George 47

What's in a Naim?

Recommended Posts

Moderator

What’s in a Naim?

Mention the word Naim and you get a polarised set of views about them. Naim amps are shit. Naim amps are superb and play real music. They are a real marmite product. But why?

Naim is a successful company based in Salisbury. They make a wide range of products to suit all pockets. They can service most amps back to when they started. The Naim 250DR is a mainstay amp and is not outrageously priced. But boy do the haters, hate.

Yes, they have used venture capital and have a strong tie up with Focal but why the hate? The product is very well made, the inside wiring is very logical and it will last a lifetime. If they need to be serviced then Naim do that and they will even upgrade the amps where necessary.  They measure really well and even if they do not produce a lot of watts the current delivery is good.

A lot of UK reviewers use them as reference amplifiers, including Martin Colloms, Paul Messenger, Jason Kennedy, etc. ec.

So how about the sound?

I have a Naim 250DR here and have listened to it for a few weeks. I use it with a Townshend Allegri passive. The sound is different, a development, from the earlier fast and pacey amps. Despite being fast and pacey those older amps did not have a very real sound. The new amps have a sound that is less intense and mid frequency emphasised to a much more even sound. There is now some really deep bass and some sparkle in the high end. All achieved without losing too much of the speed of the older Naims.

No, it does not take on valve amplifiers in their mid-range or 3D sound, but since having it in circuit I have listened more and more to modern pop and rock music. My favourite. The DR version plays classical well (unlike the older amps). As I am not a fan of jazz and valves excel with jazz, using the Naim 250DR is not a loss for me.

I have not listened to it extensively to form a full view but would be interested in people’s views. Have you heard the DR variant of Naim amps and what were your thoughts? Please no crap/brilliant comments as they are not very illustrative. What is about them that appeals/detracts?  

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Moderator

Naim your price, all too much for me.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I used to own a Naim Nait 5i/CD5i/NAT05 system for a couple of years. (I even had n-Sats for a short while.)

It had it’s moments.  It performed best with some mint condition MS20i Pearl Edition speakers (cost me £40 IIRC including personal delivery) of all the ones I tried.

I got fed up with the clutter of separates - more than anything else - and sold the lot.  I lost very little money (one very good point in Naim’s favour).

Downsizing to a humble Marantz M-CR603 afterwards was a real shock to me. (The ‘shock’ being how little a downgrade it turned out to be!)

Edited by chebby
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Back in the day, I thought there was a synergy between my 42/110/Snaps + LP12/Ittok/Asak, that just seemed to mitigate the weaknesses they had (imo) on their own.

The current Naim Amps I have heard, sounded dire with Focal and poor with their own speakers.

With speakers that I like (LS 50/ R Series / Q Acoustics / Rega), I found they had a pacy sound, that was initially exciting, but became a bit fatiguing. I also found they didn't make solo piano sound quite right/natural. I found them a little unrefined.

Edited by CnoEvil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do like naim but the hamster wheel of needing bigger and better power supplies is a bit of a pain sometimes 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Super Wammer

I’ve never owned one, but many years ago borrowed an early NAC/NAP combination, 12/250 was it?  It was in the early days when JV still worked in the little Salisbury shop, tinkering with designs.  

I found it a bit noisy, in hiss and hum terms, and although quite bouncy, it seemed coloured to me.  My preferred orchestral music seemed to suffer.  On reflection I can see why rock/pop might have fared better.  The idiosyncratic DIN socketry seemed bonkers, and the switch-on thump seemed like simple poor design.   

I have always been a bit suspicious about the very expensive power supplies, and the regularity with which capacitors seem to need factory replacement. 

I admired their successful early foray into streaming, but was never keen on their speakers.  I did spend a very enjoyable afternoon at a dealer listening to a pretty high-end DR-era system through PMC Fact .8 speakers a few years ago, which showed how much they’d matured the sound. 

Edited by Nopiano
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It works for some people, not for others.

The early days of a fruity Lp12 having great synergy with upfront Naim electronics could be a superb thing. But they fell out with each other & views became more polarised.

Buy a Nait or a supernait, with sympathetic speakers. Never look at another Hifi mag & definitely never look at the Naim forum & chances are you’ll be very content indeed.

Get hooked in to the “just add another box” upgrade mentality & you could go mad or broke or both.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Never really "loved" any of the Naim amps I have heard, but I put a Naim Aro on my LP12  28yrs  ago. Still love it and still worth a bob or two.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Super Wammer
1 hour ago, hifinutt said:

I do like naim but the hamster wheel of needing bigger and better power supplies is a bit of a pain sometimes 

That’s why I stayed clear of naim. Lovely kit and very local to me. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the build quality of Naim stuff is incredible. The Uniti Nova especially, is a lovely piece of brutalist kit. 

But at least with the speakers I demoed with, I found Naim stuff a bit brittle and forward sounding. And too expensive for what it is. On the plus side, It's foot tapping and engaging. 

They do seem to get an incredibly loyal, if polarised following though. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Moderator

Guys thanks for your comments. I agree that the sound can be a bit forward and exciting although the DR version seems to help although some think the 300DR does overdo that a bit. It can be captivating and let you hear musical interactions. I still have reservations about long term satisfaction (ooh err missus). Need to listen longer and get a better view but it is distinctive and I can understand why some love it.

