New NAIM NAIT XS(3); breaking this in before I get a break-in

catchy heading?
Yes I “believe in” new component ‘break in’. (please NO posts needed on psychology and ‘brain training’ and ‘bias’ etc; I have the requisite science backgrounds and years of hobbying behind me… (I’m good, thankyou!))
This extends to snippy quotes showing “I believe in new component break in”('nuff said!)

For me break in is overtly linked to only the new pieces of hifi I buy, and not a thing for the majority of my purchases (being second hand)…

Some kit needs more time to ‘bake’ than others (Ultrasone Edition 5 with their metal, ‘small’ drivers took around 1200hours to sound good, and at least 800hours to settle).

This post is mostly about an entry level integrated amp, in this instance a Nait XS3, and what other users might wish to consider when looking for info on ‘expected break in times’.

I fully agree that most do not have the ear training to care about this stuff, nor the setup that might reveal ‘some of the finer aspects’…
but needless to say this should be spoken about…; why? because otherwise I would have been unlikely to have kept the ‘out of box’ sound… (I knew to wait, but some may not…)

Background: I have owned some nice (/top tier) kit. I have had it combined with matching ‘level’ (/quality/“tier”) hifi components and understand just how great a well configured room and setup can sound.
This has been a hobby for me for well more than three decades, and I have played with A LOT of amplifiers (and associated equipment) over the last few decades.

If I wasn’t attuned to some generalised impressions regarding Class A and Tubes and ‘flagship’ parts then I wouldn’t have an expectation for just how good stuff can be.

I have my test tracks sorted and know what I am listening to to test certain parameters.
I also (no comments please; as ‘off topic’) have my cables and power filtration etc sorted (to some extent)…
Best of all I have a familiar baseline system with speakers and sub being stationary, and the DAC having not been turned off for many many moons… (and it lives exclusively in NOS mode, being fed suitable tracks from a few different FAMILIAR transports).

The parts I have been rotating much more than usual this year is AMPLIFIERS.

On my search for ‘the right stuff’ I went down a pathway that is not what my brain would typically go down…
As someone who places soundstage and imaging as the top two criteria (above dynamics and ‘tone’) I chose a Nait XS series part.

I love high slew rate equipment… (nothing yet has touched the ‘speed’ of my old Sansui AU919), and was interested in what the removed Cascade ‘filter’ was going to have on the reconfigured XS line.
well; colour me impressed!
admittedly NOT with the out of box state of the audio…
around 80 hours it was digestible,… but around 250 hours it started to shine- enough to write some words here… (only around ~350 hours on this baby so far/‘as of time of writing’)…

I have read enough people quoting ‘around 400 hours’ that I put that as THE MINIMUM time to have one of these bits of kit PLUGGED IN AND TURNED ON

I generally will not listen to equipment until it has at least 100 hours on it, but as a few planar headphones have shown me,… 400 hours is a new norm that I like to reach.

Anyone who knows what to expect (ie ‘bass tightening’ , improved soundfield depth (and a little more L to R) etc) can start to plot where the minimum listening time should be… (there does seem to be some general patterns that can be observed in the break in phenomena)- of course EXPECTATION BIAS is ‘ripe with this one’ is no doubt what many/MOST readers will take from my post (and are no doubt seething with every word I write)… by all means if you KNOW EVERYTHING- move on - you have nothing more to ‘learn’ from this post :wink:

…if however a fun ‘experiential’ post on the topic of break in is what you are looking for…
well then- lets enjoy this thread. (upbeat posts please- only posts that reaffirm the biases contained within are warranted, and sought after… “lets tilt the boat” with a reaffirming crowd- many handshakes and ‘pats on backs’ welcomed here!)

So… grainy sound disappears first.
Fortunately before the grain has totally gone… the stage depth STARTED to happen.
These were the first two things that reassuringly were observable.
Grain at 370ish hours still present (but much much less) and depth is coming in, but nowhere near what an entry level Marantz integrated of the last decade offers once fully broken in… where clap filled auditoriums can erupt all around the listener; presently I have clapping extending ‘mildly’ into the room even though certain effects can reach holographic levels, I’m ‘not there yet’; but better than where I started…

Amp from box:

I made the mistake of throwing on a familiar Tori Amos track as my second or third test track.
Arguably a BIG MISTAKE!
Tori was front and centre, and the piano was mostly to the right… but SO FAR AWAY as to being played by someone else… or, arguably two people (at least) based on how far it stretched over the ‘stage’.
The amp had ‘no depth’ and, this sounded eerily like a Topping D90 DAC (the worst DAC I have heard in the last decade or so…)… it was a ruler flat ‘depth’ ie NO DEPTH and too many things were simply wrong with the ‘setup’ of the stage… as the track should have played.

For me this ‘freaked me out’: had I bought ‘the wrong amp’ for my usual sonic preferences? I had read that Naim kit (certainly the integrateds) didn’t do ‘holography’ well. (and coming from a Musical Fidelity NuVista M3, I had certainly jumped into nightmare territory with regards to “surely it cannot be THIS bad!”)

Spoiler alert: at only ~350 hours in- the stage depth and holography is coming along beautifully… I have sounds from behind me and well placed staging up front that gives a realistic image and plenty of front to back ‘layering’.

