Naim Nait Integrateds... Sound Quality Comparison, User Comments and Bang for the Buck


Have been considering a Naim Nait integrated. In doing so, I’d like to ask what for the user-lowdown on the following models when comparing to each other based on sound quality, characteristics and price. Everything I am considering is used. The reason I am not including the 5i (non-italic) is that I have owned this model in the past. I liked the sound a lot, but my only criticism is that I felt is lacked low bass response and punch. However, the dynamics were there, as well as the smooth, full mids that would not strain or get harsh when driven. Treble was neither bright nor veiled—just right. From my readings, it appears that the lack of bass concern was corrected on the 5i-2 model and onward? I’m planning on possibly getting a CD5x to mate with one of these Naits. My music flavors are pop/rock/prog (i.e. David Bowie, old-Def Leppard, Pink Floyd) and electronic (i.e. Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk).

 

Here are the models I am considering:

5i-2 (non-italic)

5si

XS

XS-2

 

For those who have owned all four model at one time or another, and/or, were able to compare any of these models at the same time, what are your comments on each regarding sound characteristics? Do they all have the basic foundation of the “Naim Sound?” Are there some that are punchy in bass vs others? Some that are brighter in the highs? Any more laidback in the mids than the others?

 

As for used pricing (according to ebay sales history) it appears the 5i-2’s are selling for an average of $575 shipped/paypal. The XS’s are averaging $975 shipped/paypal. I could not find much if any sales history of the 5si, but would assume around $775-$800 based on the other figures. XS-2’s appear to be listed on the used pages for around $2,000 used, but I wonder if any can be had for $1,500 shipped/papal or less? What’s interesting is that all the ebay sales pricing is before the 10% final value fee.  

 

As for sound for bang-for-the-buck, if a 5i-2 can be had for say $575-$650, it is worth another $200-$300 or so, to go to a 5si? Or, is it worth another $425 to get an XS? As for the XS, let’s say one can be had for $1,150. Is it worth another $600-$800 to get an XS-2? As for my specs, my room is 12x12 and using Vandy 2c’s. Cables are AQ CV-4 speaker cable and Mogami 2549 interconnects. I’ve read on another post that AQ sounds very nice with Naim’s current gear. When I had the 5i (non-italic), I tried the NACA5 cables, but didn’t like them. I felt the sound was dull. The DH Labs Q-10 I had at the time were much better, but were a little bright—since they are silver-coated copper. After that, I had sold the 5i at the time and moved on to other gear.


jsbach1685
You’re in luck. I have owned them all, with the exception of the 5si, and most at the same time.

I will start by saying that all Naim amps sound best in the context of the complete Naim ecosystem, so no power conditioning, din interconnects and NACA5 speaker cable, with the Naim supplied power cable or Naim Power Line and generally work best with ATC, Naim, Linn, Neat, Pro Ac, PMC, Totem, Epos, speakers, etc.

I’ll take it from the top:

5i (non italic) and 5i-2 (italic) you have these confused up top, there is no such thing as 5i-2 non italic. I lump them together because the sound is very similar. These, and the 5si, which I have no interest in hearing, are the only Naim amps to use a passive preamp section allied to a high gain power amp section. They have a fantastic following, but never did it for me. I found the sound somewhat tuneful but diffuse with a lack of control in the bass. Dynamics, while good, are curtailed. The 5i italic is just a wee smidge more defined, and the 5i non italic may sound a bit chunkier, but it is six of one and half a dozen of the other. The benefit of these as well as the handicap is that they cannot take any of the add on Naim power supplies, flatcap, hicap, etc. They also cannot be separated to use the preamp section and the amp section separately.

XS and XS-2, you may be confused here as well. These are exactly the same amp except the XS-2 has a brushed faceplate. Under the skin they are identical 60 watt amps. You may be thinking about the XS2 which is the current 70 watt integrated. But you didn’t ask about that one. These are, IMHO a much more accomplished amp, with better control and definition with perhaps a tad less tunefulness. An easy trade off to make. Overall these sound more mature, more composed and more grown up than the 5 series. In addition to being able to be split into amp and active preamp, and being able to use the Naim power supplies, which, in this instance, really do kick performance up a few notches, Aux 2 on these amps will power the Naim Stageline phono stage, so you don’t need to get a seperate power supply for it, or go outside of the Naim family for your phono requirements.

In discussing Naim components we always talk in terms of system building. If your sources are weak then the 5 series will be a much better match. They always sound pleasant and are not too revealing of source. Never surgical or spot lit.

If you have top rank sources, the CD5X or CD5XS would fall into this category, and speakers that are more demanding in terms of the control that is required than the XS may be for you. Good luck with the hunt.
Hi viridian,

Thank you so much for the detailed info! And yes, I see my typo regarding the 5i-2... I meant to write (italic) instead.

I didn't realize there were 60wpc XS and XS-2's. I thought all XS-2's are the 70wpc version. 

 
All XS-2 are the older 60 watt amps, and all XS2 are the current, 70 watt amps.

Vandies and Naim are not a usual pairing. Having owned both, at different times, not sure that road would be for me, YMMV.