Naim and wattage

I’ve been a Naim user for 7 years and started with 5i then XS2 and now Supernait. If one looks at the specifications of Naim you are soon to realise Naim is not about wattage. It’s ± tens of watt from 5i up to NAP300. If you compare to others normally spending more money means more power being able to drive bigger less sensitive speakers. I have demoed Harbeth 40.1 with Supernait 1 and a Norwegian 2x400w into 6 ohms amp and for sure the extra wattage made the 40s shine and control the bass in ways the SN didn’t get close to. At low listening levels the SN played well but it was clear that wattage was needed so if I want that control of Harbeth 40.1 I have to say goodbye to Naim, or? What is Naim philosophy regarding watt and large less sensitive speakers?



Harbeth 40.1 is relativly easy to drive big speaker. NAP200 give enought power for big room at just 9oclock power buton position.

The Stereophile review of the 40.1 I read seemed to say that they were driven well by some relatively modest tube amps.

Supernait 1 is not an amp that, given what’s come after it, gets enormous praise today. If you’re of the view that it’s a Supernait 1 vs. move-away-from-Naim, I’d say you’re doing yourself a disservice by not listening to something more modern from Naim, say a Supernait 3.

With most amps the peak power before clipping sets in is about double the rated maximum continuous power, so a 250w RMS amp would typically manage 500w on music peaks. However, I have noticed that the peak power capability of Naim amps are rated at typically around 5x the maximum continuous power.

Now, with real music play, the music peaks are usually very much higher in energy than the average, so the limiting factor in playing music is actually the peak power capability, not the more commonly referenced maximum continuous power. That being the case, the aforementioned 250W amp with its 500w peak capability would be matched in peak capability by the NAP300 which can manage 500VA (effectively the same as W), even though its continuous power rating is just 90w RMS - so in practice the NAP 300 may be expected to have a similar power capability to A.N.Other 250w RMS rated amp (N.B. this will not hold true for music that is highly compressed with very little dynamic range, which likely would cause overheating if run for any length of time at maximum close to clipping.

The above is my interpretation of the specifications, showing why people sometimes say Naim watts are different - others no doubt will give direct experience. It’ll be interesting to see if tge two angles are in accord…


Homedemo a Hicap DR on the SN1!

The NAP200 is 2x70w and my SN is 2x80w so one could say the same power and it could not control the 40.1 in the same way as 2x400w. What am I missing out in 2x70w (200) compared to 2x70w (SN)?

It was a very clear upgrade in terms of control on the 40.1 when adding lots of power. Did AB test for 12 hours.

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But if more power is what I seem to need then I don’t understand the Naim range since higher up in the model range doesn’t give me that?

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That will not give me more watt :slight_smile: I’m gonna go somewhere from the SN1 and I’m looking into upgrades in the Naim range but I don’t really understand how Naim think here since they all on paper have roughly the same wattage if you look at SN3, NAP200, NAP250 etc.

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Supernait 3 has the same power output as my Supernait 1 so I think it might sound different but not give me the control needed at slightly higher volume that higher wattage seem to give me. The SN sound great on low to medium volume with the 40.1 but above that it fails and collapse and feel very pushed where the 2x400W amp felt like it was on a sunday stroll.

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Sounds like you’ve made up your mind. Without hearing. Your prerogative!

Indeed, it won’t give you more watts. What it does give is much better control over the watts, ergo, you will notice more transparency and a much better controlled bass.

I think that when you even reduce the watts, by e.g. adding a Nap 140 as a power amp to your SN1, the bass will be better.

Well watt is watt so no magic and my question is not about audio quality. I just want to understand if climbing the Naim range will give me more control on less sensitive large speakers since their specs doesn’t show big wattage numbers and my experience from AB test this weekend showed wattage is needed. So again. Nothing about signature. This is about control and headroom only related to Naim and wattage.


You have woken up a battalion of Naim warriors, Slamdam!

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The sn1 bass was not bad but can absolutely be better but on higher volume it’s not about the definition of the bass that became critical. The amp compressed and felt very pushed so different signature is not the problem since I might get same issues on higher volume with other sub 100W Naim amps?

I think it’s a fair point to some extent. You do get a few more watts as you climb the ladder, but of course, that alone doesn’t justify the large jumps up in price. It’s worse than that, of course, because to maintain a balanced system, a better power amp needs a better preamp and source, so the cost of those 10 or 20 extra Watts is high. Realistically, you need to choose your speakers carefully to match the electronics.

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I’m absolutely not trying to start a war. Just understand the range, wattage and what I might miss out since low to high Naim models roughly have same wattage?

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The basic Naim philosophy is that it isn’t the simple RMS power measure that means you can control speakers. As you go up the range the sound quality and “grip” increases. I’ve heard very low power Naim amps do a fine job in big speakers.
My dealer was at my house earlier in the year for a home-demonstration, he commented that my system was the first time he’d ever heard B&W 800 series being controlled well, he finally understood why people liked them. I use 35 year old 75W/channel Naim power amps, for him they did a better job of controlling the B&Ws than much more powerful spec amps he’d heard. I’d suspect that a Naim amp up the range from the SN will do a fine job on the Harbeths, despite a not amazing nominal power rating.

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Thanks! But Harbeth is my starting point so the rest of the system need to adapt and work with them and my SN is not enough but when looking into say NAP250 it is not clear to me it will control them much better?

Read my post above!

NAP200 = 300VA peak power capacity (but rated 70w RMS)
NAP250 = 400VA peak power capacity (but rated 80w RMS)
NAP300 = 500VA peak power capacity (but rated 90w RMS)

Sorry but is VA same as watt?

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