Moving to the Dark Side ... first time Naimie

I’ve always decided throughout the years to leave Naim amplifiers well alone because “they are in your face”, “the make your ears bleed”, “they are long-term fatiguing to listen to” etc etc.

Also there are reports that people who have bought Naim are happy to move on (finally) and find different better amps out there …

So - I read about all this but - how true is it really? The reason for this post is after having a very long chat with a dealer, who over the years has tried and tested lots of amps but personally loves the sound of Naim. And of course he has the opportunity to listen to lots of brands that pass his way. Now I did not get the impression that this dealer was pushing Naim my way - I could read between the lines and he generally enthused greatly over the Naim brand. His main reason why - “it’s an infectious and wonderful music maker”.

I am also swayed by this YouTube review here based on liking Naim for the same reason - it just gets into the music: The Naim Supernait 3 Integrated Amplifier Review! I Did Not Expect THIS! - YouTube

Anyway I asked the dealer how do I get a taste of the Naim sound without investing too heavily - his answer “try a used Naim Nait 5” which has that perfect musical Naim house sound.

I would love to hear your impressions on my post. Maybe I should try Naim once and for all - here I am on the Naim forum with the best people to advise me (I hope)…

Naimites are hardly likely to say no, don’t….

You say you’ve heard and liked, so what is your concern? Will the dealer let you try that amp for a couple of weeks or so at home? If so do that and you may be able to decide.

My understanding from several years of reading is that the fabled “Naim Sound” comes primarily from the amplification, notably the preamp, also that it has become less prominent over the years and up the Naim ranges. I postulated an explanation in a recent thread (The sound of generations - #9 by Innocent_Bystander).

I speak as someone who has never heard a Naim amp, but with an interest in hearing perhaps the NAP300 or 500, but doing so is not easy. My introduction to Naim was the ND5XS streamer, which did not have any obvious characteristic “sound”.

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I think that a Nait2 would be a perfect starter. You don’t mention whether you like to listen to LPs, CDs or whether you stream your music.

Assume, for these purposes, that vinyl is your ‘thang’, you could start a Naim journey with a fairly basic spec Linn LP12, a Nait2 and a pair of Linn Kans or one of the versions of the BBC LS3/5A 'speakers.

But, if you tell Members what equipment you have, you will get lots of advice.

The most basic advice will be to find a good dealer (you may have one already) and go from there.

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If we are going to allow ‘thang’ to resurface I need to find an opportunity to include in a post that I am, ahem, ‘down with the kids’. I say that to embarrass my daughter whenever the opportunity presents itself. Sadly all too infrequent……

On the actual topic, though, yes agree with your post and the others. @glowinthedark I can only say that the sound is addictive and with the source, speakers and room in harmony, which is not hard to achieve I just play and play to the extent that frankly I should be doing something else. It’s energising, soothing, emotional. I love it.

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Where would I go to get lessons in being ‘down with the kids’, as it sounds fun? Do I need to carry a boombox around with me on my shoulder playing rap at full volume, and wear a baseball cap backwards?

As a Naim owner of over 40 years, I am bound to say yes, get a Naim amp. A word of warning though, Naim products are an addictive drug and once you have dipped your toe in you could well find yourself on the slippery slope of upgrading. You will be happy, but your bank manager not so much.

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Excellent suggestion. Naim Nait 5 - any version - are good. I personally have the original Naim Nait 5 which is not a powerhouse, but a lovely amp. Payed 325 euros for it. Make sure you have a good enough source.

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My Nait 5i filled in for my Nac 52/3 Nap 250s during service and I was amazed how good it is. A taste of the Naim sound that punches well above its weight/price.

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Sorry you are right I did not mention my source - generally streaming digital music from services such as Tidal or Qobuz.

It really does depend what you are looking for and what source and speakers you are going to be using. The Nait5 series (and any other Nait) is ideal with small rooms and small speakers, less so with large speakers in a large room. The Nait 2 is a nice to have but in terms of spending money to try out the Nait sound it is expensive. I suggest the better second hand value would be to look for a nac 62 plus a Nap 140. This would work on a wider variety of sources, speakers and room sizes and has the Naim sound. Selling it on if you either don’t like it, or prefer something more modern or up the Naim chain, you would lose little if anything.

First Naim I bought was a Nait 5 (not the 5i etc). It nearly put me off Naim for life.
A bit of context.
I declined dealer setup as how hard can it be to plug a few cables in. Things might have progressed differently if I’d let him do his job properly.
I’d used a Sansui AU217 for a couple of decades by then, had a NAD tuner, a cassette deck that may well have had a switching mode power supply in it and a Townshend Rock with a Michell iso phonostage as my main source. I also had an Eclipse CD player which cost £40 brand new from Richer Sounds and that definitely used a switching mode supply.
With that little lot plugged into my brand new Nait and all powered from a couple of multiblocks the sound was more controlled than the Sansui but not more enjoyable, the sense of scale was also smaller. The dealership had a one month upgrade policy wherein you could trade your recently purchased item for what you paid for it if you bought something even slightly dearer to replace it. This set a time limit for the Nait 5 to run in and prove itself.
The old hands here will have already spotted a mistake or two with this set up. Switching mode power supplies tend to create RF noise on the mains, particularly cheap ones, and I potentially had two sharing a block with the Nait and Naim gear tends to be a bit sensitive to RF on the mains. There was also a bit too much box stacking, though the Nait had its own shelf.
As the end of the month approached I was feeling a growing dislike for what I was hearing, there seemed to be a sort of glare overlaying everything, not something obvious but the sort of thing you only notice when it stops or with long exposure. I ended up trading my Nait 5 for a Rega pre/power set up, now long out of production but at the time they were out selling Naim’s 112/150 combination through that dealer chain.
I eventually gave Naim another chance when a CD5x won me over in an audition and now 20 years or so later run a full 500 series system. but I never tried another Nait.
You’re approaching a used amp so no running in involved, I also suggest you buy through a dealer and let him set the system up, he should steer you clear of the mistakes I made.

