Naim 'Hiss' active Vs passive pre


I have a dilemma regarding the famed Naim hiss found on some of their amps.

Note: this is constant speaker hiss regardless of mute activated or inputs disconnected, not hum, buzz or interference.

Speakers are Focal Chorus 816v 91.5 dB sensitivity parred to a schiit Audio DAC magic

Using the Naim Nait 1 Hiss was barely audible.

Using the Naim Nait 5 hiss was very noticeable at 3m away.

(The hiss mainly comes from the tweeters which are metal dimmed on the focals)

My conclusion is because a) the focals are high sensitivity and b) the Nait 1 preamp is passive so less gain and the Nait 5 is active so more gain.

I love the sound of the Nait 1, the 5 sounded very refined and had more body to go louder but the blackness of the Nait 1 in quite parts of songs or just generally when in standby / watching YouTube and films was less annoying than hearing a constant hiss from the nait 5.

Does anyone else have any experience / advice in this regard. I’m currently looking at the nait 5i as apparently that is also a passive pre to could be an upgrade for the 1.

I know Naim & Focal now work together so whether or not naims newer kit has been calibrated to the focals I do not know.

Thanks in advanced.

Both Naits have active pre-amp sections. When was the NAIT 5 last serviced? What speaker cable are you using and how long each channel?

Interesting, actually that is something I noticed on my 552 (2014)/500(2017) there is some hiss audible from the tweeter - that can be heard when close to the speaker…say within 3 feet… is this normal? It in no way seems to affect performance.

Yes, it’s normal to hear a little hiss close the speaker.


Hi I just checked my speakers and there is a mellow hiss with my ear next to the tweeter but as I move away by about a foot the hiss becomes inaudible. Of course all speakers and tweeters are different and my ears may not be as good as they used to be.

I did notice av very slight hiss with my Audiovector K3 and the Supernait 2. Speakers where 90db sensitive. It was very low and I could not exactly hear it from listening position, but in a quiet room I could tell the difference with the mute button on or off, so it was there. When I moved to ATC SCM40 speakers with 85 db sensitivity there was no hiss noticeable at all with the Supernait 2 or the 282/250, unless I put my ear very close, say a a few cm, from the speaker.


We are using Naim Naca5 cable, correct lengths.

It’s very noticeable how the hiss changes between the nait 1 and 5. With the 1 you have to put your ear to the speaker, with the 5 you can hear it from the listening position.

Interestingly we tried the nait 5 as a power amp only and connected a croft valve pre amp & the hiss was exactly the same as with the nait 5 so those two must have the same noise floor.

Not sure when the nait5 was last serviced but I’ll be honest I don’t think it’s the caps.

I tried an A/B test with a pair of wharfedale diamonds and then my focals , diamonds 88db and focals 91.5 sensitivity & the hiss from the wharfdales was alot quieter.

The hiss from the Nait 5 is just too loud from my listening position so I can only really be satisfied with the nait 1 at the moment. For reference my nad325bee did not hiss like this.

I’m just curious what is the reason for the hiss, is it the pre amp gain (active Vs passive) or volume resistor ladder? And would the 5i (passive) or even newer naims his as much?

Anyone with focal chorus speakers have any experience with naim amps? The two are paired companies now so I would think the two work together to negate this noise.

Thanks in advanced.

Any NAIT 5 will be 18-22 years old now so very likely will be in need of a service.

The last time I used my own NAIT 5 I can’t recall it being any ‘hissier’ than any other Naim amp in my collection.

Strange, could always get it serviced however you know when you initially turned the Nait 5 on, you get a bump or pop from the speakers, 10 seconds later another one. Then the audio plays. It’s only after the 2nd bump do you get the hiss and it is very audible.

has been discussed a hundred times in the past year. Search for hiss :slight_smile:

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I have an 82 with two HiCaps and a pair of 135 power amps.
My speakers are B&W 802 Nautilus, and I could hear hiss from one tweeter if I put my ear up very close to it
I had the 135’s serviced and the hiss disappeared

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Interesting…. Had thought it was caused by high gain from the pre-amp, not something controlled by the power amp.

Yes this was my thought aswell. The nait 1 doesn’t hiss nearly as loud, and that’s only 13 watt. The nait 5 however does alot, similar to a croft pre amp when connected to naim 5 as a power.

If you look at the Super -unity it has a S/N at 85dB witch is just terribly high. If you have a speaker with a sensitivity of 90dB or higher you have a loud hiss from listening place from the speakers. That’s not a great constructed amp in my book. That’s in the same league that amps from the 1960’s.

I think the problem with these search suggestions is you’ll quickly find the Forum running dry with topics. There’s only so much one can talk about, so it’s bound to be repeated, and old topics may have a new slant.

The fact that Naim take about two decades to change their range doesn’t help. Until then you’re still going to get, ‘so what’s better - one hicap or two on a 282’.

If you hear the hiss with the volume turned down to zero and the amp muted, then it’s extremely unlikely to be the preamp and certainly nothing to do with the high gain in the preamp. It’s more likely to be the input stages of the power amp: the long-tailed pair and the B-E junction of the first gain stage.

Sure, but it’s nevertheless the best way to get answers quickly instead of waiting for the same thing to be repeated again, usually by the same people

Hallo all,
i am new to naim, just bought nait XS 3 a week ago, brand new, and i have the same problem. i can hear a substantial hiss (more on left channel) from the listen position 3 m far and at zero volume and also when mute in on. i have B&W 683 standing speakers. I also tried a more sofisticated power cable NRG-Y3 with no improvement at all.
Could it be that the power cable are differently long (thebone on the left is 3m and the one for the right is 2m long) ?

I have also done several tests charging layout, positions, cables no luck so far.

any hints appreciated as i could not believe such company is producing an amplifier with this problem, never had with my Marantz, Rotel and NAD in decades of listening.


This does not seem right. This does not appear to be the typical Naim hiss (which is a result of their amp design), because the typical one does not occur when muted and has lower volume.

It would not be expected to make a difference

I suppose you mean speaker cable. What kind of cable is this? With NACA5, both would be too short, the 2m one quite significantly. I don’t know if this affects the hiss that you are experiencing, but it’s not great anyway.

Well. The Naim amp design hisses a bit, but as noted above this kind of hiss disappears when muted. In addition it is less audible than what you are experiencing. It should be barely audible if at all from the listening position, except with very sensitive speakers. My speakers are 86 dB sensitivity like yours and don’t hear it from 2.5 meters, it starts to become audible only when I move to below 1 meter distance with the ear on tweeter level.

Seems to me that something is not right with your XS3 or the setup

Hi Suedkiez.
firstly thanks a lot for taking time to look at this.
more info. Yes i meant speaker cables. they are not from Naim, they are good quality cable, manufactured by
I hear the hiss as soon as the amplifer is on. and also.when muted. Now i also noticed that the amplifier itself has hiss.whem i get my hears closer to it. not sure.if this is related.or part of naim design.