Timing, timing, timing!

When I listen to naim, one of the things that gets me is the sense of timing. I do not profess to understand why one amp “times” better than another, but my ears don’t lie. However, it also lays bare where musician timing is “off”, a good example being the drum intro to Billy Cobham’s In Search Of Snoopy. Billy Cobham is up there, right? Top of his game. But the naim system reveals flaws in even his metronomic drumming. Now I have heard it I cannot unhear it. But I only noticed it on the naim kit (with the Titans), never in the car, never with my A&K, but now it’s there, it’s there. Same story with a number of other tracks, mainly since installing the Titans. Anybody had that same experience?? Maybe ignorance was bliss… and this is the price of such a revealing system? !:scream:

1 Like

I agree this is what many of us like about the Naim Amps. For various reasons I had to use a cheapish Phono amp for a while and bought an ifi Zen Phono. In many ways, it’s very good, low noise and detailed for the money and better than many I have heard. However, it just does not supply the timing and musicality of a Stageline and makes LPs sound more like the CD5 but again without good timing. Listening to an “S” board Stageline is just more enjoyable. Well, according to my old cloth ears.

Hi Robbo, maybe as simple as speed=musicality , and that’s why we are here :smirk: ATB Peter


This is one of the reasons why I’m enjoying my current Naim system more than my previous one. The high level Audio Note valve system was very textured and had great tone but the price of all that long note decay was a slow sound which struggled with complex multi stranded music. Naim are masters at creating a fast and cohesive sound with minimal harshness. Their commercial success is not surprising!


Lovely, how does it time?

Nice post @Robbo

Install a pair of Naim IBLs then we’ll talk :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

…or some n-Sats :smiley:

I did get my hands on an n-sub to try out :slight_smile:

About the missing octave or the brilliant reproduction of guitars?

Probably both! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

1 Like


it’s probably your ears too. You may have acute sensitivity to tempo changes. I have acute sensitivity to pitch differences - a test showed that I can detect pitch differences in the order of a 20th of a semitone - and I can almost never listen to vinyl unless the TT is super and the LP has been perfectly pressed and centered.
I know well this thing about timing although I am not sure what it exactly is; the once-called slew rate and phase coherence (whatever it may be…) have surely to do with it. For sure, Naim amps behave very well in that specific department. I have recently demoed a number of integrated amps to replace my now slightly ‘shy’ PrimaLuna EVO 100, and the one that stood out is the XS3.

The quantity of stuff inside doesn’t seem to influence speed either; here a pic of a Nait XS3 vs another amp of the same price (here):

The left-hand one has a modest, possibly stock transformer, a possibly stock pre-holed board and a very basic set of capacitors; the Naim is crammed with parts yet it is as fast, detailed and responsive as can be desired. The ‘lighter’ one is very fast and detailed, pleasant to listen to - but the sound that has stayed in my aural memory is the Nait’s.

Enjoy music! To be happy with one’s equipment is much more than it seems…


Music is a linear thing. Notes have a start, a middle and an end. It’s also a 3 dimensional thing - acoustic recordings certainly. Notes energising the surrounding air. These dimensional cues still need to mesh together in time to give s sense of resemblance.

Could possibly account in someway why many musicians - who have been playing from a written score for many years - aren’t so susceptible to expensive Hi-Fi :sunglasses:

I thought it was a well known fact that some bands don’t just play metronomically/mechanically, but sometimes in a more organic textural tense to emphasise some parts or create tension



thanks for the interesting remarks.
Actually, I think that no musician plays metronomically. Musical tempo seems to be born from a number of internal conditions - density of the harmonic texture, instrumentation, resonance of the performing or recording venue. The so-called tempo arises from continuously variable issues and cannot be decided according to and fixed by a mechanical device.
Yes, some musicians are not susceptible to expensive HiFi, some don’t even care for HiFi at all; but some are, if anything to ascertain which HiFi is less betraying music. For sure, having listened to tons of gear in my life, I still maintain that music cannot be really reproduced, and that Naim gear is the one less unfaithful to it.


Having the tempo right before the music starts is essential for a good performance. My teacher said that before starting to play a piece of music, try to imagine the music - play it in your head - and tell yourself that it is the most beautiful piece of music worth a good performance and only then start playing. This came from a soloists perspective.

Trying to get a congregation singing properly, lead a choir or an orchestra is an entirely different matter. I remember a good conductor of a choir which I attended about 10 years ago and when he explained a bit he took up after the few words he used in exactly the same tempo and in the beat as before he started to explain. It were very high paced rehearsals which were very effective.

I recently recorded myself playing Sweelincks Pavane Lachrimae and the odd thing was that when I was playing and listening back the experience was quite different. The best performances were not always the best experiences.

It remains a struggle.


On the subject of musicians and hifi, Rafa Todes is a member of the Allegri Quartet and a hifi reviewer. I was pleased in a pompous way that he has the same speakers as me and I have no musical talent whatsoever!

If you listen to music, you have musical talent. Everybody has. I realise that this can be perceived a bit pedantic, but I have the strong opinion that everybody has musical talent.

I well remember an ex colleague of mine, he said: my music teacher once said to me that I’m only allowed to sing as an act of self-defence. I’m not musical.

A few minutes later he started to tell how beautiful Tchaikovski’s violin concert was.


Impulse response of speakers is absolutely critical. It determines a lot. If the notes start, hold and decay at precisely the right time, it prevents the muddy smearing of notes especially on pianofortes and cymbals. If the impulse response of a speaker is spot on, the stereo image width, height and depth snap into focus. You can close your eyes and position instruments and players in those three dimensions.

Jazz, blues, soul and funk drummers are a rare breed.
Bernard “pretty” Purdie is an inspiration for the human race for having perhaps the greatest faculty with tempo in the known universe.
Google - Bernard “pretty” Purdie: The Legendary Shuffle. (Youtube . DRUMMERWORLD)

(I’m no longer technically able to paste the clip due to browser upgraditus)

Perhaps some more fortunate soul could upload it for me. ?

But yes, you don’t need a highend Hi-Fi system - or even to watch him swaying to and fro on his drummers seat to know he is playing ‘tight and loose. tight and loose. tight and loose - fwartang…
To get that “Groove”

It’s also well known for Electronic based artists - who mostly spend their time looking at a screen to sequence the flowing linear lines. Adopting not so much a deviation from the tempo, but some modulation or attenuation to differentiate the pulse from being a strictly mechanical flow of marching marionettes.

Robbo are you a musician? What album is that from I’ll have a listen to see if I can hear what you are hearing

It’s from Time Lapse Photos. I got the rest of the family to listen in to see if they could hear anything unusual. My son got it on 2nd listen - he has music in his blood. Rest can hear it only because it’s been pointed out.
Also similar experience on Madness It must be love - piano in right hand speaker does not stay in time. Very slight but it is there.
I don’t think either of these are intentional.
Many other examples I can now discern more clearly (with the Titans), many of which ARE intentional :slight_smile: