NAD 375 or NAIM 5i or NAIM Unite Qute

I inherited the following system:

Arcam alpha 7se CD player

harmon kardon AVR 120

b&w 303 bookshelves

monster power conditioner

It was an HUGE upgrade to what I was using before. Its been a joy listening to music again and exploring the new details and such. It's been 7 months and I've been thinking about where else I can take the sound. It's been fun to learn more about the hobby.

After researching and visiting local audio shops it's become clear that the HK is the weak link. I really only want a 2 channel system. No radio. I'm looking for advice and thoughts on amps. I'm thinking an integrated amp. Although I've never heard tube. These are the two amps I'm looking at now:

NAD 375 (new, $1200 + 13% tax)

Naim Nait 5i (used $850)

Considering Unite Qute

I want to get more out of my b&w's but I'm sure I'll want to upgrade speakers in the next year or two. So I want to be prepared for that with my next amp purchase.

A couple of other things that I've been thinking about is the whole tube option and whether I even want to go down that route. From what I've read it's a warmer sound , which sounds interesting to me. But more money and maybe more maintenance.

Secondly, high res music. I don't currently own any but wow I heard it at one of the shops and I know I'll want to get into that. Should I be considering that in my amp purchase?


My music tastes - from Zeppelin to Elvis, vocals, acoustic, soul, blues, classical , hip hop.

Interested in live sound, 3d imaging sound stage, non fatiguing , joy of listening, soul moving.

Thanks in advance!!
I have had both amps. Currently have the NAD. Both will be fine with those speakers. Depends on your taste and needs or future needs, power, 2 sets of speakers, tone controls on the NAD. Both are worthy. Message me for more info
I had the Naim. I know a lot of people like it but I thought it was very overrated. Didn't like it at all. If I were you, I would look into getting a Creek 5350. Its in a completely different league.
Thanks! Do these amps actually have different sounds. I'm so new to this it's a bit overwhelming. I know I will want to upgrade speakers in a year or two. Probably towers. Can you elaborate on the two?
All of these amps definitely sound different from each other. As far as upgrading goes, all of the amps you are looking at will power a wide variety of speakers. They do have some limitations, though. Some speakers demand a lot of power and one of these amps may not be enough. If you have a speaker in mind for a future purchase, you need to make sure whatever amp you get will be a good match. If you haven't decided on speakers, you should have no problem finding something that will work well for you.

Also, with regards to upgrading, the NAD and the Creek I mentioned have a very useful feature. The amp and preamp sections are connected externally with rca jumpers. This allows you to use the unit just as an amp or just as a preamp. If you want to upgrade to a better amp, for example, you're not forced to buy a new preamp as well. You can use the one in your integraded until you are ready to go further.
How do I message you Muzikat?
Personally I would be looking at speakers before an amp. I upgraded my amp before speakers just to find out there were much better amps for the speakers.

I had a Denon Pma 700 with Mission/Cyrus 782 speakers. I upgraded the Denon to a Bryston B100. The Bryston was better but not by a lot. Then I upgraded the speakers to Dynaudio C1's. Now that was a huge upgrade and was very happy. My Dyn dealer kept telling how much better a new amp would sound. Well I thought about it for about 2 years thinking it couldn't get that much better than what I had. Then I started thinking about tubes. Finally I asked my dealer to demo an Octave integrated (V80) and it sounded much better at his place but didn't bring the B100 to compare side by side. About a week later he came to my home with an Octave V70se. Before the tubes even were warmed up I knew that was another huge upgrade. About 10 min later when then tubes warmed up I couldn't believe what I was hearing. He said I could demo it for a few days but knew right then I wanted it. Yes I did purchase the Octave and still have it.

That being said amps do make a difference but also I learned it was easier to match an amp to speakers than speakers to an amp.

Just my opinion based on my experience - Good Luck
you can email me:
I think you can go look me up under my username on A'Gon to send message as well.
Thanks so much everyone! I think the only way for me to do this is to test amps out. I'm so new to this that I don't know the different characteristics of sound from each amp because I haven't listened to them yet!!

I'd rather buy used so it makes things a bit more difficult as I don't want to have sales people help me without an intention to buy, although I might do it once or twice to get my feet wet.

Xti: It's interesting what you're saying about speakers. But I haven't even looked into speakers. So I think for me, to see the biggest difference, I need to replace my Harmon Kardon avr 120. Or do you think that different speakers would make just as much of an improvement as an upgraded amp?

Muzikat: There is no email function that I see on the site in your username page. I'll email you, thanks !
Deetothevee - In my opinion over the years I have found that the speakers have a much larger impact on sound (especially when starting out). As you move up the speaker chain that is when amps pre and source will made the biggest sonic differences followed by cables.
Or do you think that different speakers would make just as much of an improvement as an upgraded amp?
In my opinion the speakers will make a much bigger difference at your stage of the game. That being said I came real real close to upgrading the Bryston to a Naim Supernait. But in the end for me the Octave crushed both the Bryston and Naim. Last I haven't heard a NAD amp in last 20 years.
I don't get the NAIM thing. I want too though. I know they have a loyal following and have been critically reviewed but like another poster above, you don't seem to get a lot for your money.

For value, the NAD 375 offers the most. It is Stereophile Class B rated and almost made Class A. If that means anything. This is also an amp you can comfortably drive the B&W's with, or any other speakers you may get some day. I also like the Creek 5350. Finally, I would also recommend a hard look at the Marantz PM8004. At only 1K list, this is an outstanding high current integrated not afraid to list meaningful specs - 70 wpc/8 ohm, 100 wpc/4 ohm, >25 amps per channel peak current, >100 dampng factor. I have heard his amp with some very high end speakers (up to 8 times the cost of the Marantz) and it is truly impressive for the money. Hope this helps.
Thanks Paraneer. I just realized that I can't connect my Apple TV to any of these amps. That being said, what do you think of the NAD 356EEE DAC? Although it only does 24/96 res files. It could be good for me for now and I can upgrade the DAC in the future.