You don’t specify your budget but I would suggest around £1500 for a first system. For that you could get a used Nait5si, ND5XS and a pair of Dynaudio emit M10s.

Can you visualise a teenager rolling their eyes in dismay? That visualisation is all the motivation you need. If you can put a hat on backwards and call your nearest and dearest ‘bro’ or ‘bruh’ the enjoyment is all the greater. For you.

If I get the opportunity I’ll also use ‘One’ where possible, as in ‘one is dine* with the kids’.

  • channelling my inner (formerly Prince) Charles.

Ah, the joys of looking back at life, and down on the ‘yoof’, through the eyes of a grumpy old git!

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Good idea. I started with a Nait 5i-2 and so did a mate of mine. He upgraded to a Supernait 2 which was a big step up and he’s been happy with that ever since - it’s sounds fab with some oldish PMCs. I went the other way (back in time) but all Naim amps I’ve heard are excellent at not messing up the rhythm and timing which is why I love 'em.

Any 5, 5i, 5i, etc will need a service by now, assuming it hasn’t already had one.

There are certainly reasons to disagree with Naim but the musical qualities of their product is not one of them. I’ve strayed only to get a more compact solution at higher levels but still use Naim amps and cant find any better.

If you try a Naim amp make sure the source is good as a Naim amp is designed to make good use of it, I believe Naim itself makes both entry-level CD-players and internet-streamers.

Also try to listen for musical drive and musical expression when you evaluate equipment. This has nothing to do with ’voodoo’ or a mystic ’sound’ or smoking anything in particular. Those differences are always driven by pretty basic engineering priorities made during the design of a brands devices.

I think the question also meant what source electronics you use, not just whether streaming online, streaming from your own store, CD or vinyl.

Aside from that, I don’t think you’ve mentioned your speakers either? They can make a difference to amp requirements, especially if the speakers are challenging ones to drive – that is not whether the speakers are large or small, but more to do with whether they have a widely varying impedance curve, or dip down to very low impedance. Some speakers are known to be very demanding, some are known not to be, while others may be less clear-cut. Also of relevance to amp suitability is the speakers’ sensitivity (dB/W). Some amps can cope with almost any speaker and make them sound good. Other amps are far more limited. Unlike others here I don’t have experience to say we’re on the spectrum, the amp you’re considering lies.

On the subject of speakers, of all components in a system, they have the greatest effect on the sound character of any system, so having speakers that sound right to you is vitally important. The amp, of course, then has to be capable of driving them at least adequately.

You’ve also not mentioned your room: the room can have quite a significant effect on sound quality. E.g. dimensions (length, width, height), shape (square, rectangular, L-shaped, or other odd shapes), how it is furnished (carpet or hard floor. Soft or hard furniture, lots of bookcases or varied wallhangings or bare hard walls, and the speaker and listening positions in the room. Admittedly the room is more to do with speakers and setup than amp, but describing may help focus people’s observations.

My impression from your first paragraph is you haven’t listened to any naim amps and if they were naim amps they were clearly faulty or needing of service b/c no naim amp I’ve listened to in the last 25 years exhibits the characteristics you cite. The second paragraph is mostly hearsay nonsense and should not factor into any decision to buy or not buy naim components. Listen for yourself and decide, it’s not hard.

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OK let me expand upon all the electronics I am using right now…

Source SOtM sMS 200 Ultra - Metrum Octave 2 DAC - Musical Fidelity M6si - Role Audio Enterprise Loudspeakers.

I’m pretty certain none of you here would have heard of the Role Audios - I can’t insert links into this post but if you simply Google: Role Audio Enterprise Loudspeakers Review by Jeff Rabin ← that should give you a good idea.

I hope that helps. Overall I am getting a good sound (the speakers are phenomenal) - I think it’s just that nagging feeling about at least trying to slot a Naim in the middle and see what extra is could bring to the party if anything. Reading the bad “it’s in your face and tiresome after a while” to the good “it really gets down to making the music having that real toe-tapping boogie factor”.

Even if a Nait 5 isn’t as good as the best - I would like to hear the Naim strut its stuff and therefore get a sniff of its signature sound (as it were).

The speakers fire long-wise down a 20ft x 11fx room with standard 8ft ceilings (basically the lounge).

… and there was me assuming that you already did all that. My illusions are shattered.

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