an extremely easy piece of equipment to live with, and the App is a real gain from the previous iterations.

App Control and Remote

As I mentioned, the App is much better now and has been very stable. I have had no issues with my Android phone or the iPad. The remote is excellent, too, lighting up when picked up. Both the App and the remote are very responsive.

In the App, you can set Presets very easily. These can be internet radio stations, albums, or Playlists in both Qobuz and Tidal. Presets are useful if your phone or iPad is not handy and you just want to stick the radio on (for example). Presets and Favorites are not the same thing, but Favorites are useful too for shortcuts to particular albums, for example.

Based on my recent experience with the Neil Young Archives, it might be nice to have them accessible in the App, as we have in the BluOS platform.

The remote, incidentally, allows you to dim the White Naim logo up and down, literally, at the touch of a button. This is nice in the dark.

Headphone amplifier

I am fortunate to have the Meze Audio 109 Pro here for headphone output listening, having recently returned the excellent Focal Radiance. Again, Stick Season is absolutely beautiful with the excellent 109s. The elevated soundstage is notable, and this headphone output is a few levels up on my own NAC-N 272 headphone treatment.

Removing the NPX 300 PSU

Naim NPX 300

Naim NPX 300 rear

If I’m honest, unplugging the external supply is a slightly dispiriting feeling. As I know from my experience with the XPS, there is no upside to it. It leaves you with the feeling of having a Bentley but then not using the top two gears; what’s the point?

What happens? Firstly, you need to return the ‘link’ plugs at the rear to their previous home; otherwise, nothing happens at all. The soundstage is still good, but I’m bound to report that the overall feel of the music is broadly less engaging. I wouldn’t put a number on it, but I’m feeling a little down on enjoyment.

On re-installing the NPX, I wouldn’t call it the Night and Day moment I had with the XPS, but I’m much happier with the external power supply. Honestly, at this level, you will want the NPX 300 if you can afford it; I would, at any rate.

MM Phono Stage

Setting up (I’m re-instating after Christmas) the Michell Gyro SE with an Exact MM cartridge is always a joy. The new springs from the amazing Analogue Seduction are in place, and the world is a beautiful place, save for a new cartridge and tonearm.

I’m a goth from the ‘80s, but for no particular reason Welcome to the Pleasure Dome (Frankie Goes to Hollywood, 1984, ZTT – original copy) is at the front of this stack of records, what an album.

Here, the MM pickup is perfectly in time. This album is full of orchestration, the MM input is clean and fulsome, and the Moor Amps power delivers the depth and separation offered by the preamplifier here. Holly Johnson’s opening line on the opening ‘Side F’ opens with;

The world is my oyster.

It certainly is, and a Naim NSC 222 owner will want for very little else with this new MM input.

Holly Johnson continues;

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan erect…

…a Naim NSC 222 with an NPX 300 power supply and a  NAP 250.

That vinyl warmth is here, unmistakably. The bass drop at the end of War is resounding, deep and controlled. Two Tribes is visceral, vibrant and spine-tingling. On concluding the album version, it is time for the 12-inch of Two Tribes with a flick of the timing belt.

Brian Eno

Brian Eno Ambient 4/On Land

The input gain can be trimmed if required. I have not needed to do this here, and my volume levels are similar to those streaming, so it’s no problem.

Naim UnitiServe, USB, Chromecast, Tidal Connect etc.

never sounded so good

I have a ten-year-old Naim UnitiServe that, if I’m honest, I dare not turn off for fear it will pack up. It is backed up, but it feels slightly fragile in operation terms. It does, however, work and is as crispy clean as a CD player (and it has my super-organized library on it).

The other inputs, there are so many, appear faultless, Tidal Connect is beautiful from my Android Pixel smartphone and the detail in Butter Notes (Nils Frahm) is breathtaking.  The USB is fun, too; my Bandcamp Radiohead Minidiscs have never sounded so good.   Brian Eno’s haunting Ambient 4/On Land album opens up significantly in AirPlay mode, too. Finally, my favourite YouTube video, The Numbers, has never sounded so good with the Chromecast option.  All in all the connectivity is terrific, Bluetooth aptX is fine, and I wouldn’t fixate on the lack of an HDMI connection, this is a proper two-channel specialist.

Audiolab 7000

Audiolab 7000 series CD T

Noting there is no computer USB B input, I thought I would hook up my crispy new Audiolab CD transport with an optical output to the 222.  Sure enough, this CD transport has never sounded so good.


Would I upgrade? If I had the money, unreservedly yes.

I imagine Naim has someone like me in mind, with an existing Classic system that they may want to upgrade with the latest technology and Qobuz (in my case). I also imagine a Naim Mu-so, Atom, or Uniti customer who has disposable income may also be the target for this lovely range.

Would I upgrade? If I had the money, unreservedly yes. But I don’t. A trade-in of my old Classic stuff would barely pay for the Streamer, and you’re going to want the NPX really (well, I am). So, it is lovely, but a no from me.

NSC 222 and NPX 300

The NSC 222 and NPX 300 are very good-looking indeed

What about the Moor Amps Angel 6 versus the new NAP 250? I can’t comment yet on whether the new NAP 250 has the old-school Naim PRaT like my own NAP 250.2. Back in the day, Moor Amps’ Tim Narramore was trying to replicate the older Naim Olive amplification musicality without the sound signature. He did it with the Angel 6, which is the supreme power amplifier in my view (certainly vs my 250.2). Although it is not a looker (and it costs nearly twice as much as the new NAP 250). I can’t move away from the Angel 6 these days for its smooth dynamics and effortless delivery.


…these new Naim Classic electronics are very pretty indeed

If I had the money—maybe a modest lottery win—I would be off to Oxford Audio Consultants for the NSC 222 with the power supply. In the absence of hearing the NAP 250, I’d be very happy with the Angel 6, though the overall aesthetics may be slightly diminished in this case as these new Naim Classic electronics are very pretty indeed. As for the glowing green Naim logo no longer being there, I can live with it in the interests of progress.

The technology and innovation, not to mention styling and build quality, demand this new Classic series is considered in any purchasing decision at these higher-end budgets.

copyright HF&MS Ltd 2024


Aesthetics, styling
Build Quality
Display Artwork
Clean streaming delivery
Array of Inputs

Burndy cables
XLR preamplifier output
App stability and improvement

To hear the new NAP 250
Other streaming services


Full details are on the company’s site.

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