On first day use:
I didn’t mind that the treble was missing a LOT of high frequency detail… -the micro details that are the ‘all important’ echo information and 'room/space setup of a recording. (I knew this would come ‘in time’)
It was the fact that Tori had to be a freaking giant with exceptionally long arms and, herself, was speaking through a tunnel (her voice clear and sans room information).

Second Spoiler: at 100 hours staging started to come good, 250 hours the minute echo and ‘High Frequency’ details needed for excellent depth setup was truly COMING IN!! (YAY!)

Back to ‘out of box state’;
Private Investigations simply WASN’T.
T.J. Eckleberg “Inches of Darkness” was, again, an exercise in needing to exorcise the veil…
The drummer at the start of the song SHOULD NOT BE PLACED clearly to the right (at the speaker location),… rather, on a great setup, it should extend to the back of the room -far beyond the wall- I have heard 70ft back… (‘ladder’/R2R DAC via hybrid amp and some Bowers and Wilkins monitors in a tuned room), but 50ft is the norm for high quality setups. Good processors into power amps and flagship surround receivers are generally good for 30feet back.
The Nait integrated, in the first hour of use, made the drummer ‘to the right’ but, when an amp can place point sources ‘with depth’ the drummer appears more to the middle, albeit far away…
I didn’t expect the massive bowl of ‘nothing’ (regarding depth) that the out of box Nait delivered.
Yes I had been told they are ‘forward’ amplifiers (the Naim integrateds’), and that they paired better with soft dome tweeters (vs, say, ‘metal’)… The Krix towers (speakers) certainly fit this bill, and the R2R DAC in use had certainly rendered better than 50 feet back with a slew of amps in situ over the last few months. Not least of which was a ‘lowly’ Marantz PM64 mk 2 that had cost peanuts by comparison- “what had I done?”, “could I live with this?”(No!)- so, some time to bake…

Hang on… lets talk some ‘positives’;
Coaching requires reaffirming a few things that the part/player is doing right-
Their was a visceral talent to how music WAS being rendered.
Sure it was congested -ahem- but certainly had a musicality to it, that, a room away, sans any need for staging and holography, would still sound amazing… (hence the post title being ‘break in before I get a break in!’; sure the neighbours’ might be salty at me for taking out the venerable NuVista M3; a tube/solid state hybrid ‘integrated’ (arguably) amplifier… which no doubt puts out an analogue sound that is very musical. Flutes even!

The Pace Rhythm and Timing (PRAT) is a thing… what I have often encouraged people to give credit to, ‘toe tapping’, when selecting equipment,… is here in full effect.
There is a simple beauty in the delivery, even straight from box, that qualifies this part as ‘a keeper’ in anyones’ book; even someone like myself who connoisseurs’ traits that the Naim kit is not acknowledged as having strengths in, the consensus that NAIM gives PRaT to die for- well, “Yes”, “that is true”. (and totally covetable)

So here I am pushing 370 hours and listening to Astral Weeks Live via a lowly FiiO M11+ COAX output, something I like to generally run through a reclock box to improve the digital delivery (Apple Music through the M11+ is actually ‘CD quality’ equivalent to my -better- /‘good’ transports); but, straight to the AudioGd R28 DAC- the Nait integrated has depth… the soundfield is now one that can place Tori on a seat on ‘the same stage’ as the Piano she is playing (phew!)…
Private Investigations has phase shifting effects that roll over the auditorium and correctly runs THROUGH this listener (and hits the back wall/‘goes beyond’)…

I am not using a streaming service, yet… still enjoying only select rips and discs as I come to learn this beast of an amp…

yes I say this knowing it is ‘hardly a Class A’, and that it is anemic by comparison to some parts that may need be left on for many hours to ‘get their sound’.
In fact leaving the Naim ON is why I bought it: If I leave ‘my good kit’ off (/standby), and factor the few hours before it ‘starts to shine’ (valves have costly runtimes and so get power cycled around here); the cost for a half day+ of Hifi sound is a whole month of using the Nait XS3! I can leave her on with NO FEAR… perfect for a future solar setup (which, truth be told,… the 1500VA Musical Fidelity was never going to run on…), and more so for the ‘bus’.
The future, if things align, will be the low heat output/‘no grills’ 7cm tall Nait XS lying underneath an Anthem receiver (for Atmos duties and surround gaming/movies), much enjoying the ‘Nait’ as a power amp and being able to massively improve the sound delivery for my surround sound, whilst being able to, with the click of a remote button, return to ‘perfecly liveable’ hifi stereo duty.
In this config the Nait integrateds’ are perfect ‘Home Theatre Bypass’ candidates (or even as a power amp straight from a ‘variable output’ DAC/preamp)… in ‘HT Bypass’ mode the preamp circuit is bypassed and all power is usable for the kit as a stereo power amp. Much sonic improvements. Due to wanting to break mine in I have to use the full circuitry and so am not making use of HT Bypass (/nor the headamp) as much as I want to.

