40 years ago, in the dim and distant 1980s, Julian Verker, the founder of NAIM but now sadly not with us, launched the company’s NAIT amplifier with the slightly tongue in cheek advertising strap-line “Mr Verker makes exceedingly good NAITS” along with a somewhat cheesy picture of himself holding out a plate of confections in the style of a certain Mr Kipling who used a similar slogan to sell his wares.
So, forty years on since the company’s incorporation and thirty years since the launch of the first NAIT we find ourselves at Naim’s headquarters here in Salisbury for a bit of a birthday celebration and the launch of three new amplifiers that carry on the NAIT legacy.
As well as the tea and exceedingly good cakes, we were treated to a sneaky peak of the new products; the 5si, the XS2 and the Supernait 2 all of which NAIM see to be justly proud of. Interestingly they seem to have moved away from the herd and the “cram all the digital inputs as you can in” mentality and gone for a much more streamlined approach where the emphasis has been to create the best analogue path possible. A remarkable turn around perhaps, but the company stress that they already have a product that does all this in the guise of the Uniti.
Paul Stephenson the MD had this to say about the return to the company’s roots. “Hifi in the last ten years has changed considerably. Ten years ago it was a CD player, integrated amplifier and a pair of speakers. Now the hifi world has moved on, and is moving at a pace, but it is now time for Naim to reflect on their progress in the digital and streaming arena and return to their early roots. Naim has launched over a hundred new products in the last ten years and that experience and pace is presented in this new range of NAITs”.
One of the things I noticed about the day and the general air around NAIM’s facility was the family atmosphere, where the MD was joking with shop-floor production staff and press alike. Perhaps it’s something in the water in these parts, but more likely the ‘significant’ Anniversary celebrations that had taken place only the weekend before – Quite a bash I’m led to believe and perhaps this had something to do with the somewhat eclectic choice in the music used to demo the new amps…everything from Elvis to XX!
I managed to grab a few words with Steve Sells, the Electronic Design Manager at the factory and he was making great play on their recent collaboration with luxury car manufacturer Bentley. Far from being the sideline distraction that I had though this collaboration to be, Steve insists that much has been learned by him and his team from this partnership, specifically in having to find electronic and mechanical stability in the extreme temperature conditions experienced in cars. He says it’s been the perfect learning platform and that the lessons learned with Bentley, as well as from NAIM’s PCB designs on the DAC-V1, have helped a great deal in focusing their attentions on noise reduction on the new Nait’s chassis – which he says can be clearly heard in the performance of the amps.
Listening to the new amps it was clear that the 5si deals an impressive punch as the stripped back racer of the pack but move up the range and there is an incremental increase in the depth, power and clout in the amps delivery.
All in all a very interesting day and from initial impressions it would seem that Mr Vereker still has it in the amp making department…if not the cake making stakes.