Naim watts…again…

I just finish reading the “Naim watt” thread. I am a bit confuse. I remember having a Cambridge audio azur 840a rated at 120watts for my Focal jmlab cobalt. I upgraded it with the 840w rated a 200watts/and my cobalt came alive and dynamic and i am talking about low volume. Easy speakers to push, 91db efficient. But still…in my hears the power gained did them good. Now i am reading about naim 300 and 500 series…powerful amps…but i also read about the Nait 50’s 25watts/channel that is so wonderful and musical, pushing floor standing speakers…what am I missing here?

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Current and transient delivery. But also, one amp may just make speakers come alive because it is a better amp and the increase in watts was purely incidental.

Most music listening at realistic volumes just uses a couple watts so often a change in amp doesn’t really affect that. But transients (drum snaps, bass notes etc.) have a larger instantaneous draw on the amp. So a 30w amp that can swing 200w on transients probably sounds more commanding than a 80w amp that only stretches to 130w. Naim amps tend to excel at that transient headroom.

For example, I’m currently borrowing a 90w power amp. But compared to my 85w NAP250dr it sounds quite puny. It instantly runs out of steam. The 250 can swing almost 500w though whereas the TEAC I borrowed can swing 130w. And it shows.


And I add that what impressed me most in the Nait 50 was its dynamic capacity. It was never extremely loud, but a recording with strongly strummed guitar chords was, well, realistic. For extreme loudness & apparently infinite dynamics one would have to stretch to the Statement.

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Most Naim amps have a claimed peak power capability of 5x rms power, against the 2x that is far more common in the majority of manufacturers’ amp specs., meaning that for practical music playing with good dynamic range they seem more capable than their standard power quote of rms would suggest, which I think is the origin of the term “Naim watts”.

As for powerful amps being better, that is a popular misconception, and only relates to the power aspect, not sound quality, and not necessarily ability to control speakers well: To control speaker well, especially those presenting difficult loads, other factors than just adequate power are also needed, such as an ability to provide power inversely proportional to impedance down to very low values, and low output impedance. The better the power amp the better it does these not just adequate total power.

The new NAP 350 is particularly interesting with its claimed 1.75kW into low impedances (10x rated into 8ohms), suggesting very good ability with difficult speaker loads.


I have ‘only’ 70 W pc of Naim 1985 Watts… :astonished:

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I always thought that the rated power of an amp was based on some iso ( or other) standard. And related to the total harminic distortion (thd).

Is this what you recall?

Something like that. So naim quote at 0.1 thd, others may not. If others quote at higher levels of thd, then their amps may ( on paper) appear more powerfull.

I have had a few power amps, and tend to look at what makes up the power supply to hint at what is possible from the amp. Weight can also be an indicator ( usually due to the transformers rating).
So, the rated power needs to be substantiated with thd and into the load. Personally, i like to see the power double as the load reduces by half. Tells you how weedy, or otherwise you psu really is !

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It’s why we listen to Naim amps :innocent:


From the product specs…

CB 110 - 40W 55W - 1.38
XS3 - 70W 100W - 1.43
SN3 - 80W 130W - 1.63
Olive 140 - 45W 70W - 1.75
CB 250 - 70W 125W - 1.76
Olive 135 - 75W 135W - 1.8
NC 250 - 100W 190W - 1.9
NC 350 - 175W 345W - 1.97
S1 - 746W 1450W - 1.94

(The S1 thought you just called it weedy…)


That’s why we call them Naim watts.


That reminds me of the first Statement demo I heard, when it was new and Naim were showing it off with a pair of monster Focals. Its ability to resolve fine details in complex music at high volumes right across the frequency range was hugely impressive. It reminded me a bit of watching bands playing loud in the back room of a pub, where you can’t hear yourself think. Listeners tended not to stay long, and emerged from the room looking shellshocked.

Fortunately the room opposite had Kudos demonstrating their new Titan 808s driven by a 552/300. This was the perfect environment for those of us needing PTSD treatment. You just had to relax and let the music wash over you.


Yes that is the power rating has generally referred to, watts RMS into a stated load, normally 8 ohms. Where amps vary beyond that is how much power they can give before clipping into that same load, and how much power they can give before clipping into lower impedances (speakers never have a constant impedance exactly as rated, and some can vary considerably). These other capabilities are fundamental to how an amp behaves with different speakers, and with transients in music.

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Original CB/Olive NAP250 -

70 W into 8 ohms, 125W into 4 ohms

(125 x 2 = 250)

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I know. I am a musician. I have a 40 watts tube amp, you should see the drummers face when i tell them its only 40 watts…watts dont mean nothing. You can have class H or D 300 watts and it wont compare to class A 20 watts. And there is also the efficiency of speakers. 83db compare to 98 db efficiency i do understand the need for powerful amps in that case. But the transient factor, the peak watts, is really interesting with Naim. I listen a lot of jazz. Dynamics, even at lower volume, is what i am looking for in a power amp.


Thanks, updated my post :slight_smile:

Couldn’t find quite a few of the specs on the website, just went with quick and dirty vs. slow and comprehensive 8)

Thanks guys! Its clearer now! :nerd_face:

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@gthack - Couple more for your calculator -

Olive NAP140 - 45 W into 8 ohms, 70W into 4 ohms

Olive NAP135 - 75 W into 8 ohms, 135W into 4 ohms

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CB NAP110 - 40 W into 8 ohms, 55W into 4 ohms

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…and bearing in mind that a NAP S1 will deliver a burst of 9000W in to one ohm if called upon.