i like the top of the line naim preamp, 52 and its cd player, CDSII. but you are looking at serious money here with serious competition from others. but don't say that to a naim nut...he/she will think it's heresy.
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Anne is quite correct when she equates "Naimophiles" with the Spanish Inquisition. Dare anyone speak ill of Naim, he/she shall be subjected to an auto-de-fa. But seriously, Naim gear doesn't lend itself to long listening sessions, partly because of its extremely detailed presentation. I must admit, though, that the first 30 minutes of listening to the Naim integrated amp is very enjoyable. Therefore, if you're the type of person who plays their equipment for short periods, as opposed to listening all of a rainy Sunday afternoon, then Naim fits your bill perfectly.
I disagree and as a preface I only own a CDX and not a whole Naim system. I am not sure what research you are referrign to but I hope its your own and not what you ahve "heard" or read. Remeber your rears are what matters.
For the money I feel there are better power amps and preamps out there, but to me the CD players are wonderful.
The old CD3 was exactly as you described though, right out in your face and far more "etched" then the current series 5 cd player which has it faults certainly, but fatiguing isn't the way I would chracterize it. It ultimately lacks the soundsatge and depth of other models in its price range, but its pace and rhythm made me sit and shake my posterior in the seat during an audition :-)
But the cost with Naim quickly adds up and with each power supply upgrade which has the effect of placing the component in question in the next class up, and with the exception of the cd players, place the components firmly middle of the pack.
I recomend you hear a Naim CD player with a power supply added, phenomenal to my ears, maybe yours too.
On a side note though I suspect that a lot of people have trouble adopting NAIM componentry becasue of the DIN vsRCA/XLR connections. I don't knwo enough to get into this,but I sold off lots of expensive cable an finally satrted to hear music as opposed to listening for how I can tweak the sound just a littel bit more. Happy listening!
In my opinion, you have two Hi-fi choices. Sterile, "Audiophile" type sound, where each note is reproduced separately, in all its shining glory to be enjoyed as a single entity - Or, a system (or brand name) that attempts to recreate a musical experience as close to what the artist intended for you to hear. Live music is not pretty, nor quiet, nor sterile. It has bumps & valleys where you are left to fill in the blanks with your attitude - and toe-tapping ability. It has been my experience - and I certainly accept that there are those who disagree - that people who love listening to live music love Naim gear. It is (maybe) not the most measurably accurate equipment. But, it is the most performance-accurate equipment I've ever heard - and I've been listening for over 30 years. I listen for many hours at a time without any listener fatigue whatsoever, and find my system extremely difficult to turn off, even when it's past my bedtime. :-) Most other systems I've encountered have become tiresome after a half-hour or so, exactly the opposite of "Formulaone's" opinion above. I wouldn't swap my Naim gear for any current equipment available, and people who hear my system agree with me - and often want to buy Naim gear themselves!
That's the highest praise I can give to any Hi-fi equipment, and I sincerely hope those of you who love what you own might just try a listen to a Naim system someday before you make up your mind based on someone else's opinion - even mine!
What a hobby!
I actually demoed the Naim series 5 today (amp, preamp, and cdp with a pair of triangle speakers). It was very involving and I loved the sound in a toe-tapping way with good air around instruments and a pace that never slowed down as the music became chaotic. However, with choral, classical and space music it sounded unemotional and sterile in the midrange, very uninvolving in this respect. For comparison I listened to a Sim Audio Moon I-5 and it was richer in the midrange and almost there in the toe-tapping sense, but it certainly wasn't the Naim toe-tapping I felt earlier. It handled the choral and classical music in a very involving way and the soundstage was much wider than Naim, which seem closed in (but alive within its confines). For 30 minutes a day (or more) I would love the Naim. For all-day listening I think I would prefer something like the I-5. Though I also love the Naim industrial design and found the I-5 to be a little weird in this regard.
I see what Egoss mean though. Some systems (I remember hearing a Cary SET integrated that I thought was causing Lyle Lovett to fall asleep on the CD) don't involve the listener or are too analytical and detailed. But I also think that sometimes I want my music to sound live and sometimes I don't.
It sure is tough to choose components when your music tastes run so wide and so many styles of audio output appeal to you. Can't I just have it all?
Ok, one quick thought here. I noticed there are some Naim reviews based on imcomplete Naim systems as references. One of the key components I have come to love about Naim are the speakers. There is a certain honesty that these speakers present and I notice not a lot of dealers (at least in my deprived area) don't carry a lot of speakers in stock. Thank goodness they're in my living room. I think of all the Naim electronics out there, that the speakers carry so much to the sound, that some other companies speakers may not be able to properly keep up to the well tuned electronics behind a Naim system.
