Using a Nait 5 as a NAC 112

I’ve been using a converted Nait 3 as a NAC 92 for years, connected via a 4 pin Snaic to my DADA recapped Quad 405-2 via the RCA inputs, and on to my Quad ESL57’s speakers. I’ve found the combination on PRAT from the NAC 92 lends itself beautifully to the 405-2 and gives an overall big punchy sound with a bright airy soundstage through the ESL57’s. Best of both worlds to my ears. Occasionally I switch back to the Nait 3 when I want a more overall powerful sound and the lovely Naim PRAT alone.

I’ve picked up a Nait 5 (the first one) to upgrade to a more modern Naim sound, with the intention of doing as I did with the Nait 3. However, does anyone actually understand for sure how the link plugs on the back of a Nait 5 actually work? It was a piece of cake with my Nait 3/NAC92, you just pulled the links out and connected a 4 pin Scaic to RCA cable to the Signal Out B socket on the Nait and into the phono input sockets on the back of the 405-2, but this amp is dead if you remove the link cable.

I’ve checked the manual and it suggests this is still possible on the Nait 5, but reading around some say you need a separate power supply as it’s a passive pre. However, others suggest moving the links around to a different configuration allow it to be used as an active pre, but I can’t find out what links to move where? Now I’m just confused as hell. Has anybody any ideas how this works?

P.S. The Nait 5 works great with its links in as an integrated and is a noticeable upgrade on the Nait 3 through my ESL57’s.

To run the NAIT 5 as a pre-amp (roughly a NAC112 equivalent) you will either need a suitable power amp with a pre-amp supply onboard, such as the matching NAP150, or else a dedicated power supply, such as a flatcap.

Any other bodge or mod here falls outside of forum AUP.

1 Like

Thanks for this Richard. If I was to buy a 150, which would then power the Nait 5, would I also be able to occasionally switch the speaker leads over to my 405-2 and use the Nait 5 with a snaic to RCA cable as a (sort of) 112 pre amp, and which output would I need to use?

I guess failing this this would I have to buy a flat cap 2?

No, you would need a flatcap in there somewhere to do this.

Well this ‘little’ upgrade just got expensive all of a sudden. Jesus wept.

Try an olive hicap or the hicap 2 non dr. These work very well with the nait 5. I found the hicap dr good too, but it became aggressive after extensive listening.

The nait 5 bare is the best vfm NAIM product IMO.

2 Likes

Why don’t you just use the Nait 5 as intended. An integrated never sounds better used as a pre or power welded on to something else, even if that something else is from Naim. It was designed and voiced as an integrated.

6 Likes

As @Ardbeg10yb suggested your best upgrade for the Nait 5 is a psu of some kind I believe a Flatcap is a good choice.

1 Like

I just looked at your system you should try a passive pre (The Nait 5 isn’t a true passive as it requires plugging in to the mains) on your 405 you can start with something inexpensive like a Tisbury which would cost less than £100 used and only £150 new. The Tisbury is fine but if you go for something else do a little investigation online as impedance matching is key with passives.
A well matched passive will really surprise you I guarantee especially with those ESL’s of yours.

1 Like

I know what I’m trying to do is a bit whacky, but old Quad gear is amazingly transparent and airy, and Naim gear is incredibly musical and punchy. I love them both. Fusing them really works for me, it’s just hard to get them to play together.

My Nait 3 sounds great through my ESL57’s, it also sounds amazing used as a NAC92 through my 405-2 and ESL57’s. It’s a Ying Yang thing.

Bear in mind that I’m not exactly pioneering here. Julian Vereker was a massive Quad fan and his love of ESL57’s is etched in history, and has contributed to the product design since the company was born. Everything Naim works on ESL57’s… there’s a reason for that…they’re incredible, as the founder recognised.

I wanted to use the Nait 5 as a NAC and an integrated so I could alternate between the two, like I could with my Nait 3, but alas it looks impossible.

It’s a shame I can’t buy a bigger NAP that would allow me to take the strain off the Nait 5, and also allow me to connect to a non-Naim amp when I fancy. You really need to pump the volume up to power the ESL57’s with the Nait and a NAP would ease that, but the old Quad’s don’t even break a sweat. They need a lot of current. But I just like to be able to mix and match that Quad airy massive soundstage with the Naim grunt and musicality. I’ve loved both sounds for 20 years and never will stop loving then for their different approaches.

I think I will just get an old or new Flatcap, which is a shame as I’ll have to wait to buy a NAP to forward the Naim sound - but funds just don’t allow both at the moment.

You need to be a bit careful with the ESLs. Too much current can have disastrous consequences, both for the speakers and also the amp once the crowbar protection kicks in. It’s one reason why Naim used to offer a special “Quad Mod” for the bigger Naim amps (NAP250 and NAP135) which limited their current delivery. It’s also why the lower powered Naim amps are such a nice match with the ESLs.

Made me wonder if the previous owner had used the ability to attenuate the volume on different inputs so that the outputs were the same on all sources.

Yeah, I know they’re delicate and my 405-2 has the current limiting resistors fitted to stop it from frying them, which is one reason I like to keep it in the setup. However, I do also trust the lower powered Naim amps with them. My Nait 3 powered them well and they sounded pretty good, but the soundstage was very narrow and wishy washy and I think that particular range of olive kit perhaps wasn’t Naim’s finest hour to be honest - I’ve heard better earlier amps and newer ones. The Nait 5 is a lot more refined and the soundstage is much more open, but I’m having to turn the volume knob to 1 o clock for reasonably loud levels. That’s why I quite liked the idea of getting a NAP150 for an alternative setup. My 405-2 is lovely with the ESL57’s too, but it is a bit too soft with my Quad 33 pre. That’s where the Nait 3 working as a NAC90 really helped give the sound some drive and refinement, but also kept the wonderful airy soundstage of the overhauled 405-2. As suggested above, I may have to look at a passive pre but I think I’ll also buy a second hand Flatcap 2 so I can experiment with my 405-2 using the Nait 5 as makeshift NAC112. I love Naim amps and don’t want to lose that musicality, so I’ll just have to be creative - which might get a bit expensive.

Is this something you can change? It does make me wonder, too. My Nait 3 volume was at 9 o clock at reasonably loud levels, but the Nait 5 is at 1 o clock! It struck me as odd. Plus, up at 1 o clock, the Nait 5 seems to sound a bit rough, but maybe I’m just imagining it. I would have thought it would be happy enough past 12 o clock given the quality of the amp?

Yes but I’ve forgotten how. It’s been a while since I had mine.

It’s all in the manual though.

Thanks, I’ll download and have a read.

1 Like

The NAIT 5 and NAIT 3 use completely different volume control arrangements - the former is resistor ladder with encoder pot, the latter an ALPS blue pot. The former can also have the level adjusted up or down for each input.

A quick question to you guys, how much sonic improvement would I see if I added a NAP150X to the Nait 5? After listening to the Nait 5 for while, the soundstage is OK, not wide, but tight and accurate - but would a 150X improve it?

I think I can wait for the Flatcap 2 until after Christmas, as I’m having too much fun listening to the Nait 5, but would like a bit more refinement.

Power amp on a Nait 5 is a backward step, try a Flatcap 2 for a more balanced result and more of what you like about the Nait 5.