Is this little integrated the equivalent of ‘the best I have heard’? No.
Is it an interesting enough listen to justify owning one? Yes- better than that- I’d go so far as saying everyone should hear a Naim piece of kit, and decide for themselves if musicality given is worth somehow shoehorning that ‘NAIM sound’ into their rig… (Absolutely, “Yes”!)…

It isn’t the best when compared to parts/pieces that might be many times more the pricepoint, or have MUCH MUCH higher running costs…
I personally see the Naim Value For Money factor as being exceptional and the sound quality, whilst second fiddle to the value proposition, is quantifiably ‘good enough’ to place this part heads and shoulders above other options at anywhere near the pricepoint. The housesound is certainly worth saving for, and the ‘lowly’ 5si is a doorway to musicality ‘uncommon’.
That being said, I reached above the 5si, to the XS3 due to taking up the same amount of space, but offering an upgrade path for when the setup does move out of the bus… where I can get a dedicated power supply for the preamp circuitry and leave the internal toroidal for the power amp section. (whilst not the equivalent of the three toroidals in an offboard box that my last ‘integrated’ amp uses,… will achieve some of the sonic benefits that this configuration naturally brings, and is what the Nait is being compared to here when I am implying it is in anyway ‘less than perfect’ -when up against one of the worlds’ best integrated (as some reviewers have said).

“Toe tapping”, whilst might send shivers down a few readers minds’, is a very real ‘thing’ that no doubt the incredible PRaT delivers with these boxes.
This one aspect makes this part my new favorited ‘go to’ box (in a house with more than ten options to go to), even sans ‘full break in’. That is really saying something’ - for those that are not reading between the lines- let me make this clear; the Nait sounds great, even ‘unbroken in’. Break in will make it sound better, sure… but if after a couple of hundred hours you are not liking a piece of kits’ rendition - it may not be the piece for you… (although the aforementioned Ultrasone headphones, “Edition 5s”, got horrible after 300 hours and didn’t return to musical until north of 800 hours- but they are an exception and ‘not the rule’, and, being speakers, have actual mechanical components that are affected greatly by some excursion/‘run time’)

Spec sheet warfare is the death of the audio hobby - it is what has let ‘made for phone’ DAC chips (sip power/‘who cares’ audio output) own the market, in a world with sound so homogenized that class D is ruling the market (need less heatsinks, so ‘cost efficient to sell’ after a world financial crisis)… consumers who only benchmark against everything else are not factoring “what if everything else is, erm, ‘yuk’.”

Stereo audio was at its’ height prior to the year 2000, and then the market went home theatre, and then, around 2005, went with ‘Beats’ (/Skullcandy) and now, we have remasters for spatial audio, and earbuds rule the airwaves (literally).

Class A and Tubes are ‘top of the tree sound’ generally (conductor friend can confirm this bias’), but the Nait series tuning to be solid state that has tube sound (and not via a digital chip emulating, ‘poorly’, second harmonic richness) is cost affordable, and servicable for a part that lives in a system long enough to matter.
This is the heart of the system that has heart.

and mines not even ‘broken in’ yet

well wishes with’

tbc, discussion welcomed (cheers)

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I like my XS3 as well.

What? :slight_smile:

Enjoyed reading that. Owned my XS3 from new too and it definitely benefitted from a few hours before sounding great.

It now feels like a well worn pair of shoes. Whether it’s vinyl or streaming or CD it does a great job of letting you listen to the music whilst not hiding the differences in recordings or the equipment replaying them.

Here’s a picture too:


Yes I do not understand those who say ‘breaking in only gets better’…

When I first turned the unit on it had thundering bass.
arguably a bit flabby though…
Now it has ‘non existent bass’ (by comparison) as it is still settling.
Have spun the usual suspects;
titles like City of Angels (soundtrack), and presently Florence and the Machine Ceremonials.

Live discs are not ‘there’ yet…
The imaging extending beyond the front wall is really coming in nicely though… (admittedly much better than I thought it would based on what everyone says about Naim Naits being ‘forward’ sounding amplifiers.
That is all just about gone…
What it is now doing is pulling everything apart, but it is doing so beautifully and throwing in directions ‘as appropriate’,… based on the amount of high frequency detail that is starting to really come through…
It is very mid focused presently as the bass is ‘feel it and not hear it’ but as I am not seriously letting it play (volume generally around 62-66dB peaks when I am listening ‘half intently’; I know this amp will play a lot nicer when I start to give her some juice.

For now, just letting those frequencies all equalize in their delivery; the bass will become taut, the upper frequency minutia that is required for correct stage setup will kick in…

For now, enjoying the beauty of vocal tracks (hence City of Angels), and the Naits ability to pull apart tracks and render instruments in vivid 3D space is a true beauty.

The household already acknowledges it as a superior music experience…
and even though I choke its’ power - the DyNaMiCs are fantastic.

an early track I spun (fifth piece of music played) was Suzanne Vega’ Fat Man and Dancing Girl and it was one of the best presentations I have ever heard of that track… even fresh out of the box.

But truth be told it just keeps getting better.
The Harp on the Florence tracks was basically non existent, but is now starting to be harmonious and sweet… (visceral and beautiful)…

No Light, No Light (Florence) has been an underwhelming track on so many stereo systems- this is a joy to partake in… first time in awhile this hasn’t been a ‘headphone’ track.

Engineered to sound valve like, with NONE of the service requirements/‘ongoing cost’ and fragility.

look forward to seeing how she handles Tool and NIN

Nothing ‘little’ about the XS range, if it’s all the same :wink:

Very glad you are enjoying your music through your new amp.


Umm- depends on where one comes from-

My ‘expectations’ vs ‘delivery’;
I bought it because it was little (a present need, hence the purchase);
it is physically little, and it sips power.

When you have a motorhome project in the works, and every cubic inch matters (and more so power draw), as I have already identified; vs my [ex]preamps power draw (Proceed AVP2) which uses 50watts per hour in standby, and the 1500VA Musical Fidelity Nuvista M3, a two box affair that is a ‘fairly large’ integrated amplifier (as hifi components are concerned); coming from 275Watts to the under-rated Naim capabilities- sure we can acknowledge that human hearing is a logarithmic scale; and that ten times the juice can be a ‘doubling in (perceived) sound’… -the ‘small’ Nait hasn’t really had its’ volume dial turned up yet… (no doubt delaying the ‘breakin/burn in’ process somewhat)!- but this thing is ‘tiny’ in every regard.(except sound field and musicality /‘dynamics’ etc)

Shrinking a hifi rack down, and even factoring some of the behemoths that have been rotated onto the amp table recently (things like flagship surround receivers that are heavy in nature),… I had thought my next amp purchase would weight at least 12kilograms… even lowly stuff like a Rotel RSX965 is 15kilograms; but lifting the Marantz SR9200 or Onkyo TS DX989 is an effort, and, when forward thinking to the motorhome layout- gives reason to consider placement over the axles to increase braking performance/ or somehow splitting the hifistack to allow ‘balance’…

A paultry 8.5kilograms and a size that is more useful to me than the Marantz PM64 (mkii), which isn’t wide enough to stack over, NOR would I want to place anything above it (HEAT!),… the Naits’, and certainly the baby Naits (5si and XSs) are gifts for the sound quality they give and the peanuts in power they take to achieve such incredible feats.
This is ‘green’ audio.
Our world needs components built to last (and ideally be serviced due to being practical to continue to use)…

When this wee lil beastie (vs a Sansui AU919. for example) still drives my Tower speakers (Krix Apex (version 1)) beautifully; I feel my power bill (or lack of needing a heap more solar cells and ‘batteries’ for power reserve if reflecting back on real (bonus) benefits gained from choosing such a fantabulous product =again: small in both physical size, less weight, and ‘tiny’ /‘sipping’ power draw)- this is an awesome product to exist on our blue planet. (and very helpful for a ‘small space’ stack and running 24/7 in summer, and not needing a bank of giant batteries to play for a day!)
It is green to travel around the globe and green to use daily.
Oh, I do not plan on turning her off… (I’m not so green) :wink:
I can get a month from the Nait XS vs a part day of usage (and those crappy ‘standby’ power draws/time it takes for valves to ‘sound their best’ etc) from the old setup.

from my perspective this part is out of its weight class (featherweight) and yet goes toe to toe with giants. (heavy giants even)

Sounds better than ‘alright’ too; the traits that the Naits are tuned to give are what musically tuning engineers will nail.
(Naim, “Thankyou”)

Dear Whitedragem,

I believe you have a typo with regard to cascade and cascoded semi-conductors.

From the XS3 webpage burst:

“The second gain stage transistors have been optimised, so they no longer need to be shielded by a cascode stage transistor. Removing the cascode means less amplifier stabilisation is required: that doubles the slew rate and delivers another uplift in sound quality.”

As you would now, there is a difference between cascade and cascode.

For everyone else’s interest.

A cascaded amplifier simply means multiple amplifiers lumped together into a single device . The output of one amplifier stage is connected to the input amplifier stage.

Cascode amplifier: The transistors in cascade amplifiers are connected in series, but in cascode amplifiers, they are connected in parallel

More information can be found by typing into your search engine. It is explained here better than I could do in a sentence or two. Diagrams are more useful.

I do not know if I am allowed to supply links and will do so as a picture as they say is a thousand words.



Warm regards,

Mitch in Oz.

An interesting topic.

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I had the predecessor, the XS2, for quite sometime before getting a SN3. The XS was a cracking amp and let you get on with listening to the music and generally losing the “anxiousness” that can be associated with alot of Hi-Fi equipment.

The speakers I have connected to the SN3 are Kef LS50 Metas, which are surely at the other end of the spectrum. I totally understand why opinions on these speakers can vary so much, they are absolute primadonna’s and unless perfectly dialed in and with the right environment are nothing like when everything is setup to suit them. Then they really deliver, but its a trial to get there in my experience.

Again, contrast this with speakers on other system and what were long term installed on the Naim system, Guru QM10’s. These are ridiculously forgiving of positioning and embrace the common restrictions most of us have, and just get on with putting a smile on your face when listening.

Glad you are enjoying your amp.

1 Like

Yes was a typo; oddly enough have spent the last three days reading a LOT of technical documents on cascade stages.

Thankyou for sharing- certainly DID NOT WANT to spread confusion or make any information gathering harder for anyone.

kudos Mitch.
(I know now better;-)

Interesting as regarding the Nait amplfier I found it very intolerable of positioning…
I literally HAD to move my left speaker to make up for an imbalance in the sound.
I do believe a part of this was break in… The right channel was noticeably louder or ‘more engaged’,… but after a week of having every album tilted to the right… (and not much panning to the left/extension beyond the left etc; with the sound getting noticeably weaker), being at the point of wondering what to do (had considered breaking out a Grace m903 to use a ‘mono’d’ output from it as a preamp to ensure equaled signal playing through the Nait)…
I ended up just correcting the imbalance with speaker positioning.

Which made for an enjoyable experience and well worth doing.
I have rotated so many amps through this space and not had to adjust the balance on any of them… arguably they lacked something that the Nait brung to the table.

To be fair they were ‘a little’ out of alignment (not enough that a tilted chair wouldn’t correct, I suppose),… and this was one night a year+ ago, where I was playing Vannesa Maes’ Butterfly Concherto and was using some slight adjustments to land a perfect stage in the room space.
(either that, or a brief stint with a Yamaha RX-A3000 in position to measure the bass response and ‘mix in the sub’ and also adjusted the left speakers’ tilt, being rear ported, as it altered the bass frequency extension and married the three sound sources beautifully; I then rotated OUT the Yamaha and replaced my regular stereo amp in place)
…anyhow - for whatever reason, the channels came across as not balanced in volume, and i had to shift the left speaker a smidge to equalise.

In fact this isn’t the only ‘sin’ I have commited vs my typical breakin strategy… (which I threw the rulebook out for, for this amp in situ, simply because I enjoyed listening from ‘day one’ and knew she was a keeper!)

Around the end of the first week there was a moment where I had to power down, so I took the opportunity to rotate in a PS Audio power cable running from a PS Audio power filter box…
I won’t deny I was dissapointed that the rest of the world doesn’t get the ‘shaken’ Naim power cables (I had been watching youtube videos on their factory and ‘processes’), and just a generic ‘soft’ power cable in the box.

As someone who values cables and often buys headphones and gadgets just as much for their accessories as the equipment that comes with them ;-), the Naim kit having ‘nice power cables’ (home turf!) is a nice inclusion.

Anyhow… as keeping things stationary to simply notice the differences of ‘equipment breaking in’ I have in fact made enough changes that one could certainly question it isn’t “apples to apples” anymore.

(the speaker moved a smidge, sure,… but the power cable change was DRAMATIC when powered back up… (more probably to do with the source, rather than the shielding afforded the last metre or so of power flow!))

Juzzie Smith - “Live”; is far back from the speakers now… it is ‘effects’ that are ringing out that come front/forward (‘overtly’ of the front speaker line) now… Clearly this kit is performing very differently to the out of box state!
(nothing an inch and an inch thicker power cable(/power source) should rightly bring)

Glad this thread isn’t for naysayers to ‘breakin’ - there is way too much evidence here to discredit any findings.

smiles with’

Dear Whitedragem,

Auto correcting has its pluses and minuses. There are days I want to take to the computer if it is a stress relief toy, though it is a solid object. Maybe a Nurf baseball bat will help my frustrations.

Have a nice day. You have me even thinking of upgrading my XS2 to an XS3. I will search locally for SN3 amps, though they all may have been snatched up with the recent specials.

Warm regards,

Mitch in Oz.

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I suppose a ‘diary’ of sorts regarding the gradual breaking in of a wee integrated.

Well past 400 hours now,… somewhere in the last 80 hours verticality started to really kick in.

For me the vertical plane is the last observation that we are on the home stretch.
Walking through the den this morning, on my way to the kitchen, nearly lost my footing for a second due to the softly playing rendition of Supertramps’ Some things never change, oh the irony…

There was nothing forward in this sound (vs what I had heard ‘out of box’)… The players were clearly surrounded by air/‘blackness’, and existed eight-ten metres back through the wall… the sense of the room I was walking though was massive/epic…

as I said,… I nearly lost my footing.
I stopped walking fast,…slowed to a shuffle for a moment as I tried to understand what my brain was experiencing: this was not the stereo system I THOUGHT I HAD BOUGHT; but rather a stereo system I would have truly sought!!

I like stage depth and width as characteristics that are at the top of my list of characteristics in an amp I seek.
These musicians (Supertramp) were clearly well placed, and the three dimensionality of this performance was superb.
Certainly better than the first week of this amp being in the den would have led me to believe the Nait would deliver on.

This disc, by pure random luck, playing a HDCD rip (I rip them as WAVE files rather than FLAC etc to preserve the HDCD flags, which allows them to playback in 20bit sound on appropriate equipment ie with a PMD100 filter chip installed as a co-pilot to the DAC chip(s)) of the 1997 album ‘some things never change’ wasn’t the best I had ever heard… (that accolade belongs to a system with a TEAC P700 (transport)=>Parasound HD1100 (HDCD DAC)=>Sansui AU919+Acoustic Research LSTs (amp and speakers)… ); but this flawed me.

The Naim Naits are quite capable units- the air (around instruments) and space (of the venue/recording ‘stage’) is starting to really come together.