All that I'm saying, in the quest for the perfect review and comparison of a Naim system (series 5 or other), insist that a pair of any Naim speaker be involved in the demo. They are a very overlooked component of the presentation that Naim was intending.
Naim has some type of "headquarters" or possibly even a storefront here in Chicago. Has anyone ever been there before ?
My only exposure to their stuff was at the Stereophile show here a few years ago. Naim had two good sized rooms with all of their own gear set up. Quite honestly, the music they had selected to demo their stuff wasn't even suitable for an elevator. I made several trips into those rooms over the three day period, but it always sounded like "music to fall asleep by". As such, i didn't think much of it and never bothered investigating whether or not they had a store here or not. Sean
Interesting topic. I have a 42.5/Hicap/110 purchased new in the 80's. These pieces have served me well with no problems. Pluses: nearly all sources agree that you don't have to go on the tweak parade with cables because the Naim pieces are as good as it gets; set up properly with a good source and they sing and do not cause fatigue; sturdy construction and simplicity of design; and the DIN connections are IMHO superior. Negatives: not easily integrated with non-Naim products; not enough inputs; very critical of source material; Naim (world-wide) has a bit of an attitude toward other manufacturers; seriously over priced.
Having given my honest opinion above I offer the following suggestions. If you have the time and live in an area where you can audition many different products you "may" get better sound for the money. Be advised though, that the search for the best listening one can find (and afford) leads down a long and difficult path. We often get caught up in deciding on this piece and then looking for another to compliment that one and so on. The Naim components are all a part of a system as are Linn and others. These "system" manufacturers do a pretty good job and sure make shopping shorter. I live in the boondocks of Idaho and don't even know anyone else with a turntable so the prospects of listening to quality sound reproduction outside my home are slim. If you are lucky enough to live in a large metropolitan area and have a group of friends with like interests you will be able to enjoy many combinations of equipment. Pay great attention to source components whether they be analog or digital and put a boatload of money there. Whenever you hear music reproduced that can captivate you for a long time with a variety of material take special note of the speakers you are listening to and their efficiency. The speakers and the source components will dictate the pre-amp and power-amp to a large extent. I believe that if you have a great source and the Naim gear is compatable with the speakers of your choice you won't go wrong. There is that magic combination of components out there and they fit right in your budget. The challenge is to find them. Good luck.
Lugnut, does Naim gear use 5 pin DIN's like some of the older Quad gear ? I sure hope not, as those are some of the worst connectors known to man. With all of the "hoopla" about "German Engineering", i can't believe that they found those things acceptable for ANY type of a low resistance connection. Sean
Sean, My only experience is with my gear. The Hicap is the only piece that uses a 5 pin DIN. I certainly don't claim to be an expert with much in audio but I clearly remember auditioning a 42/Snaps/110 for a week and then the 42.5/Hicap/110 for a week. My ears told me to purchase the system I own. For what it's worth, I personally don't like the interconnects on the Naim pieces because it, 1) either forces you to buy other Naim gear, or 2) by integrating other manufacturers pieces one ends up buying interconnects that you forever question. I'm going to add one last comment which may NOT be worth noting because it's based on logic and not listening. British hifi in general is claimed by many to be overly bright and fatiguing. I believe that since my purchases predated the popularity of the digital source more care was taken in selecting the tt, arm and cartridge back then. The source is the key to enjoyment. This is not to say that folks don't pay particular attention to selecting source components today. They do...more than ever! The problems I found associated with listener fatigue was the CDP. Digital has come a long way and is quite nice now...not on a par with vinyl yet...but quite nice.
I recently ugraded all my electronics with non-Naim gear. If you recall my comment about living in the boondocks you will appreciate how difficult this decision was. I'm happy with the convience the new gear provides and it sounds very good. I am considering selling everything but my turntable and trying to court a friendship with some of the forum members, allowing their wisdom to do the selection for me. Albert Porter and yourself come to mind.
