Amplifier heresy

I’ve been seeing some articles on tinternet about amplifiers such as the NAD M23. It sounds like this is a bit of a game changer when it comes to Class D amplifiers. Distortion is miniscule (see Linear amps are dead on youtube), sensitivity to different speakers seems to be practically zero, noise is pretty much there. Presumably over time they will get even better. Will Class D become (or has it already become) as good as AB? And will Naim ever venture into this area?

<off to don my flame-proof underwear. And overwear. Hell, flame-proof room, I think>

When you ask whether Naim will ever venture into this area, bear in mind here that Naim have already used Class D amplification with the N-Vi, Naim for Bentley in-car amplifier, and the Mu-So, so they have quite a bit of experience with it already…


Who knows what tomorrow shall bring?

Personally, I don’t give flying proverbial about the technology used, I just want it to sound good and be affordable to me. If Naim can make a Class D amp that sounds better than an AB at the same price point I would definitely buy it.


I remember Steve Sells recently commenting that he felt for SQ at the high end class D was still not good enough in his opinion.

I think Devialet amps are class D? I don’t know how good they sound, though I know some people have been impressed by them. Funnily enough, I was reading something about a Gustard class D amp yesterday, and that bit about speakers is something they make make a point off. On paper it “sounds” fantastic! The only way of knowing of course, it’s to hear…

That’s true. It will be interesting to see what the future holds, then.

Yes - I have only heard a small, consumer, class D amp (it was OK, but I didn’t try it in a serious system). But recently there seems to be some good reviews, particularly with Purify (?) modules in them.

I get the impression that this was the case until relatively recently.

If you want to know how far Class D amps have come just listen to any of the Linn offerings. The sound signature might not be every Naim fans cup of tea but if there is any debate, it seems to be more about personal preference than SQ.

Here is what Steve Sells said to What Hifi:
SS: I don’t think you’ll see a high-end Naim product using Class D technology for a very long time, unless changes in legislation forces us to do it. Class D delivers pretty much everything of what most people want in most applications. I really like the power, and it’s great for keeping it lightweight and efficient. You don’t need such big power supplies and heatsinks, so it’s possible to make really compact designs. But its benefits carry less weight when it comes to high-end products where performance is all.”


When bi-amping it’s apparently it really pays to use class D for bass, and A(B) for mids and up.

I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a Boxem Arthur for that, but still need to figure out how I would match the gain.

Speaking of, what is the gain of the Star’s power amp section?

I own an Aavik I-280 amp which is class D. Since I am not into the technical details of class a vs. b. vs. D and I don‘t care, all I can say is that the amp sounds exceptionally good. In the end, this is the only thing that is important to me.


I have a Linn Selekt DSM in my office I use most days with Class D amps, I also listen to my Sonos amp in the kitchen eating my toast in the morning.
They’ll likely always be a place for all options until such point as legally a manufacturer is obliged to impliment a design or restrict behaviours, Naim have done this in the 200 Series from a power consumption/management perspective.
Consumers in the main probably don’t care or would understand the reasoning for a preference one over the other, also comes down to marketing and manufacturing costs, you can make a good looking Class D based product that meets a consumers needs and deliver it with greater profitibility, I’ll let you work out the rest of the story.

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Honestly, my old school mind tells me not to trust anything lightweight especially when it comes to amps. I want something which has a beefy power tranny. There is really something satisfying about heavy amplifiers. Maybe it is ingrained in me that in order to have muscle power, there has to be heft. That’s probably because of the years of biases built in me.

Case in point, there was a time that I refused to accept integrated amps, and only owned separate phono stage + pre amp + power amp combos. But look at me now, I’m saying that my XS3 is end game for me already.

It’s hard for me to accept but I know it all boils down to how an amp sounds. If an amp even weighing just 2 pounds can sound good to me, then why not.

Maybe I’m just getting too old that I’m having a hard time accepting the ever changing technology……


This discussion is no different from the decades older one about newfangled transistors versus vacuum tubes for amplification.

Which, half a century on, is still going.


Most definitely not satisfying when having to manoeuvre them onto shelves with limited space above floor level, or pull them out to do anything with connections, nor when you need to send them by carrier for servicing or to sell. Other than for a guitar player connected to an amp by a coiled cable I struggle to see any benefit of weight for an amp…

Why even think about the technology (unless you’re a technophile, though that likely would predispose you to acceptance)? Just think it is a box, It amplifies. Does it sound good to you? Is it affordable, or if it matters to you is the performance/sound quality worth the money? If important to you, or any significant other, is it at least acceptable-looking? If the n’th degree of energy saving is important to you, is it energy efficient? The one other question of significance, but likely not answerable, will it be reliable?

If the answers to all questions that matter to you is yes, then go for it. If some are no, then the question comes down to balancing these as pros and cons against whatever other amps there are.

No issue with me too but if it is priced 2 to 3 times higher than a heavier amp which sounds close in sound quality if not better, then that lightweight amp does not represent value for money.

D is probably more of an advantage for large scale production. Not so much the consumers.

I had the Aavik I-280 on demo at home for two weeks and I agree with you, a very good amp and I could live with it. On the other hand for the same price I could buy the Holo Serene KTE preamp (class A) and a Naim 250-3. I may prefer one or the other but I can’t see that it is D or A/AB that close deal which I would choose.

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Well, obviously. But I don’t think that they are, generally, 2 or 3 times more costly. The M33 (which is a streaming amp with, I believe, the same power amp as the M23) is around £4000 to £5000, I think and the M23 (Power amp only) is about £1000 less. In terms of specifications, it is hard to say. It is about 200 watts into 8 ohms, so (on that spec. alone) it is on the NAP 500 level. I haven’t heard it, of course, so couldn’t compare, but…

I was referring to the Aavik I-280 integrated (£10,000) which is mid level, the direct competitor to Nait XS3. The top level I-580 integrated costs £20,000.