It is placed many metres forward vs what a well warmed Nuvista M3 does… sure… but that is hardly fair to compare. (by pricepoint and age; the parts are ‘not equal’ in the slightest!)

That album had run on from Vanessa Mae, Butterfly Lovers’ Concerto, something I had put on for staging setup and information; but both of these albums had shown me that verticality was coming in nicely.
The ability to pull apart tracks now is incredible.

Listening to Jacintha- Heres to Ben (hires) from one of the more ‘average transports’, and the keys on the piano are physical and placeable and ring well.

Not the last stage of break in though…
The violins had a thinness or dryness that I expect may come better… they erupt without edge or ‘abruptly’ when the subtle edge information would give them a lot more ‘natural’ sound.
And Bare Naked Ladies - ‘Gordon’ (album) was still a little lacking in elegance that an unbroken in amp cannot fully give.

but,… I’d now agree that the major stuff has happened and, as others have stated,… ‘around 400 hours’, seems to be on the money.

Oh and reviewers who state Naim sound is seriously forward with these units, might wish to reconsider their burn in policies. {this is night/day differences vs ‘out of box’/‘first week’ sound}

When I first tried my Nait XS 2 in 2013 I was underwhelmed. It just sucked the life out of the music, ‘‘grey’’ would be the best way to describe it.
Anyhow 10 years have gone by (how time flies) and I still own it, not that I haven’t pondered replacing many, many times. But as it turns out it’s the only piece of gear that I owned back then and didn’t end up selling at some point.
So I suppose at some point it must have broken in or my ears got used to it. Could be its biggest quality is that it doesn’t offend.


I look forward to getting THERE then!

some Genesis yesterday showed me some tracks just show this thing is ‘very new’ (a horrible listen)…

Grey is appropriate, as the tracks that ‘misfire’ come across as noisy… (and it is NOT the recordings)
they have neither air (it is grainy) nor blackness to recess to (noise, noise, noise).

I do acknowledge it is just some tracks on certain albums, and it must be they skirt through frequencies that just haven’t settled yet, or require responsiveness of a kind that the amp hasnt dialed in yet.
Fair though as I have only driven two hours above 9oclock on the volume pot.
(I break kit in easy)
Instrument edges are still dry or ‘missing’, but, in my experience, the subtleties left generally reveal themselves within 20% additional time after the verticality kicks in. (started around 430hours)
(That ‘calculated time’ prediction being the minimum time to achieve LISTENABLE ‘out of box sound’ as my yardstick)

I know that once settled, the amp will have subtle improvements in ‘low down (hz) bite’ and more dimensionality will continue to grow… (improved voicing/seperation and blackness etc)

but the lionshare will be done when that wetness (instrument edge and ‘tonality’) kicks in.

Thr nature of the sound coming ‘good’ around 420-450hours, would have me do a review after ~580 hours (minimum)… -as based of previous experience on amplifiers/front end electronic components ‘burning in’; a little extra time past the OBVIOUS/OVERT changes…
(during this time ideally I like NO POWER DOWNS!; hence the term ‘burn in’)

as I have never run this amp hot (or turned up volume past 930 on the dial) I wouldnt be surprised if it continues to shape up for another month or so… (actual use).

the occasional track still being veiled and/or ‘grainy’ suggests it is still very new.
the fact that each morning when I walk through the room, I continue to notice a ‘much larger deeper stage’(more so ‘deeper’, daily at this stage of the process) means it is in a very obvious break in stage.

(and not so much to do with brain /sensory shifting to accomodate)(which certainly IS a thing also)

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Having greater than 500 hours on the clock now; something wonderful has happened- instrument ‘edges’ are better.
Listening to the Hot 8 Brass band this morning below 60dB mostly (a few peaks up around 65dB), the metalness/“brass’ness” of it all was very well defined.
I find at super low volume levels some things are an ‘easier’ listen for me.
The stage setup at such low volumes was incredible to listen to; all being back from the speakers but ‘reaching forward’ as needed/as engineered; or at least matching up with my experiences of playback of this album on ‘better’ kit.

This is the best realization of what I have really netted with the beaut little Nait amplifiers…
At low volume level, not the true forte of the Musical Fidelity Nuvista M3, but more so with a Marantz PM64, the low volume level playback being so controlled and well detailed and ‘revealing’, is truly enjoyable.

Jumping around a bit in engineering and ‘volume’ (60dB average now, peaking up to 70dB+), the newer Peter Gabriel album(s) “I/O”, the sense of room filling effects and ‘all around me’ sound, but certainly coming from a well setup front ‘invisible’ stage…
The amp finally feels like it is ‘getting out of the way’ and leaving me to enjoy what was recorded as it should be.

I am not one for trying to push large volume level output through the Nait, but for the listening levels I might do for majority of my music catalogue (sans Tool/Nine Inch Nails and a few orchestral pieces), this is a perfect matchup.
That being said I have not turned the volume dial to ‘10am’ (if it were a clockface), and even 0930 has been restricted to a ‘few’ listening sessions/‘playing at volume whilst I am AWAY’.

