I think I have a beginner question about NAIM’s design philosophy. I wonder why Naim doesn’t include the Caps extensions in the amp itself?
It seems that people eventually decide to purchase the extra Caps for the best result. Almost every question on this forum leads to the recommendation to purchase a Cap even about those “integrated” amps like the SN’s…
Choices. Upgrade choices. Some people want to be able to slowly build and upgrade over time, others don’t. Power supplies are also often suitable for more than one device, giving people more options. You can change the CDP/streamer/pre independently of the PS too and vice versa.
Naim would also say a separate power supply performs better too.
Look around the Forum. Most here like upgrading and shuffling boxes, rather than buying a box that does everything. Certainly true at the higher end
That’s the same principle in the integrated amps. The mains power for the preamp comes from the power amp. So the first upgrade is eg a hicap which provides 24v etc for the preamp.
A supernait for example has the same design philosophy as eg a 282/250. The supply sockets are exposed on the rear panel so you can add dedicated off board power to the preamp section. The compromise, such as it is, is to put a preamp inside the same box as a power amp plus transformer.
The change of design approach in the New Classic 200 and 300 Series is also driven by regulations to ensure devices are always able to operate in a low power standby state, the ability to function “always on” involves the end user making that choice themselves and assuming that responsibilty directly.
There’s also an arguement that having an internal power supply in a preamp in particular creates the impression that product is more accessible from a cost of ownership perspective, the universal truth relating to those products being, eventually you should add an external PS, the internal one is more a convenience than anything else although in many cases will be what people can afford and will rely on, probably for many years.
Having an internal supply matched with a dedicated standby supply also makes it compliant from a regulatory perspective.
It’s also been clear from recent comments from Naim Staff that range simplification was a key metric for the design of the new ranges, that extends logically to the power supplies, today there’s the NPX 300 which is able to power any New Classic source or preamp and likely future products including any New Classic NAIT’s as one obvious example.
What’s contentious about this simplification is the price point and if there’s a requirement for an intermediary performance/price NPX 200 or if Naim will develop an entry level 100 Series that aligns to what is offered by 5 Series or XS Series. All speculation for now but no doubt more interesting ranging to come!
Well, there are plenty of high end electronics manufacturers that include power supplies in their preamps and amps and they sound excellent. So it’s not essential to have them located off-board for sonic reasons. Which leaves designers preference (bias? ego?) sales/marketing department demands/differentiation ($$$, £££) and probably a host of other irrelevant reasons. I have a NAC252 which is powered by a Supercap. Not my choice, but that’s how it comes if you want Naim gear at that level.
A more fundamental question perhaps is whether or not those design decisions that Naim made decades ago, in terms of isolation of AC/DC and electronics, remains constant today.
The bottom line, best I can tell, is that Naim’s view is that having tried different design approaches, this one is still preferable from a performance and noise management perspective.
If you look at what had to be done in the New Classic products, that’s a balance between being compliant from a regulatory perspective, whilst still offering customers the ability to improve the performance of their systems with the addition of an external supply.
What isn’t so obvious is why they are unable to make an internal supply perform as well as an external one, you’d expect improvements in materials and screening/shielding to be able to mitigate those issues to an extent, perhaps enough to render the need for external power redundant.
They could for example just downsize and cost reduce the Statement vertical design, the NAC/NAP S1 have both power and electronics in a single larger enclosure after all.
Yes, fitment of MC boards into the NAIT 3 was not recommended without the shielding kit. The original Supernait also required some carefully placed Mu-metal shielding above the volume and balance control. Naim usually try to avoid the need for any shielding, except where absolutely necessary.
I thought I saw part of the engineering behind the NC range was actually physical isolation of the transformers too, or at least a mounting method that minimised the transmission of vibrations into the chassis/electronics?
My understanding has always been that separating noisy higher-Voltage components like transformers from more sensitive lower-Voltage circuits is never a bad idea, if possible.
This is why having pre- and power amps in separate boxes has been accepted hi-fi best practice for decades. Naim simply took this one stage further with separate PSUs and many Naim owners take it another stage further by separating brain and brawn stacks and even considering which to have on the left and which on the right, to keep the transformers as far away from the ‘delicate stuff’ as possible.
It’s not that you can’t have everything in one box, of course, it’s just that separating them is considered ideal by many.
From what I have heard over the years the bigger you can make the power supply the better - so it may be the case that optimum arrangement just cannot be shoehorned into a single box. I’m sure the internal supply is well designed and well up to the task - it’s just not the best that it could be. Obviously separation also has benefits. Naim have used different strategies over the years - 202/282/252 no internal ps at all, CDX2 internal ps not used when XPS/555 connected, nDAC internal ps remains active. They now seem to have a new strategy and there is nothing wrong with that particularly if it rationalises the ps options from the old 552/SC/HC/FC/555/XPS mix. That said the price of entry is now quite high @ £5,700.