There are systems that just only really work when it is set up in a certain ecosystem. Now that we think about it, this applies to quite a few systems. But if one stands out, it’s Naim. Right… that stubborn British brand. With DIN cables, separate power supplies and the left and right speaker connections reversed. We test a system that consists of the Naim NAC 552, Naim ND 555 and a Naim NAP 300 DR (500 DR was not in stock). Together with a set of Kudos Titan 606. Not exactly a punishment to listen to that for a full week.
Six black boxes with green logos stand before us. And two floorstanders with a black front and subtle, wood-colored side panels. Other than that, very little. Understated HiFi. That’s what we like at Alpha Audio. And if we look at the specifications: 90 watts into 8 Ohms for the NAP 300, a pre-stage with only analogue inputs (6 of them, some with the strange din-plugs) and ok: a streamer with UPnP and ROON. (We will be reviewing this in more detail). The speakers: 2-way. With an isobaric bass reflex system. But all in all, it doesn’t seem super-impressive. But yes: as is often the case in our world: the beauty is to be found inside.
Naim is pre-eminently a brand that goes for stable power. Every device: from the entry-level integrated models to the high-end separate components, have a brutal power supply. In our case, each component has its own power supply. So in total there are six boxes in front of us. Sleek, black with a softly glowing, green logo. We love it.
The only device with a slightly larger screen is the ND 555: the streamer. That display is obviously needed to show cover art and operate the device. It’s not super easy to read from a distance, but the cover art is sharp and beautiful in color.
This streamer also comes with a comprehensive remote control to operate the device properly – without an app. Perfect. The pre-amp (NAC 552) has six inputs. Two are for single-ended cinch inputs. The others are DIN. Of course, the ND 555 plays fine over either type.
Speaking of cables and types, connecting a Naim set is slightly different.
Normally with a hifi-system it’s a matter of plugging it in, connecting the signal cables and…: music. Not with Naim!
The preamplifier in our case gets its power from the NAC552ps. Besides a power cable there is also a signal cable running between those. Then two signal cables go from the NAC552ps to the NAP 300DR. Right: the pre-amp signal goes through the power supply to the power-amp.
That took some puzzling, because not all the indications are as we’re used to. But we do like something new. And besides: if the plug does not fit properly, it does not belong in there. A bit like computers: if it doesn’t fit, it’s wrong. So with a bit of logic, a wiring diagram and some fiddling around, after a while the Naim system is playing nicely.
Furthermore, it is possible to switch inputs between DIN and single ended rca. If an input does not work, check whether it is perhaps set to the other standard.
One interesting point to bring up is that Naim decouples PCBs. On the ‘ultra-high-end’ models, they literally hang from springs. Think of the Statement. The 500 series also has completely floating pcb’s. At the factory, we were able to see that even on the less exclusive models, they leave parts loose.
By decoupling pcb’s, the noise floor is lowered. Vibration is energy. And so that energy goes into the circuit. By decoupling the pcb’s, the transfer of that energy is stopped. And that results in more quietness. Yes: they go the extra mile, those Brits.