Naim Amps and Integrateds


Not too familiar with Naim components, although my understanding is it's a fine brand with good sound quality. Nonetheless, here in the US it seems to somewhat of a niche product line, and I seldom see it discussed on the audio forums. 

Seems that it's almost meant as a stand-alone product line, best matched and connected to other Naim components. Also, it's connection methods with other components seems a bit funky, with DIN sockets and other proprietary(?) connections. 

I have a possible interest in Naim's lower end amplifiers or integrateds. Can anyone speak to these points:

Their amps in the 50-60 watt range- how well do they mate with low sensitivity speakers, and how much perceived power can they really deliver? (I did hear a lower wattage integrated or amp with ATC speakers, good match SQ-wise, and seemed more than capable of driving them.)

What is the overall balance of the amps-- my perception was they were a bit on the "darker" side of the spectrum, with good bass and treble not too bright or extended. Also good detail level, and PRAT.

How well will Naim components mate with other high-end branded components, such as DACs, preamps, etc.

Is there a great difference in sound quality between the current models and the ones from the most recent last generation, in the event I wanted to buy used.

And any other comments at all to help me learn about Naim components.

Thanks for your help.
jaybe
Supernait2 would be a good place to start your auditions- terrific integrated amp. Naim and ATC are used by many Naim owners. No problems using sources from other makes- cables are easy to source.
Naim amps excell at providing stable current when pushed with heavy loads and punch well beyond what their power specs indicate. 
With Naim you either love it or not. If you do like what Naim does you will never leave. Check out the Naim Forum - VERY good source for all things Naim . BTW, Naim is built like a tank, has excellent customer support and is widely available on the second hand market as users usually tend to trade up quickly after the bug bites!
ATB,
Mark

I agree that the Naim Forum is a must for anyone considering the brand. I definitely recommend buying components that permit upgrading the power supplies, as the differences can be startling.  I bought my Naim gear from a dealer with excellent demos, so I knew exactly what I was getting, but if you're buying used, it's always a crapshoot.  I guess if you have to go without a demo, I agree that any of the Supernaits will be an excellent start, but like I said, the outboard power supplies are pretty much a must IMO. They give the  components much more harmonic completeness and body.  For myself, I would rather have their lower priced model with an outboard power supply than the next model up without one.  So be prepared for the upgrade costs.  So buy the Supernait, listen for a couple of months and if you like it, buy a HiCap and you'll like it more.  Good luck. 
Indeed, Naim was a pioneer in advocating outboard power supplies. Now this is commonplace in the high end industry. Naim did it in the 70's and people thought they were nuts!
I agree with chayro, a power supply upgrade can dramatically change the goodness of a Naim preamp. The goodness is already there, it just makes it that much better!  Nice to have options to upgrade existing kit without having to upgrade the whole box. Good luck in your search.
Just my opinion. The appeal of Naim lies in their amplifiers, not so much on the source and speakers. The distinctive house sound of Naim comes from the amps. Naim is smart to have made their amplifiers sound different from one another. From the Nait 5si, Nait XS and Supernait 2 to the separates (NAC202/NAP200, NAC282/NAP250DR, NAC 252/NAP300DR and NAC552). When going up the range, one will gain higher levels of refinement and realism in the music.

Your understanding is quite accurate. The strength or appeal of the Naim is in the way it reproduces music. The focus is not so much on detail, soundstaging and extremities of the frequency spectrum (sparkling extended highs or deep punchy bass) but more on rhythm and pace which are often associated to PRaT (pace, rhythm and timing). The overall balance is slightly to the darker side of things with a very slight roll off at the extremities but not at the expense of making the treble sound soft or dull.

As for the bass, good quality bass with good depth, texture and layering (as opposed to punchy one-note bass) starts from the NAP 250 DR onwards with the fully-regulated design, only improved by the NAP 300 DR which is a two-box amplifier with a dedicated power supply.

There is certainly an appreciable difference between the current models. I do not have experience with the older Naim models but read that they sound quite different from the current gear.

There are many Naim owners who match Naim amps with DACs from other manufacturers. Only a handful use Naim amps with DACs that come with a built-in preamp or digital volume control, thus negating the use of a Naim preamp.

If considering an integrated amp with a smooth and dark (but punchy and dynamic) character, you can look at the Supernait 2. Few folks have gone with this integrated to avoid getting on the Naim’s upgrade wagon, especially with the separates.