Honestly I have spken with the reviewr Bob Neill who is a big fan of naim cd players and he and I agree that Blue circle gear has all that Naim offers plus a better sense of tone. However I woudl not put CJ in the Naim category. If your dealer told you that ignore the rest of his recs he is way off. best of luck
I switched from Naim gear to a Berning ZOTL amplifier and found much better sound, none of the typical tube shortcomings, and it is auto-biasing, and cool running, with long tube life. It is just as simple to operate and maintain as any SS gear. No fuss at all. A great sounding, and easy to use upgrade for me. The ZH270 is the model with the power level you'll need to get anywhere near the power level of the Naim 250.
Actually without going to far from where you are with NAIM I would try Linn. Linn amplification is clean and very compact due the power supplies they use. Naim is tough to beat though. I am using a Naim Stageline with Hi cap power supply as it was the only (after numberous trials) phono stage that didn't produce any kind of hum. If your getting a hum of some sort with NAIM I believe you will have a similar problem with just about anything else. NAIM uses such a heavy sheilded case on their gear. Make sure you do some in-home trials before you buy.
Believe it or not I second Blue Circle. Beautiful to look at, great tonality, nice punch. Nothing is the same as Naim, but BC will give you a good alternative and, as I understand it, that is what you're asking for.
Moving to tubes, nothing I've auditioned does what Naim does, but tube amplification can do some cool things. Little noisy but spooky real.
I switched from Naim to Blue Circle. I had a 32.5/140/snaps setup that I wanted to upgrade. I started looking around to see what was available, though I had every intention of sticking with Naim. I literally stumbled over Blue Circle gear and was knocked out. It is hard stuff to beat, especially when you start comparing price points.
The Blue Circle will give you a little more timbral accuracy and slightly better imaging than Naim. Of the other gear you have mentioned your best bets would be Plinius or Ayre, but you'll have to spend more money on either of those to get a comparable sound to the Blue Circle (so why not spend the extra cash on better Blue Circle :).
Having said all that, I still have fond memories of my Naim stuff, and may eventually pick some up used for a small second system.
I moved to an all Linn Aktiv system from my previous Naim components. I'm very happy since used Linn gear is such a great bargain. I can't offer any criticism of my Naim kit and have fond memories of it. I would definitely put Linn on the short list especially if you are looking at buying through the classifieds. Good luck.
A while back I read a review in HiFi+(GB) from a Naim devotee who replaced his
power amp with a new amp under the Dynavetor name. Dynavector is known for cartridges so this was a surprise to me. This new design as I recall is by the guy responsible for the classic Bedini 25/25. Dont know if its available in the US, but it got high marks from a real Naim fan.
Thanks to all who responded. I have been hearing alot of good things regarding Blue Circle gear. I have no dealer in my area who carries it so I would have to take a chance.
Regarding BS. If no dealer exists in your area, They will sell direct to you. At least that was the case this fall.
When I sold my Well Tempered Record Player, the customer came for pick up, he didn't leave my living room for five hours, booked a hotel for overnight and returned the next day. He told me, he never heard anything like this, he couldn't sleep, it was the best he ever listened to. He told me, he has the full Naim line, everything from them and only their best, and full equipped Linn LP12 and he will sell ALL at once. He can't enjoy it anymore.
He sold all in 2 weeks, even his Naim 01 Tuner, he wasn't even interested in the price.
My system at that time was nothing extreme, in my opinion, Well Tempered Super, 2 Klyne preamps and 2 monoblocks from Jeff Rowland with a Speaker from Reference 3A and XLO cables.
He is happy now with his new line.
I sold my SBLs and bought Dunlavy SC2avs...massive improvement. Sound better, easier to set up, look better...
I just sold my 52/Supercap/250 and will get the Magnum Dynalab receiver.
Tired of the edgy analytical Naim sounds and am enjoying the warm, clear, powerful sound of North American electronics (at a fraction of the price).
thers nothing as laike naim audio from all that i have heard befor.
Why don't you try Gryphon? Many consider it the best overall SS electronics. I really like Naim, but Gryphon is better though very expensive; and rightly so.
I had (still have, for that matter, gathering dust...) a NAIM NAP250, Hi-Cap, 72 Preamp and CDI player. I went to tube amps about 6 years ago, *huge* improvement in detail and realism, plus at least as good "pace" as the NAIM gear. (Electra-print single-ended amps, 28 watt monoblocks). I use a stepped attenuator for volume control. Since then, I've achieved further improvements with a Vecteur transport and Audio Aero Prima DAC, but the tube amps were the main gain.
Only briefly heard an old nait, but I own a Densen b-100. Many in the UK have replaced Naim pre-power with Densen 200/300 and prefer the result. The only US dealer is in NY state, unfortunately. The densen has naim timing but better imaging and transparency in my limited experience.
I have owned a fair amount of Naim. I think it is good gear and has a sound. It gets more intense as you go up the line...could be good or bad depending on you tastes. I prefer Mcintosh tube gear..also has a sound,which I prefer overall.
I find it more musical...meaning it makes me want to listen to music more. Anyway it is all personal taste, as always trust your ears.
I have never heard Naim amps.
But I can say that I love my Blue Circle. It beats my old Bryston 3B and Linn preamp.
Much more musical. Go for it.
Talk to Kevin at harmonia-audio.com he is really a great guy.