Should I stick with value/convenience, or am I going to get more enjoyment sonically from the Rega Brio-R or Bryston b60?

I would say my sonic preferences are in instrument separation, clarity, Sounstage/imaging. At least as far as I can tell as a newbie.
No problem Deetothevee. Yeah, I think the NAD 356 BEE DAC would be a good option. Sonically it will hold its own against the Rega and even the Bryston. So don't think your giving up any sonic performance for the value/convenience of the NAD. They are very musical amplifiers. This could be the best solution for you considering the speakers you have. And the NAD would stand ready to adequately power any other sepaker you might upgrade to later. NAD's are all 4 Ohm rated.

The sonic preferences you indicate in your last paragraph would most likely be realized by an upgrade in speakers, not amp. Good luck in your decision and have fun listening.
Thanks Paraneer!! If I was to get a more affordable DAC such as the Audioengine D1 paired with the Brio-r, how would that compare with the NAD 356 DAC?

Or maybe the question is how does the NAD DAC compare to the Audioengine?
Can't really answer that. I don't get hung up on DAC's too much - guess I am old school because the power & build quality of an amp that translates into its sound qualities is what comes first in my book. I have a 2 channel system embedded in my Home Theater system thanks to an HT bypass feature on my 2 channel pre-amp. I rely on my AVR that acts as my processor for any DAC needs. I believe it has Wolfson WM8740's - pretty decent ones from what I can gather. The NAD has a highly regarded Burr Brown PCM1796. Very good also.

Since I consider good robust amplification to come first, I still like the NAD. It produces 80 wpc and weighs 19 lbs plus. The Rega produces 50 wpc at about 13.5 lbs. Also, the NAD is more of a conventional design both in size and control while the Rega is more minimalist in appearance and control. Again, these are my preferences and not meant to knock the Rega but its small width would bug me aesthetically. I just think the NAD is a more powerful amp and this should be the first thing when considering an amplifier - does it produce more power than you need right now and just as important - will it produce enough power for your future needs when you upgrade. The NAD stands ready to grow with your system.

Hope you get other opinions so you can make the best decision possible.

Paraneer, thanks for your perspective. I still haven't had a chance to listen to the darn amps with my speakers let alone with any speakers. I was supposed to go today but the dealer didn't answer the phone!

I want to make sure that I like the sound. If it's not much of a difference, the NAD makes more sense on many levels. But of course if I really love the Brio-r's sound then I would go with them.

Guess I have to wait to get a listening session first and possibly miss out on the two on the used market.
I've listened to both. I found the Brio-r a bit more refined. Little more detailed. I found a bit more harshness with some of the treble on the NAD. The NAD had a lot of "attack", coming at you. The Brio-r had it too but not to the same degree IMO. Overall I like the Brio-r sound better. Still haven't made a decision.

In regards to the DAC, you mentioned that you are using the DAC in the home theatre system. How are you sending the digital file? I'm just trying to understand this as a novice. I wasn't aware that there are DAC's in a home theatre receiver.
Yes, all HT receivers have built in DAC's. Most now have HDMI, optical and USB inputs. I am not currently streaming any digital files from a computer to listen to - my sources are LP's, CD's, SACD's, and of courese Blu-rays & DVD's.

LP stay in the analog domain, from turntable to 2 channel pre-amp. CD's can go this route too or through the HT receiver (altho I prefer the analog route into the pre-amp). SACD & Blu-rays are bitstreamed into the HT receiver via HDMI and this is where the HT receivers DAC's are used. If I wanted to stream from a computer or apple TV, I could do that to into the HT receiver and utilize its DAC's.
"I've listened to both. I found the Brio-r a bit more refined. Little more detailed. I found a bit more harshness with some of the treble on the NAD. The NAD had a lot of "attack", coming at you. The Brio-r had it too but not to the same degree IMO. Overall I like the Brio-r sound better. Still haven't made a decision."

As a beginner, it looks like you are off to a pretty good start. The differences you notice between the 2 amps is very relevant. That's exactly the type of thing you need to be listening for. More importantly, you know which one you prefer. (And its always the more expensive one, isn't it?) There's just nothing like hearing it for yourself. You can read all the equipment reviews you like, but the way you're doing it far better and much more rewarding. Who better to build your system than you.

What were the other components in the systems you listened to? Since you can only listen to a component as part of a system, getting to know all the parts of that system will be extremely beneficial in your search for better sound.
Zd542 - Thanks for the advice and affirmation that I'm on the right track with this. It's very fun, and addictive.

I'm actually coming to the conclusion that I am preferring the NAD lineup for now. I really liked the dynamic range. But more importantly, I think, that the combination of the Dynaudio Focus 160's will lessen the harshness in the highs I mentioned before. I believe it was the B&W's that were taking it overboard. A huge part of the NAD option is the price. I can always upgrade later to a more "musical" option such as Rega or Naim (do any of these amps equal the dynamic range that the NAD possesses?).

When I listened to the Brio-r it was with a Naim CD player. I've also listened to Harbeth speakers with audiolab amp, audio lap dac, airport express. I listened to the Dyn Focus 160's with a moon 220 amp. You're right, all the other parts have an impact, so trying to make sense of it all can be tricky, but I think I'm getting decent at it.

I feel comfortable with choosing the speaker first. It seems to have the biggest impact on the sound characteristic of the whole system. So I'll start there, then start to add the other components such as amp and Dac.