At this point I can't bring myself to part with my Naim gear even though it is safely packed away and very unused. It wouldn't bring much money on the used market. Before packing it away I hooked it up to our $179 Sony dvd player with Radio Shack interconnects, drug my Heresy's out of the garage and watched a few movies with my wife to see if we were interested in HT. Since we were comfortable in the living room after the flicks I popped an audio cd in the Sony and cranked it up. What a joy! Fatigue? Nope. And this is listening to horn loaded speakers that aren't noted for being overly musical. Laugh if you will but I can't put this stuff in the garage even though I spend a LOT of time there working on my hot rods. I wouldn't get much work done if I did. Besides, I would look pretty foolish dancing around the cars and singing off-key all the time. Life can be good, even in the boondocks. Patrick
Buying a used 72/HiCap/140 & a matching pr. of new Credos was the best audio decision I ever made. Very affordable & completely trouble free I've enjoyed the Naim sound since the mid 90's. Only recently have I 'upgraded' w/a pr. of Neat Vito speakers purchased here on AG. I'll be looking to upgrade my Rega 3 & Toshiba SD9200 digital sources soon. The Neats laid back, extended, & articulate presentation really match well w/Naim electronics. That said, I am having trouble 'letting go' of the Credos, they are honest, grooving, rythym machines; uncolored & dynamic I like em a lot.
Naim North America, NANA, located in Chicago has a reputation as some of the best mfg. support service in the world. The Naim website forums are very informative, active, & helpfull; more so than others, & where else can you get such a sense of the 'British' sense of humor? ;-)
Drubin, i was talking about the design of the DIN connectors, not Naim itself.
Lugnut, thanks for the kind words and clarification. My bedroom system consists of all Quad gear, hence my "love / hate" relationship with DIN connectors. The fact that these connectors are also used in the communications industry only moves them more into the "hate" side of things. Sean
If you find any of the amps you listen to lacking in something that's important to you, then it is not the right choice and you should continue to look. It was a long time before I purchased my amps because I kept finding fault with all of them in some way or another. It was rather discouraging, but I am so glad I waited and continued to look. You will know the amp you want to buy when you hear it, it will be just what you're looking for. (Kind of sounds like finding the perfect mate-when you do the wait was worth it) Keep auditioning.
I owned the Nait 5 int.amp for a while(1-2yrs.) I had the NAC A5 wire w/chord interconnects.(DIN to RCA) I was using Spendor
S 3/5's speakers. Personally, there was just "something"
missing for me with this int. amp. It's very well built and
sounds stronger than its rated power. I didn't like the fact
it used DIN connectors and didn't have headphone jack. Short term listening was fine, however, for me,longer sessions proved tiring. Naim is very, very nice equipment
and should be heard to see if it suits your tastes.
I had a full Linn/Naim system for 10 years and found it fulfilling and never fatiguing. At the time I worked in a high end audio shop, and we compared mamy amps including Perreaux, Threshold, Stax, Levinson,etc. The Naim consistently played cleaner, musically, and generally louder and more dynamic than the huge monsters above. I spent many a rainy sunday listening all day to my Naim gear and it was always pleasing.
this past weekend, I was able to listen a system with naim
pre 52, and amp 135 mono , CEC cdplayer with ATC100, it sounds great!!!
it is so lively, musical, pace correct.
I do not own naim gears, but I do own and LOVE linn cd player. Naim and Linn offer me great music reproduction.
great british gears.
I've used entry level Naim gear (both 3 series CD players and the Nait 3 integrated) for about 6 years. As long as the recordings are good fatigue has not been a problem, even during "all day" sessions. Naim gear will not rescue you from a bad recording (what will?), but it seems to be particularly good for getting the most out of older recordings, which is a boon for the classical fan.
I've found Naim gear to have almost a tube-like sound. The CD3 in particular had a dark, rich midrange which I loved (alas, mine had an irreparable transport failure). The CD 3.5 and the 5 series have gotten a little brighter and better at ambience, apparently at the expense of the midrange, although I found that adding a flat cap brought back the midrange magic in the CD 3.5. I don't have experience with Naim's higher level gear, but the Stereophile reivews indicate that the entry level CD players may be less fatiguing and more forgiving than the CDX. To sum up, I don't think you have to fear undue fatigue with Naim's entry level gear, whether the 5 series or the 3 series (excellent value on the used market).
Addressing the other half of Budrew's original question, Naim gear is wonderful for classical music. It may lack the nth degree of soundstage and detail, but it's certainly good enough in those respects, and the sound is rich and engaging -- evident even to non-audiophiles. I once heard the CD3 in an a/b comparison with the Rega Planet playing various acousitc chamber music from analogue masters. The Naim made the Rega (which is not a bad player) sound like nails on a chalk board. I also recently heard the 5 series edge out (albeit slightly) a much more expensive Linn system on a recent orchestral recording. If anything, I'd say Naim is a little weaker on rock music than on classical/acoustic since it lacks the slam of, say, Krell equipment.
Naim gear tends to inspire extreme views -- people either love it or hate it -- and there are certainly viable alternatives. I've found the entry level gear to be very satisfying (and I'm kind of picky), good all around performers, and good value for the money compared to competitors. You may like something else better but Naim is a viable choice.