Preamp for ATCSCM40A

I am about 2 months into a new pair of ATCSCM 40A active speakers. Loving them BTW, and I am wondering if I can do better in regards to the preamp. I love the punchy and fast sound the active speakers make with rock & pop music (80% of my collection) , however it is just a tad upfront and relentless in it’s presentation. Not unpleasant so, just a little bit on the cold / and very accurate side.

So I was after a sound just a little bit smoother - but not too much more smoother/darker than the naim 252. If it has more resolution and a bigger soudstage, then that would be a bonus as well.

The rest of my system is naim audio NDS/555DR streamer/DAC and 252 preamp with Supercap2DR. I am not that unhappy with my naim front end, just wondering if I can perhaps do better with my preamp.
To go to a naim 552 (the next model up) I can not afford to do that now (and possibly forever, as it is a rather expensive preamp). I want to keep my naim NDS/555DR as well, as I just love it.

Some shortlisted preamps I have looked at so far and within my budget were:

PS Audio BHK preamp - (very good, but an odd volume set up from all accounts, weird click noise when using it)

Pass Audio XP-22 - (very good, but the above PS Audio was similar in sound quality - but the Pass Audio has a much better volume control in a recent Stereophile Review)

Mola Mola Makua - (very good and not many negatives)

ATC - SCA2 - (an OK preamp by all accounts and it will clearly match their own active speakers. Just not sure it is smooth enough or very upfront like the SCM40A. Or for that matter good enough compared to others on this list).

I am pretty sure the ACT is a little bit restricted IRT the input signal via the XLR input. Only a input sensitivity of 1V ? So matching the preamp output signal can be tricky to find an ideal match with ? It prefers a lower signal impedence apparently, as the ARC Ref. 6 that I was looking at is a no-go because of a very high output impednace in the XLR of 600ohms. I was told to try for about a 50 ohms or under output from the preamp XLR output when matching with the ATC SCM40A.

Any other suggestions or advice ? Or am I going to be up for a sideways move at best with the preamp suggestions and budget from my above list ?

Any help very much appreciated.

Seadog we are a major Naim dealer we have a ton of experience with Naim gear. First question are you using stock Naim interconnects? 

Second question stock or after market power cords?

We wouldn't change from you components, their is real synergy with Naim streamers and preamps.

Again stock ethernet cable?

One thing that will make the NDS sound signifiganty better would be to add an Innous Zenith to your system. 

We have run our NDX2 direct to the switch played Tidal, and then connected the output of the Zenith via ethernet to the NDX same track being played via Roon into the NDX sounded smoother, more open with a bigger soundstage and a greater sense of flow.

Also a good ethernet cable does make an audible difference, we like the Wireworld Starlight which is pretty reasonably priced. 

You can also upconvert 16/44k to 24 bith 192k streams with Roon again this generally makes the standard Tidal stream  sound much fuller.

Naim interconnects aren't very good, same with their power cords.

So instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water make some changes that will add what you want and you would gain signifgantly. 

Please feel free to contact us these recommendations will improve what you like with you system and eliminate what you don't.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ Naim and ATC dealers

Thank you Troy,

I have Naim Powerlines on all my naim stuff and on both my ATC speakers. Also have naim Superlumina DIN>DIN from NDS > 252 and all naim on naim Fraim as well as a Nordost QB powerboard.

Got a dedicated Ethernet switch with the exact Wireworld Starlight cables you suggested. 

I guess you can really get caught up with “must upgrade all the time” in this hobby. 

Do your rate the ATC electronics at all ? If I was to stray from a naim preamp, then the ATC SCA2 preamp was what I would be interested in. 

But as as you say, naim NDS and 252 are simply superb together.
seadog, the Naim cables hate to say are poor performers, the company makes great equipment but their cables are okay at best.

If you do one thing, replace your power cables going from you 555 PS and the supercap and watch what happens.

We have a client with a set of DR 300/ 555 preamp and the NDS/555 front end and we took out three Naim power line cables and replaced them with 3 Audio Quest Hurricanes and both the client and myself had to pick up our jaws from the floor!

The system was better in every way, the soundstage was bigger, there was more depth, the system's top end was cleaner.

Yes this was a $6k upgrade however, the difference in how much better his system became wasn't subtitle.

Also the Naim interconnects aren't great either. We had Wireworld make us  a custom jumper from a 250Dr to a Nac 282 and that was huge, we are trying to get them to make the five pin ones which connect power supply to preamp, they seem hesitant on the power ones.

We are going to look at Ansuz cabling at they also make Naim cables. 

A cheapie improvement is the Isoacoustics footers placed under each component. 

Do you use any power conditioner or straight to the wall in a Naim suitable strip?

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor
Troy, all Powerlines connected to a Nordost Qbase 8 outlet powerboard then naim Powerline from that to a wall outlet, no power condition at all.

I’ll try some better power cords when I can. Thank you.