Edited by George 47

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Super Wammer

When the Naim amps first appeared they were great sounding (for the day) not overpriced and we have to thank them because they made people actually listen to amplifiers.  Interestingly speaking to some ex Naim engineers it was their view that the original NAC12 and NAP 160 were their best sounding products ever.

When they came out loudspeakers were not of today's ilk (not the extended top ends we see now - you will remember the term "British Sound") and matched to the cuddly speakers of the day brought an incisiveness and clarity that of course made Naim very popular (it was not all the Linn BS) .. I might have bought one myself except for one very major failing - put a NAP160 (and the later 250) on a pair of speakers that dipped below 4 ohms (e.g. Gale GS401) and after a minute or so at high volume the thermal trip cut in and silence ensued until it cooled down.

We all have our views on amps and how they sound but at the end of the day they are our views (personal) and the trick is to ignore those who make a blunt statement that something is crap or sounds awful - and the only way to decide is to listen for yourself and decide.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, George 47 said:

What’s in a Naim?

Mention the word Naim and you get a polarised set of views about them. Naim amps are shit. Naim amps are superb and play real music. They are a real marmite product. But why?

Naim is a successful company based in Salisbury. They make a wide range of products to suit all pockets. They can service most amps back to when they started. The Naim 250DR is a mainstay amp and is not outrageously priced. But boy do the haters, hate.

Yes, they have used venture capital and have a strong tie up with Focal but why the hate? The product is very well made, the inside wiring is very logical and it will last a lifetime. If they need to be serviced then Naim do that and they will even upgrade the amps where necessary.  They measure really well and even if they do not produce a lot of watts the current delivery is good.

A lot of UK reviewers use them as reference amplifiers, including Martin Colloms, Paul Messenger, Jason Kennedy, etc. ec.

So how about the sound?

I have a Naim 250DR here and have listened to it for a few weeks. I use it with a Townshend Allegri passive. The sound is different, a development, from the earlier fast and pacey amps. Despite being fast and pacey those older amps did not have a very real sound. The new amps have a sound that is less intense and mid frequency emphasised to a much more even sound. There is now some really deep bass and some sparkle in the high end. All achieved without losing too much of the speed of the older Naims.

No, it does not take on valve amplifiers in their mid-range or 3D sound, but since having it in circuit I have listened more and more to modern pop and rock music. My favourite. The DR version plays classical well (unlike the older amps). As I am not a fan of jazz and valves excel with jazz, using the Naim 250DR is not a loss for me.

I have not listened to it extensively to form a full view but would be interested in people’s views. Have you heard the DR variant of Naim amps and what were your thoughts? Please no crap/brilliant comments as they are not very illustrative. What is about them that appeals/detracts?  

Good post George and I agree with everything you say there.

For me its all about pairing with Naim, and nothing in between. I brought a Supernait to Scalford one year and plenty of Naim haters came in to see it but there was no hate. There was even some ex-supernait owners who came in and said mine sounded 'nothing' like that. I used with the epos es22's in a less than ideal sized room for them but the synergy between the two is just on point, it gave people a flavour if nothing else. Ive taken it further now and added more Naim gear and its only added and improved the show. The old chrome bumper and olive did used to leave me a little scratching my head, as I never aspired to be an owner back then, even though its always looked kind of cool and retro.

But the styling is ageless regardless of the series. You see some of the old school chrome bumper Naits even now and they still are highly desirable.  

20 hours ago, chebby said:

I used to own a Naim Nait 5i/CD5i/NAT05 system for a couple of years. (I even had n-Sats for a short while.)

It had it’s moments.  It performed best with some mint condition MS20i Pearl Edition speakers (cost me £40 IIRC including personal delivery) of all the ones I tried.

I got fed up with the clutter of separates - more than anything else - and sold the lot.  I lost very little money (one very good point in Naim’s favour).

Downsizing to a humble Marantz M-CR603 afterwards was a real shock to me. (The ‘shock’ being how little a downgrade it turned out to be!)

It doesn't surprise me that you say the MS sounded great, they are basically an epos speaker.

But as you say residual value of Naim gear is excellent. I honestly cant see myself ever parting with the naim gear I have now. But stranger things have happened :D    

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
42 minutes ago, eddie-baby said:

It doesn't surprise me that you say the MS sounded great, they are basically an epos speaker.


https://hifiwigwam.com/forum/topic/133061-epos-es14-speaker-an-easy-fix-or-throw-away/?do=findComment&comment=2376574

Edited by chebby

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, chebby said:

Ah yes, I remember that thread. I know Mordaunt Short were the sister company to epos and they were basically a mass produced epos speaker. I wasnt exactly sure which ones Robin Marshall had designed or not though. Design elements were obviously adopted across the range ( why re-invent the wheel after all ) but whether he had a direct input into the specific models / designs I wasn't exactly sure of.

But your right what a giveaway those MS range are now, and with the right electronics ( not just Naim by the way ) they can sound phenomenal, and thats even now against new 'higher priced' equipment/designs. But you can find them in skips or flea bay for practically nothing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.