I can see why people set ‘400hours’ as the baseline.
Obviously that isn’t the end point though, and the amp will continue to settle in other (potentially ‘less obvious’) ways.
Today the bass is back (it had been missing for around ten days), and the edges on instruments are finally there… (doesn’t feel warm/dry, or overly wet)… but -to use the porridge analogy; “just right”!.

As I may have said, albeit less clearly; the soundfield feels like where it should be (and that the amp is just getting ‘out of the way’).

I made the mistake of visiting and listening to a ‘familiar’ music system yesterday, albeit a couple of rungs down the ladder from my own, generally speaking,…
When I first opened the Nait and played it ‘straight from box’, I was highly envious of the sound coming through my friends Vincent SV500 (I was even questioning ‘what had I done?’)…
with the hours on the Nait now, the Vincent is such an inferior rendition in most every area I can think to measure.
Out of the box the Naim house sound was ‘worthy’, and I would still have taken it over the competition pieces(amps) due to the inherent musicality.
Now, having the joyful experience of hearing it sounding ‘full’ or ‘proper’ it is a much much more enjoyable listen.
(short term auditioners beware- these components DO benefit from ‘a little use’)

Your mileage may vary, sure,…
for those who notice the minutia and pay less attention to ‘tone’ and more to stage size/setup/location… then a few hundred hours makes a LOT of difference.

Enjoy(ing this~)
Thankyou Naim

figure this will be the last post (quite possibly) on this thread - I believe only three in a row posts allowed by any one poster,…

Whilst I am at more than 600 hours, I feel an error in my break-in has left me stupified…

For the last ‘weeks’ of non stop usage - the Nait has been used at LOW VOLUME listening only.
Two / three times I have plugged headphones in, and for an hour maybe (total) had the volume pot at 0930 ~. (if looking at a clockface)

I noticed the other day when I did my third headphone listen, I turned the volume dial up (ie 1030) and there was a lack of confidence in the sound delivered that suggested this thing was on ‘shaky legs’.
Right now; fourth headphone session (and by far the longest), the volume is at 12o’clock.
Inside of half an hour it started to stage better ‘front to back’,… I left it playing audio now realising that the preamp circuitry had been running ‘choked’ for most of the breakin time…
-The first few days I changed my DAC to preamp output mode, and dialed a lowish volume level so that i could turn UP the Nait when doing overnight constant music/sound playing… (without having to listen to it all night long, easily, from two rooms away); the reason I did this was due to a channel imbalance at low volume levels that I didn’t want to lead to the channels ‘breaking in’ differently if I left the volume level right on the threshold of ‘sound being heard’.

My takeaway now though:(?)
I wish I had continued to put my (source) DAC into the preamp mode that allowed me to turn up the Nait to ‘high volume levels’ (on the volume pot) for large amounts of the breakin time.
I feel that a lot of the Naits preamp circuitry hasn’t really ‘been doing anything’, and, now that it is being asked to do so,… seems ‘very new’ to the game. (just when I thought I was done contemplating ‘break in’ for this beautiful wee black box)

Does it have more burn in wanted in order to get its’ best dynamics/‘chops’ ?
(my best guess based on what I am hearing from the higher volume level ‘headphone output’ is ‘Yes’)

In a moment (after I post this), I am going to return to playing music through the speakers and see if two hours of the preamp being up high has done anything…

Of interest to me would be anyone having an idea as to how much of the amp is engaged when in ‘class A’ headphone amp mode… (are those ‘two tiny’ capacitors in the middle of the mainboard, ‘the headphone circuitry’, the “lionshare” of the headphone sound, or, is the nature of the preamp being class A already, the ‘lionshare’ of the resultant headphone sound (being ‘class A’ in the first instance…).)

is the class a preamp floating on power from the array of giant capacitors near the power supply, and ‘does the headphone amp then use those for its capabilities’ (or is it the ‘two cute mini capacitors’ in place on the board;)?

I want to downsize my electronics, and am afraid of doing A/B listens against my decent headphone amps,… (ignorance is bliss),…but based on tonights headphone listen I am wondering whats up’…
(and really hoping that my lack of driving the preamp circuitry at even 1/5th volume has hamstrung my breakin significantly) (fine by me… happy to continue USING this beautiful musical amplifier…)

anyhow, excitedly, about to listen to her now… 2130 isn’t too late to listen to Dire Straits Private Investigations at 2130 (on the volume dial)?
I think it is too late to listen ‘so loud’.
It is summer here and I don’t mind closing all the windows and doors sometimes :wink:

Love the journey
always learning new things!

So; when I first thought this amp was ‘broken in’, I started to leave it playing headphones at night, with the volume dial left at 11o’clock (or between 1030 and 1130 zone)…
The first night I did this I noticed much greater stage and steering and ‘front to back’ in the day that followed. (when playing back through speakers at lowish volume levels, like my preference is, between 0845 and around 0930)

So, setup is 90dB sensitive speakers, around 3.4 metres from listening position in a mid to large size room… (eg 10m x 7m)
Having done the ‘headphones at high volume thing’ again last night, and now having many weeks of what I figured was ‘settled amplifier’ (and not powered down)… there is ZERO doubt in my mind that allowing the active preamp to play higher than 9o’clock has benefits! (certainly with regards to aiding ‘rapid’ burn in)

Today, listening to an album that has been ‘yawn fest’ /“fail” since the amp has been installed; is a whole 'nother playback.
It is now appropriately amazing!!

So, please bear with me- the album is probably not everyones’ “cup of tea”.
I doubt it would be of interest to many, and so lets just look at its’ volume levels and MY OPINION of the XS3 rendering the music…
This of course is all subjective toss, and is written purely on the basis that some people come to forums to READ.
The album is from the meditation/world/“odd” genre, and itself is a tribute of sorts to the original works.
Enigma; “Dusted Variations”.
I will discuss now my hearing of “The eyes of truth” and “Rivers of Belief”.

So, hopefully I update this post with a photo of where the volume pot was set, but for whatever aspirations this post has towards empirical evidence/‘knowledge’, I will describe the volume pot as being set ~0945.

Photo goes HERE. (excuse DUST; ‘pun intended’- “Dusted Variations” yes?)

So - some measurements (of no relevance to subjective opinion, but makes me look a mite more scientific in process)-

Eyes of Truth ranging from 62dB-81.5dB in what I listen to as main passage/‘build at end’, with a ~70dB average in quieter zone and lows of ~56dB

Rivers of Belief around the five minute mark ,80dB, with a 70dB peak in bass line thereafter (leading up to six minute mark). 50-60dB in lead out/end of track, and ‘less than 50dB’ in notes during ‘track start’.

There are better tracks on the album, I always skip track one, and am happy leaving this album on repeat on a nice setup when chillaxing/meditating…

on a nice system being the qualifier.
Valves and class A have consistently made for a nice playback.
The Naim Nait DID NOT play this album back to my typical listening quality during first six weeks of ownership! (yes- I know louder equals ‘better’ to most people; so due dilligence done with regards to consistent, “nothing changed” setup, and relistening)

Today, after a third night of jamming the preamp volume for >12 hours, the system has OPENED UP SUBSTANTIALLY. (that is three in TOTAL, not in a row)

Firstly: no fatigue.
I am listening on repeat presently, x2 playbacks of each track (in a row). As someone who will not listen to an album twice in a week, generally, listening to an individual TRACK, twice in a row AT VOLUME is not my style; especially in summer with the neighbours close by…
The disc sounds fantastic… finally the equal of the Musical Fidelity NuVista M3 (or close enough to ‘not care’) that the Nait XS3 is replacing.

The notes are alive, and musical - four weeks ago the dimensions of the stage and a sense of compression with regards to dynamic headroom killed the playback and relegated it to the ‘do not play’ pile.

I am hearing notes and distortions previously missed on other kit.
Something that I have witnessed over the last six weeks or more as the kit has broken in is that the Nait XS3 is fast.
Many obscured lyrics are clear (in genres with fast paced vocal; ie some Michael Franti or Arrested Development)… the extra nuances in lyrics from Amos to Vega is certainly something to write home about (apologies for so much italicising).
Extra notes in music are revealing themselves; not because of stage layering, but playback SPEED.
Whether this is a Class A preamp stage or ‘headroom’ (watts) or freeflowing power due to other aspects of circuit revision and layout/‘design’; I don’t know.

I don’t NEED to know though- I can experience the superiority of this amp, and no doubt it is one of the only Class AB amps that ‘makes the grade’ that I have EVER HEARD.
An ancient Sansui AU919, when clicking UP from the “fifth volume notch” (the bottom five being ‘class A mode’) was still a bloody brilliant listen, but that amp is an esoteric wonder and not much can touch it.
For peanuts on my electricity bill; the Naim Nait XS3 is a true joy to behold.
I honestly do not feel I am giving ANYTHING up to my valve monoblocks or Class A behemoths.
It kills low spec class A stuff due to being able to drive ALL GENRE’s to listening levels that fit.
eg listening to “The Gate” (Enigma- The Screen Behind The Mirror); at 1:38 the amp NAILS IT. The bass that kicks in for track two is delivered with the capability that Naim has reputation well earned, and the album is ‘a win’. (A lot of kit just cannot make this an engaging listen).

I have posted elsewhere that not everything has been perfect- I gave reference to the opening track on Ben Harpers’ “The Will to Live” (be warned some people have said to me that this album robs them of its’ namesake!), “Faded” (track one); this track NEEDS headroom.
The reduced stage and power delivery of the Nait XS3 (vs higher tiered kit, and much more costly amp setups, mostly being seperates systems using top tier preamps and great mono blocks/biamping etc) is not as good as the best renditions I have heard.
That isn’t apples to apples comparisons, and to be fair, no integrated amp has done the track as much justice… (OK the aforementioned Sansui AU919, but, again, not apples to apples really…)

The Nait XS3 is a little wonder’ that gives me (no) little wonder to worry about its capability to deliver on tricky genres or highly demanding dynamics.

Keen to get back to Mr Harpers’ Faded now…

Thanks for reading; would love to write more, but this isn’t shouldn’t be ‘my personal journal’ so encourage people to drop aspects of opening up that has happened for them after a few weeks of new kit being installed.

As always “Cheers”; thanks for listening.

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